An impressive Web Series has been produced in the unlikeliest of places. In the heart of the Missouri Ozarks, a region known for its picturesque ancient mountain ranges (one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, and some of the tallest when measured from depth of valley to peak of the summit), and Branson, “The Live Music Capital of the Universe,” Shadow Bound, a five episode horror web series done in the style of a 1920’s black and white silent horror film, produced in Springfield, Missouri, has been steadily gaining popularity. So much so, that it has just been nominated for an IAWTV award for best cinematography.
IAWTV stands for, “International Academy of Web Television,” and this awards ceremony is often referred to as the, “Academy Awards for Web TV.” It was organized in 2008, and membership is by invitation only. Nathan Shelton is the Creator of Shadow Bound, and also designed the makeup, among many, many other things. When asked about the genesis of Shadow Bound, he says,
“It started as a nightmare that I had back in college around 2003. I thought that the nightmare could be a scene from a story… I sat on the idea for years and little by little a premise came. Then I began to develop the story as a feature film. I loved the idea of trying to tell a story that is primarily visual and completely terrifying. I am a very dialogue heavy writer, and I really wanted to push myself as an artist to create something powerful without too much dialogue, which for me is VERY DIFFICULT. So Shadow Bound was born as an untitled feature film outline. With the rise of independent web series, I thought, ‘What an even better way to actually get this thing made and into peoples homes!’ So I broke the story down, retooled a few things, and transformed it into the current incarnation of Shadow Bound. The five episodes practically wrote themselves.”
Heavily influenced by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Shadow Bound follows pulp fiction writer Jack Pickman, as he returns to his hometown of Veritas to bury his father after his apparent suicide. Jack finds his brother is an inmate in the local asylum, and with the help of some childhood friends, Jack sets out to solve the mystery of his fathers death. What he uncovers is a horrific conspiracy to bring about the return of an ancient and insidious evil looming in the shadows that threatens not just the small community of Veritas, but all of humanity.
Shelton says one of the most impressive things about the production was the fact that they were able to complete principal photography mainly on the weekends, and around his recent move to Chicago, so they were able to film a full length feature film in six weeks…on the weekends. Arguably the biggest obstacle though, was the fact that this was a silent film project.
“The primary obstacle of course is telling the story with no sound and dialogue. We rely heavily on the wonderful score by Bryan Arata and the visual compositions that were created by our various directors and our cinematographer, Dan Smiley and his team. This was also a blessing as we could shoot without worrying about recording sound and having real ‘Quiet on set.'”
One might wonder why Shelton chose to film this web series as a silent film, something many people might consider archaic and terribly outdated. Who can remember the last major cinematic project done in the silent medium, outside of 2011’s Oscar Award winning, “The Artist?” When asked why he decided on a silent film project, Shelton says,
“There are multiple reasons I wanted to do a silent film. Personally, I just wanted to push myself as an artist to tell a story visually. But as I began to delve into this, I realized that a silent black and white period piece that is also a horror story is a perfect way to showcase what horror should be. Horror, as with any kind speculative fiction requires more from an audience. It cannot be passively viewed. An audience must engage more of themselves and actively witness the narrative. True horror does that. It sucks an audience in and makes them feel something strong. True horror is the notion that the characters may not make it out alive and even if they did… would they really want to go on living?”
The IAWTV awards will be held on January 7, 2014 at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The epic finale of Shadow Bound goes online Thursday, December 26, at 8 p.m. You can catch up on episodes I-IV by going to www.shadowboundseries.com. There is also a YouTube channel that can be accessed by going to YouTube and searching for Shadow Bound. There is also a Facebook page for up to date news on the project, www.facebook.com/shadowboundseries.
In the next installment, there will be discussion about some of the obstacles to making a period piece, in a modern city, on a shoestring budget. See you in the shadows…