The UK is known for a lot of things, but web series are still a growing trend. Redemptions End, a grim and grimy, yet sleek web drama is making a splash online! With a cast of working actors who has worked extensively in Theatre (RSC, Arcola Theatre, Theatre Royal Stratford East and the Soho Theatre), producer and actor, Claudius Peters, shares how this "dark look at what people may be willing to do when they feel they have no options..." actually came about!
So Claudius, what role did you play in your latest film project? And why did you feel compelled to tell this story versus another?
CP: I created and produced the web series Redemptions End and played the character Michael. Over the past 12 months the UK, especially the Black British community, has embraced the Web Series medium in a massive way. I felt like as an actor I wanted to be in interesting stories, so I thought, why not create one.
Tell me what the project stands for. Who is your audience or do you not create for a specific audience?
CP: I had been following an American web series network called WIGS on Youtube as well Awkward Black Girl and Racey Rules. For the first time I was seeing ideas that didn’t exist already and it helped make up my mind. I don’t have a specific audience but I will say if you like a slow-paced drama, then I feel you will like this. The worst that can happen is people watch and don’t like it, but at the least, I wanted to make a unique product.
Who is involved in making this come about in its early stages? How did you find your perfect cast?
CP: In the early stages I had the story/characters mapped out in my head and knew the style and tone I wanted. The next step was to find a writer as I felt a fresh mind would bring something strong to it. Daniel Rusteau (Writer/Director) and I would meet up and dissect the story and scenes. The cast was primarily actors I trained with, we then auditioned the rest. The one thing I wanted from my actors was people who didn’t appear to do too much on camera.
Were you confident or concerned in any way with delivering such a smudged message?
CP: I was concerned that we would not perform well...our content is pretty intense and slow yet most of the content out there is comedy or very light entertainment, we have gone for dark undertones.
Describe your roots, upbringing and early life influences.
CP: I was born in South London but lived in the West Midlands, Sierra Leone and East London. The arts were encouraged in my house and it was actually my Step Father who used to take me to Drama School when I was about 12. My Mum has always pushed me towards art which has been a huge help where as my Dad and my Step Dad both taught me to be focused.
Inside and outside of film, whose work inspires you?
CP: That’s a BIG question but right now Issa Rae, Jeffery Wright, Al Pacino, Michael Fassbender, Christian Bale, Christopher Nolan, Spike Lee, James Dean, Steve Mcqueen, .....we could be here all day...
What do you want people to gain from seeing your work in general?
CP: Ultimately, I want people to be entertained and long term I want the UK Webseries community to start taking risks.
Any lessons learned from your filmmaking experience that you would like to share with the aspiring filmmaker?
CP: Insurance is your friend...We were robbed on the second day of shooting and Hard- Drives, laptops, light and sound equipment was stolen from our van.
Wow...What is your attitude about the state of the UK, film-wise?
CP: The webseries scene in the UK is very young, it's finding it's feet. I felt that most of the web-series from my own community (Black British|) are too safe. People are so scared of offending or “creating negative stereotypes” that you end up losing their flaws, which is a huge human element. I, of course, would never want to promote negativity but I do keep asking “where is the risk”? I honestly believe the best shows have characters with moral conflict, whether that’s Mad Men’s Don Draper or a drug dealing school teacher in Breaking Bad. And it concerns me that barely anyone with this new-found freedom is coming up with something brand new or exciting. I find this happens in any community that’s under-represented. So people treat “Black WebSeries” or for example “Gay Web series” as a genre in the same way you would a thriller or action, which to me is incredibly lazy. That said, there are a couple shows I follow that seemed to have been able to bring something unique to the table, so it’s by no means a terrible scene, just new.
What's Next? Any upcoming projects outside of this one?
CP: I’m working on a new show which is a dark comedy I'm writing and I am also working on a play.
With initiative and insight, the series is making waves overseas. Take a trip online and show the UK some love! RedemptionsEndDrama on YouTube is worth checking out!
Micole Williams is an author and filmmaker from Houston, Texas who is currently working on a sequel to her novel and film projects. Find her on http://will-m-power.blogspot.com, www.twotlt.weebly.com, and follow her on Twitter. If you have a filmmaker you'd like to see featured, send a message.