Max is a new web-series that has piloted on YouTube. Based in Liverpool, it is a story about a guardian angel in the modern day. Writer and Director Colin Hives is no amateur when it comes to television series and short films. With a back catalogue of around 150 short films and 52 credited directorial shows, Hives is an experienced writer, director and composer. His current project, Max, is another excellent portrayal of Hives’ skills.
The inspiration for this unique plot comes from, “the idea of somebody starting a new job and soon finding out they had made the biggest possible mistake on their day. How would you react to that? Would you try and cover it up? Go with it? Even if it did make things worse?”
Despite the production being only five minutes long, Hives is able to include the feeling that everyone will feel at some point in their life. It was a small jump from the fear of screwing up on your first day to the idea of a guardian angel; “after that it was just trying to think of a job that the mistake would have the biggest impact on. The idea of a Guardian Angel screwing up made me smile.” It certainly made us smile! The distinctive plot allows for comedy to be a main point in the production and it certainly works well.
Asked what he loves so much about the character, Hives replied, "I love the character of Max simply because he has absolutely no idea what he is doing or how to do it. It's like he's just been born. No baggage and no rules. The series will detail the path he follows as he tries to find out just what his meaning is and to try to battle off the evil forces who think they can use him. Max is basically you and me but without history or knowledge. It would be good to have a week like that."
Hives’ decision to create a web-series instead of a short film is because there were too many stories to tell about his protagonist; “I quickly came to the conclusion that there were not just one, two or ten stories to be told about the world of Max Stanley. A much bigger picture opened up and lots of scenarios could carry it onwards.” The ending of the production leaves the audience with many unanswered questions, and those questions will keep you enticed for the next few episodes to come.
Born and raised in Liverpool, Hives' first feature film was shown at Woolton Picture House in 2009, and his production company – Shivilenco Pictures – is also based in Liverpool. It is because of his knowledge of the city that he decided to film it entirely in Liverpool; “the entire series will be shot around the Merseyside area. The pilot was shot in the Baltic Triangle of the City.”
More recently, Hives has worked on a couple of projects that have significantly influenced his new web series. "Before Max, we worked on two other series for Web and BayTV here in Liverpool (now Made In Liverpool). They were The Adventures of Mo & Cath starring Pamela Ashton and Joanne Sartorius about sisters who try and change their lives for the better (and worse). It was completely set in a car (all over Merseyside) and pre-dated Peter Kay's Car Share (just sayin'). The other series was CineRama which was set in a small cinema in Liverpool and focused on the crazy world of its staff as they try and make it a successful venture. We did 7 episodes of Mo & Cath and 14 episodes of CineRama."
The minimalist setting and characters allow the audience to really focus on Max Stanley, his protégée Jim and the off-camera voice of God. Not only was the story minimalist, the cast and crew were kept to a minimum as well; “the crew is basically me. We shot the pilot in a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon.” The quick work is done exceptionally well.
However, it was not a simply solo act; “I've worked with Paul Hilts for nearly 20 years as part of my fantastic ensemble of actors. Jamie Bixby – who plays Max – is pretty new to Shivilenco but I worked with him from 2015 to 2016 on...Cinerama.” It is a talented cast as they portray the struggles of everyday life, but with a supernatural twist. Colin takes the theme of reality and creates a humorous piece of work that is quirky, light-hearted and different.
Colin is not stopping at one episode; “we have so far shot three episodes with many more in the pipeline (12 scripts have been written so far).” The next episode will premiere at the end of June with Colin hoping that they are able to premiere one episode a month.
As if that wasn't enough, Colin Hives is, "about to start the second feature entitled “Trash, Bang Wallop – The Richard Dresden Story,” which has a cast of 30+ and tells the story of the world's worst filmmaker....A Mockumentary in the Spinal Tap tradition." So don't worry, there's more to come!