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“A good story is a good story – whether the leads suck blood or not.” -Joel Bryant, Suck and Moan

A DarkMedia Exclusive

Vampirism Bites Interviews Suck and Moan:

In the genre of vampire comedy, the web series Vampirism Bites and Suck and Moan are two of the best.  As part one of a two part series (click here for part two), DarkMedia was fortunate enough not just to interview the writers and creators of these two series, but to have them interview each other.

In part one, James Fernandez, the creator and writer of Vampirism Bites sat down with actor/producer Joel Bryant and creator/writer Brendon Fong, of Suck and Moan, to discuss the inception of their award-winning series, challenges and lessons learned in the production of season one, and how quickly a simple interview can begin to feel like an episode of Dateline NBC’s To Catch a Predator.

What got you into Web Television in the first place?

Joel Bryant: Having been in traditional media for a while, I’ve always thrived on being a pro-active sort – creating my own projects and opportunities.  I would also whore myself out to friends projects years ago just for experience and to help out.  Little did I know that what they were doing was going to become what Web TV is today.  When I played the lead in “After Judgment,” that’s when the world of Web TV was finally opened up to me.  I met an amazing community, found a place where ideas could thrive and there is no better outlet for my pro-activity!

Brendon Fong: I started a project in 2007 called TrespassingOnTheLot.com that competed side by side with Steven Spielberg’s reality show, “On The Lot” in an “indie vs. the big kids” experiment. Every time contestants on that “reality show” made short films, another director and I made our own, within the same guidelines but clearly, without the same budget. In the end, we made 12 shorts in 14 weeks. When it all ended, making shorts that connected and were serialized in one big show seemed like a natural transition.

What inspired the creation of Suck and Moan?

BF: I’m not a big fan of horror, but I wanted to write within that genre in my own style to create some accessibility for people in a similar situation. There’s something incredibly interesting about immortal people wandering the earth with a specific set of rules for living, one of which happens to be that they have to feed on a strict diet of blood to maintain that immortality. Even more interesting is the way they’ve survived in the shadows all this time by keeping a certain balance and suddenly find themselves facing brainless zombies who adhere to absolutely no rules and lack the selective feeding habits/etiquette that have maintained that balance all this time.


What was the most difficult part of creating the series for you?

BF: SCHEDULING. I wrote Suck And Moan with an ensemble cast to create some flexibility when needing different people for specific episodes, but that makes it unbelievably difficult to schedule multiple actors for a single night of shooting!

JB:  I just jumped on board to produce well after the initial creation phase, so the most difficult part was paying for stuff.

If anything, what turned out to be a lot easier than you expected in making the show?

JB: None of it’s really easy.  We’re always wrestling with schedules, tight shoot days/nights, constant promo and working to get eyeballs, everything is really an uphill battle when you’re dealing with no budget.  Truly, the easiest part about the whole experience has been accepting the compliments, good reviews and rewards knowing how much time and effort Brendon and I and the cast and crew put into it.  I know it sounds self-centered, but it’s nice to be validated!

Any major lessons learned on the writing end as you created your first season?

BF: Character development is a huge undertaking when it comes to vampires and immortals in general. You’re essentially creating people with lifelong experience that, unless they were recently turned, stretches a couple hundred years. Every one of our characters has a complete backstory and timeline that includes experiences you’ll never hear about in the actual show, but absolutely fuels their personality and decisions in the moments the audience sees them. If you think about it, it’s like taking Forrest Gump, adding four hundred years of events and multiplying it by 9 characters! But in doing so, one of the best moments I’ve had on set was during the episode 7 shoot, when Chris Mollica (who plays Ed) mentioned, in passing, reasons why Ed and Myra get along so well. It was at that point when I realized that these characters were writing themselves.

What’s your favorite episode from your first season?

JB: My favorite episode has to be either #2 (“Luke and Myra”) or #8 (“Breaking In”).  Episode 2 Brendon had shot before I came on board and it sold me on the series.  It really sums up everything nicely – vampires versus zombies, the tone, the humor, the conflict, the lightheartedness.  All of it.  I really dig episode 8 not only because I’m a big player in it – what?  More self-centeredness?? – but it’s just funny and has been pointed out by a few that it’s really genius in parodying and questioning vampire lore.  Oh!  And you have to see the “Zombie Kill Reel” on our website.  I watch it once a week and still laugh!

BF: I really like Episode #8 too. It has that great mix of the old lore and the way the rules have to be updated with the new zombie element. Plus, I’m not sure whether it’s the way the actors were finally sitting comfortably in their roles by that time, but something about Mac, Ed, and Annie just clicks in that episode.

What’s your favorite episode from Vampirism Bites first season?

BF: I like “Here Comes The Doom” when Dracula rises earlier than expected. I love the way there’s this big build up to her resurrection and the entire season you assume there’s going to be a big ceremony and huge conflict to prevent it from happening, but in the end, Dracula’s just kind of weakly crawling around the forest, without much help, Voldemort style…

Where you surprised I was going to ask you that last question? How unprepared were you for it?

JB: Surprised?  Heck no!  We all want to get other opinions.  Well, the good ones anyway…

BF: James, we’ve run into each other online way too much for me to have expected less!

You thought I was just a DarkMediaCity employee and didn’t realize I had a show too, didn’t you.

JB:  I thought you were a member of the “Dateline NBC: To Catch a Predator” set-up team.  But notice we didn’t stop answering questions…so what does that say about us?

BF: Who’s James?

We’re both riding the coattails of Vampires right now: Are you enjoying your ride as much as, or more than, I am?

JB:  Lovin’ it!  And the more crappy interpretations that Hollywood churns out, the more fodder we get for our series.  I think a lot of people are quick to lump “vampire projects” under one umbrella, but it’s just a genre with a whole bunch of stories to tell and completely different takes on it (like yours and our series).  That’s like saying all Western movies are the same or all war movies are the same.  A good story is a good story – whether the leads suck blood or not.

BF: I think it’s a bittersweet moment in vampire lore. There are a lot more people being exposed to vampires and the culture now that it’s hit mainstream, but at the same time, the overkill may turn a lot of people off, making them hesitant to watch great shows like Vampirism Bites, Suck And Moan, Vampire Mob, etc.

What aspect of the current Vampire/Pop Culture trends make you roll your eyes hardest?

JB:  I could easily just say “Twilight” then be done with it.  But I’ll go further:  The tweaking of vampire lore just to appeal to a particular demographic.  There’s twists and different takes on any genre, and we all want people to watch what we make and advertisers to donate their money, but blatant pandering is completely see-through.  If you’re going to do that, don’t bring vampires down with you!  Plus, and this is going to sound so prude, but not all vampires are gorgeous, ripped, and constantly having sex.  I never thought I’d say this, but the sexiness has gotten way over the top.  I suppose no doughy, out-of-shape people with bad skin have ever been turned?

BF: Vampires in DAYLIGHT!!! Look, I’m sure Vlad the Impaler could very well have walked around whenever he wanted, but after drinking blood, I’m pretty sure the ability to walk in daylight is rule number two when it comes to vampire lore. Sunlight kills, period. We have a great time playing around with the other rules like entering without being invited, whether they have a reflection or not, and whether killing the original vampire offs them all, but to take such a prominent characteristic of the vampire mythology and throw it out the window is like saying, “We’re going to write a show about people who are werewolves that actually turn into fish during a half moon!”

Where did you get fangs for your cast from?

BF: I made’em myself. I realized early on (and I’m sure you know this from personal experience) that unless you’re raiding your dentist’s toy box for the one piece plastic sets you wore as a kid, fangs are expensive. So, I experimented with the tutorials I saw online and talked to two dentists and an art sculptor to develop my own method for making custom fangs. The cost to learn how to do it all was pretty steep, but we’re starting to save money on the backend, especially as new vampire characters are being added and after one of our leads had dental work done, rendering his old pair completely useless!

What are your plans for the future of Suck and Moan?

JB:  We’re shooting the last 2 episodes of Season 1 this September – yes, we like to drag our filming out over the whole course of a year.  It’s really the best way to go about shooting stuff (please read the sarcasm there).  We’re going to release those right around Halloween.  Then it’s off to plan Season 2!  Our Season 1 story arc has one of our vampires accidentally feeding on a zombie, so there’s going to be a nice cliff-hanger that continues that storyline to open up Season 2.  Oh!  And we have the new “Pinhead” from the “Hellraiser” reboot making a cameo.

BF: Season two hint? Aside from minor screams while they’re being fed upon, we’ve yet to hear from the surviving humans in the vampire/zombie equation…

Do you like it Dark?

JB:  Chocolate?  Yes.  Bacardi?  No.  Other things I like “dark:”  Ages, Donnie’s, Knights, horses, matter, Star Orchestra, Sides of the Moon and Wing Ducks.  But I prefer light beer.

BF: Joel just spoke for both of us on that one with two glaring exceptions for me. I like a good Guiness and am more of a Launchpad McQuack fan.

______________________________________________

Suck and Moan can be found on DarkMediaCity and on their Official Website.
Vampirism Bites can also be found on DMC, and their Official Website.

(All interviews are the exclusive property of DarkMedia, and may not be reproduced or shared without permission, excepting links to the interview.)

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  1. “I think I can offer something different you haven’t seen with Vampire Mythology, and I want to see what the audience thinks of my concepts and execution.” -James Fernandez, Vampirism Bites | DarkMediaMagazine - September 21, 2011

    […] Bites and Suck and Moan are two of the best.  As part two of a two part series (click here for part one), DarkMedia was fortunate enough not just to interview the writers and creators of […]

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