The overwhelming grievance of the Percy Jackson fandom is that the movies, in quite a typical Hollywood fashion, betrayed the books for a more glamorized rendition. The plot of the movies barely resemble that of the books, to the point that the only similarity is the characters (and even they are extremely distorted versions of the book characters).
Thankfully, one group of avid fans is trying to rectify that problem, ushering in a new adaptation of Rick Riordan’s work with a goal of being accurate as possible. And, as you would imagine, the project has been stirring up a great deal of excitement in the fandom.
Director Erika Jolie and her team of fellow students have been working tirelessly to incorporate the books into a new YouTube web-series. They fund the project themselves, showcasing their true dedication to Rick Riordan’s series. They have already uploaded five episodes in Season One under the banner of Infinity Productions, garnering thousands of views.
Check out an episode promo below and an interview with Erika Jolie herself:
What inspired you to create this web-series?
I first read the Percy Jackson books as a kid, and I became completely obsessed. The plot and characters were both fresh and exciting for me! I reread them this summer and I loved them just as much as I did when I was younger. Throughout the school year, I became friends with people who were into drama and acting. I checked out student films on YouTube too. Rereading the books and watching these films inspired me to create this web series.
Who are the main people you are working with?
I am the main person behind creating the series. I take care of writing the scripts, casting actors, finding shoot locations, scheduling filming dates, organizing props, storing equipment, contacting extras, and transporting people to set. But, I couldn’t produce the series alone—it is truthfully a team effort. Every time we film, I need people to slate before a new take, work the sound equipment, and operate the cameras. Lots of actors who are in the episode we’re filming also manage equipment when they aren’t on camera. Everyone pitches in in their own way, and that’s something I think is really specially about this series. We all just want to work together to make it the best it can possibly be.
Is there anything that won’t be brought to screen?
Unfortunately, yes. Although we would all like to act out every single scene in every single book, we cannot, for multiple reasons. First of all, we don’t have the type of equipment and editing programs needed to make realistic monsters, giant tidal waves, or explosions… we have to work with what we have. Secondly, we don’t have the time to film that many scenes. We only film 4-8 episodes per book. If we wanted to film each entire book, we would have to spend at least ten years filming (one year per book). As it is now, we’re already going to be filming when we’re all in college! Third, we want to keep our cast and crew to teenagers and younger kids. We won’t be including all of the monsters, gods, and goddesses in our series, and we won’t be using over-the-top special effects.
Rick Riordan created a diverse collection of characters. (Characters of color, LGBTQ+ characters etc.) Can we look forward to accurate representation during this web-series?
Yes, of course! One of the reasons I love the PJO and HOO books so much is because of Rick Riordan’s diverse characters. Every one of them is truly unique, and representing them accurately is extremely important to me. I can assure you that each film character will be a very close match to the book character.
How do you plan on orchestrating the complex action sequences?
We have actually already filmed a lot of action/fight scenes, and it is a very complicated process. When I’m writing the scripts from the books, I include a rough outline of what I want the fight sequence to look like. I try to stay as close to the book as possible, but I also put my own twist on it to make it easier to film. Before we can even think about filming the fight scenes, we have to block them. That means going through the scene slowly and deciding on the exact positioning of the actors. While we’re running the scene, someone watches through the camera and works on choosing the right angles. After that, we’re ready to film. We always have to shoot from multiple angles and get various different shots: from tight shots to wide shots to pans and motion shots.
The set looks quite magnificent… how was it created?
We actually don’t have to do anything to any of our filming location; so far, all of the locations we’ve found have been absolutely perfect for our series. This is especially true for our Camp Half-Blood location: Camp Green Eyrie. The campground already has a canoe lake with a dock, a clearing for cabins/tents, small rivers, and a building that looks similar to the Big House. All we have to do is set up our cameras and sound equipment, then film!
What do you see in the future of this web-series? Will you pursue the Heroes of Olympus series as well?
Yes, we will adapt the Heroes of Olympus series! We’ll film two seasons of PJO first. Season One is based on books 1-3 and Season Two will be based on books 4 and 5. After that, we’ll film two seasons of HOO.
Answers have been slightly edited for clarity.