An Interview with Daniel Iske – By Brian Morton

Last month I reviewed a new web series called The Dead Hour. Now, ordinarily, when I review any web series, I find myself a bit skeptical. Most web series tend to be a bit amateurish and very loose script-wise. Well, The Dead Hour is NOTHING like that, it’s a compelling anthology series (not unlike The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits) and each webisode has a distinctive feel and tone. I enjoyed the episodes so much that I felt like I needed to touch base with the creator of the series, Daniel Iske, about where he got the idea and what we can expect next from this amazing web series.

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BM – Daniel, thanks for taking the time.

DI – Thank you.

BM – How did you get your start in filmmaking?

DI – I started making low budget indie films right out of high school and then got my film degree from the University of Nebraska. Without ever really having much of a budget I’ve managed to complete four features, a couple shorts and two web series projects in the last 12 years.

BM – What made you decide to do The Dead Hour as a web series, instead of something like an anthology film?

DI – I’ve been interested in the whole web series avenue for some time now. I tried a different online series back in 2005 called "Evans America", that didn’t quite work out the way I wanted, but I never stopped being a believer in the possibilities that an online series could bring. I directed a horror feature in 2007 called "The Wretched" and really enjoyed working in the horror genre. But, I also wasn’t quite ready to do another feature right away so my co-creator, Scott Coleman and I came up with "The Dead Hour" concept. We thought a new horror anthology series on the web was a perfect fit for what we wanted to do.

BM – Is it easier or harder, as a filmmaker, making films for the web?

DI – I have a talented team of creative individuals that I work with, so that makes everything easier. I think a series is harder than a feature because it’s more content. But, the there is also a huge upside. We get to tell more stories with a series and we are also able to get our work out there to audiences faster and easier. With a feature it’s a long journey through the festival circuit and then trying to find distribution before you finally can get your movie out on DVD or On Demand. With a series, it’s a very streamlined process from creation to having it accessible to people.

BM – The production values are amazing on The Dead Hour, what kind of budgets were you working with?

DI – Actually, basically none. I run my own local video production company in Omaha so we use the small van load of equipment I have. But, everybody on the cast and crew pretty much donates their time and talents right now.

BM – So far, there are 5 webisodes online, when can we expect a new webisode and how often do you plan on making new webisodes?

DI – We will begin production on our second season next month. We hope to have 8-10 new webisodes ready to debut this fall. Once the new season launches a new episode will air every week.

BM – Can you tell us about any upcoming webisodes that you’re working on?

DI – I can’t reveal too much yet about the new season. Mostly because we are still writing and deciding which scripts to film this spring and summer. Our goal is to have 8 – 10 new webisodes for the second season this fall. We want to take all aspects of the show up a notch and really outdo ourselves in every way. It’s going to be both challenging and fun.

BM – Your site says you’d love to get filmmakers from around the world involved in the series, would those also use DJ Raven as a bridge into the story?

DI – Yes, our ultimate goal from the beginning was to make the series a very collaborative effort. To bring in filmmakers, writers and actors from everywhere and anywhere who were looking for an outlet for their talents. We hope the show eventually becomes a vehicle for people to showcase their creative work, which in return will make the show even better and the cycle would continue. Every episode can be different, but DJ Raven would always introduce each episode so that there was a constant theme.

BM – Are there any thoughts to moving The Dead Hour from the web to TV, perhaps The Chiller Channel or SyFy?

DI – I’m pretty sure we’d be more than fine with that, if the opportunity presented itself. As long as we can keep bringing the show to a bigger and bigger audience and entertain people, we don’t care where it goes.

BM – If someone was interested in making movies, what advice would you give them?

DI – Well, first, find a group of talented people to surround yourself with, because you can’t do it alone. And be prepared to make a ton of sacrifices. Making films is a lot of work, and I’ve seen a lot of people quit very early in the game. But, the key really is networking and building a group of talented people to make the journey with you.

BM – Well, on behalf of all of us here at Rogue Cinema, we’re looking forward to the new season! Thanks for taking the time.

DI – Thank you.

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If you haven’t had the chance to check out The Dead Hour yet, do yourself a favor and head over to http://www.thedeadhour.com now and take a look, it’s not like any other web series that I’ve ever seen and I’m sure you’ll love it. And, here’s hoping that Daniel and his crew meet with even great success, a talented group like this really deserves it!