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Burb's Eye View: A tangled Web of local TV

June 14, 2011|By Bryan Mahoney


The next big production to take the world by storm may be filmed right next door — and I’m not just talking to the Burbank neighbors near Warner Bros. and Disney. A cadre of movie wizards could be conjuring the next great fantasy epic in a three-bedroom apartment with a budget of a couple of months’ rent.

With the advent of YouTube and affordable digital technology comes a new breed of production — the online series — that requires no big-studio backing, no huge buildings for sets and little overhead.

They may benefit from big names attached to their productions (see Neil Patrick Harris in Joss Whedon’s “Doctor Horrible” series), but often a unique concept is all that’s needed to put them over. Take “Ikea Heights” for example: a film crew shot its entire series inside the Burbank Ikea, which means that during a bedroom scene a customer may wander in the shot to check out the prices on a Malm bed frame. Its first episode has more than 76,000 hits on YouTube.

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These productions have something in common: small crews with usually small budgets just want to see a dream realized, with or without a studio behind it (though a few independent investors with a couple hundred or thousand dollars to spare would be nice). They have amassed a loyal fan base, and rightfully so — many Web series are funnier and edgier than the big-budget productions constrained by studio brass looking at profits, marketability and long-term business outlooks.

Many Internet filmmakers have their roots firmly in the art of filmmaking, and it’s this passion that brought Adam Rady and James Rodehaver to Burbank from Ohio more than a year ago. From James’ swords-and-sorcery concept came “Walking in Circles,” an 11-part Web series. I visited them Friday, a few nervous days before they debuted the trailer for “Circles” on YouTube.

Walking into their Burbank apartment, you see guerilla filmmaking at its finest: a space devoid of furniture, save the wood table and chairs below a tavern backdrop nailed to the wall. In various spots on the scuffed hardwoods are triangles of black tape — markers for camera placement.

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