Two guys walk into a bar

Zack and I pushed through the doors of a downtown New York bar a year ago, having met as coworkers at MTV’s Urge music service only a couple of months earlier. While merely out with some friends for drinks, we ended up discussing the current state of internet video and the possibilities it afforded aspiring filmmakers, which led to us agreeing on the spot to pursue an independent, serialized urban western. We sat down the following week to begin outlining a plot, and searched around to see if, in fact, an urban western had ever been done before (to our knowledge, to this day, no one has ever combined these genres in this manner). And thus The West Side was born, out of genuine enthusiasm for an idea innovative both in terms of story and distribution. Little did we know at the time that it would be a full year before the first episode went live.

It’s been worth every minute of it. During the past year we’ve been confronted over and over again with the same choice: to take more time and make the serial better, or to go ahead and push it out faster. And every single time we made the difficult decision to write another draft, to find a different location, to re-shoot a shot, to spend the extra (little bit of) money. Now that we’ve launched, we hope all the extra time and effort shows. To us, visual storytelling on the web is not about posting a one-minute clip every day and pushing for max audience numbers and ad revenue—it’s about quality of storytelling, regardless of delivery medium. If it means our ten-minute-long episodes demand more of the viewer than the typical internet video experience circa 2007, so be it; we hope it’s ultimately more rewarding and worth your time.

It hasn’t been easy; you’ll notice on the about page that there aren’t a lot of names in the credits. While we went with “written, produced, directed, shot, edited, and designed by”—which seems awkwardly long, really—the truth is that we left out a dozen more tasks that would normally be in the credits had someone else done them, from Foley work (recording sound effects) to color grading (monochrome in this case), from website development (including all the back-end and feed/subscription work) to acquiring all of the myriad props (mostly from budget sources like eBay). Not that Zack and I are trying to launch our careers as web-developing Foley Artists, but each of these things takes time, effort, and ability, and to have pulled them off successfully adds not only to our sense of accomplishment but also to our joy at having the series exist out there in the world today.

Also worth mentioning in this first post is the fact that our budget for episode one will more than likely add up to only three figures (which easily qualifies this as “no budget filmmaking”). To pull this off, we’ve had a lot of instrumental help from our friends, and we’d like to thank them not only for their help on the production, but also for their overall support and belief in us. It’s a testament to everyone involved that, despite the hard work and long hours, we’ve all had a great time. It would be a cliche to say that we hope you have as much fun watching it as we did making it, but… it’s true. And is it still a cliche if you point out that it’s a cliche before you say it?

Thanks for watching (and reading). We can’t promise that the episodes will go up quickly or regularly, but the goal is to make something worth waiting for. Let us know what you think, stay tuned, and please pass it on to your friends!

14 comments | tweet | share on facebook

14 Comments

Jump to comment form
  1. Cindy 6 Jul 2007

    This makes me wonder what happens next!! Love the black and white. Sultry.

  2. Francesca 6 Jul 2007

    very compelling……looking forward to episode two!

  3. Ashley 9 Jul 2007

    Even though this is not my favorite genre, I really enjoyed watching the clip. As noted by other bloggers, the filming was crisp and substantial. The music was perfectly timed and the gestault was intense. In sum, even though I don’t usually watch westerns, I’d watch this. It was creative and meaningful….

  4. Chris 12 Jul 2007

    I loved the first episode and I’m excited for more. Great job – amazing concept and fantastic execution. This is something that could have been really crappy or really awesome, and you went down the latter route. Awesome work.

  5. T. Spence Cooper 12 Jul 2007

    Very creative! Well directed. Nicely timed dissolves and cool dolly shots. Good audio. Great music. Was Saul (Omar Gonzalez) suppose to blink?

  6. David 16 Jul 2007

    Any chance of telling us what you shot this with? Did you use a 35mm adapter? Is it hi-def?

  7. Douglas 16 Jul 2007

    I second David! Please, yes, what did you shoot this using? I’m a entrepreneurial independent internet “no budget” filmmaker as well, and I’ve never seen such great depth of field online. I’m glad you guys took as long as you needed to make this right.

    I think the vignette bothered me a bit, and the film grain (effect?) was extreme at times, but otherwise visually gorgeous. Music was good but I wonder if the tension would be higher if the music dropped out during the confrontation.

    Looking forward to episode two!

  8. Douglas 16 Jul 2007

    P.S. also love the great composition in anamorphic format – another step away from TV video and towards beautiful film!

  9. David 17 Jul 2007

    I am not sure if the director responds to this blog or not…

  10. NewTeeVee Karina’s Capsule: The West Side « 17 Jul 2007

    [...] over the remaining eleven episodes — which, as Bilsborrow-Koo notes on The West Side’s production blog, will only see the light of day when the producers deem them ready. “To us, visual [...]

  11. Ryan Bilsborrow-Koo 17 Jul 2007

    Thanks for the great feedback.

    We most certainly do respond to this blog–we’re working on a post about the technical details of the production, among other posts. Should be coming soon, but we’re also busy shooting! Stay tuned…

  12. David 22 Jul 2007

    I guess no blog post then, oh well – my interest is waning on this one…too bad.

  13. Pam DeLargy 24 Jul 2007

    Compelling in tone and action and great photography

    Very film noire – creative combination – urban/ western

    love the diamonds.

  14. The West Side — Episode Three and the long view 3 Apr 2008

    [...] you know by now, we decided to undertake this project on our lonesome—not because of a refusal to work with [...]

Leave a comment




Safari hates me

About

The West Side is an urban western. Learn more... We won a Webby Award!