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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!