Interview: Writing a Web Serial

Last year, we interviewed writer Adam Dickinson about his screenplay Everything Fred Tells Me Is True, a then-recently-released indie feature film. In past weeks, local band A Halo Called Fred has released the first episode of a projected serial, Barry the Steampunk Monster.


Magnificent Nose: Welcome back to the Nose!

Adam Dickinson: Thank you for having me back!

MN: Could you tell our readers about your new project?

Adam: Certainly! Barry the Steampunk Monster is a new web serial being released by the band A Halo Called Fred. The first episode is currently on YouTube, and will be shown at the Steampunk World’s Fair. [That’ll be held 18–20 May of this year. –ed.]

MN: From a story standpoint, the first episode feels exploratory, kind of like a pilot. What’s the future of Barry? Will there be a plot arc, or is it more about telling individual short stories?

Adam: There is an arc, or at least a series of story points I’d like to hit which lead to a final conclusion. Being a story about time travel and multiple realties, there’s a lot of flexibility in terms of how it will play out, so nothing’s set in stone. I like to think of it more as a “still life in 5 dimensions” than an arc, but that’s probably a pretentious way of saying it’s a very loose arc where pieces get shown out of order.

As for the first story, the feel was very intentional. The original first episode we had planned started much more at the beginning, but we figured if we’re trying to suck in viewers, it made more sense to start off in the heat of the action, and deal with the explanation later, when people actually care somewhat about the characters.

MN: You’re coming off a feature film; why a serial this time?

Adam: Honestly, doing a feature is such an all-encompassing task, it seemed like a nice change of pace to do something with a little more instant gratification. A serial is nice because you can still address a long-form story without waiting until it’s done to start telling it to people.

MN: Why science fiction?

Adam: Science fiction has always been my favorite. I’ve had the idea for a while to do a time travel story about what happens when time travel has no rules. Most time travel stories start out with the premise of what’s possible–You can’t change certain types of events, the universe can correct itself, the hero needs to protect the integrity of the universe, etc. But if time travel really did exist without any of these rules, all it would take would be one single person with questionable morals to basically revert the universe into total chaos very, very quickly.

MN: Why steampunk?

Adam: We wanted to take what was potentially a very serious storyline, and give it a more whimsical feel. Giving Barry a steampunk sensibility was a way to have him throw himself into his mission completely, while still keeping a sense of humor about the whole thing.

MN: Did the story for the serial come off of the song [with the same title], like the film Everything Fred Tells Me is True came out of the [Halo] song of the same name? Or did you guys have the serial in mind when you wrote the song this time?

Adam: In this case, they pretty much went hand in hand. The concept for the story existed well before the song, and the song existed without lyrics well before the story. But each one encouraged the other. Finishing the song made it very clear that Barry was exactly the villain that was needed for the time travel story, and so were sort of written around each other.

MN: Is the creative team of Eric Vitner (director of EFTMIT), yourself, and Bruce Meyers, still intact? Will we see another film, or are web serials the future of the group?

Adam: >Words Pictures Movies still exists, and we’re still actively promoting sales of the film. As far as new feature projects it’ll definitely take us some time to catch our collective breath, and hopefully [we’ll] have a bit more cash on hand to pull it off.

MN: You’ve worked on movies and music. Would you consider taking your stories into other media, like graphic novels or books?

Adam: Everything’s an option! If only there were more hours in a day! Somehow I always end up gravitating to music and film though. Maybe it’s because once an idea exists, I want to be able to take a step back and see it, or hear it.

MN: Thanks for agreeing to this interview, and good luck with the serial.

Adam: Thanks again!


Here’s episode 1 of Barry the Steampunk Monster on Youtube.

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