‘Ian’ has a unique premise that feels strangely familiar. It’s simple, relevant pop culturally, and written in that slick stand-alone-format that the web has come to love.
As I write more and more of these articles I start to feel like the things I see as strengths are really the flip side of weaknesses, and usually that goes the other way as well. For Ian those attributes I described in the first sentence are all strengths, yet I think I’m about to spend the rest of the article making them sound like they are weaknesses.
This column always tows the line between looking at things from a marketing, business, left brain perspective, versus my highly critical, artistic right brain. As filmmakers and web pioneers I think we all go through the same process. There is an idea in our heads of the perfect film, yet few of us ever imagine actually making it. We make do with what we have, what we can accomplish and what sells.
Ian seems like the easy pitch. It’s about an extremely socially awkward mid twenties virgin who escapes social situations through his ultra nerdy daydream like fantasies. Every episode is centered around a single daydream, and for all the film buffs in the crowd there is always a good spoof at the core of it. Spoofs range from kung foo films, film noir, westerns to Broadway musicals (where creator Ross Evan’s makes his rent money).
The show had me hooked on the execution of this premise alone, yet my favorite episode is the last one, because that’s the first place we begin to see any real character depth beyond the cliché in the story’s premise. It’s clear to me now, sitting at my desk, sweating profusely due to lack of air conditioning, that Ian is at it’s best when character and story take center stage.
This goes for just about every series, and I think most creators get a very common piece of feedback, and that’s “I wish it was longer” or “I wish there was more.” This is probably the best criticism you can get as a creator but it’s also important to recognize that it is a critique. Everyone wants more – the question is what is the trade off?
If we go out and assume that more time and money isn’t on the table then we start talking about changing what is already there. It would mean compromising the high concept standalone nature of video. It would mean disrupting the efficiency of the production process, which means we end up with potentially less content. So I don’t have an answer for this. I can only say that ‘Ian’ is a lot of fun, highly enjoyable but short on story and character development for my tastes.
This should play really well at web series festivals, and for anyone who gets the chance to catch a single solitary episode. This is a pretty solid arrow in the quiver of Stage17 (this is not a reference to the Hunger Games) which is starting to build a small collection of quality shows marketed towards the Broadway community in New York. It will be interesting to see how they grow and if people will be able to catch on to the brand quality, a la Frostbite Pictures.
I also wanted to talk briefly about the spoofs in the show. I thought spoofing different film genres was great, and definitely will appeal to film fans like myself. Moving forward, if there are to be more “Ian’ episodes I think it might be wise to spoof very specific films a little more directly. I mean, I’m pretty sure everyone would watch an ‘Ian’ ‘Hunger Games’ spoof… right (now that was a reference to the Hunger Games)? That stuff is popular and not too far of a stretch. Food for thought.
So go and give ‘Ian’ a shot and see if it’s your thing. If I know the type of people who read this blog I think I can safely say that this is right up your alley. It can be found on the Stage17 website, http://stage17.tv/series/ian