Now Entering Anytown, USA: Updating The Tide And Asking Questions


(Darek Kowal) #1

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Hi! I’m Darek Kowal, creator of the comedy/horror web series ANYTOWN, USA! My show tells the story of an every-day, All-American, modern family … of cannibals, living in suburbia and dealing with rude neighbors the best way they can … by eating them. Our first 10 episode season is available at our Official Site and Episodes 1 &2 are streaming on Amazon Prime!

As the wind howls outside at a speed that tells me the collapse of my garage is inevitable, I’m even more pleased that we did our location scouting YESTERDAY.

My DP took me to a part of South Chicago that can best be described as bleak, if not downright dystopian. I’m not sharing a photo of the location because, well, I want the opening shot of the show to be that much more impactful.

But the experience did make me think. Anytown, USA is an obvious satire of sitcoms and suburban America. The locations are typically homes, yards, and the one time we used a theater to shoot paint out of a guy’s butt. But The Tide, my new project filming this winter while I wait for the Anytown actors to be available in the spring, is a completely different animal. It’s so visually and tonally different. The sound design will be otherworldly. The themes are heavier. This is a longwinded way of calling it ‘Cinematic’, to the point that it feels like I’m shooting another feature.

And this location, that I’ve already dubbed ‘The Wasteland’, is surreal. Picture Las Vegas from Blade Runner 2049, all for the low low price of ‘Free’.

So, the only lesson I have today is: Get out. Scour your neighborhood and surrounding areas for the most interesting locales possible. Prior to yesterday, the opening of the series was set on a beach. That all changed when I stepped into the wasteland.

Remember, you’re not just location scouting. You’re hunting for production value.

I have a lot of questions rolling around in my head today and, honestly, my mind is in full ‘creator’ mode. So, I want to hear from the community instead of just ranting.

Here are my questions:

Having made a web series, have you considered making a feature and self distributing on YouTube? What, if anything, is standing in your way? What do you see as the Pros? The Cons?

What locations around you can inspire stories and change your way of thinking?

What do you do to amp up your production value?

And now, I’ll sit quietly, and wait for some answers.


(Bri Castellini) #2

Having made a web series, have you considered making a feature and self distributing on YouTube? What, if anything, is standing in your way? What do you see as the Pros? The Cons?

I haven’t considered a feature yet (though my sound guy keeps bugging me about it) partially because the only 2 completed screenplays I’ve written are an animated princess script (not as cheesy as it sounds except for the bits where it’s exactly that cheesy) and a comedy set in a city I don’t live in/don’t have easy access to. The other reason is that I can barely afford to shoot web series and a feature is something I absolutely don’t have the resources for right now. If a project requires more than two weekends of work and I can’t pay, at this point, I just can’t do it. I can only ask so many people to work for free for so long, and given I can’t even put a down payment on a hotel room for 2 days for a shoot right now, paying people isn’t really on the table.

That all said, if I ever did make a feature, I wouldn’t release it online right away because if I thought it was any good I’d hold it back for film festival inclusion since features and shorts tend to have more rules about premiere status. If anything I’d probably try to find it distribution from one of the places I’m already familiar with online- REVRY if it’s LGBT+ focused, or Seed & Spark or another similar service.

What locations around you can inspire stories and change your way of thinking?

I really need to get out of New York City to answer this question, because inside the city, unless you’re paying for a permit, you’re shooting in someone’s apartment or MAYBE at a public park. So I don’t have a good answer to this one right now :confused:

What do you do to amp up your production value?

Make friends with key crew members with skillsets I don’t have (namely camera, sound, and lighting… though I still don’t have a lighting friend and could really use one), plan shots ahead of time with smart people who know what they’re talking about so A. we’re prepared for the day and B. we can puzzle out complicated/more engaging sequences to be high impact and low cost, and make sure I’m casting actors not because they’re available but because they’re perfect.