I've just discovered a little 3 part web series called the Trainee, filmed right here in Southern California (okay, most of them are, but still...). It's about a super hero sidekick-in-training who learns that it's not all capes and and kung-fu fighting (but the series has that too). Henry, the Trainee, works at a comic shop by day and works as a hero-in-training by night. I found out about this series only because it was filmed at my local comic shop (the Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach, CA) and I really like it. It's a comedy, but the actors play it straight and very low key, stifling the urge to wink after every line as many web series often do.
I contacted series writer Mauro Flores Jr and asked him to give me a little background on the origins of this superhero wannabe tale and this is what he had to say:
My original web series pilot, “The Trainee,” was selected as a finalist in NYU’s 2011 Tisch West Web Series Showcase. The showcase was a series of workshops deigned towards helping the finalist produce their own projects for NYU sponsored series launch. Unfortunately, we didn’t make the deadline. Since pretty much everyone was working for free or next to nothing, the only available time anyone had available was the week leading up to the NYU Web Series Showcase deadline. No matter what, the showcase deadline gave us the impetus to finish project.
I’m a comic book nerd; I was born one, and I’m going to die one. The first person I asked to jump onboard was director, Miguel Alvarez, who is also a comic book nerd, so the collaboration made sense. We’re both from Texas, but I met him through Raúl Castillo, who was my roommate at the time, in Brooklyn, NY when I was attending grad school. After I saw Miguel’s most recent short film, Mnemosyne Rising, I knew right away that I wanted to work with him some day. So I asked him, and he said yes, and things just started to fall into place after that. Raúl Castillo, Michael Ray Escamilla, David Barrera, Letty Valladares and I are all from the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, so it was a chance to hang out and work together, and it was a blast.
Miguel Alvarez brought in Iska Valtcheva as our director of photography, and she is absolutely amazing. She and Miguel met at the University of Texas – Austin, and they work together often. Right after they shot The Trainee they flew to Africa to shoot a documentary, and they’ve been busy ever since.
Letty and I raised our meager budget through IndieGogo and mail in donations. We only managed to raise $6000, which became our entire budget, but we got extremely lucky. Because of the economy, and the time of year, we managed to hire a great crew for a small salary, and a ton of favors. Finding locations wasn’t easy, but Letty and our friend, Vivian Dominguez, managed to find some great locations for free… and a ton of favors.
We shot on a Canon 7D which was provided by our Assistant Camera, Mikael Levin. Our first editor, JoAnne Yarrow, laid the ground work, but had to step away because she was busy working as an Assistant Editor on Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Miguel recommended the brilliant James Leche who also pulled double duty as the motion artist. The one thing we were really worried about was the post production sound design and mix, after a few set backs, and a few weeks before the launch, Todd Thompson, sound mixer and designer, suddenly dropped in our laps. Gary King, music, and Sasha Smith, them, are friends, and were onboard from day one, and they’re freaking amazing.
Check out the first episode of the Trainee below and then be sure to catch part 2 now at their official site when you’re done.
The conclusion, “THE TRAINEE Episode III: … of Gods and Coffee” will debut on the official site November 28th.