Welcome to the greatest (at least in our eyes) online column that focuses on web series and other new media entertainment. We call it… The IndieNet and Beyond! It’s news and web series episodes. Plus, this time I chat with John Beck Hofmann – writer, director, and star of the psychological thriller Tyranny.
Did John Beck Hofmann realize when he moved from Omaha, Nebraska that he would someday be an award winning director of photography for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and become consumed with creating his web series Tyranny? Possibly… his web series comes eerily close at times in its predictions, so perhaps he has a gift in predicting the future.
In his twenties, Hofmann picked up his father’s Super 8 camera for the first time since he was a child. Over time, he shot random footage and at age 29, he developed that footage and decided to make a short film with it called The Man From Snowglobe. It was a 10 minute film about a man who questions his reality. He realizes he isn’t an individual at all, everything has been completely created for him and he is just a product of corporations. Out of that short film grew Tyranny. In 1998, Hofmann started writing what he thought would be a feature length film, but instead morphed into a web series.
Tyranny is about Daniel McCarthy, “a struggling artist whose identity is thrown into question when he wakes up to find he has been missing for eight days and [is] being monitored by the FBI. The more Daniel tries to remember what may have happened to him in those eight days, the more he starts to see strange flashes of things, [which] then would turn to visions of the future,” said Hofmann. “He doesn’t really understand what it means yet at all. But there is clearly something that can only be described as: this is going to happen someday [soon]. And really, the only thing keeping him grounded, keeping his will from collapsing is the arrival of the beautiful and mysterious woman Isabelle (Kieren van den Blink).”
The web series premiered March 2010 on Koldcast TV. It’s an eye-catching mystery that grabs your attention and it’s cryptic tale may remind you a little of Lost.
“Cast members turned me onto Lost last May. I was hooked. Part of me loved it and the other part was totally getting frustrated and wanted to cry sometimes,” explained Hofmann. “Because I’m like ‘Oh my gosh, this is like Tyranny. People are going to think I’m ripping this guy off and I’ve never seen this show!’ The movies that did influence me were Twelve Monkeys, The Game, Manchurian Candidate, and even some influences from films on JFK and Steven Soderbergh’s second film called Kafka which most people haven’t seen… That film was super influential on me… just the style of it.”
You can say Tyranny has consumed Hofmann’s life. He plays the lead character, because he knew he wouldn’t quit. He was also the entire crew until he added a second crew member to handle camerawork last year. Oh, and he literally lives on set.
“I’m living this story on a regular basis because of all of the traveling I’m doing and how long it is taking. I live on set now, just because I’m always here and always working on this film and it just made more sense to actually move on set. So Daniel’s room is actually my room. The room was actually built as a set, but I was just like ‘hey, it’s fully functional, I’m just going to live here,’” said Hofmann. The kitchen set also became the bookstore, the university office, a hospital room and more. Many of the interior sets in the series are all in the same 2500 square foot space in Hollywood.
In the extreme opposite direction, many of the exterior locations are filmed all over America and in multiple countries, in such cities like New York, Washington, New Orleans, Prague, Tokyo, Istanbul, Paris, Geneva, Cairo, Stockholm, and more.
“You were asking why web series opposed to film or television. For one, with television there is no way I could go international. Movies can, but you only have two hours. With web series, to me I could experiment, delved into characters’ back stories more. There is so much I really want to explore… It’s just scratching the surface right now,” said Hofmann, who sees season one as just two chapters in one long novel, if not a trilogy of novels. He plans to make at least three seasons and wants each season to be approximately two hours each. The “explosive” season one finale is currently scheduled for July 2011.
Hofmann seems to have an eerie knack at predicting things. He explained one such prediction from the series.
“There’s been a lot of things, I can think of a big long list of things that have sort of come true. One of the weirdest things was writing into the story [back in 1999] this device called the IV. That was basically an all-in-one device, it was a phone and it was a computer that you carried around with you that controls everything,” explained Hofmann. “There were different sizes of it and one of them would be small enough to wear on your arm. You had this little strap you wear around your arm. And it has these ear phone things that had a white cord that made it look like an IV bag. When the iPod came out, I was kind of like ‘that is like the IV, but not.’ Then the iPhone came out… then the iPad. It’s weird to me. I’ll get sued by Apple probably.”
Tyranny even has a little star power with a Bond girl making an appearance. Olga Kurylenko, who you may have seen as Camille Montes in the 22nd James Bond film Quantum of Solace, plays Mina Harud on Tyranny. “Olga, I met her actually eleven year ago. I was shooting a behind-the-scene video for this clothing company. We were hanging out and got along really well. She said in her strong Russian accent back then, ‘John, someday I want to be a movie star.’ And I was like, ‘I’m making a film and I’ll put you in it.’… Yeah, little did I know that while we are shooting little pieces of things she becomes a Bond girl. I’m constantly begging her for extra footage. I would never have predicted the Bond girl. But I did tell her when I met her you would make a great spy.”
What advice does Hofmann give other filmmakers wanting to their own web series?
“If you’re just starting out, if you’re trying to make a name for yourself, or have a story you want to tell, the web is an amazing world, because there are no limits, there is no formula. It’s still being discovered, it is still experimental which is awesome.” He suggests staying mobile by keeping crew small. Also, actor performances are key. “Believable performances, having actors believe they are in that scene and in that moment, that is the most important thing. Web series is like the new punk rock bands. It’s raw and it’s real. Don’t regurgitate broadcast pop culture.”
But of course, Hofmann couldn’t end the interview without a little conspiracy warning.
“Never believe the official story on the news. Whatever they tell you, believe the opposite, it is usually true. That is my opinion.”
Below is the trailer and the first episode. You can learn more about Tyranny at: http://www.tyranny.tv/
Elsewhere On The Web
Everything is going electronic, resistance is futile! CNN recently reported that ebooks are outselling print books on Amazon and Netflix says more people are watching paid content online versus pirated content.
Torchwood is going to have a web series spin-off called Torchwood: Web Of Lies and it will star Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse, Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
And Now In Technicolor Audio!
Want to give your eyes a rest? You can check out audio segments of my interviews with web series creators on SFP-Now. It’s a scifi news entertainment podcast show hosted by scifi-fanatic Ian Cullen and comic book addict Wayne Hall.
SFP-NOW – Episode 18 – Featuring Actor/Producer Joel Bryant Of Suck and Moan
SFP-NOW – Episode 19 – Featuring The Creator Of Vampire Mob Joe Wilson
Attack Of The Trailers!
Here are few trailers for web original series that caught my eye.
Cyphers 2011 Trailer
Cyphers is a character drama about a group of individuals who discover unexplained phenomena, and uncover treacherous organizations obsessed with controlling food and water supplies.
We Lost Our Gold – Trailer
It’s reality TV meets Pirates of the Caribbean meets the Muppets… 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!
Aidan 5 – Episode 7: “The Life of Riley”
Cops, clones, and conspiracy make for a very interesting scifi series called Aidan 5. Check out this new episode.
Haywire – Episode 7 “The Usual Suspects”
It’s a new episode in the horror scifi series called Haywire.
Heroes Of The North: Ep. 12 – “Crimson”
It’s a new episode of Heroes of the North, a Canadian superhero web series. If that isn’t enough to make you curious, then what if I tell you this episode includes sexy women in super comic book spandex-like costumes going Mortal Kombat with each other? Yeah, you’re curious now. 😉
Kidding aside, the series is an interesting take on a Canadian superhero team and their costume designer has made some really impressive looking super hero and villain outfits.
Mind’s Eye – Episode 21 – “To the Rescue”
More episodes of the family-friendly fantasy series Mind’s Eye.
“The Dreamweavers stage a rescue of Elyssa and the town’s missing children. Meanwhile Elyssa finds a way to let the old inner Pirate surface once more. The question is…will it stay that way?”
Mind’s Eye – Episode 22 – “Altered Arrangements”
“Mark seeks the help of the Knights Templar and is left with a difficult decision. Illia and Darius continue to walk the shorelines of some remote island while in debate about the truths of Illia’s new reality. North is the only way out now..”
Mortal Kombat: Legacy – Ep. 5 – “Kitana & Mileena” (Part 2)
We learn more about the mythology of Mortal Kombat with part two of our introduction tp Kitana & Mileena.
“Kitana and Mileena have grown up thinking that they are sisters, yet have grown apart over the years. Despite Mileena’s growing resentment towards Kitana, Shao Kahn uses them to destroy all who threaten his rule. But when they come upon King Jerrod on one of their missions, they finally learn the truth about their Mother and Father, and Kitana looks to plot her revenge against Shao Kahn.”
Mortal Kombat: Legacy – Ep. 6 – “Raiden”
It’s the introduction of everyone’s favorite thunder god… okay… maybe everyone’s favorite thunder god after Thor. I was surprised to see a familiar face from SyFy’s Sanctuary playing Raiden (Ryan Robbins).
“The following episode represents director Kevin Tancharoen’s ‘different take on the Mortal Kombat universe,’ combining the perfect amount of gritty realism mixed with a hint of mysticism… When Lord Raiden, God of Thunder and protector of Earth, finds himself in an earthly mental institution in the year 2011, his ‘delusions’ are treated with some rather primitive forms of therapy (involving an ECT machine and an ice pick). Nonetheless, Blue, his beautiful, fragile yet insane fellow inmate, is Raiden’s only hope of escaping the mental hospital and making his way to the Mortal Kombat tournament to defend Earthrealm from Shao Khan.”
Pioneer One – Episode 3 “Alone in the Night”
It’s more of the scifi web series Pioneer One.
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, I predict more news and interviews coming to a Wednesday near you. Take care friends. Until next time… marX out.
You can follow me on Twitter @MrMarx
Follow ScifiPulse on Twitter @SciFiPulse
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.