Yesterday I was lucky enough to interview Mathew Munson (Executive Producer/Partner) and Tybee Diskin (Actor/Broadcast Manager) from Wayside Creations, a great company that specializes in making fan movies/series based on our favorite video games. The company has run some incredibly successful Kickstarters for their shows, raising almost $200,000. They have paired with Machinima for a couple of their series. Look for links at the bottom of the interview!
Note: Due to the high level of noise during the interview some of Matthew and Tybee’s answers are paraphrased.
Lindsey (L): How did you all meet, and where did the concept from Wayside Creations come from?
Tybee (T): A group of us actually lived on Wayside Drive in Southern California for a while. We ended up getting a gig on Indie Mogul, and when they submitted the test film video, they named themselves Wayside Creations, and we’ve been that ever since.
Matthew (M): I knew Zack from the replica prop forum (RPF), and we met in person at PAX East where I was doing a panel on Prop Making–turning video game props into real world props. I was originally hired to create the “Betty” robot for Aperture R & D. I stared doing the Behind the Scenes videos for Aperture R & D soon after. My background is in the financial industry, so it’s great to be transitioning into something much more interesting.
My favorite thing about the Wayside Creation guys is that they actually do things. They aren’t just sitting around talking about ‘one day lets do a movie’ — they are actually making stuff. They are making very good things, and making a mark on the industry. And who wouldn’t want to be involved with something like that?
L: How did you choose Fallout?
T: Originally it was just on a whim, and decided to make a fan film. We did not expect the reaction that it got–watching the views go up and up made us realize we may have caught lightening in a bottle. It was really exciting–especially because we did it for almost no money the first time around. We were really excited and really proud of it, so we continued. Even when we thought we were done with it, fans continued to ask (demand, really) for more, so here we are.
We discussed the fan film, and how much all my friends, who I’ve introduced to it, love it–and how much it makes them want to go and play the game immediately after seeing it.
L: The thing about Fallout is that while it’s such a wide universe, we only see it through certain lenses. We only see it through certain vaults. My friend got a huge kick over each vault having different experiments going on. It’s a great concept, and not something that is really talked about in the game–but it makes so much sense within that world. The same goes for Aperture R&D–you watch it, and you go, “yep, these are totally the kind of guys who would be working for Aperture”. It takes a lot of creativity to come up with those ideas, and it’s impressive. No wonder that people have responded so well.
M: What you are describing is what I like to refer to as the “Wayside Magic”. We don’t take a video game and tell the story of the game play. We don’t use characters from the games as the central characters. In our stories, we take the design elements, the universe, and the story, and we expand it. We try to tell something new–the story that’s going on over the hill. It’s what allows Wayside such flexibility and creativity to create our own stories and characters, and not be constrained. It’s a great opportunity to tell awesome stories.
I think it a heavy burden to bear if you are making a fan film where you are trying to cast characters that people know and love. There is a disconnect.
T: Not what people imagined in their head.
M: We would be competing with fan’s memories and ideas already in their heads, and how things should be, if we simply retold the story.
L: What was it like when the people at Bethesda/Obsidian saw the film?
T: So cool. Chris Avellone was actually Zack’s (Executive Producer) point of contact when we did the original fan film to ensure that we stayed in canon and weren’t encroaching on any of the story that already been told. Chris told us that vault 10 was available, so Zack came up with the idea. We ended up having Chris and Tim Cain in season 2 and now we will be involving Chris and Brian Fargo (a co-founder of Interplay which produced Fallout) and Wasteland 2.
M: Tim Cain is actually the creator of Fallout; he’s a great guy, and actually appears in season 2, hanging out in set. Total dreams to work with. It’s amazing, really. We are playing in their sandbox, and they are surveying–and they love it. It’s so rewarding, as they are “the guys” and to see them get excited is immensely gratifying.
L: To switch subjects a bit–you were talking about props. Do you all make your own props? Pipboys, portal guns, etc?
T: Yes and no. Some props and costumes are commissioned (like the Betty). Razorfly Studios (Mark Zoren) made the Brotherhood of Steel costume. He’s actually in Season 2 wearing it–he made it for himself, and was the only one who would fit into it. Kai Norman made the ranger costume. Arc made a lot of the pip boys we used.
M: It’s an entirely budget driven thing. In Portal there already exists a Portal gun. But here isn’t a Betty. So if we can find an off the shelf item, we’ll use it. Airsoft guns that we modify, we’ll do it.
T: Some of the weapons in Season 2 are actually guns that were owned by the actors, so they are real functioning weapons. So we had to be very careful.
Here was an interview break, where we three had a nerd breakdown into prop making and fun costumes. As I was wearing fawn legs, with full fur, Tybee pet me. (Seriously best interview, best people.)
M: There is a kickstarter running right now. Our goal was 20,000$ and we made that in slightly more than 24 hours. We are now are at 52K, and we are hoping to see some non-kick starter investment [Editor’s Note: The kickstarted ended with them making more than 66,000$!!]
T: People genuinely love Fallout and our videos.
M: The kickstarter proves that. We felt the story may have been told, and we weren’t sure on going back to the Wasteland–we weren’t sure if anyone wanted that. And the Kickstarter definitely proved that they wanted that. This is all very new to me, and seeing the video game fans light up when we tell them we are bringing them more about what we love to make, is very rewarding.
L: Someone had mentioned that the banter is very ‘Joss Whedon’ like; the writing is excellent. Very witty, with good banter, but with some seriousness to it, as well.
So far you’ve covered three different fandoms. Portal, Fallout, and Legend of Grimrock. Do you have any others that you would like to touch on?
T: Right now we’ve been restructuring the company so we have now changed our mission statement. We now specialize in live-action video game adaptations. Its not the only thing we do, but that is what we specialize in. We really love video games, and as much as we love Fallout, we want to continue doing other work, and do licensed work as well. But if I had to do something tomorrow, and you said I couldn’t make any money off of it, ever, I would love to get into Bioshock. I actually have an idea in the works–but I’m not going to say anything else about it!
M: I will say that part of our new mission is to acquire new properties. We want to have signed agreements with game companies that say, “we want you to make our live-action video game. And we’ll support you, and if you make money, great!” That is currently happening, as well–but we can’t talk about it just yet. I will say that I am shocked at how eager very recognizable games are to sign up with us. I thought it was going to be an uphill battle, but they are so excited. Our goal is to keep growing and ‘leveling up’.
L: Now I feel some games would present challenges to adapt. Silent Hill for, example, where so much is tied up in main characters.
M: Now I don’t actually know about that! We have something on our slate right now–it’s a game where I think most people wouldn’t think it could be made into a movie. But I think the Wayside magic will surprise people about it. A movie about Silent Hill would have a lot of potential, and could just be shot in some abandoned town.
T: Well the last town we shot in actually burned down.
L: Speaking on shooting, how do you pick your locations?
T: The boys tend to go out and location scout. The DP and the Director will usually go scout locations. We’ve shot in different areas for every piece except Red Star and Season 2. We shot those simultaneously, so sometimes we were green-screening out parts of the set to film parts of season 2. That’s the only time that’s ever happened. We’ve filmed in Barstow, Joshua Tree, Prim (where the real Good Springs is). We actually had to pay a bar full of people to be quiet while we were filming. Our producers bought them rounds of drinks. We also shot in Eagle Mountain. Matt and I were there–it’s in the middle of the desert, no lights, pitch black. It’s an abandoned mine town that looks like you could film a zombie film there, today. We walked into the house–it’s pitch black, except for one TV that is on…with just static. It was terrifying.
M: Yeah it (Eagle Mountain) was really neat. It’s an abandoned mine out in the middle of the desert. There is a whole town (church, school, etc), and no one has lived there for thirty years. Imagine a town that hasn’t been touched for thirty years. So everything is falling apart. But it’s a filming location, so a few houses are kept ‘active’, but it looks like a seventies nightmare on the inside.
Here we had to wrap up the interview!
T: Going forward, we’re going to start pushing our channel a bit more, and let people get to know us a bit better. I’m the Broadcast Manager, so we’ll be starting on that very soon. It’s our goal to show our personalities, who we are, and show that we’re fans like everyone, and really love what we do.
Editor’s Note: I can honestly say this was one of my favorite interviews. Tybee and Matthew clearly love what they do, and it really shows. I encourage any fans of good movies/tv shows, and video games, check out their projects. They are all definitely worth a look!
http://waysidecreations.com/ <–Find links to all their projects, and get more information on future happenings!
https://www.youtube.com/user/WaysideCreations <–Their youtube channel! Find links to lots of great videos, including behind the scenes at Aperture R&D!
https://www.youtube.com/user/machinima <– Where you can find Aperture R&D and Fallout: Nuka Break season 2!