Cafe InsomniacThose of you out there who don’t find it easy to fall asleep once the sun sets might find solace in Cafe Insomniac, the latest machinima project from London-based Callous Productions.

Cafe Insomniac tells the story of a man named Justin, the proprietor of Cafe Insomniac, a cafe which is only open during nighttime hours. Justin slowly eroded into insomnia after an encounter with a mugger turned unexpectedly lethal; with nothing else to do with his sleepless nights, he decided to open up a cafe to cater to the similarly afflicted. Currently, only the first episode is out — just enough to promote the show, introduce a handful of the characters, and give us a taste of the impeccably-orchestrated noir atmosphere that permeates Cafe Insomniac’s walls.

Further details about Cafe Insomniac are scarce, which is why we decided to track down Hardy Capo, the one-man army behind Callous Productions, and ask him a few questions. Before you read on, don’t forget to catch the first episode (above).

Tubefilter: What game engine(s) do you use to make the show?

Hardy Capo: Moviestorm. It’s not a game but software specifically designed to help produce machinima.

Tubefilter: How many episodes are planned, and when do you plan to release them?

Capo: I plan to do a first season of 10 episodes. One episode every two weeks.

Cafe Insomniac - stillTubefilter: How long have you been working with machinima? What are some of your other projects?

Capo: I’ve been working with machinima for about nine months now. I have a background in directing TV shows and corporate videos and that’s how I discovered it. It all started when I was looking for pre-visualization software for a video I was making and I stumbled across this thing called ‘machinima’. I was hooked. And the more I worked at it, the more I discovered that I could transfer my real-life TV production knowledge to machinima. With experience in directing, lighting, camera, editing and graphics it was as if machinima was made for my multi-skilling. And it was even better than making shows in the real world because if you wanted to build a set you could, without the budgetary restrictions.

Cafe Insomniac is my first major series. I’ve made other short films, including The Last 5 Minutes, Crunch and Control Point, which can all be viewed at my website, callousproductions.com

Tubefilter: What kind of budget are you working with for Cafe Insomniac? Do you have or are you looking for sponsorship? Is this your day job, or a side gig?

I think it’s a very exciting time in machinima. Warner Brothers have just become the first major studio to release a machinima series – a version of Terminator Salvation that can be bought on iTunes. They obviously have a big budget. Cafe Insomniac is an indie project, very low budget.

Although, that’s the beauty of machinima. If you have the skills, you can still make a low budget machinima look fantastic. There isn’t that disparity that there is in the real-world between a studio and indie project.

Cafe Insomniac - still2We are looking for sponsorship, yes. And from all quarters. I think quality machinima is a great marketing tool for businesses. For instance, any company can now have its own drama or comedy series, not just traditional TV companies. And I can see machinima becoming a popular download on iTunes. Watching 10-minute episodes are a great way for commuters to pass the time.

I am still directing outside of machinima but, yes, it is taking up more of my time. Cafe Insomniac has only been out a week but has received a lot of attention from digital marketing companies who want to work on projects, so I can see it becoming a full-time business very soon.

Tubefilter: What is the creative inspiration for Cafe Insomniac?

I am one of those people who gets insomnia once in a while so I’ve always had an interest in the subject. And some of the scientific experiments carried out in this area are fascinating. I once conducted my own little experiment by going 48 hours without sleep and it’s a very strange feeling.

You begin to feel like you’re floating – very odd.

Now, apparently if you do have extreme insomnia, you get hallucinations. So I thought, what if there was a guy who suffered extreme insomnia and had trouble differentiating between the real world and his hallucinations?

When I’m asked what Cafe Insomniac is similar to, I say it’s kind of like a mixture of Lost and The Twilight Zone.

Tubefilter: What kind of response have you gotten from the public?

We’ve had an overwhelming response to Cafe Insomniac. People have been surprised that machinima can be quite so cinematic. I suppose, because of machinima’s gaming roots, they still expect it to be people filming their gun battles inside computer games. So they’re astonished that it’s now possible to tell engaging stories that have the look and feel of a great movie or TV drama.

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