Sometimes the Internet blows my mind. Have you ever heard of a live action fantasy web series called Spellfury? Until recently, neither had I. And though it's a bit odd watching episodes less than five minutes long, it's actually not bad for a series produced entirely for the web on a meager budget.
The season is split into 12 episodes that are independently written and directed by Travis Gordon, an Ottawa-based filmmaker, and his crew. Every 45 days a new episode is released and the team, made up of Gordon, Julie O'Halloran (actress/production manager), Rob Drebitt (actor/computer animator), and Penu Chalykoff (actor/lighting/sound operator), is hard at work on episode 9.
Spellfury focuses on a half-elf named Druinia (O'Halloran) who's trying to avenge her father's murder. Since the show is set in a fantasy world, 75% of the scenes are shot in front of a green screen and filled in later in post-production. In addition to the computer animation and backgrounds, the show also uses puppets that are created and brought to life by Matt Ficner, a puppeteer based in Ottawa who recently worked on Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium starring Dustin Hoffman.
What's amazing to me is that the quality is quite high for such a production. O'Halloran has been acting in independent films for the last eight years and Spellfury is her first lead in a web series. But her acting and swordplay is better than most of what I've seen of the bigger budget show Legend of the Seeker, which I wanted to like but couldn't get past the poor writing and acting. There's a good deal of humor woven into the Spellfury stories as well, which makes it very apparent that the creators understand that without humor, the whole series would grow tiresome quickly.
Over a million people worldwide have seen Spellfury so far and Gordon is planning a second season and has already started shooting. I'm guessing that the roleplaying gamers in the audience quickly picked up on the fantasy roleplaying aspects from games such as Dungeons and Dragons. All I have to say is that it's amazing what a thief will do for five gold pieces and a magic sword.
I can't say that Spellfury is at the level of something like the Lord of the Rings trilogy of movies, but it's going to be a guilty pleasure of mine for the indefinite future, puppets, humor, and all…
For more information and to watch all the episodes so far, check out Spellfury's official website.