By now, if you follow even passively the world of web series, you know well who Mark Gantt and Jesse Warren are. They were the two aspiring creators that defied the odds, making just a trailer to pitch their action drama—The Bannen Way—to anyone who would fund it, ultimately landing a deal with Sony Pictures Television for release on its online network Crackle. To be sure, it was one heck of a slick looking trailer, and there’s something to be said about having Neal Bannen (Gantt) himself making the pitch.
Today as the DVD of the complete first season of the Streamy-winning series, cut together as a 94-minute full-length feature movie, hits the shelves, the story has come full circle. Like most of the high-profile Crackle series, the web was a stop along the way of a project’s malleable journey through multiple platforms and content windows. Earlier this summer HBO Canada picked up Bannen for a feature-length run.
For many shoppers perusing the aisles of Target and Walmart, or Blockbuster, or browsing Amazon or Netflix, this might be the first time they’ve heard of Bannen and company. It has a handful of actors aside from Gantt who are fairly well known outside of web circles, like Robert Forster, Vanessa Marcil, Autumn Reeser, Michael Ironside and Michael Lerner.
As for its web life, Crackle is leaving just two episodes up online while the DVD push is on. And while it may be frustrating, it’s become a natural part of a fluid business model. Sustaining a healthy six-figure budget like that of The Bannen Way or the last year’s Crackle web series turned DVD, Angel of Death, takes more than just pre-roll and display ads on site. Somewhere, transactional
Will we see more of the Bannen crew in the future? It’s very possible, according to Gantt. “We are currently working hand in hand with Crackle and Sony Pictures Television to explore the future of The Bannen Way,” Gantt tells us. “There are so many great ideas and options on the table, we’re very excited about the possibilities and ready to tell more stories!”
Should you buy the DVD? Yes. Avid web fans may have already seen The Bannen Way a few times no doubt, but there is something to be said about watching it all together on the big screen in HD with Dolby surround sound. It’s also a collectors item from the still early days of web originals, complete with six behind-the-scenes featurettes showing just how they pulled this off on a relatively low budget.
And for the creative community that aspires to see their own project find a similar fate, it couldn’t hurt to support the business model that is still finding its legs. You might even get Gantt and Warren to sign it for you.
Check out the DVD art below — we were pleasantly surprised to find a Tubefilter quote on the back cover. Did I really say that? (Yes, I did.)