Antonio Villagómez came to Tucson 10 years ago to study film at the UA, where he met his wife, Cori DiSimone. Villagómez said he got into film to do creative work—but to pay the bills, the couple did work on corporate videos. Last year, VillagÓmez came up with a way to get creative again: He developed a Web series, Wizard Hunters, a Harry Potter- and Lord of the Rings-inspired fantasy series about wizards and vampires. The series is slated to kick off in late October and coincides with the release of an iPhone and iPad game app. For more information, go to the series' website.
Filmmakers are using Web series as a way to get their work out there. Is that your goal?
Yeah, absolutely: That is exactly why we are doing this. My wife and I have been doing corporate videos for local businesses and other companies to pay our bills, but what we really want to do is make films. Nowadays, with technology being cheaper, you can buy a camera and a computer, and you can make a movie. ... We wanted to create our own opportunity and get back to doing more creative work.
Are the actors in the series from Tucson?
Yes, we worked with a crew that's 100 percent from Tucson, and 99 percent of our actors are from Tucson. One actor was from Phoenix. We really wanted to pay everybody—all the actors. It wasn't a lot of money, but something to show that we are serious. I think it is really rare; it turns out that it is very hard to get paid. We're in debt now, but that was one of our goals. It was a way to tell them we respect them and are serious enough about this project to get in a little debt and pay them for their time and hard work.
Do you think that (paying actors) leads to a better-quality project?
I don't know. Personally, I know that people are often willing to do something just to get credit or experience. I think it's important to approach people professionally in this industry. People do take you more seriously, and we got a lot more responses to our casting calls.
How many people worked on the series?
We have a little more than 10 involved and a very little crew. We have maybe five or six people on set and postproduction, and three people doing sound design, special effects and editing, because we can't afford 20 people working on special effects.
How did you come up with the idea of the series?
I had always been a big fan of big, epic fantasy films. I wanted to come up with something fun to work with that was also challenging. I thought about wizards and vampires. So in one week, I came up with the idea, and we threw ideas back and forth, and then started writing some drafts. We decided to just write and not think about how it would be filmed. I talked to a friend who agreed to work with me, and (we) got together a couple of other friends and put together a tiny budget. The whole process took a few months—a couple of months to write it, and then people lined up.
What was the feedback from the cast and friends?
Everyone was curious if we were able to pull this off based on what is written on the pages. It's crazy stuff that you don't find in Arizona, and only in big pictures.
How did you pull off the special effects?
A lot of green-screen stuff, and then we did more when we got to postproduction. There were challenges on processes and how to create special effects and animated stuff.
How many episodes are done?
We have five episodes ready to launch at the end of October or beginning of November. They are each three to five minutes long.
What if people want more?
Hopefully, people will like it and help us raise the money to finish the first season, which would be five more episodes, and hopefully help us continue to create it. The idea with a Web series is that people enjoy it for a few minutes while they are waiting for the bus or sitting at the airport. Also, we're developing, at the same time, a little video game for iPhone and iPad based on the series. We'll try to launch it at the same time. It costs 99 cents at the app store and helps us create some revenue to continue producing the series.