Nerdvana: The Web Series

Local film makers pull off production post-fire

By Hanna Fridhed, Connect Contributor


Fort McMurray film director Tito Guillen at Nerdvana located at The Towers on Richard Street. Guillen, along with a creative crew of locals, have created a web series based on the comic book store through Storyhive. Photo by Hanna Fridhed, Connect Weekly

Only two days after the wildfire evacuation of Fort McMurray, local film maker and director Tito Guillen and his crew received the news that their pitch to Storyhive had made it into the top 30 competing for funding to create a full web series.

Storyhive is a community-powered funding program for emerging content creators in British Columbia and Alberta sponsored by Telus. These top 30 went on to create pilot episodes for their pitched ideas. After a five day voting period, the top pilot from each province receives funding to create a full season of their web series.
The program aims to connect established film makers partnered up with the creators, something that resonates well with Tito and the Nerdvana team.

“Storyhive has a competitive element to it, but is mainly built on the idea of partnership and community,” explains Guillen. “They wanted to create a hive of creators, from directors and writers to actors, everything they could put together, and enable these creators to connect and collaborate with each other”.

The plot for the groups’ latest foray into a Storyhive competition, named Nerdvana the Web Series, revolves around the staff of Nerdvana and their love of their low-responsibility jobs at a small town comic store. They soon find themselves fighting for the fate of all reality as they must stop a force powered by what they love.
Nerdvana the Web Series is a collaborative project written by – as well as starring – Guillen together with Ashley Laurenson, Steve Reeve, Stacey Northcotte, Zachary Barrett, Mike Farough and Matt Salem.

“This is the brain child of all of us, there is no single writer,” Guillen said. “We sat down at Nerdvana for eight hours just working out the story.”

Having so many writers and collaborators involved in the process might come across as time consuming and difficult, but Guillen shared that “myself and everyone I work with take a lot of pride in our work and are very open about our communication. Everyone involved has an invested interest in what we’re doing.”

After the evacuation and finding out about the funding, the team had to decide whether the project was still going ahead.

“The team talked online since we were all separated and quickly agreed that if we could get into town before the deadline to film, we will try our best to get this done,” said Guillen, but at this point they didn’t know whether they would even be able to shoot at the store.

The second weekend back in Fort McMurray (June 10 to 12), they shot the entire pilot.

“It was a really fun experience,” Guillen reminisces, and adds that “what I found very interesting is that we were actually ahead of schedule, to the point that when Sunday afternoon rolled around we only had one scene left to shoot. I think it was because it was a needed distraction from the fire, nobody really wanted to think of rebuilding and everything,” Guillen said. “It was a very fulfilling experience, it really helped all of us to heal a little bit from coming back into town and seeing everything that we saw”.

When asked what the future holds for the Series, Guillen smiles and said that “we will be making this series, whether we receive the funding or not.”

Fort McMurray has not just one, but two, local pilots in the Storyhive Top 30: Nerdvana the Web Series as well as the satirical comedy Rig Pigs by Sean Mclennan with voting happening from August 8 to August 12.

– Connect Weekly –