2015 Official Selection: Judas Goat (UK)

Judas Goat is a 5-episode miniseries about a vampire’s servant caught in a lethal conflict between the un-dead.

Created by Pavel Shepan, Mike’s life was shattered to pieces when he was enslaved by a bloodthirsty horror. He’s been trapped in a waking nightmare ever since.

It’s a world of monsters through the eyes of their servants.

Why should people watch your series?
It’s a seldom-seen take on urban fantasy. Judas Goat isn’t about bloodsuckers or vampire hunters, but about the people who serve them – willingly or not. It explores lives full of violence, guilt and dependency, casting a harsh light on the consequences of such servitude. It’s not full of jump scares – the horror comes from a different, more personal place.

Also, at the moment it’s available for free.

What inspired you to create a web series from the point of view of the slave? What kind of impact do you hope this has on the viewers?
Mostly because it’s a very tragic and turbulent perspective. In my work I’m often driven by questions. What would make a person serve a monster? How would it change them? How would those servants interact with each other? I’m interested in the emotions and problems resulting from the answers.

We’ve humanized our monsters a lot in the last 30 years, and taking the perspective of a slave allowed us to remain relatable without holding back the monstrous side of the undead. For different reasons, Mike and Lisa find themselves n the midst of a conflict they can’t understand. They’re the small gears of a big machine, forced to make decisions with limited knowledge and no obvious way out – there’s humanity in it as well as horror, and I think people recognize their emotions and their problems are not dissimilar to our own.

As a content creator, where do you go to find information about other film makers and web series?
Festivals are usually the best bet – if something interesting appeared online, chances our it was nominated in a category or two. You can usually browse by genre you’re interested by and because webisodes tend to be short, you won’t lose much of your life trying things out. This is perhaps one of the most wonderful part of web content – how it encourages trying new things.

You’ve made another vampire series in the past (Vampire: The Masquerade), is there a connection between the two series?
It wasn’t really a web series, just two videos we produced to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the game. We were in talks with Onyx Parth and CCP about making a series based on Vampire: the Masquerade at the time, but although they share similar themes there is no more connection between Judas Goat and V:tM than True Blood or The Extinction Parade.

What do you want audiences to take away from your series?
Art and love are the two most subjective things in the world and everyone experiences them in their own way. Personally I like things that make me think or feel, and so I hope that’s what audiences take away from Judas Goat too. We made it to present people with a unique viewpoint and let them experience familiar themes from a fresh perspective. Our audience knows their Draculas and True Bloods, our aim is to deliver something different. There’s no such thing as new stories, but a story can be told in numerous new and exciting ways.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome making this series?
Every single film is a risky proposition, but Judas Goat was spitting into the face of probability. Because the series is so long and we didn’t have a lot of money we were shooting 3 pages per day with a very small, but dedicated crew and a fraction of a budget we really needed. The situation wasn’t helped by the numerous unit moves, since we’ve had so many different locations. It was a monumental effort.

You can see the insanity creeping into peoples eyes on the behind the scenes photos. Every single person gave 100%. It’s this kind of sacred madness that makes films special.

How do you reach your audience?
We’re not very good at marketing, so it’s likely we don’t reach as far as we could. We made something good – of that I am certain. Many people enjoy it, finding it on vampire- or horror-related websites or through festival awards. I was in Spain last year, before the Halloween premiere, doing a panel in front of 500 people, many of which were waiting for Judas Goat to premiere. Talking to them in person was grand, one of the best experiences of my life. Reading and responding to feedback online is also fantastic. We don’t make films to watch them by ourselves and complain how no one gets us. Audience reaction and interpretation is an integral part of the process. That’s what it all comes down to – without the audience, our work is not just unappreciated – it’s incomplete.

Is your series an ongoing project? If so can you give us some clues about what comes next?
We are working on Season 2 right now! We’ve learned a lot during S1 and subsequent productions. We’ve also gathered a ton of feedback – both online and in person – so we have a very clear sense of where to take the series. What we’ve always wanted with Judas Goat is to create a world – a living, breathing world of undead monsters and their servants. Considering [SPOILER]’s death and [SPOILER]’s situation, this world will change in Season 2.

Season 1 focused on a Mike’s personal journey, but there were hints of a larger picture scattered throughout. Season 2 will reveal more of a conflict Mike and Lisa found themselves embroiled in, this time with young bloodsuckers and their servants in focus. Each season will tell a self-contained story with a larger arc happening in the background. Then we’ll top it off with a bloody resolution that will wrap up each character’s individual journey as well as the general plot. We have big plans for the series if people are keen to see what happens next.

How long have you been making web series for?
Judas Goat was the first web series I made. We wanted to go directly to the audience – either they’ll like it or they won’t. It was a pretty big gamble, but in the end that’s what matters most to us, that we produce stories that resonate with people.

When are you completely satisfied with your work?
There are moments after the scene ends and I say “cut”, when people tell me I jump up or clap my hands. That’s when the scene feels right and I know it’ll look great. They make me happy, it’s why I do what I do because in the end this is what matters. Other times I hear people tell me they really enjoyed this part of the story or that character and I feel really proud.

I’m very proud of my work and the work other people contributed into it, but that’s different from “satisfied”. I’m never completely satisfied with what I’ve done. I hope it doesn’t sound pretentious. It’s true – because I know Judas Goat inside out, because I’ve been there when it reached the heights and when it faltered, I’m always aware of every single blemish it has. Half of them don’t matter to audiences, but inside I’ll always know this shot was supposed to look different.

I like to think this is what drives me to constantly improve and not rest on my laurels. I’m pretty sure it’s nothing several years of painful therapy won’t fix 🙂

Judas Goat on the web:
Judas Goat website
Watch Judas Goat
Judas Goat on Facebook
Judas Goat on Twitter

Lauren

Author Lauren

Lauren Colosimo is the Communications Manager for Melbourne Webfest. A Journalism graduate from La Trobe University, she now works there as a Student Communications Officer. Lauren has been part of the WebFest team since 2014. She is a writer, videographer and producer.

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