One day I received an email that I had a new Kickstarter backer for The Undead Sorceress – Odin’s Song Productions. What a cool name! After thanking them I checked their profile page and it turns out they have an awesome Kickstarter campaign going on for Loch Ness: The Web Series. So I gave them a kick back of support and asked them to tell me a bit more about this project.
This web series follows the journey of Donna, Joey, Kyle and Steve; four high school metal heads who dream of making it big with their folk metal band “Loch Ness”. But first, they need to figure out where to find a lead singer and survive overbearing parents, lack of funds as well as a bass player who manages to get it wrong more than right.
Based on a true story of a now defunct folk metal band from Omaha, Nebraska, the series is told through the lens of original Loch Ness band member, Christina. If you take a look at their Kickstarter video you will see that their production and lighting quality work are extremely professional. They have a great sense of humour as well!
We are going to have a conversation with Christina Marie Leonard who is the creator/writer, and plays Donna in this head banging series.
Hi Christina, thank you for taking the time to do this Q & A with me as I know that you must be super busy with your Kickstarter campaign!
First, can you tell me a little bit about your role in this project? How did this project start?
CML: Thank you JF! Well, I am the writer of Loch Ness: The Web Series, and I will also be playing the character Donna who is the keyboardist of the band. I got the idea to write the series in March of 2013. I had gone back home to Nebraska to visit and while I was there I hung out with my friend Carl who was in the band with me and a lot of fun memories came flooding back. I had been going through a tough time in LA, so when I returned from my trip to Nebraska I really immersed myself in writing this series and it has become very close to heart.
Your goal for the Kickstarter is $10K which actually isn’t too crazy for video production projects. What do you hope to accomplish with the funds?
CML: Our goal of $10K is something we definitely believe is achievable, but there are a lot of expenses. We need the $10K for production insurance, locations, permits, food, gas, equipment, and costumes for the actors.
What is involved in the making of a web series? Is it as glamorous as people are led to believe? In general, a lot of video production looks great because only the perfect takes are shown and the many hours for a few seconds of work are not seen!
CML: Making a web series is definitely a huge thing to take on. The writing process in itself took several months of rewrites before I had something I was really happy with. Then getting a production team together and all the planning that goes into pre-production has taken a lot of time. It is all worth it, though- we have a project we all really believe in, and working with people I love being around makes those long hours seem not so long!
How were the cast members found? Is everyone from Nebraska? Do they really know how to play their instruments?
CML: We had some table reads early on during rewrites of the script, and brought in actors who were the right ages and types for the parts. Later on when we were casting, we asked those same people to read for us again, as well as having casting calls on LA Casting and CAZT.com.
We saw a lot of really great people and we ended up casting actors both from the casting calls we put out, and the pool of actors we knew from the table read. Of those actors, just myself and Chris Muckey, who is playing Joey, are from Nebraska, although ironically Chris and I did not know one another until we moved to California!
The characters are never seen close-up playing their instruments in the series- usually they are setting up or dismantling their equipment from a show- so we did not make it mandatory that the actors auditioning know the instruments their characters play. However, several of our cast members actually do know how to play guitar and/or drums which will likely open up fun opportunities for improv in the series.
In the story line, there is mention about finding a lead singer. What is involved in this and why is it so hard to keep a band together? What should people expect from this series? Is it a comedy and drama mix?
CML: The story line about finding a lead singer comes from the struggle that the real Nebraska band “Loch Ness” had with holding onto band members. It seemed like, at least when I was in high school, all the bands in the Nebraska music scene kept switching members.
With Loch Ness, it was usually just members not being interested enough, and being busy with other high school activities and dropping out. Once, though, our guitarist cancelled right before a show. It was our first show and I insisted we went on anyway, so Billy the drummer ended up playing guitar that night, and a drummer from the band “Talos” that was playing the show with us was just fantastic and learned the drum part for our set right before going on.
In the web series, most of the vocalists either quit or get kicked out because they get romantically involved with Donna… that may or may not be based on a true story as well. You can leave that up to the imagination! Overall, you should expect a lot of laughs- this series is definitely a comedy, in the vein of “Detroit Rock City”, “Empire Records” or one of my favorites, “Todd and the Book of Pure Evil”.
What has happened to the real Loch Ness band? How long did they exist and what venues did they play in? Do you still keep in touch with them?
CML: The real Loch Ness band broke up a few years when we all graduated high school. We played for the latter half of high school, Junior and Senior year, and we played in several venues around Omaha, NE- The Rock, Club Roxbury, Jacket’s Bar, Sokol Underground, and some smaller venues as well. It was hard to juggle acting in plays and be in a band at the same time, so when I was doing a month-long run of “The Crucible”, at the Omaha Community Playhouse, we could only play on Monday nights. Fortunately, my band members were really supportive of that, and we found a place called Shea O’Rileys that had shows every Monday night that worked perfectly for us!
I’ve kept in touch with the guitarist Carl ever since the band broke up, but lost touch with Billy, Matt, and Jason- the drummer, vocalist, and bass player for awhile. Fortunately, creating this web series has brought us back together. In fact, I recently did some interviews with all of them about their experiences in the band and what they look forward to in the web series. Billy’s interview is already available as an update on our kickstarter page and more will be coming soon!
This is the first time I’ve heard of “folk metal band”. Can you explain what this is?
CML: You’re not alone in being unfamiliar with folk metal. I didn’t know much about it until Billy involved me in the band. Basically, folk metal is a branch of heavy metal that stems from Viking metal. Folk metal originated in Europe in the 1990s. The lyrics usually talk about mythology, and there is often accordion, bagpipe, or some other folk instrument incorporated (or keyboards with settings to replicate that, like we had) to add that folk element to the heavy guitars and vocals.
Will there be original songs involved with this production?
CML: There will definitely be original songs involved in Loch Ness: The Web Series! We have several songs from the Nebraska “Loch Ness” band that will be used, and we are open and excited to collaborate with any metal artists that want to have their music in the series as well!
What is the story behind Odin’s Song Productions?
CML: Odin’s Song Productions consists of myself, Mijoe Sahiouni, Max Holm, Rachel Gunnerson, and Melanie Recker. Mijoe and Max both studied at the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film with me at UNL in Nebraska.
Mijoe stage managed some of the shows I was in, and I directed and wrote many shows in college as well. I have always respected her directing style and professionalism and was excited to work with her in LA.
Max, a film major at UNL, directed me in his Thesis Film “Lilith”, a thriller, which was one of my favorite roles to play and a great experience. I became great friends with them both, and I knew I just had to involve them in “Loch Ness: The Web Series”. They were the first ones to jump onboard and help create Odin’s Song Productions.
Rachel is a really great writer who I met through Mijoe, and during the rewriting process of the series, she helped me a lot in making Loch Ness as funny and solid as it can be. I am so glad to have her onboard as a producer for the full run of the series.
Melanie is another Nebraskan who I did not officially meet until moving to LA. (However, we ran into each other several times at auditions in Omaha over the years thinking “hey, that girl looks familiar!”). Melanie is a great actress who is awesome at bringing people together- she has created several social media groups for that purpose, and actually was the first person to introduce me to Chris, who plays Joey. Melanie is producing several other projects as well as Loch Ness: The Web Series, and will be moving on once pre-production is over, but we are lucky to have her, as she has been an initial part in getting this thing off the ground!
Well, I’ve learned a lot from you about making a web series and I wish you and Odin’s Song Productions the best of luck on your Kickstarter! Please check out their fantastic project here and send in some support!