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Monday, September 16, 2013

My Interview With Filmmaker FRANK T. ZIEDE On His New Online Action Series, BLACK


Independent filmmaker Frank T. Ziede is well known as a multi-faceted actor, writer, producer and short film director according to his IMDb page. As of this summer, however, Frank has turned to the internet to showcase his brand new military action webseries, Black, which has aired as of August 26. With five episodes of its first season now available online and thousands of subscribers already lining up, the series has begun earning appeal among viewers for its true-to-form style of entertainiment similar to films like Act Of Valor and television shows like 24, in addition high production scale and value, taking viewers into the battlefield where all the action is, in addition to an eclectic cast of characters led by actor and military veteran Mikal Vega.

Film Combat Syndicate was recently invited to share an email dialogue with Frank this week about this webseries, and I'm very happy to present my email convo with you all. Enjoy the article and be sure to subscribe to the series on Youtube and Facebook. And visit the official website for all the info you need on this new series.

Film Combat Syndicate: What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
Frank Ziede: I’ve always been a fan of cinema, specifically action. Not just action for action’s sake, but action with real story and character. I started as an actor, attending the American Academy of the Dramatic Arts, which has Alumni such as Robert Redford, Danny Devito and Paul Rudd. Once I met my wife and moved to Chicago, I decided to follow my true passion, which is story telling. I started directing shorts about 10 years ago and since then I’ve been trying to shoot as much as I can to learn as much as possible.
FCSyndicate: Are there any favorite films that inspire your craft?
FZ: Michael Mann’s HEAT, Luc Besson’s THE PROFESSIONAL, Ridley Scott’s BLADE RUNNER, Mann’s COLLATERAL, James Cameron’s ALIENS and many, many others. These guys know what great action mixed with great story can really do.
FCSyndicate: What drew you to create Black The Series?
FZ: I’ve always been a fan of 24, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and other action based projects. I felt that there would be a fan base out there that would respond to this type of show and we were right.  The other draw was to use real military operators as part of the show. They know what to do without telling them and that has been a huge benefit throughout this project.
FCSyndicate: Were there any significant challenges while filming?
FZ: Of course with a project of this scale and such a limited budget, we encountered some real challenges. We wanted to have as much production value as possible but with only roughly $10,000, we had to be truly creative. We found people who responded positively to the concept and that wanted to support the show. Let’s just say that we pulled in lots of favors.
FCSyndicate: What were some of the most memorable moments throughout the production?
FZ: Being able to shoot the scenes on the Chinook helicopter was a truly amazing experience. I was also incredibly impressed with our cast and crew. They truly came together under some tough circumstances and became a family. We came in on schedule and on budget and that was the most memorable moment for me!
FCSyndicate: On the official website, you compare Black to the film Act Of Valor, the video game Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare, and the hit series 24. What are some things that stand out to you the most from these kinds of military and espionage films and games?
FZ: Action, first and foremost. A strong sense of story, intrigue and suspense. They also all have a strong lead character that we as the audience can truly believe is the badass he would need to be to stop whatever threat comes his way. Mikal Vega (pictured to the right of Channing Tatum) is that badass.
FCSyndicate: What did you look for most in casting the characters portrayed in your series? And what was it about Mikal Vega that made him your pic for the lead?
FZ: As I stated before, Mikal is a leading man, period. He has been a part of several A-list films such as TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON and G.I. JOE: RETAILIATION. I was pumped when Mikal agreed to be a part of BLACK. Not only is he a great actor, but a 22 year military veteran and a former Navy SEAL. He truly cares about who the character of Carnahan is and what he represents.
FCSyndicate: Are you casting for future episodes?
FZ: We are working on the details for a possible season two at the moment. The call for more episodes seems to be out there and we have a plan to answer it. Mikal has signed up to return as Carnahan and we plan to surround him with some more top level talent, bigger explosions and a more in depth storyline for the next chapter of BLACK. 
FCSyndicate: While we are on the subject of Act Of Valor and 24, both are reportedly heading back to the big screen. Were there any plans to turn this into a film in the first place? If not, are there any?
FZ: First off, so looking forward to the new films for both those projects! We’d love the opportunity to turn BLACK into a feature length film project eventually, but for now we felt like a TV style series was our best method to get the story line out to our fans.
FCSyndicate: Can you clue viewers in on plans for a season two?
FZ: Our next chapter for the BLACK team focuses on the idea of cyber terrorism mixed with some hardcore mercenaries as Carnahan’s next enemies. We’d like to kick things up a few notches, of course and have some larger set pieces and more advanced shots.  We hope our audience wants to see what we can do next.
FCSyndicate: As far as casting goes, who do you look forward to working with going into the second season?
FZ: We can’t mention any names, but we have three of the four new actors we’ve already been talking with to be a big part of season two. These people have been a part of many different A-list feature films, countless television shows and one has even been a series regular on a well known cable show. But for now, these names are top secret. We’ll share all the details about season two in the next Kickstarter campaign we launch to help get the next episodes going.
FCSyndicate: What kind of web series can fans expect?
FZ: They can expect high production value, compelling characters, real life military operators and much, much more. Thanks to our fans for their incredible support!
As difficult as it is sometimes to crowdfund certain projects, I'm very happy to see it work when it does. All artists have a passion to create something substantive and meaningful, and for artists like Frank, it often comes with necessary backing. That said, I sincerely hope that we see more of Black in the not too distant future. Because, if there is one thing we can all look forward to, is more, ambitious and quality entertainment.

I want to thank Frank for speaking to Film Combat Syndicate this month in continuation of his journey and the road that awaits for the cast and crew of Black: The Webseries.

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