Robin Bell & Rhys Jones | TWISTED SHOWCASE

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Back in 2012, a little web series by the name of Twisted Showcase started to make some serious waves online. So much so, the show would be recognised on The Guardian’s Top 25 Must Watch Web Shows list. If that wasn't praise enough, that feat was made even more impressive by the fact that the list also contained heavy-hitters like Joss Whedon, Seth MacFarlane, Zack Galifianakis, and Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer. As the third series of the show has recently come to an end, we were lucky enough to grab some time with the twisted minds behind this impressive showcase, Robin Bell and Rhys Jones.

Starburst: Last week saw your third series come to an end. How did the Twisted Showcase concept initially come to be?

Rhys Jones: It came about from conversations with Robin about wanting to do something new. We'd written some stuff together and wanted to do something bigger.

Robin Bell: We've answered this before in interviews and we always sound really boring, so let’s just say it happened. Seems more magic then.

How easy was it to put that first episode together and how were the responsibilities handled between you both?

Rhys: The first episode I worked on was Bob Dracula, where I went off as a lone wolf. Was an easy shoot, but it took an age to edit for some reason.

Robin:  First one I worked on was Fear of Living, which we made before Twisted Showcase was even a thing. Only on the set of Peter and Paul did we realise how Fear of Living fitted our tone perfectly. In fact, I think it defined Twisted Showcase, in a way.

How did you go about finding the talent for those first episodes and how did you find having to manage the various aspects of putting a web series together?

Rhys: Robin tells this story of how we got Gareth David Lloyd better than me.

Robin: We asked him to be in it…

Rhys: I thought that would be told a lot better.

One of the few hazy pictures in existence of Rhys (left) and Robin (right)

At what stage did you realise that you had put something special together, something that could garner a strong fanbase?

Robin: Never. Still not realised. Have we done that?

Rhys: We've got an amazing, dedicated fanbase.

Robin: I'm very proud of the series, but whatever we make I'm always pushing to make it better. We're already underway with Series 4 and reaching higher than ever.

And how rewarding was it to end up on The Guardian’s Top 25 of must see web series list and what opportunities came along as a result of that recognition?

Robin: I remember looking at the article, hoping to find some series to research what makes a good web series, and we were on it! Proper shocking!

Rhys: That came about at a really low point for us - we were suffering with lots of creative differences - and it sort of drew us together but also set fractures in other areas of the team.

Robin: We sort of rushed out Series 2 because of it and it only started to work near the end of that run.

Rhys: We got a nice cup of tea at the BBC.

Robin: It has afforded us some great opportunities. I've met some of my writing heroes who I'm now in touch with and help me with scripts.

Did you ever find it hard to get ‘named’ talent involved in the episodes?

Rhys:  We've been very lucky with the people we have attached, but some people have said no.

Robin: We've probably asked them to do something a bit too bizarre.

And was there ever anybody that you reached out to, really wanted to get involved with, but just couldn’t come to an agreement with?

Robin: Yes.

Doctor Who's Sarah Louise Madision in Confession

How have you found that things have changed for you, as creative filmmakers of sorts, during Twisted Showcase’s three series run?

Robin: I've always seen myself as a writer first and foremost, so feel I am a lot better at that now, but also can do stuff I never realised I could. We've produced 16 short films in a pretty short space of time, with little resources. Pretty mad really!

Rhys: The best thing Twisted Showcase has shown me is that that I didn't know as much as I thought I did but if I knuckle down I can get stuff done.

Do you ever envisage that there could be a time that the ideas begin to dry up?

Robin: My worry is that I won't have time to tell all the stories I want to, that I have too many ideas. So the exact opposite.

Rhys: It's silly to fear that; as a writer it's your job to have ideas, but sometimes you have to work hard to get those ideas.

And where there ever any ideas that you thought were just too much, too risqué or that you couldn’t realistically shoot?

Robin: Loads.

Rhys: One called Lock In, which was too vulgar, very violent and probably in poor taste.

Robin: I remember one called Arsehole Arsehole Bumhole Backdoor about an alien who had to learn what a bumhole was to unlock his secret powers.

If you could go back to your younger selves (like Bill and Ted), when you first started to put the Twisted Showcase concept together, what advice would you offer?

Rhys: That seems highly unlikely to ever happen. Maybe it could be a future episode.

Robin: I'd go back and make sure we don’t make that.

Red Dwarf's Norman Lovett in Toilet Soup

With three series to look back on, what is your particular favourite episode?

Rhys: Toilet Soup, not just because I wrote it, but because Norman Lovett is brilliant in it and he makes me both laugh and recoil.

Robin: I can't pick one. I'd choose Fear of Living and Press Play as favourites from Series 1 and 2, respectively. I’m probably a bit close to Series 3 at the moment. I was really pleased a writer who I think is quite brilliant, Debbie Moon who created and writes Wolfblood, mentioned her favourite episode was The Drugs Don't Work. I really worried about that, that I'd undercooked certain elements, and it's always a tougher sell when you're using a completely unknown cast. Maybe it's best to say that our favourite episodes will be in Series 4 - the future is always more exciting, isn't it?

What are you future plans for Twisted Showcase and what is your ideal endgame for all of this?

Rhys: Series 4 is in the works. As for an endgame, I have no idea. We always keep saying each series is the last.

Robin: We've got loads of other stuff planned, branching out into other areas. That's pretty vague, isn't it?

Rhys: You may as well have said “I don't know.”

Robin: That doesn't sound very exciting though, does it?

Rhys: Well how could we make it sound exciting?

Robin: There is stuff we are planning but nothing set in stone just yet.

Rhys: Everyone will just have to get excited about the ‘maybe.’

Robin: Yeah, the potential of nothing could be anything. Oh wait, I've just today finished a script for Series 4 called Be My Head. There’s a little bit of info for anyone who's interested.

Be sure to keep your eyes on the Twisted Showcase website and Facebook page, plus follow them @TwistedShowcase, for regular updates on what’s coming next. But in the meantime, feel free to gorge on Series 3 below, starting with the Gareth David-Lloyd-starring Payback:

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