Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Interviews Interview with Chris Josty & Justin Walters - Hearts Asylum

Interview with Chris Josty & Justin Walters

When we heard that Justin Walters was going to be in a web series we just had to find out more.  Hearts Asylum an online action drama is about the patients in an asylum who imagine themselves to be fairy tale characters that are then pitched against each other in a fight to the death.  Last night, 26th January, we caught up with the creator of the series, Chris Josty to find out more and spoke with Justin Walters briefly about his character, the Warden. 

Hi Chris, you’re the creator of Hearts Asylum, how did the idea come about, why an asylum and is it about zombies?

Chris: The Idea for Hearts Asylum actually started off as a stage play I was developing in college called Wonderland. Sadly however after realising that the budget needed would be too big for a college stage production I scrapped it. Two years later I became fascinated by mental asylums and hospitals in films, T.V and other media. Things like American Horror Story, Shutter Island, Suckerpunch and Outlast. Then through this obsession I started to look into a unique and original way to create a world in a mental asylum that was different and would appeal to a large audience.

For some reason though I kept on coming back to the Wonderland script but the only problem was that the characters were strictly from the Alice in Wonderland universe and had powers which I did not want as I wanted to bring some sort of realism to the show. Alice in Wonderland had been done so many times before in so many different ways. I really wanted to use the characters though as they are some of my favourite ones ever created as there is so much substance to them.

This is when I decided that the show would feature multiple fairy tale characters from different story's as well as Alice in Wonderland, such as Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, The Snow Queen and Peter Pan and many many more.
Artwork Masa Grundy
Then there was one final piece of the puzzle missing and that was how to keep the characters human but still believed as their fairy tale counterparts. So this is where the Asylum came in. If I could have insane people made to believe they are fairy tale characters then I had that Human element I was missing.

So that is what I did and now we have the world of Hearts Asylum because of it.

I love Zombies like the next person and everything featuring them but I really wanted to do something totally different! So in Hearts Asylum the main danger is Fiction Is Reality, a blood sport the Fairy Tale character inmates are forced to fight in against each other. Think of the video game Mortal Combat meeting The Running man - it’s definitely along those lines we are going for.

The drama unfolds online, is this concept something you've used before and is it easier to produce a drama online than go through the other channels such as television?

Chris: That is correct although I’m not ruling T.V or On Demand out completely. I have not used online to produce anything before to be honest. But I know from experience of friends that it’s a lot more of a lenient format with more options. I mean for online there are no ratings classification, no watershed and no air time all it simply is, is click and play wherever and whenever you want. So there is definitely a lot more creative freedom using the online format yes, which our production will welcome. The reason why I say that is because Hearts Asylum wont be for the faint of heart (Excuse the pun ha ha) its going to contain a lot of content unsuitable for the younger generation.

If you look at it like Once Upon A Time is Doctor Who then Hearts Asylum is our Torchwood!

Ha, that nicely leads me onto my next question… Justin Walters was announced this week as one of the actors in the action drama, what is his character role in the story and can we expect him to be as scary as that of his character appearance in Torchwood: Countrycide?

Chris: Justin has indeed been announced as one of our very talented actors. I personally am very excited to have him onboard! Justin is playing the role of The Warden the shows main antagonist. Without giving too much away, The Warden is the person who runs Hearts Asylum as nearly everything that goes on within its walls has to go through him first be it good or bad. The character has a serious God Complex which makes him particularly dangerous as everything has to go his way.

I would say Justin will be scarier in this than Countrycide as for a start there is no Captain Jack to stop him in Hearts Asylum ha ha ha! No but in all seriousness this is The Wardens world everyone does as he says or pays the price.

Justin: The Warden will challenge every part of the psyche. He could be one of the nicest guys you could meet; willing to help. But then he has his own agenda. You never know who he really is. I am sure he will surprise a lot of people.

How many episodes of Hearts Asylum will there be and when does it air?

Chris: Hearts Asylum series 1 will be 6 episodes and will launch in the winter of 2015.

Will you be appearing in the drama as well or strictly behind the camera?

Chris: I will be appearing in front of the camera as The Mad Hatter himself and behind it as a creative consultant. If I'm honest I really admire actors who perform in their own creations and it's something I really want to do myself.

What do you think it is about horror that we as a nation seem to love and can’t get enough of, even if a majority of us will watch it behind a cushion??

Chris: I think in the end it all comes down to the fact that most of us as a nation just love the thrill of being scared, or on the edge of our seats and the adrenalin rush it gives us. For me anyway to be scared gets me more immersed in the film, T.V show or game itself as I feel more connected than normal with the situations and events the characters are going through because as an audience member I can somewhat feel it. To be honest I think this concept applies to most people who watch scary things. But also the horror industry as a whole thrives so well because of how unrealistic it is. Now I say this is the most complimentary of ways. We watch horrors because most of them are so unrealistic or violent that it is an escape from our day to day lives. I mean where else are you going to watch a Vampire get decapitated or a bunch of stupid teenagers get bumped off one by one because they entered THAT haunted house?

Did most of the filming take place on location or did you film a lot of the scenes in a studio?

Chris: We are yet to film actually, that begins March/April time and will be on location.  We'll maybe do some scenes in a studio.  To give the show an authentic feel, on location is where most of it will be shot, in and around different locations in South Wales. 

So we might spot some familiar sites and locations? 

Chris: You might indeed spot some locations from Doctor Who and Torchwood, Neath Abbey being the only one I can mention at this moment which featured in "The Rebel Flesh" (I’m a bit of a Whovian myself).

Artwork Masa Grundy

I was just wondering if it would be anything like Gamer where that is like a fight to the death.

Chris: That is a very good question about Gamer. I suppose on a basic level it is like Gamer yes where you have people fighting each other against their will for their own survival. But unlike Gamer there is no reward for this survival no freedom no second chance at life. In the world of Hearts Asylum you fight or you die, you kill or be killed and all you get for winning is the chance to live and fight another day, as the never ending cycle continues. That is until that cycle is finally finally broken.......

How did you get involved in film making and performing arts?

Chris: Well I’ve been acting for 6 years now only three of which have been professionally. During this time I have done Theatre performances, short films and the odd Music Video. I have acted in a large variety of different diverse roles. I feel if I’m not pushing my craft then I’m not happy so I’m always testing how far I can go. The writing side I owe to my really good friend Peter Colley who taught me nearly everything I know about creative and script writing to this very day, with some other help from people along the way and self teaching.

I also want to mention it helps to have so much support from my Mum and Dad and other family members and friends. As they always support me at following this and still are even now.

Is Justin the only known actor that you have in the action drama?

Chris: Justin and Hollie are the only known Actors we have onboard at this moment. However we are still casting until the middle of February so that might all change pretty quickly who knows. Hollie is featuring in a supporting role in a feature film called "The Singing Bird Will Come" which should be released some time this year and you already know about all the amazing things Justin has been in!

The cast would not be the same without them not because of their familiarity but their natural talents.
Artwork Masa Grundy
When you're casting for roles in the drama do you have an idea of who will portray the characters, or is it often a long process finding just the right person to fit the character in your head, and due to other commitments whether the actor can fit it in around their busy schedule?

Chris: That is a very tricky question. Most times it’s a mixture of the two. I mean some people you will have in mind for parts as you are writing especially people you have worked with before. When you approach them about the role you just have to hope they are free in their schedule and like the role you are offering. But for the characters you don’t have in mind the process starts off for me anyway with the look of the actress or actor applying. I’m not looking for a boy or girl band collective of beautiful people for the show when I cast something its all about diversity of characters, of different sex, shapes and sizes, racial backgrounds and ages. As I believe as a writer and an audience member at home that a more diverse cast is more fun and interesting to watch because of the variety of delivery in both physical and vocal performance that each cast member can bring. I believe that this is one reason that programmes like The Walking Dead are so successful. Well that and ... Zombies! ha ha ha

Thanks Chris and Justin for an awesome interview, we wish you the very best of luck with the series.

Concept Artwork by Masa Grundy

You can find Hearts Asylum on Twitter and Facebook. 

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