This is the second part of our interview with Streamy-winning creator-director Blake Calhoun (Pink, 88 Hits, Exposed). Be sure to read Part 1 of the interview first, it’s that good.
Tubefilter: What can you tell us about your next web series project, Exposed? What has it been like working with McG?
Calhoun: Pink really opened a lot of doors for Mike and I. We sold the show to Generate and subsequently got to produce 25 more episodes (Seasons 2 and 3) and right now we’re in talks to do a new Season 4. We’ll hopefully have news about this soon. We also got to go around town and pitch several other ideas and sold one to Warner Bros. and TheWB.com. We’ve had the great opportunity to work with the studio along with McG’s company Wonderland Sound and Vision on this new project (McG is the Exec Producer). We’re currently finishing it up right now and will be able to speak more about it in the near future. But I think fans of Pink and our “dark-thriller” brand will enjoy the show.
Tubefilter: Anything else coming up for you?
Calhoun: I just wrapped (in June) directing my fourth feature film called Spilt Milk. It’s a wry comedy about a disgruntled grocery store manager whose life gets forever changed one fateful evening when his store gets robbed. It stars Jake Johnson from the Drunk History YouTube videos and this summer’s indie hit Paper Heart (with Charlyne Yi and Michael Cera) and also Chase Jeffery who is the lead in Exposed. The film already has distribution and will be released sometime in 2010.
Next up in the new media realm I’m directing a sci-fi/thriller called Continuum that we’re planning to shoot late this fall and release next spring. Wilson Cleveland and CJP Digital Media are working with us on this project. I’m really excited about this series as I’m getting to work in another genre and also we’ve decided to produce this ourselves as an independent, like we did with the first season of Pink. We’re going to give owning our content a try again and see how it works out.
Tubefilter: Can you leave us with some advice for aspiring web content creators?
Calhoun: My first advice would be stop aspiring and just do it. There really are no excuses anymore. Most of the barriers have been broken down. The gatekeepers in the new media realm are few and far between (and there are none in some places). The entire filmmaking world has really been democratized on pretty much all levels. I mean now you can shoot amazing looking HD content on a DSLR camera for only a few thousand dollars. And if you don’t have a few thousand dollars you can still shoot some pretty good looking stuff on a Flip MinoHD camera for a few hundred dollars.
Regardless of what format you shoot on I would still try to keep your production value as high as possible. Don’t skimp just because the show is “for the Internet”. I’ve heard that phrase many times and that’s the wrong approach. I would say most of the successful web series Out There have really good or even great production values.
Of course you need a good story and compelling characters to go along with your good production value. No one will watch if they don’t care about the people on screen. You might grab their attention in the first episode, but you won’t keep them past that. This is obviously common sense and applies to all storytelling, but I do think you often see style over substance and they should really be on equal ground. Along the lines too I’d say to remember you’re not broadcasting, your narrow-casting – you should be creating something for a niche’ audience. Of course that niche’ audience could be pretty big like Felicia Day’s show The Guild – but it is still a targeted, niche’ demographic.
Don’t remake Friends or your favorite sitcom. People can already watch the real thing online.
Don’t have one of your main characters do a video blog. Just because the show is online doesn’t mean you have to have an “Internet” tie in. I know it’s easy (and cheap) to do this, but please don’t unless your story is about webcams or vlogging.
Lastly, always buy the extra insurance coverage when you rent a car. I mean $10 more a day and you don’t have to worry what happens. It’s a no-brainer, especially if you’re using it as a stunt vehicle (re: production value).
Photo credit: The Bui Brothers