Welcome to another clone-filled episode of… The IndieNet and Beyond! It’s news and web series episodes. Plus, this time I chat with the stars of the ‘sci-noir’ series Aidan 5, Bryan Michael Block and Maya Sayre.
The last time we spoke to someone working on Aidan 5, it was with some of the talent behind the camera, writer/director John Jackson and executive producer Ben Bays. This time, we talk to the talent in front of the camera, actors Bryan Michael Block and Maya Sayre. Aidan 5 is what the creators call a sci-noir series, but what does that mean?
“It’s a little bit of a throw back to the old 40s detective serials that were an inspiration to us. It’s got a sort of noir feel to it, but also has the scifi feel,” explained Block.
“Aidan 5 is a science fiction series set in a future where cloning is a part of everyday life. The story centers around James Aidan, a police detective who has to solve the mystery of the murders of his own clones. The series is shot on a green screen, with hand drawn illustrations as the environment. In a nutshell, it’s kind of like a living comic book: live action on a gritty, noir, hand sketched backdrop,” added Sayre.
Bryan Michael Block, who grew up with director and co-creator John Jackson, plays Detective James Aidan.. The series was born when Jackson signed on to do a 48-hour film and asked his friend Block to play the lead. Of course, he had no idea at the time what direction the project would take: that the short would go to Cannes and later become a web series.
“[John Jackson] said he was going to enter that competition that weekend and expected me to show up to be his lead actor,” laughed Block. “I asked him what the film was about and he said, ‘I don’t even know yet, because in a 48-hour you have to pull a genre out of a hat.’ He said, ‘I’ll give you a call in the morning and tell you kind of what you might want to bring with you as far as costuming goes.’ He called me in the morning and said think black and white, think detective. So what I showed up with, the leather jacket and everything, became the iconic Aidan 5 look and has remained so from that day of me rummaging my closet.”
Maya Sayre plays Detective Morgan Riley who is Aidan’s partner.
“My character has a very complicated past, (which is explained about halfway through the first season) and she is also Detective James Aidan’s partner,” explained Sayre. “Together, they investigate a string of murders, and end up with more of a mystery on their hands than they expected.”
Sayre, an enthusiastic scifi fan, was excited to be in the project.
“I’m a HUGE fan of the genre, so the opportunity to work on something like this was basically a dream come true,” said Sayre.
As Sayre mentioned, Aidan 5 is all green screen. Except for the actors and items they are holding, everything (including vehicles) are created in post, which is an interesting challenge for the actors.
“The green screen is a formidable foe in my mind. OK…not really. When you don’t have your environment to rely on, it can be disorienting, especially when you’re shooting multiple episodes of a series out of sequence,” said Sayre. “However, it really forces you to be extremely prepared, and to know where your character is at every moment – physically as well as emotionally. I’ve grown to appreciate the green screen’s freedoms as well as it’s limitations. Plus, I’m always up for a challenge.”
Block added his own thoughts on working with green screen.
“I think it depends. If it is just you without anything it is harder, because you have no reactions to play off of. If it was a scene that had Maya or another actor, it makes it a little easier because you have something real to latch onto,” he explained.
“It was very difficult to sometimes picture what the world was supposed to look like as we were acting. There was some freedom in that because if we ran through the wrong place on screen, they could draw the door where we ran instead of where we were told the door was. As an actor you draw on the environment, the props, the costume, the other actors to try and really sell the scene you’re working on. And without having most of that there it was really challenging,” said Block.
Additionally, there were other challenges that challenged the actors.
“Sometimes even other actors weren’t there. We would shoot what we call ‘plate’ on different days,” he elaborated. “So we would shoot my half of a conversation with somebody and two weeks later, when that actor was available, they would shoot the reverse with that actor, so I would be talking with no one and so would that other actor.”
Of course, acting in that green screen environment is a challenge, but imagine trying to do fight scenes like these actors had to.
“Bizarre. It’s quite humorous to watch and even stranger to do it yourself; Running, jumping and reacting to…nothing,” said Sayre. “I give huge props to Bryan Michael Block; he had many more physically challenging scenes than I did.”
“However, I did do my fair share of jumping and ducking and running. The green screen environment allowed for action sequences that we never could have done if we were shooting this conventionally,” she said. “However, it was also confusing at times. There were so many moments on the set where we were told, ‘You’re running! You’re tired and scared!! GO!!!’ And then we would come back with, ‘OK, but WHERE are we? And what just happened again??’”
What advice do these talented actors have for other actors wanting to venture into web series territory?
“I would say the same thing to someone wanting to act in any genre, on any platform: get some training, get some experience, and never stop learning. Acting is always a collaborative effort, and being open to new concepts and ideas will only make an actor better. If someone really does want to focus on a particular genre, do some research. Be familiar with the shows, and if need be…make your own work,” said Sayre. “Aidan 5 is a no budget, completely volunteer cast and crew. We’re made up of people who believe in the story, respect the genre, and the love the work. Don’t be afraid to bring your own ideas to life – they might just surprise you.”
The second half of season one is about to begin. The actors were tight-lipped about possible spoilers, but Block did give us a teaser.
“For those who have been following the series: I think we’ve had some really outstanding episodes, but I think the best is still yet to come. The meat of the story is really contained in these last seven episodes. So, if you have invested in the first part of the season you will not want to miss the second part, because it will answer a lot of questions and there will be a lot of payoffs for the set-ups in the early part of the season,” he explained.
The first season of Aidan 5 is 16 episodes. The first half of the season (the first 9 episodes) is already on the web and the second half is about to begin. Episode 10, which I got a sneak peak of at Gen Con Indy 2011, is coming Friday September 2, 2011. You can learn more about Aidan 5 at: http://www.Aidan5.com
And, of course, we’ll have links to video in a future column. For now, you’ll find the first two episodes of season one below.
Attack Of The Trailers!
Mighty Woman – Teaser Trailer
Looking for a new superhero web series? Here is a teaser trailer of a series in development, where an actress playing a superhero discovers that truth and fiction are about to become the same.
Elsewhere On The Web
Battlestar Galactica fans having been waiting for an update on the planned prequel, Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome. The story follows a young William Adama during the first Cylon War. Originally. SyFy planned to make it a web series, then there was talk of turning it into a backdoor pilot TV movie… but now AOL TV is saying that SyFy is talking about reverting it back into a web series. When will we see it and in what format will it finally be? No one is saying, but I hear they have a plan… and there are many copies… or something like that.
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!
BlackBoxTV: DRIVE-IN TRIPLE FEATURE!
This is a cool idea. The video gives you links three different shorts:
- The Backwater Gospel” from BoMathorne
- Polydeus” from DaywaltFearFactory
- “The Haunted Clermont Hotel” from BlackBoxTV
Border Guardians Of Ackernon – Episode 1 “Family”
Is it just me, or have the number of D&D type fantasy web series increased dramatically over the last year? I’m curious to learn more about this series, which at first glance seems to be “Lord of the Rings meets Harry Potter.”
“The University was founded 400 years ago to serve and protect the people of Ackernon, but who are these heroes who die silently in the shadows and where do they come from?”
The Brothers Barbarian – Episode 1 “Barbarians at the Gate”
Speaking of the increase in the fantasy web series population, we have the recently premiered fantasy comedy Brothers Barbarian. The series guest stars fantasy artist Larry Elmore and award winning fantasy author Margaret Weis (Dragonlance). The creators jokingly describe it as, “Its kinda like [Lord Of The Rings] meets Conan on acid!”
“A pair of teenage barbarian brothers who have been turned into middle-aged men by an evil witch’s spell, set out on a quest to restore their lost youth.”
The Guild: Season 5 – Episode 5 – “Focus Problems”
This is one of the first web series to be a hit, and it’s still making us gamers laugh like it was the first season. Felicia Day and her talented cast are back with everyone’s favorite dysfunctional gamer guild.
The Icarus II Project
Another project that Aidan 5‘s star Maya Sayre is in.
The LXD – Season 3, Episode 4 “Can’t Dance”
Returning for a third season, The League of Extraordinary Dancers is part superhero, part music (and crazy dance) video. This series has an original story packed with beautiful cinematography and choreography. Check out episode 3 of the new season. Sorry to our non-United States readers—Hulu has it geoblocked. (Don’t look at me, I didn’t do it!)
Passenger – Episode 7 – Chapter 2
Michael, a demoted Archangel, roams the earth in human form on a mission to find and destroy those possessed by demons.
Michael confronts an old Nemesis. Agent Kylek and Detectives Christine Blair & Eddie Echevarria, are on a race to find evidence which links a set of recent mysterious murders to an unknown source, in an attempt to track down its suspects.
Rigamortis: A Zombie Love Story – Part 3 of 3
What happens when you mix the musical fun of Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog with zombies? You get the zomromcom Rigamortis: A Zombie Love Story. Here is the last episode.
Vampire Mob Season Two – Episode Three “Back To Rectify The Situation”
Vampire Mob is back, and here are the second and third episodes of the new season. Warning: it’s NSFW, both for the cussing and for the ensuing, uncontrollable laughter that will cause you trouble both with your boss, and possibly your jealous coworkers who wish they could have that much fun at the office.
That’s A Wrap
Got a web series, web comic, web… whatever? Then I want to know about it. Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s a wrap for now. Join me next time for more news and interviews coming to a Wednesday near you. Take care my clone 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 post-production of his scifi web series Reality On Demand.