|Posted by timeaftertime on March 31, 2010 at 8:30 AM|
One of the most interesting web series to come about is Compulsions,a psychological thriller that is mystery unto itself and has a diverse cast. The series is not for the "faint of hearts" because it goes there. With that being said I had a chance to interview the writer and creator of the series Bernie Su. So sit back, relax, and learn all about Compulsions.
Time After Time/Soap World: When did you first figure out that you wanted to produce a scripted series?
Bernie Su: Years ago. In a nutshell, I've always wanted to do film/video, but it was only about 3-4 years ago when I figured out that I wanted to do scripted episodic content. The characters are just so much richer in episodic simply because of longevity and run times. A single season of 24 is longer in runtime than the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
TATSW: Who would you say are some of your influences?
BS: I watch a lot of episodic TV, so it's generally those showrunners/writers. Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica), JJ Abrams (Lost/Alias), Matthew Weiner (Mad Men), and Shawn Ryan (The Shield) are some of my favorites.
TATSW: Getting into your current project. What was the inspiration behind the series Compulsions?
BS: Back in Nov 2008, I set out to do a high drama/high intensity dramatic web series. I really like high/intense drama andI thought it would be fun to see a show like that on the web. I knew I wanted to go dark and intense, yet remain true to the depth of the characters in that same Cable/TV mold. I've also always had an interest in studying psychosis (mental illiness) so I wanted to present something from that subject matter. As far as pop-culture references, Dexter and Criminal Minds are the two that I personally was inspired from, but different since we don't have a 'serial killer' on our show.
Note: when people see our show, a lot of people cite Fight Club and Saw as inspirations, but I can tell you that those films were not conscious sources of inspiration.
TATSW: The series stars Craig Frank and Janna Bossier (Mark and Justine) who are on a quest for answers. What exactly is their line of work?
BS: Markis an Interrogator. Justine is a Retrieval Specialist (like a Bounty Hunter).
TATSW: Speaking of Craig Frank. The actor has an uncanny likening to Denzel Washington. Do you hear that a lot?
BS: Yes we do, and I don't consider it a bad thing. Our series stars "young Denzel?"... definitely not a bad thing.
TATSW: Is that part of the reason why you cast him as the lead?
BS: Maybe subconsciously, but really we cast him because he's an incredibly skilled actor and fit the role the best. He knew about the role, did his research on sadism, came in, and destroyed the audition.
TATSW: Janna Bossier reminds me of an edgier Kyra Sedgwick. When did you know she was "the one" for the role of Justine?
BS: I've never heard the Kyra connection, but I definitely can see it now that you've pointed out. We likened Janna to the classic "femme fatale" of the silver age of cinema, she has this intoxicating feel about her, so we cast her. Going into casting, we didn't think the Justine character was going to be blond, but somethings just work out that way.
TATSW: Having a web series is like making an indie flick. You can cast who you want. How do youfeel about that?
BS: I think it's great, you can generally go with the best person available without the politics. But I do think it's a benefit to go through the process of casting. When you have key roles in your show (or film), I think just handing off roles will limit the potential of what your show can be. Of course there are exceptions, like if you're in a hurry, or if you're writing roles to specific people.
TATSW: Compulsions feels like movie divided into eight parts. Was that the intention?
BS: No.Compulsions is meant to be an episodic short format series. There are several web series out there that play as full feature films, but I definitely don't feel Compulsions can do that. With the heavy hitting climatic endings to each episode it just feels awkward when you don't have that period of decompression/reflections that you get while you sit through the music/credits.
TATSW: On the other hand I could see this as television series following Mark and Justine on various missions. Maybe start of off as episodic and then once the audience has been acclimated to Compulsions start writing plots that play out over the course the season weaving in and out new plotlines. What's your take?
BS: If we're talking about one hour drama than yes you certainly can as for the concept/premise, but I think the format of the show would have to change drastically though. I believe our non-linear story structure, and our Rashoman style POV would be really confusing and hard to follow in a longer format.
TATSW: So are there any plans for a second season? If so can you can you give us a sneak peak at what to expect?
BS: Yes there are plans for a second season, but we have to play out some things first. We were completely privately financed for the first season, and we can't repeat that without sending a lot of the team into poverty, so we're seeing how things play out around the industry. Can a series that's this dark draw an audience and come back for a 2nd run? That remains to be seen. As much as this is an art, it's still a business first unfortunately. As for the story line, my original outline had the story running about 6 seasons (if we're telling them in 8-10 episode blocks). As for something specific, you'll see more development on the Mark/Cassandra story, as well as other 'Compulsions', while also still telling the retrieval plot line we're on.
TATSW: Do you have any other web series planned? If so, what can we expect from you in the future?
BS: If Compulsions doesn't continue then yes I have a couple other series planned. Doesn't mean they'll all get made, but more of we'll see what other people/companies want to do these shows with me. As far as what to expect... Even though I like and have comedy training, I still love intense drama so you'll see more of those.
TATSW: Finally, what would you like to say to the fans?
BS: Thanks for watching, and I'm glad you've enjoyed the show. It is an honor to entertainfor you.
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