An interview with a web series star
Matt Maassel is one of the stars of the new video game studio themed web series filmed by and starring Purdue students. The series is titled, “Development Hell” started filming its pilot episode today. Development Hell follows the trials and successes of a video game development company started by college friends. Matt plays as Dominic Warrick, one of the main characters.
Matt is a senior studying health fitness and senior member of The Crazy Monkeys improvisational comedy group. Matt knows his video games. When I interviewed him in his living room he introduced me to his SNES, Nintendo 64, and Playstation 3. As soon as the interview was over we talked for over fifteen minutes just about the games that he has played most recently. Most importantly, he’s single, ladies!
I was lucky enough to hold a Q and A with Matt about the project and his experiences working on it. Watch out, “Inside the Actor’s Studio”!
Q: How would you describe “Development Hell”?
A: “Development Hell” is “Mad Men” for the video game industry. It’s a drama and a really good look into the video game industry: how it works, the programming an the business behind it. Behind the scenes in the video game industry is an area that not many people really know much about so its exciting to have a chance to explore it with this series.
Q: How would you describe your character in “Development Hell”?
A: Dominic is the head programmer and one of the main designers. Using my “Mad Men” reference, I’m sort of the Don Draper character, but a little less responsible. Dominic is very carefree and very excited. He gets very enthusiastic and pumped up about things. He’s also very confident which sometimes comes off as arrogance.
Q: What do you like best about playing Dominic?
A: I really like playing arrogant or someone mean. (Matt laughed after saying this.) I like playing characters that think that they are brilliant, and maybe they are, but they have a little too much bravado. I find that fun.
Q: How do you get yourself ready to be Dominic and have his arrogance and bravado?
A: Oh geez. Well, I suppose that naturally I try not to have arrogance or bravado, so I just play the opposite of that. I believe that there is the opposite of everyone inside them: where you can be the opposite of who you are. So in me there is an opposite side of me that is a know-it-all who thinks he’s really awesome at everything and can totally dominate whatever he wants to do. I try to just tap into that side, I guess.
Q: So what part of development is “Development Hell” at right now?
A: Right now we are just getting ready to film the pilot. We’ve had read throughs so far. We are planning on shooting the first season in late April or early May.
Q: How long do you anticipate Season One will take to film?
A: Season One shouldn’t take any longer than a few weekends, actually. The whole project is solely dependent on how popular it gets. So, based on the popularity of Season One it could continue indefinitely.
Q: What are some of the ways that you will determine the shows popularity? How will you get out the word for the shows popularity?
A: Definitely YouTube is where we’ll start, just seeing how many views the show has. To spread the show we will flood as many social media programs as we can. You know, Facebook and Twitter. Have constant interaction with and fans that we might have. If we start to have consistent fans then cater to them and take care of them and make sure that they know what is happening with the show.
Q: How many people are working on the project currently?
A: I would say about 20.
Q: How many of those people are actors and what are some of the other jobs that people have?
A: There are about 12 actors, I think. The crew has a camera guy, a main set guy, a director and writer, and then, another writer, and maybe other people (laughs) I’m not sure, but I’m sure that there is someone to deal with the business end of it too. Because we need to get some financial support. That’s actually the goal of the pilot, to get some financial support.
Q: How many episodes are currently planned for the first season?
A: I am not sure… The episodes are going to be about five to10 minutes long each, so we’re keeping them short. We can easily see ten episodes at least.
Q: What has been the most fun part of the project for you so far?
A: Personally, it’s just been getting to know the crew and the cast. Just getting involved with the whole crew and getting to know everyone that will make this project great. I’m excited to see how far we will go with this.
Q: Who is the target audience of “Development Hell”?
A: Definitely college students, college and high school students that are interested in video games. As the culture becomes exposed to video games, it becomes available to a wider and wider audience. Right now our demographic is definitely right around college aged because that demographic is very involved with video games. They know about them and they’ve grow up more consistently with them than any other generation. Since this show takes place in the early 2000’s they’ll be able to see certain homages to their past and their childhood.
Q: What are some of those homages that audiences can expect?
A: Well, we talk about the Sega Dreamcast and how it died really fast. We’ll make a video game in the show that we designed for the Dreamcast and we’ll reference certain games as the show progresses. Certain ideas that we’ll come up with that weren’t necessarily ours and then you’ll go, “Oh yeah! So that’s how that got started, or how this got started.” It’s really gaming nuanced.
Q: Is there anything that you would like to add?
A: Check out the new website, developmenthell.net. Not .com. .com was taken. Tell all your friends about the show too!
I’d like to give a big thank you to Matt, and to remind everyone should check out “Development Hell” when the web series launches in the near future!
…Oh and you better what out James Lipton. You better fight hard to defend that interviewing throne. I’m coming for you.