Recently I was contacted by Grace Knight, Artistic Director of Orpheos Productions. She informed me of a new web series her company was producing and asked if I would review the first few episodes to help get the word out. While I'm not normally in the habit of reviewing anymore, I told her I would and thanked her for the opportunity.
The Machine of Death Monologues is an eight part series that starts today, with short episodes (about ten minutes each) being released two times per week. Each part centers around a different character, all of whom are affected by the "Machine of Death". When a person is tested by this device, it reveals how you will die, but not when or where. You can imagine the internal turmoil this would cause within a person, let alone a society.
Let me just start by saying these episodes are very well produced. The lighting and cinematography are professional, the acting is strong, the sound is solid and the editing is crisp. Grace told me the entire budget for the project was around 1000 British Pounds ($1600 US) and it all looks like it made it to the screen. This show is a tribute to microbudget artists who have strong technical prowess. Kudos to all involved.
My only "complaint" is the format. The Machine of Death Monologues falls into the "videoblogger" genre with the episode's sole character speaking directly into the lens. The first episode sets up the idea that the main character is creating some sort of video journal. We see the camera and we know she is operating it. The next two shows follow the same idea, but the camera is never seen again. Do we assume these different characters are creating a similar video journal? We don't know. Also, each episode appears stand alone, not so much connected to the others. I wish there were cliffhangers to bind the episodes together and provoke me to watch the next one.
I liked the fact that these shows have been created with nice video camera and not a DSLR. Notice the deep focus and snap zooming, evidence of a traditional video camera. It's a good example of using what you have to it's fullest extent.
I also like the fact that Orpheos has a nice website and a solid release schedule. This shows forethought and planning, as does the artistic director contacting me. They could have just slapped it up on YouTube and hoped for the best, but they apparently know better. They have a plan.
I recommend you check out the compellingly-themed Machine of Death Monologues. If the format doesn't stop you, you may just discover an interesting show with a great hook. I would love to see this idea fleshed out into a traditional narrative. Orpheos?