Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Team Of "Blood Kiss"



Michael Reaves has written and produced literally hundreds of scripts for various TV series, including Star Trek: The Next Generation, Twilight Zone, Sliders, The Flash, Father Dowling Mysteries, and Disney's Gargoyles (the only animated TV series ever to be reviewed in The New York Times). He won an Emmy and was nominated for a second Emmy as a story editor and writer on Batman: The Animated Series. He also won a Howie Award for his H.P. Lovecraft-related work in film, as well as the prestigious Hampton's Award.

Why did you write "Blood Kiss"?

Hopefully so that it would get made.

How did you come up with the title?

Honestly don't remember; it's been that long .

Which character do you relate to the most?

I try never to relate to characters; it keeps me from being objective.

Is there anything you'd like to add?





Tom Mandrake is a freelance artist and writer. His work in comic books includes Batman, The X-Files 30 Days of Night, Fringe, The Spectre and Swamp Thing for DC Comics. The Punisher, The Hulk Unchained and various X-Men books for Marvel Comics. Tom has also worked on a variety of graphic novels ranging from Shakespeare's Hamlet to Pat Novak For Hire which is based on an old time radio show of the same name.

Tom has illustrated books such as Wild Cards IV, Aces Abroad, GRRM: The George RR Martin RRetrospective and the young adult novel The Forest King: The Woodlarks Shadow.

Why/how did you become involved with the project?

Several years ago Michael contacted me regarding doing a few samples for a Blood Kiss comic book/graphic novel. I produced 1 page of pencils, fell ill with Lyme disease and begged off at that point. Michael was very understanding, it wasn't that I didn't want to do it, I was just struggling to do anything at that point. Jump forward to a few months ago and I got the e-mail, would I like to get involved with Blood Kiss again, a graphic novel tied to a movie as a Kickstarter! Getting a second shot at a great project doesn't happen very often so I said yes!

Can you talk a little about the "Blood Kiss" graphic novel?

An interesting aspect of the graphic novel is that I'll be creating it at the same time the film is being made. That is something I have never tried before, traditionally you create a comic book/graphic novel with an eye towards a movie later or do a graphic novel to follow up a movie release. I like the feeling of uncertainty I get from this, the idea that I'll have to figure out the process as I go!

What are the differences between working on mainstream and independent comics?

When you find yourself working on a mainstream title, Batman, Spider-Man etc. you have some readers that have been with the character for decades, a built-in fan base! Do a good job and they will appreciate it. You may even pick up new readers, fans whose first introduction to a classic character is your work and they may come to regard your vision of that character as the standard. I grew up reading Marvel and DC books and still get a charge out of being able to contribute to the legends! On the other hand, being in on the ground floor of a new, independent title means flying without a net, no built in fan base and no idea if anybody will give a damn about a project you are totally committed to. I've been in both situations with some successes and a couple...not so much, but it's all good. Both paths are well worth the journey!

What's it like to draw character renditions of Amber Benson and Neil Gaiman?

It's always a little intimidating at first, drawing real people who have fans that want to see the likeness. The important thing is to accept that you will blow it a few times, don't get stressed out and over time you will figure out what makes each face unique. Amber and Neil each have very distinctive looks, that always helps when you're trying to key in on the character.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

Please join us on the Blood Kiss journey!



David Raiklen wrote, directed and scored his first film at age 9. He began studying keyboard and composing at age 5. He attended, then taught at UCLA, USC and CalArts. Among his teachers are John Williams and Mel Powel. He has worked for Fox, Disney and Sprint. David has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2004 American Music Center Award. Dr. Raiklen has composed music and sound design for theater (Death and the Maiden), dance (Russian Ballet), television (Sing Me a Story), cell phone (Spacey Movie), museums (Museum of Tolerance), concert (Violin Sonata ), and film (Appalachian Trail). His compositions have been performed at the Hollywood Bowl and the first Disney Hall. David Raiken is also host of a successful radio program, Classical Fan Club.


Daniela was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela from an Italian decent. Since a young age she had a passion for acting. Early on, she could tell good and bad performances apart and somehow understood the visceral process involved in acting and performing. However, for many years, she denied herself that passion thinking that it was not a respectable career path. At 15, her family moved to Italy where she started exploring filmmaking and storytelling. Filmmaking was the invisible line that still connected her to acting. When she graduated high school she moved to Paris, to study French language, Civilizations and Culture. During this time she began taking film courses in the Sorbonne University and in UCLA.

When she turned 20 she moved to South Florida where she continued her film studies in the University of Miami and The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. Daniela loved production and all the elements that went into narrating a well crafted story yet she was always restless because she knew that she was not honoring her Truth. Finally one day, she decided she couldn't deny It anymore, so she went to London to study Meisner at The Actor's Temple. That's where she had an epiphany. "Acting was everything I had hoped it would be. It was the missing piece in my life. I traveled the world, explored many cultures and studied languages and yet I found that acting gave the means to explore the human psyche and emotions that I longed for. More than that, there is no better way to be in "The Now" than when you are acting. When I'm immersed in a scene and emotions surge, they become so real that I understand what it is to "live truthfully in imaginary circumstances."

After that revelation, she decided to honor her calling and at 27, she moved to LA where she has continued to study with some of the great acting teachers today such as Janet Alhanti and Ivana Chubbuck. She also continued her studies in Film Production at The Art Institute of California. Currently, she is working on indie projects, balancing herself from behind and in front of the camera.

How/Why did you become involved  the project?

David: A mutual friend told me that Michael was looking into crowdfunding a new film and asked me to consult. At first I consulted a bit to help out. But after a while the project became irresistible with a great story, setting and cast. I wanted to work these amazing people.

What other things do you do besides producing?

David: I'm a virtuoso composer and have scored hundreds of projects with everything from electronics to live orchestra and chorus. I also host a successful podcast on soundtracks, the Hugo winning Starship Sofa.

How do you properly pronounce your last name?


What makes the film and" Kickstarter different from others?

David: Golden Age Hollywood with Vampires. Neil Gaiman and Amber Benson. Our videos.

How important is interaction with fans and/or backers when running a campaign?

David: We love all our fans and interact with them every day on Twitter, Facebook, Kickstarter, interviews. This is a new world and fans get to choose what gets made.

What has been the greatest thing you've learned from being part of the
"Blood Kiss" team?

David:  Neil Gaiman, Amber Benson, Michael Reaves, Daniela Di Mase and Tom Mandrake are warm, funny, creative, and inspiring. Every day one of them says or
does something that makes me think, laugh, and do better than I could

What would you do if you ever found vampire living in your basement?

David: Depends- nice and sexy or evil fiend?

Is there anything you'd like to add?

David: Thanks for having us over.

Daniela: Our backers have been amazing. The support for Michael and Blood Kiss has been quiet touching! We want to sincerely thank you all!

"Mile High" webseries Episode 2 "Foos"

My likeness is featured in this episode.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Wolfblood Creator and Writer Debbie Moon

Debbie Moon

Debbie Moon is a film and television writer living in mid-Wales. She has had over fifty short stories published in the UK and US, and her novel, Falling (Honno Press) was shortlisted for Welsh Book Of The Year. She has written for CBBC's The Sparticle Mystery, and is the creator and lead writer of the RTS-award-winning CBBC fantasy drama series Wolfblood. She also has several feature scripts, and a supernatural drama series, in development.

Why do you think the CBBC and Disney promos for "Wolfbood" each give a slightly different perception of the show?

Wolfblood is a show that seems to appeal to a cry wide audience. The stated audience for CBBC is 8 to 12-year-olds, the Disney audience is more like 8 to 14 - and we have quite a lot of adult fans! So it's a question of working out how to market the show to different target audiences. In the end, I'm not sure it matters, because Wolfblood's themes - friendship, loyalty, family, the tension between being different and fitting in, the search for identity -  appeal across all ages.

What are some of your favorite independent films and shows?

'Independent' is a tricky word, especially when applied to television, but… I'm a big fan of intelligent but fun science fiction and supernatural fiction, so things like Pacific Rim, Looper, Source Code, and on the small screen, Being Human and In The Flesh. I'm also a huge fan of The Shield and Leverage, both incredibly underrated shows. And I have an embarrassing weakness for The Fast And The Furious movies...

What sort of things do you study and consider when watching a film or show?

Like most people, if I'm really enjoying a show, I'm too into it to really analyse any thing. Once I've watched it enough times to get down to thinking about, however… Character is the key to everything. Interesting, unpredictable characters who aren't necessarily nice but whom we empathise with. Then a plot that's plausible but unpredictable, the richness of the world the writers are creating, and the balance of action, tension and character scenes.

 What are five things you're thankful for?

I expect most people say the same worthy things here, so just to ring the changes, I'm going to pick some less worthy but very enjoyable things!  Good walking boots. Bakewell tarts. Acting - I'm constantly in awe of what actors do… Computers (I started off writing on a typewriter, and boy, computers are easier…) And the Welsh countryside.

What's the most recent book you've read? Did you enjoy it?

The last book I read was A Cowboy Detective, by Charles Siringo; the true story of the author's exploits as an undercover detective in the Wild West. It wasn't quite as rich and detailed as I would have liked - more a fairly bare record of facts -  but it was a fascinating read, and a whole new perspective on the 'lawless' West.

What is one thing you wish you could tell your younger self?

Follow your instincts. But I was a pretty bolshie kid, so I probably wouldn't have listened anyway!

Would you ever use crowdfunding to fund a future project?

Crowdfunding is fantastic for producers and directors - the people who enjoy actually getting things done. I'm very much a writer - I want to do the writing, then hand it over to someone who can make it all happen, so I can go off an do more writing! So personally, probably not...

Is there a film or show that you believe everyone must see without question and why?

That's a tough one, because the great stories are so personal - what leaves one viewer cold might touch another person deeply. For anyone interested in storytelling, which on a  screen or in any other form, I'd say The Prestige, which is a superb piece of adaptation, of visual storytelling, of world-building. The way Christopher Nolan uses time, scene order, POV and the withholding of information in the film is extraordinary  (inspired by Christopher Priest's amazing novel, of course).

Thursday, October 17, 2013



KARL KENZLER is an actor and writer. He co-wrote the comedy pilot A/V CLUB which screened at NYTVF and was described by Mitchell Hurwitz as "an inventive and original piece that mixes Strangers with Candy and Thomas Pynchon's penchant for writing about secret societies." His critically acclaimed one-man show, FIRE IN THE HEAD, helped earn him a prestigious Charles and Eva Fox Fellowship.

As an actor, he can be seen in the recurring role of “Senator Charles Holburn” in the Netflix original series HOUSE OF CARDS and appeared in the recurring role of “Father Denis” on LAW & ORDER: SVU. Other guest appearances include PERSON OF INTEREST, MADE IN JERSEY, THE GOOD WIFE, FRINGE, RESCUE ME, ALL MY CHILDREN, LAW & ORDER, NOW & AGAIN and TRINITY. He lives in Jersey City with his wife and daughter where they have a lovely view of the Manhattan skyline -- without the headache.


CHRISTOPHER GERSON has worked as a producer and editor for the Sundance Film Festival; creating content for Sundance Online. He is an editor and video producer for Trifecta Multimedia and is proud to create video content for the Great River Shakespeare Festival ( He recently edited and acted in the short film FORT GREENE which premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
As an actor, he has appeared in many theater productions across the country and recently appeared in the New Georges Theatre production of Lynn Rosen's play "GOLDOR $ MYTHICA".

To learn more about "Darwin: The Series" click on the links below:

Kickstarter link:

Darwin links:

What is "Darwin: The Series" about?

KARL: "Darwin: The Series" is about Leo Darwin -- a life coach whose life is falling apart. He's a guy who appears to have everything. But in reality, he's a train wreck. The story revolves around a love triangle between Leo, his wife Charlie (a former street performer and current kleptomaniac) and his client Michael (a genius inventor and millionaire crippled by social phobias).

Can you explain the symbolism in the series?

KARL: I'm not really sure about the symbolism. But as a writer, I'm very intrigued by how deceptive appearances can be. Most people have a very rich interior life. We all harbor secrets, dreams, fantasies. But you reach a certain point in your life where you realize that those things may never come to pass. And how do you deal with that? That's very much a theme in the series. In a very funny way, these characters are all dealing with the compromises they've made in their lives.

Why do you want to make this series?

CHRIS: The two of us had been talking for years about doing a web series. But our ideas were too big, they were unmanageable.  So we hit on this idea of a life coach who was actually the opposite of everything he was trying to teach. We approached our co-creator, Lynn Rosen, and the three of us immediately hit it off. Lynn has a really unique point of view as a writer. It was a great fit.

KARL: The thing is, we weren't finding the kind of stories that we wanted to see online. Web content is often aimed at a particular audience: gamers, sci-fi fanboys and that sort of thing. And those tend to skew younger. But in the last ten years the online audience has grown up. So there's an appetite out there for stories about what happens later in life: the Big Questions that come up when you're married, when you have a kid, when you're in the midst of your career. My favorite shows are about flawed people who are trying their very best -- even when they don't behave that way. So that's what we tried to write. And we knew it had to be smart, funny, honest storytelling or else people would click away to something else.

Why did you decide to shoot two episodes before launching your campaign?

CHRIS: It was important to me to have something that we could present to an audience. We wanted to be able to say "Hey, we've created something here that's compelling. Come take a look!" We could have just pitched it. Or done a trailer. But if you start telling a good story, people become involved. And from a fundraising point of view, it's then much easier to ask for help in finishing it.

KARL: Also, a trailer or pitch would never have worked because it's not a high concept sell. No one's fighting zombies or living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland here. No one's saving the world or solving crimes. It's a character-driven story and what draws people in is the way it's told.

How did you come up with such interesting update videos for your Kickstarter?

KARL: We really just started doing those for us!

CHRIS: It's true, we've had a lot of fun with the updates! We throw out some ideas to each other on the phone, then go meet up and shoot it. Karl will write a brief outline -- talking points and a few of the jokes -- and then we just riff on that. We'll feed each other a lot.

KARL: Shooting it's a lot of fun but I think the real brilliance is in Chris' editing. That's where the funny comes from.

CHRIS: But that's already in the footage. Really, the update videos are pretty easy because we have a history. We've known each other since college. We used to make movies with one of those three-hundred pound VHS cameras. This is the same thing really, just with a purpose.

KARL: And the camera's lighter.

Please talk about the people involved with "Darwin".

CHRIS: We couldn't have done this without the help of so many people. Carrie Preston is so smart and creative. As an editor I've worked with a lot of directors that have far more opinions than they do ideas.  Although Carrie has plenty of strong opinions she has far more ideas. Good ideas. I really love how she's able to take the script and translate it into a visual language that matches the tone perfectly. She puts the viewer squarely into the world that Karl and Lynn have written.

KARL: That's right! And while we're mentioning her, the truth is, without Lynn Rosen we wouldn't have a Charlie. She's brought her sharp perspective to this project. There's a madness in her writing that is so funny and raw and real. It's indispensable.

CHRIS: Our production team is fantastic. Our amazing DP, Matt Bucy, and our hardworking and patient crew. Producers Greg Ivan Smith and Kate Fonville.

KARL: And our newest member of the family, producer Kim Sherrell. Kim actually came on board after discovering "Darwin" through our Kickstarter campaign! She's been incredibly helpful in getting the word out!

CHRIS: We're also very lucky to have such a talented cast. And they all have such great "day jobs"! Celia Keenan-Bolger (Charlie) is appearing right now in Broadway's "Glass Menagerie". Joel de la Fuente (Qui-Na) is back as the "Hemlock Grove" resident mad scientist. Bill Heck (Jansen) is known to indie audiences from his movies "Pit Stop", "Nonames" and the upcoming "Happy Baby".

KARL: I have to say, our real find is Tarah Flanagan as Gaye. Tarah did us a favor and came in for a casual writers' read-through and she just crushed it. We left the room and everyone immediately said "She's perfect for this!" It was like we were writing for her before we even knew it.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

CHRIS: Yeah, we're just a few days away from finishing our Kickstarter campaign. So please check out our page and watch the first two episodes!

KARL: And if you like it, join us. Come help us finish the story of "Darwin"!

CHRIS: Thanks!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Blaine Brothers

The Blaine Brothers

Renowned for their award-winning comic short films, the Blaine Brothers are currently in post production on their feature debut “Nina Forever”, a magic realist tale of grief and sex with a darkly comic undertone.

Previously they have featured in Screen International’s “Stars of Tomorrow”, been nominated for a BIFA and at the Edinburgh Film Festival, shortlisted by BAFTA three times, mentored on the prestigious Guiding Lights scheme and the London Short Film Festival has held a retrospective of their work at the ICA.

For more information please visit or follow @blainebrothers

What is "Nina Forever"?

BEN: Nina Forever is a feature film about a guy called Rob whose dead girlfriend Nina returns from beyond the grave every time he makes love with his new girlfriend Holly; it also follows Holly's attempts to make this unconventional relationship work.

Can people truly "be fixed"?

BEN: Holly hopes so, I think you may have to watch the film to get our opinion.

Would you mind explaining the symbolism behind the film?

BEN: Most things in the story have a symbolic aspect, I guess the biggest one is Nina herself. She appears naked throughout, her body blood splattered and twisted. There are times when this has an erotic element to it but actually, mostly, her bloody physicality is just a massive inconvience for the others. We were keen that Nina embodied an element of chaos which was something we felt was central to the experience of grief. An etheral ghost is quite easy to ignore in a way that a bleeding naked woman isn't, especially when she's also doing her best to wind you up.

As a counterpoint to Nina's messy and persistant presence we also concentrate a lot on empty spaces. It actually proved quite hard when designing the shots to work out the best way of drawing the audience's attention to things that are missing from the frame. A space on a shelf can sing out to you like a missing tooth but an empty chair in a room is often not something you naturally read. The importance of things and people who aren't there is central to the film and it's something we've tried to mirror in the structure of the story as well. Characters go missing at times when normally they wouldn't be allowed to and much of Holly's investigations into Nina end with her actually finding out nothing. With Nina too there's a big missing element, normally with a character like hers there's a reason for the return, a quest or something to resolve but we were keen to create Nina as a character with no goal or story arc. She's dead so she wants nothing and learns nothing. It does make the film feel odd, there are often gaps where you expect story to be but that felt like the right way of expressing the real meaning of the story.

There are also a lot of boxes in the film, but I think that metaphor speaks for itself. Less expected was the adoration of pylons. We kept finding power lines in the locations we were using and kept wanting to use them in shots. They are amazing structures that generally we just ignore. They surround us like steel castles but you just get into the habit of ignoring them. That also felt appropriate for a film about grief. It's a massive distorting ball of emotions but it hangs around for so long you just get used to it, you live around it like it's always been there. We were very keen to set the film in a super normal suburban setting - putting an impossible awful magical thing in the middle of this mundanity felt like that sensation of having to continue your life whilst this raging chaos rattles away in your skull.

How do the character's in the film handle grief?

BEN: By making mistakes. We spend a fair amount of time with Nina's parents, Sally and Dan who are two really heartbreaking characters. They're really lovely people but losing their daughter has left them both exposed and beneath a very normal exterior they're both flailing around in craziness searching for something to make sense of the mess. In different ways they've both latched onto Rob, Nina's boyfriend, for some emotional crutch. All three of them depend heavily on each other, which was probably essential when Nina died but, this far on, is a dependency that is keeping them all locked in their grief. Breaking the bonds between them, good and bad, is a key part of the story of how they all continue living.

So yeah, I think generally speaking they handle their grief badly and messily and by making big bold decisions that they don't mean and can't stick to. Then, just when it seems like this hopelessness is going to destroy them all, well, we hope there's enough of a spark of hope in the end of the film to be true. Grief is something that changes you but it doesn't destroy you. It's just not something you often cope with in the way you imagine you are going to.

What's it like working with your brother?

CHRIS: It's a fairly calm collaboration. We've got our own tastes but a shared central core of stuff we both love that is only enhanced by our differences. We work by thinking about intent - it's not the words on the page or the pixels on the screen that matter, it's what you're hoping they'll do to an audience. As soon as you're thinking about that, it's a lot easier to realise that something isn't working or could be better. In terms of the nuts and bolts, we write, direct and edit together, which means working closely throughout. We use two laptops and share screens so we can both see the words being written at the same time, which usually means one of us can be talking more, thinking more or researching more whilst the other types (and often goes with the flow of creativity that it can bring). On set we don't really delineate our roles but if we're up against it Ben will talk with the actors and Chris will talk with the crew. Usually it's better when we're both closer to everyone, it makes it a much more collaborative and creative process, which is why we like to keep the numbers small if we can. In post we both edit, each taking up the next sequence available when they've finished the previous, then we'll take sections to smooth. Ben does more on the audio side, Chris more on the pictures.

How do you balance your personal and professional lives?

BEN: Making a film like this there is very little balance between the two. You pour yourself into it and just hope that if you give it all honestly then somehow the end result will be honest too. It was tough. There were times when we really went to the bare bones with the cast, sharing the roots of the idea, the deaths we've experienced. That leaves you pretty raw but I think being so close and working on the film together was one of the things that helped us get through it.

But yeah, I don't think there's much of a divide between personal and professional in filmmaking. You can point at things and you always have to be aware of when something is the wrong emotion for the story, but these are fairly flimsy walls. You make a film about sex and death it needs to be personal.

What was the casting process like?

BEN: Rigorous. There are no easy parts in the film and we've been very lucky that even the minor characters are played by some pretty superb actors. There's a guy called David who's in one scene dumping Holly. He's just a kid in a car trying to end a relationship but it's the third scene in the film and it tells you a lot about her as a character. It's also quite a specific character, he's sort of a bad kid but no where near as bad as he thinks he is and we had a very specific voice in mind when we wrote him. Javan Hirst who plays him actually auditioned for the lead and he was amazing but way too young for the part but it's great that he was so into the project he was happy to come and be in a single scene.

But yeah, the leads were hard. They are three difficult parts and they need to work together as a three as well. We worked with a superb casting director, Emily Tillelli and she was amazing. She was fearless in approaching actors of all standing within the industry, no small thing with a budget as small as ours, but never blind to new talent. She also really encouraged us to run the auditions like part of a rehearsal process. Sometimes it can be an awful cattle call but with Emily it was always the first steps in helping the actor find the character.

So yeah, it took a long time but the real key was when Fiona O'Shaughnessy came on board. Nina is a very difficult part to play and she knew that and was actually quite scared initially. Emily had seen her in Utopia on Channel 4 and thought she'd be perfect as Nina and made the approach and at first Fiona turned it down. Then Emily convinced her to have a phone cal with us so we talked through her concerns about the project and we all seemed to get on so she jumped on a plane from Dublin and came and auditioned. She was perfect, I think having those fears about the part was key actually - she really understood what the role required and we were so lucky that she was brave enough to comit to it and go there. Once we had Fiona the others fell into place. Cian and Abi had auditioned before her but we felt like we couldn't make a decision until we knew who Nina was. That's probably self delusion to be honest as, looking back, all that happened was that we cast the two people we wanted to cast anyway but with the best will in the world you don't aways see the blindingly obvious til its over.

Interestingly they're very different performers though. Emily knew nothing about Abi and just called her in after getting a good feeling about her headshot. She's a very instinctive performer and was just so perfect for Holly, I remember the hairs on the back of my neck standing up the moment she started her audition. That said, though she seems so natural and always in the moment we found out later how hard she worked to get there. She used to read the script in full every day and was always comma perfect.

Cian was Emily's first suggestion for the role of Rob and his first audition was amazing but he's a different sort of actor to Abi. He's nothing like Rob in real life and in his recall he was much more relaxed. We were expecting this brooding troubled guy that we met in the first audition but instead this delightful puppy bounded into the room. He's hilarious and charming and he stays himself until the camera rolls. First couple of scenes that was quite scary, you'd be setting for this shot and thinking "what the hell is he doing?" and then you'd call action and suddenly this performance would appear.

We've been very lucky.

What is the key to a successful crowdfunding campaign?

BEN: Engagement and passion are essential. You have to be able to convey why you want to make the film. It's also good to show the world that you're not expecting them to do the hard bit for you. In our case we raised £18k which was mainly just to shoot a specific sequence in the film that was, on its own, way too expensive for our budget. This felt good as it meant we weren't saying "oh please we'd like to make a film can you fund it for us…" we were saying "we're making a film, come and join in."

The real turning point for us though was when we released the teaser. I think this worked on two levels. We'd cut a couple of minutes of footage from film to a track by Amanda Palmer and asked her if we could use the track for the duration of the Kickstarter campaign. She saw it, loved it, said yes and began tweeting about it. Obviously when someone with her online following starts pointing eyeballs towards your work that has a great impact. We raised £7k in the final three days, all after the teaser was released. What's great about this though is that, when you look at the stats, this wasn't just Amanda's fan base getting involved, the money came from all over the place - a lot of it was people who'd been following the campaign from the start but hadn't felt convinced by us talking about the project. As a filmmaker it's great to find that people respond better to seeing a bit of the film than they do to hearing you talk about it!

It's another reason why I think our approach of not trying to fund the entire project paid off. Being able to actually show people what their money was going into was the real turning point for us.

What is the indie film scene like where you live?

CHRIS: Mostly we think of films in Britain working in a system of patronage. You go cap in hand to one of a few sources of money and the chosen few get to make their films. There are obviously lots of folks trying for this so its easy to become not one of the chosen ones as there's only a small pot of money there. And if you don't get money from one of the BFI, FIlm4 or BBC Films then you're dead in the water. That's the story that puts a downer on everything. However there's lots of money sloshing around London and ways of finding investors. There's a burgeoning number of exciting films being made for not very much money, though if these can be a source of a continuing income is to be seen - people like Ben Wheatley are making it work, which is very inspiring to see.

When I think of an indie film scene I always think of filmmakers all working together, critiquing each other's work and working on each other's films when they happen, drinking and watching films together and talking into the wee hours in coffee shops. This isn't necessarily how life is in London, I don't know. There are definitely signs of it - we are in a great scriptwriting group with some brilliant writers, we know a lot of folks who have just made or are about to make their first feature, and we love to help others with their projects in whatever way we can. However we're also not the most sociable - we like to work (hence the writing, directing, editing) which doesn't leave much time for hanging with the cool kids.


 Thanks for doing the interview guys. I wish you all the best with "Nina Forever" and future projects. If your ever in Boston, let me know. Maybe we can talk indie film.

Friday, October 4, 2013

League Of S.T.EA.M.-Q+A with Nick Baumann and Trip Hope

About the League of S.T.E.A.M.

The League of S.T.E.A.M. is a talented group of artists, performers, and inventors who take their audience back to a time of intrepid adventures, bridging the gap between the supernatural and the scientific; they are monster hunters from the Victorian era. The group is best known for their award-winning web series The Adventures of the League of S.T.E.A.M., which chronicles the group’s comedic monster-hunting misadventures. The League of S.T.E.A.M. specializes in interactive entertainment, performing with a fusion of fantastic technology, interactive demonstrations, and theatrical trickery, and their live events showcase a mesmerizing array of fully functional gadgets and props meticulously designed to enchant and entertain audiences of all ages. Their mission is to create unforgettable entertainment, telling their stories through a unique mix of interactive live shows, a popular web series, audio podcasts, and interactive fan club, and more.

Official Web Site:


YouTube Channel:

SteamGeeks Podcast:


Why was the “League of S.T.E.A.M.” created?

Nick: The League was created as a way to focus the creative energy many of us had stored up and needed a project to focus our talents on. The four original creators started a loose idea of the League 4-5 years ago as a costume group for a large Masquerade party. From there we got asked to come other parties and eventually started getting hired to entertain crowds at various events. Other friends from various parts of my life then joined and we grew from there and began to focus our ideas in actual shows and then the web series!

Trip: The League of S.T.E.A.M. has always been a passion project. It was created by artists who wanted to create awesome costumes for an amazing masquerade ball in Hollywood called The Labyrinth of Jareth. Our founders, Nick Baumann, Robin Blackburn, and James Lavrakas, along with others – had the idea to attend this big event as steampunk ghostbusters. The men went with ghosts hunting packs fashioned in a steampunk homage to The Ghostbusters proton packs and the ladies of the group went in historically accurate Rococo & Victorian style glowing etherial ball gowns. The spectacle was a huge hit at Labyrinth and The League of S.T.E.A.M. was born. We started getting requests to dress up for events. Many of us are in the entertainment industry, so expanding into a web series and an entertainment troupe that does live shows was an organic process for us.

What is the casting process like?

Nick: We have so many options to explore and stories to tell with our current 11 characters that the League itself is not adding characters at this time. However for our web series, either we write certain parts for friends and actors we know would be great for the part or we find actor friends that we think will fit a part well.

Trip: The casting process for The League of S.T.E.A.M. itself was a group of creative friends and artists joining together. We feel very fortunate that within our group we’ve got professional prop fabricators, costumers, leather workers, craftsmen, sculptors and filmmakers. We were truly blessed in how we just came together with a shared love for steampunk and outrageously fun projects.

As far as casting for the web series goes, any cast member outside of The League are usually friends, acquaintances, or people within the steampunk and geek-centric community. We were very fortunate to have connections with Doug Jones (Hellboy, Falling Skies), Grant Imahara (Mythbusters), Robin Thorsen (The Guild) and Lisa Foiles (All That), all of whom guest starred in Season 2. We also had an open casting call for many cameo roles – we sent this out to the steampunk community and our friends and fans. More than 75 of them can be seen in our episodes.

What was it like working with Panic At The Disco?

Nick: Pretty cool! They are a great group of guys, super friendly and very talented. The production crew they work with is top-notch and very professional and run a great efficient set.

Trip: An absolute pleasure!

What is the key to a successful Kickstarter campaign?

Trip: Getting friends, family, and community involved. Generally your Kickstarter campaign is only going to be as successful as the community you can reach out to – unless you’re incredibly fortunate enough to have a product that has instant mass appeal. We’ve tried to enlist all our fans and the steampunk community. We’ve encouraged them to share on social media and to donate. We’ve asked all our steampunk artist & musician friends to donate awesome rewards. And rewards are important. You want to make your backers feel like not only are they contributing to a cool project, but they are going to get something tangible that they will enjoy. I also think it’s cool to offer your backers exclusive behind-the-scenes content that no one else will get to see…and that’s what we’re offering. Even if someone only donates $1, they’ll get to see what we’re up to as we create Season 3.

How is season 3 going to be different?

Trip: Season 3 will have new adventures, new story lines, it will introduce new characters and monsters, there will be cool new gadgets and costumes, new locations – we hope to really raise the bar across the board!

How do the live shows differ from the web series and podcasts?

Nick: Podcast is very casual just us as the real people and artist chatting. The web series is the stories of the characters on their adventures and within their world. Live shows give the audience a chance to interact with the League and learn up close and personal about the gadgets and gear - see, touch and feel them work! We have various live shows we can do, some are stage shows the audience can watch and come on stage and join in but my favorite is when we are down in and interacting with the audience in our walk around bits. We can wander the crowd and get into all sorts of shenanigans!


Trip: Live shows bring the audience into our world! They get to interact with our monster hunting gadgets, our cast, and sometimes even the monsters! We bring people up on stage to act out their favorite monsters and they can experience getting caught with our net gun. We shock willing ‘victims’ with our shock prod, which is powered by baby electric eels. We do fun and exciting skits – such as a Tesla vs. Edison boxing match – to determine who is the king of electricity.

What’s been the most interesting fan interaction?

Nick: Well…one of my favorite was last year at the World Steam Expo. A man and his family visited for the first time to any Steampunk event - they had not even dressed up yet…to be honest, it was Dad's birthday and I think the family liked Steampunk but mostly all went along to the Expo for the Dad. In any case, he was super excited to run into me in the vendor hall and proceeded to shout out, loudly, all weekend, every time he saw us, “How excited am I!”, “It's the League of STEAM!”…it was very cute, something you might expect from a child, he was filled with that child like wonder and delight, it was very genuine! That night at a big dance party we hoisted him up in the air in a chair and sung and danced with him for his birthday…that was memorable.

Trip: We’ve had a lot & I think the coolest interactions have been when we meet our fans and they become our friends at conventions. However, we did recently have a fun experience with a fan at Dragon Con who we brought up on stage to act out his favorite monster. He was dressed up as The Joker and began preaching like an corrupt televangelist – he had the entire audience in an uproar of laughter & we netted him and had to drag him off stage. He was quite hilarious!

Describe each League member in one word?


Nick Baumann – (Crackitus Potts) – Madcap-Genius

Robin Blackburn – (Lady Ameliorette Potts) – Empathic

Sheyne Fleisher – (Ellie Copperbottom) – Social-Butterfly

Glenn Freund – (Coyote) – Jack-of-all-Trades

Andrew Fogel – (Baron von Fogel) – Master-of-Details

Trip Hope – (Albert Able, Esq./Executive Producer) – Friendly-Workaholic

Russell Isler – (Thaddeus / Zed, The Zombie Butler) – Brewmaster

Duane Matthews – (Jasper Mooney) – Wise-Wordsmith

Katherine Walsh – (Katherine Blackmore) – Crafty

Conrad Wright Jr – (Sir Conrad Wright III) – Lovable-Goof-ball

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Trip: We LOVE you for donating to our cause & we’re grateful to you for being an Associate Producer!


A Message from The League of S.T.E.A.M. -

Our Kickstarter project is OVER! Thanks to your generous contributions of fans, friends, and family - we raised $30,842 - 123% of our goal, and enough to let us bring you more of our monster hunting adventures, including a musical episode AND a rock monster!

To everyone who donated, shared the link, or offered us encouragement - THANK YOU! We couldn't do this without your help, and we're eternally grateful for your support.

You can check out the kickstarter project for Season 3 here:


Thanks so much for doing the interview Nick and Trip. I look forward to season 3. I hope the league comes to Boston at some point. I'd LOVE to see a live show.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Actor/Director Lee Wilkof

Lee Wilkof was born and raised in Canton, Ohio and attended The University of Cincinnati. He originated the roles of Sam Byck in Assassins and Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors, later earning a Tony Award nomination for the 2000 revival of Kiss Me, Kate. Lee appeared as The Wizard in the San Francisco production of Wicked, a role in which he previously played on the First National Tour of the show, and has appeared in numerous television series (Ally McBeal, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The West Wing, Hart to Hart among many others) and films ( School Of Rock, Private Parts, The Grey Zone, This Boy's Life). Lee currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, painter Connie Grappo, and their dog Floyd. Their daughter Perrie, a pastry chef, currently resides in Columbus, Ohio.

Please visit to learn about Lee's latest project "No Pay Nudity"

What is "No Pay Nudity" about?

No Pay Nudity is about Lester Rosenthal, aka Lawrence Rose, middle-aged actor living in New York City. Divorced, and estranged from his daughter and his father, he’s almost finished, both financially and emotionally. He relies on the support of his other actor friends, Herschel, Andrea, and Stephen who face down their own demons with lots of hope, a little alcohol, and tons of humor. On the verge of packing it all in, Lester returns to his hometown in Ohio to play The Fool in King Lear where he reconnects with himself and what’s important to him as a son, a dad, a friend, and an actor.

Why did you decide to make this film?

I decided to make the film because it's a story I know about. Part of it is my desire for an audience to see beyond celebrity and stardom which has poisoned our culture. But what really motivated me was coming to terms myself with what defines success. Winston Churchill defined success as "moving from one disappointment to the next without losing enthusiasm."

What was the casting process like?

My casting process was calling up my friends, or if I didn't know a particular actor, finding someone who did and sending the script to them. Whenever we went through an agent, we never heard from them again. A film like ours, with a small budget has no incentive for an agent. But if we got the script into the actor's hand, they always responded positively, always with tremendous enthusiasm, because actors relate to our script, regardless of where they are in their careers. Because it's about yearning. All actors yearn. Everybody yearns.

Why did you choose Kickstarter to finance the film?

I hired a lawyer, created an LLC, and put together a business plan hoping to get investors for our film. Frankly, very few folks responded. Maybe because I'm a first time director. Kickstarter was getting a lot of attention and i like the idea of it, and decided to try it that way. I'm deep into it, and find it an emotional roller coaster, but incredibly exhilarating, and am extremely moved by friends' and strangers' incredible generosity.

How will your background as an actor help you as a director for "No Pay Nudity"?

I've been on film sets, and television sets for nearly 40 years. I'm comfortable in that environment. I am extremely collaborative and realize i have serious limitations when it comes to the technical aspects of filmmaking. So I will rely on a strong crew. But i feel very comfortable talking to actors and have fairly good communication skills. That's where my experience as an actor will be very valuable.

Has Broadway changed over the years?

Broadway has changed along with our culture. Spectacle shows are more popular. And a show without a "star" is almost unheard of. Often these stars come from television or film, and often these stars have very little stage experience. That's the biggest change I've seen. Also audiences have changed. Theater to a lot of people is like a trip to Disneyland. It changes my experience as an actor acting for them.

If you could play any role what would it be?

Specifically I have always wanted to play Tevye in Fiddler on The Roof. Also would like to play Willy Lowman in Death of a Salesman. Love playing lowlifes, hillbillies, outlaws. People on the fringes. love that.

Do you have any advice for aspiring actors or directors?

To the aspiring actor I suggest if one is doing it to become a "star" that's a mistake. Becoming an actor is a process. It deserves work and paying dues and training and then practice. I cant' speak to aspiring directors except to probably do that for the right reasons, because you want to tell a story. It's not about "you," it's about the audience either as an actor or a director.

Do you have any favorite independent films?

I love so many independent films…a few come to mind…Welcome to The Dollhouse, Mean Streets, Stranger Than Paradise…so many directors of note in the late 20th century Martin Scorcese, David Lynch, Todd Solondz, Quentin Tarentino…their early films were independent. Incredibly vital, brave, and unique. I will steal from them if I am fortunate enough to make No Pay, Nudity. I'm not ashamed to admit it.


Thank you Lee for doing this interview. I wish you all the best with "No Pay Nudity" and future projects.