Hikers walking the paths of Whitemarsh Park last September had the chance to encounter something other than the usual flora and fauna of the area—they found themselves in a fantasy world.
What would warrior nuns, ambitious kings and a kidnapping plot designed to halt a war be doing in one of Bowie’s parks? It's all part of a special fantasy web series from the mind of filmmaker Francis Abbey.
Abbey, a 35-year-old former Bowie resident thought the lush grounds of Whitemarsh Park were the perfect spot to shoot his current project, The Broken Continent.
“It’s kind of a really well-kept secret,” said Abbey, a Dematha High School grad who now lives in Hyattsville. “Behind the playhouse is a wonderful series of trails.”
With the city’s permission, for two days in September, Whitemark Park became Alerien, a continent broken apart by a vengeful god and home to a king that would see all five sections reunited under his rule.
Filming the series has been an aspiration of Abbey’s for half of his life. He describes this project is in the vein of Lord of the Rings (LOTR) and Game of Thrones, two series that are likely familiar to fantasy buffs.
“My previous idea of fantasy was you have to have elves and dwarfs, and I thought it was too cost prohibitive,” Abbey said, but after seeing the Game of Thrones series on television, he realized he could do fantasy in a different way, with knights and kings and an air of magic without costly makeup and special effects.
Although The Broken Continent does not have the special effects of the LOTR film series, Abbey said it was still expensive because they were producing the series at a professional level.
Abbey raised $42,000 dollars through a Kickstarter campaign to produce the web series pilot, but still ended up paying out of pocket for some expenses. Kickstarter is an online fundraising platform for creative projects.
One postproduction is completed, Abbey will take the series around to comic book and fantasy conventions to get people to see and, hopefully, back The Broken Continent.
“The plan it to continue the web series or make it a series of feature films and hopefully get it on a cable channel like sci-fi,” Abbey said.
They wrapped up their second fundraising campaign in December, raising $10,000 for post production costs. The Broken Continent should be finished and available online by February.
Abbey's previous film projects include the feature films Boxing Day, shot in Bowie in 2008, and the 2010 production 6 Non Smokers.