Q&A: Ben Bays of Aidan 5

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From the January 19, 2012 edition

The Columbus-based Web series “Aidan 5” is a triumph: It recently earned nine nominations for the inaugural International Academy of Web Television awards. Showrunner and co-executive producer Ben Bays couldn’t be more excited about the show’s success. Now that Season 1 is over — and available in its entirety online — he’s even more eager to tell the rest of this sci-fi crime story.

“Aidan 5” started out when [co-creators] John Jackson and Tim Baldwin signed up to do the Columbus 48 Hour Film Project back in 2008. They didn’t know what genre they’d get, so John decided to shoot everything on green screen. The Friday night of the competition they selected sci-fi out of a hat. They were like, “That’s perfect.” It won Columbus, went on to compete internationally and ended up screening at the Cannes Film Festival.

I saw it at the festival screening, and I was blown away. It was so cool. John and I had been talking about doing a project together, possibly in the Web series realm. I saw it and said, “I think we found our project.”

Aidan 5 is set in the year 2064. Cloning is legalized and a way of life. It’s really this gritty, film noir crime drama about Detective James Aidan trying to solve the serial killings of his own clones.

There are all these social issues with clones having to face a lot of discrimination, and there’s a glass ceiling as far as what they can do. That’s embodied by Aidan’s partner Morgan Riley, who’s a clone.

Right now we’re in the writing phase for Season 2. We hope to be shooting by late summer and have episodes released soon after that. We’re hoping to shoot Seasons 2 and 3 back to back.

We wanted it to have a really strong through line so when you got to the end of the series you could go back and watch the whole thing in a different light based on what you discovered throughout the process.

I’ve been making movies since I was 10 years old. I ended up going to the Los Angeles Film Studies Center, which is a semester film school to get you working internships in the industry. I had the great fortune of going to work for James Cameron at Lightstorm Entertainment.

I go through a lot of phases of what I’m into at any given time. I can say anything Steven Spielberg does is inspiring. James Cameron is someone else who’s been a huge influence.

As far as “Aidan 5” is concerned, a show that really inspired me was “Battlestar Galactica.” It was and still probably is one of the best things on television. They nailed that perfectly — the tone, the look, the writing, the characters.