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FireflyNathan Town (creator of the mosquito) - Browncoat Alliance Interview
Monday 17 October 2005, by Webmaster
Here is the interview with Nathan Town, the creator of Mosquito
1. What was the total budget for the whole production? It looked superb for what little (presumably) was spent on it.
NT: I didn’t really write up a budget for this project as it was done pretty seat of the pants. The only things I remember spending any money on were food, some exceedingly cheap toys, and gas which all together probably never even broke $300 Canadian. Still, I already have my own camera (Canon XL1), tape, lights, and editing goodies so a proper budget would have to include items like that. All of the crew, talent, and locations were also free, which should point out to any aspiring amateur filmmakers the benefits of being a kiss ass.
2. How did you cast the crew? Was it drawn from your immediate circle of friends, actual artists who were fans of the show, from the local browncoat community or from adverts put up?
NT: I wrote the script with specific friends in mind for each of the roles. I had at least some idea of their acting talents and what they would be comfortable with. I was thrilled when they all agreed to take part. Especially since some of them were only friends of friends at the time, and if they weren’t familiar with Firefly the project felt like a hard pitch to sell. If we weren’t already good friends before, we certainly all are now.
3. How well received was this production amongst those who saw it? Did you get an idea of who it managed to reach? (eg. Browncoats, non-browncoats, short film reviewers)
NT: Mosquito is pretty specifically geared towards Browncoats. So much of the humor is made up of jokes that only a fan of the show would get. The reaction seems to be directly related to the fanbase of the audience. When I showed it to my family it got some polite chuckles. An audience of the cast, crew, and all our friends was much more positive. The ballroom of Browncoats before the Serenity panel at DragonCon. well, it wasn’t going to get any better than that. All the feedback I’ve gotten on the net has been great, but I have to assume those are the Browncaots it was made for.
4. Apart from Dragoncon and your own website, have you considered putting this production on short film sites like iFilm.com or atomfilms.com to get a wider release?
NT: I hadn’t actually. As Kevin Bachelder of the Signal would be quick to point out, I’m a lousy self promoter. This project was a fan film, so it’s almost impossible not to think of it as Joss’ work. It was also something I wanted to share with the people who would really get it (rather than politely chuckle), so getting the word out through fansites seemed to be the way to go.
5. Did you know that the Sci-Fi channel show "Tripping the Rift" started as a single amateur short film exercise that was surprisingly well done and found an audience? Would you do a show if you had this much interest and had the resources available?
NT: Heh. No. Although Mosquito was a BOATLOAD of fun to make, and I absolutely love every step of the video production process, this was definitely designed as a oneshot. The only reason for this is one of creativity. While making Mosquito several of us learned or improved or got involved so much that we’re dying to take a crack at something bigger and better. Even though it was only made back in the summer, we already know we’re capable of so much more. It’s an intoxicating idea to see the kind of production we can put together with next to no money. Mosquito was clearly a product of fan appreciation. However, to do another like it would just feel like riding on Joss’ coat tails.
6. Has any of the Firefly cast or crew seen this production? If they did then what did they think of it?
NT: I’m not completely sure of the legal complexities, but it’s not really a good idea for a professional in a creative industry to associate themselves with any sort of unofficial project. I don’t think any of them can even admit that they’ve seen it. Copyright law is serious and dangerous stuff. You just can’t take any chances. I gave Adam, Ron, Moreena, and Jewel copies of the DVD when I was at DragonCon. It’s also been all over most of the fan sites. I just sort of assume that any of them that were at all interested have seen it, and hope they got a kick out of it. Truth be told, the fact that I haven’t go my ass sued off is more than enough feedback.
7. You had an obvious love for Firefly in how cannily you chose which parts to sendup, in particular the show opener trailer. Was it as difficult as it looked to get the video inserts and static graphic overlays so spot on?
NT: That’s a tough question to answer. Was it tough? Yeah. Getting the graphics as close as I could with what I had was especially hard as I’d never really done that sort of thing before (though I had a lot of help). I probably spent way more time and energy on the show opener than anything else, but for me it was also the very best part of the whole project. As a storyteller I’m absolutely nuts about editing. I could edit all day long. Just hook me up to an IV. I knew the show opener would be the most important part so I pre-planned the heck out of it. I storyboarded the real Firefly opening and set to work copying it. The biggest day of our shoot, my wife Sandra had the storyboards and took similar stills of the actors when they weren’t in the scene. I had a pretty good idea of the clips I wanted to use ahead of time. The night I put together the rough draft to the original theme music it just seemed to work perfectly, though I know I was down here in front of this computer most of the night. I think I woke Sandra up at 3AM to make her watch it. As a side note, when I first slapped it all together, Trish’s little hair twirl ended up being perfectly in time with the engine ’whoosh’ from the main theme. I nearly bust a gut laughing at that (strange things seem funny at 3AM) and had to do something similar with our music.
8. What was that funny looking (bee-hive?) space station that exploded in your trailer?
NT: I’m not really sure. It was about two hours away from when the finished product HAD to be in the mail to Atlanta for DragonCon when Bob Green (the CG guy) sent me a last minute thing that an associate of his (Curtis Wachs) had done. It was the explosion clip, and I made damn sure I took the time to put it in there. In a no budget project like this, every second of CG increases the quality and credibility in a HUGE way and if someone’s taken that kind of time and effort to help you out... well, you get the idea. It’s a great shot, but I couldn’t say what the deal is with the space station.
9. Will you release the Ballad of Mosquito on MP3 for download?
NT:Um. sure. Never thought that folks might want it. It is kind of a funny little number, though. You’d be amazed how much the fiddle adds to the final product. All the music was amazing (especially since I only gave them a weekend to do it all in).
10. Would you submit this one as a Cannes Short Film entry?
NT: I don’t think so. The next one? Definitely. I told myself I wasn’t going to use Mosquito to promote it, but the next one is going to be a gooder.
11. How did you enjoy the walking tour of downtown Atlanta that Les(Howard)* treated you and your wife and Kari(Haley)* to.
NT: Poor Les. He’s taken so much crap over that. I gotta say (and I know Sandra agrees with me) that it was a blast to hang out with Les, Kari, and Kevin that weekend. If you haven’t listened to the Signal podcast, quit pretending you’re a Browncoat. DragonCon was the first convention we’d ever been to, and it was great to be able to make friends like those three. It’s hard to explain without sounding all mushy. Anyway, even though I’ve teased the hell out of Les for this, I still had a good time wandering around Atlanta with all of them. We were getting to know each other, taking a fresh air break from the con, and we even made it to an open restaurant. eventually.
Thanks for all your questions. If you have any others, just post them here on the Browncoat Alliance and I’ll be sure to answer them.