The series, “12 Bells: The Prequels” will begin to be released on a per webisode basis Monday, May 16. Then for the next eight weeks, one webisode will be released each Monday.
After seeing some success in other U.S. cities, a local film maker is bringing his roots back to his hometown in an upcoming web series.
“I’m originally from here, and we always have really great support here,” said series writer/director Eric Soulliard. “I also wanted to get involved here because I think film goes hand-in-hand with local businesses, which gives them a way to get their name out there. It makes it a unique sort of paring because you can gain that interest locally.”
All webisodes will be released on the Annubis Productions website, as well as social media. Soulliard is also the owner of the production company, which is located in Lebanon. Besides independent films, Annubis Productions also specializes in music videos, viral videos, industrials and Internet video content.
The plot of the series surrounds the protagonist, Caleb, who as a small child is accidentally brought to a prison-like place representative of purgatory, that's run by an angel and filled with people perceived as bad. But these people don’t actually know why they were brought to such a place. Now Caleb is trapped and is trying to work his way out.
Each two- to three-minute webisode was shot at a house in Cleona, which was owned by a friend of Soulliard’s. Since no one had been renting the house at the time, Soulliard’s friend donated the house for the film series.
“He told us we could use it however we wanted,” Soulliard said. “I even triple checked with him knowing how we were going to use it, though we would be able to clean everything up, and he said it was fine. He’s been a great supporter of the project. Using the house just makes it fun and creative.”
Each webisode was done in one day, with Soulliard directing the film, as well as playing Caleb.
“The theory behind the whole project was how much can we strip it down that it still looks amazing and we don’t rush,” Soulliard said, who’s also a 1992 graduate of Cedar Crest High School. “And that was the goal. Make something amazing and not freak out about time. And I think it looks great in the end.”
The trailer was also shot locally in downtown Lebanon.
The entire series was pulled from the feature film, “12 Bells,” which is currently being worked on by Framlight Productions based in Philadelphia, and have been actively trying to book name actors to portray some of the characters.
“This project is a window for what you’ll see in the bigger film,” Soulliard said. “If this could help push the big project, that would be awesome. I could also use this to show people that independent film has a place in the advertising world. We just need to get this project off locally, and you never know what can happen after that.”
And so far, there are already sponsors for the first two websiodes, and Soulliard is looking for more for the next six.
Soulliard brings a ton of experience into this project. He first began his career in New York, working at CBS while pursuing acting for 10 years. Then in 2008, he released his first feature film, “The Creek,” to DVD. Soulliard is currently working in Baltimore playing Oliver of Paderborn in the UPF feature documentary, “The Sultan and the Saint,” which is set to air on PBS later this year.
And when you check out each webisode, Soulliard hopes everything just looks great.
“I hope people look at it from the artistic side,” he said. “It’s a suspense thriller, and it’s not going to give you all the answers. And for two to three minutes, I hope everyone’s entertained, and that they come back and appreciate that it was shot in Lebanon and will want to watch the next one the following week.”