The future will be dark and anti-tech. That is, if it turns out anything like that depicted in web/TV series ‘Land of the Outlaws.”
After a catastrophic viral pandemic leaves Earth a post-apocalyptic ruin, a prohibition of remaining technology is imposed and the surviving revert to a mish-mash of different eras from the wild west to the 1980s.
Shot on various locations throughout Michigan, “Land of the Outlaws” stars John Patrick Hayden, Faran Tahir and Melissa Anschutz, with a supporting cast of Brak Little, Jimmy Doom and Kevin Interdonato.
Michael Dault, producer and actor, known for We Were in Nam (2002), The Scrapper (2012) and Alter (2009) acting show-runner, and his business partner Phillip James Sieb, assistant director/producer/miscellaneous crew, known for Ancient Aliens (2009), Kendra On Top (2012), and Born to Race: Fast Track (2014), also a show-runner, are co-producing the series, with Dault acting the supporting character of Sonny, and Sieb co-writing a few of the episodes.
MMM spoke with Dault regarding his series and plans for future episodes.
When will “Land of the Outlaws” premiere?
MD Very soon and it will be announced when
What is the premise of this series?
MD It’s been years since America has recovered from a viral pandemic that ruined the world, and the prohibition of remaining technology has been imposed. Lawmen now rule the land, but a Wild West mentality remains. Amidst the backdrop of one town’s reform, a series of heists and murders threaten the Roxville Force’s legacy. Enter the honest but troubled veteran, Deputy Curtis Ames. When he and his temperamental partner (Sonny ‘Six Gun’ Devlin) stumble upon a gang of corrupt lawmen, Curtis decides to bring them all to justice before he rides off into the sunset. In this knock down, shoot em’ up post apocalyptic, western tale, Ames, Devlin and former lawman, Utah Harjo, embark on a heroic journey to bring down the dirty lawmen and restore justice back to Roxville once again.
Whose idea was this? Is it based on another source?
I created the series. It’s based on a screenplay I wrote with the intention of it being a feature film. The world itself I took influences from “Mad Max, ““The Good, The Bad and The Ugly“,“ Bonnie and Clyde“,“ The Walking Dead“ and various spaghetti westerns. I love history, so I also took pieces of American history and placed them into this world, mixing past decades together to create what we have here. This world really doesn’t have an identity. Over time and with the plague, it lost its identity, so it naturally stole from other decades and combined them together to create the world it is. So it’s not abnormal to see horses and cars on the same street. Or even fashion influences from the 1920’s and 1980’s come together. It’s awkwardly beautiful– like salty and sweet. And with my co-producing partner Phillip Sieb, we have since have been able to build off this to create a giant world that we’re excited to show you as the story moves forward.
How did you decide on doing a TV/Web series instead of a feature length film?
MD Back in 2009, after I wrote the screenplay. At that time I had talent attached, such as: C. Thomas Howell, Louis Gossett Jr., Daryl Hannah and Michael Madsen. I have always been a fan of their work. However, I started to see the market over-inflate with straight-to-DVD releases now that Red Box, and at the time, Blockbuster kiosks, releasing new titles left and right. So compared to the cast I had attached, which unfortunately had zero pre sale value, I noticed not only would it be hard for me to acquire financing to create the film, but the afterlife of it looked pretty bleak.
I’ve always paid really close attention to the market and its decline and growth. I noticed little-by-little, downloading and streaming titles started to rise. VOD titles were becoming popular, and television was evolving from television to the web. With this, more platforms started to gain traction like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, iTunes, Youtube, Vimeo, Playstation, XBox, etc. I care very much about the story and the characters, so I started playing with the idea of turning “Land of the Outlaws“ into a series.
Smaller indie web series like “Video Game High School, ““Sanctuary, ““Pioneer One, ““The Guild“ and “Husbands“ really broke the mold in my opinion. The way they were able to create content and build their fan bases struck a chord with me. Genre trends also started becoming popular with fanboy content being pumped out. Now here we are in 2015 and some of the greatest series are on the internet: “Daredevil, ““House of Cards, ““ Orange is the New Black, “ “Man in the High Castle,“ and so much more. This has even breathed more life into series that people binge watch all the time.
So taking all of this, I started in 2012 to develop “Land of the Outlaws“into a series. I knew we would have to go the investor route (private money), because this sort of project really couldn’t follow in the same footsteps of other great series. I knew I wanted it on the web and I had to form a solid business plan to back that. It took a while and many sacrifices, but I was able to connect with Billy Fradys and Jeffrey Patrick Olson. They understood the vision and where we could take this and believed in it enough to back us. They too have great creative minds, so it was easy to explain to them my business model. Like they say, the first one through the wall is always the bloodiest, and they took that chance and it’s a partnership that will keep going.
How long have you been filming the series? How many episodes do you have in the can?
MD We only filmed the pilot to date. We shot it in August. We are planning to shoot five additional episodes for our six episode first season. We intend to shoot the remaining episodes near the end of spring/beginning of summer 2016.
Where was this series shot?
MD The pilot was shot in Michigan, predominantly on the west side. We shot in Plainwell, Grand Rapids, Ada, Buckley, Traverse City and Mackinaw.
Who is your cinematographer?
Adam Bricker was our main DP. His work on the indie feature “Starry Eyes“ as well as Netflix’s “Chef’s Table“ and most recently “Farrel Takes the Field“ I highly recommend you seeing. He’s a master of his craft. However, Jeffrey T. Morgan also contributed quite a bit as well. Jeff’s been apart of some great projects in the past and also directed our pilot. Both have great eyes for the look we wanted and knocked it out of the park.
Talk about the cast.
I love our cast. We originally held auditions on the east side in Detroit and then on the west side in Grand Rapids. We filled out some of our cast from this. The talent was just amazing. We weren’t really surprised at all, though. Michigan has always pumped out great talent on both sides of the camera, on many great films, regardless of box office results. From these auditions we were able to get some main cast aboard. Jimmy Doom was one of them. The dude looks intimidating, but he’s a really sweet guy. He plays Wild Bill Brukowski. Wild Bill is the lowest of low; blood lust and greedy. I saw Jimmy’s performance in “To Kill an Irishman” and I knew I wanted him for this right away. Another great actor we came across was Brak Little. He’s been in some smaller stuff, and in each of those his performance really carried those stories along. He came in and blew us away. As soon as he walked out of that audition room, I told Phil “We found our sheriff.” He killed it. Another well-known Michigan performer is Melissa Anschutz. If you haven’t seen any of her work, stop what you’re doing right now and do so. She’s great, man. Much like Jimmy, I knew what we were going to get when she auditioned. I basically wanted to bring her in to impress the other producers. I think when she left the room everyone was silent for like two minutes and then we all just kind of looked at each other and smiled and went nuts because we found our Deputy Maddie Rawlings. Maddie is our female lead. She’s a true vigilante. In all this corruption, she stays true and just dives head first into the action– mostly out of vengeance for her murdered partner, but also because her past, which we’ll get into as the season progresses.
After auditions we still weren’t able to find our two other male leads for Deputy Curtis Ames and Utah Harjo. I remember watching Netflix’s “Daredevil” when it first premiered earlier this year, and the very first scene I saw the father of Daredevil “Battln’ Jack Murdock” played by John Patrick Hayden. He had everything we were looking for in Curtis Ames. We had to have him, so the next day I got on the phone with his agent and the rest is history. John really brought it on set. He embodies what you want in your male lead. A very giving actor too. I play Sonny “Six-Gun” Devlin– his partner. It was great working with him and I can’t wait to continue in 2016. Curtis is a lawmen who has seen it all. He’s modeled after the old laws’ ways and stays true to that. He has a tortured past and is his own worst enemy. I’ve always compared him to that old neighborhood dog that wanders from yard-to-yard. Nothing surprises him. No other dog messes with him and if they do, he’ll put them in their place. Man, we put John through the ringer during principal. He was beat up, shot at, running him back and forth, bloodied up and at the end of the day he wanted more. I love that!
As for Utah it was a bit tough to nail this one down. We were in talks with Danny Trejo from the beginning. I wanted him originally when I was considering this as a film, so transitioning over to a series didn’t change that thought process much. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to come to terms. He was overseas at the time, and had a busy schedule so it was really hard to nail him down for the role. Great guy, though. Honestly, it actually worked out in our favor because we found our perfect Utah. I had a short list of actors I’ve always wanted to play Utah. On that list was Faran Tahir. He’s played a full spectrum of roles throughout his career, so this was right up his alley. Utah tries to be a peaceful man, but when his back is against the wall, the rage shows. He was once a lawman and left the force long ago to live on the southside, away from the corruption. Faran is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Very genuine and has really made Utah his own. What he brings to the character is something I think we’ve always needed and I’m glad things worked out like they did.
We also casted a killer talent in Kevin Interdonato, who plays Southsider Russell. Russell is the lone wolf of the Southsiders. He acts as a scout and warns his family (the Southsiders) about what’s happening on the northside in Roxville and in the outside territories. He’s a skilled marksman, with a military past. Kevin approached me wanting the role early on, as he’s casted in another movie we’re doing. I was well aware of what he can do. Kevin has been in the industry for a long time and has played amazing characters, and he too was in the military, so he fit perfectly for the role of Russell. He actually brought him to a whole other level, much like John did for Curtis, that we couldn’t even imagine. The characters are that much better because of them.
I play the supporting character of Sonny, who is Curtis’ hot-headed, cocky partner. It’s sort of a big brother, little brother relationship between the two. Curtis is his mentor and puts him in line when the kid falls out of it. When I created Sonny I took influences from many like Billy the Kid, Sid Vicious, Leo DiCaprio’s character in “Quick and the Dead“ and a few others. He’s a shoot first, ask questions later kind of guy.
MD The crew was amazing. We asked a lot of them and they always delivered. We had a fairly large crew that were like Swiss army knives; they had many skills and we used about every single one of them. Much like the actors they had to endure hot days, long hours, rough terrains and much more. The crew was about 90% Michigan-based.
How will this be distributed?
MD We will announce that very soon– December. I can tell you it will be on the Web.
Where can we catch the premiere?
MD That will be announced very soon. We look forward to announcing all!
Land of the Outlaws IMDB http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4820688/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1
Mike Dault IMDB http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3700751/?ref_=tt_cl_t5