That’s exactly what happend to Neil Grimsley, a gas station attendant with an affinity for booze and (a lack of) excitement. He is thrust into the world of Zelda, charged with the task of defeating Lord Gannon and saving Princess Zelda, all which unfolds in The Legend of Neil.
Legend of Neil Creator and Executive Producer, Sandeep Parikh told us at The Jace Hall Show: Continue reading “The Legend of Neil Is Now on DVD, Creator Sandeep Parikh Tells Us Why That’s The Greatest Thing Ever” »
Today, radio functions to mainly substitute our time between more widely used mediums, but that is the subject of change for Casey Wolfe, a former feature film executive who has plans to bring back the “audio play.” Continue reading “Why A Former Movie Executive Wants To Bring Back Radio, Bring Fears To Your Ears” »
There’s apparently something to be said for Super Mario Kart‘s ranking as the third best-selling SNES game of all time. It did, after all, spawn an entire legion of sequels, half-assed imitators, and assured placement in the pantheon of video game greatness.
It’s also inspired an intrepid filmmaking/tech geniuses at Waterloo Labs to undertake this endeavor in real life. Continue reading “Interview With Waterloo Labs,Tech Geniuses Behind the Real-Life Mario Kart” »
After the success of their first webseries Modern War Gear Solid, the Beat Down Boogie crew has managed to combine both old and new classic game franchises in their latest magnum opus, the ‘Mario Warfare’ series of short films.
Though they debuted the trailer for Mario Warfare earlier this year, what was promised seemed an ambitious undertaking — but on all fronts seem to have delivered: in less than 3 days, Blake Faucette and Micah Moore have managed to score nearly a million viewers. We caught up with filmmakers to find out exactly how they did it.
JHS: What are your day jobs? How do you find time to make shorts like these?
Micah: I work 9 to 5 at an office, editing educational videos. And Blake is a video freelancer. The funny thing is we used to work together at a video store that Blake owned. I was a clerk there. We’d watch films from the foreign section all day like Versus, Ong Bak, Azumi…. And come up with ideas for our own films. Back then we were just learning by making short films (The Key, Ninjas VS Pirates, etc) and our first feature film (Dogs of Chinatown). We’d shoot mostly on the weekends, but since Blake owned the store we could either close it for a day or find a friend to watch the place while we went out shooting. It was eerily reminiscent of the movie Clerks.
As far as making time to work on movies, it comes down to sacrifice. We have a small team, so when we really need to make headway, it means someone’s not sleeping. Someone’s not out socializing. Someone’s passing up a paying gig. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to film with your friends. It’s exciting to see it come together in the rough cut. But some of the tasks are tedious yet require intense concentration, such as making sure there’s no missing sound effects, or transcribing a video’s dialogue for subtitles. The big struggle for myself is finding balance. In the past I lived a pretty unhealthy life due to the stress of finishing films.
I wasn’t eating right, not getting enough sleep; I was missing out on life. Right now it’s sort of like having a second full-time job. But I’m trying to get out more and lead a more balanced life. I moved back to Raleigh NC, where I used to DJ and go out dancing, and I’ve reconnected with some old friends from that scene. In an ideal world, I’d make ridiculous stuff on YouTube all day. Then I could spend more time on making films as well as get more sleep and more downtime with friends.
For better or worse, I lead most of the creative roles (writing, directing, cinematography, editing). Around here (Raleigh, NC), you end up with a very small crew and everyone has to wear multiple hats. Whenever someone reliable comes around with more skill in one of these roles, it’s a big relief to share the responsibility with them. For instance, Rick Burnett – who’s very technical – can manage my camera load-out way better than I could. Karel Antonin and Chris Hurn are two composers that we’ve worked with who’ve really helped raise the quality of music in our projects. Juggling my roles on set makes me very focused creatively, but also very absent-minded once filming starts. For instance, Blake, Rick – and even our actors – watch where I set my camera, because I’m constantly losing it between shots.
I think visually, so I usually start with storyboards. If the storyboards seem cool, then I write a script for it. I’m not a great writer, but I try to focus on dialogue that helps define the characters and their relationships. Ideally the action will define the plot. Our script is just a loose guide though. Some of our actors are just learning, and we have to find different lines to make it easier on them. Other actors are great at improvising, and it’s better to give them some freedom. We barely mention action in the script, because we like the fight scenes to incorporate the environment, and we rarely have a chance to visit the location prior to shooting. When there’s a fight, the script might say “Mario comes through the door and is ambushed by Shyguys; after a brief struggle Mario defeats the Shyguys.” Since a lot of character wear masks (the Shyguys, Ghost, Master Chief, our mechs), we actually come up with a lot of lines in post, once we see the edit.
There’s some crew roles that I have no ability in, like making a website, 3d animation, and merchandise. If it weren’t for Rick, Blake, Justin Reich (our photographer), and Andy Coon (who helps with our website), these things wouldn’t exist as part of Beat Down Boogie.
Oh sure. It was a fun exercise to think, “if these video game characters had a famous movie counterpart, who would they be?” Toad is a mix of Leon and Seraph (who were both protectors of a girl/woman), and he takes his action cues from Kurt Wimmer’s Equilibrium. We knew the series would start with gunfire. Based on Toad’s look we felt the Gun Kata style would be a perfect fit. It’s the ridiculous escalation of the HK “bullet ballet” that was popularized by John Woo.
When the one Shyguy is kicked and shot in the air, it was actually a nod to the game Bulletstorm, which was published by our Raleigh pals at Epic Games (though the game was produced in Poland by People Can Fly).
Each character draws from different influences – which will shape their personality and style of action. You’ve seen the Equilibrium/Matrix action. Episode 2 takes more subtle fighting inspiration from Sammo Hung. Later we hope to do a Jackie Chan style fight scene as well.
JHS: Going back to the original trailer you debuted in late August, you had obviously shot some of the ‘short’ then. What was your thinking behind releasing the trailer early anyways? Anything could go wrong between August and now…
Haha, we learned a very big lesson. Never tease something until you’re safely in the middle of working on it, and you know that it’s going to work. All that stuff was shot specifically for the trailer, as a proof-of-concept.
We started working on Mario Warfare a long time ago, but a bunch of huge obstacles popped up – and not just the normal film problems. I moved into a historic loft with questionable wiring one month into filming, and a lightning storm ended up frying some important hard drives. Shortly after that I was bitten by ticks while filming outdoors and I got lyme disease. I was very weak and tired for nearly 3 months. As soon as I started feeling better, Rick got married and needed to spend some time on the wedding.
During all this, we were trying to make a hugely ambitious version of Mario Warfare with tons of characters and extras. We were trying to make this giant fleshed-out world. But that meant we were stretching our tiny budget and resources really thin, in the midst of a string of bad luck and bad timing. We were quickly reminded why it’s best to work with a small tight cast and crew. The more people you add, the more things can go wrong. Supporting actors who didn’t quite understand the dedication it takes to make films would leave before we got all our shots. We had to make more and more concessions in editing.
Finally I said, “this just isn’t working.” We thought we could be more ambitious because of Modern War Gear Solid’s popularity. But the truth was that our budget was the same, the amount of reliable people was the same, nothing had really changed. So about six months of struggling film making was scrapped. It was terrifying, but extremely liberating. I told our team, “look, tell me exactly what you want to do, and that will be the new story.” If we’re having fun making this, the audience will pick up on that. So we ended up with a much better version of Mario Warfare because it focuses on our best abilities – action and fights – while allowing moments to challenge ourselves on stuff that is new to us like acting and effects.
I’m really hesitant to share the original scrapped scenes and plot, but I’m going to do that as a Kickstarter reward.
The original budget from our pockets was blown on those scrapped scenes/plot. And we had spent a long time raising that money on our own. We finally got busy making a really exciting version of Mario Warfare, but the remaining budget only covered two episodes. Since our viewers were real hyped about Mario Warfare, the best solution seemed to be a Kickstarter campaign. With viewer support, we can make the rest of the episodes much faster, and better.
It takes a lot of patience to make films, but I have to give our audience props for their patience too. A lot of them showed their support, telling us that making it right was better than rushing it out.
JHS: Obviously you’ve managed to reach out to both old school fans (Mario) and newer ones (MW). Do you find yourself playing more of the classic console games, or newer ones nowadays?
For me, it’s a mix. When I’m working on films, I embrace arcade-y games that focus on gameplay. I can play those for 30 minutes – like if I’m rendering video, or needing a break – and put them down. For that type of play, New Super Mario is cool. Racing games like Mario Kart Wii, Wipeout HD and Motorstorm are great. Peggle and PuzzleQuest, that sort of thing. When I have time, I really love games as a means to tell a big story, like Mass Effect 1 and 2, Uncharted 2, Fallout 3, Skyrim, and AC3. Lately I’ve been playing X-COM, because I can play a mission in between editing crunches.
CoD games are good inspiration for blockbuster action. In our crew Rick, our tech director, and Brian Lee, who played Toad and Ghost, are the multiplayer FPS guys. When they have time to game, they’ll usually be rocking Borderlands 2, or Black Ops 2 with their pals on Xbox.
Matt Sumner (Mario) mostly plays “Mary Kate and Ashley Crush Course” for the gameboy. And “Barbie Groom and Glam Pups” for the DS.
Hirokin: The Last Samurai marks the directing debut of Alejo Mo-Sun, whose extensive behind-the-scenes work on several action films has given him the classic Hollywood experience/training.
After lending his producing and behind-the-scenes talents to films like Born to Race and Deep Rescue, Alejo Mo-Sun’s Sci-Fi, post-apocalyptic tale of survival starring Wes Bentley of American Beauty and Ghost Rider fame was released last year and is will be available on Blu-Ray/DVD on NOVEMBER 6TH. Recently we got a chance to sit down with Alejo at the Jace Hall offices and interrogate him on his filmmaking expertise. Continue reading “Exclusive Interview: ‘Hirokin: The Last Samurai’ Director Alejo Mo-Sun” »