The rapid worldwide growth of made-for-Internet video dramas – short, vivid episodes, each just a few minutes long, gradually unfolding a compelling story – seems to have something for everybody, from science fiction to comedy, from love stories to murder mysteries.
But how about this? A cutting-edge series, set in small-town America, where the plotline revolves around stopping this nation’s destruction by out-of-control government and a godless culture.
Starting today, WND is featuring a new online dramatic series that does precisely that, called “Red Elephants Café.”
Each weekly episode, just two to three minutes long, is a potent and moving dramatization of the wrenching issues facing most Americans right now. From the government’s destruction of the economy, to “social” issues like abortion, Americans’ most urgent hot-button political and cultural conflicts are explored with remarkable realism in this episodic drama set to culminate next November with the 2012 election.
“Red Elephants Café” is the brainchild of Craig Myers, president of the Concerned Oregonians political action committee.
Though he earned his political science degree three decades ago, it wasn’t until late 2007 that Myers was finally moved to become a political activist. With the election of Barack Obama in 2008 and the subsequent radical leftward shift in the government, Myers felt he had a particular role to play in fighting back.
“By November 2010, it was obvious that tea party conservatives had awakened to the power of social networking and would again be a major force in the 2012 elections,” said Myers. “And soon, they would master the art of delivering their message via Internet video.”
After experimenting with various dramatic approaches that resulted in a formidable cast and crew, “In spring of 2011,” says Myers, “I began to draft a storyline for our new Web series, ‘Red Elephants Café,’ capturing the critical moral political and economic issues that impact Main Street America today.”
The unfolding dramatic series, explains Myers, “strives to subtly illustrate that all human rights – economic, religious, civil and political – originate from the same source, according to our founding documents. Unalienable rights are granted only by God, which is why most conservatives defend the Constitution as written. Alienable rights are granted by men, and can be revoked by tyrants,” he adds.
Liberty under siege
The story unfolds in the fictional town of Liberty, where the historic Taft sawmill has just closed, causing a depression for half the town and a recession for the other half.
Jake O’Donnell has asked his uncle, Mike Taft, to join him in starting the community’s first computer business. As now-former millwright and mill office manager, they know the basics, and decide to open a computer service and website design business, complete with Liberty’s first Internet café – something to suit local tastes that could help their neighbors start their own businesses. Mike is impressed by Africa’s majestic and fiercely independent red elephants, thus the name for the café.
Despite the “elephant” reference, Myers says the show is not meant to be a “propaganda wing of the GOP, like Organizing for America is for the Democrats.” In fact,” he says, “we are painfully nonpartisan and refuse to use the words Democrat or Republican in our scripts.”
Meanwhile, back at the story, Mike’s cousin Ned Thomas offers Mike and Jake an old wood-frame machine shop for their business startup, in return for help with his race for state legislature, his first election campaign. Mike, an evangelical, shares Ned’s strong biblical values and becomes Ned’s de facto campaign manager, before discovering that the strongest market for his website design services is other political candidates.
While Mike and Jake are trying to survive financially, Liberty’s city manager, Marvella “Vel” Gauche, is throwing regulatory roadblocks in their way. Soon, her liberal worldview and political ambition compel her to run against Ned on the opposing ticket. Her involvement with labor union bosses, Planned Parenthood, the homosexual activist lobby and her unexpectedly pregnant and unmarried niece provide a stark contrast to Ned’s values and principles. The campaign becomes a window to America’s growing worldview conflict, with a similarly uncertain outcome.
Among the subplots is the story of Vel’s relationship with Britney Miller, her 16-year-old niece. Because Vel is “liberated” and Britney’s parents are not, Britney turns to her for advice about her unplanned pregnancy. The hidden price of promiscuity sends this relationship and all our characters in unexpected directions, as it has for America itself.
Mike and Ned
Brett Schneider, longtime friend of Mike and Ned, is becoming a tea party activist, though it conflicts with his once-benign image as a small-town banker. His business acumen and political savvy become valuable to Ned’s campaign strategy, but none of the protagonists anticipates what is really in store for them. The well organized and funded opposition they face is massive and carefully concealed. If this isn’t discouraging enough, the rapidly growing national economic crisis turns the election into a historic opportunity for government oppression to gain an even stronger foothold in the land. Will America’s traditional values survive the revolution that’s unfolding?
Myers has assembled a talented crew and players that includes regional theatrical talent as well as seasoned professionals. For instance, the central character, named Mike Taft (who Myers describes as Liberty’s “George Bailey”) is played by Ted Rooney, a pro actor and acting coach with over 35 TV guest roles including “Lost,” “Weeds,” “My Name is Earl,” “CSI, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “ER,” “Gilmore Girls” and “Leverage,” as well as over 15 major movie roles, including “Legally Blonde” and “Almost Famous.” (“At 6 feet 6 inches,” complains Myers, “‘Too Tall Ted’ limited the camera angles in our ancient studio, so we literally raised the entire ceiling to compensate.”)
For director and cinematographer, Myers recruited the award-winning filmmaker Tinh (pronounced “Dun”). “Tinh’s cinematic skills and insight are truly extraordinary,” says Myers, who notes that the son of an American diplomat and Vietnamese mother also co-writes the series with him.
Myers himself plays the banker, Brett Schneider. Below is a trailer for “Red Elephants Café” featuring Myers:
And here is “Webisode One,” titled “Vanishing Credit”:
“‘Red Elephants Café’ provides a viral tool for conservative evangelism,” stresses Myers, “and helps create patriotic activists. We try to illustrate the myriad possibilities for visually communicating the conservative message with skill and creativity. Unlike the leftist elite, our strength comes from America’s unity and cooperation, not fragmentation and self-interest.”
Adds WND Vice President and Managing Editor David Kupelian: “If Americans want to take their country back, voting every two years isn’t enough. You have to change the toxic culture, which constantly reinforces an immoral, selfish and basically stupid worldview. ‘Red Elephants Café’ is intelligent, compelling drama, the kind traditionally minded Americans will really appreciate.”