Author Topic: Exilian Interviews: Kate Madison and Neil Oseman!  (Read 817 times)

Jubal

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Exilian Interviews: Kate Madison and Neil Oseman!
« on: February 22, 2020, 11:10:02 PM »
A Conversation With: Kate Madison and Neil Oseman!
Your Interviewer: Jubal


The fantasy webseries Ren is currently nearing the end of its Kickstarter for a second season - the team were guests at two of our three conventions to date, and are long standing friends of ours here, besides being awesome creators of great fantasy worlds. As such, of course we sent Jubal into the wildernesses of Ren's home kingdom of Alathia to find Kate Madison, the show's award-winning director and showrunner, and Neil Oseman, their (also award-winning) Director of Photography, to find out a bit more about what goes into a fantasy webseries and what we can expect from Season Two. After a couple of scrapes with the Kah'Nath and a few daring escapes through the forest, he finally caught up with them...



  Ren, portrayed by Sophie Skelton in Season 1. A new actress will play her in Season 2.
Jubal: So, for any readers who don’t know, can you give us a bit of a starting pitch as to what Ren is and what it’s about?

Kate: Ren: The Girl with the Mark is an independent short-form fantasy series about a young woman whose life changes forever when she is “marked” by an ancient Mahri spirit. Now a fugitive from her world’s ruling order, she is forced to flee the village she has lived in all her life, and journey across the land in the company of the outlaw Hunter to find the meaning of the mark she bears.


Jubal: Ren’s first series has been very successful both in terms of YouTube views and awards – how have you both found the response to it since it came out in 2016?

Kate: I always hope when I create something that people will watch and enjoy it but it never ceases to amaze me the snowball effect that can happen when one person discovers something they love and shares it with others.  I hoped for Ren to do well online and for people to love it but I never imagined that an original independent fantasy series would get millions of views as it has done.  I also decided to enter the show into festivals as I wanted the cast and crew who did such an amazing job, to have the chance to be recognised for their achievements but the whirlwind world tour and multiple awards the show has received was still a surprise.

Neil: When we were getting ready to release the first season, a friend of mine told us about the “long tail” phenomenon, where internet content builds an audience over time rather than petering out rapidly after the release like a traditional film or TV show. I didn’t really believe it at the time, but it was absolutely true for Ren. Thousands of new people are discovering the series every day. It’s extremely gratifying and it’s exactly why we want to make more, to carry on that story for all those people who’ve enjoyed it so far.


Jubal: You’re now of course kickstarting Series Two. We last saw Ren riding out of her home village of Lyngarth with a hail of flaming arrows behind her – will we be exploring more parts of her world in the new series?

Neil: Yes, the plan was always to move away from the village and mirror Ren’s figurative journey of discovery about herself and the Mahri spirit within her with a literal journey across the land to find the people and places that hold answers for her. I’m looking forward to putting some new locations on camera.

Kate: We plan to continue from where we left off, following Ren as she’s pursued by the Kah’Nath while dealing with being wrenched from everything familiar.  As she begins to come to terms with the circumstances she finds herself in, she will start to explore not only the physical world around her but the very fabric of society and the truths she has always been taught.



The Kah'Nath soldiers prepare a volley of flaming arrows...
Jubal: And will we be seeing many familiar faces in the next stage of Ren’s travels, or mostly new ones?

Kate: Ren was torn away from her friends and family at the end of last season but that doesn’t mean we’ll never see them again, even if Ren herself may struggle to reconnect with some of them. Many of the main characters in season one play an important role in Ren’s journey so although we will be focusing on Ren we will also learn the fates of others as we move forward. We even have some new characters to introduce as the story continues, some may be fleeting but others may become significant players in Ren’s story. 


Jubal: Moving on to stuff behind the camera, how did you both end up working together on fantasy webseries projects?

Kate: I’ve always been drawn to the more fantastical, and telling stories we can relate to or that inspire us but that are not set in our ‘real’ world really appeal to me.  I also love the aesthetics of a historical type feel and for me fantasy works perfectly.  You can shake off any expectations or restrictions that you’d have with a ‘real’ setting and can put your characters into any situation you can think of. I made my Lord of the Rings feature Born of Hope with hardly any filmmaking experience and have continued to enjoy boosting the quality of this genre.

Neil: In 2013 I shot The First Musketeer, a web series by Harriet Sams, and I really enjoyed it, so I was actively looking out for more web series to work on. I knew Kate a bit from Born of Hope, so that’s how I got into the running for the director of photography position on Ren. After filming I felt so invested in the project and so keen for it to continue that I stayed on as a postproduction supervisor and even ended up on the writing team for the new episodes.


Jubal: Neil, as director of photography you’re often more literally behind the camera. What makes working on fantasy projects like this particularly of interest for you?

Neil: I love the creative challenge of working with just fire, daylight and moonlight as the supposed light sources. At the same time you can create a more stylised image because you’re not working in the real world. I’m a sucker for a nice shaft of light through a window, and with fantasy that’s pretty much a requirement! I also like all the texture in the sets, locations and costumes. The modern world can be a little smooth and bland sometimes, but old stone walls, heavy embroidered fabrics and weathered wood are much more interesting. I find creating a sense of tactility and three-dimensionality on camera very satisfying, and these textured surfaces have a lot of scope for that.



The one thing Kah'Nath soldiers obey above even the Master - Kate with a clapper board.
Jubal:  And what’s the shot or cinematic trick you were most proud of in Series 1?

Neil: I’m most proud of the scene in Karn’s house in the first episode. It was a beautiful set made of real twisted willow, and I was able to shine a big arc light through the roof of interlocking branches to create a dappled sunlight effect. In combination with smoke to bring out the fingers of light, it made for a very magical atmosphere.


Jubal: Kate – you’ve been the driving force behind Ren as director, writer, and showrunner. What’s the most important thing for you about Ren’s story and what most drives you to want to make more of it?

Kate: I started Ren to create something for an online community of fantasy fans who, at least at the time, didn’t have a whole lot of shows being made for them. This was our way to work independently from the Hollywood system and make high quality entertainment directly for our community who could help influence the story through their comments and interactions.  It is a fan supported and creator distributed model. Ren was always intended to be an episodic story and there is so much to the world that we’ve created, some has been hinted at but others have not yet been explored at all.  It would be a real shame to not finish Ren’s story. 


Jubal: In Born of Hope, you acted as well as directed, and your Ren co-writer Christopher Dane played Karn in series one: might we see you in front of the camera again at any point?

Kate: I would really love to play a role in Ren, it’s just finding the right one that works for the story as I don’t want to just crowbar one in.   Interestingly in season one, although you don’t really see me I am there.  I’m a hand double for Ren, the voice of broom lady and even Dalia’s singing voice!


Jubal: How much planning and effort has had to go into the current Kickstarter beforehand? Have you both been involved throughout that process?

Neil: Yes. We spent a year preparing for the Kickstarter, building a mailing list of supporters, building social media momentum, and of course writing the new episodes at the same time. There are a couple of other writers involved - Ash Maharaj and Claire Finn - but most of it was just Kate and I ploughing away! As we got closer we brought in Ben Dobyns of Zombie Orpheus Entertainment as our crowdfunding consultant. His input into the rewards, budgeting and the mailing list has been invaluable.



The mysterious woodsman Karn teaches Ren archery in S1 Ep 1.
Jubal: Have you had many fan creations in response to Ren – writing, art, and so on? And how do you feel about the idea of other people wanting to do expansions of the world you’ve created?

Kate: We have seen a number of wonderful pieces of fan art and even a piece of creative writing.  I’m always delighted to inspire other people to be creative even if it doesn’t specifically become canon.


Jubal: Finally, if all the above has been exciting, where can our readers find out more?

Neil: Our Kickstarter page has plenty of info about the show, an embedded video of the complete first season, and all the details of the exciting rewards we’re offering for backers.

Kate: If you’d also like to learn more about Ren, the world and making season one you can find all that on our website rentheseries.com!





Thanks again to Kate and Neil for chatting to us! You can follow Kate Madison on @actorsatwork on social media or check out katemadison.net and you can find Neil Oseman on @neiloseman and neiloseman.com. We hope to see more of Ren and Alathia soon - so a final reminder to back the Ren kickstarter, with just one week to go at the time of posting! If you've somehow been imprisoned by evil overlords for the last few years and not seen Series One yet, fear not, it's available on Youtube.

You can also discuss Ren on the forum, and contribute to the ongoing Wiki project for it.
Thanks for reading, and see you next time!
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Phoenixguard09

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Re: Exilian Interviews: Kate Madison and Neil Oseman!
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2020, 01:11:40 PM »
Love the work these guys do. So keen for Season 2.
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Jubal

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Re: Exilian Interviews: Kate Madison and Neil Oseman!
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2020, 01:57:45 PM »
Sadly the kickstarter didn't get funded :( Hopefully they'll find another way of doing it at some point.
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