Your TV-series Wisp
- in a few words, what is it about?
At it’s heart, Wisp
is a crime thriller about an unsolved
serial killing spree in Erie, PA. An investigation that gets complicated
by a copy-cat, and an uncooperative police commissioner.
Serial killer films
and TV-series are pretty much a dime a dozen - so what do you think makes
From the beginning, Adam and I set out to tackle a very familiar genre
in a different way. Unlike most ‘serial killer’ stories, Wisp
not a gore fest that focuses on the killings. And unlike most ‘cop
shows’, we leave most of the procedural stuff to the imagination. We
to be about the people affected. Those left in the
aftermath when something like this happens in a small community. It’s
not just about the cops and the killer, it’s about the cop’s wife, and
the victim’s sister, and what that kind of pressure can make someone do.
is shot in 3D. We don’t talk a lot about it, outside
of the ‘3D World’, but Wisp
might be the only series of its
kind being shot in Real 3D. The future Blu-Ray release will have the 3D
versions on it.
What were your inspirations when creating
Wisp, and what got the
project off the ground?
I’ve always been a fan of Hitchcock, and the film noir gum shoe
detective serials. Adam’s sensibility always tends to be a bit over
the top, in a graphic novel sort of way. There’s elements of all of that
in Wisp. The show has been compared to
The Following, Motive and Criminal Minds - which are all shows I watch. I
didn’t want Wisp
to feel like a parody, so I took inspiration from
all those shows to keep the look and feel still very modern.
Adam and I had Wisp
in development as a feature film. We had the
principal cast in place, and were in the process of raising the money to begin
filming. In the meantime, I had produced a reality TV show for I
am TV, a
regional cable TV network. They were looking for another series, and we
were looking to move forward with Wisp, so
I am TV CEO Scott E.
Jones offered to finance it, if we could turn it into a series. So Adam
and I re-conceived the story for television.
What can you tell us about your
writer Adam Moore, and what was your collaboration like?
I first started working with Adam in 2011 on my last feature Blood
of Ohma. I only had the story, in outline form and had hired another
writer to turn it into a shooting script. I knew the basic elements I was
going to need, and started pre-production but as the production date got
closer and closer, the script I had hired came in un-shootable. I had read
Adam’s novel and knew him on Facebook, so I asked him to help. In a few
weeks, he turned in the script for Blood of Ohma, which is more or
less what I shot. And we’ve been working together since.
Our collaboration is probably unconventional, but I don’t really have
anything to compare it to. We talk a lot. Hash out ideas, think out
loud, and then he sends me shooting scripts. Adam knows indie film. He’s
shot a few. So he understands the restraints of the budget, and the
practicality of shooting. We work together thru the whole process. I send
him rough cuts of scenes, we’ll make adjustments, fix problems. And
meanwhile, we’re hashing out the next three or four projects. Ideas,
to my information, Wisp
is your first TV-series - so how does directing a TV-series compare to
directing a movie, and how
would you describe your directorial approach to your story at hand?
Directing for TV is a world of difference. The actual filming is very
much the same. But on television, you get the time to really develop
character and story. The first season of Wisp
takes 7 hours to tell.
We’re at hour 3 right now. So if something isn’t working, or if a
character or story starts developing in a way you didn’t expect, you
have the opportunity to take an episode or two and make an adjustment.
Both of these things happened on Wisp.
Another advantage, is the feedback on TV is immediate. It can take 6
months to a year for an indie film to be watchable by the general public.
And then you have to rely on people buying the DVD, downloading it, hope
that reviewers will watch it. But on TV, it’s free for most people, and I
am TV simulcasts on the web, so if the show airs at 10pm, by 10:30
we’re hearing about it. What was good, what was bad. That kind of
instant feedback is invaluable.
can you tell us about your key cast, and why exactly these people?
simple answer is, I got lucky. I was looking specifically for TV
experience, and improv skill, and I got a pretty good mix of both.
Laverty is a long time friend, and the character of “Frost” was
written with him specifically in mind.
I originally wanted Paula Solinger
Solinger interview - click here] for Frost’s wife “Katherine”, then I saw her in Jim Devault’s Blood Reunion and she blew me away. So, I offered her the part of
‘the twins’ instead. She got really busy really fast after that movie,
so I got lucky to catch her in between projects.
Rod Hermansen was on
hiatus from Dallas.
John Thomassen [John
J Thomassen interview - click here] was on hold from a big Hollywood
movie, so I got him for a week, pretty much only because he wanted to do
I had John Baran on hold for a different part in the second act, but
the actor who was playing “John Kelly” dropped out a week before
filming. John was coming in for a big cast party promotion, so I asked him
to stay a week to film “John Kelly”. Again, I just got lucky.
hardest part to cast was The Commissioner. She was written with a specific
look and a personality that is bordering on a cartoon character. I talked
to a few actresses about The Commissioner, but I felt like Deb Funes
really ‘got’ her. And Deb is fearless in front of the camera. She was
not afraid to let her character be over the top, and the type of character
the audience loves to hate. And people REALLY hate Commissioner Gray. Deb
talk about the actual shoot for a bit, and the on-set atmosphere?
a big ensemble cast is difficult on an indie budget. Just the logistics of
getting everyone where they need to be on time. Our executive producer
Scott E. Jones does a great job of handling that stuff to enable me to
focus on filming the performances. Completing something of this size
requires a lot of collaboration, so as the director, I try and find the
best people I can afford, and then give them the time and resources to do
their best work. We rehearse and block scenes before we shoot them, we
take the time to talk out the characters, what happened before, and
what’s going to happen next. At the same time, someone is prepping our
next set, and Jaimie Foster is prepping the FX, and someone is organizing
meals, and keeping everyone on schedule. There’s a lot of moving parts
that all have to come together. Over a two week shoot, it becomes a very
family style atmosphere.
$64-question of course: Where can the series be seen?
I am TV
can be found on Time Warner Cable Channel 180 in Erie County. For
everyone else, the show can be watched at www.IAMTheWISP.com
where there’s an episode guide, and full length episodes to watch.
Wisp's act one
finished now, can you give away any of the series' future developments?
And when are there going to be more episodes?
Without spoiling anything, I can tell you that not all the characters
make it to the end, and ‘The WISP’ may not be who you think it is. We
will have at least one big addition to the cast and one big guest star.
Filming is scheduled for the first part of March for Act Two,
which will conclude season 1 of the show. It will begin airing in the spring.
projects besides/beyond Wisp?
do have a few things on my mind, and a few interesting ideas Adam is
working on, but I haven’t decided exactly what’s next.
got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal
training on the subject?
I think the same thing that drives
most indie filmmakers. I always loved film and television. Fascinated by
the medium. My father was always a ‘tech’ guy, and experimented
himself with 8mm film and then video recording and editing. So I always
had that stuff around to tinker with. I spent a few years at an
advertising agency until 2005 when I felt creatively burned out, and
decided to make a movie to do something different.
What can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to Wisp?
My first film was Fury, 2005. It’s a horror/revenge fantasy.
I didn’t really know what I was doing, but for some friends and fans,
it’s still their favorite. It’s the only movie I’ve made that people
ask for a sequel to.
In 2007 I made Virgin Pockets. This film happened, because I was
hired to shoot Jason Hull’s Chasing Darkness that summer, but it
was only filming on weekends. So, I wanted something small I could film
during the week. I used the same camera set-up and a lot of the same cast
and crew. At the time it felt very ‘thrown together’, but it struck a
chord with billiards fans, and ended up paying for my next two movies.
2008 was House of Bedlam. It’s a creepy, sort of screwed up
horror movie about ghost prostitutes. It was the first film I shot in high
definition, and the first film I worked with Larry Laverty on.
film was Blood of Ohma in 2011. I wanted to shoot a film in 3D, and
I wanted it to be an update on the classic monster movie from the
would you describe yourself as a director?
collaborative. I think I’m easy going. I’ve never taken an actress
hostage. (It happens.) I’ve found a measure of success in indie film,
because I have a reputation of finishing projects, getting things done.
It’s sadly common in ‘indie’ that films never get released. Lots of
work from actors, crew and technicians never gets seen – which for a lot
of us is the reason for working on lower budget projects to begin
with. For the chance to work, and be seen. My cast list looks like a
‘who’s who’ of indie film, because while I can’t promise a lot of
money, I can guarantee this thing won’t get buried in crowd funding or
sent to the ‘in distribution’ void.
who inspire you?
David Fincher – he’s an innovator of
using new technology to tell stories.
Jason Hull – Krampus:
The Chrismas Devil is making a lot of waves in ‘indie’.
Everything he does is better than his last thing [Jason
Hull interview - click here].
Sv Bell – from Black Flag
Pictures. Sv is the real thing. A great
grass roots filmmaker and he’s innovating online distribution.
Jim Devault – Jim makes movies that look way beyond their budget, and
he gets them to market fast. I don’t know how he does any of it.
Your favourite movies?
Of all time, Fight
Club. Then I get really nit picky by genre, etc. etc. I’m really
about story. I’ll forgive a lot of execution if the story gets me. I
still think Jaws is among the best movies ever made. I think Avengers was awesome.
Lars and The Real Girl is one of my
favorites, so is Memento. I’m in the minority of those who think
the re-make of Texas Chainsaw Massacre is better than the original.
I’m sort of all over the map.
and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
The only films I
really deplore are the direct to video rip-offs. You know what I’m
talking about. The one’s with a similar name and 1/1000th of the budget
that get dumped on the consumer with the hope of coat-tailing on the
frenzy of whatever is popular in Hollywood right now.
series' website, Facebook, whatever else?
My Facebook is at www.facebook.com/gmdfilms
The official Wisp
site is at www.IAMTheWISP.com
and the Facebook is www.facebook.com/iamtvwisp
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
No. In fact, feel free to edit this down as much as you see fit.
for the interview!
Thanks for asking, and for watching the
show. I really appreciate it.