Justin Chambers, Travis Laidlaw, Ben Robinson | Darkland

What do you get when three creatives decide to take on their next project? Darkland. A web series created by Justin Chambers, Travis Laidlaw and Ben Robinson. Currently going through Phase One of IPF, the trailer is eerie in all of the right ways and will leave you begging for more. Check out the interview with the trio below (replies are a combination of all three creatives) and be sure to like, share and watch their trailer!

netTVnow: Before we get into the trailer, can you each share a bit of your background in the industry? Have any of you worked with web series before?

Ben Robinson: I work primarily as a commercial producer to pay the bills but my heart lies in writing, producing, and directing narrative content.

Travis Laidlaw: I’m a director and VFX guy.  I also write obsessively and edit our projects. I do a lot of design and vfx working for BellMedia as my day job.  Justin and I also run our production company ‘Ethereum Films’ and our equipment rental company ‘Epic Toronto’ together. This is my first stab at a web series.

Justin Chambers: I’ve been a Cinematographer/DOP for 10 years now, but I’ve been producing for the past 6 years as well. I’m also an Electric Member with IATSE 873. This will be my first foray into web series.

NTN: Tell me about your series Darklandand what each of your roles are for the series?

Darkland is the love child of Travis’ extensive list of ideas that he keeps on his phone, combined with a number of twisted ideas Ben has pitched to Justin over the past two years. It finally just made sense to get the three of us in a room together and start seeing how we can make these thoughts and fragments blend into something coherent and creative. We’ll all be producing, writing and directing throughout the series. We like to wear many hats.

NTN: Without spoiling too much, what are some overarching themes you’ll be exploring in the series?

Oh, there are some deep things that we can’t get into here – you’ll have to watch to figure that stuff out. But what we can say is that there will be serious themes of horror and sci-fi throughout. Just think of it this way, Darkland is a place where everything we take for granted in this world is thrown out the window. Rules are flipped on their heads and the unexpected becomes commonplace. Anything that can be imagined, can be, in Darkland.  

NTN: Darkland seems to have a bit of a Black Mirror vibe, what are you hoping audiences takeaway from the series?

We can see how Black Mirror jumps out as it’s so popular right now. The thing with Black Mirror is that they’re really focused on technology and its effect on people and society both individually and as a whole. We don’t see ourselves trying to make any specific social commentary at the moment. To us, Darkland harkens back more towards The Twilight Zone; strange unbelievable stories, dealing with monsters, ghosts and the generally weird and unusual. We want Darkland to be a fun trip, and not take itself too seriously. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be some downright freaky and disturbing stuff. Anticipate some shocks for sure.

NTN: Your IPF trailer is amazing and immediately grabs the audience’s attention, where did the concept for the series come from?

Well with Travis’ list of ideas, we had been thinking of trying to do something as an anthology for a while. We knew it would revolve around sci-fi and horror concepts as that made up the bulk of our notes and interest. It seemed to be the most fun and open world of storytelling to explore. Lots of the ideas had great setups, or strange characters or environments, but weren’t necessarily something that could fill a feature film or series on its own. 

Anthology web series just fit perfectly. When we finally got serious about it, we brought Ben in as well as he had some solid concepts and really speaks the same language as us. Travis tends to name things very hastily with a super basic title while writing so that he can easily find it on his phone. Darkland was one of those titles. It was never meant to stick around but after time it sort of just took hold and we grew to love it. It became a thing. Initially our stories were meant to be completely individual to themselves, but as we started pitching all of our ideas to one another we started to realize that Darkland didn’t have to just be a title under which we’d make our random scary or weird stories, but could actually be its own universe, with its own rules and internal continuity. 

NTN: Is this your first time going through IPF? How has the process been for you so far?

This is our first time, its been interesting. A little nerve-wracking somedays, but ultimately the quest has been fun. We heard about IPF a couple years ago and know a few people who have gone through the process, both successfully and not. 

NTN: Can you talk about the importance of having an organization like IPF available to you as creators?

Well as anyone in the arts knows, funding is your number one stumbling block. So the importance of any type of investor – especially someone who is as transparent and readily available as IPF, well you just can’t put a value on that. At the end, it at least allows someone to make something that realistically, they probably wouldn’t be able to. The biggest hurdle is knocked down for you and you can let the creative do its thing.

NTN: What do you love most about the web series community?

While we’re still getting our feet wet, we have noticed that there does seem to be a really positive, supporting community here. It’s nice to see that even though everyone is ultimately in it to get their own show picked up, they also acknowledge other quality work. That’s always great to be a part of. There is also a great direct connection to audiences in the web series community. Fans interact with web creators more directly through comments and social media and can actually have a direct impact on the way a series develops, assuming the creators listen to their audiences, and that’s fantastic.

NTN: Where do you hope the web series community will be in the next few years?

Hopefully still on the web, with a bit more power!

NTN: Any other upcoming projects for you guys?

We have a short film called Dead House which should be coming out in the next few months. Just wrapping up post on that now.  Lot’s more in the works but too early to talk about any of them!

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