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Wednesday, 23 November 2016 12:55

YouTube sitcom, featuring everyday zombies, gains growing following

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Butch Patrick, center, who played Eddie Munster in the 1960s sitcom "The Munsters," poses for a photo with "The Deadersons" producers Wyatt Elliott, left, and Kris Williamson after filming the December episode of the online series. The show is in season two and has expanded to Amazon Prime and KTV-14 in Kenosha. Butch Patrick, center, who played Eddie Munster in the 1960s sitcom "The Munsters," poses for a photo with "The Deadersons" producers Wyatt Elliott, left, and Kris Williamson after filming the December episode of the online series. The show is in season two and has expanded to Amazon Prime and KTV-14 in Kenosha. Notebook Movies photo

ROCKFORD -- Everything continues to be undead and well in the city of "Bloody Hills," the setting of the locally produced YouTube sitcom "The Deadersons."

The online show, which first aired about a year ago, explores a city of zombies that tries to associate with a neighboring city of the living after the apocalypse. The series is inspired by the 1960s television series "The Munsters" and "The Addams Family."

Now in its second season, the Rockford-based series takes on themes from current culture -- only with a bit of undead flavor, according to co-producer Kris Williamson.

The November episode was about a local election for mayor, which coincided with the presidential election.

"We touch on social issues. Especially with the mayor’s race, we cast one of our actors as a Donald Trump character and another actor as a Hillary Clinton character," Williamson said. "It kind of expressed everyone’s dissatisfaction with the choices (for candidates). We filmed it two ways, depending on who the actual winner was."

The December episode is set to feature an appearance by Butch Patrick, who portrayed Eddie Munster on "The Munsters."

"He’s Grandpa Eddie now in our series," Williamson said. "He was super nice and very supportive of the show. I grew up watching ‘The Munsters’ because of my dad because he loved it, so that’s definitely one of our inspirations for the show. So, getting (Patrick) to appear was exciting."

"The Deadersons" airs once a month and can be viewed by going to Notebookmovies.com and Notebook’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Wyatt Elliott, co-producer, said the series could be expanded to two episodes a month.

"We’re planning season two a little more ahead. (Williamson) is still writing it by the seat of her pants, but there are story elements that we have now," Elliott said. "Season one had 12 shows, so we’re not going to shorten our audience on that, but it could go more than that."

Most of the cast has returned for the second season, including Derrick Cook, Valerie Meachum, Eric Reed, Jennifer Lenius, Aaron Burleson and Tori Clark.

The series has been filmed in several locations in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, including Rockford, Beloit, Roscoe, Freeport and Belvidere.

"Our cast has been pretty secured," Elliott said. "We haven’t had to deal with many cast changeovers."

Williamson said several people, including Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey, have offered to make guest appearances.

"We’ve gotten a lot of extras. Before we were like, ‘We need people for a crowd scene,’ then we would get like four people to show up," Williamson said. "The past couple of episodes, we’ve needed a crowd scene because we had crowd rallies because of the mayoral race. We got a whole crowd of people now. It’s pretty exciting."

1127 Deadersons familyEpisodes of the first season can be seen on KTV-14 in Kenosha and on Amazon Prime.

"(KTV-14) is playing us twice a week, Fridays at 6 p.m. and Mondays at 3 p.m.," Elliott said. "They’re playing season one still, then we will work on getting them to air season two."

Elliott said they hope to get the series to air on other television stations.

"The fact that we’re going to be on Amazon Prime and on local TV, that’s branched out our ideas to contact other TV stations," Elliott said. "We’ve gotten emails from people who have watched it on television, so we know people are watching it."

Elliott said they recently released a DVD set of the first season. The set includes all 12 episodes, behind-the-scenes footage and other extras.

"We’ve saved all the bloopers for the DVD," Elliott said. "We’ve got several behind-the-scenes documentaries on there. We’ve got the Sunspot music video we shot."

Williamson said she is pleased with how the series has progressed during the past year. She said several local businesses have sponsored the series and have aired commercials on some of the episodes.

"They’re getting advertising not only on our channels, but they’re getting (their commercials) on TV in Kenosha," Williamson said. "We’re getting a lot of support from the local community and in the surrounding areas."

Elliott said they’ve also received offers to air the series on several Web and YouTube channels.

"We actually have to sift through offers now," Elliott said. "We’re looking at deals that we can turn down because they’re not always best for us. We’ve had numerous YouTube channels that have contacted us that want us to do a channel. The channel that we’re on right now has renegotiated to keep us, so we’re growing all the time. The past year has been absolutely crazy."

Elliott said production also has improved during the past year.

"When we first started out, we basically had a camera with a built-in mic," Elliott said. "We now have a boom mic. We have audio. We even have a professional public address announcer. The show has grown a lot. At first, it was just us doing everything, now we’ve got a crew. Kris can focus on make-up and writing, and I can focus on directing while we’re on the set. We still find ourselves to be busy, but it’s nice to breathe."

Williamson said one of their actors recently was nominated for a young artist award in Hollywood.

"We were up against other Web series that were produced by Dreamworks and Warner Bros.," Williamson said. "It was nice just to be nominated."

Elliott said, besides the DVD set, they have produced several other types of merchandise related to "The Deadersons," including T-shirts, phone cases and shot glasses.

"We’re going to expand on that and go into bumper stickers and all kinds of stuff like magnets and key chains," Elliott said. "Any money we make from merchandise sales goes back into the show. Whether they buy a DVD or T-shirt, it helps us pay for the production of the show."

Elliott said they also have promoted "The Deadersons" at several local conventions, including Pop Con in Chicago and Geek Con in Rockford.

"We’ve been taking ‘The Deadersons’ on the road," Elliott said. "We’ve been having our zombies come with us and selling our merchandise."

Besides "The Deadersons," Elliott and Williamson are working on producing two short films and a feature-length film. They also have done some photography work.

"We do take breaks from ‘The Deadersons,’" Elliott said. "It’s planned out that next summer we will hit our break time again, and we will be able to do a film. We don’t rest. We don’t know what that’s like."

Elliott said, despite their busy schedule, they are looking forward to moving "The Deadersons" into the future and a third season.

"What’s so exciting is that we’ve made it so far in a year," Elliott said. "It’s just interesting to see what’s going to happen in another year. The fan base has grown."

 

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