There are some truly inspired web-based programs out there these days. I enjoyed Spellfury, though I seem to be in the minority; I enjoyed NBC.com's Ctrl starring Arrested Development's Tony Hale. And now I've found Goon.
What is Goon? That's a good question. And I wish I knew. But that's part of what keeps me watching. It seems to be one part Lost and one part Twin Peaks, but there are definitely some odd things going on with the story and characters.
Brian (Ryan Schwartzman) seems to be a gun for hire, but may be more than that. Laura (Jennica Schwartzman) is a grad student off for the summer who encounters Brian living at her grandmother's home and chooses to keep him around for entertainment. Then there are the weird characters played by Josh Gregory, Ben Bandelau, Paul Pesnell, and Vanessa Rose Parker. In one scene, Gregory is tied to a chair with duct tape. In another, Bandelau seems more than a little upset. And in yet another scene we see that Pesnell and Parker have one heck of an odd relationship that seems to end badly for her.
How do all these threads come together? I haven't the foggiest. But the quality of the production and the deliberate pacing of the mystery has got me hooked, along with the use of various camera styles, washed out (almost black and white) backgrounds, and camera angles that bring you into the action.
Writer/director Marc Hampson summarizes it like this: "Following a smoothly executed job, small time crook Brian discovers the real heist has just begun. Eight goons. One score. No honor among thieves." Goon is an 18-part series that shows some serious promise, not only in the production values but in the storytelling and acting. And you can tell it is a labor of love.
Shot in eight months (July 2008 to February 2009) in 720 HD by the guys at Brotherhood Pictures, you'd think this was produced by one of the bigger companies. But it's a small studio doing an amazing job on almost no budget. And from the behind the scenes clips "From Shelved to Series" you can tell they had a great time putting it together.
I had an opportunity to ask producer Aaron Fairley a couple of questions about Goon and how such a small group of people could produce such a great quality show on the web:
First, since this was such a small production, how did all of you make look like it wasn't? The production values are amazing!
At risk of sounding completely egotistical — talent and determination. I believe we have one of the most talented group of undiscovered talent out there. We don't let things stop us, if things don't work out how we planned then we adjust and adapt, sometimes we fall flat on our face, but we keep pushing and get what we want or something even better. I believe Goon looks better than its dollar sign for that very reason.
Second, what were the biggest challenges you faced during shooting? And now that you're presenting the series to the world on the Internet, what have been the challenges in getting the word out?
Between major locations that were four hours away, trying to make a schedule taking into account everyone's full-time job and family obligations, and constantly running out of — what's that stuff? oh yeah, money! — there were no challenges. Except when we had to change some shots that took place in a cornfield that we scouted but unknown to us had been harvested the week before.
A big thank you goes to Aaron for answering my questions and Jennica for coordinating that effort.
This is a truly amazing show and one of the best quality online shows I've encountered so far that hasn't been produced by a big company like SyFy, NBC, IKEA, and so on. If you're interested, be sure to check it out online at the show's website and catch up on all the action. I'm five episodes in and happily confused!