Web Series Title: Throwing Stones
Director(s): Bart Van Bemmel, Jason Wheeler
Film Location: Dallas, Texas
SHORTFILMTEXAS (SFT): What is your web series “Throwing Stones” about?
BART VAN BEMMEL, JASON WHEELER (BVB/JW): When a group of high schoolers have to attend Saturday School they must work together to overcome their differences in over to survive when students end up missing.
The concept of Throwing Stones derives from the sociologist theory on broken windows. A broken window is left unfixed in a neighborhood; it signals to that community it’s acceptable for that type of behavior to take place. These ideas compound until the neighborhood becomes decayed and unable to achieve its past grandeur. Now apply the theory to schools and replace broken windows with broken students, as the antagonist eliminates the unacceptable element that walks the halls of Blair High School.
SFT: How did you come up with the idea?
BVB/JW: We wanted to take the movie Breakfast Club and make it a horror. All these kids who you start out hating eventually come together to overcome their differences in or order to survive Saturday School and you end up seeing why they are they way they are. We used to talk about how certain kids would always get away with pretty much everything at school. The next thing you know many of the teachers stopped caring because they knew they would have no support from the administration team. The star football player gets to play every Friday night, but do you know what he did in school that week to his teachers or his classmates? And he got away with it because he was the reason the school got their name in the headlines. This all has a spiral effect. If person sees someone else getting away with something – then they start doing it too. But at the same time – what happens when the teachers stop caring? Then they aren’t making those emotional deposits with the students. What is their home life like? Where are these kids’ parents who blame the schools for everything? And perhaps if they took the time to get to know their students then there wouldn’t be as many “broken windows.” So we applied this to a horror story where even bad things happen at “nice” schools.
SFT: What did you shoot the web series on?
BVB/JW: On other projects we have been very spoiled to have been able to use the RED cam. But for Stones we not only wanted to try and duplicate what some other successful filmmakers used on their web series, but we needed a smaller camera to get in and out of areas easier because the RED can be a bit cumbersome. So we went with the Canon XH A1.
SFT: Tell me a little about your cast and crew.
BVB/JW: Throwing Stones has an amazingly talented cast and crew. We were so blessed to have such an amazing team. We had over (300) submit to audition from all around the world once we put the word out. It was insane! And just for our little teen horror web series. One of our cast members lived like five hours away and made the drive just to audition. And we’re so glad she did! Stones stars Cherami Leigh (The Mist, Fast Food Nation, HBO’s Temple Grandin), Rebekah Kennedy (Season of the Witch, upcoming horrors Blood is Blood and House Hunting), Lindsay Seidel (The Final), Chad Cox (The Good Guys, ER, Spin City, Powder), Lynn Andrews III (MTV’s: High School Stories), Bryan Massey (W., Mad Money, Year One, Boggy Creek), Kayla Carlyle (Chase, From the Dark), Brina Palencia (Summer Wars, Dragon Ball Z Kai), Spencer Harlan (Seasons of Gray), and newcomers Tom Hamlett, Jon Christie, and Rachel Verret.
Some of our crew includes: Colorist Omar Godinez (I Spit on your Grave), Sound Designer David Rosenblad (American Nightmare, Hallow’s End, HBO’s Living & Dying), Steadicam Operator David McGill (Harold and Kumar: Escape from Guantanamo Bay, The Faculty), DP Kingslea Bueltel (The Good Guys, Beyond the Farthest Star), Assistant Director Rick Carey (Suburban Nightmare), Assistant Editor Sam Crutsinger (The Ant Bully) and others. Our crew busted their asses in 107 degree heat to make this. And have to give special thanks to our Colorist Omar Godinez and sound designer David Rosenblad who gave up so much of their time to make sure this project happened.
SFT: Why make a web series versus a short film or feature?
BVB/JW: Throwing Stones the web series is actually VERY loosely based on a feature screenplay of the same name that we optioned a few years ago. Then the writer’s strike hit, we fell through the cracks, and well, that was that. So we figured that we had already made two short films, why not try something new with a web series? The web series world can be so exciting and fresh. Tell your story in 3-5 minute episodes and hopefully leave them hooked. We were up for the challenge! So we did our homework. We spoke with some web series creators on worked for them and what didn’t. There hadn’t really been a teen horror web series yet, when most horror web series out there dealt with vampires or zombies. So we asked ourselves what do most teens do? They all go to school, are always on the Internet, and they are the ones that pay to see horror movies. And of course we wanted more than just teens to watch. But we knew the odds could be against us because when we were doing our homework on web series everyone told us that comedy is king and horror is at the bottom of the food chain when it came to viewers. But we plugged our ears and just went for it!
SFT: What is the best web series you have run across?
BVB/JW: Bunny Hug had three episodes on KoldCast TV and then I never saw another episode. Not sure if it was because of funding and they couldn’t complete the series or what. But it was a funny show and had very nice production value. See – comedy is king. Even we watch comedy web series. Ha ha ha.
SFT: What have you learned while making Throwing Stones?
BVB/JW: Where do we begin? Ha ha ha. It all comes down to people knowing what a web series is. Educating people on what a web series is can be the toughest thing sometimes. We think the web series format is such a new and fresh medium, that people sometimes think it is like a television show where there is a set time to watch and if you miss that then you’re won’t be able to see again. It just takes some time to educate the audience on how things work. Hopefully the web series format will continue to catch on. With each day we gain some fans and hopefully that equates to more viewers that will enjoy Throwing Stones. But one thing is for sure – getting people to watch is the hardest thing to do. Even your friends and family. Everyone is so busy in their lives. But if you can get someone to take 3-5 minutes to watch an episode and hopefully continue to keep watching, then that is the key.
SFT: How long a run do you have planned for Throwing Stones?
BVB/JW: Throwing Stones was designed for two seasons. Season 1 was all about the relationships between these kids and overcoming their differences in order to work together. Season 2 is more about the isolation of the characters and seeing you survives. Season one’s finale just aired. We not sure if we will get a season 2 or not. The fans are demanding it, but like everything else – it comes down to some dollars. We have been blessed to have (4) sponsors on board for our first season. If we never see a season 2, for what ever the reasons, we learned so much about the web series format and had a lot of fun doing it.
SHORTFILMTEXAS (SFT): What’s next for you?
BART VAN BEMMEL, JASON WHEELER (BVB/JW): Right now have several projects lined up including another possible web series, as well as dark comedy feature called Butterscotch that stars Lindy Booth (Cry_Wolf, Dawn of the Dead, Wrong Turn), Debra Jo Rupp (That 70’s Show, She’s Out of My League, Friends, Better With You), Corbin Bernsen (Psych, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, LA Law, Major League), and Jason Priestley (Tombstones, 90201, HBO’s Call Me Fitz, director of The Secret Life of an American Teenager).
Thank you so much for talking to us Short Film Texas!
THROWING STONES: EPISODE 1
Official Site: http://www.throwingstoneswebseries.com