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by Sam Gelder
Friday, April 25, 2014
An internet science-fiction show created by a Gidea Park retail worker has been making waves across the Atlantic.
By day, Susan E. Clarke, of Heath Park Road, can be found working in Thorntons in Romford, but out of hours she is the brains behind an internationally-acclaimed, multi-award winning web series.
Chronicles of Syntax, described as “a cross between Doctor Who and X-Men”, recently cleaned up at a Los Angeles awards ceremony which celebrates the best in online-based shows from around the world.
Last week, the Recorder spoke to a jet-lagged Susan, fresh off the plane from Hollywood, about her recent success at LA Web Fest, and the story behind it.
“It was amazing,” said Susan, of her trip Stateside. “People from Disney and Pixar were coming up wanting to chat to us.
“We won six awards, including Outstanding Sci-Fi/Fantasy Series, which is the big one for our category.”
The awards were all for season one of the show, which was broadcast on YouTube and received 180,000 views from fans as far and wide as Australia, Iran and Cambodia.
The series, set in present-day Britain, follows Sian, a unique human being and worker for the Fallen Angel Network (F.A.N), the government agency charged with finding a way to stop the oncoming apocalypse. Sian must recruit a team in order to access memories sent back through time that hold the key to preventing the end of the world.
“Our main age demographic is 10-25 and 40-60. We were receiving fan art and letters before we’d even premiered season one thanks to the social media momentum and a radio pilot we aired.
“When we held a special cinema premiere in London for the first episode, one person flew in from America just to go to that and the Doctor Who tour in Wales.”
The series, shot on location in London, with a couple of scenes filmed in Gidea Park, was a product of Susan’s boredom while at university in 2005.
“I was studying theatre at Huddersfield University,” she said. “I didn’t have anything to watch, and I’d been writing since I was four. It took me 49 days to write, and then I took it to the Actors’ Equity in Leeds.
“I like to say my influences are Final Fantasy and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My idol is [Buffy creator] Joss Whedon. It’s very much like that.”
After advertising auditions on insutry websites spotlight.com and mandy.com, Susan was overwhelmed to find 3,000 people had applied for the 18 roles.
X Factor-style auditions eventually whittled the number down to the final cast.
She said: “They all have their own ark, though there is an overriding plot too, like in Whedon’s work.”
Busy laying the foundations for what would in two years become Chronicles of Syntax, Susan was also battling through her final year at university at the time.
“The auditions were in my final year, I was taking calls in my cap and gown!” she joked.
Originally from Rotheram in South Yorkshire, she then moved to Gidea Park, where she stayed with a cast member, and had a two-week placement at the British Film Institute in the South Bank. It was there she met her partner Chris Munns, who went on to direct two episodes of the show.
The series was crowdfunded through Indiegogo, with fans raising £25,000 in 47 days, while Susan also receiving backing from ChannelFlip, a YouTube network.
Currently Susan and her production company iDare Procutions are trying to source funding to film the second season.
She added: “Our main ambition at the moment is to get the funds to film again, but I’d love to go to Comic Con and eventually work in films.”
The series can be viewed at chroniclesofsyntax.co.uk.