The Damned Steps up Its Game

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After 3.5 hours of filming on Thursday evening and another shoot on Sunday, The Damned has all the footage they need for their third episode.

Shooting in the front room of the library, producer Allysa Veigel used her knowledge about lighting gained through a workshop she recently took to transform the poorly-lit area into a dramatic, foreboding setting perfect for the tense scene. “The investigators came to talk to [Ashley] about what happened at the party right before the car accident,” actress Claire Ion explained about her character’s role in the scene. “They wanted more information.”

The cast and crew of The Damned set up their set in the library for the shooting of Episode 3.

“Even though we had to end up being [at the shoot] a lot longer to do different angles, it ends up looking really good,” Ion said, foreseeing a promising final product.

The show made noticeable improvements in its second episode. “There was absolutely no lighting [in the first episode], which was probably the biggest difference between Episode 1 and Episode 2,” said Veigel. “It was all very bland.” Furthermore, Director Eugen Merher, who has an eye for unique camera angles, was not available to direct much of the scene. “In Episode 1 the shots are more stable. In Episode 2, they were more active, which keeps the audience interested.”

The second episode incorporated flashbacks to the party scene that happened before the car accident. “Obviously Eugen’s directing made a huge difference,” Veigel said. “He’s very efficient with his time and gets shots that really work and play out well.”

“All the camerawork and photography you see, that’s all Eugene,” Veigel continued, complimenting him specifically on his transition in the last episode that zoomed in on a red Coca Cola bottle and faded into a zoom-out of a red party cup. He incorporates vivid colors and unique shots to keep his audience engaged. His camerawork coupled with Veigel’s lighting expertise makes them a good team. “When we shot the last episode,” Ion said, “I just couldn’t imagine how it was all going to come together. Then the editor put it together and it looked really cool!”

“Allysa and Eugen are super fun,” Ion continued. “I really like Eugen – I think he gives good direction.”

Inspectors interrogate Laura (Samantha Thom) in Episode 2.

The Damned began differently from many of the other shows on Duck TV. Producers usually pitch show ideas at the end of the term. They have ideas and some potential cast and crew members in mind. In this case, executive producers chose a group of people they thought had the skills to work well together to produce a drama. “We’re just 4 strangers who got together and came up with an idea to pitch for Duck TV, which is a little different,” Veigel described it.

Although the original idea of the show still holds strong, many of the minor details, including characters and twists, have changed. At first, the storyline seemed straightforward from start to finish. “But then [the writers] wanted to do a spin on it where they wanted to involve other variables…and you realize it may not have been a drunk driving accident, there may be other drugs in play,” explained Veigel.

“The idea was basically from the writers, Brent [Hammock] and Nicholas [Maurer],” she continued. “There were a bunch of meetings and pretty much hitting ideas against the wall.” They wanted something relatable to college students and thought of a storyline based on a drunk driving accident. The show has since added a third writer to help balance the workload.

As with every show, there have been challenges. The writers envisioned older characters to portray parents, but at a university it’s hard to find actors that can do that. Another problem is the continuing evolution of the storyline, which has been particularly hard for the writers. “I can’t tell you what’s going to happen because I don’t know,” said Veigel.

Still, the flexibility of everyone involved is what makes the show possible. “I think we have an awesome team,” she added, referring to times when she has had to call the crew to film at the last minute, or film for a longer time than expected.

Director Eugen Merher goes in for a close-up shot of Actress Claire Ion during last Wednesday's shoot.

The actors’ hard work adds to the show’s success as well. Holly Ashby’s, who plays the investigator Robin Hunt, works to make her character believable. “She gets into her script,” said Veigel. “She knows her character forwards and backwards.”

Production Assistant Jared Breelove is another easy-to-work-with participant. “He’s the all-around, well-rounded guy,” Veigel continued, mentioning his work as a cameraman, his cameo role as the DJ in Episode 2, and his most recent role as the brother of Claire’s character, Ashley, in Episode 3. Originally not wanting to act, he was called in when an actor cancelled two hours before a shoot. His involvement has helped the show immensely. “It’s kinda like the running joke of the cast that Jared’s going to be in every episode,” Veigel laughed. “He fills in wherever. No questions asked, he’s there.”

Ion’s first time as an actress on Duck TV has given her the opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes. The biggest surprise was the tedious process, including amount of time shoots generally took. “I didn’t think about all the different angles we had to shoot from,” she laughed.

The third episode of The Damned will air this Wednesday at the Duck TV screening. “We’re seeing what works with the audience,” Veigel said. “I hope they like it [and] realize how much work has gone into this.”

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