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“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

A DarkMedia Exclusive

Suck and Moan Interviews Vampirism Bites:

In the genre of vampire comedy, the web series Vampirism 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 these two series, but to have them interview each other.

In part two, actor/producer Joel Bryant and creator/writer Brendon Fong of Suck and Moan, sat down with creator and writer James Fernandez of Vampirism Bites to discuss the inspiration behind the series, the evolution of the vampire myth, and how to measure your love in numbers and obscure birthday gifts.

How did you get into Web TV/New Media? Why Web TV?

I was inspired by seeing “Red vs. Blue”, which I didn’t realize was a web series at the time, and then moved to actually try making one by “The Guild”. (Like a majority of us were, I imagine.) It wasn’t just the fact that the show was done, it was more how creator (Felicia Day, for the 3 of you who may not know) presented it in interviews and articles: you could make what you wanted, and present exactly what you wanted to present to an audience the way you wanted to present it.

If you know anything about making entertainment in a Network/Studio system, you know how often that simple concept simply isn’t on the table, ever. I can write the style I like, put the vision I have in my head out there, and let the audience vote it up or down, essentially. The show can succeed, the show can fail, but it’s still our show and we earned all the accolades or all the insults. We earn and own the success or the failure of it, period.

Now let’s get real:  What was your inspiration for “Vampirism Bites?”  And your inspiration to make it a bit different than what’s already been laid down in previous films and TV shows?

I was inspired to make Vampirism Bites off of a few things things: I’m a (Joss) Whedonite 100%, and I missed the fun he presented in that genre; I love the natural comedy that comes from failure, because we can all identify with it, and I went with vampires as a way to have a hook in presenting my writing and directing style. I have no problems riding the coattails of the Pop Culture Vampire wave right now as a way to see if people like how I tell stories, because there’s every chance people won’t like it, and that’s the risk I chose to take on.

I also wanted to make the show because these are the kind of vampire stories I’ve never seen. You always see the cool, badass, beautiful, sexy, haute couture wearing vampire with candelabras and Evanescence playing in the background, but what about the other 99.99999% that would exist in that kind of scenario. Blue Collar Vampires that don’t have a 7-person make-up and hair team at all times? Neophyte vampires who aren’t nearly as badass as brand new vampires suddenly become in shows and movies. Vampire Hunters that are more like hobos than heroes. I wanted to make choices that were starkly different, and see if I could make them work for the audience.

Brendon’s huge question: Your vampires walk around in daylight, why?!

Speak of the devil: Yeah, I’ve gotten this questions several times, but hear me out before you smirk and tell your friends what a moron I am. Some more. I have one simple axiom that guided my storytelling for VB: Truth is always stranger than fiction.

While the myth and legend of the ‘modern’ vampire has built the idea of Vampires only being able to operate fully at night, the original vampire in literature was nothing like that. John Polidori’s “The Vampyre” was the first real vampire novel, and Lord Ruthven, the vamp, was operating fully well in the daylight. Even Stoker had Dracula moving around in the daylight, although he was weaker from doing so. But it didn’t torch him.

I have the idea that The Dracula in our show has fully orchestrated a campaign of myth for centuries in order to cultivate the image of vampire as a monster that is *nothing* like actual vampires. To get you looking the other way while they do their slow play for world domination.

Have you gotten a lot of flack or a lot of support, for making, (to quote Joel’s brother) “just another vampire show”?

The eye-rolls are going to come with making anything that follows a trend. It’s just the nature of the venture itself in today’s entertainment landscape. Am I riding Vampire Coattails, yes. So why would I do it? Because 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. The Vampires get them in the door, but only the story and execution will get them to stay, like any story ever.

What truly bothers you about the current wave of vampire projects?

Similar to you, I’m seriously done with the over-sexualization of every single aspect of Vampire myth, especially in the network/studio system. Yes, I understand the concepts of sexuality and romanticism that are involved in Vampire storytelling, I seriously understand. But, that doesn’t mean you’re contractually obligated to include constant cheesy meaningless sexualization all the time, every day.

And like you, the lack of variety for the look of vampires is simply bullcrap and adds to the boredom. My favorite part of True Blood on HBO was when they had Stephen Root as an actual schlubby ‘blue collar” vampire. Because there was finally a different look to a vampire. Of course they kill him, cause he was, you know, a fat guy, but those few episodes were a nice change.

Lastly, it’s okay to have fun once in a while. I miss Joss having fun with vampires, and I personally wanted to bring a little fun back into the Vampire Game.

Tell us what you LOVED about our series.  (We’re not concerned with what you didn’t like about it!).

I loved how much I didn’t like your series. Boom! Did you like that? Did that taste good? No? Alright, I apologize. That was seriously inappropriate of me. I regret that statement in retrospect.

Seriously though, I love the different tack you have on the playground we’re both in.

I enjoy how while there’s a ‘war’ between the Vamps and the Zombies, it’s not about that conflict as much as it’s about our protagonists reactions to it. It’s about the characters, and I’m a character development fan. I want to care about who I’m watching do stuff.

I really enjoy Luke’s Dental Hygiene obsession, which is a great subtle action that helps bring a 3rd dimension to a character, and it’s different.

I like the ‘shop talk’ arguments characters have with each other as well. Particularly “Shelf Life” (SAM Ep. 7) where Ed and Lyra are talking about what amounts to a freshness date for zombies. Not only the fact that the conversation is taking place, but that Lyra confronts Ed about a statement he makes on watching Peaches rot into pure mush, and he very matter-of-factly points out that he’s got time to fill, so yeah, he did that. I *love* that.

Another awesome example is definitely Mac, Ed and Annie’s argument over the “Invitation” trope of vampires in Episode 8. Even though they’re undead beings of great power, they still don’t want to be the one getting embarrassed on being wrong about a vampire fiction-trope. That’s some great stuff.

Spoiler Alert! Dracula in Vampirism Bites is a woman (and is called both “he” and “she”).  Can you explain how you developed this idea and what brought you to this conclusion.  How will this affect your particular vampire mythology in comparison to others?

Every iteration of Dracula since film was invented has been pretty much based on Bela Lugosi’s tuxedo wearing, caped menace. It’s always a guy who ‘vants’ your blood. Once in a while, you’ll get the “Beast in a Human Shell” thing, or they pass him up completely and create some ancient devil-creature monstrosity of evil and many layers of monster make-up.

A lot of people point to Vlad III “The Impaler” as the inspiration for the archetype of the Vampire King because it was his title -Vladimir Tepes Drakulya- that inspired the name we now know as “Dracula.” However, what I’ve always found interesting is that Vlad was known for how he killed his enemies: Medieval Impaling, and putting their heads on pikes. He wasn’t known for drinking his enemies’ blood, ever

Meanwhile, there was a very real blood loving individual known as Elizabeth Bathory, who fits the idea of a vampire far more than Vlad the Impaler. So this lead me to think “Wow, wouldn’t it be something if Dracula turned out to be a woman?” So, in Vampirism Bites universe, she is. However, our Dracula (played by Jacquie Floyd), once known by the name Ekaterina Svyatoi, is NOT based on Elizabeth Bathory. I created a whole new ‘timeline’ for our Dracula’s birth as The First Vampire, and if we get far enough in the show, it will be revealed.

If you had to sell us on “Vampirism Bites,” what’s your big sell?  What’s the pitch?  And how much money do you want from us?

Vampirism Bites is a simple story about a Vampire Fangirl who finally got her fantasy to turn into a vampire, only to discover the “Real” life of vampires is not as cool, beautiful, sexy, hot, badass, awesome, and hauntingly ethereal as her books, TV shows and movies depict it to be. Life May Suck, But Vampirism Bites.

How much money do I want? $1 if you like the show. If every viewer from our first season were to give us $1, we would have almost $45,000. More than enough to not only produce a season, but to be able to afford to actually show some of the more difficult concepts we can only talk about, and to be able to give back to the people who help take my script into all 3 dimensions.

Sponsors and investors can be great, but I would love to be able to tell a good enough story where we get funded directly by our customers: The Audience. No middle men, just telling stories the people want to see, since in the end, that’s what it’s all about. They determine if we sink or swim, and always will.

You had a cameo by YouTube sensation Freddie Wong in episode 10.  Tell us how this collaboration came to be.

Sheer luck, and generosity the likes of which blow my mind. I had discovered David Welch (who was the other Vampire Hunter-Scientist in the episode) and Freddie Wong during a contest they engaged in at the Vancouver Winter Olympics for Samsung. They had to do a series of videos over the course of the Olympics on different events and themes, and I really got into their work. I was writing “A Kick in The Math” at the time, and thought it would be funny as hell if David and Freddie could be those scientists.

From there, I discovered that Freddie and Brandon Laatsch had been doing their own videos for a while on YouTube, this was before their Awesome Explosion hit and they rocketed toward stardom, and so I just took a shot in the dark and asked if David and Freddie would be willing to be the scientists for me.

To this day, I don’t know exactly why they ever said “Yes”. Let me be clear on that: This was absolutely mind-blowing kindness on their part (Yes, my mind actually blew up.), and nothing but sheer luck on my part. I’m still blown away to hear my scripting coming from Freddie and David.

Another bonus I didn’t even realize at the time, were Sam Gorksi & Niko Pueringer who were the background scientists, and are now known as “Corridor Digital”, another set of high-rising VFX artists on YouTube. My mind put itself back together and exploded over and over a few times from that realization.

What has been your marketing strategy?  (Excuse us while we take notes as you answer this question…)

Honestly, it was simple for me: How would I want a show like this, on this scale, to try and engage me? Then I just did those things. I don’t have money, so I have to learn and do a lot of it myself, but the time is worth it. Something as simple as character bios could help prospective viewers potentially care more about the characters they watch, and remember: if the audience cares about your characters, they will come back to see what happens to them. They will also tell their friends. I hope they tell their friends.

What are the future plans for “VB?”


VB is intended to go for 3 seasons. The story as we present it will, if the audience decides it wants to see it, end in Season 3. This was done as a test for me to navigate the waters of WebTV, and to learn what to do in a bigger project afterward. That doesn’t mean there would never be more VB, but all stories should have an ending, and 3 would end this arc. When I have another good story in the VB universe, I would never have a problem returning to the world to tell it.

How would you sell “Suck and Moan” to someone who has never heard it, and how would you get them to watch it and then forward it to all of their friends?

In a world where only zombies and vampires remain, a group of bloodsuckers tries to figure out how they’re going to survive if there’s no food left to eat, and what happens when one of them gets hit with whatever it is the zombies are spreading: Suck and Moan. (ominous bass note hit with title screen popping up.)

To answer your second question: I think I just did. I’ll bill you for it.

If you were to tackle another horror “icon” (werewolf, Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon, etc.), what would you do a series about, and what would your twist be?

Frankenstein’s Monster would be cool. The Twist would be that I was secretly M. Night Shymalan the whole time.

How much do you love Eva Layne?  More than us, less than us, or just about equal?  What are you getting her for her birthday?

My love for Eva Layne knows no boundaries. If you tried to calculate it, the number would be so high that you would sound like you were drunk trying to pronounce the number’s name.

So in other words, about equal to you guys. However, for her birthday, I’m getting Eva the Suck and Moan Christmas Special on VHS, which is extremely rare.

______________________________________________

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