‘Barry Baker: Aspiring Serial Killer’ takes a darkly comedic look at the universal desire for a sense of purpose.
It’s a familiar plot line. The story opens on a typical day. We meet our protagonist, an everyman, unhappy in his mundane career and searching for a sense of purpose — for his calling.
Enter the inciting incident. Something breaks through the monotony of everyday life to thrust the character headfirst onto the path toward his true destiny. In this case, it’s an online personality test.
The result? Become a serial killer.
Maybe it’s not so familiar. But that’s what made the story so appealing to Tony Ahedo, writer and director of the new web-based series, “Barry Baker: Aspiring Serial Killer.”
He first came up with the idea two years ago, when he was a junior filmmaking student at Ringling College of Art and Design.
“We had an assignment to brainstorm 10 plot ideas,” he says. “I was coming up with a bunch of different things that I thought were funny, but this one really stood out to me. The idea of someone taking an online personality test that tells them they’re a serial killer, and then blindly following that path that’s been chosen for them is really funny to me.”
He wrote the script as his senior thesis project, but his professors decided it was too large in scope. So he filed it away until last year. While working as assistant camera operator on the local feature film, “Monty Comes Back,” he mentioned the idea to producers Thomas Nudi and Trishul Thejasvi.
They loved the concept, and the three decided to partner up and pursue the project as co-producers.
“In the world of the show, there are parallels with the real-world obsession with violence,” says Ahedo. “Serial killers become celebrities. For a guy who’s depressed, unpopular and doesn’t feel any real sense of purpose, if this option falls into his lap, why not?”
There’s only one problem: He’s clearly not cut out for the job. Poking fun at horror movies, as well as similar crime dramas, like “Dexter,” “Barry Baker” distinguishes itself right in the title. Nobody starts at the top — he’s aspiring.
Like anything else, practice makes perfect. And that’s where the show’s absurdity and dark humor come into play.
To get started on his new career path, Baker, played by Peter Konowicz, starts with some research. The pilot episode, which Ahedo and crew filmed in Sarasota last October, shows Baker brushing up on classic slasher flicks, jotting down notes as he watches. He attempts to embody some of the classic serial killer traits, like cruelty to animals. (Does screaming at them count as cruelty?)
“It’s an interesting balance to strike,” says Konowicz. “How do you make a serial killer a lovable main character? I don’t necessarily see him as a bad guy. He’s a flawed person, but he’s got a good heart, and that’s how I try to portray him. He wants to feel like he’s part of something bigger than himself. It’s something everyone can relate to, and that’s what makes it great.”
Ahedo is gearing up to film episodes two and three over a 14-day production cycle in August, with locations in Sarasota and St. Petersburg. He’s formed an LLC for the project and secured a private investor, and he says he hopes to release the full six-episode season online by October.
“Expect to laugh,” he says. “Expect some elements of horror movies, but not too much. There’s a little bit of something for everyone. It will be different than anything you’ve seen before.”