ANCIENT GREECE – Epic music. Life and death decisions. Insane battles. Just another day in the life in Greek mythology, where gods meddle in the affairs of man, and strange monsters lurk in the darkness.
It’s also another day in the life of Charley and Vlas Parlapanides. Raised in Seaside Park, they are now professional scriptwriters whose new show “Blood of Zeus” is airing on Netflix.
This is familiar ground for the brothers, having written “The Immortals,” another high fantasy Greek mythology-inspired action story, a film starring Henry Cavill before he was Superman.
The star of this new story is Heron, a poor young man whose true parentage is only hinted at in the first episode, but something certainly makes him strong enough to survive a huge stone column being thrown at him by a demon.
“It’s in our blood,” said Charley Parlapanides, with the unmistakenly Greek last name. The family had spent summers in Greece while they were growing up. “We’re proud of our culture. We love working in this space and luckily there’s an affinity for it among viewers.”
“We’ve always been very proud of growing up in Seaside. There’s always a time in the day that I think back to Ocean County,” Charley said.
“When you grow up, everything shapes your journey,” Vlas said.
They grew up in Seaside Park and attended Central Regional schools. Their brother, Triantafillos, is the superintendent there.
Given the way the world is today, people need an escape, and that’s what this show gives them.
“We wanted to take people to that place of wonderment and sense of awe that inspired us to cry and laugh and feel good,” Vlas Parlapanides said.
They recalled watching Sinbad adventure movies with their father. They look back on that time fondly and hope that parents will watch “Blood of Zeus” with their kids.
If it was a movie, it would be rated PG-13. It’s appropriate for older teenagers. The first episode has at least one beheading. The giants are monstrous, and hardly human, but technically nude.
When writing “The Immortals,” they told The Berkeley Times in 2011 how filmmakers will add up the cost of shooting while they are reading a script. In animation, that has to be different, right? After all, animators can draw literally anything cheaper than having actors on a set.
That’s not entirely accurate.
“You are given a wider and broader palette,” Charley said. “You can let your imagination go.” If it was a movie, it would have cost $250 million. But there’s still constraints. A half hour show has a 21-page script, and no more than seven pages can be action.
“We broke that seven page rule right away,” Vlas said.
All eight episodes of the first season are available now. Netflix rewards eager viewers. If a show gets enough views in the first 30 days, it gets renewed. The brothers have a plan for five seasons, so they hope that audiences jump on in the first month.
Netflix is investing heavily in animation, they said. They’ve been grabbing talent and attaching them to known properties like Splinter Cell or Magic: The Gathering.
They complimented the director for staging the story in a very cinematic way. They were also impressed by the voice talent, like fan-favorite Matthew Mercer. They recalled being in the recording studio when Fred Tatasciore was voicing Hades, god of the underworld. The director gave him some suggestions, and this dark, regal voice just came out of him.
“We’re very proud of this show,” Vlas said. “We love the long format. It’s rewarding creatively. We get to be involved from the inception to the very end, to be able to tell the story we wanted to tell.”