Ash Winters interviewOne of the lastest US machinima that really got our attention was the Doctor's Orders series. We already wrote about this fun and fresh machinima, but today and exclusively for you guys, Ash Winters, the man behind the show is answering some of our questions.
Hi, would you like to introduce yourself?
What?! Why? Are you Interpol? Look I was only dealing with human trafficking to find a good voice actor for Nurse Abbey. Youíd be surprised at how many takes sheís willing to do for a VISA. Anyways my name is Brandon Prater, the one man band behind Doctorís Orders. Iím the director, editor, writer and voice actor for the Doctor and if I could do a girlís voice I would send Abbey back to that third world kitchen she came from!
What made you doing machinimas and how did it happen?
People always told me I was ďspecialď. My grade school teacher told me I could eat paint chips like nobody could. However what got me to do machinima was the fact that I had no other outlet. Iíve always wanted to be a story teller but could not afford any cameras. Not to mention I was shy and very unsocial so I could never ask other people to be in my movies. However one day when I was at a local game store I came across a DVD copy of ďRed vs. BlueĒ. I watched it and fell in love with machinima. It was simple but fun to watch. It was the perfect outlet I was looking for. So I bought a super cheap 10 dollar capture card and started making machinima.
How it all began.
What are your favorite machinimas?
Itís hard for me to sit down and watch a machinima because Iíve been making them. Kind of like a movie director canít watch movies because in his mind he sees a production not a movie. Yet the ones I do watch are ďRed vs. BlueĒ and ďSuper Space GordonĒ. High in production value and tons of fun to watch.
What is your least favorite phase in the creation process?
Shooting is the worst for me because Iím just one guy and I have to move three or more people around. Itís forced me to be creative in my editing and how I approach each scene.
What phase is the most fun?
Writing has got to be my favorite part of the whole production. Editing is really cool too but can sometimes be frustrating. When Iím writing I feel my mind racing and some times when I get a good idea I walk around my house for almost a whole hour acting out the scene. My neighbors keep telling me to cover the windows when I do soÖ.and to wear pants.
How long do you spend creating an episode?
Too long I think and itís hurt me in the past, but I canít help it. Iím a student at a University and it can be very busy for me at times. I try when I can to put out episodes but for the most part it should take me no more than a couple of weeks to put an episode together. That part has to change though.
What are your main inspirations you when you create machinimas?
What inspires me the most when I create machinima isnít machinima at all. Some have commented that my show reminds them of television and thatís exactly it. My main inspiration is sitcoms, mostly shows like ď3rd Rock From The SunĒ , ďFrasierď, ďCheersď, and ďScrubsď. Anime also helps me in animating characters and how they physically interact with each other. That could explain why I have so many Anime fans as well.
Who would have guessed?
Despite Halo: Reach release, you keep on doing Halo 3 machinimas. What makes you choose between one game and another?
Viewers often comment about that very thing and they either commend me for not switching over or they fault me for not doing so. Donít get me wrong, I love Halo Reach. Bungieís swan song still lives strong in my memory and I find myself always coming back to play a round or two. However, spartans in Halo Reach look too badass, like every one of them could rip you a new one. With the major details in the armor and that large knife tucked away on their chest, it just makes them look like killing machines. In comparison Halo 3 looks more simple and basic. For a comedy Halo 3 looks better.
Which one is more likely to rip you a new one?
Except Halo, what game would you choose to make a machinima?
I recently discovered Uncharted 3ís theater mode and itís awesome. Uncharted 2 had one as well but the fact that you could not rewind was a major problem. Yet now since they fixed that problem in Uncharted 3, I would like to use that engine.
You have a lot of partners on Doctorís Orders for voice acting, music, animation, cinematography, puppeteering... How do you work with them? Does it ever cause problems?
I count myself very lucky in the fact that I have so many friends willing to help me out on this show. Some of them donít even know my face yet they help me. Trevor Potprocky does the music for the show and voices some extras. He adds that extra awesome layer of entertainment with his music to the show. Mellisa Eberlein voices the character Nurse Abbey and does a great job doing so. We met each other in acting class over at the university and right away I knew she was the voice of Abbey. She is very talented and always brightens up my day with her endless energy and laughter. Kory is voiced by Richard Ramon and heís another friend I met over at the university and he is a welcome addition to the team and over time gets better and better at his role. Iíve only had one person do cinematography for me and that was Random Jack. He is unfortunately busy with his own projects to work on Doctorís Orders but the lessons he left behind still echo in my head. Animation however has been a nightmare and I must have gone through 4 different animators in the past year on this show. For some reason or another cg animators are just hard to work with because they either want money or demand perfection in their work. Doctorís Orders is a comedy show with a very low budget and does not need perfection in its approach. Itís become such a mess of an issue that I have 3 different animators for different animations. SnowflakeAlpha does really cool character animation for the show, Matthew Lake and Trevor Potprocky do awesome ship/vehicle animation.. I even forced myself to learn Cinema 4d to do some of the animations as well. It can get tough handling all those people for one project but I try to limit the tasks I give them and they shine through.
In the end of episode three, Doctorís Orders tone gets a little more serious. In the audio commentary for the same episode, you told that the next one will be independents. Will this story be continued in the next Doctorís Orders? Will be there more fights?
I think there are two big problems with machinima comedies today. First is the fact that there is no direction in the show and itís just one joke after another with no real plot. The other problem is the fact that each episode of a series never gets anything done. Doctorís Orders is a show where each episode has its own sub story with an overwhelming larger story connecting each episode. The mysterious man on the screen from episode 3 has hired the ruthless assassin Sinless and his spy bot Dub to fulfill his revenge against the Doctor and each episode brings them closer to completing his master plan. Already a lot of people are trying to guess the identity of the mysterious man and the stuff they come up with are pretty funny. My hope is that with the coming episodes there will be more action without losing any of the comedy.
Do you have any other machinima project beside Doctorís Orders?
Iíve tried countless times to do another machinima but never felt they were good enough or had no time for them. The only other machinima I think people would recognize me from is The Greatest Fight Never Seen, a short film about two nerds fighting over a sniper rifle. Before Doctorís Orders though I was known for another machinima series called Safari Quest, were I made fun of Xbox live clans who take themselves too seriously. Although I have no plans for another machinima series I do have plans for a non-machinima show this coming spring.
With Machinima.com focusing on advertising content, the audience asking for more Michael Bay styled CoD/Halo content and machinima forums being massively left by their users/staff, what do you think about the current state of machinima? Do you think machinima is dying?
I always feared that I was entering Machinima on its last legs, like I got to the party late. Machinima.com is becoming a legit company with competing interests against other media empires. Their focus in the coming years will be how to get advertisement companies to side with them over televised networks. Thus the focus on Machinima will be commercially based and not artistic. Meaning if you want to get noticed you have to follow the trend of huge explosions and constantly switching to the game most popular right now (like Minecraft or Reach). For me I just do what I do because I love it. I donít follow trends to get more money; I just love to tell a story. Machinima isnít dying, itís just crowded with directors and videos. Machinima.com just needs to direct its focus to better content, like they are doing with Story Mode. Who knows where this medium is heading but Iím just going along for the ride.
Is there anything you would change in your films if you were given the opportunity?
Probably update the quality from standard definition to HD and try not to focus so much on the Dep. Surgeon General. She was not the main focus of the story just a means to get the ball rolling.
What do you think you learnt while making machinimas?
Iíve learn so much in editing the shows and how to construct a story. Iíve learned to use 5 different editing programs and realized my skill level compared to other filmmakers.
When not creating/watching machinimas what do you usually enjoy?
Plotting world domination Ö.and watching TV.
Any piece of advice for newcomers?
If you want to do a series plan ahead and make several episodes before you release the first one. Also above all else just have fun with it. If it becomes work then its not worth it. Feel it in your heart, donít pollute, the power is yours blah blah blah. Can I go now? (gets up) WHERE THE HELL IS THE DOOR!!?
There you go, thanks again to Brandon who took the time to answer these little questions. And if you guys want to know more about him or his shows here's how:
His Youtube Channel
His Twitter account