Superhero Shorts: Babble-On Begins
Welcome to the first in a series where I take a closer look at what is often the unsung heroes of the superhero genre, the short film makers. In the world of YouTube and affordable, portable, high-quality cameras, it’s extremely easy to make a short film, and put it out there for everyone to see. And yet it’s become that much more difficult to get yours noticed due to the sheer volume of work out there. In this series I’ll be taking a look at the popular ones, the good ones, and maybe even some that you’ve never seen. Most of them will be parodies or comedies because it’s easier to pull off a joke on a low budget and still get a laugh than to pull off something serious on a low budget and not get a laugh. Today I’ll be looking at a video that just came out this past week. It may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of an origin story, but it does feature a couple superheroes. Babble-On Begins, Episode 1 which you can watch right below.
The first thing I have to say about this episode is that it is kind of a big inside joke. If you’re on the inside, it’s got a ton of great little jokes and Easter Eggs. If you’re not on the inside, then I imagine some of the jokes will fall flat. But if you’re a fan of Kevin Smith, or you like Hollywood news with a geek’s perspective and a very toungue-in-cheek attitute, check out Hollywood Babble-On, the podcast that inspired this fan-film hosted by Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman. I listen every week and I think it’s hilarious even though it can get very dirty. I can tell that an effort has been made to give some set-up to those unfamiliar with the references, but it’s hard for me to distance myself to judge how good of a job it ultimately does. My main criticism is that at the beginning, it’s hard to easily tell what exactly is going on. I was able to figure it out, but it wasn’t immediately apparent that it was supposed to be young Kevin Smith meeting older Kevin Smith. Aside from that detail, I got pretty much all of the jokes and I thought they hit pretty well. I thought the actors did a convincing job at getting to the spirit of the roles. And in the end, I laughed a lot while watching it and that’s what counts.
But wait, there’s more to this series than just a video and a review. I was able to contact Christopher Downie, the creator of this film and he graciously agreed to do a short interview about his work. I’d like to thank him for agreeing to take a chance on a new blogger and answering some of my questions.
Bubbawheat: I’m a fan of Hollywood Babble-On too, but what made you decide to make a film based on something with little to no visual context?
Christopher Downie: I really enjoyed the artwork inspired by the show and decided to honour Babble-On in my own way, through film. I quickly threw together a loose premise, not the eventual premise, and set up a casting call. After a few days I decided that making a film based on a podcast was insane and quickly decided to drop the idea. That was until a fellow fan sent Ralph and Kevin the casting call. I was astounded that news had actually reached them. I then decided to go ahead and make the flick. So to answer your question with a single sentence: It was an accident.
BW: And how did the idea of making it into a crimefighting origin story as well come about?
CD: I didnt feel I could simply make a movie about 2 guys who sit around and verbally bash a-hole celebrities, so I chose to metaphorically adapt the podcast, with Ralph and Kevin physically beating on the likes of Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan.
BW: I noticed a lot of little easter eggs in the first episode that only huge fans of Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman would catch. Which one do you think the least amount of people will notice?
CD: Firstly I am delighted that everyone picked up on said easter eggs, I did something right at least. There is one that I don’t think you can actually see. During the poker game in episode 1 I hung a dartboard just left of Mark (who played Kevin). There are several darts impaling a picture of Bruce Willis. That one, I know people wont see. People may not realize that the character Kevin Smith plays (the ginger muppet newsreader) is called Suzanne the Orang-utan, a nod to Jay and Bob Strike Back.
BW: Do you have a certain number of episodes in mind, or do you think it could be an ongoing series?
CD: There is one more episode left in this current storyline, due to the fact that it was a short film that happened to be cut into 2 parts. [Editor’s note: Episode 2 is now live and can be viewed right here] We have two additional arcs planned, Babble-On Returns and Babble-On Forever. Babble-On Returns will focus on Ralph and Kevin after giving up crimefighting. We discover Ralph is hiding a dark secret. We can’t say too much about Babble-On Forever because it spoils the ending of Returns. Aside from that we also have a Jay and Silent Bob Get Old short in pre-production as well as larger scale short which we hope to raise funds for, enough to hire Kevin Smith as the leading man.
BW: The first episode has Firebush, based on the infamous Lindsay Lohan that’s in the gossip news so often she has her own theme song, can you tease your favorite villain that will be coming up in part 2?
CD: We have two villains making full fledged appearances, Eightball, our key antagonist and a female named Manhandler. Regarding the latter, I feel enough said.
BW: Were you surprised with the enthusiasm that Kevin and Ralph have shown for your project?
CD: Oh absolutely, Ralph especially. While Kevin has said some really nice things, I haven’t really heard all that much from him, Ralph has watched episode one and gave it a great review. I guarantee that his words will end up on the poster.
BW: And finally, what’s your favorite superhero movie?
CD: It’s a toss up between The Dark Knight and Watchmen. Had they done the Green Hornet better, I’d probably hold that in high regard too, as you can tell, I love that concept.
I’d also like to mention DJ James Franco and Kyle Hebert, who not only donated their time for this project but also for an animated pilot I am currently producing. Catherine Reitman is another who handed in a fantastic cameo, simply because she loves HBO.
Thanks for the opportunity, sir, it was a lot of fun.
Thank you for your time, I really appreciate it. I hope you enjoyed this new feature, and I hope to have more interviews in the future here on Superhero Shorts. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.
Posted on March 17, 2012, in Superhero Shorts and tagged Babble-On Begins, HBO, Hollywood Babble-On, interview, Kevin Smith, movies, Ralph Garman, review, short film, SModcast, superhero shorts, YouTube. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.
Nice piece, Bubba. I haven’t really been bothered bee about Kevin Smith for a couple of years but I might give the podcast a go. By the way, you can’t do superhero shorts without including Batman: Dead End. It’s freaking awesome.
Good call, I had honestly never heard about it before but I watched it and really loved it. I even managed to contact Sandy Collora and just have to wait to see if he replies back with the answers to my interview questions.
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