I got the chance to interview Jason Hawkins, creator of the upcoming web series "Finding Oblivion" and his cast.
This is a 2 parter, this is the first part, my interview with Jason Hawkins. Second part will be posted another day. So lets get on with the interview:
Q1: What was your inspiration behind "Finding Oblivion"?
That's actually a complicated question. Finding Oblivion was an amalgamation of a few different ideas I had floating around in my head: it's like making a perfect cake, you need the right ingredients, so I combined my growing frustration with the state of things in our country and my love of history and how, over and over again throughout time, great empires rise and fall, and it's almost always from within. That love of history, mixed with equal parts curiosity on how average, every day citizens reach a point where they feel they have to take up arms against their government just to feel that they can live their lives and true stories ripped from the headlines. Then, I added a dash of anti-hero attitude, and a spritz of pseudo-documentary film style, cinema verite', and boom: Finding Oblivion was born.
Q2: What can we expect to see from the show?
First and foremost, great acting and a story that's relevant to a lot of people who are living this life, now. We call it a 'near future' web-series/feature film because everyone I've talked to has said, yeah, it's happening NOW, we are that close to a police state and complete government control - combined with just a touch of conspiracy theories...
Q3: Web-series seem to be coming quite popular, what inspired you to go with this route?
As a creator, I like to explore different mediums. I've done shorts, feature films, etc., but never a web-series. I've always loved old-school episodic content, serials (in fact, a couple of my novels were serialized on web-sites back in the day), and the opportunity to tackle that challenge and write a script around episodic content was quite the challenge. One I enjoyed!
Q4: There will be a feature film that will follow the series, out of curiosity what made you make that decision instead of making it into a longer series or even a second series?
Well, we have a multi-platform plan in place - it's quite complex, and one I've been developing for a year or so. I can't go in to a lot of details, but trust me, we're embracing the new media platforms and pushing the envelope on some things into new territory. And who said there wasn't going to be a second series...?
Q5: More importantly, tell us why people should watch the show.
One thing we decided early on, was that we weren't going to pull any punches out of fear of reactions from our government. We take our shots, and almost immediately, as in within a couple of hours, we were getting attention. I even got a 'courtesy letter' from our local Senator congratulating me on our new project and letting me know "if there's anything the government can do for us, to just let him know" - i.e. We're watching you. We take on GMO's, and a variety of other topics as seen through the eyes of everyday people. It's pretty intense.
Q6: Have you got anything exciting lined up, apart from "Finding Oblivion"?
Oh, sheesh, you have no idea. Just in the last 2 months we shot Finding Oblivion with over 100 actors, a music video for a talented young lady named Hannah Lauren, and shot the experimental mind-screw of a film 'Interchange' cast almost entirely with students from our film workshop, and next month an exorcism! And soon we tackle the complex feature film horror anthology Asylum Of Terror! We stay busy - or as we say: we make movies, not excuses. Hannah's page is HERE.
Q7: What would be your dream casting for one of your films? (Including actors/actresses that have passed)?
Oh wow. wow... it really depends on the film. There are so many people who have influenced my life and my career, many of them relatively unknown... and of course the stars, and I will say, I've had the huge honour of working with a few of my dream choices: Adrienne King (Friday the 13th) and Eileen Dietz (Exorcist) being just a couple... wow. This is a hard question, dude!!! One thing, though, that is consistently true: Gravestone continues to develop some of the best talent around - the actors in our company are phenomenal, stars, really, in the making. Ok, I should probably answer the question.... Let's just go over the possibles: John Cusack (I even wrote a feature with him in mind!), Robert Downey Jr (not as Iron Man, but as a pure entertainer who GETS IT), Jennifer Carpenter - wow, how is she NOT a huge, major star in the genre? Her range and talent are off the chart! Ha, ok, I could go on all day, get me those three and then we'll go from there!
Q8: What's your views on the current state of the Horror genre?
I think it's in a state of transition right now. It doesn't quite know what it wants to be. It needs to find its footing. Is it in the new wave of foreign films like Martyrs, A Serbian Film, and the like of ultra-horrific new images, or is it in going back to its roots with films like The Conjuring? We don't know yet. It's changing, that's for sure. I think horror fans are way more intelligent and thoughtful that people give them credit for; we know what we want, and we want to be treated with respect! Fuck the remakes, give us something that hurts and makes us think. I think our soon to be released feature 'The Devil Knows His Own' is the kind of films I'd like to see, something with real characters, real heart, and such painful horror that it brings tears to your eyes. Short answer: I don't know, the genre is changing, but I'm not sure where it'll land. I know this: if I turn on any medium and see the words 'Zombie', 'Viral outbreak', 'a group of teens go into the woods', or 'a group of ghost hunters take their cameras into a mental institute'... I change the channel. FRESH - GIVE US SOMETHING FRESH!
Q9: Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Work. Hard. Learn the craft of writing, learn the business of film-making. It's about story. It's always ABOUT STORY. Your job is to entertain, and if you cannot tell a story, you will fail. Also, take time to study and learn techniques and styles. Be a student, always - there is always more you can learn. Watch a million films, study them, and see what works as well as what doesn't. Then put your own spin on it. Be tough, really tough, and for god's sake, don't spend your life talking about the film you're going to make, go make it. If you want it bad enough, you will find a way. If you can't find a way... maybe you don't really want it as bad as you think you do.
Q10: Any final words for anyone reading this?
Go, watch them, talk about them, and share them. Kick ass, be a rebel, stop conforming and go be who you were always meant to be. Fuck society and their standards. You're an individual, act like it. Dare to be different.
Visit Gravestone Entertainment's website HERE