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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Creating The Character--Joss Washburn

Thought it was time for something a bit different from us.  I generally share the info about what is going on behind the scenes and post things that I have learned in developing and promoting a web series…  Thought you might like to hear from someone else!  So here is our lead actor, Marcus Lawrence, discussing how he developed the character of Joss Washburn.  Hope you enjoy it.

I am pleased with all the views, so I just wanted to talk about the character, but I really wanna talk about the viewpoints I take with it, in hopes that it does an honor to people in uniform as well.

Someone recently talked to me about the cynical nature of Joss, and much of it is in the writing. However, to really make it come from somewhere, I have actually gone out and talked to numerous veterans of our recent wars. Many of them have referred to Iraq as a”calamity”, many reminisced about fallen comrades, and dumb politically appointed civillian people in charge of sensitive operations who pulled really stupid, almost class war – oriented crap on them. The emotions of past experiences in the fog of war that we ask many of our young men to compartmentalize is humbling.

However, this isn’t a polemic. That would be self – serving. I simply want people to understand what I wished to understand in my portrayal of a former elite Marine. His cynicism is tempered with a sense of duty. The politics of society, what he sees as red tape that people can hide behind, he simply views at with his cynicism. He may have a friend on the police force, but he won’t hesitate to go around the police to accomplish his mission. His loyalties lie with the children he finds. With the innocent. Don’t stand in his way.

Joss’s cynicism is perhaps a little toned down as he becomes the Hand. His duties are beyond his comprehension, and there is no learning curve for the supernatural world. However, his ability to process information through advanced special ops training will come in handy. There is no black and white anymore. There is, however, winning and losing. Life and Death. This is an aspect he understands quite well. However, it will be the grey areas he will struggle to comprehend, and be forced to live in. However, as you will see, he won’t have to do it alone.

I have really enjoyed the experience, I gotta say. Being on set has been fun, the people I work with have been just awesome. Lots of joking around, but when it comes time to roll camera, we go to work. I really hope you guys are enjoying what we’re doing. It’s great that when you need an escape from the barrage of reality shows, you can just turn on the computer, and I hope that when you do, you enjoy us!!!!!

Marcus Lawrence


  1. Thank you for sharing this with us. I love hearing how actors build a character...of course the writing is there...but we actors bring so much of ourselves and our research into it...it's nice to read about your work.

  2. It's funny you say that...Clint was laughing at me not long ago. I wrote a series of prequel vlogs to promote the series and set up the world. The actor who was doing them is amazing. He took what I had written, and as I watching the last episode, I was tearing up. Clint laughed at me and said..."you knew what was coming, you wrote the darn things!" All I could do was shake my head, because what Jay delivered was so much better, so much more moving than the words on paper. I have the greatest respect for the actors. It is something I could never do!

  3. That is lovely to have such a great relationship with the actors and appreciate what they bring to it. Writing is relatively new for me and this is the first time I've ever directed and was clueless as to how to go about it on film..especially for a webseries...wondering what people would like etc...but then I remembered I'm also an actor...and we never worry what the audience thinks (like almost every moment..LOL!)...but that's offstage...not onstage...because a good actor goes moment to moment....and I think that's what you are talking about....it's sort of like when one writes if you sit and judge yourself instead of letting the inmates run the asylum (your characters take you on a trip that perhaps you thought would go one way but as you wrote it they wanted to go another.)...because judging the writing is for rewrites or you never really get anyplace...you just sit and stare and don't do it....or at least I wouldn't...would you? Do you have a way of working that you think is different? For instance I wrote a film about a writer who couldn't write without certain things surrounding him ...and if one thing was out of place so was he.....how does the process go for you and with the actors too?

    1. Pink Slip,
      Writing is a funny thing around our house...all of us do it, and none of us operate the same way. Zoe is 13, and researches and writes scripts for an educational video program we produce, and is starting her own blog for teens. I also write for the same program, as well as commercials for our paying clients, and a few other projects. But the real writer of the family is Clint. He has published several novels and has more scripts bouncing around here than I can keep track of. But our writing styles are completely different. Clint and I collaborated on the writing of one project, a short film called Perspective, and when we were done, I looked at him and told him "never again." We work great together in everything else, but we cannot write together at all. Not sure what it is, but we approach things so differently that all we end up doing is fighting. He asked me to help co-write Mythos and I turned him down flat. Instead, I do the research, toss out ideas, some of which he takes and some he doesn't. Then he and Charley write the scripts and I go back and edit. And that process has kept us from throttling each other through one season, and we are starting on Season 2!

  4. Just to jump in on this (this is the infamous Clint)...My problem when it comes to collaborating as a writer is a I tend to be a control freak. I don't mean to be, just kinda happens...my inner writer, Hulks out, as it were :)

    But, when I'm Directing, I tend to be far more inclusive. I think what it really boils down to is this, as a writer with a background in short stories or novels, the buck always stopped with me. Sure, I had editors, but ultimately, it was my name on the work. But, from a series perspective, I understand that I am the man behind the curtain. I have no problem at all including ideas from cast, crew, nagging wife :) But, when it comes to the writing, I guess old habits die hard.

    What we tried to do is really empower our actors. When I sat with them one on one and we talked about the character's backstory, I usually did that annoying thing where someone asks a question and I would answer it with the, "well what do you think?" That wasn't to be non-committal, but rather to give the actors a chance to build their character their way. A real clear example is our character Amadan. Actor Ray Remillard brought a fading English accent to the character because he felt Amadan would have spent time in Victorian England and probably would have spent more time hanging out with the dregs of society, so its not upper crust English, its just a hint of the poor man's England of the day...that was a back story that he came up with.

    So, I guess my only thought is that the hardest thing to do is to give up ownership on the characters enough, but know when to reel them back in. As a writer, I am not very good at that...but, once I put on the Director hat, I ignore my feelings as the writer completely. As Director, I have no sacred cows in the script...and sometimes, actors change things around and after we film and I am editing, the writer is wistful for the words that I put on paper, but the Producer/Editor/Director in me is smart enough to recognize that the work is better with the inclusion of our actors ideas.

    As for judging rewrites and that kind of thing...I started writing commercial copy in radio and television. I have no problem cutting stuff, rewriting or anything...but, that comes from learning the discipline with commercial work.


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