Online Comedy Series The Clandestine Launches

'A group of geeks form an outlaw motorcycle club' in director Joseph Campo's new online comedy series

Tell us about your production company, Video Hacker.

Video Hacker is an indie video and video software production company based in Belfast. We're pretty new. Our specialty is creating branded entertainment for the web. Our sister company, Banjax, develops web and mobile applications. Between the two companies, we are going to take over the internet, probably on a Sunday evening while everyone's watching Downton.

You have a new online comedy series to promote...

The Clandestine is our first full-scale production, a comedy web series about a group of geeks who form an outlaw motorcycle club. (Watch season one trailer above and episode one below, both of which include expletives). You can watch the full first season on our website.

Uniquely for a Northern Irish comedy, The Clandestine is funny. How did that happen?

Let me preface by saying I'm an American – but I think Northern Irish people have a fantastic sense of humour. I came up with the basic premise and treatment and hired a local writer, Kieran Doherty, to write the show.

Kieran has written several features and television pilots. He's produced a bunch of shows with Wild Rover Productions, including The David Meade Project and Secret Fortune. I think he's an absolutely brilliant writer with a big career ahead of him. He's got a million ideas and he's a cooperative collaborator.

We both worked closely together to create a comedy project that was Northern Irish, but at the same time accessible. Our show is for the web and it's not enough for it to succeed in Belfast. I want the show to be a hit everywhere, so we tried to make something that was funny for everyone.

As director, did you work with Doherty on script development?

I came to him with a bare bones treatment and he filled it out. Then we passed it back and forth until we were ready for a script, and then he wrote several drafts. Several rounds of extensive notes and meetings later, we had our final script.

We did a lot of line-by-line work on the show, with the idea that the funniest line always wins. That's why I say Kieran is great to work with. He's never too precious about a joke if another one comes along. I'd like to think I'm the same, and indeed some of the funniest moments in the show came when an actor had an idea and we realised it was better than what Kieran or I had come up with.

The series looks very well shot and has a strong cast. How was it funded?

Many thanks for saying so. Funding came from four sources. We ran a Kickstarter campaign. We were sponsored by the online motorcycle parts and accessories store Gingerparts. We received development funding from Northern Ireland Screen. And we invested some of our own money into the project.

Is it likely to be screened on television at any point?

If we play our cards right. We'd like to do a recut for TV. We think The Clandestine has a larger life. We've got a treatment in the works for a spin off based on another chapter of the club in England. We've also been talking to companies about making an American show.

Is it a myth that only big studio imports get backing from the statutory bodies in Northern Ireland, or are you all outside the Titanic Studios looking in?

Yes, that's a huge myth. The rules are the same for all companies. Unfortunately, the big companies can more easily raise the rest of the budget, as the statutory bodies can hardly be expected to pay the full amount. But Northern Ireland Screen supports most, if not all of the independents, in Northern Ireland.

So are Northern Ireland's indigenous filmmakers finally starting to compete on a global stage?

Yes, they are. (Can I call myself indigenous? I've been here three years and my daughter is from here, so...) There are a handful of production companies in Belfast who are making international productions, and several younger filmmakers who are starting to get a lot of attention.

What's next for Video Hacker?

More of The Clandestine and projects like it. If all goes well with the show, it'll be a great proof of concept with which we can create new online branded entertainment projects. We try to find creative and funny ways to brand ourselves, and we hope this brings us more business.

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