Published on September 6th, 2017 | by Biz Books

The Biz Interview: VanChan September 2017 Feature is pleased to support the VanChan Web Series Society.

New to VanChan? Here’s how it works.

Once a month, VanChan screen 10 short webisodes in front of a live audience, who vote on their favourite five webisode shows. The five shows with the most votes become the new VanChan primetime shows and are presented as such on the front page of the website, and each primetime show is invited to make a follow-up episode for VanChan’s next screening on the following months. BUT these five primetime shows must compete for audience votes against five brand new pilots. Ten webisodes enter. Only five may leave. Every month.

In advance of the next VanChan screening on September 9th, we spoke to competing filmmaker Bren MacDonald (Body. Art. Movement.).


Can you start by telling us a little bit about you and your VanChan project?

A little about me… well aside from being a photographer in real life, I played the title role of ‘Complacent Charlie’, a web series that had a good run in the early days of VanChan. My project this time around, a very different kind of series than Charlie, ‘Body. Art. Movement.’ is pretty simple in concept; body paint a performer and film it. On a deeper level BAM meshes together photography, body paint, performance and documentary into one fascinating package.

What was the inspiration for making it?

BAM is actually the brainchild of Lisa Hunting. She was inspired by her time at the Burning Man festival and wanted to work on an art project that captured the creative energy she experienced there. She approached me in late 2013 or early 2014 and we developed it from there.

What has been the most rewarding part of making it?

Definitely the photography side. Lisa and myself are each photographers but our styles are radically different; it’s been a real treat seeing how distinct each of our shots are despite sometimes even using the same lighting.

What has been the biggest challenge and how have you handled it?

Biggest challenge was when the hard drive on the computer died shortly after filming the first episode. I wasn’t able to recover all the data, but I was able to get enough footage to splice together with an early rough-cut I’d exported prior to the computer going pop.

What other web series do you enjoy as a viewer?

There’s more then I can list here. Joel McCarthy’s Inconceivable is exceptional. Food Flix from the Affolter Brothers is an incredible piece of stop motion, and actually ran in competition at VanChan last year I believe.

What are the three most important elements for an effective web series?

For every rule there’s someone who’s broken it to brilliant effect. That said…

  1. Efficient storytelling (2 minutes or 20, an episode shouldn’t be longer than it needs to be)
  2. A good concept (one that is strong enough for the whole series; common that a series has a knock out pilot but loses the magic by episode 3)
  3. I can’t think of a third right now. Inventiveness maybe?

What books and authors have been influential to your career so far?

Hm. If I’m honest I have to say Stephen King’s On Writing. It really hit home to me the importance of intent and helped me take art off a pedestal.

My impish nature compels me to mention both Save The Cat (an excellent and useful breakdown of the three act structure) with FilmCritHulk’s Screenwriting 101 (which strongly rails against the ubiquity of the three act structure in films; written anonymously by a Hollywood reader who’s read far too many of them).

What’s the most important lesson that you’ve learned in your career to date?

Relating to web series? You can’t do everything. I’ve started being okay with letting others take over certain roles.

What advice would you have for anyone who wants to create a web series?

One of the brilliant thing about web content is that there aren’t any gate keepers. Take advantage of that. Make something new, or tell a story in a new way. There’s room enough in web series for both‘Dr Horrible’s Singalong Blog’ (made by Hollywood nerd-gods) and ‘SockBaby’ (a delightfully ludicrous series made with a potato camera, duct tape and a sharpie).

What can you make when nobody’s looking over your shoulder?

Where can we find out more about you and your project?

We’ve started a Facebook page @bodyartmove


Thanks to Bren MacDonald for speaking with us!

Check out the next VanChan event on September 9th at TABU at The Waldorf in Vancouver. Doors are at 7PM. Screening begins at 8PM.

Along with Body. Art. Movement., other returning series include How to Pick-Up WomenShock ValueBritt & Michelle, and Dear Diary.

Tickets are $5 in advance on Eventbrite and FREE for students (with Student ID) or $5 at the door. You can find out more on the VanChan Facebook Event Page.

Interested filmmakers are encouraged to enter VanChan through Film Freeway!

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