Cybertainment: 'Battle Lords,' a new Web series, uses local settings

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Western Pennsylvania is the backdrop for an intriguing new Web series -- "Battle Lords," a drama that centers on a group of people who re-create medieval war battles.

The protagonist Nick -- played by series writer-director-producer Nicky Allison -- is tortured by dreams where he's killed in battle, only to wake up alive and well in the morning. His friends and wife think he's going crazy, but soon they, too, begin having the same dreams and are drawn into the same medieval fantasy world. As the series progresses, they try to make sense of this mysterious place and find out what kind of world they've been pulled into.

The series is filmed in wooded and rural locations in Indiana County, with some apartment interiors filmed in Pittsburgh.

Mr. Allison originally set out to be a rock musician but ended up in Indiana University of Pennsylvania's communications media program studying filmmaking. "I finally decided to try something just as unrealistic and became a film producer," he said.

The series evolved out of his interest in participating in medieval combat sports and games. Friends he met through the games volunteered to act in the project. A short film he did evolved into the "Battle Lords" Web series.

"We based most of the characters on ourselves, which is why most of the characters are named after the actors," he said about "Battle Lords." We're exaggerated versions of ourselves. It's a way for us to live out our fantasies a little bit." Mr. Allison's wife, Liza Lepczyk, also plays his wife in the series.

The idea of having characters killed off over and over in the dream world and waking up alive also came out of the game play, he said. "When you participate in battles, sometimes you get 'killed.' Then you go to a place where you resurrect and you come back. We borrowed that idea from the combat sports we participate in. We fight our battles, but we basically reincarnate to fight the next time we go."

Mr. Allison has an ending in mind but would like to see the series run over a period of three years.

Four episodes are online so far. Each takes a long time to produce because Mr. Allison also writes the music, rather than dealing with licensing or copyright hassles. Although it makes the project much more time-consuming, "It's rewarding to finally have an outlet for my music."

The series can be watched through the "Battle Lords" website and on the video-sharing site Vimeo.

Adrian McCoy: or 412-263-1865.


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