At the Bar with Karlton Clay
The Bar Loves Karma, the Web Series
In addition to owning his own production company, Karlton Clay is a writer, director, and showrunner from Georgia, and a part of the independent webseries movement there. He is also a member of the esteemed Black Filmmakers group on Facebook.
Karlton! Welcome to the Bar!!! What are you sippin’ on?
Right now, I am sippin' on some WATER! I need to drink more! LOL!
You are an independent artist, so there may be some folks in attendance who don’t know you. If you would, please give us a little background.
I was born and raised in Augusta, GA, and I still live here now.
How did you get started with your production company?
Victory Productions began during my bout with cancer. I was diagnosed with leukemia March of 2002. I was in remission 2 months later and have been in remission for 14 years now. But during that time, God gave me the vision for the company. I've always loved to write, and I just wanted to opportunity to tell the stories that were important to me.
14 years in remission? You are a truly blessed man.
Yes, it truly is a blessing. I do not take life for granted. I value my relationship with God so much more after dealing with cancer and now 14 years later I am just as grateful as the first time I heard that I was in remission.
Here's hoping you stay in remission so you can complete your work. What inspired you to go into the business from behind the camera, rather than in front?
My love for writing. Again, I've always loved to write, and it's important to be true to your passion. I honestly never intended on being a director or producer or even a camera man, but it got to a point where no one was giving me an opportunity so I decided that I had to make my own opportunities. I started off with theater. No one read my plays so I started producing my own plays. When I was in college, the GM of the college campus station didn't want to watch my pilot of a show I wanted to produce at the school. My homeboy Lamont Johnson told me to do the show on the web, and that's how my career in web series began with my first show, College Daze, which ran from 2006-2011 for 60 episodes (5 seasons).
Five seasons? That level of dedication is astounding! What is going on in Georgia?!?? It’s like y’all have become the (Black) Hollywood of the East Coast.
Georgia is booming - specifically Atlanta. I just think people started taking control of their own destinies and decided not to wait for HOLLYWOOD to give them the recognition and the opportunities that they wanted or deserved.
And as a blogger who focuses on independent artists of color, I absolutely cannot agree more. When it comes to our representation, there's just too much left to be desired.
So let’s talk Karma, the Web Series. What inspired that project?
I had just ended The Lyons Den (this is before it was brought back for a 6th season last year), and I wanted to do a show with a leading lady that women could relate to so I had a conversation with Ashley Black (Karma) and that's how the show started. The show has grown and evolved from a show focusing on the Karma character to a show about an ensemble of people who are dealing with the concept of karma - what goes around comes around and that there are consequences to your actions.
How did you even get that off the ground? There are so many characters and locations!
People are so generous in allowing us to use their houses or businesses for hours. We film on weekends mostly, and it definitely is a lot when trying to coordinate actors and locations because we all are busy with multiple projects going on. But if you love what you do and are willing to grind no matter what to make your dream come true, then, you'll do what it takes to make it happen.
Am I understanding correctly? Do you actually film multiple shows simultaneously?
Yes, I have 4 shows running at the same time - The Lyons Den, Karma, Lovers Lane, and Color Blind. We're done filming Karma. We'll be airing the fifth (which is the final) season of Karma in 2017.
How has the local response to the show been?
It's been good. Folks enjoy the show. I get people stopping me asking me what's going to happen next. Or I'll get messages on social media asking the same thing. It's cool. It's humbling. Folks take the time out to watch your stuff when they don't have to and I am truly grateful and appreciative of that.
What about the financial aspect as an independent showrunner? How do you find funding?
The financial aspect is THE GRIND. We have a $0 budget. If there is a production need, it comes out of my pocket. I work 2 jobs outside of Victory Productions and I do a little freelance work from time to time. That's where the money comes from. The only show that we get funding from is Lovers Lane, and we do that through gofundme, and the only reason we do it is because we're filming in North Carolina, and I have to rent hotel rooms for the actors to stay because they are coming from all over. We also have to get food to feed everyone while we're on set. We are gracious though to have people that open up their homes as well.
Do you ever plan to relocate or do you want to remain with the indie scene in Georgia?
I want to move to North Carolina. Either Raleigh or Charlotte. I love the energy that I get when I'm in North Carolina filming my other web series Lovers Lane.
I love the support and the love. I am at peace when I'm in North Carolina. So I would love to move there and stay there for a few years. Maybe it's a seasonal move or maybe it would be a lifetime move. Who knows? I just know that my next move will either be Raleigh or Charlotte.
Does North Carolina also have a booming webseries scene? Care to make any recommendations?
North Carolina is huge on the film and theater circuit. North Carolina is booming with talent. I saw that when I first began filming Lovers Lane. I think the webseries scene is growing. I'm starting to see more and more web shows as time progresses.
What else are you working on right now? You seem to be doing so much!!!
2017 will be kicked into overdrive. I don't want to give too much away. Just know we are cooking up some new material, and you need to be on the look out.
Karlton, you are one hell of a man. I'm talking a true inspiration on multiple levels. It was awesome to have you here At the Bar.