NMR Exclusive: Bite Me Director Jarrett Conaway

By now, episode eight of Machinima and Liongate’s original zombie comedy series, Bite Me, has made its way, slack-jawed and hungry for human flesh, to computer and television screens everywhere. Already on its second season, the series has been pivotal in helping Machinima branch off into the realm of long form Web episodes. We sat down with Bite Me director Jarrett Conaway to talk about filming for the Web, the season two finale of Bite Me, and the zombie apocalypse.

Primarily known as a video game-centered enterprise, Machinima has created several original shows and channels dedicated to live action entertainment. With Bite Me being one those shows, Conaway faced a specific challenge in bridging the gap between television style programming and web episodes. “As a filmmaker, I focus on making great content on whatever form it’s going to be. I think with Bite Me it’s interesting because it’s kind of several different things,” said Conaway, “at the end of the day they stand up as TV just as much as they stand up as web episodes.”

Bite Me and Bringing Television To The Web

To date, Bite Me has had over 14 million viewers in its first season and over a million viewers tuning into the season two premiere. For Conaway, approaching the show as an episodic experience was key. Things are changing, there is going to be a dozen different screens, and if you are a good storyteller they will just be a different means to get your story out there,” Conaway told me.

The success of Bite Me further proves that the separation between television, film, and web videos is constantly shrinking. With Bite Me already airing on FEARnet, the natural progression to better production values for web content is becoming more obvious. Conaway spoke about the need to evolve production values before starting Bite Me, “I didn’t approach Bite Me much differently than if I were to approach shooting something for a movie.”

More Than Just a Zombie Show

As AMC’s The Walking Dead and hordes of similar zombie films, books, and comics gain popularity, the tone of Bite Me has been paramount to the show’s success. Taking cues from movies like Shaun of The Dead, Bite Me approaches the genre with an eye towards gaming culture. “For these guys, the zombie apocalypse is the best thing that has ever happened to them,” Conaway told me, “The video game influence is huge; in some ways it’s very meta because they are in there playing video games, and they are like ‘this is real.’ In some ways they might as well be 16-bit Sega Genesis characters.”

With the release of episode eight, Bite Me is only two episodes away from the season’s end. When asked what people should expect from the final episodes of the season, Conaway told me that “it gets pretty real for the next three episodes; I think people are going to be surprised about how much they care about these characters.”

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