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AbbyShot Clothiers’s officially licensed, screen accurate, and limited edition Tenth Doctor’s Coat and Martha Jones Companion Jacket from Doctor Who are apparel fit for a Time Lord. While the majority of replica clothing only vaguely resembles the costume it was inspired by, AbbyShot’s recreations look like originals sneaked directly off production sets.

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Q&A with AbbyShot Clothiers:

ÜberSciFiGeek (ÜSFG) What led AbbyShot to choose Doctor Who, a British series, for its newest line of sci-fi inspired clothing?

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AbbyShot Clothiers (AC) First and foremost — the fans. Everything at AbbyShot begins with fan suggestions, as it has from day one when we were making our first Matrix-style coat. AbbyShot is known globally as the creator of high quality sci-fi inspired clothing, so not long after David Tennant’s first Christmas Special as the Tenth Doctor in 2005 Doctor Who fans were quick to put his costume on our radar. Then we became huge fans of Doctor Who ourselves soon after.

Over the past several years, there has really been something magical happening with Doctor Who — the buzz has been building and the interest for this show and this protagonist is the highest it’s ever been. David Tennant played a very human and relatable, yet still insanely fun-to-watch, Doctor, and the BBC got the show out to more and more people every year. Let’s just say that our email Inbox was filling up with fans wanting us to create an AbbyShot “real-life” version of the Tenth Doctor’s Coat!

We always listen to the fans so we carefully evaluated the idea and decided to take on this exciting new project. We also attended a Licensing Show in New York City where we met up with representatives from the BBC and from those initial meetings came a new Licensing Agreement for a whole new breed of Doctor Who collectibles — wearable replica clothing.

The Tenth Doctor’s Coat as well was very appealing to our team right from the start — it’s such a classic cut and style for a man’s overcoat, with a back vent and box pleat that make it very distinctive. Add in the deep blue lining and the orange trim on the inside pockets and THAT’S when you realize — this is no average coat, this is Doctor Who!

What makes AbbyShot different from most replica companies is that our products stand up to the test of time. Our products are ones which you can wear every day for years to come. And while they are hits at conventions, they are not simply costumes. We take great pride in our attention to detail, and we never forget that our coats are first and foremost pieces of apparel which people wear in their everyday lives. Both the Tenth Doctor’s coat and the Martha Jones jacket are just that… jackets that were worn by their characters time and time again… It seemed like a natural extension of that for which we stand.

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(ÜSFG) With David Tennant recently stepping down from his popular reign on the series, it does make perfect sense why his signature overcoat was selected to launch AbbyShot’s Doctor Who line. Will the Tenth Doctor’s Coat be followed by apparel specific to previous incarnations of the Time Lord, such as the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker)’s iconic scarf?

(AC) Iconic is really the keyword here — a quick scan through the catalogue on the AbbyShot site will tell you that we only take on the most iconic characters and their clothing designs. Like you said, David Tennant stepped down from the role of the Doctor at the peak of his popularity and his costume was one of the most recognizable as well (with designer Louise Page stating recently that it was the costume she was most proud of designing). So the Tenth Doctor’s Coat was indeed the obvious flagship to launch our line, but it doesn’t stop there.

This BBC license opens up a world of opportunities as so much interesting apparel has been seen on Doctor Who over the decades — over 40 years worth of material! We don’t want to say too much at this point, but we can say that the wardrobe of previous Doctors would be obvious sources of inspirations (who can forget the Sixth Doctor’s multicoloured coat, or the Seventh Doctor’s question-mark-laden jumper?). However, we’re not ruling out some fan-favourite Doctor Who guest stars either!

We’re always open to suggestions as well and invite Doctor Who fans to email us through our “Suggestions Page” with any wonderful and inspired ideas.

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(ÜSFG) The Tenth Doctor had three main companions: Rose Tyler, Martha Jones, and Donna Noble. Why was Martha Jones, and her red leather jacket, picked to represent the Doctor’s companions? Will Rose Tyler and Donna Noble, or companions of the past Doctors, like Sarah Jane Smith, also receive the AbbyShot treatment?

(AC) Again, it comes down to the “iconic” factor — Martha Jones wore her striking red leather jacket for the majority of Series 3 and it really became a signature part of her look. All the women on our Design Team love the design as well, it goes beyond a “cool Doctor Who replica” and is truly a beautiful leather jacket that women not familiar with Martha Jones still want to wear!

For some AbbyShot coats and jackets the fans tell us that wearing them is like being a member of a secret society. The Martha Jones Companion Jacket is one of those jackets where you really do hide your fandom in plain sight! You walk down the street and 90% of people think you’re simply wearing a cool leather jacket. However, those 10% that DO recognize the source material — they will look at you like you’re a goddess! Be warned.

As for other Companions, we’re absolutely leaving the door open for other opportunities there as well. Once again — if there’s a coat or jacket you absolutely MUST have then please visit our Suggestions Page and let us know.

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(ÜSFG) Will AbbyShot be producing replica jewelry and accessories, such as the Master’s ring, to accompany the Doctor Who clothing line?

(AC) Interesting question! Our strength here at AbbyShot is in clothing design so while we may create accessories in the future we most likely wouldn’t stray too far from the apparel category. There are also some other talented BBC licensees making Doctor Who prop replicas already so jewelry would most likely fall under another company’s core strength.

AbbyShot is the ultimate source for science-fiction replica clothing and we’ll keep building on that strength into the future.

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(ÜSFG) Fans of Doctor Who will always have their “favourite Doctor”, so who do the designers cite as their favourite?

(AC) Our favourite Doctor — that is a tough one but we would have to say David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. And we’re not just saying that because we make his coat replica! He’s molto bene, what else can we say?

All the same, we can’t wait to see what Matt Smith will do with the role under Stephen Moffat’s more-than-capable hands (I mean, the man wrote one of our favourite Doctor Who episodes of all time, “Blink”!). We’re at the beginning of an exciting new era of Doctor Who and AbbyShot Clothiers is so proud to be a part of it.

Thanks so much for the great questions, it’s been a pleasure.

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(ÜSFG) Thank you, AbbyShot, for your brilliant answers and the exclusive photos! Now, off to watch some Doctor Who… Allons-y!

Order directly through the AbbyShot Clothiers website.

(Firefly/Serenity fans, be sure to also check out AbbyShot’s Malcolm Reynolds Browncoat at Are You a Real Browncoat?)

The Tenth Doctor’s Coat and Martha Jones Companion Jacket are distributed by AbbyShot Clothiers. For more information on AbbyShot’s Doctor Who replica clothing, visit the Are You a Real Time Lord? website. AbbyShot Clothiers may also be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

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The star of Ask the Sharky surfaces to answer some questions about his underwater web series. The interview was conducted by sea-mail, with Sharky assuring “ÜberSciSomething” that “…Me can just answer [questions] with typing or something. Me am very good at typing with fins. True.”

ÜberSciFiGeek (ÜSFG) What inspired you to create a web series that answers land dwellers’ questions about your life under the sea?

Sharky (S) Um. Me noticed that people not under the water didn’t understand sharkies very well. People not under the water are all like “Hey! Look out! That sharky is going to bite you!” But sharkies don’t care about biting people, me just get confused sometimes because you look like a baby seal. But you don’t taste as good as a baby seal. True.

Also me am very smart and can answer questions verygoodtrue. Something.

(ÜSFG) What is the most unusual question that you’ve been asked so far?

(S) Me had one person ask me what the most unusual question I’ve been asked so far. That was pretty unusual. Hehehe.
Not really. Me just said that because you asked that question. True.

Me get a lot of questions though. Currently me have, like, big-number-something questions (ed– more than 5, although currently Sharky has about 100 voicemail messages). Lots of people want to know about what me eat, or if me like this food or that food, or if I will eat them, or if me will eat their sister, or how I eat, or if I am eating something right now. I guess those are pretty normal questions for a Sharky, though. Me am pretty good at eating. True.

Prolly the most strange was someone asked me how to make cornbread. It is hard to make cornbread under the water.

(ÜSFG) You often complete your sentences with the exclamation “True!” How did that become your catchword?

(S) True. Me say that a lot. True.

(ÜSFG) Since you now have Sharky Swag on CafePress, are there plans to release other merchandise, like a DVD compilation of your videos or an adorable plushie? (There’s a shark on the East Coast, Nigel from Dante Beatrix, whose family resemblance to you is striking. Maybe he could help you with merchandising!)

(S) Me not know. That is a good question. Me was thinking maybe me would make a Sharky movie sometime, or maybe a Sharky video game or a Sharky rock opera.

Me like Nigel! He is one handsome sharky! Me will have to talk to that Dante someone! True.

A cute furry Sharky would be pretty good. True. Me would rather have an action figure, though. With realistic biting action.

(ÜSFG) If you ever saw a mermaid, would you consider her a friend or fish dinner?

(S) Ummm. Prolly me would be friends with her because she is only half fish and me not like the taste of people. UM! At least me THINK me would not like the taste of people. Me have never bited a person before. Seriously! Me am not lying about that at all. No people biting.

Anyway, if she was half seal instead that would be very tempting. True.

Ok. Thanks for the interview, me hope you got all the answers you wanted! Don’t forget to be nice to sharkies! Also it is nice to drop yummy food in the water. Pleasethankyou.

Swim swim swim swim swim True! swim swim swim

Sharky Links:
Ask the Sharky Official Website
Ask the Sharky on YouTube
Ask the Sharky on Facebook
Ask the Sharky on Twitter

Learn more about sharkies by watching the award-winning documentary film Sharkwater. It will make you see Sharky’s misunderstood kin in a whole new, positive light. True!

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Emilie Ullerup, best known for her roles on jPod and Sanctuary, guest stars on this week's Smallville episode, "Crossfire"

Emilie Ullerup, best known for her roles on jPod and Sanctuary, guest stars on this week's Smallville episode, "Crossfire"

While Emilie Ullerup has won a Leo Award for Best Actress in the acclaimed show jPod, she is probably best known for the role of Ashley Magnus on Syfy’s Sanctuary. Having already guest-starred in such sci-fi and fantasy shows as Battlestar Galactica, Blood Ties and the film Paradox, she’s about to dive into another with a guest spot on this week’s Smallville. The timing couldn’t be more perfect, either.

With recent events on this season of Sanctuary, Emilie has gotten a lot of attention over the past few weeks. IMDb.com searches have gone up over 95% and a Google search of the past three weeks of posts regarding Emilie turned up almost 32,000 hits! With growing interest like that, a lot of Emilie fans may be tuning in to Smallville for the first time this week.

If you haven’t watched the first three episodes of Sanctuary this season and have avoided spoilers as of yet, don’t read any further until you’ve gone to Syfy.com and watched those episodes.

ÜberSciFiGeek (ÜSFG) I know you had surgery this summer. I’m sorry to hear you had complications! How are you recovering?

Emilie Ullerup (EU) Yeah… thank you. It was quite the process. Basically, it was a tumor that had grown out of my sacrum, wrapped itself around a couple of spinal nerves, and was causing me some grief. So, the only way to get rid of it was to surgically remove it, leaving large margins to make sure it wouldn’t spread. They took my tailbone, the nerves that were involved and (I think) some of my sacrum.

(ÜSFG) Ouch.

(EU) Ouch is right. Cool scar though! It’s easy to say that now that I’m on the other side of it. It was a life changing experience, wouldn’t do it again, but also wouldn’t take it back. I haven’t actually given the official statement until now! I know people have been wondering, so it’s time I let them know.

(ÜSFG) Yes, they have been wondering why you’ve been so quiet about it. I realize part of that would have to be because some of that time period overlapped with the Sanctuary shooting schedule and you can’t give away too many spoilers for the season. Are you expecting a full recovery? Will it affect your ability to do most of your own stunts in future projects?

(EU) It shouldn’t affect anything. It’s just a reaaalllyyy slow recovery. I’m not good at being patient but I’ve been forced to be in this case. I definitely count on being able to kick ass again some time in the future!

(ÜSFG) Good to hear!

(EU) Thanks and also thank you to everyone who has been thinking of me.

(ÜSFG) It did give you lots of time to spend with family though, right?

(EU) My mom came to Vancouver a couple of times throughout. Because there were a few unexpected bumps along the way, she felt best being here at times. It was scary and when it gets scary, the best one to have along with you is your mom… so we spent lots of time together in the hospital, talking, talking and talking.

(ÜSFG) Moms do have a knack with providing comfort in scary times.

(EU) They do indeed.

(ÜSFG) Are you pretty close to back to normal now or will it take a few more months?

(EU) I can do almost everything. I wasn’t allowed to sit for about four months, so that is still new to me. I can’t drive yet because of that but I’m going to the gym, core strengthening, trying to get back in shape, but at least I can be on my own now. I can do all the daily things. It’s crazy how much you can all of a sudden appreciate being able to put your own socks on!

(ÜSFG) When we spoke back in February about Season 2, you said you hoped the Sanctuary team would give you “some juicy, juicy stuff for us all to sink our teeth into” and “I would love some sort of head to head conflict with mom.” It seems you got what you wished for but not exactly in the way you were expecting. After being turned into a super-mutant vampire warrior and sent to destroy her mother and the rest of the Sanctuary network, Ashley apparently dies at the end of Episode 2 after being disintegrated by an electromagnetic field.

(EU) Yeaaaah… not exactly what I was expecting, you’re right.

(ÜSFG) Did your surgery have any effect on that or was this something they had already scripted before you found out about it?

(EU) No, my surgery had nothing to do with this. Killing off Ashley was a network decision made before I knew I had to have surgery but I have faith that there are no real deaths in sci-fi… There will be storylines in the future where I’m sure Ashley could be worked in…

(ÜSFG) What was your reaction to the death of Ashley when you first found out about it?

(EU) I was of course sad. I’ve had a blast on the show and I felt Ashley had so much story to explore still.

(ÜSFG) Yes, she did. And with the turning evil bit, there was so much to explore with her and through her interactions with her friends and family.

(EU) At the same time though, I am excited for what lays ahead. I am excited to get into new projects and hopefully remain busy with lots of colorful characters to explore.

(ÜSFG) I’m looking forward to it, too. I’m certain you have big things in store!

(EU) I believe that there is a reason for me to be out in the world of unemployed actors again and I can’t wait to see what happens next in my career.

(ÜSFG) Was it hard to keep the secret after reading the script?

(EU) At times it was hard. Being at Haven 1 was hard.

(ÜSFG) Oh? Lots of fan questions, I imagine.

(EU) Yeah… They were good though. They knew I couldn’t reveal too much.

(ÜSFG) You didn’t have a lot of dialog in your final three episodes so most of your acting was non-verbal. The final look Ashley gave Magnus broke a lot of fans’ hearts. What was the feel on set while filming that emotional final scene with Amanda Tapping?

(EU) Tough day for sure. Amanda and I were both really feeling the heaviness of the situation; gave way to some true organic moments. There were a few of the tough guys who had to clear their throats here and there. It was really sweet.

(ÜSFG) There’s been a lot of anguish over that final scene. That final glance, you looked 100% sincere.

(EU) Yeah, that was all real and the final scene of Eulogy was almost impossible to do. It was the final scene for me, and throughout rehearsals I was in tears. The director had to remind me that I couldn’t be in tears, that Ashley was supposed to be at peace, so I really had to pull myself together. Ryan, Robin, Chris and Amanda were all there, all so sad, and I was like “REALLY?!? I have to pull it together as the only one?!?!” There was so much love though… it felt really nice.

(ÜSFG) It’s good to know everyone was there for you though, feeling the pain of losing you to a network decision. I know you said you’ve seen some of the comments from fans over killing Ashley. Many fans, especially those who’ve been watching since the web series days, are saying they are done with the show and don’t plan to watch anymore unless she is brought back. Were you expecting this kind of backlash from fans and how do you feel about it, knowing that you’ve got such a strong, supportive fan-base? I imagine it’s a mixed feeling, appreciating the support but wanting something you put so much of yourself into to continue to thrive even without you.

(EU) I have been completely overwhelmed with the outpouring of support. I am so grateful to have so many people that care so much! And hopefully that will mean that there will be a place for Ashley in the future.

(ÜSFG) You’ve been so genuine and available to fans and that makes a huge difference in the sci-fi community.

(EU) Well, they’re all so genuine and available to me, so really, it’s a two-way street. Aw shucks… so much love everywhere…

(ÜSFG) Whether or not you return to Sanctuary, I’m certain it will continue to have a lasting influence on you as an actor and on your career. What do you think is the most important thing you have learned while working on Sanctuary?

(EU) I will be eternally grateful to Sanctuary. Were it not for Sanctuary, I would not have this huge fan-base who (I hope) will continue to follow me as I venture into new projects.

(ÜSFG) I’m sure they will!

(EU) I think the most important thing I have learned is to never take anything for granted. Things can change in a heartbeat… and also to try to not take things too personally.

(ÜSFG) Difficult but good lessons to learn.

(EU) Invaluable in this business I think.

(ÜSFG) Well, you’ve proven to be a tough cookie so I’m sure you are going to do just fine, whatever comes your way. Many fans are hoping this is a marketing ploy to stir up the fans and drive stronger interest in the show. With the body absent, it does leave lots of room for Ashley’s return at some point in the future. A lot of fans want to know what you will do until we all know if Ashley really is dead or just being manipulated by Dana and the Cabal. There are tons of independent film projects in Vancouver as well as a dozen TV shows. Have you had any auditions lately?

(EU) Oh yes, I have been very busy lately. There are still projects that I am not able to do physically, but I try to get out for as much as possible. I have been incredibly close on almost everything, which feels great. And I did an episode of Smallville but I also have to remember to heal first, work later; so, one day at a time.

(ÜSFG) You’re playing Catherine “Cat” Grant in the episode “Crossfire” which airs tomorrow night on the CW. There are a couple of leaked shots of the episode and I have to say, you are looking great! That dress suit is quite a departure from the dark outfits Ashley wore on Sanctuary or the casual wardrobe Kaitlyn wore on jPod.

(EU) Ha, yeah it sure is.

(ÜSFG) Did you like getting to play a sunny, feminine role again?

(EU) I had a lot of fun with Catherine Grant. I got to be light and bright and bumbling and a bit dorky. Bumbling and dorky are two of my own strong traits. It would be a great character to further explore but I had a blast with what I was given on the one episode.

(ÜSFG) Did you do any research into Catherine’s TV and comic book history before shooting the role?

(EU) Yeah, but they went in a bit of a different direction with the TV version.

(ÜSFG) If Smallville follows previous storylines in the Superman mythology, Catherine could very well become the third corner of a Lois/Clark/Cat love triangle. Did you and Tom (Welling) have the kind of on-screen chemistry that you think could lead to Cat Grant becoming a recurring role for you?

(EU) I guess we’ll see tomorrow! I had a blast shooting with Tom. He’s so relaxed and fun, and I know Erica (Durance) because Kyle (Cassie) worked with her earlier this year… so it would be a blast getting to muck things up for the two of them.

(ÜSFG) I think adding Cat to the mix would certainly be a great monkey-wrench in the Clark/Lois relationship that is developing this season. Hopefully the producers feel the same and invite you back a few times.

(EU) Yeah! Let’s hope!

(ÜSFG) You did a cameo in Steph Song‘s upcoming film, Paradox. Do you have any plans or have there been any talks of projects with other Podsters in the future?

(EU) Wouldn’t that be absolutely amazing?!! I think we would all LOVE to work together again. Hopefully it’ll be in the cards at some point. We are all still such close friends. It’s wonderful. That was just the dream cast, for me anyway.

(ÜSFG) I think it was for all of you. As a fan of the show, it’s great to know your onscreen chemistry extended to real life.

(EU) Yeah, we just had FUN on that set. It was nonstop silliness. And it extended well beyond the cast as well. Kyle and I are headed to J.B. Sugar‘s Halloween party tomorrow actually. We all try to see each other as often as possible. Steph just drove me to an audition earlier this week. It’s really wonderful!

(ÜSFG) That was sweet of her. She is pretty awesome.

(EU) Yup!

(ÜSFG) I personally find it an interesting coincidence that Steph’s episode and your episode of Smallville are airing back to back. 🙂

(EU) Ha! Yeah, we laughed at that too. We are continuously intertwined, her and I…

(ÜSFG) I talked to her last week and had such a blast. I can just imagine the two of you hanging out and what fun it is.

(EU) We get pretty silly. And we can lean on each other for career advice which is just invaluable.

(ÜSFG) Hopefully you’ll get to work together again in the future. 🙂 Would you consider doing another web series?

(EU) I would most certainly be interested in another web series. I have full faith in what that can do after my Sanctuary experience.

(ÜSFG) You mentioned doing a music video with Caleb’s Hope. Do you have any musical talents and aspirations for fans to look forward to? You mentioned wanting to work in New York. Is Broadway in your possible future?

(EU) Oooh… eh hehe… I can actually sing. I am shy though.

(ÜSFG) Awesome!

(EU) It’s not something I’ve worked a lot on, and therefore don’t feel super confident, but the dream is there, for sure. A musical would be a blast, like what Glee is doing right now — SO great!

(ÜSFG) Very cool! So what is your vocal range?

(EU) This is getting technical now.

(ÜSFG) Lol. Um, okay, what singers do you find it easier to sing along with or what musicals and parts do you like best and feel more comfortable belting out?

(EU) When I was driving, I would sing along to Adele. Now Kyle has to drive me everywhere, so I’ve toned down the belting. Chris (Heyerdahl) and I sang along to “Summer Nights” from Grease at the convention (Wolf Haven One), that was quite a sight…

(ÜSFG) Oh, I would have loved to have heard that.

(EU) Hehe… I bet you would…

(ÜSFG) I’m listening to Adele’s To Make You Feel My Love at the moment. How does your voice compare? Do you have that Joplin sound or just more comfortable hitting those notes?

(EU) I’m comfortable in the midrange and can relatively easily go into my falsetto… but I’m sure I’d need some fine tuning. My mom is big on music, so we always played and sang together, weddings and such…

(ÜSFG) You mentioned last night that the theatre scene isn’t that big in Vancouver but have you been to any shows?

(EU) I’ve been to a couple. It’s hit and miss here…

(ÜSFG) Do you have any favorite musicals?

(EU) Yes, Evita is one of my favorites!

(ÜSFG) Awesome. I have been known to belt out “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” more than once. 😀

(EU) Me too!

(ÜSFG) You really have tons of freedom at the moment so it must be just as scary as it is exciting for you. Are you planning on sticking around Vancouver for a while longer or are you looking at making a move or spending the summer in some place like LA or New York?

(EU) I’m actually planning to do this LA thing in the New Year. It’s time to try and swim in the big pond. I feel like I’ve got enough under my belt to make it worthwhile.

(ÜSFG) You definitely have accomplished a lot in a fairly short amount of time. And you’ve covered quite a spectrum of characters in that time.

(EU) Yeah, I’ve been so lucky. There’s still so much more to learn, but at some point you have to take the leap, right?

(ÜSFG) Yes, you do. Hmm. Steph said she was going to LA this summer, too. Are you going on that adventure together?

(EU) We might very well be down there at the same time and so might Ben (Ayres); David (Copp) is already there and I think actually Torrance (Coombs) is going too! How great is THAT?!

(ÜSFG) That is awesome! Maybe you can do a cheesy horror together? I know Torrance just worked with Kody Zimmermann on the Familiar so maybe some indie project like that awaits you all.

(EU) I’m in!

(ÜSFG) You know, Steph has the production side of things (because of Island Films) and you all have such great chemistry. Ever thought of doing an indie project together, as in you all write it and produce it together? Look at films like The Brothers McMullen and Paranormal Activity. Friends got together and produced something they loved for about $10,000-$15,000 and made more then $10,000,000 at the box office.

(EU) We all have dreams of getting our own stuff made. Kyle and I have several projects that we are working on. The dream is to get to work with your friends. So when we can fit characters in that work for people we want to work with, we try to make that happen. Right now though, Kyle and I are all about developing. We’d like to sit on a bunch of creative property so that when the right connections are made, we have several different genres to lure people in with… That sounds evil… it wasn’t meant to.

(ÜSFG) No, it doesn’t sound evil. It sounds like a smart business plan. When you do get that break and produce some amazing content, you want to make sure you have another ace up your sleeve for the follow-up.

(EU) Precisely… It’s exciting to be on this side, too; to feel like you’ve got some say in your career. When the phone goes silent, it’s all about making it happen for yourself.

(ÜSFG) Yes, exactly. That’s why so many talented people are taking advantage of the Internet to directly produce their own projects, cutting out the middleman and taking control of their lives and careers.

(EU) I think that extends so much further than our profession. We have to take responsibility for our own destinies.

(ÜSFG) Yes, we do. Is there anything else you want to say to fans?

(EU) I actually have a question for the fans.

(ÜSFG) Oh?

(EU) If Ashley ever came back to the show, how could it be done in a manner where viewers aren’t like, “Oh, what a boring way to bring her back”? How to not make it “cheap”, and in what capacity would they want to see her back?

(ÜSFG) Oooh. Good question. I’ll make sure to plaster that all over the message boards, if that’s okay with you?

(EU) Yeah…

(ÜSFG) Well, I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me and for being so candid. Thank you!

(EU) You’re welcome! Always a pleasure.

In science fiction, even when there’s a body, dead isn’t always dead. A perfect example would be Daniel Jackson of Stargate SG-1 who died and came back several times throughout the show and Carson Beckett of Stargate Atlantis who was brought back in the form of a clone after much backlash and an unyielding fan campaign finally overwhelmed the producer’s decision. On Battlestar Galactica, actress Katee Sackhoff and the producers of the show staged a huge blowup over the death of her character Starbuck that even the other actors of the show weren’t aware of. As part of a super-secret plot and marketing strategy, she and the producers had a very public falling out that turned out to be a ruse and Starbuck came back in a season finale surprise that completely steered the direction of the remainder of the show. Sometimes, though, favorite characters are killed off permanently, as was the case with Stargate SG-1‘s Dr. Janet Frasier.

While her future seems grim, there is some cause for hope. In a promo for interactive fan experience, Sanctuary and Beyond, we see Will Zimmerman speaking with a mystery woman in the infirmary. She asks, “Will my blood be of any use to Dr. Magnus’ daughter? Will she be able to save her?” Zimmerman replies “I don’t know” before getting interrupted by our eavesdropping.

Season 2 is already filmed and in post-production so we fans will just have to wait out the season to find out if Ashley is Daniel-Dead or Janet-Dead. In the meantime, get your Emilie Ullerup fix by watching her tomorrow night on Smallville and by picking up the DVD of the wonderful series jPod. Paradox is still in post-production but should be out sometime in 2010 so don’t forget to keep watching for that as well.

Thanks to Emilie for taking the time to speak with us today and a special thank-you to 2Shy, ljscott, PlayItGrand, WR_Systems, Missreepicheep, Aaron and Victoria for sending in questions for her.

Emilie Ullerup Links:
Emilie Ullerup Official Website
Emilie Ullerup on IMDb.com
Emilie Ullerup on Facebook
Emilie Ullerup Fan Forum

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Steph Song as Roulette

Steph Song as Roulette

When we last spoke with Steph Song, she had just finished principal photography on the films The Thaw and Paradox and was about to begin the film festival circuit promoting the wonderful Dim Sum Funeral. She was kind enough to catch us up recently on what she’s been up to.

Be sure to watch Steph as Roulette on Smallville this Friday October 23rd. The Thaw is now available on DVD and Paradox is still in post-production. jPod is available to watch streaming on CBC.com and TheWB.com, and can be purchased from Amazon.com. Also, don’t forget to stop by stephsong.com and islandfilms.net to keep up-to-date on Steph’s latest projects.

Other Steph Song Links:
Steph Song on Twitter
Steph Song on Facebook

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Riese Logo

Riese the Series won’t be premiering until November but it’s not too early to start submersing yourself in the world of Eleysia. Riese the Series is a perfect example of transmedia storytelling — the use of multiple mediums to tell a story and involve the consumer as a participant rather then just an observer in its unfolding. There’s a growing community on the Official Forum, where members are discussing clues and puzzles hidden within the pages of the new ARG (alternate reality game) that launched a few days ago on the propaganda-laden website The Sect is Here. (The Sect is the terrifying religious cult that is taking over Eleysia). What is an ARG? Well, according to CNET, an ARG is:

an obsession-inspiring genre that blends real-life treasure hunting, interactive storytelling, video games and online community and may, incidentally, be one of the most powerful guerrilla marketing mechanisms ever invented.

These games are intensely complicated series of puzzles involving coded Web sites, real-world clues like the newspaper advertisements, phone calls in the middle of the night from game characters and more. That blend of real-world activities and a dramatic storyline has proven irresistible to many.

The internet isn’t the only place Riese is reaching out, though. In our own universe, goggle-clad teammates were handing out postcards at Comic-Con in San Diego this year and there’s going to be an Anti-Sect Mob Protest in downtown Vancouver, BC, tomorrow at 2:00 p.m., if you can make it. While there is more information becoming available daily, much of Riese is still shrouded in mystery. To help shed some light on things, we asked series co-creator Ryan Copple a few questions about Riese.

ÜberSciFiGeek (ÜSFG) What inspired you to write Riese?

Ryan Copple (RC) There were a few ideas that really inspired Riese. For one, I love telling stories with dynamic and strong female characters. Plus, I find journey stories incredibly epic, so being able to have this tough, yet vulnerable, character traverse a dying land seemed like a great jumping off point. Mythology, fables and folklore heavily inspired the piece as well. We wanted to create a world where these sorts of stories would still exist and affect people, but also keep it close enough to the structure of our own world to make it resonate with modern audiences.

(ÜSFG) Tell us a little about your characters.

(RC) I love of all of our characters. Riese is very mysterious and almost aloof, but holds firm to her own convictions so strongly. She’s not a superhero though — she does what she can, on her own, and that’s enough for her. Although Fenrir is a wolf, he has such an intense personality. Ever the faithful guardian, its doubtful Riese would’ve survived this long without Fenrir’s protection. It definitely plays into the “pack” mentality.

Even Amara, who allowed her own family to be murdered in exchange for power, is still somewhat sympathetic. She’d lived in the shadows of her family for so long that when the opportunity presented itself for her to really shine, she took it. While it’s not something to be admired, it is a notion that I believe we all struggle with at some point. It’s clear it’s a decision that haunts her, but she can’t back down or show weakness. Additionally, this character intrigues because she is so driven and strategically brilliant on the one hand, but so politically vulnerable on the other.

Herrick and Trennan, our Sect members, are also pretty compelling. While at first people will view Herrick as the “one-dimensional villain” of the show, his depth really becomes apparent in the horrid actions he takes. He’s a man who has completely lost his humanity. Discovering the history that caused this, I think, will prove very interesting to viewers. Trennan, as opposed to Herrick, is almost the only character that retains any shred of humanity. He has a conscience and thinks about the consequences of the actions everyone is taking. I like to think of Trennan as being “us”, how we would act as people if we were in this world watching the events unfold.

(ÜSFG) Why did you choose steampunk, something traditionally reserved for graphic novels and anime, as your medium?

(RC) I wouldn’t say steampunk is our only medium — we’re very careful to say that we’re inspired by steampunk, not strict adherents. We love the genre, especially the anachronisms. It’s such a cool feeling to enter a world where electricity might exist, but not gas-powered vehicles. Placing this in a setting where monarchies and religions still rule the people also creates a further surreal feel to the setting. The fashions from steampunk, as well as the clockwork parts, are also amazing, so we definitely wanted to find ways to incorporate them into our story.

That being said, we still wanted to tell our own story with our own look. While we borrow heavily from the steampunk aesthetic, this does not take place in a Victorian-era future, but more of a Medieval-World War setting, which is not typical of steampunk. There are rudimentary steam-powered engines, and technology is sparse, but the technology itself is not the key focus of the show. I like to think we’ve taken the genre and done our own spin on it, not recreated it verbatim.

(ÜSFG) Steampunk traditionally features fantastical settings, clothes and technology. Are you relying heavily on CGI like condition: human and Sanctuary did or on more traditional sets and locations as seen in shows like Lumina and The Ennead?

(RC) It was very important to us that Riese was a very textured, gritty world. In our opinion, this wouldn’t be achievable with excessive visual effects. Instead, we opted to shoot in locations that really felt like they’d be part of this world — a decrepit, run down warehouse, for example. We had two green screen shots for matte paintings, but otherwise we wanted to keep this world as real as possible.

(ÜSFG) Why did you choose to produce Riese for the web instead of as a traditional film or television series?

(RC) Initially we thought of shooting Riese as a pilot, but realized if it didn’t fit into a network’s schedule, it would end up on a shelf somewhere and not be seen by anyone. So, the obvious conclusion was to broadcast it ourselves. Other shows (Sanctuary, The Guild) have had considerable success, so it wasn’t even a bad alternative. Plus it means we can really be connected with our fan base, show them we’re listening and want them involved, and really try to build a community around the show and its immersive story world rather than it just airing on a television station. The market for this form of entertainment is still relatively new, so while the future remains unclear, I believe we have a lot of innovative ideas that’ll really make it stand out — and this is something we could only do online.

(ÜSFG) Once you decided to make Riese, how long did it take to put it all together and get production rolling?

(RC) We actually spent over a year developing the concept and fleshing out the characters before we really began production. Preparing for the actual filming only took about two months, as we had enough experienced people on board to ensure we did everything as efficiently as possible. The saying you’re only as good as the people who surround you definitely proved true here.

(ÜSFG) What kind of budget do you have for Riese, and did you rely on traditional financing or is it primarily self-funded?

(RC) We have a budget that’s much larger than most traditional web series, largely due to the cast as well as the lengths we went to with production and costume design. It’s privately financed, and we’re blessed to have financial backers who really believe in us.

(ÜSFG) Your primary antagonist is a religious cult, The Sect. Is it just a “Big Brother” type of plot device or is there an underlying message you want to convey?

(RC) The Sect is a “Big Brother” persona, but it also has other indications. It is most definitely not a knock on any specific religion. With the imagined era we’re setting the world in, it seemed an appropriate organization to serve as the villains. The Sect is meant to show the dangers of blindly clinging to archaic belief systems and the problems of fanaticism.

Riese

Riese

(ÜSFG) I’ve been looking at your production stills and loving the wardrobe! I was curious how you’d pull off the steampunk feel but from what I’ve seen, you’ve nailed it. I do get the impression the clothing chosen for each character has more behind it than just looking cool or being functional, though. For example, Riese’s hooded cloak is lined in red, the only contrasting color other than her skin that you find in her outfit, and her companion is a wolf. This makes me think of a Stephen Sondheim style Little Red Riding Hood, the inexperienced girl going off into the dangerous world facing predators that threatened her mind and spirit as much as her life. The mechanical gears and mask worn by Herrick makes me think of the figurative political machine that moves behind the scenes, manipulating governments. Is it just my imagination or are aspects of the character’s clothing intentionally representative of ideas or themes you want the audience to subconsciously pick up on?

(RC) I’m glad you noticed the attention to detail that our outrageously talented costume designer, Megan Leson, brought to each piece. I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that we meticulously inspected each outfit to ensure it fit into this world. The costumes themselves are certainly archetypical to each character. Riese, the wanderer, travels with a wolf, in hiding, so a cloak with slashes of red turned out as a beautiful way to demonstrate that fairy tale connection, perhaps not so subtly. Each character also has a thematic palette that mirrors both their persona and their place in this imagined world. For example, Riese’s costumes are very much a dark, rugged leather, very earthy in nature. She’s the embodiment of a rogue that has strayed away from civilization. Amara, on the other hand, is a regal purple and platinum. Man-made and cold, she is the antithesis of Riese in every sense of the word.

The costumes of our Sect Members were also heavily inspired by both the steampunk genre and militaristic uniforms. You did well to pick up on the idea that the gears have deeper significance than just “looking cool”. Sect Members, as you’ll see in the show, are almost of a hive-mind, and so we really wanted to ensure this uniformity was apparent in their wardrobe — at the same time, we also wanted to make each look unique. Therefore, rather than insist they all wear the same clothing, we opted to connect them via their relics, or the clockwork. The idea is that the more relics one has affixed to themselves, the more indoctrinated into the Sect’s beliefs they are — a concept often seen in our own culture.

We embraced the idea of clockwork as being associated with The Sect for a number of reasons in their costumes. For one, we liked how much they stood apart from any aspect of the show, truly making the Sect a unique, and obviously strange, organization. In addition, as you stated, they have a deeper significance than simply being small pieces of brass — they represent something grander and more manipulative, working behind the scenes, not ever clear how exactly it functions. Finally, in this medieval, primitive world, the Sect’s technology is extremely advanced, which just illustrates how the people of these lands would fear them and be willing to give up their territory and people so easily.

(ÜSFG) You’ve wrapped on the first part of the series. How many webisodes will come from the first round of shooting and when will they start rolling out?

(RC) We shot five episodes and they will begin airing November 2nd. Pre-production has begun on the next six episodes, and will shoot in December.

(ÜSFG) Will Riese be an ongoing series with new adventures unfolding for as long as there is an interest and a following or do you have a story (or chapters) to tell that will come to a conclusion within a predetermined number of webisodes?

(RC) I’d say both — we definitely have a long term plan for Riese and its characters, but as I said before, we also have our ear to the ground every step of the way. So while there is a path Riese will follow on her journey, it’s also somewhat fluid to accommodate input from our viewers.

(ÜSFG) The cast and crew all seem so excited in the behind-the-scenes videos, and Chad Krowchuk commented on the symbiotic work relationship on the set. What was the feel on set during the production and how did it carry over into what you’re seeing on screen?

(RC) There was a huge sense of camaraderie, largely because people knew we were trying something that hadn’t been done before. Moreover, it was an opportunity for our crew to collaborate creatively, making Riese an even richer final product. Everyone was thrilled to be there, and we’re ecstatic to have the chance to work with them all again in December.

(ÜSFG) When can we expect to see an extended teaser trailer?

(RC) The full trailer is scheduled to be released early October.

Can’t get enough of Riese? Be sure to keep checking out these links for more treats and teasers before the series launches this fall:

Official Riese Website
“The Sect is Here” Website
Riese on YouTube
Riese on Twitter
Riese on Facebook

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Magic Trixie

Fans of Jill Thompson’s Scary Godmother comic books will be enchanted by her new series, Magic Trixie, a Scary Godmother for the younger set. Filled with witty dialogue, the graphic novels are illustrated in Thompson’s signature style of energetic, brightly-coloured watercolours. The books are recommended for ages 8-12, but the universal childhood themes will appeal to all ages.

Trixie, a young, pink-and-orange-haired witch is introduced in the debut title, Magic Trixie, whose cover proclaims, “Meet Magic Trixie! She’s smart. She’s sassy. She has magic powers.” Trixie’s also an outgoing little girl who shows off, complains, pull faces, gets into mischievous scrapes, and acts rashly like any normal kid. In this first volume, Trixie deals with the familiar problems of peer pressure and sibling rivalry. Any child, or adult who remembers being a child, will relate to Trixie’s school woes and empathize when, frustrated by the constant favouritism she perceives for her baby sister, Abby Cadabra, she wails “Not fair!” and runs off to hide in a closet. Unlike most people, however, Trixie has a talking cat named Scratches to give her a pep talk (or play pirates with her in the backyard). The story’s conclusion, in which one problem is inadvertently resolved by the other, is heartwarming without being sacharrine, and will make readers appreciate the benefits of having a sister, big or little.

In Magic Trixie Sleeps Over, no longer at odds with her sister and having called a truce with her nemesis at school, Trixie turns her displeasure elsewhere. Her parents, she thinks, have gotten much too bossy and demanding, plaguing her with baths and unreasonable bedtimes when all she wants to do is watch tantalizingly forbidden shows on Spell-O-Vision and stay up late playing and making messes. When she finds out that her friends from school — a mummy, Frankenboy, werewolf, and vampire twins — don’t have to put up with such inconveniences, she decides to go stay with them, only to discover that they have other, much less appealing nighttime rituals (to a witch, at least). Each sleepover is amusingly in keeping with its host’s archetypal monster heritage, and the art changes subtly to reflect the associated atmosphere, such as the vampires’ pages being done entirely in a spooky, grey monochrome that’s broken only by the twins’ glowing red eyes. This peek into the home lives of Trixie’s friends really fleshes out the secondary characters, while teaching the increasingly homesick Trixie just how good she actually has it at home.

Magic Trixie and the Dragon whisks Trixie off to visit an extraordinary circus where there are performances by pink elephants, a mermaid, fairies, wizards, robots, alien creatures, and more. Best of all, the main act features real, live dragons! Naturally, Magic Trixie then wants a pet dragon, but has to settle for getting a genuine dragon scale as a gift. When she takes the scale to school to brag about it to her friends, a misunderstanding results in them thinking that she has the amazing beast the scale used to be attached to, and they want to see it. Trixie, like any kid who doesn’t want to lose face in front of friends, never thinks to just ‘fess up. After letting her mind wander during a routine transmogrification spell, she thinks her dilemma is solved when she accidentally turns her sister into a dragon. (Look for a cute cameo appearance by Scary Godmother‘s Bug-a-Boo in Abby’s nursery.) The moment Trixie turns her back on dragon-Abby, though, her baby sister promptly flies off, and Scratches, believing he’s been replaced in Trixie’s affections by this new “pet”, runs away from home to join the circus. A remorseful Trixie must race back to the circus to retrieve them both, in the process surprising her friends by making an unscheduled appearance in the Big Tent with the famous Dragonriders. Later that evening, in bed, Magic Trixie says to Scratches, “Well, everything worked out fine in the end, pal. I learned my lesson, Abby’s Abby again, you’re still my bestest bud, a dragon is a drag, and best of all — no one is the wiser…” From a child’s point of view, it’s the perfect happy ending.

Jill Thompson is the winner of multiple Eisner Awards (the highest honor in graphic novels) for her art and writing. She’s the author and artist behind Scary Godmother, Magic Trixie, and many other titles. She lives in Chicago. Visit her online at magictrixie.com.

Q&A with Jill Thompson:

ÜberSciFiGeek (ÜSFG) Is Magic Trixie set in the same universe as Scary Godmother?

Jill Thompson (JT) Magic Trixie is set in her own world. One that is closer to our own reality. But one where magic is totally part of the culture. And there are monsters and robots and dragons and other marvelous things…

(ÜSFG) Will there be more Magic Trixie books, beyond the three currently published?

(JT) There are only three on the schedule as of now, though I’d love to do more. I’m working on Beasts of Burden, a series debuting in September from Dark Horse. And then I’ll be starting the second Little Endless Storybook which should come out next summer.

(ÜSFG) Do the Magic Trixie books mean the end of the Scary Godmother series?

(JT) Not at all. I’m currently talking to prospective publishers about reprinting the books and comics and subsequently more new stories.

(ÜSFG) Is there any possibility of a Magic Trixie film or television adaptation, like the Scary Godmother animated specials made by Mainframe Entertainment?

(JT) There’s always that possibility but nothing has happened like that as of yet.

(ÜSFG) Has there been talk of any tie-in merchandise for Magic Trixie and Scary Godmother, such as dolls, action figures, or plush toys?

(JT) I’d love to do some merchandise for all of the characters. I’ve recently dabbled in embroidered patches of some of them and I’m looking into creating plush toys, statues, figurines, and other items. I have a sketchbook full of designs I’d love to see made.

Author Interview from HarperCollins Publishers: Jill Thompson on Magic Trixie

Order now at Amazon.com:
Magic Trixie (Canada)
Magic Trixie (US)
Magic Trixie Sleeps Over (Canada)
Magic Trixie Sleeps Over (US)
Magic Trixie and the Dragon (Canada)
Magic Trixie and the Dragon (US)

Magic Trixie is distributed by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollinsCanada and HarperCollins Publishers. For more information on the book series and its author, visit the Magic Trixie and Jill Thompson websites. Jill Thompson may also be followed on Twitter.

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Tonya Hurley

Tonya Hurley

The much-anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestseller ghostgirl, ghostgirl: Homecoming, hits bookstore shelves today. Author Tonya Hurley gives us a peek behind the dark curtain of ghostgirl by answering a few questions about the series.

ÜberSciFiGeek (ÜSFG) What was your inspiration to create ghostgirl, first as a Webby Award-nominated website and then as a series of novels?

Tonya Hurley (TH) Initially, I created the ghostgirl story and characters as just that. Then, I decided to develop them on my own while I was writing and producing a television series, and the way to do that was to start a website. It was my escape, basically, a place where I could develop the characters with no pressure. After a while, thousands of teens started flocking to the site and it grew by word of mouth. Since it’s such a visual story, I wrote it as a screenplay but I had to leave so much out that ultimately I thought a book would be the best way to tell the story the way I saw it in mind. It took years, but I stuck with it because ghostgirl is a real labor of love for me.

(ÜSFG) In high school, were you a geeky outsider like Charlotte, a rebel like Scarlet, or a member of the popular crowd?

(TH) I was a rebel, no doubt, at least on the outside. When I was in middle school I was so concerned about what everyone else thought and then once I got to high school, I rebelled big time. I was in a punk band, dyed my hair and went to see bands every week. I was fed up and wanted an outlet and music was that outlet for me. I do think there’s a Charlotte in all of us, no matter what we project on the outside.

(ÜSFG) Since music plays such a large part in ghostgirl, what tunes would you pick as personal theme songs for Charlotte, Scarlet, Damen, and Petula?

(TH) It’s impossible for me to sum them up in a song; it’s one of the reasons why I reference so many in the books. If they were to put together a playlist however, The Cure, Death Cab for Cutie, She & Him, The Smiths, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Killers, The White Stripes (anything Jack White does), Bat for Lashes, and Jason Schwartzman would definitely be on it. I love bands from every decade, basically, and my hobby is to discover new bands on the web. I am a real student of music.

(ÜSFG) Is there any possibility of a ghostgirl film or television adaptation, and, if so, who would you like to see play the main characters?

(TH) I hope there is one day. I’d prefer to see someone new that nobody knows, an up-and-comer playing Charlotte. That would be appropriate I think.

(ÜSFG) Will there be further ghostgirl books, both novels and tie-ins such as a full-colour art book that expands upon the line art you inserted in the novels’ chapter headings?

(TH) I am working on the third novel now, which I love. I hope to expand ghostgirl, to give her and her world more life on and off the page. Stay tuned.

Tonya Hurley is a New York Times bestselling author and creator, writer and producer of animated and live action hit television series, groundbreaking videogames and award-winning websites for teens. She has also written and directed several acclaimed independent films, which have been selected for the LA Independent, TriBeca and Edinburgh film festivals and also broadcast on PBS and IFC. Hurley was nominated for the prestigious Rockefeller Foundation Award in Film.

YouTube Interview with the Author: ghostgirl: Homecoming, Tonya Hurley

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ghostgirl
ghostgirl: Homecoming
ghostgirl (Kindle Edition)
ghostgirl: Homecoming (Kindle Edition)

ghostgirl and ghostgirl: Homecoming are distributed by Little, Brown and Company, an imprint of Hachette Book Group USA, and Headline Publishing (UK). For more information on the book series and its author, visit ghostgirl.com and the website of Tonya Hurley.

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luminalink

Thanks to the success of shows like Sanctuary, The Guild and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, the Internet has become a compelling source for high-quality content delivered directly from the minds of the creators to the eager viewers. While there is still a plethora of low-quality and lowbrow viral hits, the overall quality of content is steadily improving. As the web becomes a more desirable outlet to feature indie projects, the number of indie filmmakers using the web to deliver their content is increasing.

One such filmmaker is Jennifer Thym, the writer and director of the new dramatic web series Lumina. Lumina is a dark fantasy-thriller that was filmed in high definition with the RED camera on location in Hong Kong. After watching the trailer, I was immediately interested in the series. It appears to be unlike anything else I’ve seen produced for the web and I am looking forward to seeing it. Jennifer graciously took a break from her editing to answer a few questions for us about Lumina the Web Series.

ÜberSciFiGeek (ÜSFG) You are the creator of the new web series Lumina. Can you tell us a little bit about the story?

Jennifer Thym (JT) Lumina the Web Series is a modern fairy tale, a dark fable that has its foundation in the seemingly simple girl meets boy scenario. Only she meets him in a mirror, and afterwards, the world that once looked so familiar to her starts to unravel!

We have a terrific cast — the beautiful JuJu Chan as Lumina Wong, and the wild-haired Michael Chan as Ryder Lee. Vince Matthew Chung, the winner of the Amazing Race Asia 3, plays Lumina’s best friend, Teddy Waits. And we have a whole slew of mirrorspies, including the formidable and sexy Emilie Guillot as guildmaster Laetitia Ricou, Jacob Ziacan as the creepy Eben Sanchez, and Simon Yin as the aggressive Damien Wu. Maybe I delight a little too much in my villains, but they are deliciously real to me.

The series will span twelve webisodes, 4-6 minutes each, and will be available to view on YouTube and other online video portals starting in August 2009. The trailer is up now on luminaseries.com!

lumina-epk-still-1

(ÜSFG) You have created an urban mythology as the backdrop for the story of Lumina. Can you tell us a little about this world you’ve created?

(JT) I love the idea of parallel universes, and of worlds that intersect and interplay with each other. Corwaith, also known as the Dark Realm, runs parallel to our world, also known as Earth or the Light Realm. In Hong Kong in particular, there has been an abundance of cross-universe cultural pollination: for instance, both worlds speak the same languages, people on both sides look approximately the same and have fairly similar living habits.

However there are differences between Corwaith and Earth, and they are significant ones: the people of the Dark Realm are nocturnal whereas we are are diurnal; their technological development has also taken a different path from ours, and the benefits of technology are only available to the aristocracy. Unlike modern day Hong Kong, Corwaith is ruled by a two branch government comprised of a monarchy and a legislature.

(ÜSFG) Is Lumina going to be the first of many such stories of this world?

(JT) Absolutely! I feel particularly drawn to the Dark Realm and its denizens, most of whom have not even been mentioned yet in this season’s story arc. There are a number of them already inhabiting a quiet corner of my brain, so it’s a matter of giving them voice in the right way, at the right time. They’re going to look awesome too!

(ÜSFG) I’m very familiar with RED because I was part of the Sanctuary Beta a couple of years ago and got to play with some raw footage. Why did you choose to work with RED and what was it like to work with?

(JT) That’s awesome that you were part of the Sanctuary Beta! It must have been very exciting to see a piece of web series history being made.

We got lucky with the RED. Our cinematographers XiaoSu Han and Andreas Thalhammer were going to shoot Lumina on their HVX 200A with an adapter and photo lenses. I’d seen their work before with that setup and I was perfectly happy with that since what they could do with that setup was a million times better than what a lot of other people can do with 35 mm film. Then one week before we were scheduled to start shooting, they bought the RED and that boosted everyone’s spirits even more.

For Lumina, the complete digital workflow worked great. My DPs gave me a hard drive with all the raw RED footage on it, and I imported it into Final Cut Pro with the RED Plug-In (it converts the R3D files to Apple Pro-Res files) and could work on it straight away with my editor. And we know our output is going to be digital as well, so when we’re compressing for YouTube, for example, we work on delivering the best balance of file size and picture quality. I think the digital workflow is an amazing step forward for the film industry — although the old adage about story being the most important thing still holds true, it certainly helps to have access to tools that both offer better production values and are increasingly more affordable.

(ÜSFG) What made you decide to shoot Lumina for the web?

(JT) The Internet is a wonderful modern resource that is, ironically enough, the first place that someone will look for information about a filmmaker, and the last place that a filmmaker thinks to exhibit his or her work. The cinema is still the ultimate sacred venue; television screening is next and then after that, DVDs. Distribution on the Internet is often either done illicitly via torrenting, or the film is put through a grinder and then spit out into someone’s poorly compressed showreel. There are some companies making inroads into the legitimate internet distribution but it is still a nascent industry. But the web can be so integral to testing your skills as a filmmaker and connecting to and growing with an audience.

Top that off with my quitting Final Fantasy XI after a five year stint, and then reading about Felicia Day making The Guild after playing World of Warcraft, and voila, I decided to start off with a web series. To me, each story needs its own format. Some things will lend themselves better to an episodic way of telling the story, some to a feature film length narrative film, some as an ongoing monthly comic, some as a stand-alone graphic novel.

lumina-epk-still-4

(ÜSFG) You shot the story over a period of twelve days in Hong Kong. What were you looking for when choosing locations?

(JT) Before we started shooting, we spent quite a bit of time looking for “existing” sets — beautifully lit spots in Hong Kong which were public spaces and had cool reflective surfaces. I was amazed by how many reflections we found once we started looking — it seems like every corner of Hong Kong is decked out in a little bit of mirror, chrome, and shiny glass. In that sense, it’s an incredibly modern city.

My favorite location is a shiny black stone wall at a street corner in Causeway Bay. It’s not a traditional mirror, but in the evening and at night, it becomes this glossy dark mirror — where the colors of the real world and the colors of the mirror world are almost the same, but there are these tiny imperfections in the mirror world, little ripples and distortions. Seen from just the right angle, it is almost as if the dark world is breathing. And if you watched closely enough, maybe you’d find that way in, that way to the other side.

(ÜSFG) Is there an underlying theme you are trying to convey with Lumina, or are you just trying to tell a modern day fairy tale?

(JT) I like stories that are open to interpretation, stories where audiences can apply their experiences to get their unique understanding of the story.

For me personally, the Lumina/Ryder relationship was an allegory for online relationships. When I played Final Fantasy XI, I noticed that the players tended to fall in love rather quickly. Admittedly, when you have been intensely gaming with someone for six hour sessions at a time, you may think you know everything about them already. But how well do you know someone really? Half the time, the “girls” in MMORPGs weren’t girls at all. But the misrepresentations that occur in real life relationships can be just as egregious as or even outweigh the online ones, because they go beyond the obvious physical lies to the internal ones, the spiritual ones.

(ÜSFG) From reading a bit about you on the website, you seem to be a storyteller who loves a good fantasy. What were the influences and inspirations that led you to love the fantasy and sci-fi genres? Was there a defining moment or experience that drew you to it?

(JT) I remember sitting on the floor of one of the enormous Barnes & Nobles in New York as a child, with piles and piles of epic fantasy books around me (the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant from Stephen R. Donaldson, the Dragonlance novels from Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, the Dragonriders of Pern from Anne McCaffrey, the Belgariad from David Eddings.) My mother said I could get as many books as I wanted, but that the books would be parceled out to me over time, usually as a reward for good behavior. A week later, I snuck into the closet where the books where stashed and started secretly reading them.

Around the same time that I was discovering fantasy books, I was getting into comics. I had a friend in school who brought me tons of X-Men comics to read in class, mostly the Chris Claremont era. And then another friend showed me Elfquest, and I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. Wendy and Richard Pini rock.

In college came the Sandman from Neil Gaiman, and an array of cyberpunk novels from William Gibson, Pat Cadigan, Neal Stephenson, and Wilheminia Baird.

(ÜSFG) You started the production company RockGinger. It’s a great name. How did you choose the name and what kind of projects have you been up to, besides Lumina?

(JT) I wanted a fun name for my production company, something different and that would represent me. I love rock music and rock candy; after playing around with some combinations, I found that by adding “ginger” after “rock” it implies candy and at the same time gives the name a bit of an Asian spin.

As for what’s up next — I want to do a series of music videos for some of the great bands that are contributing music to Lumina, and I’m writing an action film script. I’m also producing Let Go, the new provocative thriller by the award-winning and very talented Doug Kin-Tak Chan!

lumina-epk-still-3

(ÜSFG) This is your directorial debut. I can only imagine how excited you must be. What was it like finally bringing one of your stories to life, and how is the finished product comparing to your vision? Were there any surprises or changes that just seemed natural in the transition from page to screen?

(JT) I am very excited! And even more so when I read about other people’s reactions to the trailer — I think we’re going in the right direction!

Although I wore a lot of hats in this production — writer, director, producer — and that’s most certainly not uncommon for an independent effort, or in fact, for any small business — Lumina is very much the product of the collaboration of many, many talented and artistic people. I may have laid out the foundation and the framework, but everyone else gave it all the color and life. That’s the fun part of the filmmaking for me — exploring what everyone has contributed and then shaping it into something unique, something that has a life of its own. Knowing that, you realize how important choosing the right cast and crew is to your end result.

It’s hard to remember what my original vision looked like. For me, JuJu has been Lumina for almost as long as the project existed, and Michael was just Ryder as soon as I met him. And Xax and Andy have such a luscious visual style, I don’t think anything I originally conceived in my head would have been as beautiful as what they actually captured on camera.

lumina-epk-still-2

(ÜSFG) Tell us a bit more about yourself. The information available on the Internet is sorely lacking. What have you been doing before now?

(JT) I have worked as a lawyer and an investment banker, and I’ve had the opportunity to work in the US and in Europe. About a year after I arrived in Hong Kong, I thought to myself “new city, new career!” and went into filmmaking. But seriously, I enjoy new challenges, whether it be figuring out a foreign city’s subway system or a new job’s rhythm and flow. Change keeps me on my toes.

(ÜSFG) How did you get into filmmaking? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?

(JT) I always wanted to try it, but until last year, I think I wasn’t ready yet. Whether it was the indecisiveness of youth or the perceived lack of opportunity, I generally had managed to talk myself out of giving it a real go. That changed in July of 2008, when I just decided that I was going to give a real solid try and that I was going to make my first project by the end of the year. Once I had made up my mind, I started planning out what I needed to do to achieve that, and first up was get a better understanding of project workflow for films. The Internet as a collective resource is amazing — there are so many tutorials and how-tos and blogs simply detailing experiences that you can really teach yourself quite a bit online. And I have been really lucky with making friends who know a lot more than I do.

(ÜSFG) The Lumina website mentions “one of your stories”. Do you have another story already picked out for your next project and do you do a lot of writing?

(JT) I have dozens of short stories and half finished novels locked up in a box, and I know that they will come out someday, each needing its own form and its own evolution. Although I enjoy writing, I also enjoy collaborating with other people, and I’m hoping to find the right synergy with writers who love the same things that I do.

(ÜSFG) With the success of Internet produced content over the past few years, location doesn’t have such a huge influence on the success of a project because its fan base grows due to positive word of mouth. That being said, Internet fans anticipate a higher level of interaction with the creator and actors in the shows they follow. Do you have any plans for attending any conventions or showing any screenings outside of Hong Kong to help raise awareness of Lumina?

(JT) Conventions would be superb — once we’re finished with post-production on Lumina, I am hoping to attend some with my actors. If you have any suggestions as to which ones we should go to, that would be greatly appreciated! We’re also in discussion with a few film festivals as well about showing the trailer.

(ÜSFG) Is there anything else you want to share?

(JT) Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, Raven! And thanks to everyone who has taken the time to watch the trailer and help spread the word about Lumina — it’s an incredibly gratifying feeling for all the cast and crew to see that people are enjoying it and wanting to share it with their friends!

Lumina the Web Series will premiere in August 2009 on YouTube and other online media outlets so keep checking luminaseries.com for updates. While you’re waiting, don’t forget to check out these other Lumina-related links:

Lumina’s YouTube Channel
Lumina’s Facebook Group
Lumina News RSS
RockGinger

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Dave Beeler

Dave Beeler

With the release of the new web series Safety Geeks: SVI and interviews with Tom Konkle of Dave and Tom fame, we’ve been mentioning Dave Beeler a lot around here at ÜberSciFiGeek. Like his writing partner, Dave is a multi-talented writer, actor and comic with both screen and stage credits. For those of you who’ve been waiting patiently, we’ve finally had a chance to talk to the man himself!

ÜberSciFiGeek (ÜSFG) Did you have an active imagination when you were a kid?

Dave Beeler (DB) Wow, what kid doesn’t? I’m reminded of the wonderful Picasso quote, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” I remember watching a Clint Eastwood film and thinking he was so cool (and he was and still is) and I would act out bits of the film while I was supposed to be going to sleep. And when I was about 10 years old, I made a mustache out of some black craft hair my Mom had (she was always doing artsy-craftsy things). I fished some old toy six-shooters out of my toy box, shoved them in the waistband of my mint-green pajamas, taped that ’stache on my lip, got my step-dad’s black cowboy hat and aviator sunglasses and wandered into my parent’s bedroom where they were lying on the bed. They looked at me and started to chuckle when I drew my guns and exclaimed, “Freeze or I’ll blow your balls off!” Well, that cracked their stuff up and they said, “Do more!” So, I did. My Mom loved “garage-sailin’” as she called it; and so, she’d bring home hats and wigs and costume bits and pieces which all went into this clear plexi box called “David’s Costumes.” When company would come over, frequently to play cards, I’d dress up and come out and improvise bits — everything from a little old lady, to Elvis, to Adolph Hitler (which really weirded my grandma out, “How can he do that so well? He shouldn’t even know who Hitler is!”).

(ÜSFG) How old were you when you decided this is what you wanted to do with your life?

(DB) When I was twelve I thought I would either study aeronautical engineering and work for NASA after a stint as a fighter pilot; or go into entertainment. I loved making my classmates laugh. One day my Mom got home and used my full name. You know, when a parent uses your full name, it ain’t good. “David Christian Beeler, I need to talk to you.” My mind started racing, “What did I get caught doing?” (Notice it wasn’t “What did I do?” but “What did I get caught doing?”)

“I got a call from your teachers today.” Change gears: “What did I get caught doing at school?”

“Your teachers are worried about you.”

I think, “My grades are good. What is this about?”

“They think something might be wrong with your brain.”

My mental gears grind to a halt, “What?”

“Your teachers think you may have some sort of equilibrium problem. You keep bumping into things, falling over chairs, walking into doors. Now I need to know, is something wrong, or are you just clowning around?” I’m busted and I don’t know how to answer. “…Well?”

Somewhat sheepishly, “I was just joshin’. Trying to make people laugh.”

So, the local theatre was holding auditions and I thought, “Well, maybe I should see if this is something I want to do.” So, I auditioned and got the part of “Gus, the German Boy” in an original musical about the boyhood life of LBJ called The Texas Hill Country. My dog, Duffy, was also in the show as Lyndon’s dog and consequently had a bigger part than me. But the performance bug had bit and by the time I was 15, I knew that I would be an actor.

(ÜSFG) You’ve done a lot of comedy but there are a few dramatic credits on your resume as well, especially on stage. Why did you decide to focus on comedy?

(DB) Well, once I decided to be an “Act-TOR”, I began to take it seriously. I wound up training at a British acting conservatory, The Central School of Speech & Drama in London. (Coincidentally, a couple of my classmates who your readers will know were Ben Browder of Farscape and Stargate fame and Rufus Sewell of Dark City and Eleventh Hour. And to anticipate a question, they’re both great guys.) After living and working in the UK for a decade, I realized I really wanted to work in film and, after what I called a “reconnaissance holiday,” I decided that LA was the place to be. Part of this change was reflecting on what got me into acting in the first place, being a bit of a class-clown, making people laugh, doing characters. So, I got into an improv group, which is what ultimately and circuitously led to meeting and working with Tom.

(ÜSFG) I read on your website, daveandtom.com, how you met Tom Konkle during a production. If you were both characters in one of the sketches you now write, what would that first meeting have been like?

(DB) You know, that’s a really tough question to answer. Tom and I are both character actors — we love disappearing as much as we can into a character. And my take on acting is that we all have many facets (which is what makes us so interesting as humans) and acting — esp. character acting — is taking specific facets, juxtaposing them and seeing how that plays out via imagination in the given circumstances of the scene. So, different characters would totally change that first meeting. But, to answer your question: if it were Reginald and Bud, they would be checking to see who this other person is, but any reservations would quickly fall away as they connect over their shared passion for safety and they would soon realize that they not only have a shared interest in safety, but their skills and talents could compliment each other. Then they would mud wrestle. (Substitute the word comedy for safety and that’s pretty much how it happened. Tom is a champion mud wrestler, by the way. Don’t ever let him get you in the “Sunday Go ta Meetin’” hold.)

(ÜSFG) You both seem to be fans of British comedy, especially Monty Python. How did that come about and how does it influence your sketches?

(DB) Well, Tom was an Python freak as a little kid. When I was a kid it was Jerry Lewis, Abbott and Costello (their old films would play on Saturday afternoons on TV) and then Peter Sellers. I came to Python later as a teenager and then again while I was in England. I love those guys. Genius. Python is such a wonderful blend of high-brow, low-brow humor. And when you throw in that absurdist element, it just really appeals to me. It’s like a gateau cake of comedy — layers with different flavors, but all working together to make something wonderful. And then I spent ten years having my sense of humor sharpened on the grindstone of British sarcasm. Their wit can be very subtle and very dry, which forces you to pay attention. One of the things about the English is that they really relish language and that is especially apparent in their humor. Does it influence our sketches? Only all of them.

(ÜSFG) You’ve created quite a collection of characters over the years. Where do you find inspiration for characters like Brian Forbes and Richard Lagina?

Brian Forbes with guest Sir Reginal Bo-Hey No

Brian Forbes with guest Sir Reginal Bo-Hey No

(DB) They’re essentially the same character — uhm, I mean long lost twin brothers, separated at birth. One of the things that Tom and I love is someone who takes themselves just a little too seriously being put in awkward or ridiculous situations. Then as they become flustered, rattled or unwound, their “reasonableness” is challenged and yet, they will doggedly hang onto that very reasonableness. For example, Brian Forbes is a chat show host and he takes his mission to inform people about new inventions and gadgets very seriously; and so, when Bo-Hey No, who is a complete loon, goes off the rails, Brian has to fight to keep it all together. That conflict, that struggle, to maintain control and composure when it’s all spiraling out of control can be a lot of fun and, hopefully, very funny.

Invention with Brian Forbes — The Unbelievable Levitation Machine
The follow-up to this one is fun, too:
Invention with Brian Forbes — The One After The Bees

(ÜSFG) Do you have a favorite or most memorable character that you’ve played?

Beeler as Joey-Bill in "Destiny’s Stop"

Beeler as Joey-Bill in "Destiny’s Stop"

(DB) Dad. Love Dad. Love the Compulsively Talking Mime too. And of course, Reg. And then there was Joey-Bill in Destiny’s Stop, our little Western piece directed by Thor Melsted. As a matter of fact, Benton Jennings, who plays Hopkins in Safety Geeks, was a professional gunslinger and we’ve been talking about collaborating on a western comedy series. Tom and I are fans of the Leone Spaghetti Westerns, so this was a wonderful opportunity to walk in those boots and still have a surreal and fun twist to it. But, picking a fave… It’s like picking a favorite child. However, Dad might be my favorite. He is a wonderfully manipulative, sweet, mean, guilt-tripping, lonely, stubborn, maddening, child-like character who happens to be this very working class old Cockney curmudgeon. To use the analogy from earlier, he has a lot of facets packed into him. And his relationship with his film-star son, who has airs, is wonderful and touches on so many aspects of parent-child dynamics. Tom and I would love to do a series with these two called The Apple Falls Far. There are a couple of sketches from live shows of these two in action which you can check out.

The Apple Falls Far (Live), “Agent”

Dad and Roger from “The Apple Falls Far”

Dad and Roger from “The Apple Falls Far”

(ÜSFG) I thought your parody Star Wars: Fate of the Duel was hilarious. What made you decide to add “Sci-Fi” to your list of comedic genres, and have you thought about doing more?

Dave wrote and stars in the fan film "Star Wars: The Fate of the Duel"

Dave wrote and stars in the fan film "Star Wars: The Fate of the Duel"

(DB) First of all, thanks. That one came about when I was at this girl’s apartment. No, I was helping my friend help her move. She had this metal light saber hilt, so I asked her about it. Turns out Luke’s lightsaber was made from an old photo flash called the Graflex. I don’t remember the prop master’s name, but he repurposed that and used it as the basis for Luke’s A New Hope lightsaber. Apparently hers had been modified in the 70’s (after the 1st film was out) to be a lightsaber and given to her. So I asked if we could use hers, and that was the inspiration for the piece, as well as the one we used in our shoot. (There was a stunt double lightsaber when it needed to be dropped as they are pretty rare now).

(ÜSFG) In your latest project, Safety Geeks:SVI, you play Reginald Syngen-Smithe. Tell us a little about your character.

(DB) Reginald Syngen-Smithe is a great character too. He’s a sort of id beast with a noble calling to make the world safe, and yet he is innocent and often very child-like. With Reg I aspire to achieve what Peter Sellers did with Inspector Clouseau, in that there is a bravado about him, but also something very likable and charming. Watching some of my work in season one with Reg, should we build a large enough following to warrant a second season, I’d love to feather in more dignity in the face of Reg’s ineptitude which (like Seller’s work) makes the slap-sticky stuff funnier. And there are other shadings in there as well — there’s overtones of Batman where a traumatic event sent this incredibly rich kind down a path of service, The Saint (Reg is a safety Simon Templer), Kung Fu (the TV series) in the flashback to Reg’s time with the Tibetan Safety Monks — there is a lot to play with and I look forward to developing that character and getting deeper into his skin.

(ÜSFG) Most actors put a little bit of themselves into the characters they play. Do you share any qualities with Reginald that weren’t intended?

The eccentric billionaire behind the P.O.S.H. Team

The eccentric billionaire behind the P.O.S.H. Team

(DB) Oh, there’s a lot of me there. There’s a bit of Reg which was me when I was single — the whole id beast thing. I can also be ridiculously clumsy. Our sketch group used to say my Indian name was “Furniture is Not His Friend.” I really hope I’m not as much of an idiot as Reg, but I fear I might be…

(ÜSFG) Is Dave really stalking you?

(DB) Am I? Can I stalk myself? Wasn’t Self Stockings an old cable show?

(ÜSFG) Ha! I meant to say Tom but I love your answer, and I think that show was called Silk Stockings. What is one of the interview question you’ve always wanted to be asked but never have been, and what is your reply to that question?

(DB) I’ve always wanted to be asked by James Lipton, “What is your favorite swear word?”

A: Swollen Haggis!

(ÜSFG) What else are you working on right now and what would you like to do in the future?

(DB) Tom and I just shot another Invention with Brian Forbes.

We call that “The Little Series that Could.” It is a very simple show: two good characters, saying funny things. It started as a sketch in a live show and we filmed one, and then kept doing it, and now it’s developing quite a following. Who knew? But we’ve fallen in love with that show and look forward to rolling out many more. We have several more series ideas that would work for Internet or traditional media already written and we keep talking about doing a two-man sketch show with guest appearances. We also have a feature film for which we were gearing up to start a raise at the end of ‘08, but when the economy tanked we decided to hold off. So we’re looking forward to getting that ball back in play. And I just came up with a concept yesterday which I think would be great as a web series, so there’s no lack of creative ideas.

When we have bounteous resources (good word, bounteous…), we’ll hire talented people, so we can take off a few of the hats that working in the micro-budget realm necessitates. Then we can really focus down on writing, developing and performing, and get more projects going at once. We have a war chest of ideas and projects already scripted we’d like to see to fruition, including a full-on dramatic sci-fi feature film. Hmmmm…

(ÜSFG) Is there anything else you can think of that you’d like to share?

(DB) First of all, thank you, Raven Kai, for sharing our chat with your readers. And I would be remiss to not express our debt of gratitude to all the people who’ve collaborated with us on Safety Geeks:SVI and on our other projects over the years. Filmmaking is truly a group effort and a lot of people have pitched in to bring the funny. Tom and I are truly blessed to have partnered up and be such congruent collaborators. Tom is absolutely one of the funniest people I’ve ever met; where others have funny bones, he has funny marrow, and the fact that we can get together, laugh until we cry and share that with the world is really cool.

For more info visit us at daveandtom.com, and be sure to sign up for our list if you’d like to get updates.

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Benton Jennings, Mary Cseh, Tom Konkle, David Beeler and Brittney Powell are members of P.O.S.H. on KoldCast.TV's new Safety Geeks: SVI

Benton Jennings, Mary Cseh, Tom Konkle, David Beeler and Brittney Powell are members of P.O.S.H. on KoldCast.TV's new Safety Geeks: SVI

Tom Konkle, one half of the comedic troupe Dave & Tom, talked to us recently about some projects he had in the works. With one of those projects, Safety Geeks: SVI, coming to fruition, we thought it would be a great time to touch base with him and find out what’s been going on with his new show since last we talked.

ÜberSciFiGeek (ÜSFG) Last time we talked, you had a webseries in development. Episode 1 just premiered. Tell me about your new webseries, Safety Geeks : SVI.

Tom Konkle (TK) Safety Geeks was a labor of love that allowed me to do a comedy series as edgy, surreal and out there as I wanted it to be while trying to make it as professional and polished as possible. It is about a “semi-elite” safety team formed by an eccentric trillionaire who use their resources to ineptly investigate Darwin award type accidents.

(ÜSFG) What inspired you to do Safety Geeks: SVI?

(TK) I wanted to write this with my writing and producing partner David Beeler because it makes me laugh. I discovered I had been writing Adult Swim type comedy anyway and when they wouldn’t have us at the time (we did pitch the show to them) we decided to hang it out there and make it ourselves. There are SO many procedural crime dramas and it’s a great hook to hang the absurd scenarios on because everyone knows the conventions, like westerns were to Blazing Saddles, hospital dramas to Scrubs, etc… I really want to do a science fiction comedy as well because if there is a genre I love I want to work in it with my own voice which happens to be a comic one.

(ÜSFG) You’ve shot a lot of standalone comedy sketches and commercials. What was it like to film your new series?

(TK) It’s a BIG difference having to orchestrate a whole series and story arc from doing many, many sketches and one off films. The people moving aspect is difficult just getting the schedules down for all the talented SAG actors we had in the series, as well as the long hours to get it done on a deadline. Often the day would end at 4am with only me, David Beeler and Brittney Powell in the stage with Roger (Tonry) filming the main characters stuff after all the guest stars and effects were shot all day!

(ÜSFG) What can we expect from Season 1? Will it follow a story arc from episode to episode or will each episode be a self-contained story?

(TK) Season one has a main story arc which will be resolved in the final episode which is episode 12 but there are also mini stories and arcs like a possible connection between Budwin and Dr. Randi happening, learning more of Reginald’s past and Budwin’s secrets as well as seeing Dr. Randi in her first job! Every episode ends in some kind of cliffhanger, so we want you to come back. Hopefully as is the case with anything I do funny trumps everything, and it will be fun and funny and although normal to me, some say it’s downright bizarre.

(ÜSFG) How many episodes are planned for Season 1?

(TK) There will be 12 episodes ranging from 7 to 9 minutes in length.

(ÜSFG) You play Budwin Yacker on SG:SVI. Tell me a little about your character.

(TK) Budwin is actually a strange fit for me. I am usually more “showy” as a comic character like my Bo-Hey No character in the Invention with Brian Forbes series or the genie in our show etc… however I think he is a painful and imploded man who is very funny and dry in his awkwardness. It’s like he is a funny Vulcan really. We refer to Budwin now as Spock/Belushi (John Belushi not Jim). There is a nice competent person in there somewhere, but let’s face it, he was so sheltered from danger and controlled as a young person with horrible silly nightmare experiences it will take some work to draw it out. Who knows, maybe Dr. Randi Minky is the one who will finally draw Budwin out. Budwin imploded and parts of himself actually passed themselves, he probably joined the Army to get less structure.

(ÜSFG) Some of your cast has worked together before. How did the new ensemble get along? What was it like on the set?

(TK) Everyone was so cool and understanding of how we were trying to do something new and different without the resources available to the big companies and they were supportive. No attitudes, just laughs.

(ÜSFG) You are using a lot of digital effects and sets for this series. How do you like working with green screen? Does it slow down or speed up production schedules?

(TK) Green screen was the way to go. I didn’t set out to break the record for effects shots in a comedy but somehow we have ended up with more composite effects shots than the first three original Star Wars movies combined! It made shooting faster on set mostly, though Roger Tonry and his team had to take great care in lighting and staging the action and people. Roger and I worked very closely together on shot selection, planning schedule, and actors’ comic performances on set. Roger is a dream to work with. I am lucky he has the personality he has and that he allowed me to fully contribute with him on that. The green screen slows you in post because literally everything is created, positioned, rendered etc… and it takes days and days. Two teams of friends, Thor Melsted and Mike Smith, handled the effects and visual compositing and I worked with them both in person and on the Internet and texting and email. This could not have been made without technology and the Internet today.

(ÜSFG) How did you ever get The Whotles to do your theme song? Did you get to meet Raji Dandri and Teat Pownsend? What were they like?

(TK) The Whotles… well, what can I say. I am a musician and write music as does a Mr. Sherwood who I have done music with before, but The Whotles, come on, how lucky are we there? I do see Teat Poundsend occasionally, mostly in the mirror, and Mr. Sherwood updates me about Raji Dandri. We did songs together as Who fans and I loved how it turned out. You can see an exclusive Whotles webcam online of them recording a song.

(ÜSFG) Anything else you want to share?

(TK) Thank you so much for asking about the show. Please watch it in HD on KoldCast.TV. They are our sponsors and the best distributors a web series could have.

Episodes 1 and 2 are currently available. Look for the rest of Season 1 on KoldCast.TV.

Safety Geeks: SVI, Episode 1 — Forked Up
Safety Geeks: SVI Episode, 2 — P.O.S.H. Team is Go!

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Steph Song ventures into sci-fi with "The Thaw" and "Paradox"

Steph Song ventures into sci-fi with "The Thaw" and "Paradox"

While she may have been voted “Sexiest Women in the World” by FHM magazine, Steph Song is anything but “just another pretty face”. From the moment she first began her acting career in Singapore in 2002, she’s been winning hearts and awards for her roles in dramatic and comedic television and film. Already a huge success in the Asian Pacific, in 2005 she decided to return to Canada, one of several countries she made her home in as a child. She quickly established herself in the Vancouver acting scene with roles in Everything’s Gone Green, Dragon Boys and jPod. With several films in post-production and others now making the festival rounds, Steph has kept herself very busy. She now splits her time between Vancouver and Australia, not only acting but producing with her company Island Films. She took some time out of her very busy schedule to talk a little bit about her past success, current projects and future plans.

Download the MP3 of the Interview

ÜberSciFiGeek (ÜSFG) You hold degrees in nursing and journalism. Why did you decide to go into acting instead?

Steph Song (SS) Um, well, the thing with acting for me is it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do but coming from an incredibly academic family it was very much frowned upon me going into that line of career. Parents just… I guess that they, you know, just didn’t want me to be a bum on the couch, right; which probably happened for quite a few years when you first start acting. So, the thing with the nursing and journalism… I actually started off with an English Literature degree and my mother, who has a Masters Degree in Political Science and is a lecturer, she wanted me to be able to apply my skill set to something and she convinced me that English Literature is like a stepping stone degree; which it really is. I mean, if you want to apply it in any way, you need to get like a teaching degree or something. So then I put all my credits towards journalism and halfway through journalism I kind of found that I wanted to exercise something a little bit more scientific and my dad who has his PhD in Genetics encouraged me to go into medicine and well, I couldn’t quite make that commitment. So then I started something I guess kind of like Pre-med but I ended up applying most of the credits from that towards nursing and four years later I came out with a double degree in Journalism and Nursing and really not wanting to do either. I kind of told my parents, “Well, at least now you know I’ve got two degrees and I’ll never be that bum on the couch so ariva derche. I’m going to go out into the world and explore acting which is something I’ve always wanted to do anyway.” And that’s how that happened.

(ÜSFG) So, you’ve lived in other countries. You speak multiple languages. How did that end up affecting your new career goal?

(SS) Um, I wouldn’t say it affects it in any way. I speak a few languages, yes. That was due in part to my dad’s profession because as a geneticist he traveled around pioneering different programs and ended up towing his small little family as well. So we whent down to Colombia, South America, when I was young and I picked up Spanish and have subsequently and quite sadly lost that ability. Although when I hear it I understand every single word. Just the connection somewhere from brain to mouth isn’t there so I really wish I could speak it and it’s something I think I’m going to try to nourish again. And as for Chinese, I have always spoken that at home with my parents. I think that as an actor it’s very important to have, or very important to continually be expanding on, your skill set whether that is being able to sing or to dance or to do martial arts, which would be applicable I guess for me quite a bit even though I don’t know how to do it. I should, as an Asian actress. And languages are a good thing to be able to draw from as well.

(ÜSFG) You were hugely successful in the Asia-Pacific area, including a starring role in a series that was syndicated in more then a dozen countries. So, with your success abroad, why did you choose Vancouver for this step of your career?

(SS) Well, I grew up in the prairies in Canada and I’d always wanted to return to Canada, and plus I never really lost the Canadian accent and you know I feel I am Canadian. I wanted to come back here. That’s basically it, pure and simple. I loved my time in Asia because there was so… I got to do a variety of roles, like a gazillion. I got to do drama and comedy and sitcom, and sadly no sci-fi, there. It’s not a very big hub for sci-fi unfortunately, I don’t think, although there’s a lot of horror movies that come out of Korea and Thailand, right?

(ÜSFG) Yeah.

(SS) Yeah. So sadly I didn’t really get to experience that over there but hopefully it’s something I can do over here. And yeah, I came back because I’m Canadian and I love Canada despite the dreary winters.

(ÜSFG) I was looking at your Island Films website.

(SS) Oh, yeah.

(ÜSFG) You’ve really got a growing body of work there and I have to say your commercials are visual feasts. I could sit and watch those commercials all day long. Can you tell me a little bit about Island Films?

(SS) Island Films is a company that I started up with my partner Antony Redman, and he’s also an incredibly gifted writer and we decided to start it pure and simple because we just love stories. We love being told a really good story and I love going to the movies and, as I mentioned in a previous interview, my favorite thing about going to the movies is just the anticipation of being told a fantastic story, and I love sitting there with my popcorn as the lights dim and the title credits start rolling. It’s a fantastic, fantastic thing. And we started that because we just had stories and we’re always brainstorming different ideas. In fact, we’ve got a really great one called Strawberry which is a sci-fi and is set in the very, very far future and is about how… it’s dealing with cryogenics and what happens to your soul or your spirit, like if your brain is frozen and you come back does that mean your soul splinters off? It’s um… If you read the synopsis for Strawberry I think that might be something you might be interested in, Raven.

(ÜSFG) Okay. Thank you. I will definitely look that up. So, last year you were part of the award winning cast and critically acclaimed show jPod.

(SS) Mmm.

(ÜSFG) Yes, that’s actually how I became a fan of yours.

(SS) Aww.

(ÜSFG) What was it like being a part of such a dynamic cast and show?

(SS) Oh I LOVED it! Emilie (Ullerup) would be able to attest to just… It was just a joy being on set every single day with such a marvelous team of actors, and we all got along so great. Like, I count Emilie as one of my best pals.

(ÜSFG) She said the same thing about you.

(SS) Yeah, and you know I’m close with all of my other fellow podsters as well. Torrance (Coombs) lives just down the road and David (Kopp) and his girl Brandy I’m close with as well. I get to see Ben (Ayres) every now and then but he’s very busy. Um. I wish I got to see more of him. But it was fantastic. The writing is sharp. The sets were always phenomenal. We had almost a different director for every episode and they always brought fresh and wonderful ideas. And it’s Douglas Coupland. He’s just an iconic part of cultural history, the voice of a generation. So, there’s always a little trepidation going into a project that could profile in such a big way and it was such a joy, really wonderful and really quite sad. I was genuinely very distressed when the season ended and then we found out that the show was just a little bit too forward-thinking and had been canceled. And we had a legion of fans as well, which was, you know… The CBC was going for that demographic and I guess maybe, you know that particular demographic tends to download a lot more then they tend to watch TV so, um, I think it was due in part to ratings but also it was just too forward-thinking for that particular network.

(ÜSFG) Well, Emilie, when I talked to her about it, she said she thinks it’s dead but the fans are still hoping they can at least get a special to wrap up the cliffhanger ending.

(SS) Huh. Mmm. Well, I’m not… I can’t tell you anything that the writers had prepared for the second season, but let me tell you, it would have been freaking hilarious. Like, I was almost rolling on the floor laughing when the writers were telling me what they had prepared for the second season. It’s just, you know, if it’s crazy and strange and wonderful in the first season it just gets ten times more so in the second season, what they had prepared. And it’s just a dreadful shame, and you know what, I’m going to hold hope and be optimistic that the producers have enough sway to command a [special] but I’m not sure about that. I, too, feel that it might be dead.

"It was just a joy being on set every single day with such a marvelous team of actors, and we all got along so great."

"It was just a joy being on set every single day with such a marvelous team of actors, and we all got along so great."

(ÜSFG) Yeah, so… Right now you have two films in post-production, The Thaw with Val Kilmer and Paradox with Kevin Sorbo. Now, I’m familiar with Paradox slightly, because I am a comic book geek, but what is The Thaw about and who do you play in it?

(SS) The Thaw is about a group of science, or geology, students and they go up to… the Arctic I think is where it’s set, where they’ve discovered… where a scientist played by Val Kilmer has discovered the carcass of a woolly mammoth completely intact. And while he’s investigating, while he’s dissecting this carcass, he realizes that there is some kind of prehistoric bug that has initially killed the woolly mammoth that has thawed out, has started to thaw out in the mammoth and is quite open to infecting and killing other creatures. One of them being a polar bear and they, um, the students find out that the bug isn’t above infecting humans.

(ÜSFG) And then the fun starts.

(SS) Yeah, and then the fun starts.

(ÜSFG) Alright, so Paradox. It’s kind of a sci-fi/fantasy that takes place in an alternate universe Earth where magic is the rule, and you have a pretty significant part in this.

(SS) Yes. I play the female lead role opposite Kevin (Sorbo) and… I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of [other life] in the universe. I still kind of believe that there can be. I mean, it can’t just be us here, right? That’s just narrow-minded to think that we are the only… we’re the only living, logical creature in this universe. Even then, sometimes when you look around, it doesn’t really seem to make sense. But, um, the story came about… well, the script came to me about November of last year and at that time they hadn’t attached a male lead to it yet. It’s about a detective called Sean Nault and he is investigating a series of crimes and murders and he lives in a magic world. Things are run by magic and spells and it’s an Earth very similar to our Earth except where everything here runs on science, over there everything there runs on magic. Anyway, as he’s investigating these crimes he realizes there is something called a “gun” and something called “bullets” that go into that gun and “how is that possible? What is this weapon? We’ve never seen anything like this!” Which takes him to Lenore’s shop and I’m Lenore, a woman who believes in science in this magic world and therefore is kind of whispered about and not really accepted in society. He and Lenore start investigating these crimes and find a portal into the science world, and go into the science world, and that’s about all I can tell ya.

(ÜSFG) Now you got to…

(SS) And Emilie is actually in that!

(ÜSFG) Yes! I was just getting ready to ask about that. She said she…

(SS) It was so wonderful because the director, Brenton Spencer, has directed a few episodes of Sanctuary and when I met with him he was talking about Sanctuary and, um, it was our brilliant idea that Emilie must most definitely come in, her being a good pal of mine and him having worked with her before, and the whole Sanctuary connection. It was like, “Well, she has to be in it, no ifs, ands or buts” and so I got on the phone and I absolutely wrangled her into the project. It was great to work to work with Emilie again. Any time, any day.

(ÜSFG) Well, hopefully we’ll see you on Sanctuary in Season 2.

(SS) I’ve talked to her about that. I said, “You know, even if like I come back as a hideous monster or something and we have a big fight scene between the two of us. Awesome.” And she was like, “We’ll find something better for you than that.”

(ÜSFG) Well, when can we expect to see The Thaw and Paradox in theaters? Have there been dates set yet?

(SS) Um, there are quite a lot of visual effects that are going to be going into Paradox so I don’t expect to see or hear anything with Paradox for at least, minimum, at least six to eight months, although I am anticipating it coming out because we did some great work on that. It was a very, very fun set. Um, and The Thaw I think will be released in spring, I guess to coincide with…

(ÜSFG) The thaw…

(SS) Ya know, spring and everything thawing out, right. I think that’s when they are aiming for a release. I’m not 100% sure, although the trailer is already out so they can’t be too far away, and I’ve already done ADR on it so I think it’s just around the corner.

(ÜSFG) Well, I look forward to that. Are there any other projects that we should be keeping an eye out for this year?

(SS) Um, well, there’s Dim Sum Funeral, a film that I did just before The Thaw in March of last year, and that’s to do with an Asian-American family, four siblings who come together to bury their mother in a traditional Chinese funeral. Not science fiction at all, more of a family drama. They are completely antagonistic siblings… they are towards each other, which I’m guessing a lot of people can relate to. I know I didn’t like my sisters for a very long time and, um, that’s currently doing the film festivals. That’s going to, um… It just had its premiere at Pusan Film Festival last year and then was at AFI and then just, I think about a week ago, was at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, and now it’s going to the Singapore Film Festival and then the New Port Beach Film Festival and then the L.A. Film Festival and then the San Francisco Asian-American Film Festival… It’s just doing the circuit of festivals right now but I think it’s going to be airing at some stage on HBO. Apart from those three, nnn… not much.

(ÜSFG) Not much?

(SS) There are a few projects in the pipeline right now but I’m not allowed to talk about them until I get on set. A little… just a little superstition of mine that I shouldn’t start chitter-chattering about things I want to work on because I might not actually be on it.

(ÜSFG) I understand. I have the same problem. I do a lot of projects and if I… the more time I spend talking about it before I actually do it, the less I actually get done, so I understand.

(SS) Yeah.

(ÜSFG) Well, we covered everything that I really wanted to go over, so I know you’ve got a deadline. Is there anything else you want me to share before you run off?

(SS) Um, no, except I am, um… my first experience in sci-fi on Paradox I just loved, and I hope to do more of it. I guess The Thaw is kind of a…

(ÜSFG) Sci-Fi/Horror.

(SS) Sci-fiction kind of thing, more of a horror, but that was a fun experience too. I got to do a lot of screaming. It was a screamer. It was my first screamer and I feel like I’ve done permanent damage to my voice box. But it was good fun and, um, I hope to be able to show you guys something more. I hope to be able to produce something like Strawberry, so check that out on my Island Films website. Strawberry is a script that I would love to see made. The screenplay is finished. It’s fantabulous. I love it and I think we’re going to try to start funding it. I dunno; feature it on your website. You’ll find it on the Island Films website under Films. It opens up onto a bunch of, whachamacallit, I guess concept art posters and you’ll see Strawberry. It’s on the bottom right-hand corner, and click on that and it should take you right to a synopsis page so you can read the synopsis. I’m going to try to start finding funding for it so if anyone is interested, contact Island Films. Thank you very much, and I will keep you posted on those three… the two upcoming projects, and let you know where they are at and when they are going to come out, and so on and so forth.

"Strawberry" is a sci-fi thriller about what happens to your soul when your body's on ice.

"Strawberry" is a sci-fi thriller about what happens to your soul when your body's on ice.

(ÜSFG) Thank you, Steph!

While we have to wait a while for Paradox, you can expect The Thaw to arrive in theaters sometime this spring. Dim Sum Funeral is currently showing at festivals and will soon air on HBO. jPod is available to watch streaming on CBC.com and TheWB.com, and can be purchased from Amazon.com. Also, don’t forget to stop by stephsong.com and islandfilms.net to keep up-to-date on Steph’s latest projects.

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The wise and witty Jeff Lewis of The Guild

The wise and witty Jeff Lewis of The Guild

Over the past two years, ten million people have come to recognize Jeff Lewis as Vork, the quirky leader of The Knights of Good on Felicia Day‘s hit web series The Guild. After spending years doing stand-up and improv comedy with such troupes as The Groundlings and The Second City, he’s also turned his talents towards writing. His first film screenplay, For Christ’s Sake, is in post-production, and his other writing credits include episodes of Nickelodeon‘s Catscratch and Dreamworks Animation‘s Toonsylvania. While he’s made numerous web and television production appearances, very little information is available online to provide insight into the man behind the Guildmaster (though he did just receive a bit of “exposure” by appearing in nothing but a blue Speedo in a CareerBuilder.com commercial), so Jeff graciously took time recently to answer some questions for us.

ÜberSciFiGeek (ÜSFG) I love your CareerBuilder commercial! What kind of feedback are you getting from it so far, and how do you feel about your picture being sent as a gift all over Facebook?

Jeff Lewis (JL) The feedback from the commercial has been great. I love being sent as a gift. I think they stopped it and that makes me sad.

(ÜSFG) Did you have an active imagination when you were a kid?

(JL) Yes, I did. I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction books and after I would read a passage, I would close my eyes and play it out in my head. And I spent a lot of time with toy soldiers, having battles where I killed several Nazis. I love killing Nazis. To this day, I will buy any WW2 video game that involves killing Nazis. I will continue killing Nazis even when the game tells me I am done with a certain area or level. And when the opportunity arises to actually play a Nazi, I will kill myself immediately and laugh about it. I hate Nazis. I cannot overstate it.

(ÜSFG) Lots of artistic people struggle with other things considered normal, like sports, academics, and social interaction, but then thrive when they discover the arts. Did you have a similar experience?

(JL) For the most part. I loved sports though. Basketball and football. But I always struggled with academics. Knowledge is just not my… thing. And as far as social interaction, it wasn’t great. Especially with women. Especially with women. I am repeating that sentence for dramatic effect. I came from a place of assuming immediately that any woman I met was not interested. There was a time when a woman could be naked in my bed and I still would question whether she was into me. I definitely fared better in the arts. It’s a real boost to your confidence when people laugh at you. And then, of course, social interaction improves. Although I’m still not sure that my fiancée is really into me.

(ÜSFG) How old were you when you decided you wanted to be an actor?

(JL) It took a long time. I was in a state of denial for many years. I just kind of did shows but didn’t admit that I was an actor. It just wasn’t something my parents wanted me to do or raised me to be. I think I probably knew the first time I stepped on stage. I’m going to give you a number just because I think people generally crave specificity. 28.

(ÜSFG) You just finished wrapping season 2 of The Guild. What was it like being back together with the cast and crew? How different was it to actually have a budget this time around?

(JL) It was great being with the cast and crew. Quite seriously, I like everybody and we have a great time. Sometimes too good. Especially with Felicia and Sandeep, just because I’ve known them so long and so many of my scenes are with them. I look forward to working more with Vince and Amy and Robin because I really like them too. And I love the crew. Everybody’ s just really nice and we’ve gotten into a good rhythm. If there was a way we could legally, morally and biologically have an orgy without the sex and various fluids, I would like to do that.

It was a little different having a budget. Not as much on the set because the writing and acting has always been there, regardless of budget, but more seeing the finished product. It just looks great. I take that back now about on the set. There’s more people. It takes longer for me to walk back from craft service to the set. More people to get by.

(ÜSFG) I know that Felicia Day wrote the part of Vork for you because she thinks you are one of the funniest men she’s ever known. Does that mean she borrowed heavily from your real life personality? How much are you and Vork alike?

(JL) I don’t know how much she borrowed. Vork is very exact in his words and actions. Everything’s a little calculated. I think I’m more stop and start, not exactly sure where I’m going. And dumb. I think emotionally, we might be similar. Prone to instant anger, albeit disarming. And frustration. We both have that and I hope it comes out in a funny way. Basically (and sadly), I think she just thought I looked the part of an older gamer.

(ÜSFG) What’s going on with For Christ’s Sake? There’s a great website up at forchristssakemovie.com (love the choice of Orff’s “Carmina Burana” theme). Can you tell us a little bit about the film and how you came to write it?

(JL) For Christ’s Sake is a feature about a priest who unwittingly becomes an investor in his brother’s porn movie. It’s got a great cast. Jed Reese, Will Sasso, Alex Borstein, Sarah Rue, Michael Hitchcock and John Schneider (of The Dukes of Hazzard). I wrote it several years ago in a writing workshop class and gave it to my friend Jackson Douglas, a director, and he got the funding and directed it. We’re just waiting to hear about distribution now.

(ÜSFG) You visited Kiko on the set of Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine show this season. What was it like working with Kim Evey and her crew over there?

(JL) It was great to work with Kim. She’s awesome! I had never worked with any of the actors and we just hit it off. Very fun. And Kim is great to work with on The Guild. I think of her as the script Nazi on The Guild. Maybe not Nazi but more of a “the mom that would keep you in line” and I mean that in the best way. She’s the one that would say, “No, Vork would never keep a small boy in the basement” or “Vork would never be in a hotel room with two hookers and an eight ball”. You need somebody like that. To keep you true to the characters and to maintain that ensemble feel. And by the way, Vork WOULD keep a small boy in his basement.

(ÜSFG) You’ve had a lot of success lately as a writer. Are you changing your focus from in front of to behind the scenes?

(JL) I’m not sure that I’ve had that much success, but if you say so. I will say that for about two years, I kind of gave up on acting and focused almost solely on writing and that was a mistake and will never happen again.

(ÜSFG) What other projects have you been working on?

(JL) I’ve been doing stand up for about 6 months and that’s been fun and horrifying. I’m also writing a screenplay with a new partner and trying to write my own webisode, hopefully with the help of The Guild people.

(ÜSFG) Do you get recognized in public now?

(JL) Once in a while, I do get recognized. It’s always a little awkward. I’ve gotten so used to living in obscurity. It was always a goal of mine.

(ÜSFG) Are you a Whedonite?

(JL) I’m not sure. I love everything he’s done. He’s pretty amazing. I was very jealous when I saw Dr. Horrible. I wish I could write like that. Especially the songs.

For Christ’s Sake will be released later this year. In the meantime, catch up on Season 2 of The Guild, which can be watched on MSN Video, Xbox Live and Zune.

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