Writer Robin Bell on growing Twisted Showcase as it prepares for its biggest and most horrifying series yet.
Created in 2012 by Wrexham based writer Robin Bell, Twisted Showcase is a web show that mixes self-contained horror, sci-fi, psychological thriller and comedy. The anthology series has already been recognised in The Guardian’s top 25 must watch web shows, the only independent British show to be included.
Headline actors have included Red Dwarf’s Norman Lovett and Torchwood's Gareth David Lloyd who will be returning to make his directorial debut for series four. BAFTA winning Film and TV writer Debbie Moon has also written a script for the new series.
We caught up with Robin as the crowdfunding campaign for season 4 was launched.
For those who haven't yet seen the show, tell us a bit about Twisted Showcase.
An anthology of all things odd, unrestricted by genre, but binded by tone and themes which investigate modern anxieties. Twisted Showcase offers its audience everything and each episode you don't know what you're going to get, which I find an exciting prospect, Hopefully our audience do to. We have featured actors from Torchwood, Red Dwarf and Doctor Who, and have even more surprises in the forthcoming series.
What are the influences?
Everything I watch/read will seep into being an influence I'm sure. Obviously stuff like The Twilight Zone, Tales of the Unexpected and Thriller form the anthology basis. I've also been inspired by lots of writers, particularly Debbie Moon who has written an episode for Series 4.
Where do you find your story ideas?
A lot of Twisted Showcase comes from exaggerating worries/fears/anxieties till they become almost surreal. Like in Payback where debt turns into someone taking a chainsaw to your neck, and Toilet Soup where a disagreement online ends up in feeding unsuspecting people a vile concoction.
It's different for each episode though, it could be disparate ideas coming together or wanting to subvert an empowering genre with a downbeat and twisted feel.
What scares you?
How long do you have? Everything is terrifying isn't it. You could die crossing the road. You could even die stretching in the morning or during your sleep. Seems that death is something that scares me, or death before I get all these ideas out of me.
I think it's how you handle everything scary which is interesting though and that's what Twisted Showcase allows us to explore. The show seems to encapsulate fear, but in an entertaining way which hopefully makes you think but doesn't leave any lasting psychological trauma. If you're watching the show you probably have enough problems already, Ha!
How difficult is it getting a web series off the ground?
I think a lot of people find it difficult to commit to following their dreams.. Before you do there's potential to be as good as you can imagine, You can sit in front of the TV saying "I can do better than that" but when you commit to pursuing that dream there's nothing to hide behind. With my writing every year I'd realise how much more I've got to learn. And every year of pursuing it, taking less paid working hours to allow more time to do this, it becomes harder to just get by. The sacrifices mount up.
Making the series bigger every year is also difficult. What would be the point in doing more if it didn't grow, but going alone with growing something like this is increasingly difficult. I'm still amazed at how far Twisted Showcase has come, from fumbling through our early films with a half broken camera and a crew of two, to seeing brilliant, respected actors making their directorial debut in our series and working with scripts written by BAFTA winning writers. With every series our ambition has definitely grown, while retaining our trademark of psychological terror within the confines of a small budget.
What advice would you give others who might want to start their own webseries?
Ask yourself truthfully if you really want to do it. If you can find an excuse why you shouldn't then deep down you probably don't want to. If you can find a way to overcome all of those excuses then you have to go for it.
I'm making it sound like a dark path, but there's so much fun in creating your own stories then seeing them come to life and other peoples reactions to them. The hard work is worth it.
What treats lie in store for this season of Twisted Showcase?
I think this year I've managed to do something I'd not in previous seasons. The stories seem larger in scope, and it's not because we're adding loads of explosions and special effects it's just they're more imaginative. Maybe we've plunged further within the genres we're exploring. It's probably a bit more sci fi, a bit more weird. I wouldn't say it's darker, but there's more depth. Which makes it seem darker, I suppose.
But what you really want to know is who's involved, right? I'm really excited by the fact that not only is Gareth David Lloyd joining us again to star in an episode entitled Be My Head but he is also making his directorial debut with the episode, Just hearing his ideas for what he's going to do with my script is exciting so I can't even imagine how great it's going to look. Our maddest episode yet.
Equally exciting is a BAFTA winning writer is now part of Twisted Showcase, as Debbie Moon, creator of the superb Wolfblood, delivers a beautiful episode called Muscle Memory. I mean beautiful in it's pure horror.
You've launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund this season. How can people get involved?
To achieve all of this we need the word to get out there, and raise our budget through our Kickstarter campaign, there are behind the scenes rewards and signed pictures of Gareth David Lloyd up for grabs, as well as loads more, but the biggest reward will be seeing this series become a reality.
People can visit the Kickstarter page here and help us make this season bigger and better than ever.
The Twisted Showcase Kickstarter campaign closes on the 9th November. To find out more about Twisted Showcase visit the website for all the latest news and to view all the previous episodes. http://www.twistedshowcase.com/