The cast of Pure Pwnage.
After six years online, Toronto-based mockumentary show Pure Pwnage is about to debut as a series on Showcase. It follows Jeremy (Jarrett Cale), a.k.a. “teh_pwnerer,” a twenty-six-year-old obsessive video gamer, and Jeremy’s brother Kyle (Geoff Lapaire), who documents Jeremy’s life and frustration with “n00bs” (that’s “leetspeak“).
“We had always had the goal of getting into traditional television production,” says Cale, who created the web series in 2004 with Lapaire. “Pure Pwnage began as simple test-footage, shot to familiarize ourselves with editing software, the intention being to independently produce a comedy pilot we could shop around. We placed the test footage online and it went viral, creating this demand for a show we hadn’t actually planned to make! We made a few episodes and the audience kept growing exponentially, so we abandoned our original plan and focused entirely on [the web series].”
In 2008, the Pure Pwnage website received two million unique visitors, with nearly five million videos streamed or downloaded that year. Cale and Lapaire helped build their dedicated fanbase by experimenting with different methods of distribution: they debuted episodes at the Bloor Cinema, with additional screenings in Montreal, the United States, and the U.K. Some episodes were sold online before being streamed for free. Now, Pure Pwnage has been translated into fifteen languages, and it has led to a spin-off web series and comic book, before Showcase even came knocking.
FPS Doug (Joel Gardiner) and Jeremy (Jarett Cale).
Among the talent on-hand to oversee the television series is filmmaker Ron Mann, who with Catherine Tait aided in the guys’ pitch to Showcase. (“We met Ron Mann at the New York Comic Con in 2008,” Cale explains. “His son was a big fan of the web show and brought him to our booth to get autographs.) Derek Harvie (The Tom Green Show) is the showrunner. “Derek Harvie is a very, very funny man,” says Lapaire. “He is an amazing storyteller and always has hilarious ways of acting out and communicating his ideas. I’m always telling him he should be in front of the camera instead of behind the scenes.” People actually appearing on camera as guests include Kenny Hotz (Kenny vs. Spenny) and Steve “Lips” Kudlow (Anvil! The Story of Anvil).
Showcase’s involvement with the show and its culture is promising—it demonstrates that there is still much more exploration and experimentation to be done in bridging online audiences, video games, graphic novels, and traditional television. Currently, a production blog bridges the web series and television show, with more content on the way. Cale promises that the website will continue to be an important presence: “In between seasons we plan to resume the web series and possibly other new web content. I’m extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished so far and web distribution of this type of media is still only in its infancy. There’s a really big future there and we’ve got six years of experience to leverage helping us stay on top of it.”
The show premieres on March 12 on Showcase, followed by a screening of three episodes on March 20 at the Bloor Cinema.
Photos courtesy of Showcase.