AIDAN 5: Between SF, Film Noir And Pencils – An Interview With Ben Bays


»But ul­ti­mate­ly I think that en­ter­tain­ment is still the same as it was 100 ye­ars ago: au­di­en­ces want to hear a good sto­ry told well. And as long as the Earth keeps spin­ning, peop­le like me will tune in to watch tho­se well-told sto­ries re­gard­less of what de­li­very plat­form they ar­ri­ve on. The web just made it con­ve­ni­ent for more peop­le to get in the game.«

A short time ago I ran across so­m­e­thing in the vast spaces of the WWW that is cal­led AI­DAN 5, it is one of the web­se­ries that are pop­ping up all over the in­ter­net. What makes it spe­cial: it is ba­sed on a short­film of the same name that won a con­test – plus it is crea­ted as live ac­tion com­bi­ned with pen­cil-drawn sce­ne­ry. AI­DAN 5 is pure sci­ence fic­tion but also has a healt­hy dose of film noir.

For me as an old fan of SF who also li­kes the clas­sic ma­sters of sus­pen­se and crime Ham­mett and Chand­ler this is qui­te so­m­e­thing and so it was only nor­mal to send a mail with a bunch of questi­ons to the United Sta­tes. You will find the an­s­wers in this ar­ti­cle.

Logo AIDAN 5

Phan­ta­News: The most im­portant questi­on first: in short wor­ds (we’ll ela­bo­ra­te la­ter) – what is AI­D­AN5?

Ben Bays: Ai­dan 5 is a fu­tu­ri­stic sci-fi/ film noir web se­ries about a de­tec­tive who has to sol­ve the my­ste­ry be­hind the se­ri­al kil­lings of his own clo­nes. It’s uni­que style is done with live ac­tion pho­to­gra­phy and il­lu­stra­ted en­vi­ron­ments.

And the se­cond is of cour­se: who is it who an­s­wers my nosey questi­ons? :)

Ben Bays, Exe­cu­ti­ve Pro­du­cer & Wri­ter.


Who is the main team be­hind the web­se­ries? Is it the same that made the short­film?

Ai­dan 5 was crea­ted by John Jack­son and Tim Bald­win for the 48-hour film con­test and the over­all style was il­lu­stra­ted by Ben Brown. I got in­vol­ved with tur­ning it into a web se­ries be­cau­se I saw what they had done in just 48 hours and was to­tal­ly blown away. Most of the same cast and crew are now in­vol­ved in the se­ries, but we have also brought on board many new ta­len­ted in­di­vi­du­als as well.

What in­spi­red you? To me it seems I see hints of pulp, film noir and – of cour­se – co­mic?

John­ny has al­ways been a fan of tho­se gen­res, spe­ci­fi­cal­ly the old Re­pu­blic se­ri­als, the gol­den age of co­mics and of cour­se, black and white film noir. (He men­ti­ons Hum­phrey Bo­gart in the Mal­te­se Fal­con as his prime examp­le.)

He grew up watching a lot of tho­se ol­der clas­sics ex­po­sing him to the art of film, but what re­al­ly fu­eled his ima­gi­na­ti­on were films such as Star Wars, Rai­ders of the Lost Ark, Clo­se in En­coun­ters, E.T. and Bla­de Run­ner. Mo­vies with vi­su­al specta­cle, gre­at cha­rac­ters and won­der­ful­ly ima­gi­na­ti­ve sto­ries, many of which were ori­gi­nal­ly in­spi­red from tho­se ear­lier clas­sics.


Why com­bi­ne the film noir-set­ting with sci­ence fic­tion? How did you come up with the idea?

Part of the 48-hour con­test re­qui­res the film­ma­kers to draw a gen­re at ran­dom out of a hat. Tim and John­ny re­cei­ved sci-fi and they im­me­dia­te­ly be­gan wri­ting the script that night.

John­ny knew he was go­ing to shoot ever­y­thing on green screen and he also knew he wan­ted to stay away from ali­ens, ray guns and space­ships.

Loo­king to do so­m­e­thing a litt­le more groun­ded, they even­tual­ly sett­led on the idea of clon­ing told through a grit­ty noir crime dra­ma. But I think Johnny’s no­ti­on of fa­shio­n­ing the back­grounds with cru­de pen­cil sket­ched drawings is what re­al­ly made it stand out above the rest of the films in the con­test.

AIDAN 5The amal­ga­ma­ti­on of live-ac­tion and pen­cil-pain­ted sce­ne­ry is a very nice idea – and the re­sul­ting ef­fect is stylish and qui­te stun­ning. How did you come up with that?

John­ny was worried about doing a film in 48 hours and not being able to find sui­ta­ble lo­ca­ti­ons that fit their un­known gen­re, so he de­ci­ded in ad­van­ce to film ever­y­thing on green screen and draw his lo­ca­ti­ons in post. So re­al­ly it was a style born out of the need to sol­ve a pro­blem.

Ben Brown, one of his co-workers, is an ac­com­plished illustrator/After Ef­fects ar­tist and John­ny knew that Ben could seam­less­ly blend the world to­ge­ther whi­le matching his live ac­tion pho­to­gra­phy. Then, they could be free to wri­te and shoot any­thing they wan­ted, ma­king the world fit wha­te­ver gen­re they were gi­ven. When John­ny lear­ned they were go­ing to be doing sci-fi, he felt it was se­ren­di­pi­tous be­cau­se com­bi­ning that gen­re with their sty­li­stic choice see­med to ser­ve the sto­ry very well.

How dif­fi­cult was/is it to do the web­se­ries? How long was it in the ma­king and what bud­get are you working on? And how many peop­le are in­vol­ved in crea­ting the epi­so­des?

Ad­apt­ing the short into a se­ries was much more dif­fi­cult than we ori­gi­nal­ly an­ti­ci­pa­ted. We thought we would build it on the 48-hour mo­del and crank out the epi­so­des in re­cord time, but we were over­ly am­bi­tious du­ring the script wri­ting pha­se and it en­ded up ta­king us qui­te a bit lon­ger. All to­ge­ther, from con­cept to com­ple­ti­on, se­a­son one took over 50 peop­le and 2 and a half ye­ars to com­ple­te. And it was made com­ple­te­ly wi­thout any bud­get in our spa­re time.


Was it a pro­blem to put a team to­ge­ther or were peop­le ram­pa­ging your stu­dio doors yel­ling »Me! Me!«? :) Or do you do such things re­gu­lar­ly any­way?

We had a pret­ty good tur­nout of volun­te­ers who were fa­mi­li­ar with the suc­cess of the ori­gi­nal short. I think they ge­nui­nely lik­ed the con­cept and re­spon­ded to it in the same way that I did. It has been a chal­len­ge to keep the out­put at a con­si­stent and sus­tain­able le­vel du­ring the past two ye­ars, es­pe­ci­al­ly sin­ce ever­yo­ne is working on this for free in their spa­re time. But we’re used to working on low bud­get pro­jects and we just keep plug­ging along with whoever is wil­ling to throw their hat in the ring with us.

How was it done? Could you ex­pand a litt­le on the tech and equip­ment you use to crea­te the epi­so­des? I guess it’s most­ly green­screen and chro­ma-key­ing? What soft­ware was used for editing?


We shot all of the live ac­tion ele­ments on green screen (whe­re­ver we could find so­meo­ne to let us use their space – so­me­ti­mes in Johnny’s ga­ra­ge) and filmed the en­t­i­re se­ries using two Pa­na­so­nic HVX-200s. We then edi­ted with Avid Me­dia Com­po­ser and did all of the com­po­si­ting in Ado­be Af­ter Ef­fects.

How long is the average time it ta­kes to crea­te an epi­so­de? Do you do this full time or as a hob­by? How are you fun­ded?

I’d say, on average it ta­kes about 1–2 mon­ths to com­ple­te an epi­so­de. – Alt­hough it’s hard for us to say sin­ce we have many dif­fe­rent peop­le working on mul­ti­ple epi­so­des at a time with sche­du­les of­ten over­lap­ping. – Ai­dan 5 isn’t set up like a tra­di­tio­nal pro­duc­tion work­flow, it’s very much the ga­ra­ge band of film­ma­king.

We cer­tain­ly wish we could be doing this full time, but we all have to work around our day jobs and fa­mi­lies whi­le fin­ding time for Ai­dan 5 on nights and wee­kends. That being said, we cer­tain­ly don’t think of this as a hob­by. The en­t­i­re team is made up of crea­ti­ve pro­fes­sio­nals working in the in­du­stry and Ai­dan 5 was sim­ply a way for us to make the kind of pro­ject we al­ways wan­ted.

Ai­dan 5 cur­r­ent­ly has no fun­ding, so if you hap­pen to know of an­yo­ne, give me a call. ;-)

AIDAN 5How are the re­spon­ses and re­views by the unf­or­gi­ving web-crowd so far?

So far, the re­spon­se has been very po­si­ti­ve. We seem to have struck a cord with our au­di­ence and whi­le the­re can cer­tain­ly be a bit of trepi­da­ti­on put­ting your baby out the­re for all the world to see, we’ve also dis­co­ve­r­ed that the web-crowd is an ama­zin­gly ta­len­ted and crea­ti­ve com­mu­ni­ty that are all in the same boat as we are. – Try­ing to crea­te so­m­e­thing with litt­le or no re­sour­ces. It’s been eye-ope­ning and very re­war­ding.

The­re are 15 we­b­i­so­des plan­ned for the first se­a­son of AI­D­AN5. Will the­re be a se­cond se­a­son af­ter that or are you plan­ning so­m­e­thing dif­fe­rent? Are the­re par­al­lel pro­jects? Or al­re­ady too ti­red to do more of this? :)

Yes, the­re are two ad­di­tio­nal se­a­sons plan­ned af­ter this one. In fact, we spe­ci­fi­cal­ly wro­te our sto­ry to span three se­a­sons. We hope that the re­spon­se and view­ership be­co­mes lar­ge en­ough to al­low us to make se­a­sons 2 and 3 and fi­nish the sto­ry. Whi­le we are proud of the volun­te­ers who have hel­ped us thus far, it would be very dif­fi­cult to do this again wi­thout some kind of fun­ding. – Other­wi­se all of our spou­ses and child­ren will di­sown us. :-)

At what rate will the epi­so­des be re­leased?

Every other Fri­day.

AIDAN 5Web­se­ries and we­b­i­so­des have qui­te an im­pact at the mo­ment and are sp­rou­ting all over the web. Do you think they are here to stay or just a tem­pora­ry phe­no­me­non? Are they the fu­ture of en­ter­tain­ment or just one more way to en­ter­tain? :)

That’s a gre­at questi­on and I think only time will tell on this one. I do think web se­ries are here to stay, and they’re be­co­m­ing more so­phi­sti­ca­ted every day. Main­stream web TV for your li­ving room is de­fi­ni­te­ly co­m­ing (ac­tual­ly it’s al­re­ady here) and I think it’s not com­ple­te­ly out­lan­dish to think that the old broad­cast mo­del could even­tual­ly go away.

But ul­ti­mate­ly I think that en­ter­tain­ment is still the same as it was 100 ye­ars ago: au­di­en­ces want to hear a good sto­ry told well. And as long as the Earth keeps spin­ning, peop­le like me will tune in to watch tho­se well-told sto­ries re­gard­less of what de­li­very plat­form they ar­ri­ve on. The web just made it con­ve­ni­ent for more peop­le to get in the game.

Thank you for your time, now you have the uni­que chan­ce to say so­m­e­thing of gra­ve im­port­an­ce to our re­aders… :)

ummm… watch Ai­dan 5 and sha­re it with your friends! :)




AI­DAN 5-Web­site:

Room 101 Pro­duc­tions


Images and Logo Co­py­right Room 101 Pro­duc­tions LLC

AutorIn: Stefan Holzhauer

Meist harm­lo­ser Nerd mit na­tür­li­cher Af­fi­ni­tät zu Pi­xeln, Bytes, Buch­sta­ben und Zahn­rä­dern. Kon­su­miert zu­viel SF und Fan­ta­sy und schreibt seit 1999 on­line dar­über.

2 Kommentare for “AIDAN 5: Between SF, Film Noir And Pencils – An Interview With Ben Bays”

Ruke Fernedis


Di­gi­ta­le Dis­tri­bu­ti­on gibt un­ab­hän­gi­ge Fil­me­ma­cher Macht zu kon­trol­lie­ren, wie ihre Ar­beit ver­teilt und ver­kauft on­line und nut­zen Sie wei­te­re In­for­ma­tio­nen über Film­pro­duk­ti­on.

Schreibe einen Kommentar

Deine E-Mail-Adresse wird nicht veröffentlicht. Erforderliche Felder sind mit * markiert.