by Lorie Lewis Ham
Details on how to enter to win a copy of Glass Houses, the first book in the Morganville Vampires book series on which the web series is based, at the end of this post, along with a link to purchase the book where a portion goes to help support KRL.
Fans of the Morganville Vampires books by Rachel Caine will be thrilled to know that the first book, Glass Houses, has been turned into a web series that went up this week! And to top it off Amber Benson of Buffy fame is among the cast! KRL took a moment to chat with Rachel about the web series this week as it was going up on Geek and Sundry.
KRL: When and how did you first get the idea to create a web series from your books?
Rachel: The Morganville Vampires books had been under option for about three years, but (as so often happens) nothing was moving forward on them, and I had a discussion with the amazing Felicia Day (of Geek & Sundry) about possibly developing the concept as a digital series. She’d had such success as a creator in taking her work direct to her fans via YouTube, and really blazed a trail for so many others to follow. In fact, in many ways, she predicted the success of digital content way before anyone else did. So it was really that conversation that got things in motion! Plus, she introduced me to Blake Calhoun, who became my partner and director!
KRL: What was the process in making this become a reality and how long did it take?
Rachel: I think the initial conversation with Felicia was probably in 2012, but of course I was pretty busy at the time, and it took me a while even after meeting Blake and deciding it sounded like a good idea to move forward. I believe it was about the winter of 2012 when we decided we were ready to move forward. Then we spent some time really figuring out how to go about funding it, and decided on a Kickstarter effort to involve my existing fan base, who were consistently pushing for some kind of visual adaptation. We prepped for it in early 2013 and launched the Kickstarter in the summer, got fully funded, and then had interest from Geek & Sundry in coming on board as our producing partners. So it took another six months to develop scripts and work out those details before we got to a filming schedule.
We started our casting efforts in February 2014, and had everyone locked down by the end of March 2014 for a start date in April. We filmed for 10 days in April (in Dallas, Texas) and then it moved to post-production, which continued up to this week of release! Quite a long road, but VERY fun to travel.
KRL: How did you go about casting the show?
Rachel: We had two pieces to it — one was a non-traditional effort to involve my readers and fans who really wanted to have a shot at being in the show. We opened up two roles to internet auditions, and got almost 200 audition videos from all around the world! Some of those even made it to the next round, which was the traditional casting director round where auditions were held in Austin, Dallas, New Orleans, and Los Angeles.
KRL: How did Amber Benson become involved?
Rachel: Amber! I adore her. Amber is, as some of you may know, a very accomplished lady … she sings, she acts, she produces, she directs, and … she writes novels and graphic novels! I first met her as a writer, and we share the same publisher in the US (Penguin), so we often were on panels together or at events. And I thought she’d be amazing as Amelie (I was right!) so I just asked her before any of the casting ever got going, or the Kickstarter even launched. She jumped right in, and even helped us on the Kickstarter by donating books, signed photos, and even did a special headshot in costume as Amelie for it! She’s been a dream.
KRL: And Robert Picardo?
Rachel: We were SO lucky that he agreed to come on board for this … he is an amazing actor, with a spectacular career, and just shockingly great at what he does. He came on board via our Geek & Sundry partners, and just instantly understood Oliver’s character the second he came on set. Wonderful actor, wonderful to be around. I’m still not over it! (for those who might not know, Robert was in Star Trek Voyager)
KRL: Are any of the other actors ones we might recognize?
Rachel: Absolutely! Ben Easter (our Michael) has been in many films, including Pearl Harbor and I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, plus TV shows like Boston Public. Our Claire (Lindsay Seidel) has a huge catalog of voiceover work, mainly for English versions of Anime shows, but she’s also done television and film work (most notably the horror movie The Final). Jordan Farris (Shane) was in Army of Frankensteins. In fact, all of our actors have significant work behind them, though many are just starting out in their careers!
KRL: It premiered during Geek and Sundry’s Halloween week, will there be more episodes after that? And if so, when/how often?
Rachel: We’re running all six first season episodes in a Halloween binge-watch of five days! If the response is good (and we hope it is!) then we’ll be talking about the best way to fund a Season 2!
KRL: Will it always be on Geek and Sundry? If so, how did that come about?
Rachel: Geek & Sundry very generously came on board as producing partners, which not only brought in additional budget for us, but also a huge benefit in terms of their expertise, experience, staffing and of course their very wide reach to the audience. Geek & Sundry has over 1.5 million subscribers to their channel on YouTube, which is truly impressive, and a huge help to our little fledgling effort. Our plan is to keep it as a Geek & Sundry exclusive for some period before taking it out to premium digital outlets like Hulu, iTunes, Netflix, etc. We’ll also be producing DVDs!
KRL: Do you hope to eventually go through all of the books?
Rachel: I try not to get ahead of myself. First, we have to prove the concept … do people like it? Does it bring in significant numbers of viewers to justify moving forward? If so, can we attract additional investors to keep going? So while I hope to do it, I don’t count on it. I’m willing. It’s just the roll of the dice, at this point (and the counter on the episode views!).
KRL: Do you write the episodes?
Rachel: I do! One hundred percent.
KRL: Will they stay pretty true to the books?
Rachel: There’s really no way to adapt a book one-for-one into a visual medium … it really doesn’t work very well if that’s how you approach it. They’re just different. Speeches that work on paper go badly in the mouths of actors. There’s a different rhythm to it, not to mention time constraints and budget concerns, that determine how much you can include (or afford). So while they’ll be true to the spirit, they won’t be “the books.”
KRL: Are you involved in the entire process?
Rachel: I am! I was on set every single day of filming. I’ve been involved since the first day, and I’m involved in promotion now. I’m completely plugged in. This isn’t normal for a writer, believe me … most writers hand over scripts and have relatively little to do with the show in terms of all the other pieces, but I seem to have somehow gotten myself into jack-of-all-trades work!
KRL: Where is it filmed?
Rachel: It was completely filmed on location in Dallas, Texas.
KRL: Who is producing it?
Rachel: We have a producing team of me (as Pen Ultimate Productions), director Blake Calhoun (as Loud Pictures), and Felicia Day and Sheri Bryant (as Geek & Sundry).
KRL: What has been the most exciting part about seeing your work come to life on a screen?
Rachel: There are so many moments I could name, but I think maybe it’s just the joy of the fan response. They’re just so excited!
KRL: What has been the hardest part about this experience?
Rachel: I think it’s just balancing the demands of this very intense side of the business against the writing that I’m also doing at the same time. It’s all creative, which is excellent, it’s just tough sometimes to juggle all the demands. But I love a challenge!
KRL: Is there a website, Facebook and Twitter for the show?
KRL: Anything else you would like to add?
Rachel: I have to put in a shout-out for our amazing Kickstarter Heroes … we had 832 of the absolute best people in the world who believed in us when it was all just a crazy idea, and put in their own money to make this come to life. I am so very grateful to them for that belief, passion, excitement, and motivation! And a special love to Blake Calhoun, who is STILL at work finalizing episodes. He’s put in long, grueling hours, and it’s amazing what he’s done. Every member of our cast and crew were top notch, and I’m so grateful to be associated with such great people.
Watch all six episodes on the show website: www.morganvilletheseries.com
To enter to win a copy of Glass Houses, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Glass,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 8, 2014. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.
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