Elliott Serrano Presents:
In addition to writing for CWR, maintaining my blog and You Tube Channel, I’ll also find myself killing time checking out the plethora of video content that the ‘internets’ contains. And every once in a while you come across a veritable web gem like Captain Blasto; created as a love letter to old-fashioned serials and classic superheroes, it tells the story of – well I’ll let them tell you: From CaptainBlasto.Com - Captain Blasto, a comic video web series, follows Colin Carter, a high school outcast, who decides to break free from his lonely life and become what he's always wanted to be: a super-hero! Colin recruits a middle-aged crew of comic crooks, including his high school janitor Daryl, to stage fake robberies in their small town, which he can foil as his childhood hero, Captain Blasto. But what happens when these bogus burglaries become real?
In addition to writing for CWR, maintaining my blog and You Tube Channel, I’ll also find myself killing time checking out the plethora of video content that the ‘internets’ contains. And every once in a while you come across a veritable web gem like Captain Blasto; created as a love letter to old-fashioned serials and classic superheroes, it tells the story of – well I’ll let them tell you:
From CaptainBlasto.Com -
Captain Blasto, a comic video web series, follows Colin Carter, a high school outcast, who decides to break free from his lonely life and become what he's always wanted to be: a super-hero! Colin recruits a middle-aged crew of comic crooks, including his high school janitor Daryl, to stage fake robberies in their small town, which he can foil as his childhood hero, Captain Blasto.
But what happens when these bogus burglaries become real?
Upon discovering this charming web series, I dropped creator/writer/producer/director Chris Preksta a line and asked him if he could share some of his experiences making Captain Blasto with CWR readers…
Comic Culture Warrior: Where did the idea for Captain Blasto originate?
Chris Preksta: In middle school, I often found myself, like many kids I’m sure, day dreaming about being a super-hero, or at least how I could appear to be one to my classmates. While walking home I’d imagine myself setting up some elaborate scheme that would just make me look great and heroic. This typically involved me rescuing whatever girl I was infatuated with from whatever jerk was currently making my life miserable. Then people would see I was something more than just some awkwardly tall and lanky kid. (I’m 6’7” – no, I never played basketball.)
This idea of staging events to make myself appear to be a hero just stuck with me through the years and seemed perfect for a bit of film comedy as well. When I considered writing my first screenplay it sat at the top of a short list of ideas.
CP: 10 months of writing/pre-production. 4 months of filming 3-4 days a week. 2 years of post-production.
CCW: What do you feel worked best with the film?
CP: I personally enjoy the ‘character’ of the film. It’s fun, but it has a simple little theme embedded in there, which is the idea of trying to be or live something bigger than your daily circumstances would normally allow. That’s the very nature of super-heroes and comic books. They are an invention of limitation. They were born as these grand and epic stories about fantastic feats captured in these cheap little black and white mini-mags. I find it oddly funny that it requires millions of dollars and thousands of people to translate super-heroes from their natural medium onto film and yet it still doesn’t seem to have quite the same magic as a really great splash page.
On top of that, the Captain Blasto film itself is the effort of the filmmakers trying to create something greater than our resources should typically permit. The entire thing was made for $7,000. That’s one heck of a limitation.
CCW: If you could change anything, what would it be?
CP: The screenplay. It was my very first attempt at writing a feature length script, and while I’m happy that it didn’t come out as a nightmare of a mess, I’ve gained a lot of experience since and have come up with countless ideas on how to improve it.
CCW: What was the best experience?
CP: Meeting the people. One of the producers on the film, Ashley, is now my wife. Many of the cast and crew have become my greatest friends and we continue to work on many projects together.
CCW: And the worst?
CP: The lowest day of the production was actually on my birthday. We were filming a scene, the most complicated of the entire film, that required about 50 - 60 extras. We arrived at 6:00 AM to prep for the 9:00 AM shoot. I was already stressing out because the scene was the biggest I’d ever shot and the amount of details to manage was staggering. When the call time arrived only two extras showed up and one of them was my Mom. We had to scrap the entire day of filming. Having to face that level of failure, regroup, and try it again was very difficult. Luckily, the newly recruited extras showed up the following week for the shoot.
CCW: What was the greatest challenge that you faced?
CP: The incredible amount of physical and emotional endurance it requires to finish a film, especially when the shoot is as long as ours was. Staying up insanely late. Getting up ridiculously early. There were many times I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to make it to the end.
CP: There was a fight scene with Mark Tierno (Mike), where I leap down as he approaches and fake punch him. Unfortunately we were both wearing red tinted goggles, which eliminates your depth perception. I punched him square in the face in front of twenty extras, cast, and crew. Not only was I not paying anybody, now I’m physically assaulting them.
Luckily, Mark has been gracious enough to continue working with me.
Also, since I’m so freakin’ tall, when I’m in a shot with another actor, nine out of ten times I’m crouching.
CCW: What did you hope to accomplish? Did you achieve your goals?
CP: Not only did I just want to learn how, and if I was capable of, making a feature length film, but it was a story I really wanted to tell.
CCW: The film has a very polished and professional look to it, what techniques did you use to accomplish that?
CP: That’s very kind of you to say. I drew storyboards of every single shot in the film. It takes a lot of time, but it really helped make each shot appear as much like a comic book panel as possible. The angles, the bright and vibrant colors.
CCW: What equipment did you use?
CP: Shot on a Canon XL1 with a Lowell lighting kit. Had a homemade dolly and a 12’ tripod mounted camera jib arm. (The film was) Edited with Adobe Premiere Pro.
CCW: Any future projects in the works?
CP: I’ve got a new sci-fi series I’m shooting this September which will be released next year. We’ll actually begin releasing previews and behind-the-scenes episodes right after Captain Blasto.
CCW: Will we see more of Captain Blasto once the initial series runs its course?
CP: The series ends with the final episode, so we won’t be seeing more of Colin and crew anytime soon, but there are more plans for more from the Blasto universe. We’ll begin releasing some behind-the-scenes episodes and I have been developing one series based on the actual Captain Blasto fictional character very much in the style of the old super-hero serials, and another comic series that follows his villain Professor Fandango.
CCW: What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers?
CP: Work hard. Work very hard. I’ve seen way too many filmmakers bail the very first moment filmmaking is no longer fun. That’s not to say there’s not a moment of fun or that you won’t enjoy your work, but making a movie is not nearly as glamorous as it’s made out to be, especially when it’s an independent film. So if you really want to try this, be prepared to work really freakin’ hard. It’s worth it.
CCW: What are the mistakes that you learned from that they should avoid?
CP: You can’t do everything yourself. Blasto only works because there was a great group of talented and gracious filmmakers. It’s very important to recruit people to come along side the production. If you try to do too much yourself either you’ll kill yourself under the workload or your film will take 10 years to complete.
That being said, it’s not uncommon for independent directors/producers to take on multiple positions, especially when there’s little to no money to pay cast/crew. I had to take on many production roles, including acting as the title character, ONLY because I couldn’t reasonably expect anyone other than myself to be there every single day through the long haul.
CCW: Are you a regular comic book reader today? What titles do you enjoy?
CP: I am. I’ve cut down on my regular titles only because I was having a hard time justifying the incredible amount of money it requires to be a weekly/monthly reader. My regular titles are Powers, Ultimate Spider-Man, and until its recent finale, Y: The Last Man. I was with Green Lantern until all the Crisis/52 stuff started happening and they just lost me.
I will buy anything that Darwyn Cooke, Doug Tenapel, and Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale do. I’m just blown away by those guys. The style and atmosphere of New Frontier was a huge inspiration on Blasto. And Tenapel’s Earthboy Jacobus is one of my top five books of all time.
CCW: If you could make a film featuring any comic book character, which would it be?
CP: Superman. I’ve been a Superman fan since the womb. He’s partially the reason I got into filmmaking. All too many comic and film writers struggle with him unfortunately. If I had the opportunity to write a Superman film or comic I’d be content doing that for the rest of my life. I’d also love to take on Captain America, but I don’t think Marvel will be calling anytime soon.
CCW: What do you think about the current state of comic book characters in film?
CP: While I am thrilled to death to see the vast amount of comic book films being made, which was the dream of my middle school life, I constantly seem to find myself disappointed. Unfortunately these films have to compete with the vast number of great stories told over the past fifty years. People love Batman Begins, but to me it can’t hold a candle to Batman: Year One, or my pick for the best graphic novel of all time, The Dark Knight Returns. This isn’t the filmmakers fault obviously because they can’t possibly be expected to compete with the sheer amount of great stories, but I also can’t be expected to just forget those stories exist. It seems the comic book movies I end up digging the most are the ones whose history I’m unfamiliar with such as Iron Man or Hellboy.
Secondly, I’d love to see comic book films move away from this trend of making all of them in ‘the real world’? Films like The Incredibles or Raiders of the Lost Ark or Batman: Mask of the Phantasm work so well for me because they created their own unique worlds. How cool would it be to see Fantastic Four in the 60’s during the space race? Or Superman in the late 30’s at the start of the Second World War?
CCW: Finally, what's the answer to the question no one ever asks?
CP: Their last names are from great comic book writers. As for the question, it's easy when you meet the crew in Episode 4.
E. Ruben Serrano is a writer/columnist/graphic artist/geek who is also working on his own series of web films. It stars himself as a character that is named after his first family pet and the street he grew up on. The movies are fairly scarce on plot, and the acting is kind of weak, but for some reason, people will still pay $9.99 a download
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