EVERYTHING’S OK is an episodic series best described as a ‘post-apocalyptic cardboard punk’ adventure. Its first episode debuted as a short film at Cannes this year, and the entire 8-episode series will be premiering online, one episode every other week through the coming months. Most notably, the series was scored with brand new, original music from Rob Crow of Pinback. The brand new trailer includes the song, "Dismal Failure (Hold Me Stay Away)" by Rob Crow, exclusively heard in this trailer and in the series finale of EVERYTHING’S OK.
EVERYTHING’S OK is a live-action/animated hybrid, a DIY VFX extravaganza, telling the story of a young woman’s search for her father amid the ruins of NYC ten years after fracking has caused the apocalypse. The 1% still rule, and everyone else walks around in an alternate, happy reality, thanks to “Gogol Glass.” This disillusioned young woman, however, is on a mission, with the help of a sidekick—the reanimated head of Orson Welles. (In a modern-era casting move, Salisbury scoured YouTube and found Arkansas comedian Michael Brown delivering a pitch-perfect Welles impression; it was so good he flew him in and put him up for the shoot.)
Ace Salisbury explains that the concept for the series came to him when he was struck with a mental image of Manhattan surrounded by gaping canyons instead of rivers. Barren, dried up, this was a New York City with no access to drinkable water. He ran with this thought experiment, imagining how we might have taken this chilling step backward in our quality of life. There wasn’t a zombie apocalypse, or a war with an invading alien species. To Salisbury, the answer was much darker because it was a human cause, and about to come true: fracking. This was the seed of what would become the world of EVERYTHING’S OK, a “cardboard punk” epic web series.
In 2014, Ace Salisbury decided it was time to put aside all his shooting and editing gigs and finally make his passion project. “Life is short,” he says “and I realized the only person who was going to hire me as a director—for the kind of stuff I wanted to direct—was me.”
Once he had everything he needed, money saved up, a green screen, an extensive knowledge of Adobe After Effects, and a style and vision he had been honing since college—a grungy, 90’s-inspired bizarre style, and a slightly grotesque sense of humor—he got to work enlisting people to get the job done.
Salisbury started with production design, calling on his longtime childhood friend, Christopher C.J. O’Connell, a talented and industrious artist with a MacGuyver-like ability to turn garbage into intricate miniature sets, complete with lighting plans and breakaway walls for multiple camera setups. Between Salisbury and O’Connell, a style emerged that could be described as “Cardboard Punk.”
Producer Cameron Bossert hopes this phrase will catch on. Bossert, a producer-director Salisbury had known in college, came aboard to help run the set for the two-week shoot that took place in a single tiny room with two lights, a green screen, a rotating line of actors, and a radiator that wouldn’t turn off. After seeing the potential of the show and of Salisbury’s prodigious talents, he agreed to guide the process of completing the show within 365 days start to finish. “When we finally screened it privately last month, people were like, ‘Wow, you’ve actually made a real thing,’” says Bossert. “It was amazing because besides Chris’ sets, and the score (by 90s rockstar and Pinback frontman Rob Crow), and a sound mix (by Ian Turner), Ace did absolutely everything else. What should have taken a whole team of people was done by one guy in an apartment, running on a treadmill in the morning, and editing, compositing, animating and coloring into the night. The fact that all 8 episodes are done, and look exactly like the original plan, is kind of a miracle.”
Soon off the excitement of having a finished product, the team submitted, and were accepted into the Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner, where the first episode of the show was be unveiled to the public for the first time.
“I don’t know what to expect,” says Salisbury. “But at the very least it adds to the narrative of our little show that could. Whether we get distribution, or any kind of deal, this is a super exciting way to show people that we’ve made something worth watching.”
Message from Ace Salisbury:
I’ve never been a particularly political artist. When I first heard there was the possibility the US could free itself from its dependence on foreign oil with its own natural gas, I was thrilled. I played SimCity 2000 as a kid, and this seemed on the level of that Fusion Power Plant that gets invented in the year 2050. Once we saw hydro-fracturing in practice, however, it was clear corners were being cut to protect companies’ bottom lines. Leaving the chemical water to sit at well sites, the breaking of pipes due to shifting of the earth’s tectonic plates, and the sheer amount of water needed to excavate the gas, all place a very real threat on the environment.
Particularly disturbing was the contamination of drinking water in the areas around the gas wells. When I’ve been to places like Honduras, Cuba, or the Dominican Republic, it’s always a given that you can’t drink the tap water. I thought, what if the potable water we take for granted in the US became a thing of the past?
The story of EVERYTHING’S OK begins after the ban on fracking has been lifted. Complete lack of regulation has led to irreparable damage to the water table, and chemicals in the water supply halt agriculture and make tap water undrinkable. In a desperate attempt to protect NYC, the government builds a dam Upstate, and NYC’s rivers dry up and turn to gulches. Ten years later, 90% of the city’s population has died, poor people live at the bottom of the “East River Gulch,” and the wealthy elite live in Manhattan drinking purified urine and 3D printing their food.
Ultimately EVERYTHING’S OK is about greed and shortsightedness on a societal level. As dark as our premise may be, we present our world through comedy. By treating disturbing trends with a satirical eye, our aim is to create awareness of this important issue without being preachy. We need to be telling stories like this before they become reality.