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It's a Winchester Family Business exclusive! Since we've been honoring Ghostfacers recently and their bid for an Emmy nomination, Ardeospina was able to get a list of her burning questions answered about this innovative web series. We are most honored to present some great answers from the core members of the production and creative team. The following questions have been answered by these members involved in Ghostfacers:
 
They are:
 
AJ Buckley ("Ed", co-writer, co-director)
Travis Wester ("Harry", co-writer, co-director)
Patrick J. Doody (producer, co-writer, co-director, editor)
Chris Valenziano (producer, co-writer, co-director)
Todd Aronauer (co-director, producer on Supernatural)
Drew Thomas (director of photography)
Niki Azevedo (production designer)
 
Question #1 
 
Were there any specific challenges you faced writing for the webisode format since you only had three or four minutes at a time to tell the story?
 
(Travis Wester & AJ Buckley)
 
At first we had no idea how we were going to be able to communicate a viable beginning, middle and end to the episodes but as we began breaking down the story we began to see how we could arc each individual component.  The challenge was in rethinking everything we knew about television and inventing a new pace and act structure.  Ultimately I think we turned the limitations into a solid foundation of up-tempo storytelling... without that challenge we might've spent more time on certain moments than was necessary.
 
(Patrick J. Doody)
 
One of the mandates from our executive at Wonderland, Jeff Grosvenor, was that each episode had to end with either a joke, a scare or a dramatic shift in the story - a cliffhanger.  So we had to work within those rules.
 
(Chris Valenziano)
 
There were MANY challenges facing writing for the webisode format.  I believe the most challenging was learning to edit ourselves.  We were tasked with scripting 3-minute webisodes, each with its own setup and payoff.  Three pages is a tiny amount of space to convey that much story, so we really had to be sure to cut anything that we didn't absolutely need, while maintaining enough breathing room to allow the characters to develop.    
 
 
Question #2
 
Was all the dialogue scripted or was there room for a lot of improv?
                                         
(Todd Aronauer)
 
Being that Travis and AJ were two of the writers, often what I thought was improv they were pulling from bits that were in rough drafts of the scripts, but those guys are at their best when they improv.  There was some of that in the original Supernatural episode too.  All the Facers, even Mircea who was new to the group, worked great together and played off each other really well.  There's a lot of great material that we had to cut because we often just kept the cameras rolling so they could go off script and go with the moment.
 
(Travis Wester)
 
The dialog was mostly scripted... there was some room for improv but our schedule prevented us from getting too loose or crazy.  Also, the format dictated we nail down certain plot elements so even if we had all the time in the world we would still be trimming it down to more or less the beats we designed in the writing room.  I had a whole bit walking up the stairs that I thought was quite amusing, for example, but we had to cut it for time.



 
 
Question #3
 
Did the Ghostfacer style of using footage from handheld cameras and having granier, fuzzy footage make it easier or harder to film?  It seems like it would make it essential to really ensure certain visuals came across through the fuzziness and didn't get lost in the background.
 
(Todd Aronauer)
 
That was a really difficult part of the production.  Our goal was to have a small crew, small footprint, but still maintain the quality, look and feel of the original episode.  We shot the webisodes with some of the same cameras used for the Supernatural episode and we knew early on that was it was going to be difficult because we didn't have the budget, stages or resources used for that episode, so we decided to take some liberties and make it our own while still maintaining the original vision.  Drew, our DP, had the difficult task of lighting and cinematography and he did a great job in keeping us dark and moody but still being able to see the action.  Because of the nature of Ghostfacers, the fuzziness, out-of-focus shots and sometimes choppy cutting style was intended.  We actually got some notes on rough cuts to dirty it up and make it not look so polished.
 
(Drew Thomas)
 
The unique way that Ghostfacers is filmed is certainly more difficult than a typical scripted series. Most fiction series are filmed with one to three cameras "“ Ghostfacers was filmed with as many as nine.  Additionally, most of these cameras were operated by the members of our cast. Where a typical show can count on exactly what their cameras will see at a given time, our shots often varied wildly from take to take. This meant that all of the technical gear (lights, grip, etc.) that is required to make a show, had to be hidden from cameras that could - and often did - look in any and every direction at any time. However, these challenges made the series even more rewarding to film.  The characters often delighted me with the decisions they made with the camera. In film and television, the person operating the camera should always be a storyteller. In Ghostfacers, the people who know the characters the best are also the ones who are using the lens to tell the audience their story. I think that this style makes the series far more personal and gives more insight into the characters and their situations. 
 
(Patrick J. Doody)
 
Once the scene was blocked and rehearsed, everyone except the actors had to completely get out of camera range.  In some cases, we would leave the room and all crowd around the monitor and listen. It took a lot of hard work to get it right.  Funny enough, it was supposed to feel very raw and "in the moment" - as if Spruce (Austin) was just capturing stuff at the perfect times.  But it was very much thought out and rehearsed.  The look of the show is really a testament to our D.P and camera crew as well as the skill of our actors to be able to stay in character WHILE shooting a show all at the same time.


Question #4


Loved Kelly Carlson as Kimber on Nip/Tuck.  I read she became involved with the project because she shared a manager with A.J. Buckley.  How excited were you when you found out she wanted to work on the series?
 
(Patrick J. Doody)
 
When AJ suggested Kelly Carlson, I said, "yes, of course, you don't even need to ask me, just tell her what time to be there!"
 
But even though she was a big marquee name for our series, I realized how lucky we were the day I watched AJ direct her in the Janet Meyers' screen test.  That beat in the series is SO important to Janet's story - it's the only moment that she has any humanity before we turn her into a razor wielding psycho.  She gave Janet that humanity.  
 
By the way, if you hunt around on YouTube, you can find an extended version of that screen test.
 
(Chris Valenziano)
 
I have to credit Kelly's decision to come on board the project as one of the highlights of our writing careers.  To have an actor of such caliber agree to do a low-budget web series solely based on what you and your fellow writers have put down on paper is an enormous ego boost.  





Theater Before
  
Question #5
 
The detail in the theater set was amazing.  Was that on location somewhere or on a sound stage?  If that was a location, where was it?  If that was a sound stage, props to the set dressers.  What sort of things did they do to get that creepy abandoned theater feel?

(Patrick J. Doody)
 
Initially, we were going to shoot in an old, rundown theater that would not have required much work to distress.  However, that location had enough electricity to power a light bulb, so it was out of the question.  We were lucky enough to find a recently closed movie theater that worked, but it was in perfect condition "“ so we had to dirty it up.  
 
Our line producer, Gerry Santos, knew a wonderful production designer in New York who flew in for a few weeks to help us out.  She was a one-woman army.  She wore a blue jumpsuit and facemask, and came with a van full of props, wardrobe and art supplies.  Incidentally, that van also served as The Ghostfacers van.
 
(Niki Azevedo)
 
We shot all of the episodes on location.  One of the big challenges was dressing such a large space on a very small budget. 
 
I got most of the set dressing items from thrift and 99 cent stores around Los Angeles.  I brought in a lot of fake garbage, drop cloths,  old concession supplies from the theater, and used carpet remnants to start to get an abandoned feel.  Next I brought in an industrial cob web machine, which is basically a big hot glue gun hooked up to an air compressor, and sprayed down the whole theater.  The last step was the dirtiest; I brought in Fullers earth and sprayed it all over the theater until there was a good coating giving the feeling that the theater was frozen in time.  Right before the filming took place fog was sprayed into the theater to add to the hazy flashlight lit atmosphere.
 
We had an amazing team on this project fueled by creativity, devotion, and Pink's hot dogs (conveniently located across the street from the location).
 



Theater After
 
Question #6
 
Is there anything the fans can do to help get more of these webisodes made?  I'm including international fans in this, as well, though many of them couldn't access the original videos via the CW website.  I know they would love the help out!


(Patrick J. Doody)
 
Wow, we feel like the fans do so much already!  Between all the Tweeting, posting, Facebooking and whatever other means of networking are possible, the Facer Nation never ceases to amaze us at the amount of love they give.
 
I would say that the best way to show support is to email sites or publications that cover the genre of our show.  Ain't It Cool News, Sci-Fi Wire, Dread Central, Fangoria...in that arena.   When fans make noise to the press, they'll cover the story and spread the word.
 
 
Question #7
 
Are the Ghostfacers going to make an appearance at the Supernatural panel at Comic Con this year?
 
(Patrick J. Doody)
 
Comic-Con decisions are made SO close to the date, we have no idea if we are going to do anything at the event.  AJ and Travis love hanging out with the fans, so if we can schedule it and find something fun to do, they'd be open to it. 
 
(Chris Valenziano)
 
Like Patrick said, whether or not the Ghostfacers make an official appearance at Comic-Con or not remains to be seen, but rest assured we will be there amongst the crowds regardless.  This will be our fourth year.  Look for Patrick - he'll be wearing a Ghostfacers T-Shirt pretty much the entire time.
 
 
Question #8

Are there any plans to release the webisode series on DVD, maybe with some extra footage or behind-the-scenes features?

(Patrick J. Doody)

Well, as it has been announced, Ghostfacers is going to appear on the DVD and Blu-Ray of Supernatural Season 5.  We've known for a while, but couldn't say until it was announced.  We couldn't be happier that our fans will be able to own perfect copies of the show.

Question #9

This isn't a question, but good luck with your Emmy campaign, and I hope you get a nomination!

Thanks again to AJ Buckley, Travis Wester, Patrick J. Doody, Chris Valenziano, Todd Aronauer, Drew Thomas, Niki Azevedo.for taking time to answer our pressing questions. We are very pleased to see this web series get a chance and we're hoping for more webisodes and appearances in the future. 


Comments  

Tigershire
# Tigershire 2010-06-18 02:06
Wow, this is wonderful. And I am so happy to read about Ghostfacers being included on the Season 5 DVD. I have not been able to keep up with the episodes, being in Canada, so this is very wonderful news.

Thanks so much for this awesome interview.
elle2
# elle2 2010-06-18 08:52
Ardeospina,

Congratulations on getting such a great interview! The questions you asked were clearly enjoyed by all involved in this as they got to explain their vision and thought process and share their passion for the project.

I haven't seen any of the webisodes so I infer from Tigershire's comment that the whole is going to be included on the Season 5 DVDs...that is very exciting.

I really like the Ghostfacers and hope they make a return in Season 6...there's room!

Thanks for sharing this...congratu lations on scoring!
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-06-18 13:53
Ha! That's my girl! Flamey, this is amazing. So happy for you that you had the chance to do this! And - well deserved!
Beaming with pride (and I'm not even your mom... :lol:-), Jas
Suze
# Suze 2010-06-18 15:38
Whee! :D They're on the DVD! That's fab. I haven't seen the webisodes, barring one that dropped into the middle of one of my downloads and confused the hell out of me before I figured out what it was, so that'll be yet another thing to look forward to ... That and the end of the bloody World Cup, I can't get near the TV for screaming idiots ... Huh, roll on our inevitable ignominious exit! ( On penalties, against Germany, just for a change ... :lol: )
Suze
# Suze 2010-06-24 15:53
I should just point out to any listening dieties ( the Trickster's definitely dead, right? ) That was a JOKE, OK chaps? ... Just seen who we've got next, oh dear, oh dear ...
Suze
# Suze 2010-06-28 14:10
:cry:: :cry:: :cry:: :cry:: :cry:: That'll teach me ...