Two-thousand and thirteen. Even though it’s only September, I’m feeling inspired to recap what has been a truly illustrious year, or at least the last couple of months. I’ve been using this blog lately as almost sort of an open diary, which is unlike me. If I’m going to write anything like my last few posts, it’s usually in a Google doc that no one will probably ever read. I like to explore new territory I guess. Deep down though, there’s a piece of me that stays pretty consistent, so somewhere in this article I’m sure I’ll reference a Sega Genesis game or something. Two-zero-one-three. I needed a summer like this one.
This isn’t an article about finding true love or happiness. Getting married and having a child balanced my life out in a major way, and it makes you feel saturated in happiness and peace and contentment. The stereotype is that having a child is the best thing that could ever happen to you and that your life completely changes. I didn’t think I would really FEEL much different once I had a child because I have always been so absorbed in some kind of project or grand idea. I knew I could be a good dad but I didn’t think it was really going to have the emotional impact that it had on me. But I walked out of the hospital a different person than I walked in. I just fell so deeply in love with this little guy. He’s amazing and inspires me to be a better person. At the same time, though, I will say on a practical level my life has not changed all that much. I’m still setting up at comic book and video game conventions, which I’ve been doing for a long time. I’m still, you know, pretty much keeping the same routine. I still like to have a lot of time to myself, and I find that to be really artistically sensitive I need to close myself off from much stimulation so my feelings rise up to the surface and I can capitalize on them. But at the same time I know that I also have a desire to start the next big thing, to be out in the world, to have fun, to be social, and even to be in the spotlight a little bit. So, you know, I have all of these desires and it’s just a matter of figuring out what the right balance is. And also factoring in everyone else’s needs too. And once you calm down and start thinking about it rationally and discussing it with everyone, it’s really not that big of a problem to figure it out. Before I met my wife and my son was born, the things that I used to cherish seemed so silly now. It’s not that I CAN’T or don’t want to make movies and comics all of the time, but I just didn’t feel like I NEEDED to. Sure, it’s fun, but so is watching your kiddo try to ride a battery powered Batman themed jeep! But, what if I were to jump back into some of those old (albeit time consuming) activities that used to demand so much time and energy? Is it possible to balance a family life and make a movie or a TV show? Would I have any energy left to perform adequately at my REAL job?
I came to a pretty crazy realization over the weekend, and that’s why I’m writing this…
At the 2013 Louisville Arcade Expo, I stumbled upon another group of exhibitors who were showcasing a film that they were premiering called ZACH COOPER’S EPIC SPEEDRUN. I enjoyed it and noticed that they not only had a great camera, but seemed to know how to actually make a movie and tell a story on film! I’m not going to tell the long winded tale of how MMSBC was a failed film project. We all know that one. What I will admit, is how much lately I’ve missed that process of planning and casting and all of the comradery that comes together with film making. I never studied film, I never really had any desire to get any real formal training, but something kept calling me back. Sure, I’ve made a handful of silly movies, most of them I’ll admit are COMPLETE throwaway garbage, but every now and again I would just get the bug! Why? It’s hard work. . .long hours. . .why would I be itching to go through all of that again, only this time, with the added responsibility of a family to take care of? Am i crazy? Perhaps. Independent film making is one of the most difficult tasks one can engage in. You could know everything there is to know about telling a story in motion picture form, but somehow someway, things don’t always go according to plan.
So, the Zach Cooper crew, (or as they preferred being called, PIXEL BRAIN) had my attention. Let’s just say I HAD finished MMSBC back in 2008. God, that movie would have sucked. One HUGE reason that the film was a total flop, had a lot to do with the crew BEHIND the scenes. The camera guy, while a generally nice dude, had no interest whatsoever in sentai or making a superhero film. He was talented, but I’m guessing he was better suited to direct an HBO original series, and couldn’t really relate to the source material. Everything was working against it. We also used really old flip phones in some scenes. Watching it back now. . .it feels about one million years old.
Thanks to the magic of Facebook, I got a chance to pitch an idea to Matt Gaither, the brain(s)…of Pixel Brain. Is Matt’s brain THE Pixel Brain? What if we did MMSBC justice? What if we shot a few key scenes from the script and used it as a vehicle to promote the comic book? I threw the pitch (slow and straight) and before I knew it I had grown men in spandex on my front lawn!
Surreal. We actually did it. From the get-go, it felt like it was 2003 and I was out in the woods shooting a Blair Witch parody with all of my friends. Was it as hard and as grueling as before? Ha! That’s understatement. It kicked my butt. BADLY. It put a lot of stress of everyone, but we did it. We lost sleep, ate bad pizza, scorched in the sun, and even let tempers flair a bit…but we did it. Did it scratch the itch? Now that I’m at my desk ready to work on VFX can I honestly say that I got the movie bug out of my system? Well, here is my complicated answer…
I never had a bug or an itch to make a movie. It was all a lie. It was a dirty trick that my brain was playing on me. What I was missing, suddenly became very clear to me.
I missed being among friends.
There really was a fantastic sense of comradery and…well, just people having fun. There were lots of smiling faces. This is what I really missed. Every challenge, and there were a few, was met with a “Let’s get it done” attitude. Matt Gaither and everyone from Louisville, you guys did everything that was asked of you and maintained a positive attitude during the down times. I sincerely thank you guys and look forward to working with you on future projects. To my excellent cast, Aaron, John, Landon, Marissa, Summer, Lily, Jason, Matt you guys were just a joy to be around and really brought these characters to life. Thank you so much. I recommend you all in the highest terms possible. Summer, you get a double thanks for tolerating the makeup and crazy wardrobe while pregnant! Caleb, thank you for being a professional and jumping around in the cicada suit! Last but not least, Jennifer (that’s my wife!) thank YOU for allowing me to see this though, and while I know it was hard, it meant a lot to me and I love you.
If this short, promotional film rockets me to the moon, great! You’re all invited to come along for the ride! If not, and all I get are a few hundred hits on YouTube and a picture of John with David Yost to show for it, that’s okay too. What I have now, means much more. I made some pretty great friends, and for a long time, without really knowing…it’s what I’ve secretly needed. So, since it’s been a while since I’ve made an update, I’ll share some pictures and stories to close out this post!
Summer, along with Landon, Marissa, and Jason all returned from being cast in the original 2008 version. We did several makeup tests with her back in 08, but to see her in the costume (which was made by my wife!) was truly awesome. She is a really sweet person and it was hard for her to act mean!
Using the same actors is one thing, but what was just as cool, was using some of the same locations! This is a picture of the airport parking lot scene. Shooting it again, over 5 years later with different actors was such a trip! Devon was a great Jonas, don’t get me wrong, but I really can’t imagine anyone else playing him now. Aaron was just tremendous and even shared a lot of the same personality traits and body language as Devon.
I love this picture. This really captures the moment. A funny side note, we originally kicked around the idea of having John Chambers (Kelley the Pink Security Ranger) playing Jonas. Like I said above, I can’t imagine anyone else playing that part now. Not only did he knock it out of the park, but his physical presence in the suit was just hilarious. He’s jacked!
I gave Jason a ton of creative freedom not only as our makeup artist, but as the brilliant alien Dr. Wallks! He gave the character such an awesome voice that rides a thin line of cartoony and completely serious, which is what this franchise is all about. He was awesome and I can’t wait for everyone to see it!
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I’m going to check eBay prices on Street Smart for the Sega Genesis. It’s an early 2D fighter from SNK. Ha! Betcha thought I’d forget!