Tony Ahedo and Natasha Thornton Photo by Rachel S. O'Hara

Ringling students talk about filming web series locally

*** UPDATED 10/26/16

According to Barry Baker’s Facebook page, the web series’ pilot episode will be available on Amazon Prime on Halloween. But the excitement doesn’t stop there. BBASK’s first several episodes will also be available there later this year. Be on the look out and make sure to check out the revamped website www.bbask.tv for more information.

 

It all started with a homework assignment.

In his junior year at Ringling College of Art + Design, Tony Ahedo was assigned to write down 10 ideas for a story. One of his first ideas was “guy takes personality test, thinks he’s a serial killer now.” The idea stuck with Ahedo and he tinkered with a script for awhile but realized that while he was in school it was not going to happen. But that all changed this past year when he finally took the plunge and decided to see what he could do with it.

Ahedo, 23, and Natasha Thornton, 23, are both Ringling College of Art + Design graduates with degrees in film making. The duo is about to debut their web series Barry Baker: Aspiring Serial Killer at this month’s meeting of ManaSota Films. The couple served as director and cinematographer and they were both producers for the 24 minute-long pilot for what they hope to turn into a series.

A screenshot from Barry Baker: Aspiring Serial Killer Photo provided by Tony Ahedo

A screenshot from Barry Baker: Aspiring Serial Killer. Photo provided by Tony Ahedo

Where are you from?

Ahedo: I’m from St. Pete.

Thornton: I’m originally from Miami.

Why did you attend Ringling College of Art + Design?

Ahedo: I had heard about it and always want to go to an art school. I was looking at a different school that offered a sped up program and I figured I wanted a four year experience. I took the tour and it seemed great. It was a new program so it seemed like a good time to break in and learn new things while the program was also developing itself.

Thornton: They  came to my high school, a recruiter, and offered a pre-college program over the summer and I did that in 2008 and absolutely loved the school. They got me hooked! It was the only art school I even applied to.

Why did you end up staying in Sarasota after graduation?

Ahedo: As soon as I graduated I worked on features during the summer and a couple of short films around Sarasota including a feature in June called Monty Comes Back. That’s actually when I started talking with Orensis Films about the web series and making a pilot. Once they were into it I thought, well now I can make this here and have the backing of a company. We had a limited budget and also used Ringling resources. Ringling students were 60-70% of the crew that worked on the web series. We also had help from Tristark Productions.

Thornton: My parents are in Orlando so not too far and right when I got out of school I had a lot of paid internship projects through Ringling in Sarasota. Later that year I went to New York for a couple of months to work on a TV show — Mozart in the Jungle. I worked on the first season and a camera production assistant.

When did you decide to actually try and make something out of this idea you’d had?

Ahedo: I started writing it at Ringling in my junior year. I pitched it for my senior year and the teachers said it was too big and too crazy so I pocketed it for the moment. It wasn’t until I graduated and started working with Vincent Dale and Orensis Films and they were like, you know we can make this here. I started rewriting the first episodes and then outlined the structure and started working with them to find talent, the locations and produce in budget. We really got working in July 2015 and started full throttle in late August full on producing.

Thornton: He told me about and I thought it was a really funny concept. I helped work on the script and helped with ideas for it. I produced a lot of things but my and main focus was the cinematography and the visual look the production design and costumes.

How did you find your talent?

Ahedo: We’ve always known a lot of good local talent with local theaters — The Players and Asolo. We had filmed in Tampa too and that is right next door. A lot of the local actors were cast in Ringling productions so we had to go to Tampa. Danae DeShazer had acted in one of the movies at Ringling last year so I reached out to her and she read for the part and was a great match. And Peter Konowicz, the lead, was recommended from a friend. He does theater in Tampa. We met up and talked a couple times about the script and once he gave us a read he did a great job. He really wanted to help further build the character. All the other local talent we had heard of before.

Words from the talent…
Danae: As an actress who travels all over the country for work, it’s always a treat to find top-notch work right here at home. Sarasota is filled with young creatives, and it’s been a privilege to be part of a local-grown project with local filmmakers. This is my first stab (pun-intended) at working on a web series, and it’s an exciting prospect for an actor. I’m excited to see the story develop as the season continues and where my character, Annie, ends up.

Peter: Tony is both visionary and detailed. Tony and the whole crew just know their stuff, and they made it fun to show up at the set because you know everybody is going to be pulling in the same direction, doing their best work to try to accomplish Tony’s remarkable vision. Knowing you’ve got another 12-hour day ahead of you, and you’re in every shot, is made much more agreeable when one is surrounded with such talent and positive energy.

How long did the actual filming of the pilot take?

Ahedo: We shot for five days over two weekends in October.

Tony Ahedo and Natasha Thornton working on Barry Baker: Aspiring Serial Killer Photo provided by Tony Ahedo

Tony Ahedo and Natasha Thornton working on Barry Baker: Aspiring Serial Killer
Photo provided by Tony Ahedo

Will locals recognize any of the places you filmed?

Ahedo: We shot in the Plaza Five garage downtown. It has no windows and that’s what we wanted and we had shot there before. The office was in a local building for Quasar Biotech on Tallevast Road by the airport. The home was rented up in St. Pete from Airbnb and we brought in our own furniture and props.

What does Sarasota have to offer young professionals in your opinion?

Ahedo: Sarasota is very generous to artists and it’s great to be a film maker here. Everybody is very generous and they give a lot — locations, donations of food, acting, even the crew. It’s new and welcomed.

Thornton: Most businesses we’ve come across are very excited about film making in general and willing to work with us and excited for the projects. You don’t get that in a lot of places.

So what now?

Ahedo: The first screening will be February 17 through ManaSota Films. They have a monthly meeting where they screen local movies at a movie theater. Many people in the cast and crew will go to that opening. We are also trying to work out the best way to get the rest of the season made. A studio in St. Pete is interested in the productions of the show and they loved it and recommended we submit to some festivals so we are going to submit it to different TV and film festivals as well. The main takeaway is we want people to say they want to watch another episode.

If you plan to go: ManaSota Films  – Parkway 8 Cinemas – Wednesday, February 17 at 7 p.m.

Director’s note: Barry Baker: Aspiring Serial Killer is a horror/comedy series about a lonely office worker with lack of purpose struggling to embrace his new found destiny as a serial killer. The show will play off of classic horror tropes and cliches in the slasher genre. For more details or involvement on the upcoming season production or general questions please contact BarryBakerSeries@gmail.com

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