If you haven’t yet seen Drawn By Pain you’ve been missing a unique niche on the web. Creator Jesse Cowell, (better known to his internet following as Jeskid) scorned the typical internet formula of short, comedic videos, and has put a full, dramatic feature film, broken up into short episodes, up for general consumption. The show is live action mixed with a sophisticated style of animation.
If you are a fan, you probably already know that Jeskid just released his long-awaited season finale. I recently spoke to Jeskid about the show’s creation, his lead character’s struggles, and the finale.
Tubefilter: Drawn By Pain has some seriously heavy subject matter for a medium typically dominated by short form, light content. How did you gravitate towards this story?
Jeskid: I started making movies about 17 years ago. I made my first feature in 1999. I couldn’t figure out how to make contacts, and I couldn’t figure out how to get people watch to my feature. I thought I had the talent, but I couldn’t get anybody to watch it. I moved back to New York from Los Angeles, and I got a job in encoding. I thought, hey, I’m on the internet all day long, let me put my movie online. Until then I felt I was being robbed of the very experience of the first reason I got involved in movie making in the first place. So, I put my first feature online, and a lot of people who really loved it… I also saw the web going completely towards comedy. It was over-saturated with comedy and girls on a web cam and fights in the streets… I watch these videos just as much as the next person, but it all started to seem the same. I thought, I’ll go the complete opposite direction, and make something serious. I thought, why not create a cinematic experience for the web. I also thought that doing something different would be the only way to move something forward. It seemed like the right time to jump into something serious.
TF: Would you call Drawn By Pain’s Emily Waters a superhero?
Jeskid: No… She’s much more an antihero… A lot of people think this is a vigilante story/ super hero story, but it’s really one person struggling with her own inner demons. I found it really interesting, beating the enemy within. We all have our own internal struggle, but it’s really up to the audience’s interpretation.
TF: How do you work with your animator?
Jeskid: My animator, Erica Langley, did everything by hand. There is no computer trick to it. The emotion she adds to the series with her animation is remarkable. We started out with the idea that we would make a really dark version of the Take On Me video, and used that as a jumping off point. The real advantage for a crew like mine is that we can take what it took two people to do to look like it took 50 or 100 people to do.
TF: While there is a lot of violence in the show, you avoid blood and gore. Was this a conscious decision?
Jeskid: It’s funny that the show is perceived as less gruesome because of the animation. I didn’t want to make a horror movie. While the movie had horror elements in it, I didn’t want blood squirting into the camera. That level of violence would take away from it. I like the element of having some of it left to your imagination.
TF: How do you think the finale turned out?
Jeskid: I think I told a story that makes sense. The end is a natural progression of what would happen. It takes people a lot to commit to fully watching something, and sometimes I get people saying, you made me cry, and other people tell me I should be shot. I fought really hard to get those kinds of reactions. If what I made gets people passioante enough to tell me why we suck, at least they reacted. It means we were doing soemthing right. But I also think the show helps some people to deal with all the bs we all deal with every day. If I had to walk away today with these reactions, then it was worth it.