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Tyranny: Not Just A Web Series… It’s A Sensory Experience!3

By Chris Simmons


Watching the first episode of Tyranny, the new suspense-thriller web series on KoldCast TV, is quite the sensory experience. Our initial glimpse is of the show’s protagonist Daniel McCarthy, immersed in water, pods attached to his body, in an attempt to make sense of the swirling images in his head. After all, the fate of the world is riding on Daniel’s understanding of the dark vision he saw of the future, where your every move is being recorded.

Tyranny’s premise is a layered one, and not so easily summed up in one sentence, but series creator, director, composer and star John Beck Hofmann gave it a shot. “[Tyranny] is about an artist in need of a breakthrough who mystically acquires knowledge of a corporate coup d’etat occurring in the near future, which sends him around the globe on a desperate mission to stop those involved before they rise to power.” Basically, Daniel is a failed artist and college dropout who volunteers for a test to see how his brain works, and inadvertently gets swept up in a gigantic mess.

For Hofmann, the idea behind Tyranny had its genesis almost a decade and a half ago, when he was in Prague. “(The movie) THE GAME with Michael Douglas was out in Prague at the time, which got me thinking, ‘what would it really take for someone’s actions to be manipulated?’”

That original thought led Hofmann to make a short film about himself as the “test subject,” which ultimately became the template for a feature length screenplay. But his experiences in trying to go that route proved unyielding, especially when it came to the potential “diluting” of Tyranny’s concept. The various places he pitched the script to all wanted changes to his concept, reaching the point where, as Hofmann put it, “it was no longer Tyranny.” Enter the web. Hofmann quickly realized that the show’s potential of finding its “true” audience lay completely in there. It was a distribution deal with KoldCast TV early this year that finally introduced Tyranny to audiences worldwide.

As the episodes continue to unfold, Daniel will undergo more sensory deprivation experiments as he labors to figure out the true nature of his vision. “Daniel’s seen something that he shouldn’t have” and worries about how far he’ll be drawn into the conspiracy. More pointedly, Hofmann continues, “By fighting this ‘monster,’ will Daniel become a monster in the process?”

Eventually, Daniel will become part of an “underground” movement to stop this conspiracy, called The Strawman Underground. “[The Underground] is basically people who have traveled along the same path Daniel has… detached, cut off from electronic systems,” says Hofmann. Daniel’s search for answers will lead him to Prague and interaction with Mina Harud, the wife of a powerful figure in the conspiracy, played by Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace, Max Payne, Hitman). Mina exists in the outside world, yet she funds The Strawman Underground’s existence. She is the Underground’s eyes and ears on the inside – a tool necessary to uncover the danger to come.

The budget for Tyranny comes from Hofmann himself, via his “day job” as a documentary filmmaker for NASA/JPL. He banked enough money to make parts of the show then replenished his funds as needed. He views the making of the show a true labor of love, likening his cast and crew to “a rock band on tour” – as they traveled over 14 cities around the world to shoot the series. Moreover, Hofmann taught his actors how to run the film equipment, especially since he, as the star of the series, is on screen pretty much all the time.

Counting on the first season to reach a loyal, conspiracy-hungry fanbase, Hofmann expects to take Tyranny well beyond its first 22 episodes. He is confident that the audience will show up and stick around. It was at a seminar, where the legendary George Lucas was a guest speaker, that he found the conviction to complete Tyranny. Lucas said, “Stop trying to [consciously] make the next blockbuster, because it’s the fringe that’s really salable.”

Hofmann believes, “If you do what you love – and I do love Tyranny– the audience will find you.”

Watch Additional Episodes of Tyranny

Chris Simmons is a scriptwriter, blogger and professional Story Analyst for motion pictures. He’s written dozens of animated scripts for TV including co-developing the award-winning series STATIC SHOCK! for Warner Bros. Animation. He’s currently in the early stages of development on a situation comedy for BET. He also watches TV, a lot. Chris is married with two children and lives in Los Angeles, CA.

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Must Reads 9/3/2014