Barbra J. Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: You recently founded the production company Cloud Gate Productions which launched its first-ever web series, Losers. For our readers who may be unfamiliar with the series, can you tell us more about the story behind the show?
Fred Pelzer: Losers is all about the idea everybody is a loser to somebody. If you take a deep enough look at anyone’s life, you’ll find the regrets and mistakes, even beneath the most perfect-seeming exteriors. But, it’s also a celebration of those mistakes, of how they shape you and push you forward through life.
BD: What inspired you to begin Cloud Gate Productions, as well as your first web series?
FP: Cloud Gate came about from knowing a metric ton of creative people in Chicago without enough release valves to produce work. In short, we were all tired of waiting for someone else to say yes – yes to a script, to an audition, to a gig – and, instead, set out about creating those opportunities for ourselves. Thus, the company mantra – “No More Gatekeepers.”
A lot of different elements went into forming Losers, but it all started from the refrain of the Titus Andronicus song “No Future Part III: Escape From No Future.” What starts as a taunting sing-song stating, “You will always be a loser,” slowly morphs into an overwhelming ‘f--- you’ kind of chant as the whole band shouts the same words back in the faces of anyone whoever dared use the word as an insult. You might always be a loser, but there’s nothing wrong with that and you’ll probably be in good company. In the dream ballet of Losers, we have the budget to put “No Future Part III” over everything we do.
BD: Are there any specific creators that you feel have inspired your work?
FP: Raymond Carver and Alice Munro, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia (We toyed with a montage of everyone singing the same song as homage/theft,), Young Couple, Wernor Herzog and his belief that any artist should be prepared to commit a crime in the name of their art, the Duplass Brothers and Noah Baumbach and Joe Swanberg, etc. doing their thing on no budget, Lena Dunham for getting at some portion of what it’s like to be alive and a certain age today, the list goes on.
BD: What can you tell us about the process of working with the creative team of the series, including the cast and crew, and the contributions of these individuals?
FP: It’s been fantastic. Chicago is incredibly supportive of people who try to break through and do their own thing. There’s an understanding here that anybody can scrape together some money, rent a black box theatre in Rogers Park or Logan Square, cast actors nobody has heard of, and put together something as valid as what the Goodman or Steppenwolf is doing. There’s an overabundance of talent, of stage actors and improvisers and sketch actors and film actors and bands, a criminal excess, so we just opened the door to our project and they came pouring in. We’ve been blessed with the quality of people who wound up under the Losers umbrella, all of them willing to donate their time and energy on just our promise of an idea.
BD: How many episodes of Losers have already been released, and how many episodes and/or seasons do you envision for the show?
FP: As of today, 9 episodes have been released, with another 16 to come over the next six weeks. Right now, the plan is to have just the one season, and then Cloud Gate will move on to other productions. Though there are jokes/threats of a Christmas special.
BD: Being that we focus on all things “geek” at Fanboy Comics, would you care to geek out with us about your favorite web series?
FP: Web series and internet content is a wild west right now, and you still have the chance to break through with a good enough idea or execution. There are so many good products out there, but first we’d have to let everyone know about a fellow Chicago web series Young Couple, a well-told, intimate story of two people trying out a second marriage that achieves a lovely grace in every day moments. Beyond that, Open City Mixtape is stunning, and creator A.V. Rockwell is going to be huge in a few years. Little Horribles, High Maintanence, and The Outs, amongst others, were also huge touchstones in the level of quality you could demand of a web series. One final batch of recommendations – Teachers and DUMMY, are both great bit-generating machines being produced by Chicago improv teams. There are another hundred shows on the list after this. Join the 21st century, throw out your cable box, and seek out great programming and new voices online.
BD: Are there any other projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
FP: Our production company is currently planning out a horror web series in the tradition of Borges and House of Leaves and Lovecraft, very much of the weird horror genre. Beyond that, we’ve got a few feature-length ideas that we’re starting to flesh out. The big through line for all of these projects is how best we can utilize Chicago and the talent here to tell a story.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Losers?
FP: The best thing, as always, is to go to the source. Every Wednesday, we’re putting up another set of episodes on the website at www.losers-series.com courtesy of our talented cast and crew. Otherwise, find us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up to date with what’s going on.