Wayside Creations is a true Kickstarter success story. The production company, born out of Wayside Drive in Sunland, California, has used the crowdfunding platform to make some real “passion projects” come true.
Not only has Kickstarter provided Wayside with funding, it’s also given the production company confidence. As co-founder Vincent Talenti describes, fans’ responses on Kickstarter showed him that Wayside was doing something right, something that viewers wanted to see again and again.
In case you’re unfamiliar with Wayside’s work, the production company specializes in live-action adaptations of video games. Now partnered with Machinima, the company has come out with an extensive body of work, all of it very high quality and also very careful in the sense that it doesn’t step on the toes of the gaming franchises it’s adapting. It explores the worlds in ways that are separate from the characters in the games themselves, a strategy that Talenti explains below:
How did Wayside Creations get started?
Wayside started as a small, informal group of independent filmmakers. After a few of us migrated from Florida, we rented property on a street named Wayside Drive in Sunland, California. The name sounded good enough for a production company, and we figured if we ever screwed up we’d just say it “fell by the wayside.”
At what point did it become clear that there could be a business here?
After the overwhelming response we received from our “Fallout” Kickstarter, it became apparent that fans wanted to see more of our work, and Wayside could potentially become a vehicle for the creatives working with us.
Why go with live-action adaptations? Is that something you’ll always do, or are you also looking to develop more original stuff?
Live-action video game adaptations make sense for two reasons. Firstly, we accidentally found success with one adaptation, so it’s easy to continue in that direction. Secondly, many indie video games offer rich lore and beautiful aesthetics. Having these pre-existing worlds available to explore is a great starting point. Like many filmmakers, we have a ton of original ideas. It’s tough to sell someone on something they can’t see, so having a blueprint helps.
Wayside’s most well-known adaptation is “Fallout: Nuka Break.” How did that come together? And what surprises you to this day about how successful it was?
The flimsy term “passion project” is often overused, but that’s exactly what “Nuka Break” was. Bethesda’s game inspired the creation of a film. Any success that followed was a by-product. To this day, I’m still blown away by the amount of interest and support fans of Fallout have shown us.
It can be a mixed bag when making live-action adaptations based on video games that others own the rights to. As fans of these games and video producers, what would you say to a studio head who has the power to issue a takedown of something you’ve created? What kind of value can these adaptations provide that should stop them from wanting to wipe it off the web?
As someone whose career began with adaptations, I can see both sides of the argument, and I believe we can draw a line in the sand. To a studio head, I would ask, “Is the work disrupting your brand, or is it positively expanding it?” There are several benefits from a fan-made product. You’ve inspired people to create something based on your world, there’s camaraderie in the community, and buzz is being generated about your property free of charge!
However, I understand the term “brand confusion.” If a fan-interpretation with a relatively high production value is released and significantly alters a character (their motives, personality, objectives, etc) or drastically changes the universe, then it creates confusion for the audience and potentially disrupts the studio’s direction for the property. Whether we’re working on an unofficial or licensed piece, our policy has always been to create new characters whose actions won’t alter the audience’s previous experience inside the world.
On Kickstarter, Wayside raised more than $130K for the second season of “Nuka Break,” which was more than double the original ask. At this point, it’s no surprise that YouTube creators can leverage their fans to crowdfund passion projects. What was the thinking when you were planning the Kickstarter campaign? Were you sure that it was going to work?
Running an efficient Kickstarter project is a full-time job. Hours are spent strategizing, organizing, and developing a campaign. We felt confident that we would reach our initial goal, or possibly surpass it by just a little bit, but we never imagined it would double. Having Obsidian’s Chris Avellone and Tim Cain creatively invested in the project was one of the key factors.
Wayside is partnered with Machinima. What’s the value they provide that made you choose them over any other potential YouTube network or partner?
Our partnership with Machinima has been fruitful. Since we signed with them, they’ve provided key financing, exposure, and resources. They have a great staff of people we trust, and they’ve propelled Wayside forward. One of our most successful films, “Fallout: Red Star,” which was a derivative of the second season of “Nuka Break,” was ordered by their team. We’ve built several relationships with people at Machinima, and one person in particular, Chris Landa, has dedicated a ridiculous amount of time to building Wayside. Chris has overseen our series creation, assisted in developing our Kickstarter campaigns, and brought several properties for us to adapt.
For a long time, YouTube has been the go-to place for creators to express themselves with video. Especially considering the type of well-produced, scripted content that you make, how do you see the current landscape when it comes to distributing your work?
For us, YouTube replaced the traditional model of scraping together funds to screen your work at festivals or handing out countless copies on DVD. It’s a beautiful platform for exposure. And, while there will always be one million cat videos posted daily, people have a way of filtering. I think Vessel, Vimeo, and other platforms ordering original content is a smart decision and in tune with a changing industry. We’d love to provide content for them.
What are some adaptations that Wayside that you’d like to do?
There are so many games we’d like to tackle in the near future. Besides the films we’ve announced this year and the unannounced ones in our pipeline, I’m always dreaming of larger adaptations. However, it’s not just about the game’s popularity — for me, it has to offer elements that I think are worth exploring in a live-action sense.