The Misadventures: Sci-Fi on a Budget

In Part 1 of The Misadventures – Sci-Fi on a budget, we’ll be talking with Adrian Croom, co-founder of Alleyway Art Entertainment and co-creator of The Misadventures web series. In Part 2 we’ll hear from The Misadventures co-creator Jon McMahon who represents the other half of Alleyway Art.

"we are all [artists] competing for people's attention"

Adrian Croom – Photo by Lucas Purvis

Many artists run into creative dead ends when their imaginations are bigger than their budgets. Ideas get scrapped, scripts get shortened, visions are scaled back. In some cases, projects that have a lot of potential never see the light of day. But if you believe in your idea and you want it bad enough, you find a way to make it happen.  Meet Adrian Croom, co-creator of The Misadventures.

What sort of content do you and Jon create and how long have you been doing it?
Alleyway Art really just started as comedic entertainment. Beaver Kneaver was the first film that Alleyway Art jumped into, and we have developed lots of smaller short films over the years. Alleyway Art is an ensemble of Austin local artists, making what we consider clever entertaining content. Jon and I met in middle school and have been best friends and collaborators ever since.

What is The Misadventures?
The Misadventures is an epic science fiction space adventure that carries its story through multiple mediums. We started with a sixteen episode live action web-series.  It has since evolved into a comic strip, ebook, and animation.

What inspired you guys to make an ebook?
We are always trying to stay on the forefront. Millions of people own e-readers and we are excited about sharing The Misadventures as an interactive hybrid graphic novel that would combine animation with an original soundtrack, which can be accomplished using HTML 4 features found within .EPUB file extensions. Our story that we’ve created is so epic and elaborate that it would take us years to make if live-action was the only
medium.  Ebooks will allow us to get the story out faster.

You guys do it all yourselves, from writing, to filming, to editing, to 3D animation and scoring. What has the learning curve been like?
Well it definitely didn’t happen over night. Learning various software programs can be daunting, but honestly thanks to the Internet, there’s a wealth of free tutorials and free information available. That’s the only way this is possible. I started editing on Avid in college when I did a comedy variety access show. I eventually got my own Macintosh and learned Final Cut Pro. From there, we advanced to green screen, roto-scoping, motion tracking, CG animation, and now we’re deep in to animation. All this was done by watching 11 year old kids on online tutorials. We aren’t masters of any of it, but we’re getting better.

Can you talk a little bit about how you like to run your show on set and what kind of actors you use?
Well we pretty much just use the resources we have here in Austin which is local talent,  friends, people we knew in high school, people we work with. We’ve also been fortunate in meeting people who want to be a participant in our productions. I mean, we don’t have money to offer people so it has to be someone who’s down to dress up in weird costumes and actually put in work on set. I think most people that we work with generally have fun on set. We like to keep things casual yet competitive, so it’s kind of a different atmosphere I would think.

You said you guys can’t really pay actors, so what kind of budget are you working with and how and where do you get your funding?
The funding is 100% out of pocket, which means Jon and I have to work full-time day jobs. A lot of our expenses are put towards purchasing new production software and continuing to stay on the front end of technology. We’ve been incredibly lucky with Channel Austin which was the main resource used to produce The Misadventures web-series. Channel Austin has  awesome HD equipment. But for the most part, Jon and I produce out-of-house using software that we have individually compiled over the years. Again, we’ve been fortunate to have a great nucleus of people that want to see our projects come to life. Our second full-length feature, The Butterfly Stroke (2004), was produced for a little over two hundred bucks – most of which was used to buy Speedos.

Between the two of you as a team, how many different software programs do you use?
Reason, pro-tools, sound track studio pro, garage band, 3rd party sound banks/plugins, Final Cut Pro, Motion, After FX, Motion Builder, Final Draft, DVD Studio Pro, VUE, InDesign…

What’s your target audience?
I think it’s something adults will really like, but we definitely appeal to younger audiences.

You’ve done full features and small skits. On the technical side, what would you recommend to beginners, starting small or diving into a larger project?
I started out doing skits with friends. But I jumped right into a full length feature that never got finished. Tapes got lost before we were able to log the footage. Smaller is easier. But, if you start big, you’re going to learn so much. Obviously the learning curve is steep. But if you want to make something big, do it. Just get to the finish line!

It can’t always be fun collaborating with a partner. How do you and Jon deal with creative disagreements?
You have to let your guard down. It took a ton of arguments with Jon and I. We work on projects, but we’re also best friends. But you tend to fight less and less, because you automatically start to know what the other person is thinking going into things. I think it’s important to remember when you’re doing a project with someone it’s two people’s style coming together, and you have to embrace that, and let some stuff go – you have to respect the person you’re working with and then you work through the differences.

How was Comicon?
Comicon was incredible! We met lots of artists, writers, and actors. It was great for networking.  Most importantly, it was the perfect avenue for us to reach out and make new fans. Our booth was a little different then most, since we featured video, music, costumes and dance parties.  We used the event for promotional reasons and just gave everything away for free.  If we can afford it one day, we will take The Misadventures to every Comicon around the country.

Where can our readers find your work?
People can go to  Join the mailing list! We’ll send you a newsletter and let people know when more is coming out.

5 thoughts on “The Misadventures: Sci-Fi on a Budget

  1. Adrian is prolific. In addition to this web series he composes all kinds of music. He is an Austin underground legend in the making.

  2. It’s interesting to see the balance between creativity and technological knowhow. It almost seems like two different parts of the brain. I guess the key is resilience and keeping an open mind toward refusing to limit what is and isn’t in one’s skills set.

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