BACKSTAGE

18 06 2011

Ragged Isle

Sound Carries on the Water…

Whoever thinks Maine isn’t haunted, should take their assumption under a serious reconsideration-Ragged Isle has arrived and proves all skeptics wrong.

This new dashing web film project leaves a feel of an unpredictable mystery that slowly unfolds during an average of eight minutes of each episode.

The series draws you in as a young journalist named Vicky Burke accepts a position in a small newspaper nowhere else but on an infamous secluded island that has a rather chilling aura about it.

Odd stuff happens and before she knows it she becomes a participant, being pulled into a murder investigation that makes everyone on the island uncomfortable.

It wouldn’t be too bad, but the pressure is rising as secrets of the past come to surface, and the key that will unlock the truth seems to be kept in the island’s part that’s been off limits. Till now.

For the new column of CSReview, THE HUB, Camilla Stein talked to Barry Dodd, the director of Ragged Isle, and here’s what he had to say.

CS: Welcome to Camilla Stein Review, Barry. Behind every filming project is always a story of how it all began. Let’s talk about your recent ambition, Ragged Isle. How was this project born?

Barry Dodd: Thanks for the interview, Camilla!  Long story short, Ragged Isle was born from a previous project that our company The Entertainment Experiment produced years ago called Criehaven.  It was an entry into a soap opera web video contest sponsored by SoapNet.  Our video was inspired by the classic 60s soap opera Dark Shadows and our idea of what a modern soap that combined elements of the supernatural might be like. It was a blast to do. We made it to the finals but ultimately lost out to a more traditional entry. The basic idea stuck with me (a remote Maine island, murder mystery, spooky atmosphere) over the years, and eventually my wife and creative partner Karen and I decided to revisit the concept as a self produced web series.  We brought in a talented group of writers to help flesh out the concept and together, Ragged Isle was born.

CS: The very first feature of the series that drew me in right away was the music-a very sensual guitar! Three Qs-who, what, why?

Barry Dodd:  Do you mean the first track in the first episode? 

CS: Yes, the opening theme.

Barry Dodd: That’s called Mansions 2 by the band Selbyville.  They have a few of their songs in our series. I love that one and knew the first time I heard it that it was exactly how I wanted Ragged Isle to start. It’s upbeat to begin but slowly becomes darker as it progresses and it just fits perfectly with the transitions from Vicki’s former life to the one she will be living on that lonely island. I’ll tell you, we’ve got a tremendous amount of talented Maine musicians involved in Ragged Isle. Many of them are also actors in our series.  The music adds so much to the overall atmosphere of our show. I’m glad you noticed it. The soundtrack will be available on Entertainment Experiment Records.

CS: The series is shot against an amazing panorama, highlighting Maine’s mysterious aura. Was the choice of location for filming Ragged Isle obvious to you as director?

Barry Dodd:  Certain spots, we knew right away where we wanted to shoot. Others took some real effort to find. We spent a lot of time scouting locations all over Maine to get just the right feel. Then you have to secure permission to shoot there during tourist season! I hope that in the end we give the impression that it’s all on this one island but in truth there are many miles between those exterior scenes. It was a really fun way to explore our home state and see places I had never been to before and definitely one of the highlights of producing season one. I’m looking forward to finding new places to explore and share with our viewers for season 2 and 3 this summer.

CS: Ragged Isle has a wonderful crew. You’ve spoken highly of their collective investment into the making of this series. When doing auditions, what were you looking for as primary-the exact representation of your vision for each particular role, actors’ ability to work together, something in between, or did you have your own custom approach to casting for Ragged Isle?

Barry Dodd:  Thank you! We have such a fantastic ensemble cast and I am so happy to have them on the island with us. There was really no set formula for bringing in actors to the show. Some actors we invited in from our earlier Criehaven project.  Rick Dalton (Sheriff Dalton), Meghan Benton (Vicki Burke), Ian Carlsen (Paul Soucey), Erik Moody (Deputy Dan), and Sebastian Carlsen (Seebass the comic genius) were all a part of that and I knew that I wanted them on board for Ragged Isle.  It was fun to write parts with them in mind. We cast two actors from a traditional audition (full disclosure, we only had 2 show up!)  Others were seasoned actor friends and some first time actors whom we felt would be fun and interesting to work with and were, bless their hearts, willing to commit to our project. They brought a lot to the table too. So far, casting for seasons 2 and 3 has been completely different! We’ve had lots of genuine interest from local actors who want to be a part of this adventure. It’s really nice to have that luxury and I look forward to finding just the right mix of new victims…I mean um…characters to ferry in to the island for chuckles and some lobster in the summer sun. I can assure you-no mysterious deaths this time around.

CS: Describe in one word working on the set with the crew of Ragged Isle.

Barry Dodd: Amazacrazyjoyfullofuntasticallyintensesensational!

CS: Lovely! Speaking of pros and cons of independent film making, how would you define the most challenging aspect of this production?

Barry Dodd:  In a project of this scope and with the limitations we had, each step of the process from writing, on through to exporting the finished product to the web is riddled with challenges. Luckily, most of them are fun challenges. If you don’t in some way enjoy a good challenge then you probably shouldn’t attempt something like this.  Having said that, the ones I lose my patience with the quickest involve rendering times and uploading times. Anything where I am at the mercy of technology and left pacing the room. I’m sure Karen, who is our executive producer, would say that scheduling was a nightmare as we had such a giant cast and so many locations. She’s amazing. I have no idea how she pulled all that off or why she would agree to do it again this summer. I nominate her for video sainthood.

CS: That should be written into the Academy Awards. Now, tell us what the future holds for Ragged Isle. You’ve just begun filming two more seasons. What are your expectations upon completion of the series?

Barry Dodd:  The scripts are being finished right now and we’re still casting at the moment but shooting is right around the corner and I am very excited to get back to work with the actors and watch them dig even deeper into their roles while we reveal all the secrets of the island. My biggest hope is that viewers will stick around to find out how it all ends. Along the way, I hope we can capture our audience’s imagination, deliver some thrills, and maybe even break a few hearts before it’s all over. You know what? Now that I’m thinking about it, maybe another cool thing would be for some really awesome investor to come along and help me buy an island where I can set up a Ragged Isle theme park. You’d come, right? 

CS: You bet! And I have friends in Maine and worldwide who’d love a spooky get away. Thank you for talking to CSReview, Barry. Looking forward to new seasons of Ragged Isle!

Barry Dodd:  Thanks for sharing Ragged Isle with your readers, Camilla. I hope they check us out and get caught up in the mystery.  See you on the island!  

 Copyright Camilla Stein ©2011. All rights reserved.

In the mood for a murder mystery soap with a non-nagging tint?

Check out Ragged Isle! Ten episodes of Season 1 

Watch directly on the site! 

 C A M I L L A  S T E I N  S C I E N C E  F I C T I O N

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