Filmmaker Ben Rock (Alien Raiders, The Blair Witch Project) recently released a brand new webseries entitled 20 Seconds to Live which, as you may have guessed from the title, will feature someone meeting their untimely demise but in some truly unique ways. The first episode is already available here and the next installment of 20 Seconds to Live arrives this Friday.
Daily Dead chatted briefly with Rock about the series, teaming up with Adam Green and ArieScope for their release, and what fans can expect from future episodes.
Let’s start at the beginning—how did the series come about?
Ben Rock: Bob DeRosa is an outrageously accomplished writer for film and television, and he and I also do a lot of fun small theater projects together, mostly at Sacred Fools (where you came to see Baal five years ago and Taste last year). And when we put up one of our smaller theater projects—often for the ongoing show at Sacred Fools called Serial Killers, we would sometimes express to one another that we should put this kind of effort into a film project so we had something we could send out to a wider audience. We're both big fans of anthology series, and one day the idea popped up—what if we had a series where every episode ended with someone dying? The rest of the piece could be any genre or subgenre—romance, sci-fi, slapstick, whatever—but the audience knows that somebody is going to die by the end. We started pitching each other concepts and pretty quickly we had a bunch. We reached out to Cat Pasciak, who was in the middle of production on Atari: Game Over at the time, and asked her if she'd like to come play with us and this weird concept.
We shot one of them (it will be the third episode, called "Climax"), because we thought it was simple enough to tackle with a small crew and when we cut it together we were pleasantly surprised. So we kept going until we had five of them.
Once we were done with the first five, we didn't quite know what to do with them. And then on Adam Green and Joe Lynch's podcast The Movie Crypt, Adam was asked by a guest if he'd ever have other filmmakers bring him content for ariescope.com and he basically said he'd be interested if that could happen. I've known Adam for a few years now, so I emailed him about his possible interest in releasing 20 Seconds to Live. It really worked out because he was looking for another series to pick up after his last episode of Adam Green's Scary Sleepover, and he encouraged us to make a couple more episodes and he's currently helping us produce them. Honestly, I can't think of a better place for this idea to end up online than ArieScope.
The tone of the first short is really fun—is this what we can expect from future episodes or are you guys going to mix things up a bit?
Ben Rock: Every episode is a different idea, often within a different genre or subgenre and a totally different cast. So the seven in this season run the gamut from semi-straight drama to supernatural to dark comedy. The first episode goes about as far wrong as we could make it go, but that was the one thing we discovered we liked the most about these as we went along besides a decent twist—just that there's something that's just WRONG in each of them.
Even though these are individual shorts, it really feels like this concept would work well as an anthology too. Once they’re all released, do you think that could be a possibility? Were there classic anthologies that inspired you guys?
Ben Rock: We totally see this as an anthology concept and we hope we can get enough interest to justify a second season of them. We already have a few scripts we think would be fun in a second season, ones which push the basic concept in different directions once we have an audience that understands the basic premise.
Bob and I often talk about our love for anthologies including the obvious stuff like The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and obviously Tales from the Crypt. One nobody talks about anymore but we both loved as kids was The Hitchhiker on HBO. And there's no way to overstate our love for Black Mirror, which is changing the world of the anthology right now in exciting and unexpected ways. Bob actually turned me on to that and now I'm hooked.
Can you tease a little of what is coming up in future episodes? I noticed that Derek Mears is featured in episode two—will there be more notable faces popping up too?
Ben Rock: We released a trailer that has clips of all the episodes. Derek is in episode 2, which involves the tricky difficulties of demon-summoning. As you probably know, Derek's one of the most generous and fun people you could ever want to work with. In episode 4, Graham Skipper (Almost Human, Re-Animator: The Musical, The Mind's Eye) makes an appearance as a magician who has to deal with a truly obnoxious heckler. We also have an episode about a defibrillation gone horribly awry, a tale of an overzealous lover, one about a kidnapping, and one about an evil doll.
For more on 20 Seconds to Live, be sure to check out the official webseries page: