Even though I started writing when I was a teenager, I officially became a writer and an actor about seven years ago. But, I have been a fan of comic books my entire life. Full disclosure, while I am a fan of both DC and Marvel now, as a teenager I was all Marvel. Iron Man, Ghost Rider, Spider-Man, Moon Knight, and the X-Men were my must buys each month...and yes, I wanted to be Tony Stark. But on the television side, I grew up watching Batman (same bat time, same bat channel) and the Super Friends...yes, even the Wonder Twins. So the project I want to talk about has been in the works for years. Watch it below, then I will share how it all came together.
In 2014, I got together with a few actors friends and presented an idea. I had seen a number of fan films online. All of them were made by fans that were passionate about their project, but as an actor and a writer I realized they just did not have the production value to make them stand out.
The first fan film that made me think we could make amazing project happen was Wonder Woman by Rainfall Films. But as good as it was, there was no dialogue. It was primarily action and special effects. So I brought up the idea...let's make a superhero fan film, but unlike everything we had seen. This film would have great dramatic writing and acting. So we started White Hand Films. Fans of J.R.R. Tolkein's Lord of the Rings and Peter Jackson's movies, might recognize our homage to the White Hand of Saruman, one of the first popular fantasy writers, and a writer that inspired me to create my own tales of fantasy.
How did we get there? It started out as a simple plan. Film one short scene with three actors. It would be dark and dramatic, and as professionals in the industry, the acting and cinematography would be leaps and bounds above anything we had seen for fan films.
We got together and, based on our castings (who we could believably play), we thought a scene with Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, and the Joker would be best. That is where we started, but as you saw in the movie above, that is not where we ended up.
Our imaginations soon got the better of us. We had a starting point, but thought, wouldn't this actor friend of ours be great as Superman, or wouldn't this other friend be the perfect Nightwing?
Before we knew it, we had a 45 page script called The Superman Trials, with no less than a dozen actors attached, some of them were pretty big names in Hollywood. We had actors that were SciFi icons from the 80's, and we had actors that had massive followings from current popular fantasy shows. We even had a UFC fighter attached to one of the roles.
After the script was written, something else happened. Producer Adi Shankar and Director Joseph Kahn came together to create a Power/Rangers Unauthorized. A "bootleg universe" project starring Katee Sackhoff of Battlestar Galactica and James Van Der Beek of Dawson's Creek. It was dark, it was gritty, it was well written, it had great acting, and the special effects blew us away.
YES! This was the exact model we were using for creating our project. Millions viewed this ground breaking short on the first day. This was a good thing. It paved the way for us. Being in a 'fan film' was no longer taboo, if it was done properly. All we had to do was show or mention their bootleg version to actors and they immediately loved the idea of doing our own fan project. With an amazing cast attached to play everyone from Wonder Woman and Superman to Lobo and Mercy Graves, we were off and running.
But as the script grew, so did the budget. We had a lot of friends that read the script and were passionate about it, and wanted to be involved as both actors and crew. But you still have to buy insurance, pay wages to actors in the Screen Actors Guild, pay health insurance, rent camera and lighting equipment, and rent location spaces. Then there is the issue of post-production. Superhero films come with superhero VFX. The last thing we wanted to do was bring in popular actors (who by the way have to be fed and housed in a decent hotel), and spend a ton of money on cameras and lighting, only to shoot all the special effects on a green blanket in our basement. The special effects had to be just as believable as the writing and the acting.
So as everything grew, we realized, the project was just beyond our budget. So we had a few options. We could crowd fund the project and make an amazing film for the fans, by the fans, starring fans. We could scrap the project all together. Or, we could take a few scenes from the project that were not VFX intensive and shoot a shorter sizzle reel: A prequel teaser for the larger project.
We opted to go with the prequel teaser, but again, as many of us involved were super passionate about the project, even that grew. We brought in an amazing Director named Danny Mooney and he assembled a top notch team for both production and post-production. We added scenes, deleted scenes, added characters, deleted characters, and in the end what we were left with was essentially a nearly 20 minute stand-alone, re-imagined, completely steeped in darkness origin story of one of comics most notorious villains.
THE NEXT STEP
The next step is up to the fans we created this for. If they love what we created and want to see more, we have a few ideas in store, including the original project this prequel was created for: The Superman Trials.
So now it goes live, and today we pressed that button to share it with all the fans of comics, originality, and storytelling. Hopefully the world likes Injustice For All and has as much fun watching it as we had making it. The whole process was certainly a learning experience for me - but if there's one thing that I can walk away with, it's the pride that we pulled it all off. We created something we love, fostered new relationships, and made some new friends. Sometimes, in life, you aren't going to get handed the opportunities you want - so you just have to jump in the deep end, surround yourself with good people and create your own opportunities.
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