The Raven Series is an Independent Web Series we are launching. We begin filming for the Pilot in October 2016 and the Pilot is then due out December 2016. It is produced out of The Yellow Projects Studios, a certified non-profit production organization sistered to Van Loan Productions, an Austin based Film, Music and Entertainment company. The series is based off the work of Sweet Van Loan, local Austin actor and author, who also stars in the series.
She was supposed to be a hero.
She became something darker.
Find out more about The Raven Series:
IMDb – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4947574/
Twitter – www.twitter.com/TheRavenSeries
Instagram – www.instagram.com/theravenseries/
Website – TheRavenSeries.com
My name is Sweet Van Loan, and I am an actor and author. I am also the author to The Raven book series and the creator of the corresponding independent web series. I have been a writer for over a decade and I have been an actor for much longer. This series has been my passion project since its inception over six years ago. I am excited to start filming in the next few coming weeks, but I was asked to answer some FAQ’s. Here we go!
Why the Raven Series?
As an author I have over 30 books out and four series, so I am often asked why I chose to adapt The Raven to screenplay. The reality is, The Raven is simply the best series for an independent web series starting with a low budget with the right variety of characters. Biased as I am, I enjoy the development of the storyline with The Raven and the people in it. We will have lots of room to play.
Also, we decided to pull the books so that the books are republished alongside the corresponding episode as it is released. This is a fun addition we could not have pulled off with my older series because they’ve been out on the market much longer.
Most of all, though, because of its popularity. My readers really like this series, and they are vocal about it. I wanted to give them something to get excited about.
Why Open Casting?
The book series specifies a lot about any given character—eye color, hair color, height, weight, age…etc.
Authors in particular are very sensitive about these things at times. We like to keep things just as they were in the books. As an author and filmmaker, I understand both sides of the debate. Tom Cruise, to me, didn’t fit the character I read about in any Jack Reacher book, Titus Welliver is an excellent Bosch. Arguments rage constantly about the casting of both projects and that of projects like Castle or Rizzoli & Isles.
I enjoy movies and shows based off my favorite books or comics because they’re familiar and sometimes (hopefully) sprinkled with enough delightful differences to be fresh. Harry Potter comes to mind. So it was a conscious choice to leave casting options as open as possible.
We did something a little different.
Kincaid in the books, is brunette – but when actor Lydia Pilot auditioned, we knew she would fit Kincaid very well, despite the fact that she has very red hair. The Film version of Kincaid is much different now and I love Lydia’s approach. I’m confident my readers will too. But she wasn’t the only one who was a bit different from her book series counterpart.
Upon the competition of the audition with Vietnamese actor Nguyen Stanton, we knew she would fit the character Cori Malkin, despite the fact that Cori was Caucasian in the books. Venus Monique is older than her character’s book counterpart. In the books, Primrose Albright is little older than sixteen, but in the film, she will be an adult. The list goes on and on.
When we cast for The Raven, we only specified what had to be specified. For example, since the actor playing Josephine Hawke is African American, all casting for her siblings and parents were consequentially set to be cast for African American or Mixed actors.
Simply? I’m an actor.
I have my own resume and reels, my own creative talent and my own vision of the character. Plus, I enjoy being around the other actors and seeing how they bring their own unique spark into the ideas of the show. We’ve even changed some things based on what the cast discussed at our very first table reading.
My involvement behind the scenes was a given. I wanted to, at the very least, consult. That role expanded as I got to know the people who would be involved in the project. Our cast and crew are amazingly brilliant and creative people and the team dynamic is beautifully synergetic despite us all being very different people.
Why The Yellow Project Studios?
The Yellow Project Studios is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit dedicated to expanding upon the talents of creative people, mainly here in Austin. One the criteria of being a part of this is to mention a cause. For the Pilot of The Raven Series, Jonathan Flanders plays Hunter Chase, who gets into a slight argument with Josephine Hawke about the treatment of the homeless. He, along with Selene Sparks (Aly DeGerolami) and Cori Malkin (Nguyen Stanton) feel very strongly about the care and treatment of the homeless in the fictional city of Solomon City, Maine.
Other characters have their own causes they are passionate about, but we chose to focus on the one for the Pilot. Because the series includes characters and cast & crew members alike with such passions, we were honored to be presented by The Yellow Project Studios in association with Van Loan Productions.
Why a Black Lead?
As an African American actor, I’ve found it very difficult to find opportunities to get involved as an acting talent in film. Most casting calls aren’t roles I would fit because of my race and/or gender. This became frustrating, as one might imagine.
Anyone can debate it, and I’m not looking for one, but the fact is my experience colors my work no matter what I do and the same is true for everyone else.
I wanted to create a world with a black lead but I didn’t want to make it a big deal that she was black. She’s just a person, a woman, with needs, wants, and goals just like everyone else. She also happens to be African American. This isn’t so much as mentioned in the script by any of the characters.
Are there opportunities to get involved?
Short answer? Yes.
We’re locally filmed and locally cast, so Austin locals get preferential placement in that regard. As Austin filmmakers, we wanted to remain loyal to our city’s film industry, so the decision was made to keep it as local as we could. Our main cast is made up of local Austin actors for that reason.
We still have a few casting and crew calls posted on our website, however, which will be open until filled.
Can Businesses or Groups get involved?
We’re partnering with local businesses and groups for locations for filming, sponsorship, specialty casting and filling crew positions. As we are with casting, we are partial to local organizations and businesses first, but we’re excited about how popular this series is becoming already—even outside our fair city.
Words can’t describe my excitement. We aim to make a good film and have fun doing it and we hope continue with this series for as long as our fans allow. The Raven has already generated so much excitement and we’re looking forward to all that is to come.
Sweet Van Loan
You guys. YOU GUYS! not only do we have a list of the confirmed cast for the Pilot, but seriously, the list consists of some kickass talent.