C.S.I.! The biggest TV cop series in the world. And the guy behind it is Anthony Zuiker.
And what a story. Before he created C.S.I., Anthony worked at a hotel in Vegas - driving a shuttle bus for eight bucks an hour. So, one night he's at home, set to go out with his friends. But his wife says, "Stay home, watch this show with me." And everything changed.
The show was about cops who investigate real crime scenes. And bang - it hit him. This would make a great drama series!
Anthony starting writing. He did a few screenplays, and then, almost out of nowhere, he got a call from Jerry Bruckheimer. Jerry liked Anthony's style and asked him to pitch ideas for a TV series. Anthony pitched 'C.S.I.', and Jerry gave him a deal.
Next up for Anthony - the pilot. For five weeks - he did the graveyard shift with real Las Vegas cops. By 2000, C.S.I. was on the air, and in two years - the most watched show in America. Now, it's a franchise. 'CSI: Miami', 'CSI: New York', it airs in nearly two hundred countries, with seventy-five million viewers a week. And the brand makes big money - try six billion dollars, since it hit the air!
Now, Anthony has a new project. A digital novel called 'Level 26.' And it just might change modern storytelling.
In 2009, Anthony E. Zuiker launched a brand new media platform. The Digi-novel concept was featured throughout the entire Level 26 franchise, Zuiker’s first project after leaving CSI. Now, just a little more than two years since Level 26: Dark Origins was released, the book series comes to an end, and with it, a final installment of cyber-bridges, a video feature that takes you beyond the pages of the book. Level 26: Dark Revelations contains eight cyber-bridges, each directed by Joshua Caldwell. Born in Bellevue, Washington, Caldwell joined Zuiker’s Dare to Pass company in 2009, and has since taken the position as Director of Digital Media. In this interview with CSI Files’ Shane Saunders, the Dark Revelation director gives background to what his duties at the company involve, talks what it’s like working with the creator of CSI and being behind the camera for the epic conclusion of Level 26.
CSI Files: You were the editor on Level 26: Dark Prophecy, which was directed by Anthony, and on Level 26: Dark Revelations, you got to serve as the director. How did you get the opportunity to direct the third series?
Caldwell: That’s probably more a question for Anthony, but I feel like it was a combination of the work I did on Dark Prophecy, as his editor working to fulfill his vision, and him seeing [and signing onto as an Executive Producer] my short film Dig. Obviously as we moved into late summer, Anthony had turned his attention back to TV, and it was really up to me, once we locked picture, to coordinate and shepherd the bridges through post and bring him the music, color correction, and sound mixes that he would both like and approve of. Following that, I co-wrote, produced and directed Dig in an effort to show Anthony and Matt what I was capable of as a director.
CSI Files: Who are your influences for when you direct something like this? Were you inspired by what Anthony did before, or was there another director you’re kind of taking bits from to add to it?
Caldwell: You know, it’s interesting because I’ve reached a point where I feel like I’m less about trying to find how other directors do it and more about how can I do it. So I wouldn’t say that there are any directors that I referenced. Having directed a number of shorts and music videos over the years I’ve developed an aesthetic, a way of shooting, that works for me and delivers a specific result that, I feel, is unique to me and my vision. I think audiences are very smart, and they pick up on things consciously or subconsciously, and I like to use visuals in such a way that I’m tapping into that response. Beyond that, it’s an aesthetic that tends to work well with small budgets and short shooting schedules, because I shoot a lot of handheld and move very quickly. However, that’s a benefit of my way of shooting and directing, not a reason for it. Director of Photography Paul Niccolls, who shot this along with nine of my other projects, is a big additive to that as well. We know how to work together in a way that delivers that result I’m looking for, he’s looking for, keeps us on schedule but also, and this is probably most important, looks really good and interesting and different. I’ve reached a point where I’ve broken free from paying homage to or building off the aesthetics of other directors. Now it’s really about how I see it.
To see more of the interview, visit CSIFiles.com. And be sure to pick up your copy of "Dark Revelations: A Level 26 Thriller" today.