Welcome to another action packed episode of… The IndieNet and Beyond! It’s news and web series episodes. Plus, this time I chat with producer Michael Flores of the gritty supernatural western series Western X.
Out of Arizona comes a genre bending supernatural western packed with a gritty dark tone that promises to reveal secrets about its mysterious world. Western X producer Michael Flores is a film school graduate who loves writing and got tired with the traditional long-term methods of fund-raising while trying to turn one of his scripts into a film. He couldn’t keep “sitting on his hands,” so he decided to turn Western X into a web series. It all started on MySpace when “MySpace was still relevant” and he created the first three episodes. The success of those helped him find investors from California, giving him a higher budget for episodes 4-16.
“It’s about a guy who wakes up in the middle of the desert [with no memory]. I try to stick to genre of the weird west, spaghetti western when it comes to writing. The Man With No Name type character. You don’t really know much about him and he doesn’t know much about himself,” explained Flores. “The show is more of a mystery, not just a western sci-fi. Each episode will reveal a little bit more about the guy, which the audience knows as X, and a little bit about the world, as well. It only takes maybe two episodes in to realize the world is different. You know you are not necessarily in the world we know. Where are we? Are we on Earth? Are we in the past? Is it post-apocalyptic? What is this world? As [X] figures out who he is, he starts to uncover lots of mysteries in this world and the supernatural elements in this world.”
Western X was actually born from the remains of a vampire feature film script for which Flores was trying to get funding.
“The original concept was a script I was working on, to try to sell, actually, and I liked the idea of a post-apocalyptic…vampire world where there are only a few survivors of mankind. And the world is now controlled by vampires. They are the top of the food chain,” said Flores. “I realized as I started breaking down the script and looking at the budget [that] I knew there was no way I could really do this at this time. So, I scrapped that script and I went back and took a few elements of it and reworked the story from this vampire story into the Western X storyline.”
Flores did hint at some of the things that survived from the original vampire script. “I don’t want to give away too much of the show, yet. I remember one of my producers who was involved when I first started [asked], ‘Weren’t you going to have a couple of these characters be vampires?’ They are not going to be vampires but you’ll see by episode 7 or 8 there is some of that vampire element to it. It is very ambiguous and a very small part of the story, so I did keep some of those elements there. I just love that dark tone that vampires bring.”
Although made on a low budget, the series has impressive costumes. Flores told me some of the tricks he used to get such great costumes.
“For the first three episodes my casting decisions were based on if you were a cowboy stuntman here in Arizona, because they have their own wardrobe,” laughed Flores. “The black coat uniforms that the soldiers [wear]. Those clothes were designed by myself and made by my mother. She is a seamstress. She actually had made all the customized clothing for the soldiers from episode four to sixteen. In fact Vernon Wells (Commando, Mad Max 2), one of our bigger stars attached to our show now, she made him three different uniforms and it looked pretty damn good. She does a really good job and she doesn’t charge me either which is awesome.”
Why did Flores decide to take a web series distribution path for Western X, versus trying for traditional television or feature film?
“The reason I chose the web series format, not only because I don’t like waiting for people… three years ago, web series weren’t what they are today. I’m not saying I’m a genius with foresight, but you can contest as someone who follows new media and web series quite a lot, it has grown just in the last year. So, three years ago not a lot of people were talking about web series. [I thought] ‘I’m going to do a web series, something you haven’t seen yet. It’s something I can control, I can release’… plus I like doing the short form 6-7 minutes.”
Western X uses green screens and miniatures giving the series a unique look that combines realism with surrealism. Being in Arizona, which is perfect for a western show, you have to wonder why Flores decided to go with green screens and miniatures to create his world. In fact, it is a question he hears often.
“The reason why I did that… I wanted to create something you can’t necessarily pin-point where it’s at and something you haven’t seen. And it needed to look weird and different. It needed to look chaotic, which if you watch the first three episodes, it is very chaotic. The Demon Valley is all edited with colors and made to confuse. I don’t think I could have done that by grabbing the basic landscape out here that everyone else shoots. Plus, there are the aerial shots that weren’t in my budget to do if I wanted to do a scrapping landscape shot of the desert.”
What advice does Flores give future web series creators?
“Make sure you have your script. The reason why I say that is because I see so many people that don’t even have a complete script before they start anything. That is your blueprint. You can’t build a house without a blueprint and you can’t tell a story without a script. Make sure your script is tight. Make sure people read it and give advice on it,” advises Flores.
Flores told me he already plans to do a season two, which he hopes will have an even bigger budget. Plus a spin-off…
“There is a character in Western X called Lobo that you only see once in a while in the show. You kind of get the idea he’s somebody, but you never know who he is. So I’m doing a spin-off of his character and it’s called A Six Gun for Lobo,” said Flores. “It’s kind of like a prequel to Western X. Which shows his connection to season one of Western X and shows the reason why he is in that town. It will help explain the world of Western X some more.”
Below is the first three episodes of season one. Episode 6 will premiere at Gen Con Indy 2011 in August. A Six Gun for Lobo will be shot in November with six twelve minute episodes. For more information about the Western X series, visit – http://www.westernxtheshow.com
Attack Of The Trailers?
Apocalypse Wow – Rough opening credits
I haven’t heard much about this project for months, but out of the blue a rough openings credits video popped up on the web for the post-apocalyptic action comedy web series Apocalypse Wow. It’s directed by Scott Brown (Blue Movies,Asylum) and stars Craig Frank (The Crew, Good Knight’s Quest, Compulsions), Melanie Merkosky (Lonelygirl15, Harper’s Globe), Ben Begley, and McKenzie Westmore (Star Trek, Passions, All My Children).
Geek vs. Geek
Are You Geek Enough? That is the question that Geek vs. Geek is asking. They are accepting applications to be a contestant on their upcoming reality game show.
Walking In Circles – Trailer
Zombies and vampires are popular sub-genres in web series, but now it looks like Dungeons & Dragons type of adventure comedy is becoming a new trend. Walking In Circles is an upcoming medieval comedy web series set to debut on July 19th.
Elsewhere On The Web
The International Academy of Web Television (IAWTV) has announced the details of its new IAWTV Awards.
What I’m Watching… Are You?
I’ve been scouring the web in search for new web series episodes to watch and share with you. Enjoy!
Aidan 5 – Episode 9: “Down The Rabbit Hole” (PART 2)
The newest episode of Aidan 5 is out and it’s the mid-season finale for season one. It’s cops, clones, and conspiracy which makes for a very interesting sci-noir series.
BlackBoxTV Presents “Deumos Kisses”
Another new episode from the horror anthology series BlackBoxTV.
“What would you do for money, power and prestige? Who would you work for?”
Vampire Mob – Season Two, Episode 1 “Another To-Do”
Vampire Mob is back for season two!
“The answer to the cliffhanger in season one, who’s shooting Don? Sort of…”
Green Lantern Vs Kedar
With the recent Green Lantern film release, I thought it might be fun to show this video by a YouTube talent.
That’s A Wrap
Got a web series, web comic, web… whatever, then I want to know about it. Contact me at: [email protected]
That’s a wrap for now, join me (and my clone) next time for more news and interviews coming to Wednesday near you. Take care friends. Until next time… marX out.
You can follow me on Twitter@MrMarx
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Marx H. Pyle is a writer, martial artist and American independent filmmaker. A graduate of Vancouver Film School, he has worked on a number of projects including the short film he wrote and directed, Silence of the Belle. He is currently in production of his scifi web series Reality On Demand.