I really love it when the internet brings me new interesting people to meet and get to know. But really, how much of a bonus is this? This guy comes along with 35 episodes of a damned funny web TV show to boot!
Something To Be Desired is somewhere between the BBC version of The Office and Kevin Smith’s anything. I laughed out loud a good dozen times on the first episode I downloaded alone. The rest of them? Well, they get funnier and funnier. So, I bugged him the other night while he was trying to edit Episode 35 and meet a deadline.
**NOTE: this is a long interview, but worth it, if you’re interested in producing movies, interested in the creative process, or want to learn what’s behind the scenes on a hot new internet web series.***
It started off with Justin complimenting me on some of my art, and I mentioned that I’m not getting money for it just yet.
Justin: Sounds like me. Except I’m building STBD into a business. Paying my rent is a plus. grew up drawing and reading comic books, which led me to an education in computer animation? Yup. And here I am now: a freelance writer and videographer.
Me:Cool about the computer animation. Did you /do you do that professionally?
J: Actually, I was midway through my CAMM degree when I realized I should have just taken video, because the classes I was actually enjoying were 2-D animation (for which no one was hiring) and video editing (which they taught as a necessary evil).
When I graduated, I’d specialized in video enough to get a job as a video producer at a multimedia company who also wanted an animator, except I animated maybe 5 things while I was there.
Me: So, is STBD the first creative endeavor you put to film?
J: Well, when we were all 18 and figuring out life between high school and college, my friends and I made 5 hours’ worth of dark comedy spoofs with a VHS camera — the kind of thing you’d see now on YouTube, but which has mostly since degraded in someone’s basement — and that was the first time I realized I enjoyed being behind a camera.
When I went to college, I directed and edited a few short scenes / films for class projects, also with the same sense of absurdist humor. That led to the editing courses I dug. I had the idea for STBD in 1999, but there was no technology in place to do it then.
I had the idea for STBD in 1999, but there was no technology in place to
do it then.
But when one of my coworkers at the day job asked me to film a short for
a concert his band was playing in, we started to realize that the group
of us involved had the potential to do something recurring, and now we
had access to the equipment we would have needed in ’99, so STBD was
launched a year later.
Me: What technology are you using now that wasn’t available then? What tech do you use to produce the show?
J: The main roadblock was broadband. There needed to be a median acceptance and availability of broadband technology in place before making web video available to a wide enough audience would have been feasible.
The editing equipment and cameras were always there and are always improving. We currently use a Panasonic DVX100A and edit in Adobe Premiere — blasphemy to the MAC advocates out there, I know, but it’s the program I used at my day job. I also have a Powerbook and Final Cut Pro but I’m not as comfortable with the interface, so I use it for freelance work instead.
Me:How did you go about casting?
Justin: The first season, casting mainly consisted of Who We Knew. My friend Dan worked at a Barnes & Noble here in Pittsburgh, and the actress who played Dierdre worked in their cafe. The two of them starred in the aforementioned short film I made for the concert in 2002, called “Killing Time.”
When I mentioned the concept of a web series to Lacey (aka Dierdre — I tend to call the cast by their character names even in real life, which they thankfully forgive), she put me in touch with her classmates from Point Park University’s theater department. That’s where we found Shaun Cameron Hall (who plays Dean) and Will Guffey (who plays Leo). I’d actually known Will for years but never worked with him; our connection via Lacey was one of those ironic coincidences.
Will brought in a few of his classmates, one of whom (Ann Turiano, who plays Caroline) became the other backbone of the show. Leo, Caroline, Dierdre and Dean have been there since the beginning and will probably be there until the end, in one form or another.
The early days were not unlike the current days, except we only had a vision of five episodes, rather than 8 months’ worth of episodes. We were more heavily-scripted then, and the actors were certainly feeling their way through the process to define their roles.
Me: Has pressure risen as time goes on?
J: The pressure has risen to a degree, but in a positive way. Now that we have an audience who expects a new episode every Monday, we can’t let things slide. Our back-end — the scheduling, the logistics of a shoot, the plotlines — are still fairly loose and we still operate in a “guerrilla” style, but there’s definitely an added sense of urgency.
The time is now. For a long while, we were ahead of the curve. We were making a web video series long before most people decided it was a viable option, probably because it wasn’t in 2003.
The REST of the interview continues in part 2.
Tags: interview, iptv, webtv, stbd, kownacki, actors, acting, webmovies, video, production