Friday, April 15, 2011

Episode Six... and behind-the-scenes writer's commentary

"Ragged Isle" episode six is up. After you watch, read through to the rest of the post for a behind-the-scenes perspective from the head writer.

The rest of this post will be some behind-the-scenes insights into the episode. WARNING: There will be spoilers for episode six from here on out, so don't read any further if you haven't seen it.

The fallout from last week's bloody discovery is felt this week as two parallel investigations heat up. This was a concept we talked about very early on in the writers group (Barry Dodd, Karen Dodd, Rick Dalton, Jake Lear, and myself), the idea of different characters conducting different investigations that attack the mystery from different directions.

It was important to me that nobody leap to a supernatural explanation (and, to avoid heavy spoilers here, the actual explanation, which we will eventually reveal, may or may not be supernatural). Law enforcement officers, when faced with unexplainable deaths such as these, would assume the crimes were of rational, natural-world origins.

In the movie Christine, Harry Dean Stanton plays a detective investigating a series of vehicular homicides. In one scene, he questions the protagonist, who owns the titular demonic car. His questions are aggressive and pointed, all subtextually suggesting that the car in question has magical properties. But at that point in the movie, it made no sense for the detective to even consider that possibility. I absolutely wanted to avoid anything like that. Our characters are rational.

When we began this project, the conventional wisdom among web series enthusiasts was that individual episodes should be no longer than five or six minutes, that the average online attention span did not have enough stamina to support anything longer. We were very nervous when the pilot timed out over ten minutes long.

But here's what we've learned since the series launched: Ragged Isle fans like the longer episodes, and complain that our shorter episodes (like this one) are too short. The moral here (I think) is that if you've got a compelling story well told, your audience will have the patience to stick with it.

Consider that lesson learned as we gear up to shoot Season Two.

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