Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The House Between Turns Three


Three years ago today -- February 16, 2007 -- my independent dramatic web series, The House Between was broadcast for the first time on Veoh and Google Video.

For those of you who weren't visiting my blog back in the early days of 2007, I often termed The House Between "the great experiment."

With the able partnership and assistance of Joe Maddrey, producer of the Discovery Channel's A Haunting and the upcoming documentary Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film, I created and developed The House Between in early 2006.


The mission:
to shoot seven half-hour episodes in seven days. Each episode cost only seven hundred dollars. We had a talented cast and crew, and everybody passionately gave their all for this project. Those involved in the series saw it as a (super low-budget) alternative to the science fiction television of the day. We shot in May 2006, and I edited through the summer, leading up to our 2007 air-date.

The House Between is the tale of five strangers who awake one day to find themselves trapped in an empty old Victorian house. There are no exits, and outside the house is an enveloping null zone of total blackness. The main characters are Astrid (Kim Breeding), Arlo (Jim Blanton), Travis (Lee Hansen), Bill Clark (Tony Mercer) and Theresa (Alicia A. Wood). In the second season, an additional character, Sgt. Brick (Craig Eckrich) joins the "denizens" at this so-called "house at the end of the universe." The characters are not certain if their new "home" is a sanctuary or a prison, but they grow more aware, over time, that the house has a set of "rules" and even a personality.

On February 16, 2007, the premiere episode "Arrived" debuted. The story followed Astrid's first day in the mysterious house, and her apparent introduction to the other characters. We seemed to really hit our stride, however with the second episode, "Settled," still one of my favorite episodes of the show's entire run.

Looking back, the seven episodes of the first season -- though obviously low budget in execution -- (replete with iffy sound quality...) -- meditate about the earthbound matters that still interest me as a writer and human being.

"Positioned" (which our cast and crew dubbed "Die Hard in a Kitchen") was a story about the fight for resources inside the house; a battle that various nations fight every day on Planet Earth.

"Visited" looked at the (creepy) things that existed outside the house (the Outdwellers) and featured, in some fashion, the idea that violence begets more violence.

"Trashed" found the core group of five characters struggling with another problem: in a hermetically-sealed environment, what, exactly, happens to the garbage? "Mirrored" was our comedy show, about hidden character traits brought to the surface by a mystical looking-glass, and "Departed" was a series-ender that was revamped into a season-ender when it became clear we would be producing a second season.

Even amongst the participants, opinions vary passionately about The House Between (and which season was the best...) but nonetheless, I had the time of my life making the show. I wrote about 19 stories for the program (out of the 21 made), and directed 20 of the episodes. I also edited every single episode...so my heart was in it. And my heart remains in it.

As far as my personal favorites: I had the best time shooting the first season, but I think the second season is actually our finest. I know many of our crew, especially, prefer the third season programs by a wide margin (a span which saw a new location, and one episode dedicated to my late mentor, Space: 1999 script editor Johnny Byrne). Those stories were certainly more ambitious and experimental, anyway.

At our height in the second season, The House Between actually pierced the pop culture bubble a bit and was a cause celebre in some genre circles.

Much to our surprise and happiness, we developed a passionate fan base during the writer's strike in Hollywood, and the series experienced heavy viewership for the duration of the season. The series was even twice nominated for "Best Web Production" by Sy Fy Portal/Airlock Alpha -- against the likes of Battlestar Galactica, Heroes, Star Trek: The New Voyages and Whedon's Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog.

Needless to say, every one of those Hollywood competitors costs *slightly* more than 700 dollars to produce.

If you're curious to check out a production created on such a small budget and with such dedication and love, visit The House Between and start with "Arrived." Stick with it after that. You won't be sorry.

Soon, I'll be taking all the shows down from Veoh permanently, to prepare for the DVD release of the first season later this year. Also, a series soundtrack from the talented Mateo Latosa and Cesar Gallegos is imminent. Order information should be available soon.

2 comments:

  1. Tell the Lar I said happy birthday!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I can't wait for that DVD release, John!

    ReplyDelete