Living their dream by giving you nightmares

“Slice” creators Marzy Hart and Daniel Ferry.  Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic

“Slice” creators Marzy Hart and Daniel Ferry. Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic

BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC   |  Figuring out the distinction between a murder spree and serial killing is not something many would willingly dive into — but for Marzy Hart and Daniel Ferry, it was essential research for their YouTube web series.

“Slice” follows protagonist Lily Drover as she fulfills her need to, ahem, well, you’ll have to watch and see. Hart, who plays Lily and produced the series, and Ferry, the director and writer, sat down with Chelsea Now to talk about their “dark comedy thriller” web series, now an official selection for two web festivals.

“We knew it was going to be a female lead,” said Hart, who drew inspiration from the television show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” “I’m always super excited about being a badass girl in something.”

Ferry and Hart agonized over a backstory for Lily and what drives her to commit her crimes.

“And then we’re like, ‘Why does there have to be a why?’ If it’s a guy, people don’t question it,” noted Hart.

With the anti-hero the character du jour, Ferry said, “It [was] not a bad angle to take.”

“Also, saving the princess is so cliché now,” added Hart.

Building on each other’s thoughts in conversation is second nature to the two, who met when they were teenagers in Chelsea. Ferry, 27, grew up and lives on W. 23rd St. His mom was one of the first tenants in the building 33 years ago, when the neighborhood was dramatically different, he said.

Hart, 25, is originally from Volgograd, Russia.

L to R: “Slice” cast members Coby O’Brien, Michael Patrick Lane and Marzy Hart. More episodes are in the works, with the first season up on YouTube now and in two web festivals next month.   Photo courtesy of the filmmakers

L to R: “Slice” cast members Coby O’Brien, Michael Patrick Lane and Marzy Hart. More episodes are in the works, with the first season up on YouTube now and in two web festivals next month. Photo courtesy of the filmmakers

“We moved to Coney Island in ’95, when I was six,” she explained. “When I was 13 we moved to Penn South.”

Neighborhood teenagers used to congregate at what is now called Pinwheel Park, between W. 24th and 25th Sts. (and Eighth & Ninth Aves.). Ferry and Hart met one night at the park, dated briefly, and then remained friends.

“We would totally still be friends ’cause we’re awesome,” said Hart as Ferry laughed. “I knew I wanted to be an actor and Dan decided he wanted to do film. And we knew that we wanted to do stuff together at some point.”

Hart said that she always knew that she wanted to be an actor.

“I first figured this out when we were in Russia and I didn’t think that it was a possibility,” she said. “But my parents always had this dream of going to America. So when we came here, I knew I wanted to do it, but I was busy learning English and all that stuff.”

She loved Harry Potter growing up, and said it became clear that she needed “to do things like this in my life. There’s so many things that interest me and I think with acting, you get to play so many different parts. You don’t have to be just a scientist or just a — anything. You can explore.”

She studied her craft for eight years and took classes at Acting on Impulse, a small NYC school, she explained, that teaches improvisation-based scene, monologue and Shakespeare workshops.

Ferry took a different route to directing, starting out as a political science major at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania. While thinking about his thesis topic, he honed in on the gentrification of neighborhoods, something that he saw firsthand in Chelsea.

“Growing up in the city, I saw a lot of those mom and pop shops go,” he said. “Even now…there aren’t very many left at all. Growing up I was noticing it.”

He chose Chelsea Guitars — a ground floor shop in W. 23rd St.’s Chelsea Hotel building that has been part of the neighborhood since 1989 — as an example of how Chelsea has changed. View the work at vimeo.com/31529509.

“I realized, being actually interested in the subject matter and interested in potentially creating change, that writing a paper would not be as sufficient as maybe making a short film — and that’s kind of what sparked the interest in film. And then from there on, it just became the passion,” he recalled.

He switched his major to communication arts and minored in political science. When he moved back to New York, he began working as a freelance editor.

One of his jobs was with Greencard Pictures, an independent production company that does a lot of commercial work, he explained, “but they have a strong drive to want to put out independent, fun content and short films.”

Greencard Pictures offered Ferry the use of their equipment and that lit the fire to do the web series.

“They were there with me all the way,” he said, as they also helped with the script, in developing his directorial style, and securing some locations.

Many scenes were filmed in Bushwick, where Hart now lives, and her apartment was used as a set. Ferry wrote the script, although he said it was a collaborative effort. They began filming late last summer and released the first episode around Halloween.

“Everything takes longer than you think it’s going to take,” said Ferry.

The duo didn’t raise money, and worked with a small budget — spending under $3,000 for the cost of locations, props and food for the cast. The actors worked for free and were either people they knew or were recommended by friends.

The first season is comprised of six episodes, with the last one cut into two parts. Each episode is short, running anywhere from two to five minutes.

Hart said, “Web series are interesting because you have to make bite-sized episodes.

“There’s a difference between when you’re watching content online and when you’re watching it on TV,” she continued. “You sit down, you’re like ‘I’m going to watch a show on Netflix’ — you know you’re giving half an hour to 45 minutes. But online where you can quickly type in a new link or there’s always suggestions popping up — ‘click here’ and ‘watch this’ and ‘watch that.’ You want to be able to get your point across really fast.”

“It makes more sense just [to] be short,” said Ferry. “People have two to three minutes to spend, they don’t have 12 minutes.”

“Slice” isn’t their first endeavor together. Hart and Ferry worked on a web series called “Teamwork Like Wolves,” which came out in early 2013. Only the pilot was released, and it was over ten minutes, said Hart.

“We learned a lot from that and that’s maybe when the interest of doing a web series kind of really started,” said Hart. “We already know what we’re getting ourselves into. We know what we did wrong and why [Wolves] didn’t really take off.”

Hart, who also promotes the series on social media, submitted “Slice” to several web festivals. It was selected for the Vancouver Web Fest and HollyWeb Festival, which are both in March.

“When we put out ‘Slice,’ people just started sharing it, I didn’t have to ask,” said Hart, who is writing the second season. “Here’s our first episode and then six or seven people shared it, and I was like, ‘Oh, my God.’ It felt really good.”

“[‘Slice’ is] truly driven by people who just enjoy making film,” said Ferry. “We did our best not to let financial restraints stop us. When people tell you, ‘You can’t pull it off” — that’s the time to push.”

Follow “Slice” on social media. For Instagram/Twitter: @slicetheseries. Also, slicetheseries.tumblr.com and facebook.com/slicetheseries, Watch the entire first season at youtube.com/slicetheseries.

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