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Thursday, September 16, 2021

UC Davis students create new web series

Among the exciting new projects from UC Davis students this quarter is Troll Freak, a web series created by junior economics major Daniel Fullwood. The story addresses the psychological underpinnings of anonymity and control in a technology-dependent world, albeit with a fair bit of humor if the pilot episode is any indication.

Fullwood commented on his inspiration for the series and highlighted key thematic concepts included in the narrative.

“I’m a huge fan of psychological thrillers and wanted to tell a story that deals with desensitization and examines the emotional consequences of lording complete control over another human being,” Fullwood said.

In the pilot episode, protagonist Connor receives a mysterious call from an anonymous source. The man ultimately proposes a unique challenge that toes the line between the virtual world and reality. Fullwood pointed out how this unseen antagonist both complemented the story and worked within the scope of the limited financial budget.

“With no budget to speak of, I had to find ways to expand the scope of the narrative without making production unfeasible,” Fullwood said. “So I came up with an antagonist that never actually appears onscreen and yet feels omnipresent.”

Among the crew members working on the series is Kiko Romero, who discussed his various tasks throughout production.

“Being part of the main crew was basically whatever Daniel needs me for; whether that is key grip, cameraman, sound director, whatever he needs at the moment of the shoot,” Romero said. “Other times he has assigned me duties to direct certain episodes and even shoot it with my camera so that I may edit it as well. In addition, I have a small cameo in the production itself, so I’m a main crew member as well as a cast member.”

Also helping with production is Don Kianian, who provided an original score for Troll Freak. Kianian talked about the creative process behind writing new music for the series.

“I love music and composing, so I was really happy when I learned that Daniel was on board for me to compose the score,” Kianian said. “I composed about 15 to 20 short little pieces, between 15 and 75 seconds long, and sent them over to him for feedback. What I did for scoring the pilot was, after I got the footage, I made a piece that lined up with the video and used a combination of pieces I had composed beforehand and add-ons made after viewing the pilot.”

Troll Freak’s Connor is a particularly interesting character — though knowledgeable and quick-witted, he longs for something more as the anonymous caller in the pilot episode highlights. David Shapiro plays the role of Connor and he commented on the protagonist’s characterization.

“I think Connor Pitt is the new everyman of the current college generation,” Shapiro said. “Technology permeates his everyday and when the series begins he is going through a quarter-life crisis.”

The pilot episode for Troll Freaks can be viewed on the WatchTrollFreak YouTube channel. The remaining seven episodes will be posted as they are completed, and those interested in helping out with production can still do so by sending Daniel Fullwood an email at WatchTrollFreak@gmail.com.

ANTHONY LABELLA can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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