Hello! Our names are Jacob-Sebastian Phillips and Andreas Damm, and we are proud to announce the premiere of the brand new web series, Prepare: Zombie Apocalypse with Safe Circle Productions, beginning June 7, 2013 at Safecircleproductions.com.
When out-of-work Jonah (Jacob-Sebastian Phillips) comes to live with his best friend Conner (Andreas Damm), they decide that they must prepare for the impending “Zombie Apocalypse.” However, due to lack of money the two must get resourceful and use what they can in order to prepare for their survival. During this quest for survival, Jonah and Conner are unaware that their isolation from society would force them to examine their own insecurities and the world around them. A quirky and endearing comedy that tackles taboo topics never before addressed by two guys—in a bathtub.
Very honestly put, the web series came out of a need to work. We graduated from The New School for Drama in May 2012, and while we were there, the mantra of “If you can’t find work, create it!” was deeply embedded into us. So, in early November of 2012 we tossed around ideas about a web series. Quickly, the idea of two friends preparing for the impending Zombie Apocalypse was born. We didn’t have any experience with filmmaking, but we thought at the very least this project could be an opportunity to learn the basics. One could say that we were just fooling around with a camera, but it was also an attempt to create something we wanted to watch and spoke to where we are in our lives right now.
When we started writing the outline for the script, our first question was how do we make this different from the zombie shows and movies already out there? First, we came up with the idea that these characters were broke, and would have to prepare in ways that were ingenious to them, but hilariously baffling to the audience. So, we put these two straight guys in a bathtub—as a way to save water. By placing these characters in oddly intimate circumstances for heterosexual men, we wanted to set up the tone of the series and give the audience immediate insight as to how these two character’s brains work. Basically, Jonah and Conner, though endearing, aren’t working with a “full deck” so to speak, but their limited (almost innocent) view of the world would allow us to address taboo topics about society and question them freely without a biased stance.
Also, we never wanted an actual zombie to be seen, mainly because the apocalypse is an idea created by the characters and isn’t really going to happen, but also as a metaphor of sorts. These characters use the apocalypse as a way of withdrawing from reality and creating a world where they have control. They never expect that while in isolation they would have to examine their own insecurities and the world outside of the bathtub!
Jonah and Conner are a lot like the two of us. As young actors in New York it sort of feels like we are preparing for something that might not happen. So, working on the web series was both cathartic and scary. It was a crash course on filmmaking and a lesson of endurance. This is the first time that we create every aspect of a project, from writing, directing, and acting to music, filming, lighting and editing—needless to say, it has been a beautiful combination of some overwhelming and deeply satisfying experiences. We spent hundreds of hours working on this project, working out the kinks as we went along, trying and failing, throwing out entire episodes, and reshooting until the early morning hours. In the end, we are just proud to have something to show for it, something we believe in. Yes, Prepare: Zombie Apocalypse addresses a lot of topics about society and insecurities, but we don’t beat our audience over the head with a message. We just want our audience to laugh, and maybe see a fraction of themselves in Jonah and Conner.
We learned a lot during this process, and some advice we would give other fellow filmmakers would be: First, if you’re going to do it with a limited crew (we did it with just the two of us) get a tripod. This may seem obvious, but it really will be your cameraman. Second, shooting is fun, but when the footage is uploaded it gets a bit overwhelming, so key frame it (or label it) as soon as you upload the footage for reference—it make a huge difference. So many times we did not key frame and then we were left with hours of footage that we had to look over in order to find scenes. Key framing saves you a lot of time. Third, invest as much as you can into sound, good equipment makes all the difference in storytelling. We are still figuring out that part! Talking about storytelling, become aware of different lighting techniques. You can tell so many different stories just by the way you light a scene. Books, such as Blain Brown’s Cinematography: Theory and Practice, Image Making for Cinematographers and Directors, are really helpful for people who are new at this. Lastly, if you are new to filming (as we were) and you are using a DSLR, then take your camera out and just film things so you can learn how to manipulate the ISO and Aperture to create the quality and mood you want to achieve in a given scene.
In terms of promotion, there are various marketing plans you can use. There are so many web series out there, and you need to find places to help market your work. Twitter is incredibly valuable. We, as individuals, don’t use twitter regularly, but we found the social network to be immensely helpful when researching sites that talk about web series and independent films—that’s how we found Film Courage.
We had a blast working on Prepare: Zombie Apocalypse, and we would also like to take this opportunity to thank fellow New School for Drama grad playwright Daniel Pearle, who was involved as a production adviser, and our wonderful cast: Bethany Geraghty, Siri Hellerman, Nic Marrone, Jessica Ranville, Jacquelyn Joyce Revere, Kathryn Rossetter, Noelle Stewart, Lindsey Trout, and Meghan VanArsdalen.
Prepare: Zombie Apocalypse will air a total of 10 episodes, with one episode being released every Friday, beginning June 7, 2013 on the official website: Safecircleproductions.com.
Andreas Damm (co-founder/producer) is a New York based actor who loves storytelling. Coming from South Africa, he became absorbed in physical theatre and the human condition, inspired by artist such as Greg Coetzee, Andrew Buckland, and Athol Fugard. Collaboration has been a major part of his process, and he always wants to learn and explore the unknown with fellow artists. Andreas holds a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.F.A. in Acting from The New School for Drama.
Jacob-Sebastian Phillips (co-founder/producer) born and raised in Alabama, Jacob-Sebastian grew up listening to the “Old Folks” sit on the front porch and tell stories that seemed larger than life—stories of desire, hope, and heartbreak. He grew to love the art of story telling so much he decided to make it a career, graduating with his B.A. in Theatre from Jacksonville University and an M.F.A. in Acting from The New School for Drama. Jacob-Sebastian is a lover of raw, unapologetic art that fearlessly explores the depths of humanity.