Dark/Web Filming Confessions: The Joys And Challenges

San Diego Comic-Con is right around the corner, nine days to be exact!  With this year’s annual event comes the premiere of Dark/Web from the creators of Circle, Mario Miscione, Michael and Time Nardelli.  We have had the privilege of covering a good amount of information leading up to the premiere and panel at the Horton Grand Theater on Friday, July 19.  If you are interested in checking out the panel, you can find out more information in the related article below.  The filming process will always bring numerous joys and challenges with it, which the co-creators Michael and Tim Nardelli, shared as we discussed the film making process.


LRM: In hindsight, what was the best part of the filming process?

Michael Nardelli: For me it was working with the cast — since I’m also an actor in the show. Everyone was so energetic and fun and excited to be there — it’s one of the benefits of working with up and coming artists who are grateful to be there and excited to take ownership over their roles and give it their all. I also always enjoy working with Mario and Tim because I know I can rely on them and we have similar work ethics.

Tim Nardelli: For me, it was working with cast and crew alike.  I can still remember back in the early days of production when we had started this project and how exciting it was to begin filming that to see what was originally an idea for a show to then see the idea itself manifest into an actuality was an incredible experience.  Any filmmaker will tell you we all yearn to see our conceived stories to someday come to life on screen that it was truly a wonderful feeling to see the characters on DARK/WEB brought to life through such wonderfully talented actors and actresses. It was also a pleasure to work with Mike and Mario again on this project.  I had a great experience with working with the both of them on CIRCLE that I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with them again on DARK/WEB and to have been a part of something truly special.

LRM: What do you think the biggest surprise about the process would be to an outsider?

Michael Nardelli: I mean I’ve said it a lot, I feel like but post-production on a show like this was such a shock to the system. Just when you realize every single shot that has a cell phone in it or a computer screen is going to turn into a VFX shot — even if only a portion of the phone or monitor is visible — it was really crazy. Our VFX tracking boards were long enough to reach the moon! In terms of what was surprising about production itself — I’d actually say just the fact that it went pretty smoothly and we generally made our days was pretty surprising. That’s a testament to our AD’s and directors and DPs — well, basically to everyone, working together and being flexible and collaborative.

Tim Nardelli: That we were able to develop this show outside of the big film studios and the work that truly went in to make the show what it is today.  While it certainly was, in fact, a big challenge, however, we were very fortunate to have an ensemble of very talented individuals, that includes both cast and crew alike, working towards making the show what it is today, and how we had envisioned it becoming since day one.


LRM: What was the toughest thing about completing the filming for Dark/Web?

Tim Nardelli: Personally, for me at least, “post-production”.  Although what we were doing towards filming wasn’t completely out of the ordinary, especially when you had shows like The Twilight Zone anthology format back in 1959, however considering we were working in an anthology narrative with multiple filmmakers involved that it became quite a challenge to incorporate different narrative styles into a single show.  When we had finally completed filming both the ‘A-Story’ and ‘B-Stories’ the time had then come to put it all together which was certainly no easy task. Make no mistake, all of the individual filmmakers associated to this show gave it their all and went above and beyond to create quality stories, of which to this day we are all still proud of, that the real task was working with multiple groups of people on the various anthology segments of the show.  We had spent many months working to ensure each and every aspect of this show had a level of quality met that the biggest struggle for us was communicating with multiple outlets associated with this show. Post-production is certainly no easy task that I have found myself growing an even greater level of respect, and appreciation, towards the process and am very much grateful for the associates that worked diligently with us in ensuring the show reached a level of quality we can all be proud of in the end.

LRM: How did you manage the film schedules of multiple directors, actors, actresses, etc.?

Michael Nardelli: Well, it was true chaos. Sometimes you don’t get the actor you want because of schedule. That’s ok, the right person always surfaces. Luckily, we shot the anthologies in steps. Sometimes one at a time, sometimes two, the most was three and that was basically our final marathon of shooting “VIRAL”, “TRANSPLANT” and “HACKED” over the course of a month, basically. That kept director schedules somewhat easy to workaround. We’d sneak in pickup days throughout all that. Sometimes we’d do “guerilla pickup days” for easy things like inserts — that would basically be me and a DP at my house or the production office grabbing things. We have one insert shot in the show done in our post-production suite bathroom; another one in our carpeted office which was rotoscoped out and turned into a hardwood floor. If anyone likes the show enough — there’s your challenge! Find those shots! Anyway, I’ll give another shout out to Alexander Jacobs (AD), Eric Salberg (UPM), and Lindie Janota (Production Coordinator), Allison Vanore (producer/line producer) for really being the glue holding things together. It certainly wasn’t a job I could do by myself.

The Novelty of Dark/Web

LRM: What do you feel is missing in entertainment today that you wanted to approach with Dark/Web ? 

Michael Nardelli: Authenticity and originality. What I mean is telling a story that has some personal connection to you and you’re driven to tell it because that artistic bug inside of you is gnawing away until you get it out. I think a lot of “content” today is driven more by expectations that a remake or sequel will make easy money and get easy attention, which is understandable given the financial stakes at risk, but I’m not sure how much longer audiences will tolerate it. I think the sort of “nostalgia factor,” assuming fans will come out because a remake reminds them of their childhood, is sort of waning. Another thing I haven’t enjoyed in my time in “Hollywood” is this sense of entitlement about the craft of acting and/or filmmaking. We’re very lucky to have had the chance to make this series and do something that hopefully entertains those who choose to watch, and yes, selfishly I hope it gives them some things to think or talk about as it pertains to the modern world and technology and how its making us feel emotionally. You do meet a lot of people who seem to have forgotten the joy that probably sparked their interest in entertainment. I do enjoy working with up and coming artists because they’re all generally excited to be there. They still have that “wow we’re really doing this” feeling. I’ve done a few things at this point now, but always on the first day (and usually more than the first day), you get this giddy-childlike feeling of “Oh wow! This is real now! Scripts on a page are now real locations and cool actors saying the lines for real! Wow!” DARK/WEB — like most artistic efforts isn’t perfect — there’s things I’d change or would have wanted more time to work on — but I hope if people watch it they can appreciate we were trying to do something new that felt fresh and relevant and that it was made with a lot of love, not a sense of obligation or for a paycheck (although a paycheck would have been nice!).

Tim Nardelli: “Originality”.  It is rare when you find a movie or TV Show that is not a complete remake or a sequel to a franchise that has otherwise concluded many years ago, and as a result we see less original ideas making their way to screen.  We have come to a time in entertainment where things tend to seem very formulaic and less original. Sadly, it has become a trend in which to cash in on past franchises simply because they already have a built-in audiences that it seems less of a risk as opposed to doing something original.  That as a result of neglecting towards investing time and effort into developing something original we find ourselves getting overly fatigued with recycled ideas. I can say, beyond a reasonable doubt, Mike, Mario, and I very much gravitate towards filmmakers who are able to tell a story, be it a film or television show, unlike anything we have seen before and are able to make you personally invested in both the characters and their story.

When the three of us began working on DARK/WEB, after concluding CIRCLE, we really wanted to tell a story that was very much character-driven and to tell stories, within the shows anthology format, that were not overly generic and could be stories in which people could connect to on a personal level.

RELATED: LRM Exclusive: Dark/Web SDCC Panel Date And Time Announcement!

The cast for Dark/Web includes:

Sibongile Mlambo (Netflix’s Lost in SpaceTeen Wolf), Clare Kramer (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Julie Benz (Dexter), Hannah Marks (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency), Gabriel Luna (Terminator: Dark Fate), Zelda Williams (Teen Wolf), Robert Davi (GooniesDie Hard) Siobhan Fallon Hogan (Funny GamesForrest GumpWayward Pines), Hayley Marie Norman (Top Five), Dora Madison (Friday Night LightsDexter), Molly Hagan (Big Little Lies, The Handmaid’s Tale), Cassie Thomson (The Alienist), Amin El Gamal (Prison Break revival), Lana McKissack (Transformers), Michael Nardelli (CircleRevenge), Brian Elerding (Mad Men), Noemi Gonzalez (Rosewood), and Rene Heger (CircleLinks of Life).

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