With a budget of nothing and memories of Dungeons and Dragons games, Adam Rady and James Rodehaver traveled from Ohio to Southern California to fulfill their dreams. The two worked together to create the online series Walking in Circles: An Epic Tale of Dragon N’ Stuff, a hilarious series that currently is available on Youtube and soon PrimeTV.
FGN: For those who have not seen Walking in Circles, how would you describe the premise of the show.?Why the title “Walking in Circles” ?
Adam: We would say it’s a medieval fantasy comedy that crosses The Lord of the Rings and The Office.
James: Walking in Circles was relatively random. We were spending two hours just sitting thing and saying things until I said “Walking in Circles” and we went “how about that?”
Adam: I had “a tale of dragons and stuff” and he had “Walking in Circles” so we were like, okay “Walking In Circles: A Tale of Dragons and Stuff” I’m sure it came from some sort of scene of Dexter’s Laboratory.
James: No, I don’t think so.
Adam: Oh, okay.
FGN: Are you big fans of Dexter’s Laboratory?
Adam: Yes. When we were kids we used to watch. There was that episode of “D and DeeDee”. They were just walking, and walking, and walking, remember that? Okay maybe not on the title. Okay, so I lied.
FGN: A good deal of Walking in Circles involves references to Dungeons and Dragons. How long have you been playing and what class/characters?
James: Well, I’ve been playing since I was probably 12. The sad thing is right now we don’t have much of a consistent game going, because all our friends don’t like us.
Adam: That’s accurate.
Jim: In our group now, I usually run the game so I have all classes and all characters. Be someone who yields something as large as possible to hit other things with.
Adam: That’s not entirely accurate… That’s mostly accurate. Jim has been playing for a long time. His dad is like the ultimate game master. He is the one we all look up to. He actually played the old man in Episode 8 (Season 1). So for us, I grew up watching him play and then finally getting the chance to play around 14 or so. I would say Jim’s character selection is normally to not choose something that swings something big and heavy.
James: I usually play a wizard. That’s my favorite.
Adam: And I usually choose a fighter or a character that doesn’t require as much brain power to figure out how to roll to do what I want to do. I’ve played a few sorcerers and clerics. Unfortunately, Jim’s right; we don’t have a consistent game right now. We actually over the last week have been writing “hey guys when can we play. We want to play.” Hopefully we get something soon.
FGN: Adam, do you feel that playing a wizard has helped you with your character, Markus the Wizard?
Adam: It’s funny because as a Wizard there are times where I look to Jim and I go “uh, what spell would I be doing here?” Markus obviously doesn’t do magic (at least until Season 2) but if Markus was to do something here, what would he do? I look to Jim because he just so good at remembering spell lists. They are his babies and his characters. He originally came up with the idea for him [Markus]. I would say that definitely in anything playing D&D has helped in distinguishing what roles people have in how a situation might progress because having a leader who is not Diplomatic in Krag is literally like any D&D campaign we have ever played. We suck at diplomacy. It’s pretty great.
FGN: James, where do you start your writing process for the episodes? Do you go through your list of spells or are there certain inspirations that draw you into an episode?
James: For Season 1 there was a lot of just come up with the main scene. In one episode there is the vampire who thinks he’s a necromancer and actually can’t do anything. Usually it will start with one little joke and then build the whole episode around. In Season 2 you’ve got Drusk who is an Orc-ish scientist and everything that happens to him kind of builds off that core concept, which is really how a lot of the episodes get started. I think of one, whatever the meat of the episode is I’ll start there and build out as a whole with how that affects the story arc as a whole.
Adam: He does go back and forth. In terms of Season 1 I think you had an easier time, right?
James: Yeah. It was easier because I didn’t have anything already established. I could do whatever I wanted because there was no cannon story line to have to worry about. There was just like “this guy is over here because I say he is.”
Adam: I know in Season 2 he originally wrote a few episodes; like four episodes we totally threw out because he wrote them and he brought them to me and I was like “ummm these aren’t any good” (laughs). I’m pretty sure, no I’m not sure I was kinder than that. But you know we work of figuring out what kind of story makes sense. Because ultimately as much as it is a comedy we really love our characters and we love the story, this is the journey that they’re taking. It’s very important to us that it is interesting and actually is a point in the show and not just a bunch of people standing around telling jokes. It was definitely more that in Season 1 but we have since grown to try to expand the story more. I do think Season 2 is more about a story and Season 1 is more about what do random adventurers do on any given day and then there’s this story over here.
FGN: What was your casting process like, initially and then going forward into Season 2?
Adam: Casting was really interesting because when I read Markus I basically said “I’m not going to let anyone else play this.” But I lied and told everyone I would. “Oh yeah Jim, I’ll totally look to cast people for Markus” and I didn’t because I really wanted to be Markus. So in that sense, I jumped on that. Then we had just started out in LA. I think it was our first year, basically, when you [James] started Walking in Circles. So, the time we started casting we were about a year and a half here so we decided we had met a few people and we did audition a few of them but we decided basically regardless of whether it was friends or friends of people that we were trying to get be basically put up a casting notice on CAZT, however you say that. We met a bunch of people.
We were super lucky to find people that immediately fit the role. It was kind of stupid how lucky we were, because we didn’t get an over abundance of submissions but everyone we got was like perfect. Eric [Radic] was Krag right away. Krag, just to me, was right there… even if Eric didn’t think he was. And then Jonah Priour came in for Garand and we all sort of had an idea for what Garand was. And then Jonah was just, he just made Garand into something we couldn’t duplicate. There’s no possible way for us to duplicate Garand because he’ so what Jonah created. So for us, it was really a blessing to find people that quickly in sort of a random casting notice. There were a few people we put in, like Jim’s dad for the old man and Lamar Harris as the demon debt collector Jerfaximas, because we both new Lamar a head of time. He was actually running sound for us and we knew we wanted him as the demon debt collector. So it was sort of a hodge podge of people we knew and a bunch of people we had no idea what they could bring to the table, and the all hit the mark.
FGN: As far as the character Alex goes, I know you have had several different actresses for her. Was there a reason for that initially, like Doctor Who when they replace an actor because they can’t use someone anymore and bring someone else in or was it something you had planned from the beginning?
James: It was more the Doctor Who thing that happened. It happened to us so we decided to take it and make it part of the story. It was one of those things where we lost an actress so we had to replace her, so we just made that a part of the show. It’s something that we had to do a lot of in Season 1. There were several seasons whether that had to do with Alex or not where something would just happen to our shoot so we would have to adjust everything we were doing on the spot. In fact Garand, there was a time where he had left his lute in his car and his car got towed. So, we just didn’t have a lute. The whole Season in episode Four where he doesn’t have the lute is because he came to the set and said “the lute got towed away.” On the spot we go, here’s what happens and this is how we go forth with the show, because we didn’t have the luxury of doing a re-shoot another time. We were all just doing on the weekends when we could because we don’t have a budget to pay people or anything like that.
Adam: When your budget is your credit card line of debt you find very creative ways to do things. All of our actors and actresses were so amazing to donate their time and their energy, lots and lots of energy and time, and dedication. With the Alex situation, for us it was just like “no matter what happens let’s just own everything. Let’s take this in a way that we want to go in” so that there were never any disappointments to us. I think we as film makers in Season One learned to not be disappointed in anything because no matter what happened we could make it awesome, we just needed to think about it and figure out what would be really cool. For us, the character Alex already had this mysterious background we were kind of playing we; she was silent and had some stuff going on, but it really helped define her, to establish that this character change was a real thing in the world that people were noticing and it wasn’t just another face that the audience was going to have to go “we’re confused.” Everyone’s confused about this. Who is this mysterious woman who stabs things and loots bodies and doesn’t talk to anyone?
FGN: What do you feel are the biggest changes coming to Season 2 for the viewers compared to Season 1?
Adam: I think Season 2 there are two big changes. That’s the production value of the show- in other words if you watch an episode of season one and immediately go watch an episode of Season immediately you’re going to notice the camera work is better, the lighting is better, the sound is better, it’s all better. That’s just an extension of being smart enough to know our own limitations and to hire on people who were more talented than us to light and shoot the show. And then, tonally, the show remains the same int he sense the characters are still there and they are the characters that you recognize and they behave how you would expect them to, but we decided the one thing we didn’t necessary, I won’t say we didn’t like, but the one thing we couldn’t do in Season 1 was that you write and most people create a medieval comedy online and it’s a bunch of people standing around talking. That’s exactly what we did for Season 1. We weren’t necessarily absurdly different from anyone else. Our characters may have been, our story may have been but standing around talking is a main asset of what you’re able to do with a budget of zero. But we decided to see what we could do in a way that we could add adventure into the show’s many descriptions. It became an Action Comedy Adventure. that was important to us. We were able to add stunts, much bigger landscapes and more of a sense of grand adventure rather than these very specific vignettes of places.
FGN: When do you expect Walking in Circles Season Two to go to Youtube or whatever format you’re planning to release it in?
Adam: We have been sitting on Season Two for way too long. And if people are still wanting to watch our show, we can’t thank them enough, because their patience is tremendous to wait for us. Season 1 came out in 2011. Season 2 hasn’t been out yet. It’s obviously a finished show [it was recently premiered at the Galactic Film Festival in Southern California], so we have been sitting there waiting trying to figure out what we wanted to do. A great analogy that was told to me by a friend “if you put your show on Youtube and you have no way to market it or distribute it, basically if you believe in your show and know it’s very good it’s a pure bucket of water you are tossing into the ocean.” There’s already so much out there, so much content out there. It was important for us that we find a home for the show that wasn’t just the same thing everybody else was doing and could rise to the top instead of just sinking. We don’t know how to market, we don’t know how to distribute; we’re filmmakers and we don’t know that or the other tools of the trade. So we’re very lucky that Season 1 and Season 2 will be going to PrimeTV network. They are a video on demand service. Walking in Circles will be available video on demand and will also be available on their linear stream on their App for any devices like android, iphone, ipad all that good stuff. It will be free to watch.
Additionally, we are super, super, excited that Season 1 and 2 will be on Broadcast television in Columbus, Ohio. Prime TV network is making it’s first jump into broadcast cable and their first network is actually, conveniently enough, in Columbus, Ohio and Jim and I are from Medina, Ohio. People back home actually get to see us on TV. We’re really, really excited about that.
FGN: I saw recently you had gone to GenCon 2014 in Indiana and you’ve done the Galactic Film Festival. What have been your challenges getting out to these events and what has the reception for Walking in Circles been like talking to fans?
James: Really the biggest challenge to getting to any of these events is really just the cost of it. We talk about having a budget for production that is 0, well our budget for promoting the series after we produced it is less than 0. Going to Indiana, literally just driving there cost hundreds of dollars we don’t have. Getting out to these events cost a lot of money. That being said, those few events we have been able to get to have been really amazing for us. Getting to watch people watch our show and then talk to us about it afterwards, it’s always been a very warm reception. It gives us kind of the drive to keep making it and to keep trying to get out to these events. It’s been really good.
Adam: I would say that the one thing that I think is important for people to recognize as fans, and most people do, is that we’re just like them. We’re fans as well. This is a webseries we created, but we have day jobs to support ourselves. It’s very difficult to find the money or the time. Having a job it’s, how do you get the time to go to these things. We’ve been extremely lucky to never have met an internet troll in real life. Everybody has them, but we haven’t met them yet. Everyone has been very warm and kind and supportive of the show. They just want more, and I can’t blame them for that. I’m very happy people like it.