Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Huls and Chad Burns of Ten Wing Films. We spoke at length specifically about Jason’s latest release, Beyond the Basement Door, but like all good conversations we also diverged onto a related tangent.
In part one of my interview, Beyond the Basement Door – Trailer and Interview With Filmmaker Jason Huls, I covered the part of our conversation focusing on this excellent and smart horror film that is now available to rent or purchase, at a true steal of a price, I might add, on IndieReign where it’s getting a lot of attention.
Okay, you’re probably asking yourself, “What exactly is ‘a true steal of a price’ Tom?” Well, you’re welcome to pay as much as you like, but you can rent Beyond the Basement Door for 2 days for as little as $2.00. You can’t get a small cup of coffee for that. Oh, and if you’re smart and would like to own your a copy to watch as often as you like, you can buy it for a whole $5.00! Jason was kind enough to allow me to screen the film for free, but I liked it so much I bought a copy for myself.
Yes, it’s that good. So check out Beyond the Basement Door on IndieReign and click the dollar sign in the upper right corner of the trailer to buy or rent it.
Do it. Now.
Okay, on to part two of my interview with Jason Huls and Chad Burns. You may remember Chad from the phenomenally successful and truly amazing hard sci-fi film L5. I posted an article about it nearly a year ago called L5 – The Kind of Show and Series Model We’ve Been Waiting For. The people at Ten Wing Films are building upon that kind of model and audience support to hopefully shape the future of video entertainment. That’s what part two of our interview covers.
A small admission here: While I may be calling it part two, this part of the interview actually came first. I wanted to discuss what they were planning and get both Jason and Chad’s views on the changing face of video entertainment, how we fans are getting the control we’ve always wanted, and how genre audiences differ from your garden-variety audience.
We also get some teases about upcoming projects that I’ll be covering here at TiBS as we get closer to their release. There’s a lot of exciting stuff coming from Ten Wing Films. I think it’s going to become a popular name in online entertainment.
Speaking about the difference between independent filmmakers and how they, personally, feel about their work:
Chad Burns: There are independent filmmakers who are doing this to get a job working for Michael Bay and aren’t really interested in making their own things. They’re just doing it to mark time to get to the next thing. Then there are people like us who just really like making our own stuff and like the interaction we have with the fans. It’s more direct. We make it, you see it, you give us immediate feedback, and we adjust from there. There’s not a lot of people doing that, but we enjoy doing that.
On genre audiences vs the average audience and the future of entertainment distribution:
Chad Burns: I don’t believe in the whole “audience is sheeple” model. Especially in the genres we like to play in, which is the sci-fi/fantasy stuff. People are not stupid, especially sci-fi nerds, are not stupid.
Jason Huls: I think it’s a very active crowd, too, you know. It’s not just a group that’s going to see something and forget about it and go, “Okay, I got my two hours of entertainment.” The sci-fi/fantasy audience can be extremely loyal and I think that, at least from what I’ve noticed more so than any other audience, they like participating in conversations about the content.
There’s a lot of early, budding online distribution models. I think it’s going to be interesting to see how that develops in the next 10 years and I think it’s going to have a world of influence on people that do what we do.
Tom Gardiner: I think the future of television is online and people don’t have the time to be some place to watch a show at a given time on a given day. Being able to stream whatever your entertainment choice is whenever you’ve got the time is going to be the way people want their content delivered. Look at Netflix, Hulu and whatnot. And then people want more control. We’re more connected than ever and so we’re going to see, I think, more people like you guys making a larger impact in everyday entertainment because audience members like myself are going to expect it.
Chad Burns: If you want to talk philosophy of it, video on demand is without a doubt, in my mind, the way it’s going to be. Let’s talk about the progression of video services. When cable TV started, why did I want to pay for something that comes over the air for free? Then Home Box Office (HBO) became something because they allowed you to see movies that if you didn’t see them in movie theaters you missed them. Then there were such things as Blockbuster, and Blockbuster killed that for those guys, so HBO started making original programming and they’ve continued to get a market for that reason. And then people have lives and don’t have time to be home Wednesdays at 7 o’clock. I can’t tell you the last time I watched an episodic TV show when it was on the air. I watch stuff from Netflix, from streaming, and from video on-demand online. This is the way the future’s rolling. Our lives are getting more and more compact and out attention spans are not shorter, they’re just more fragmented.
On Ten Wing Films’ distribution model:
Chad Burns: We’d like to be able to package that in such a way that the audience can get it; I think that’s one of the things we learned a big lesson with on L5 and with Vodo. It’s a good model, it’s not the best model, but that’s one of the things that we’re exploring. With Beyond the Basement Door, I’ll let Jason talk about the film itself, but I’ll tell you what some of the plans are and what we’re trying to do.
Beyond the Basement Door is the first foray for the Ten Wing Films brand into the world and we’re putting it out there on Vodo and it’s hopefully going to be out on IndieReign and a couple of other different places. We’re kind of doing the whole, “Here it is for free, pay us if you like it and we’ll keep making it.” More than that what we’re trying to do is make a Ten Wing’s presence where you can see Beyond the Basement Door and then you can see other titles that are going to follow like The Drone, which is another film Jason’s already completed.
A couple of months from now we’ll be putting that out and then Citizen in the Temple, which is where I really got involved working with Jason, will be the next film to follow that. We’re in pre-production right now on the next segment to follow that and we’ve got plans for the next thing to follow that. The whole plan is to put stuff out there at a fairly constant pace, but adjust what we put out and how we put it out based on how it’s received and what the audience wants. We’re making this because we want to make it, but part of the reason we like making it is because other people enjoy it.
Jason Huls: To sort of bring this a little bit full-circle here, there’s a lot of different ways of getting your stuff out there to the world now on the internet be it through YouTube, Vodo, IndieReign, Netflix. Because there’s all these different channels marketing becomes key. In a sea of all this stuff how do you get it to people? It’s through bloggers, it’s through forums and that’s why we find an extreme amount of value in the opportunity you’re giving us to talk about this because it has a direct influence on our success.
Tom Gardiner: I think it’s a two-way street there as well because obviously you can put it online, but if people don’t know about it no one’s going to go there. And for us, if we don’t have anything to post, to write about, nobody’s going to come by the site to take a look. So you produce something, it gives me something to write about, and that moves traffic in both directions. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.
So there you have it. These guys are taking the online bull by the horns and offering genre fans the kind of entertainment we’ve always wanted. To sweeten the deal they actually LISTEN to fan feedback, thereby giving us a real measure of control over what we want to see.
If you like what you see, support it by spreading the word and sending a couple bucks their way. This is our chance, people. If we don’t quite literally put our money where our mouths are we’ll be left at the mercy of the big networks and their antiquated model of development and distribution. For less than the price of a cup of coffee you can control your genre entertainment.
Isn’t that what we’ve all been saying we want? Yes. Yes it is.