July 15, 2011

Web Series Observer - Juggalohio

Created by Tony Hartman & Dave Biscella

The Story: Kyle Graves is a normal twenty-something trying to find a perfect balance between his professional office job and his pot-selling Juggalo roommates.
My Take: I love the idea of Juggalohio. After watching the entire first season, I can truly see the message the filmmakers behind this series were trying to convey. We must all face an undeniable truth at one point in our lives – we are becoming adults. There are certain aspects of our lives – be it a hobby, or clothing style, or fetishes – that will not be acceptable in the professional world. But is it possible to be able to hold on to those facets and still maintain the adulthood conundrum? Quite feasible indeed. Juggalohio puts this notion to the test. It is by no means the best series out there. While I can go on a tangent as to where the show falls short (which I will in a moment), my affection for the moral of the story kept me watching.

As the logline suggests, the show’s main character is Kyle, a jaded twenty-something just trying to be a good employee. He has a crush on the cute, spunky colleague and is struggling to deal with the narcissism of his new, wunderkind boss. And he and his three best friends like to smoke pot and done makeup in homage to the Insane Clown Posse. Kyle is afraid to admit his true passion with the endearing girl across the desk, but that all soon changes once his two worlds quickly collide.

I will not speak poorly of this series. I can see the core value of this show and I appreciate it for showcasing an underground culture of angry, rapping clowns that I didn’t get ten years ago, let alone today. What I will offer are aspects of the show that can certainly use polishing. Now that season one is over, I truly hope the filmmakers take a step back, take note of their shortcomings and fix it for season two.

The juggalo culture takes a back seat, which shouldn’t fly in a series called Juggalohio. While the filmmakers may be juggalos themselves, a good amount of the audience is not. I would personally love to see and learn more about it. What keeps them passionate after all this time? What are their gatherings like? Are there clown rapping battles?

I know that Kyle is the lead, and it works..sometimes. Truth be told, one aspect that I cannot overlook is the acting, which (sans a few of the characters) takes me out of the episode every now and then. Perhaps it might be high time to give the secondary characters, the three juggalo friends, to have their own stories going on. In the first episode, they compared themselves to the characters in Entourage, which I was mildly disappointed that did not occur. It mostly stayed on Kyle’s dealings with his new boss, his love interest and his friends. Share the love, guys!

I would also love to see the style of the show amp up for season two. It is filmed and lit as a standard sitcom. Give it some bold, edgier colors and angles. Get inspired by a music video from ICP. This would certainly make it stand out amongst the vast ocean of web television.

The Bottom Line: While Juggalohio does fall short in a number of aesthetic and technical aspects, its foundation keeps it afloat, and will keep audiences interested to see how the characters grow.

Info: Juggalohio has recently finished its six-episode (the finale split into two parts) first season. You can check them all out at www.juggalohio.com, along with some extra goodies. The show can also be found on the Facebook and the Twitter.

Interview: I had a chance to ask Tony Hartman and Dave Biscella – who write, direct, produce, edit and star in the series – a few questions about their show. Check it out!

How did you get into filmmaking?
Dave: Basically, just from being a fan. I’ve written my whole life, and i watch a TON of movies. I love creating, and I love movies/TV, so I’ve always wanted to create something similar to a movie or TV show, merging two of my loves. I never really got to make anything of quality though until Tony came along. Excluding sex tapes, which, aside from poor lighting, was super high quality with an excellent performance from the leading man (me!)?
What are some of your previous projects?
Tony: I wrote and directed a couple short films at Kent (University) and have a feature script being shot there right now. My friend Chris Fafalios and I have a cartoon on Youtube called Texas Toast and released a comedy/children's book called Whistle Pig a couple years ago. I once made dinner for SeaQuest's Jonathan Brandis (R.I.P); I think it was a cheeseburger. Recently, I tried my hand at making breakfast tacos but I wasn't exactly pleased with the results so I shelved them.

ICP and Juggalos were certainly big in the 90s – what makes them work in a show a decade later?
As a band, ICP may not be as big as they once were, but as a subculture, Juggalos are bigger than ever. They stayed so loyal to ICP, and have grown the whole time. They definitely made an impact on pop culture, and seem right there on the verge of being mainstream phenomena. When people are able to put their irrational hatred of all things Juggalo aside, they'll see it's actually a very interesting subculture filled with a lot of super nice, ultra supportive people. I think the show works because it's not so much a show about Juggalos, as it is a show whose characters happen to be Juggalos.

Any chance we’ll get to see ICP on the show?
I hope! They’ve seen every episode and apparently enjoy it. I’m pretty sure (Tony) is Violent J's new BFF. Hopefully, if we happen to be able to film at a time when they're around, we can make it happen. It'd be a lot of fun to get them involved, and I think they'd have fun being involved, because we're super awesome and fun to be around.

What can we expect from future episodes? Any spoilers you're willing to hint at?
Tony and Carter will both come across some decent sized life changes. We’ll hopefully get to learn more about Nachos and Schizo. And Buddy will do everything he can to keep the business thriving, even if that includes branching out to some other products and taking down a rival dealer along the way. And we'll hopefully finally figure out what all the numbers mean. 

What means of marketing do you have in store for the series?
Dave: We're hoping to hit up some traditional media outlets (radio, newspaper), guest on some podcasts and continue hitting the internet hard. 

Tony: We've been pretty lucky with juggalos embracing it and spreading the word so far, but we want to reach the biggest audience we can. I've considered advertising the show as a Tyler Perry production. I think this would bring in a MUCH bigger audience. We might eventually get in trouble for falsely crediting Tyler Perry as the producer...but how cool would that be? You know, getting yelled at by Tyler Perry?

How will the show stand out amongst other series on the web?
Face-paint, maybe? As well as hopefully cool characters and entertaining dialogue.  I think we have 'best use of pogs' in the bag, though. Other than that, all we can do is try to create interesting characters and an interesting story and tell it through interesting dialogue. And tell people Tyler Perry plays all the characters. 

What advice can you give to other filmmakers trying to produce/market a web series?
Just do it. But take your time with it. Dedicate yourself to making it happen, but don't rush and make sure you take the time to make it as great as you possibly can. Prepare, prepare, prepare. This project was in the works for, like, nine months before we filmed a single scene. Preproduction work is huge. Find people as dedicated and passionate about the project as you, and get to work. Also, if you can find a DP like our own John Hansel early on, that'll help a ton.
What other projects are you currently working on? Shameless plug time!
Dave: There are two cartoons that James Cole (famous for the Juggalohio animated opening) and I will be making. I have a couple podcasts that will be available soon. And there are more cartoon shorts coming from Random Stain, as well as plans to keep that site more active consistently. And probably some stuff here soon with the Reverse Cowboy guys. 

Tony: I co-wrote a musical called "Research: The Musical," that is being filmed right now. It's like a funny/modern day Grease meets an old Smashmouth video. I'm also a writer/director for a really cool film project that's a series of stories set in Cleveland. We are filming in the fall and I'm bringing plenty of these Juggalohio boneheads with me for cast and crew. Then we are all joining the Miami Heat.

July 3, 2011

I'm back...but not with a vengeance!

For the few of you that were reading this blog before I took a hiatus, I am embarrassed that I have not updated this blog since April.

There's so many movie reviews I wish I had wrote, television premieres I wish I commented on and celebrity gossip that was off the charts. Instead I was working on a reality television show with little to no time to work on this. But now that the show is on hiatus, I can return from this one. Yay!

I am working on watching close to 300 episodes of Cheers, much like I did with Seinfeld. Will Sam and Diane ever get together?? Stay tuned.

Plus I plan on going to the movies again since some theaters do great deals such as buy one get one on Tuesdays. I love a good deal.

We will also return with web series reviews and top ten lists.

I'm excited. Kind of.