#Follow Character Bios, part 1

While it is probable that my time constraints on writing the script were evident in the finished product, they were made tighter by the fact that I really didn’t feel I could write the 7 page script without first throwing down a lot of backstory and character bios. The actors did a lot to inform their characters, and so these bios are definitely missing some aspects which they brought to the finished product.

Still, I thought someone might be interested in knowing more about the 7 characters of #Follow…

Matt McGreevy — Also known in our script as, “The running man,” Matt is at the end of his rope. He’s been in hiding and on the run for the last year or two and is no stranger to drug use. It’s understandable why he’s such a mess; after all, he’s responsible for keeping his friends safe. The secrets he holds are worth a fortune, and put the lives of Connor, Josh, Abby, Bree and Eric at great risk. The pressure of always being on the move, staying one step ahead of his pursuers was taking a toll, and inevitably he found himself on the top of a tall building, contemplating hiding his friends secrets permanently. Trouble is, they are less safe with him dead, so when he saw the reminder on his phone for Connor’s birthday, it pulled him back from the brink and sent him running…he knew what they’d be up to at Connor’s party, and he had to at least try to stop them before they started asking too many questions…and one question in particular.

Connor — If there’s a center to the group, it is Connor. Lifelong friends with Eric, Connor has been the magnet which drew the rest of this group of friends together. Connor and Eric started a software company, which has been moderately successful, though neither of them have thus far been successful in their personal lives. For some time Connor has found that his close friendship with Abby has led him to feel something more for her, but he was never able to pull the trigger and ask her on a date. There’s something that gnaws at Connor — he doesn’t sleep well, and though he seems pretty easy going and friendly, he has a compulsive need to understand everything, which proves difficult when he pulls a question that no one can answer.

Josh Worthington — Josh met Connor and Eric at a conference, where they soon found they all shared a love of travel and adventure. He practices intellectual property law, so the fact he can work with his friends a huge plus. Josh is ambitious and goes after what he wants. When he decided he wanted Abby, he pursued her, where Connor held back. He takes his relationship with Abby very seriously, and feels a little threatened by the easy friendship she shares with Connor. His constant pursuit of excellence and having a ‘perfect’ life causes him some dramatic mood swings at times. Over the last few months, his moods have taken a decidedly darker turn, and he has had a more difficult time connecting with his friends and the woman he loves. Josh has been in touch with Matt a couple of times over the last few years, but does not know the truth about April 2nd or the secrets Matt is keeping to protect them all.

Abigail (Abby) Newman — Abby became friends with Connor and Eric after they first started their company, and she was hired as their head of marketing. They all bonded very quickly, and before long were taking trips together and sharing adventures. Abby has a particularly strong bond with Connor, and she has always had an easy friendship with him, much to Josh’s dismay. Abby at one time hoped that Connor would ask her out, but Josh’s pursuit of her affection made her fall in love with him. Still, it’s a challenge to deal with Josh at times — his mood swings cause a great deal of tension in their relationship, and he refuses to seek out a therapist or a psychiatrist to deal with the issue. Abby is incredibly intuitive and is far more intelligent than her marketing background would necessarily indicate.

Bios for Bree, Eric and Doug still to come!

Posted under writing

This post was written by Shawna Benson on March 12, 2011

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#Follow Series Summary

One of the requirements for the Celebrate the Web 4 Festival was to submit a one-sheet explanation/overview of the overall series. So, just for fun, here is what I submitted — and I’ll be posting character bios (which were not required and not submitted) later today.
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#Follow is an episodic thriller/mystery series about a group of friends who discover that their memories of the past may not be accurate reflections of reality. Inspired by the quote from William Gibson, “Time moves in one direction, memory in another,” the series seeks to answer two interrelated questions: “As time passes, do our memories define us, or, can we escape the trappings of our past to become something else?” How much do our collective memories determine what we are and what happens to us when those memories are altered?

Eric, Josh, Abby, Bree and Doug have gathered to celebrate Connor’s birthday. While quizzing each other on events from their past, Connor puzzles over a strange question – “What happened on 4/2?” No one seems to know what significance the date holds or who even wrote the question. As they search for the meaning of this elusive date, they are interrupted by the unexpected arrival of their old friend Matt, who they haven’t seen in five years. Matt has pulled himself back from the edge (literally) to help his friends. He races to warn them that they aren’t safe; they all need to run.

Now the friends must try to understand the truth about their past, and why it puts their lives in jeopardy. They soon discover that their collective memories are suspect and may not represent their true history together. Further, someone else knows about their mysterious past and wants to erase all trace of it, even if it means killing them all to accomplish the task. Who are they running from? Why are they in danger? What important event happened on April 2nd and why don’t they remember it? Quickly the friends find themselves on the run, with an urgent need to find the answers to these and other questions as they try to stay alive.

Like popular epic television series such as “Lost” and “The Walking Dead,” “#Follow” is a thrilling story about a group of people who must band together to make peace with their past and work to build a future by staying alive.

Posted under writing

This post was written by Shawna Benson on March 11, 2011

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Celebrate the Web 4: Mission accomplished!

Today I finished the marathon that was the Celebrate the Web 4 Webseries Pilot Competition.  The challenge was to write/shoot/finish a webseries pilot in 7 days.

I expect to blog a lot about my experiences, as there were a lot of ‘firsts’ for me this week.

For better or worse, I no longer rest on the laurels of my teen opus “Stegron” which I shot for Jules when she was in high school — she was doing a school report on B-movies of the fifties, so we made one to accompany her paper.

She got an A, which, for a schlocky B-movie made me quite proud.

But what I did this week… far beyond anything I’ve done before.  I don’t mean necessarily quality but just the amount of work, the decision making, the responsibility…it was a lot.  And it was hard.  And sometimes I thought I was insanely stupid for trying to do this.

But somehow, I made it through the week, completed a project, and actually wouldn’t mind doing it again (but, not in a race like this — I’d like to have more than 5 hours to write my script).

There are lots of people to thank, lots of stories to share.  For now, I’ll just leave you with this.  Ladies and gentlemen, my little baby… #FOLLOW.

You can watch the other 12 pilots here and if you feel like voting for us, that would be nifty.

Thanks.  Now I’m gonna go sleep.

Posted under writing

This post was written by Shawna Benson on March 10, 2011

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Wild World of Webseries

I can’t say I was really surprised by the results of my informal survey early this week.

I asked the question ‘Do you watch webseries?’

I figured that based on the percentage of views to actual comments that 90% of the people who read the question and didn’t answer WOULD answer in the negative.  The remaining 10% who did comment split about 7%/3% yes/no.

So 93% of my readers (or so) do not generally watch any webseries.  That’s what I gather.

As I said this was informal, and just because someone didn’t comment doesn’t mean they don’t watch, but I’m gonna assume that, because…well, just because.

That means I have 7% who might care about this post.

The reasons stated for why you don’t watch or what is frustrating are all valid.

The quality isn’t there.

I can’t dispute this.  The internet is a firehose.  Finding the good among all the bad…the signal to the noise — it’s not easy.

Still let’s face it, the web is democratic.  You create a vision, you distribute it, and the people decide to watch or not watch.  There are however ways to get improve your chances that someone will watch it.

I don’t know where to find webseries to watch them.

Also valid.  Much like the cable TV landscape, there are dozens and dozens of websites that act as distributors for web content, and that doesn’t count those who just put up a website to host their series without any distribution platform (although, to not use Youtube at a bare minimum seems a bit short sighted)  There are sites you’ve heard of, and a whole lot you haven’t heard of.  There are original web series – documentary, mockumentary, reality, drama, comedy, horror, animation, news…it’s just like any other “older” medium – a wide variety of series for people to enjoy.  A few are studio produced and distributed, many webseries are independent productions.  There are webseries which are directly tied to other content, whether it is a film or tv series – “The Office” and “Battlestar Galactica” are known for having webseries that run alongside or tie into their main shows.  Some have spin-off type content for web.  Some web shows have even made the jump from the web to television — “Sanctuary” started out as an episodic series on the web before Sci-Fi (pre-name change) picked it up and made it a television series.  “Children’s Hospital” on Adult Swim was a webseries on WB.com first.

Probably the best known independent productions don’t have huge stars, but have quality and devoted fans.  “The Guild” has managed to attract a large audience, which got attention from Microsoft.  Now that series is exclusively released on Microsoft XBox and MSN platforms before it hits Youtube.

Of course, most writers know about Whedon’s foray into the web during the Writer’s Strike a couple of years ago, and “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog” was born.

A series can be three episodes, or eighty.  It can have seasons or cycles, or it can stand alone, as a one shot.

The variety and flavors of webseries are vast, but the issues remain: How do I find the good ones?

Well, how do you find anything “good”?  You rely on word of mouth.  A video goes “viral” when it is shared and distributed by a swarm of people.  You post it or link to it and then some else sees it, does the same and so on… There are a few aggregators out there now, and sites like tubefilter.com try to cover the landscape of web entertainment.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to start highlighting blogs, twitter accounts, facebook pages, and websites which try to highlight the good, find the signals among the noise.  They don’t always succeed, but you stand a better chance of finding something you like after you investigate them.

Why do I care?  No matter what, I am a storyteller first – if I can tell a story on the web and make it as good and as interesting as any independent film or tv series, I have a better shot at getting it seen eventually by a larger audience.  The power is no longer in the hands of gatekeepers – it’s in your hands, you as a creator and you, as an audience.

It’s a wild, uncharted landscape out there.  You can stake a claim.  What are you waiting for?

Me, I’m not waiting.  I’m writing a webseries.  So yeah, some of this is self-interest; I want an audience for what I make.  I want YOU to see it.  I figure I start with talking about webseries and finding some other good ones to share with you.  Then maybe together we can start making some magic happen…

Stay tuned.

Posted under writing

This post was written by Shawna Benson on October 9, 2010

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Blatant Promotion with some Substance

Yes, I like to promote my friends and their writing.  In this case, I’ve worked with the friend in question previously on writing our short film for the 48 Hour Film Festival, so I know what kind of twisted (but great) writing mind he has.

Bernie Su has written a webseries called Compulsions.  It isn’t like most webseries in that it is a straight up drama.  Dailymotion is hosting it exclusively for the next month, and each weekday a new episode is released.

The production value they’ve gotten for the incredibly limited budget is amazing.  You can also get insight into how this got made with the blog at their website, where Bernie talks about the process of writing, casting and shooting the series.  Right now, it is 8 episodes.  If it does well (and so far, by web standards, it’s doing quite well), hopefully they’ll be able to make some more.

I know it’s hard to stick with a webseries, particularly if it isn’t up your alley.  Bernie has made something dark and gritty and distinctively web-centric.  These episodes aren’t chopped up tv shows.  Each 4 to 5 minute piece crams a lot of story and character development, with the promise of so much more to come.  Watch them as they are released or a few at a time, but I do think you’ll be interested by what he’s doing.  If nothing else, hopefully it will give the drama writers some hope for the future beyond Funny or Die videos and Dr. Horrible.

Go check it out.  Wait, I’ll make it even easier for you.  Watch Episode 1 right here:

Now go click on the little linky link up there to go watch the other episodes. You know you want to.

Posted under randomness

This post was written by Shawna Benson on December 4, 2009

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Compulsions

My very good friend and sometimes collaborator Bernie Su (@bernnotice on Twitter) has created and produced a webseries which will be hitting the web soon (I’ll let you know when it does).  Check out the teaser he released yesterday to Tubefilter.

I’m going to pimp the hell out of this, not just because Bernie is a friend, but because I think this project has the potential to crack through the wall that seems to prevent most dramatic webseries from reaching the size audience that humorous ones do.

Compulsions.  It’s a taste.

Posted under tv news

This post was written by Shawna Benson on August 21, 2009

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Comic-Con ’08

If you are or know anyone who is a content creator (books, comics, film, tv, web) and who will be at Comic-Con, I’m looking to put together some “off the beaten path” interviews for Geekerati, both for the blog and for our internet radio show/podcast.

Please email me if you have an interest in being interviewed or has a friend (or client, if you are PR) that would like to be interviewed.

Thanks all! To my readers: I’ll be twittering the whole thing, as I did last year. I’m hoping to really improve coverage, particularly focused on the TV panels (and there are a LOT of them this year), not only for my blog but for the aforementioned blog and podcast.

Posted under tv news

This post was written by Shawna Benson on June 20, 2008

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The water’s fine.

“You don’t even bother to check the temperature of the water, you just jump right in.”

This is what a friend said to me today about how I treat my ‘hobbies’ and fixations. If I get interested in something I go at it full force, no messing around. I don’t just dabble…I *live* it.

Some of you were around for my “Taylor Hicks phase”, something I’m still grasping to understand myself. I just knew it was something that had taken hold of me at a particular time in my life when I needed something to excite me, and I went for the ride. And what a ride it was. It’s still difficult to explain that Mr. Hicks really became a minor player in my hobby. Each time I saw him put on a show, it became less and less about him, more and more about who I was spending the time with, and all of the experiences I was having. I went to Birmingham, AL twice, Atlanta, New York, Las Vegas…all to experience life with this group of people who were becoming my friends.

I don’t talk to many of them anymore, but the ones I talk to a lot are the ones I intend to keep forever. I’m sure I’ll continue to have some conversations with a few of the others, but once this ‘phase’ was winding down for me, it seemed to be winding down for others…we just moved on.

So, now I’ve dived into my next hobby, phase or ‘subculture’ as I am frequently finding fascinating similarities and interesting differences between the various groups I mingle with (writers, blues and soul music fans, sci-fi geeks, tech geeks, etc).

I’m *really* into wine.

And that doesn’t just mean I find a couple I like. Oh no. It means I ‘found’ the winebloggers, the vloggers, the wikis, EVERYTHING I can get my hands on that relates to wine. I track my cellar and tasting notes. I have 43 bottles right now, 15 of which I consider worth ‘saving’ and not just popping open to drink randomly. I’m learning how to train my palate to get better at tasting wine.

I live my passions.

So Friday, I’m checking in on my favorite wine vlogger, who is a cult icon with the wine lover set — he has fanatic followers and has caused a lot of controversy in the staid wine business.

Meet Gary Vaynerchuk.

Gary took over his family’s wine business many years ago and has built it into one of the premier wine businesses on the web. He embraces Web 2.0 (and I’ll be posting about throwing myself deep into the social networking pool more in another post…this only scratches the surface of it).

So Friday, I learn he’s up in Sonoma tasting wines with Kevin Rose, founder of Digg. Kevin was using a great new Web 2.0 tool Qik to broadcast LIVE from his Nokia phone out to the site and to the entire world. Further, you could chat with them through the phone as they were recording, resulting in some questions being asked by people to Kevin and Gary which they could answer (that is until the lag got kind of bad — there’s still work to be done on this technology).

Gary is also joined by Tim Ferriss, author of the NY Times Bestseller “The Four-Hour Work Week” and Robert Scoble from Fast Company. These four people are extremely successful with their business and a lot of it can be attributed to their shrewd use of Web 2.0 technology.

During the course of the video, Gary mentions it might be fun to host a party Saturday night for the Twitter followers — yes, Twitter is yet another Web 2.0 technology that I have embraced (if you come here often, you’ve probably seen my recent twitter updates over in the sidebar).

So, a party? A WINE party? Hosted by *the* Gary Vaynerchuk and with the aforementioned internet ‘personalities’ in attendence? I instantly knew that I had to be there. Before they could confirm their musings I twittered Robert Scoble and asked if the party was a go. He told me it was, and I said I’d be there, in Santa Rosa, for the party the next night.

Crazy, right? Looking back, no crazier than my flights hither and yon to see the American Idol winner. In fact, this looked downright sane in comparison. So, I sought out travel companions of a female nature…my other thought being it would make for a good girl’s weekend and I didn’t need any of my male friends (who I cherish SOOOO much) to get in the way of any possible, ahem, romantic possibilities. Hey, some of these guys are wealthy. A girl can dream, right?

I had no takers on the trip. At first I was bummed, and almost talked myself out of going…seven hours of driving alone seemed too risky. But I didn’t let it stop me. I got up Saturday morning, gassed up my car, packed a small bag and hit the road.

SPLASH. I am in the pool, and the water is fine.

(To be continued…)

Posted under Uncategorized

This post was written by Shawna Benson on March 25, 2008

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Casting a Long (Digital) Shadow

So I recently tallied up my various ‘presences’ on a variety of Web applications, 2.0 widgets, etc etc. Here’s what I found:

This Blog
The Sistercritics Blog, which I run with…my sister.
Geekerati Media Blog
A LiveJournal account
A Facebook account
A Myspace account
Geekerati Radio Show
My (TV Junkie) Radio Show
A LinkedIn account
Twitter account
Pandora account
Photobucket account
Youtube account
Google News Reader/Google talk
AIM
Yahoo Messenger
MSN Messenger (which I never use anymore)
Yelp account
My CellarTracker Account (Wine)

And Fusing most of these together is my new FriendFeed account.

And we don’t even want to count the forums I’m a member of…

Posted under blogs

This post was written by Shawna Benson on March 18, 2008

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Waking up to the future

So, while I remain somewhat secretive about some of my projects, I’ve decided that for my latest foray into entertaining the masses I will blog extensively on my efforts.

My latest project is a web series. I’m co-writing the series with my good friend Bernie Su. He and I believe that we can make a quality entertaining product specific to the web (at least to start).

While I won’t be spilling the story details as yet, here’s our basic construct for the series.

We’ve written a “pilot” episode which introduces our main characters and concept, but is (at least for now) not directly related to the main plot of the 8-episode series.

Each episode will be 5-6 minutes in length, and we hope to clock the total project in at 44 minutes.

We are still working on distribution and I am bringing aboard a producer I think will get us on the right track as we move toward ramping up the writing on the other episodes.

I fully intend for this to see the light of day by the end of April 2008.

Oh, and yes, it will have its own website and viral marketing elements. It should be fun.

Posted under writing

This post was written by Shawna Benson on December 31, 2007

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