“Armed Response” is, hands-down, the coolest new web series debuting today. Like, literally today. Taking place at the Port of Long Beach and dealing with a team of Homeland Security-type agents trying to stop the influx of narcotics, the series is shot entirely first-person through helmet cams and “security footage,” so you know we aren’t going to have to endure any “hanging with the wife and kids” storylines. This series is like a “Blair Witch” version of “Lethal Weapon” with all the boring shit hacked out. Yeah, sounds pretty good to me too.
The series, which was just launched via a panel at the SXSW festival, can formally be found on the new Break Media YouTube channel “Hardcoded,” but in the meantime, NMR thought it would be pretty sweet to get some info off one of the mucky mucks who made this whole beautiful show a reality. Meet series producer Tom Bannister, who is also the CEO of developing company SXM (I better put on a coat for this one). Tom was good enough to answer some questions about just what the hell this whole spectacle is about. Before you read that though, check out some just-released episodes (embedded below), so the interview can be an informed one.
How did SXM come across the idea for the series?
Justin Lutsky [the director] and I had been trying to figure out a way to do low-budget action for the web for a while. I had been fascinated by amateur news footage over the past few years including videos from Wikileaks, the Japanese tsnuamis and much of the citizen journalism which seems to break world news these days. We wanted to find a way to fuse that storytelling with more traditional Hollywood techniques evident in shows like “24” or “Homeland” (plot points, heroes, multiple POV storytelling). Mexican drug cartels seem to be rising in the U.S. public’s consciousness, and the most appropriate spot to place them seem to be a port. So all these elements combined into making “Armed Response.”
How much does this series actually mirror tactics and actions of, say, Homeland Security?
We worked with an ex-Homeland Security employee expert on the making of “Armed Response.” Everything was vetted through him, and we tried to make the protocols and procedures of the SRT team as close to reality as possible. However, there were certainly moments when story and doing something cool trumped the desire to replicate reality.
How does a show like this push the boundaries of what is currently being done in web television?
“Armed Response” is a series in which we have tried to take modes of storytelling indigenous to the web: first person shooter, combat footage, citizen journalism, security camera and found footage and mix them all together into a cohesive Hollywood-style story. I think AR represents our collective influences from video games to news.
Why the decision to debut it at SXSW?
SXSW is the only festival in the world which fuses entertainment and technology. That puts it on the cusp of the wave which is altering the entertainment biz. At SXM we are focused on developing the next generation of programming for the internet and bridging that gap too. If TV is the sister of film, then internet TV is the cousin twice removed; there are family resemblances there is also the opportunity to break all the previous rules. SXSW is a great forum for that.
And because one question was above Tom’s “pay grade,” Break Media’s SVP (Sexy Vegetarian Pirate?) of Entertainment Development, Greg Siegel, stepped in to pinch hit.
Are there going to be other shows on the channel, or will it all dedicated to “Armed Response” content?
“Armed Response” is the first adrenaline-packed action series we’re premiering on the channel. You’ll be seeing more content in this vein rolling out on Hardcoded in the coming months. You’ll also see a variety of formats: series, shorts, pilots, and even full-length “chapterized” features. With the decrease in the number of Hollywood productions over the past few years, there’s a real opportunity to finance projects from some really exciting filmmakers in the action, sci-fi, and effects-driven genres, who would otherwise have a hard time getting their projects made. Our goal is to give directors a place to showcase their work and use the full resources of Break to promote the content both on YouTube and across our massive distribution network of Men 18-34.
(it’s a little more network “suit” of an answer than NMR likes, but beggars can’t be choosers, I guess)
So there you go — most everything you could ever want to know about the behind-the-scenes aspects of “Armed Response.” Now go watch the series — what you learn might just save your life. Or make you a better drug smuggler. Either/or, there is some badass high-octane excitement in it for everyone.