AFK – The Webseries launched their kickstarter recently and we were able to get an interview with the director, writer, costume designer and editor of the series, Peter Haynes! Here is what he had to say:
Q: Tell us about AFK – The Webseries and what the story is about! Who are the main characters and what are their roles?
‘AFK’ is a look at what would happen to a group of modern gamers if they were suddenly forced to really inhabit the world they spend so long in virtually – a world away from modern conveniences and technology, where they have to live off the land. A world with no rules, no game masters, and no multiple lives….only the survival of the fittest, fastest, strongest and most cunning. Basically, AFK is ‘Lord of the Rings’ meets ‘Battle Royale’.
Being in the bodies of their MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game) characters, some of the cast are also genderswapped, and have to deal with all the issues that go with that.
The main characters are Maybel the girl gamer in the body of a male Gnome, and Steven the warrior, a guy who finds himself in the body of a scantily clad and impractically armored female warrior. There is also Brendon the wizard, a 15 year old suddenly trapped in an adult form, and V’rugga the orc, actually an 8 year old who just wanted to play the biggest, meanest looking character. Lastly there is also Jack the rogue, a somewhat arrogant power gamer, and finally their leader, Q.
Q seems very comfortable in her new form, and one of the series’ most compelling mysteries will be discovering her background, and whether or not she is even female.
Q: How did you come up with the concept for this webseries and each of the character concepts?
I used to play a lot of World of Warcraft, and many of these characters are archetypes of other gamers who inhabited that world. Jack is the classic hardcore power gamer, always striving to have the best gear and the highest damage. Maybel is a female gamer who plays a male character because she gets tired of guys hitting on her. Steven is a very casual player, who doesn’t actually know the game very well. I wondered how these very different personalities would or could work together if they were thrown into this new and very high-stakes environment.
I pretty much got my dream cast for these roles. Mia Pistorious is totally believable as Q the leader, and is a highly physical actress. She basically learned how to swordfight in a totally convincing manner in just over two weeks. Calum Gittins, playing Jack, was a hardcore gamer, and so totally gets the mindset. Dallas Barnett, who plays V’rugga has often been typecast as a tough guy/bad guy, so I thought it would be fun to put him in the mind of an 8 year old boy, which he enjoyed immensely. All of the actors bring something unique to each of their roles, and they clicked together really well in the short time we had to shoot the trailer.
Q: Have you larped before? If so, what do you like about it?
I have, and I have to say one of my favorite aspects of larping is the costuming. The amount of work and detail and dedication that some people put into a costume that may only be used for a weekend always amazes me.
Q: For the main female character in particular – have you ever larped before? If so, what do you like about it?
Mia Pistorious (Actress who plays Q): I’ve never larped before or known much about it but became fascinated by the idea while working on the AFK project with people who Larp. As an actress I think of larping as another form of acting and think it would be a great experience to be fully immersed in such a process.
Q: Peter, why did you choose to make the main character a larper?
Because it struck me that a larper, also being a reenactor, would have a unique set of skills to survive in this new world. She knows how to fight with a sword, she’s also done SCA combat, she knows archery, she’s camped in medieval camps and lived a bit rough. In the real world, the ‘cool kids’, like Jack the powergamer, might look down their noses at her choice of hobbies, but here, they’re pretty much dependent on her for survival. I think it’s a nice turnaround.
It’s also a kind of thanks to the local NZ larping community, who have helped this project become a reality in a big way not only by lending time, costumes and resources, but also training. Mia was trained in sword fighting by Vanya Essin, a local larper and display fighter, and it all shows on screen. I fully intend to keep the larping community involved should this project go ahead.
Q: What is your goal with the series? Are you trying to get any point across or is it just for fun?
We want it to be fun, and enjoyable to watch, but I also wanted to explore how far we’ve become removed from the reality of the experiences that we like to immerse ourselves in a computer game like World of Warcraft. In reality, living off the land is hard. Hunting is hard. Sleeping rough is hard. Not knowing where your next meal is coming from is hard. These guys will have to really pull it together and rediscover some pretty ancient skills just to survive the first week.
Q: Where did the filming for the trailer take place?
The trailer was filmed entirely in Auckland, New Zealand, and 90% on Mt. Wellington, which is in the middle of one of our busiest suburbs. A small volcanic cone, the mountain has a surprising amount of beautiful scenery in a very small area, and is remarkably quiet. Of course, if we do go ahead, then we’ll range further afield, and we even hope to get some support from tourism NZ to shoot in some of the national parks for a truly epic look
Q: What are ways someone can help get the project off the ground?
They can like’our Facebook Page, and invite others to like it as well.
And finally, they can just spread the word. If they have a gaming blog, then give us a plug. If they frequent a MMORPG forum, start a thread about us. Post a link about us on Reddit. We never know which one is going to be the magic link that will make us go viral, so every little bit counts.
Thank you so much for the interview, Peter, and good luck with the project!