You may not know who Robert Chapin is, but I can bet you’ve seen him or at least seen his work. Robert has been featured in “Hook” and “Army of Darkness” and has done visual effects for films such as “X-Men II” and “The Chronicles of Riddick”. Mr. Chapin is an actor, stunt coordinator, and fantastic swordsman who has created his own online horror series called, ” The Hunted.”Think of The Hunted as Highlander and/or Buffy the Vampire Slayer being filmed by the crew from FOX’s COPS. Then add in a couple scoops of comedy and you have a funny butt kicking, vampire fiesta. The first season of the show looked as if it was trying to find a voice, but the second season really delivers on both a great amount of action and comedy. It was a refreshing spin on the Vampire mythos.
Fan Film Follies and The Comic Book Bin are both proud to introduce you to another regular feature as we talk to the people who create these fine -Fan Film- offerings! This month let us talk to Robert Chapin about his great internet offering!
Fan Film Follies (through Christopher Moshier): My dog threw up this morning. He just didn’t throw up in a couple spots he threw up in a span of the bedroom door to the bedroom bed. After mowing the lawn and cleaning my office all day I had to tackle the bedroom.
Why the hell am I telling you this?
I watched “The Hunted” season 1 & 2 between shampooing and cleaning the carpet. I thought I would share that tender moment with you.
ROBERT CHAPIN: Hmm. I wonder how that came to mind. Let’s see, what can I do whilst I clean up dog vomit? Perhaps there’s a marketing strategy I hadn’t thought of…
FFF: First I treated the carpet then watched season #1 and your incite into that season. Then I steamed the carpet then watched season #2 and your incite into that season while waiting for it to dry. So my day was lawn, cleaning vomit, and “The Hunted”. You must feel a special internal fuzzy knowing this!
RC: Something internal. Not sure if I would call it fuzzy.
FFF: I must say I didn’t get it first season out. I really didn’t get the show until the first episode of season 2 (The Stalker). Pretty funny stuff. Season 1 to me seemed like a bunch of friends going out and filming like I used to do with my high school buddies years ago (of course without swords). But season 2 clunked me over the head enough to “get” the show or maybe it was the fumes from the carpet cleaner! I’ll have to re-watch the first season now.
RC: These episodes were meant to get our feet wet before we shot the pilot episode which explains everything. Unfortunately, more episodes presented themselves and after 16 episodes I still have yet to shoot the pilot.
FFF: I’ve read the interviews on the Hunted site about you and really don’t want to rehash questions that others have asked.
RC: Fire away.
FFF: Is it Chapin like chapped lips or Chapin like Chopin?
RC: Chapin like as in Harry Chapin – actually a distant relative.
FFF: Should we address you as ‘Dr. Bob’ Chapin?
RC: I see someone has been looking at IMDB. Dr. Bob was a high school nickname which I used on “Armageddon.” Not sure if anyone from my high school actually saw it.
FFF: This struck me while you were driving and late for a vampire appointment in the episode “Rendezvous”. The “405”!?! I picked up on this immediately being an online movie fan. I take it you were talking about this 405 The Movie.
RC: I was hoping someone would pick that up – especially since it’s a breakthrough film when it comes to internet content.
FFF: I understand there is a new “cable” channel coming along called the Martial Arts entertainment group the MAC Experience. I think this would be a great venue for your show. Have you considered or even heard of this venture?
RC: Haven’t heard of it. I imagine that there’s going to be tons of channels out there soon enough – not just on cable, but on satellite, digital broadcast TV, and the internet. That’s one of the reasons I started the show. There are more channels out there than there is content.
FFF: This is going to seem bizarre, but in one of your episodes it took place at a Renaissance Festival. Do you know of Don Juan and Miguel. I have seen them many times at the Sterling, New York fair and I know Don (Jose Granados) helped form “The Ring of Steel” that was mentioned in one of your interviews so that is why I ask.
RC: I know Don Juan and Miguel from when I started swordplay back in ’82. And yes, I got my start at renaissance fairs. The show at the beginning of “Faire Warning” is a show I toured with for several years on the west coast called “The Fyne Arte of Wenching.”
FFF: OK! Enough with my silly questions! Let’s get to the meat. Normally I would ask how you came up with the concept, but you’ve answered that on other sites so I refrain.
FFF: This is how I see the concept so correct me if I’m wrong. Your character’s name is Bob (go figure) and you were bitten by a vampire, but have recovered from your blood lust in turn forming a support group for others such as yourself. In turn this group helps others by fighting off the really bad vampires in form of various guest stars.
RC: Never heard it put that way, but that’s close. Vampirism in this show is akin to alcoholism addiction, so it’s something that you never completely recover from. I actually had Jess Cail (a psychology professor) come up with a clever medical explanation which compares it to rabies.
As for our guest stars being the bad guys, I think they all wanted to be vampires.
FFF: Tell us about “Mikey”, a running gag of the show or thee gag I should say is the camera man.
RC: Many prime time shows had used this device – the character who is never seen: the next door neighbor on Home Improvement, Nile’s wife on Fraser, Karen’s Husband on Will and Grace, all the way back to the Dick Van Dyke show where we never saw his boss.
I’m not sure the character has ever been the cameraman, but everyone who has played Mikey has had a blast. Mikey serves several purposes. It allows us to break the fourth wall and talk directly to the camera, it justifies the occasional crappy camera work, and it gives us, as you say, a running gag.
FFF: The first season seemed to be taking the content seriously compared to the second season where you went the more comical route. In my opinion that works better for the format of your show. How did that transition come about?
RC: That’s pretty much the same story for every show that has survived a second season on TV. Hercules, Xena, Buffy, all got campier as the show went on. Strangely enough, the shows that start out campy such as MASH or Family Ties end up getting all serious. It became a cliché to hear the words “next week, on a very special episode of Webster.”
FFF: HA! HA! HA! Exactly!
How will the first two seasons compare to the pilot you will be putting together? As I understand it these are practice episodes to find the show’s niche. Have you found your niche and what will the pilot be about?
RC:The pilot episode introduces the world of the Hunted through the eyes of a newbie. As for how the pilot will compare with the episodes, that depends on how much money we have. I can always shoot the pilot the same way we’ve been shooting the episodes – with no money, but I’d prefer to set up a deal with a cable channel such as Sci-Fi.
I think our niche is to fill the void left by Buffy and Angel with ties to reality TV (which is somehow still going strong). I also intend the show to continue with it’s own internet content so that the cable show can support the internet show and vice-versa.
FFF: After the pilot how will the “actual” show compare to the existing Webisodes we can catch on your website?
RC: The webisodes were originally intended to be strung together to form a half-hour show (a-la Cops). Hopefully, the cable show will allow us a bigger budget, better production quality, and more room for cool effects, cameos, and more elaborate scripts.
FFF: You mentioned a crossover with Dark Commando in one of our correspondence. Can you elaborate? I think that would be awesome and beneficial for both franchises.
RC: I think it’d be cool to work together with other internet series – especially of the same genre. That way, we can cross-pollinate audiences and pool our resources. I’ve talked with the creators of both Dark Commandos and Amanda Hades about crossover episodes. I accidentally ran into Sean at Cinesite when I was working effects for X-Men 2. I’ve done several feature films, but he recognized me from The Hunted. I had actually gone so far as to write a script for the Amanda Hades crossover, but Cinesite went out of business before we could shoot it there.
FFF: “The New Guy” was a great episode. Maybe I was just in a goofy mood, but it was really funny. This episode was shot by another group. Is there an open door policy for your show? Can others make their own “The Hunted” show for your site?
RC: There’s a few pages on the site called “Join Us / Slayer Central” with information on how to shoot your own Hunted episode. There are several web shows out there doing this – having the audiences actually come up with content to support the site. The format of The Hunted makes it fairly easy to shoot your own episode. You don’t need a fancy camera or lighting, just a clever script (which I approve) and the guts to just get out there and do it. I actually do all the editing, adding foley, music, and effects.
FFF: How did the people behind “The New Guy” and “Film at 11″ get in contact with you or how do you know them/know of them?
RC: Troy Rudolph found me online and already knew some of my friends who had been shooting a show called “Mythquest” in Calgary. He wanted to shoot an episode and had some great resources including the Valentine Armouries, so we came up with a script to make it work. After editing the episode, I realized we needed narration to explain what was going on and I brought in an improv artist to become the voice of Jack Darkstalker, which added a whole new level to the silliness.
FFF: You have an impressive resume of films dabbling in fight choreographer, visual effects, and acting. Will you be adding more visual effects as you continue with The Hunted?
RC: I’m glad I didn’t get carried away with visual effects for the Hunted. The danger that most internet shows run into is that they try to shoot beyond their means – coming up with elaborate sets, props, makeup, or costumes they can’t afford. They end up running out of steam (and/or money) after just 2-3 episodes. But yea, I can’t wait to add more cool effects. People really don’t expect to see CG on reality TV.
FFF: How has your past experiences helped with producing a show among the obvious, fighting, people you know, etc and perhaps the not so obvious that I haven’t mentioned?
RC: I came up with the idea of shooting the Hunted after realizing what I really wanted to do was to start a production company. This was a great way to get my feet wet and use everything I had already learned about directing, acting, writing, fight choreography, editing, and music. It also forced me to learn more about the internet – creating the site and compressing video for the best content delivery available.
FFF: I know finding an investor is top priority and of course a necessary aspect. With all the scripts, pitches, fan films, online films, comic books etc how is The Hunted going to stand out to make someone invest in the concept
RC: I already have an investor actually. My hesitation has been finding a distributor. I’d hate to spend someone else’s money and my time producing a show which I may not be able to sell. There’s a ton of ideas and pilots out there, but like most things in Hollywood, it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with how good the concept is (look at some of the shows out there), it has to do with timing and who you know.
The beauty of this is that I don’t have to sell the show. I can keep producing episodes on the internet and wait for someone to come to us. At the moment, I believe we’re one of the longest running internet shows around. And it’s because we have no one to answer to, we don’t work beyond our means, and no one can cancel us.
There’s going to be lots more fan films out there before you know it. It’s now incredibly easy to shoot and produce your own content. At first glance, The Hunted may look like most of the other content out there (low budget home movie), but I feel that the scripts, acting, action, cameos, locations, and concept set it apart from the flood of internet films out there. As far as shows like Dark Commandoes or Amanda Hades, it’s nice to know that other folks out there are trying the same thing, but the fact that there are so few long-lasting shows gives you a clue how difficult it is.
FFF: Have you considered offering some of your better episodes to an Atom Films or an IFilms website?
RC: I’ve thought about coming up with a short specifically tailored for IFilm or Atom films, but I’ve actually avoided doing too much promotion on the site. I figured I’d eventually go all-out when I finally shot the pilot. My plan is to then pull all of the episodes offline and release them once a week interspersed with new episodes.
FFF: How will you be promoting the show?
RC: The beauty of the internet is that when you have a good product, it markets itself. Virile advertising has found this out and I’ll probably figure a way to make that work for me. In addition, I’ll probably hit up more banner advertising and cross-links along with the specialized shorts for sites like Ifilm and Atom films. I’ve thought about going to conventions, but I’ve seen other internet shows get so wrapped up in advertising that they forget about their content – which is the heart of what they’ve got to offer.
FFF: What are the most up to date happenings with The Hunted and the career of Robert Chapin?
RC: The Hunted DVD was a huge undertaking and I’m glad to finally get that out. I still have a few episodes that need editing, but I want to focus on getting the pilot done however I can. Unfortunately, I also have to make a living and I’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of work I’ve been getting as a visual effects artist and supervisor. Currently I’m supervising three shows for MTV and two independent features.
FFF: Just a comment… The Ultimate Deathmatch Workout. Funny stuff.
RC: My first leap into home editing with Premiere. It was also the beginnings of The Hunted – realizing that I could use the resources I had to start my own production company.
FFF: Thank you so much for taking the time to interview for the Comic Book Bin. I offer an invitation to any of your cast or crew for interviews for the site.
RC: Sounds cool. I’ll put it out there. Maybe one day we can entice you to shoot an episode.
You can learn a lot more about The Hunted on the official site where you can find Robert’s other interviews. Dr. Bob also has an official website at http://www.robertchapin.com.
As of this writing several of the cast of The Hunted has contacted Fan Film Follies so expect to learn more about this show and the people that make it work in the coming week.