– by Mark Cook

We are less than a month away from this year’s San Diego Comic-Con!!  I know you are all as pumped as I am!  This year, with the annual Con, comes to premier of the digital series Dark/Web. Due to its foundation as a serialized anthology hybrid, the creators were able to bring in various directors, actors, actresses, etc. in order to establish their story.  A really fun, interactive idea the creators had was to hold a contest for the amazing readers here at LRM to send in possible stories in which a winner would be chosen and their episode would be included in the series!  I was able to speak with co-creator Michael Nardelli as he explained the process of how the contest unfolded and how it was utilized in the series:

Who came up with the idea for the contest?

Michael Nardelli: We work with the guys and gals at LRMonline.com pretty consistently. They were a big support when CIRCLE came out; making sure people knew about it and we had some screenings and giveaways through the site when CIRCLE came out on Netflix. Mario, Tim and myself really believe in giving new voices a chance. Hollywood and filmmaking can feel sometimes like some old exclusive country club with lots of rules and barriers for entry. We’re all fanboys at heart and just wanna create and entertain in the same way fashion certain stories inspired us growing up. So we felt like it would be cool to really go out and offer the thing we like to pride ourselves on being about – which is giving new and different voices a chance at bat. There’s lots of contests out there to break into screenwriting and filmmaking and whenever we cast roles onscreen or behind the camera, we’re trying to be inclusive and fresh – but this was sort of a big deal. This was telling young writers, aspiring filmmakers, fans of the site – we’re actually gonna produce your script! Like, we’re gonna cast it as big and awesome as we can and give you a decent budget and have your story be part of our tapestry. I think if you compare that to some of the – even some of the bigger screenwriting contests etc that everyone knows and submits to – what we offered was actually pretty major. It’s a shiny, finished project. A potential calling card for a young filmmaker. I’m biased of course, but I’m really proud of what we did with the contest and what we were able to offer.

What were the guidelines you gave the contest participants?

Michael Nardelli: It was a while ago, let me try and remember. There were a lot of legalities, administrative stuff. We gave a general page count we wanted to skip to – some people, of course, ignored that 🙂 I can say we read every single script that came in. We kind of all independently picked our favorites. Narrowed them down. That process went on for a while. I think we really only asked for sort of nondescript horror, sci-fi, thriller specs back then. We hadn’t even developed all of our “wraparound” story. I’m not even sure we’d realized yet that a lot of the anthologies would kind of originate from the tech space. We gave pretty free reign to the writers, with the caution that we would have to do some tinkering and add/subtract some things to make it fit in with the larger tapestry.

What were you looking for when deciding the winner?

Michael Nardelli: Something that felt modern and fresh and reflected our modern dilemmas and joys; either with technology or just with life in general. We’re all big film and TV and video game buffs so we generally know what’s out there and like to find new stories. Well, nothing’s really ever totally original, but what always has a chance to feel fresh is someone’s point of view on a theme and how they present it. We did get a lot of hack and slash dark web related material. That stuff is fun but would have stood out too much in the series – which can be gory at times, but doesn’t sensationalize or glorify any of the crazy, dark stuff happening on the dark web right now. We did gravitate to more “cautionary tale” style stories of the internet and dark web. There was a lot of great material that came in, truly. We were all really impressed.

What specific qualities about the winner (Christopher Webster) stood out to you?

Michael Nardelli: Christopher Webster’s script felt very now, very in touch with social media culture. It felt young and fresh. We could sense some of the things that inspired him and they were all films we’ve gravitated to. It was a really fresh and scary take on a stalker kind of story. And as scary and far-fetched as it seems, the dangers in his story are very within the realm of possibility. DARK/WEB our show isn’t based on a true story, but there’s a lot of real life inspiration from things that happen on the internet and in the real world.

Was it difficult fitting in the winning episode with the others?

Michael Nardelli: People watching the show will be the judge of that, really. But I didn’t think so. In general, it was kind of surprisingly easy to to make our anthology stories work once we figured out who specifically the writer (or writers!;) of these stories are within the context of our show. Our serialized story really informed the anthologies, but it was interesting because some of our anthology stories written by our “guest writers” and “guest directors” (who generally didn’t have a huge knowledge of the bigger story we were telling) would actually inform certain things about our A-Story characters and situations. Lines of dialogue, locations, names – the more you watch and the closer you watch, you see how closely connected the whole piece is. It’s a metaphor for how connected we all are thanks to the internet.

RELATED — Dark/Web: Creating The Characters

You can check out more interviews under the Podcast tab on the main page which will be coming your way over the next week.  Our own Jonsey and Nick Doll will be interviewing director Eric Salberg and actress Cassi Thomson while Jammer and Kyle Malone will be interviewing director Roxy Shih, so be on the lookout for those!

The cast for Dark/Web, and a teaser trailer can be found below:

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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Source: LRM Exclusive