by ERIN THURSBY
Local film-making has been on a slow rise since the first Jacksonville Film Festival in 2003. But we still have a town filled with largely unused talent. Those with the skills often end up traveling to Miami and Orlando for big-budget films. Such is the case for Joshua Earles-Bennett. This past September and October he worked on Ironman 3 as a Fixture Technician in Miami. But Earles-Bennett wants to do something about Jacksonville’s dearth of larger projects by starting small. He and his team are working on getting funding for a web series called Support Group, “a comedic web series that will have 6-minute episodes based on a variety of people addicted to video games, but initially Skyrim.”
Says Earles-Bennett, “Jacksonville has a lot to offer the film community, but sometimes there can be a lack of interest. The city possesses the talent to create great television and films, and in doing so, to hire local crew, actors, food services, location rentals, etc. When it comes to talent, Jacksonville doesn’t lack for it. If we get the funding for Support Group, we will utilize all of these agencies.”
Some of the same folks who are putting together Support Group made the YouTube vid Gears of War Xmas. “We made it on a whim in two nights and put it out there just for fun,” says Earles-Bennett. “A couple of days later it was being featured on major gaming outlets and had a ton of fans. Making that was so much fun, and we got such a good response that it really encouraged us to want to do more video game content. Most of the crew works a lot, so we get together as time permits. Support Group is the first thing we have had a chance to work on.” If you’d like to see this violent-yet-fun example of their earlier work, just type in “Gears of War Xmas” on YouTube.
When asked if there might be some more violent aspects to Support Group (as seen in Gears of War Xmas), Earles-Bennett replied, “It is a dark comedy and even though our trailer focuses on the video game Skyrim, we are going to play around with different games and incorporate their aspects into the episodes as we learn more about our seven main characters.”
They’ve put together a trailer for Support Group on indiegogo.com, where they hope to raise the needed funding for the web series at www.indiegogo.com/sgwebseries. He and his wife Ashley co-wrote the trailer.
Those who are into the local art scene might recognize the space where the Skyrim addicts meet: it’s at CoRK. Of the venue, Earles-Bennett tells us that “they were very flexible with our schedule and gave us a fair rate. We hope to shoot more of the series there. It was a good experience, and we encourage others to check out that venue…CoRK was really great to work with.”
The Skyrim addicts range from a pre-teen girl to a little old lady, a skinny black kid wearing a Viking helmet to a chubby family man. Troy Capers, who plays the aforementioned kid in a helmet, says of Support Group: “It shows, in a fun and light medium, that video games aren’t just played by the stereotypical loser in the basement; they appeal to people from various backgrounds with gripping storylines, unforgettable characters, beautifully rendered worlds, morally stretching decision-making, and thrilling cinematics.”
“I hope that people support this web series, because it is important to get behind local projects,” says Earles-Bennett. “If we do get the funding to do the entire season, I hope it means that people want to see the series happen. That could mean creating another season and putting locals to work. Also, it would be great exposure for local actors.” To support the project donate at www.indiegogo.com/sgwebseries
by ERIN THURSBY