The online network KoldCast.tv hosts a myriad of web series and has an ever-growing sci-fi and fantasy selection. One of those series is Infamous. (I discussed Infamous recently on the KoldCast blog.) For those of you who haven’t seen the show, it’s a morally ambiguous contemporary sci-fi series featuring secret organizations, action, intrigue and mutants. I spoke with the team behind Infamous and asked them a few questions about the inspiration and aspirations for the series. Greg Washington is co-creator, producer and the actor who plays “John”, John Chambers produces and plays “Solomon” and Joey Barto is co-creator and director of the show.
ÜberSciFiGeek (ÜSFG) What were your inspirations while creating and writing Infamous?
Greg Washington (GW) Our inspirations were comic books and movies as well as video games with anti-heroes. We really wanted to create a world where people could easily slip in and out of fantasy and reality; a little something for the cynics and conspiracy theorists as well as the action and thriller junkies. Wolverine was probably the seed that spawned the Infamous web series. The most fun we had creating honestly was Solomon and hopefully it shows through the character that John Chambers has brought to life.
Joey Barto (JB) X-Men had a lot of influence, being one of my favorite comics as a kid. There are so many complex relationships and characters in the series, Wolverine being one of the darkest. The characters, both good and bad, were almost always flawed, and that’s what makes it possible to identify with them.
John Chambers (JC) Solomon is pieces of some of my favorite villains and anti-heroes. Many of his mannerisms have come from the many great Number 2’s in the series The Prisoner. The world they created there is very much like that of Infamous. Those who are fans of the show will know which Number 2 is my favorite (Leo McKern). From the heroes side, I really enjoy some of the flaws presented in the character of Michael Garibaldi from Babylon 5 and that of the Clint Eastwood anti-heroes of the old Westerns.
(ÜSFG) Why did you choose the web?
(GW) We chose the web for a lot of reasons. One specifically being the fact that we could make the show we wanted to make and the fact that it’s where television is headed.
(JB) It is the delivery medium of the future. Its instant accessibility is the main reason. Also it’s great to have such immediate response and gratification to what we’re doing. In any other medium, we’d have to wait weeks or months before airing. Now we see the response to what we’re doing almost immediately.
(JC) I think on all fronts the web offers what is being termed as New Media. It is cost effective, gives a wide range to what we can do independently, opens us up to a larger market, and provides us with something that few series have… the unknown use of the web. When I say unknown, [I mean] there are many out there that are trying to find a place in this New Media for both the productions and the products. There is no set game plan for marketing, it is completely open and with that… and a little desperation to create something… it all leads to inspiration and success.
(ÜSFG) Did you write the story and then decide to make it for the web or did you decide to make a web series and then write the story?
(GW) We decided to make a web series and then wrote the story. We wanted something quick that could get out to people in a hurry. Kind of like the mix-tape in hip hop. We wanted to create something stylized with the tools we had and let word of mouth and that home grown experience build our audience.
(ÜSFG) You’ve got a very interesting cast of characters with very distinctive personalities. How much of that is scripted traits and how much freedom do the actors have to create their characters?
(GW) The script laid down the foundation for the direction the characters would travel but everyone has raised their character by 10 times. I don’t think I ever pictured Solomon being as dark as he is because I have known John for years and have never seen that side of him. He is really creating something special. James Palmer is fascinating to watch because he is a perfectionist, but also loves to laugh and joke so seeing him so frantic and disjointed on camera is great to watch. Liz as Morgan, we really couldn’t have found a better person. She’s athletic and beautiful and she is adding that hint of straight psycho to her character. I could go on and on about our cast, we have a great group of people and an incredible organic atmosphere for everyone to create on both sides of the camera. It’s great on the shoot days of Infamous.
(JB) Greg pretty much summed it up perfectly. We are BEYOND lucky to have such a talented cast. The fact that they are so dedicated to this series, it really blows me away. The characters they’ve created are beyond anything I could have thought up, they really are amazing.
(JC) As an actor on the series, I believe there is a great deal of organic nature to all of the characters. It seems that while the scripts and situations lend themselves to certain choices for the characters, overall, those are many times thrown out and something new is created as Greg and Joey let the actors make real choices. This opens up a wide variety of options for the actors. It is sometimes beautiful… sometimes a bit crazy and we have to be pulled in a bit. Overall, it is one of the more expressive shows I have ever worked on.
(ÜSFG) Will we eventually learn any back-stories of briefly occurring characters (such as the poor woman in the beginning of Genesis, Chapter 2) and how they tie into the big picture?
(GW) Yes. Our structure is built to throw tidbits in whenever we can to give a little closure to things we have already shown. It will all close out very nicely and hopefully it will make audiences go back and watch it all again to get the bigger picture.
(JB) We really want to expand the story into different mediums through both minisode vignettes and ARG interactive elements. I’d really love to creative an immersive world for fans over time, create a far more rich story than can be told merely through episodes.
(ÜSFG) From reading your blog, there’s quite a back-story for your production company. Tell me a little bit about how Infamous came together from a production standpoint?
(GW) Joey and I had been dying to do a project together for a long while now. We did a little short together that was someone else’s baby and really wasn’t something that we both enjoyed. We started meeting early last year after work hours to discuss what we wanted to do. After a couple of scripts were thrown on the table and a few more ideas and treatments, we both agreed that we needed that “mix-tape” feel to our first project. Meaning something raw in form but with a look and feel that would get people hooked, more of a calling card for future projects, but we didn’t want to do just any story. We wanted to do something dark like all of the comic books and films we enjoy. Instead of jumping into our main hero and basing a problem around him, we created Solomon. From Solomon we created Palmer and then the world built around them. From day one, we always wanted John Chambers and James Palmer in those roles and were very happy when they agreed. It was actually John Chambers’ idea to make Morgan a woman after reading the pilot. Picking our amnesiac bad ass was very difficult. We had people in mind that had either moved or we felt couldn’t give that kind of commitment so the character was the last to get cast. Once we were rolling, the choices we made for our cast shined through. Its hysterical watching everyone rush to unload equipment then go through the works: wardrobe, hair and makeup, go through the scene, run to monitors to watch playback. Its a whirlwind and everyone does great at it. This project would not have come together if it wasn’t for my friends, the cast and crew of Infamous, and also Fairfield Studios for donating their equipment and staff, Crain Video for all his wonderful space, and Yoboga to keep my energy level up and making me stay in shape.
(JC) On my end, I have always enjoyed working with Greg on set and in the acting world and with Joey. I have been tied to him and production for some time now. It is exciting to be around people with drive and with original ideas and a great sense of Sci-Fi. Once I was handed a script, I had to be a part of it. Then I became part of production and producing staff. All of it has been a wonderful ride with friends and people who I enjoy creating with.
(ÜSFG) Did you hold auditions or are you working with a group of actors and crew you already have a history with?
(GW) We did not hold auditions! We wrote with the actors we have in mind, not really knowing what they would create but knew it would be on the right track for what we wanted to see.
(ÜSFG) Once you decided to put it together, how long did it take to make it happen?
(GW) I want to say October of last year our first few scripts were locked in, I had just started learning basics for new fighting styles, Liz was working on gymnastics and boxing and by November John and James were on board and we were discussing when to shoot the pilot. We were going to shoot it in December but didn’t anticipate the weather, and forgot about the holidays. As a whole, we started principle photography in January, in 17 degree weather. 🙂
(ÜSFG) What are your hopes for Infamous, both as a series and as a vehicle to other productions?
(GW) I hope Infamous has the audience base to go a few seasons. They are fun characters and would be great to revisit with a few more hands on deck that are as eager and into it as the people we have involved now. Once it’s wrapped for this season I’d like to take two weeks off and start brainstorming for the next project and start prepping one that we have already and didn’t think we could do first thing out of the gate. We are learning so much doing Infamous and I would like to show that.
(JB) I hope the audience enjoys the show, and we can get the support we need to continue making the show and pay the ridiculously talented individuals who make this show what it is.
(JC) They are boundless. I would love to work on this for several seasons, to finish the larger arc of all the characters. Other productions… I think… I KNOW they will come as we have many more stories to tell. In the end it would be a joy to just do this for a living, making great shows, working in Sci-Fi (as a fan myself), and doing the craft that I love. If we could fund this, I would work on it for years.
(ÜSFG) How many episodes are you planning for each season and how often can we look forward to them being released?
(GW) Infamous season one will be 12 episodes with the occasional minisode to give a little extra. They can be seen every Monday on koldcast.tv or infamouswebseries.com.
(ÜSFG) What is the overall feeling you hope viewers come away with after watching Infamous?
(GW) A couple of things. I hope viewers think the show is bad ass and enjoy the world we have tried to create and I hope people realize that you don’t need a studio or that big break to create film and television, you just need great friends and an imagination.
(JC) That it’s a hell of a fun story. What is next?!