Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: You are currently amassing a creative team for a TV series pitch called The Gate, a supernatural saga that chronicles the epic battle between good and evil. Can you tell us more about the story of the TV series and from where you drew your inspiration?
Kellie Madison: After directing my first feature last year, I’ve been trying to break into directing television since the spring and finally it dawned on me . . . I don’t have anything super high action on my reel. Let’s see if I can change that! So, I wrote a short to shoot, but that seed evolved into an idea for a series. I serendipitously met Amy Johnston and knew instantly that she was my Cassie Weston. Then, I put the last puzzle piece together with the B storyline of an Indonesian guru that teaches Cassie Pencak Silat. Casting Yayan Ruhian from The Raid: Redemption movie was the next step - he’s amazing. When the series goes, I hope to get a few other of the Indonesian Pencak Silat masters on board, as well.
The series flowed out of me quite organically, I have to say. It all seemed to be quite fated. The show chronicles Cassie's childhood days when she and her sister, Kate, are forced to the streets after a Haitian Voodoo Cult Leader sells their drug-addicted mother into sex slavery. Cassie then makes it her life’s mission to become a vigilante crime-fighter to rid the world of evil. When Indonesian crime lord EKO KUWAT (a.k.a. RAFAEL) gets word of her bestowed angelic powers, he quick becomes Cassie’s worst enemy.
BD: The Gate makes its way through several genres, including action, fantasy, and crime thriller. How do you feel that the series will successfully maneuver through these various genres?
KM: Flawlessly, I hope! I actually have an unofficial commitment from David Mack to develop and write the pilot with me and possibly come on board as co-creator of the show. So, with his experience and background in the Superhero/Action world - his lush characters and visual prowess - and my strong sense of story and ability to work with actors on getting and giving profound performances, I think it could be a powerful combination.
BD: In addition to being the director and producer of The Gate, you have an extensive background in filmmaking. How do you feel that your previous experience has prepared you for this project?
KM: I feel like you learn and grow as an artist all the time, on every project, if you are wanting to. I’m learning lessons all the time. The key for me in anything I do, quite honestly, is passion. That’s why I tend to write and develop my own material, because then I’m working on something that is personal - something that moves me - gets a hold of me and won’t let go. I also come from a dancing background, so martial arts - to me - is like a dance. I know what it takes to get your body to move like that. So, when I watch movies like Crouching Tiger, The Raid, Ong-Bak- I’m literally moved to tears sometimes. I know that sounds cheesy, but the art form is so beautiful to me. And, when I discovered Pencak Silat, I felt this burning need to bring this amazing martial art to American television audiences. How lucky and honored will they be to experience it . . .
BD: What can you tell us about the process of working with the creative team of the project, including the cast and crew, and the contributions of these individuals?
KM: So far, everyone has been amazingly supportive of the project and the fundraising goal to bring the project to life. Amy is working her butt of tweeting and doing videos, my editor is working tirelessly at editing our videos, and my graphic designer has been instrumental in artwork, postcards, etc. . . . It’s such an amazing team. I’m just excited to actually dive in and start filming though, too!
BD: Like many independent creators, you initiated a crowdfunding campaign for the project through Kickstarter. What encouraged you to use this specific fundraising method, and how has it enabled you to provide further promotion of the project?
KM: I was actually put in touch with someone who works at Kickstarter, and he loved the project and said that the staff would support it. So, knowing how reputable their site is, I thought it couldn’t be a more perfect fit. And then, the platform is great for raising awareness of the series, so what we are trying to express to people is please just DONATE, no matter how small the amount is, so that we can increase our BACKER number. That way, when we do go to networks to shop the show, we can say - here’s how many people want to watch this TV series!
BD: For our readers who may be interested in donating to The Gate, are there any specific donation perks that may pique our readers’ interest?
KM: YES! For your readers specifically - unquestionably our Design Cassie’s Superhero Costume Contest! SEE ARTWORK BELOW!
BD: What is the most important piece of advice that you can offer to independent filmmakers who aspire to create their own projects?
KM: Be tenacious. Be fearless. Don’t be afraid to get a NO. It’s a numbers game sometimes. Several No's are just leading to a YES. And, ask for help. I literally ask people for help all the time. And, of course, my staple . . . be passionate about what you’re doing.
BD: On that same note, which creators have inspired your work?
KM: I’m inspired greatly by Ron Howard. I’ve always respected his ability to tell a beautiful story, touch audiences, but also be kind and loving to people in the process. This business is too hard and too stressful, so if you’re not having fun while you’re doing it, I’m not sure why you’d want to stay in it. I love the work, that’s what it’s about. Not ego. Not money. Ron Howard strikes me as that kind of director. I love Darren Aronofsky’s work, too . . . it’s so powerful and gripping and moving, with a bit of a dark edge . . . which I like.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about The Gate?
KM: Please go to our Kickstarter page and check out the video which gives a sense of the story, tone, and vision. Read about The Gate, watch all of our videos from Amy, myself, our crew . . . and see and experience all of the passion.