Coming soon to a computer or smartphone you —“Chop Shop” is a gritty, new, web-based action series. The show, which follows the story of a Los Angeles-based car-thief ring, premieres Friday and can be viewed on the Machinima Prime YouTube channel.
The show centers around a talented car thief (John Bregar) who is trying get his life back on track after a five-year stint behind bars. Of course, some bad habits are harder to kick than others.
The show also stars Rene Moran, Ana Ayora, and action icon Robert Patrick (“Terminator 2: Judgment Day”). Some of the four-wheeled co-stars include a Ferrari Spyder 355, a Lamborghini Diablo, a Dodge Challenger, and other high-end vehicles.
Making car thieves into heroes is a controversial idea, but certainly not a new one. The video game “Grand Theft Auto” absolutely glorifies the crime. But series writer Marshall Johnson isn’t worried about offering real-life car thieves helpful advice. He points out that more “educational” material is already available online.
“There’s a number of how-tos or instructional videos on stealing cars on YouTube already,” said Johnson in an interview with Boston.com.
The series is directed by Elliott Lester, whose previous credits include the Jason Statham action thriller “Blitz,” “Love Is the Drug” starring Lizzy Caplan, and music videos for Hillary Duff and Jessica Simpson. Lester told Boston.com that he’s definitely in his element directing a show like “Chop Shop.”
“I get to play with all the toys, work with a great cast, and really enjoy working on it,” he said.
One of those “toys” is the Ferrari 308 GTS from the 1980s action series “Magnum P.I.” So how do you shoot a car chase scene with such a valuable piece of equipment?
“Carefully,” said Lester. “We really couldn’t drive it. It came with two handlers, so we couldn’t get too close. They’re priceless, so you had to be careful.”
Visually, “Chop Shop” definitely delivers on the grittiness while the story feels like the backstory of a video game like “Grand Theft Auto.” While it might not be airing on a major network, the show has a vibe similar to a cable series like “Breaking Bad” or “The Sopranos.” Lester would not disclose how much the series cost to produce, instead saying it took “the right amount of money.”
“There are always challenges, whether it’s a $50 million movie or a web series,” he said. “The challenge was going out and staking our claim, and saying let’s go out and push the envelop.”Sanjay Salomon can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SanjaySalomon.