Articles & Notes — September 6, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Sweet Fever: Comedy, sex appeal and pillow fighting (exclusive)

It does not happen often that you come to stumble upon a film or series with original story, that has some potential to capture your attention.

“Sweet Fever” web-series seems to fit into that category. And the reason for that is – it is a web-series about a Pillow Fighting Championship.

Director Mark Zanin and writer Oliver Brackenbury, the creators of “Sweet Fever” found time to talk with BZFilm, and discuss their web-series that surely stand out. So, let’s dive into the world of the pillow-fighting!


How did such an idea for creating web-series about “pillow-fighting” came up?

Oliver Brackenbury: Well, we’d been looking at producing a science fiction web-series for a while but when we sat down and really did the budget we knew there was no way to do it with the quality of production value we wanted using the dollars we had.

Mark (Mark Zanin – director) remembered a short film idea I’d had kicking around for a few years, a loveletter to the surreal sexploitation films of Russ Meyer, and suggested I refurbish that as well as combine it with one of the cool local discoveries I’d made since moving to Toronto. The world of professional pillow-fighting seemed an obvious choice, filled as it is with larger than life personalities, brighly coloured costumes, outrageous aliases and the action of the actual fights themselves. Comedy, sex appeal and fights…if we could just work in a food element I think we’d be appealing to all of humanities base desires!

Mark Zanin: It seemed to me to be the best way to flex our muscles creatively was to have a show that could be funny, sexy and sometimes a little violent. I had gone to a few pillow fighting matches, and loved the atmosphere – it was a little more punk-rock, more violent and a lot less weird than I had expected. It just felt natural to try to incorporate something as interesting as that into a narrative.

Why web-series, instead of a full-feature film, or TV-series?

Mark Zanin: Web-series are a great way to hone ones skills as a filmmaker. You can create something with a built-in release platform, and you can immediately see how people respond to it. Also, with a web-series, you aren’t boxed into time-constraints in the edit, and you’re also more free to attempt different things stylistically. With a feature, you’d have to settle on a definitive tone and camera style, and TV has you’re bound to certain edit points for commercials and to the demands of a network – online content has fewer fetters.

Oliver Brackenbury: Lower bar of entry, speedier path to a finished product (I say this even though it took us 18 months from concept to online debut) and total creative control. We’d love to take this thing further on television if we can swing it, but a second season on the web would work as well – the important thing is that we secure the funds to raise production value while actually paying everyone for their time and skills! If we can do that, I’m not so fussy about the medium.

There are in fact real pillow-fighting leagues around the world, that occasionally stage these pillow-fighting tournaments. Would you be considering inviting some of the “real fighters” to participate in an episode or two?

Oliver Brackenbury: Absolutely! I’ve had the good fortune to chat with a few fighters, even doing an interview with a local champion, but so far we haven’t discussed anything with them. Ideally we’ll be able to use the first season to impress some fighters into showing up for the second, which will feature way more fights.

How big is the budget for the series?

Mark Zanin: The budget was tight, but we had some great people providing us with their skills, time and experience. That went a long way. Our Co-Producer, Alex Jordan, was instrumental in helping us turn this thing into a reality. He extended to us his production insurance which we would have never been able to afford on our own, and that opened up a lot of doors for us.

Do you plan to continue shooting for second, third seasons?

Oliver Brackenbury: We certainly want to, I’ve got very detailed plans for a much longer second season and rough outlines for a third. But as I said earlier it’s a matter of proving the merit of the series to “Those Who Hold The Sacks Of Cash”. Whether that means a studio, a TV network, crowdsouring or that billionaire heiress that’s funding Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest films is something we’ve yet to discover.

Mark Zanin: I think we’d like to assemble the team again. Working with Imogen and the rest of the cast and crew has been such a great experience that I’d really like to continue it in some form. A second season would be great – I want to see where we can take these crazy characters. Hopefully the next go around we’ll have a few more toys to play with. But as Oliver said, a second season depends largely on whether or not we can garner some interest from people with some sway.

How has the show been assessed and received by the audience so far?

Oliver Brackenbury: So far it’s been very positive! We’ve been happy to see in comments, emails and reviews that people are enjoying the humor and becoming engaged with the story. It’s always interesting to see what other works people mention when trying to articulate what they enjoy about ours, so far I’ve seen “Danger5”, Quentin Tarantino and “Clerks” mentioned along with several others.

Mark Zanin: Yeah, that “Clerks” thing kind of baffles me. And I never actually seen “Danger5”, although I’m sure they’re a wonderful band. As for Quentin, he ripped our style off. I hope he dies in a theatre fire. Moving on, yes, people have been liking the show. It’s satisfying to see people who we don’t know personally saying some positive things our cast, and our work in general. It’s especially good when they comment on aspects of the show that we worked on especially closely. We never tried to directly imitate other filmmakers, but we wanted their influence to be felt in the show. People seem to enjoy it.

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