By Bryce J. Renninger | Indiewire October 2, 2012 at 1:44PM
Digger T. Mesch spent 10 years in China working on a variety of film projects. He'd been trying to get a film off the ground there, a horror western called "Fist Full of Blood," with a creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
As he realized he wasn't going to raise the money needed, Mesch came to a video on the Internet of an older woman beating up a robber on a moped in the UK with her purse. From there, he developed the idea of "Agent 88."
"Agent 88" focuses on the world's deadliest assassin, an 88-year-old British woman on the verge of Alzheimer's. Played by Kat D'Arcy, an unknown actress who came out to Hollywood in her 70s, "Agent 88" became a cult sensation through the web series' Kickstarter campaign. But how?
To understand the answer, we must start with Mesch's bizarre career path. After enrolling in the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan and switching majors every month, he ended up with a cartooning degree and was preparing to work with special effects. He ended up with a career making special toys for films. (Scuba Steve from "Big Daddy"? That was Mesch.) He later expanded his business and held master rights to Star Trek figures from 2001-2006. His trip to China started when he needed to develop manufacturing alliances with local factories.
"After a while," Mesch told Indiewire, "I was done with making landfill."
In China, he worked on a lot of film sets, including work for Jackie Chan. He also made a short film and directed a few music videos.
When he realized that "Agent 88" was the project he wanted to work on, he went the conventional route. "We have an executive producer, Derrick Red Earth, who came in with the early funds so we could start shooting. We had some other investors, who came in with nice amounts of money. But the second, third, and fourth investors all fell out. You get burnt out after awhile. Meetings after meetings. He had been tracking Kickstarter all the while, and finally decided it would be perfect for this project."
As he began to track his Kickstarter campaign's progress, he realized things were not looking good. And so Mesch pulled out the reinforcements.
First, he got a few friends together and reshot the Kickstarter video:
Then, he did what he now realized he should have prepared from the beginning: endorsement videos from some of genre films' greatest players. He shot videos with Donatello stunt actor Ernie Reyes, Jr., Alexis Cruz ("Stargate") and Chewbacca himself, Peter Mayhew.
Finally, Mesch mined his toymaking skills to produce Minimates of characters from the series and friends of the series.
And now that Mesch has the money to shoot the series, with cranes, special effects and stunts, he's prepared to do two seasons. After that and if all goes well, he's planning on shooting an "Agent 88" feature.
The series pilot is currently in post-production.