The Confession writer-director Brad Mirman discusses this action-packed web series, working with Kiefer Sutherland and much more.
Last week we reported that Kiefer Sutherland's follow-up series to the long-running 24 will feature the star in action mode once again, but as a whole new character and in a whole new format. Kiefer Sutherland is starring alongside John Hurt in The Confession, an innovative new action web series which will debut on Hulu in March. Kiefer Sutherland will play an assassin who goes to confess his sins to a priest (John Hurt) on Christmas Eve. As the 10-episode series progresses, it becomes clear that neither character is quite who they seem.
One of the driving forces behind this project is Brad Mirman, who wrote and directed the episodes. I recently had the chance to speak with Mirman over the phone about this unique new series. Here's what he had to say, and be sure to check out the end of the interview where he reveals a unique contest opportunity:
People seemed pretty excited when the initial release went out last week. It's cool to see this getting some buzz.
Brad Mirman: Yeah, the response, just with that one thing, has been incredible. We'll see where it goes from here.
When you think of a web series, they're almost all primarily comedy these days. Can you talk a bit about making an action-packed web series and where the idea came from?
Brad Mirman: I've known Kiefer Sutherland for 15 years. We worked on a movie together in 1997, Truth or Consequences, N.M.. He met these guys from Digital Broadcasting Group and they kicked around some ideas to do a web series. Kiefer couldn't immediately find a way to make it fit, for something he would want to do, but I think the idea of it interested him, and me for the same reason. He called me up and said, 'I think something with a hitman in a confessional with a priest would be a good arena for this.' We talked about how we both strongly believed that the internet is really going to be the future. Maybe not now, but five or 10 years from now, I don't think that TV is going to exist in the way that we know it today. It will be CBS.com and NBC.com and you'll just have your internet hooked right up to your television set. In the final analysis, your computer monitor, what is it? It's a television screen that just does a lot more.
Can you talk a bit about formulating the story and getting it down to these five or six-minute episodes?
Brad Mirman: There are going to be 10 episodes and, originally, it was going to be 10, five-minute episodes. I think it's going to be 10 whatever-minute episodes. I don't see any of them being less than five minutes. If Episode Two runs eight minutes, then it runs eight minutes. Whatever the best length to tell the story is. That's another freedom that you don't have in any other medium. You can just put it up there and every episode can vary in length. It just depends on which way is the best way to tell the story.
Coming from the standards you have with regular TV, that must be pretty amazing to not have to worry about something like that.
Brad Mirman: Yeah, it is. That was something that came about after the shoot. We were firmly believing that these would be 10 five-minute episodes and then we said, 'Why?' If an episode runs seven minutes and it holds at seven minutes and it seems like it's too short at five, why should we force ourselves into that? It's one of the freedoms of the internet. Each episode can have its best length to tell the story. It's interesting for me because this is like uncharted territory. You get very few chances like that in a career. You go off and make a movie or you do a TV show, but coming into something like this, with this kind of cast and this kind of budget, this kind of production value, nothing has ever been done on this level.
I read that you shot this in New York and you shot during a really big snow storm.
Brad Mirman: (Laughs) We had been shooting for four days or so in Brooklyn and, being a native Californian, that was bad enough. We were off for the Christmas break and, looking out the window of my hotel room, it was like, 'Hey, there's this white stuff falling from the sky.' I went to sleep that night and we were shooting the next day and it was just apocalyptic. Nobody could pick me up and take me to the set, which was like 10 blocks away. I had to walk through a foot and a half of snow because the snowplows hadn't gone through, for two days. When I'm older one day and I'm looking at some kid who wants to be a filmmaker, I'll say, 'In my day, we had to walk a mile and a half in the snow.'
(Laughs) Were there a lot of exteriors that day then or was it all interiors?
Brad Mirman: No, I wanted snow because the story is set on Christmas Eve so we grabbed an exterior of the church as quickly as we could. We were filming mostly inside the church that day.
Can you tell us a bit more about the story? Is it all set on Christmas Eve?
Brad Mirman: Well, there's the story of Kiefer's character talking to John Hurt. That's on Christmas Eve, but the flashbacks as to the story of his life, as he tells stories of how he became who he became, those are all done in flashbacks.
This is set to premiere in March. Do you have more material for Season 2 if that happens?
Brad Mirman: Yeah. We've got some ideas already, Kiefer and I have kicked around some ideas for Season 2. It depends on the response of Season 1, but everybody is up for doing a Season 2.
You said you have worked with Kiefer in the past. Can you talk about working with him on this series and how he grasped the whole notion of this kind of a project?
Brad Mirman: It was so different in every way. For Kiefer and I, it was kind of like flying by the seat of your pants, in the experience that we have built up over the years. He calls me up and he had this idea and he wanted me to write it. I went out to New York, spent four days with him and just hammered out ideas. I came back to L.A., wrote the script and everybody liked the script. To be involved from the concept to the end product, most people don't have that. We worked with such a great cast and this was the first thing that I have ever shot digitally. We used the Arri Alexa, which I loved. Then there is also the thing about directing the guy who is one of your best friends. That was kind of strange. You approach it differently. You're talking to an actor but you're also aware that you have a very important relationship with that actor, in terms of a friendship. That took an adjustment. Kiefer and I both agreed that it would be business as usual on the set and the minute we wrapped for the day, anything that was said on the set, you just go back to being friends again, at the end of the day.
You talked a bit about how this kind of a project will eventually be the future of television. I read that you shot the whole series in just nine days, where you don't have this grueling regular grind of a year-long TV show.
Brad Mirman: Yeah, we're not doing 10 or 13 episodes at an hour apiece. We're doing 10 episodes at five to eight minutes apiece. We basically shot an hour's worth of content for the same price of what a network show goes for. The production values are right up there with anything that is going to be on network television. That just takes it to a whole new level, where people will realize that they look at something and it's going to be well-acted, well-shot, there will be no difference from any other show you download in HD from any other site.
Aside from Kiefer and John Hurt, can you talk about any other actors that appear in the flashbacks that people can look forward to?
Brad Mirman: Oh yeah. There is Max Casella, from Boardwalk Empire and The Sopranos. There is Michael Badalucco, who was on The Practice, Greg Ellis, who was actually on 24. A lot of people really responded to the material and came in and did this for way less than they normally would get because they wanted to be a part of something, something that they realized was groundbreaking, that had never been done before.
When you get done with this, are there any other film or TV projects that you have lined up?
Brad Mirman: There are a couple of things right now. I don't want to talk about them right now because they're not set and I don't like putting things out there until I know they're absolutely set. I have just finished writing two scripts for a development deal. That's really about all I can say on those right now.
Just to wrap up, what would you like to say to anyone who might be curious about this series or fans of Kiefer and John Hurt about why they should check out The Confession when it hits the web?
Brad Mirman: I think it's got a little bit of everything. It's got action, suspense and it also has a very good dialogue inside the confessional between these two as to theology and the definition of good and evil, the shades of gray that we use to come out on either sides of that argument.
One last thing real quick. Do we get any Kiefer "dammit" moments in here at all?"
Brad Mirman: (Laughs) That you're going to have to tune in to see. I'm not going to give away a big bone like that! Also, I don't know if this is worth mentioning, but this thing started a few weeks ago on my Twitter page. One of my Twitter followers said, 'We should get you 20,000 followers.' I said, 'If you guys get me 20,000 followers by the time this comes out, you can come and watch a screening of this with Kiefer and I in New York.
That sounds awesome.
(Laughs) Excellent. Well, that's about all I have for you, Brad. Thanks so much for your time and best of luck with the show.
Brad Mirman: It was a pleasure talking to you. Take care.