Bad Ronald Chats with Brittany Martz
of Malice: An Original Internet TV Series
I don't know if you guys have been noticing, but the webernets are chock full of great original programming. It used to be that so much of the web "television" shows either came off like a cable community access show, or worse, like a half-rate cable community access show.
YouTube has done its share of star making from the song and dance end of the world, but now there looks to be a concerted effort to find some real bona fide screen talent. Type in web series and you'll find yourself a list full of shows, from comedy bits to real, down and dirty action and thrillers. One of my favorites has been The Haunting of Sunshine Girl. After discovering that last year, I checked out the sidebar suggestions and found the teaser for a new upcoming program Malice. Instantly, upon seeing the open shot of Alice (played by Brittany Martz), a sweet looking teenage girl, dressed in some goth-punk girl outfit and an awesome black rabbit ears cap, perched on a rooftop with an assault rifle in hand, and weird creatures approaching her from the distance - I was ready for more. When the series finally arrived, earlier this year, the pay off was satisfying - a mix of sci fi/fantasy and horror, with some After School Special teenage angst, to boot.
Brittany takes on the lead role with ease and charm. She's angsty in a John Hughes misunderstood teen kinda way - cute and awkward, with a tomboy edge. And then, after the spooky stuff flies, she turns all kickass, with her freaky bunny gear. She's definitely a treat to watch. With Rebekka Johnson as her older sister, and Mark Hyde and Leanna Chamish as their parents, the cast rounds out pretty solidly. It's a terrific show that sometimes shows its budget. But, that's to be expected when the show is pretty much run and operated by the one-man-band Philip Cook. I certainly don't rag on that notion, either, since Cook and his gang pull off an amazing show - small budget or not. This really is worth the while.
And speaking of budgets, Phil Cook, and star of the series, Brittany Martz, have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money to continue producing the Internet series. I had the opportunity to chat with Brittany about her role in the series, and got some great behind the scenes knowledge.
BadRonald: For those who haven't had the good fortune of seeing Malice, yet, can you describe it for them?
Brittany Martz: Malice is the story of the Turner family who inherits late grandma's house in rural Virginia. The move reveals some cracks in the already shaky family dynamic. As soon as they move in a bad energy seems to hit the air. Dad starts acting tense, Mom's drinking problems come to the surface, and Abby and Alice cannot get along. A creepy feeling pervades and soon strange things start happening, the most disturbing of which is family members disappearing. Suddenly it's up to Alice, the youngest, to solve the mystery of the house and rescue the rest of the Turners.
BadRonald: How to did you get yourself in Malice?
Brittany Martz: I actually found out about Malice through Craigslist. Crazy right? Phil put a post up in the talent section and I found it, contacted him, made sure he was legitimate (Craigslist can be creepy), and ended up auditioning for him all within the course of a week.
BadRonald: Malice starts out seemingly as a sort of haunted house type of story, with Alice discovering some weirdness going on in the house. And of course, no one believes her ... And then, things kinda get ... Medieval. And, with some wild FX, too! How crazy can fans expect this story to get, as it continues?
Brittany Martz: As the story continues it only gets crazier! I think a lot of people who are already watching might be formulating some ideas about what exactly is going on, but as the story continues, it goes in (what I feel) is a very unexpected direction. I remember when I first read the script I was completely shocked when the source of all the Turner's troubles was finally revealed.
BadRonald: Besides having some great horror/fantasy action, the story also involves the coming-of-age of the main character, a somewhat average, somewhat invisible and misunderstood teen girl. What's your insight into your character? Do you relate to her?
Brittany Martz: I'm actually very different from Alice. I am incredibly girly and sociable. I am an only child and I get along very well with my family.
However, there are some parts of Alice that I can definitely relate to: for one, Alice lives very much in a fantasy land in her head. She has a wild imagination. She's also a bit of an outsider - and as a theater kid, I can't deny that in a lot of circles I'm considered a little weird.
I tried to channel a bit more of my younger, angsty side into Alice. I remember being younger, trying to figure out exactly who I was, and getting frustrated with myself and the world at large. At the end of the day, she's just a girl trying to figure out her place in the big bad world. I think that's something we can all relate to.
BadRonald: Alice has a neat edge to her, besides handling the firearms and cutlery like a pro, she dreams of passionate fantasies, of romantic trysts in the woods with an unknown young man. Also, the Battle Bunny gear you have on for the promotional pics and videos - there's a real coquettish mood to it all, but highly playful and innocent overall. It's like Alice wants to grow up, but also doesn't want to lose her childhood, either. What are your thoughts on Alice's coming of age? And of how you portray her maturity vs. innocence?
Brittany Martz: Actually, those fantasies you speak of are actually visions of the past. Alice has an almost clairvoyant quality to her. That is something the second season expands on a bit.
Alice has a particularly rough coming-of-age. Does she want to grow up? Yes and no. Yes, she wants people to take her seriously. She wants recognition that she is a capable, respectable person. And she is painfully tired of dealing with the trite social interactions that being in a high school setting entails.
But growing up means coming to terms with some very uncomfortable realities for Alice. Her father, whom she takes after, and idolizes, is not the invincible man she has always dreamed of. She has always seen him as a king, but "oh how the mighty fall." She sees that he cannot stop her mother's "problems" and despite being an ex-Navy Seal, he cannot protect his family from these strange new things attacking them. Additionally, she must face the fact that you really cannot rely on anyone but yourself to get through the toughest things in life. People leave, change their minds, go insane - you have to be tough to make it through this thing called life. On top of all of this - Alice is pretty much FORCED to grow up in a very short amount of time. She becomes the sole protector of her family without any forewarning.
I did not try to put any emphasis on Alice's maturity. Despite her intellect and toughness, I did not want to create a super hero. She's a real girl. She's flawed.
BadRonald: This feeling of halted childhood - or halted maturity, as well - is a big theme in Alice and Wonderland. You guys carry it over in your story well, not with the stuff we discussed already, but also in her family relations. Alice looks to become independent, but also doesn't want to let go of her hard-drinking mom, her sometimes not-so-understanding dad, and her big sister, who ...well, acts like a big sister. How do you view this family?
Brittany Martz: This family is full of problems, but frankly, I don't think they're too entirely far from average. Every family has problems. The Turners, despite their issues, have a strong sense of loyalty that sort of lives underneath the surface of their interactions.
BadRonald: You guys have a Kickstarter funding campaign going on. Can you let everyone know how important this is to you and the project?
Brittany Martz: Malice has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my acting career. I'd hate to see it end prematurely. This Kickstarter fundraiser means the world to me and the Malice family! We have dedicated so much time and hard work to making this web series as awesome as we possibly can. We would love to bring more Malice episodes to fruition, but we can't do it without help!
BadRonald: I've spoken to other web shows that start out as YouTube productions, but have now moved on to developing into something larger. Are you guys looking to grow, as well??
Brittany Martz: I, personally, would love to see Malice grow into something bigger. I don't think people realize just how LITTLE funding we were working with to create the first six episodes. We already created something pretty badass (if I do say so). If we had the fan base and the funding to grow even large, we could create some truly amazing material.
BadRonald: Have you got any hints as to what we can expect from the next "season" of Malice?
Brittany Martz: Well, I don't to give too much away? But viewers can expect a real good look at the world of the creepy things haunting the Turners, and the force behind it all! We're kicking up the action!
BadRonald: Even though Alice totes some mean firepower, she uses her wits and brains and courage. Can you talk about the importance of creating and portraying a positive young female image?
Brittany Martz: To be honest, when I began creating Alice I wasn't at all focused on creating a positive female image. I was just trying to create a believable person who lives through and must deal with some pretty unbelievable circumstances. She does so with great bravery and strength, but who wouldn't muster up such courage when faced with the task of saving one's family?
That being said, I do think it's important that young women (and men) have positive role models. I think that maybe Alice can teach people that even when you feel like you're at the end of your rope, there is a small spark inside of you - if you can tap into it, there's really no limit to what you can do.
Thank you Brittany! We here at BadRonald wish the production well, and hope it finds the funding it needs to continue. Go contribute! Come on - how can you resist this plea for help!!!
Bad Ronald (aka Barry Meyer) is the first cathode tube baby. Conceived by the likeness of Barnabas Collins and Zira the Ape, Bad Ronald grew to be a world class trivialist in all things gruesome and retro. Besides writing for his blog, he is a video producer, screenwriter, and professional grade remote control operator. Girls love him. Guys adore him. Children clamor at his feet. Animals obey his every command. He will like you ... if you just give him a chance. Bad Ronald has been in and around the film and video business for several years, including thirteen years in the Motion Picture and Television Industry in NYC. He's worked on numerous Indie and Studio sets, and has developed his scripts with Emmy Award winning producers ... yet, he still is not famous, and lives in Jamestown, NY.