Filmmaker makes the scene in online TV

CHICAGO — Middlebury native Heath Rumble always dreamed of making movies and telling stories.
At age 8 he took a Middlebury Community Television summer course. In middle school, inspired by the first Spiderman film, he began writing his own superhero comics. At Middlebury Union High School he showed a talent for video editing. That skill helped him win a place at Columbia College Chicago, an arts institute with film and theater programs.
After college, Rumble moved to Los Angeles. You’d think that having a name like Heath Rumble would be enough to guarantee a Hollywood career, but the 2010 MUHS graduate found that a network is more important.
Fortunately many of Rumble’s CCC schoolmates are also in LA. One of  them, Scarlet Sheppard, recruited him to work on her latest project, “Karmic,” a web series, which is a connected set of video episodes posted to the Internet. Four 11-minute episodes of “Karmic” are already on YouTube, with two more slated, for a total running time equivalent to three episodes of a standard TV sitcom.
“Karmic,” like many sitcoms, starts at the moment when a new character parachutes into an existing group of friends or colleagues and changes everything. Rumble calls this “the inciting incident.” Think of how runaway bride Rachel Green’s appearance at Monica’s apartment kicked off the 10-year megahit “Friends.”
“Karmic’s” inciting stranger is Sage, a ditzy but adorable unemployed yoga instructor, knocked off her bike by aspiring fashion designer Margot’s Toyota. Sage isn’t injured, but when Margot realizes that Sage is both jobless and homeless, she takes her in. Sage, Margot and roommate Josie soon bond and comedy ensues.
“Karmic” operates on a shoestring budget. Most of the production equipment, including the microphones and booms Rumble uses, belongs to crew members or is borrowed from friends. Talent and crew all work free; Rumble supports himself with two side jobs, one as a telephone fundraiser for nonprofit organizations, the other in a Universal City movie theater.
Will “Karmic” break into the big time? Several web series have attracted the attention of agents, talent scouts and producer, and a few have become network TV shows and even feature films. So far, “Karmic’s” episodes have been viewed nearly 3,000 times — not viral by web standards, but encouraging.
Scarlet Sheppard wears many hats in the project. She is director, producer, screenwriter and plays the central character Sage. Rumble also juggles multiple tasks. Sheppard says Rumble is making a positive contribution to the show.
“Heath is so multi-talented that it was hard for me to finally lock him into any one position on the crew,” she said. “Where he really shines is in post-production, giving me valuable second opinions on editing choices and perfecting the color and sound of each episode.”
Watch “Karmic” on the web. Episode 1 “Whackadoo.”

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