Superhero Shorts: Spider-Man Eclipse
Superhero Shorts: Spider-Man Eclipse
Welcome to this week’s edition of Superhero Shorts where I take a look at a different superhero themed short film and get the creator of the film to answer a few interview questions. This week I’m sticking with my current theme and found a Spider-Man short that was actually released this week right alongside the Amazing Spider-Man. It’s called Spider-Man: Eclipse and I got the chance to talk with the director Al White. You can check the short out at their website SpidermanEclipse.com or you can watch it right below.
The first thing I loved about this movie is how it just starts off with a bang, Spidey’s tied up, battered, and you have no idea what’s going on. Right there it hooked me. It also has a great JJ Abrams look to it with all the lens flare, though I must admit that they might have taken it just a little too far in places. It didn’t detract from the well done fight scenes with some fantastic parkour inspired acrobatics that I thought fit perfectly with the idea of Spider-Man. I also noticed that the web effects were used sparingly, but to great effect, instead of having Spider-Man swinging all over the place, they just sold a few key moments to give the taste of the webbing without having to go through the difficulty and/or expense of doing many time-consuming special effects shots. I also enjoyed the amount of trademark quips throughout the whole film, it helped give it a real Spider-Man feel. My only other minor complaint was the actress who played Mary Jane had only a touch of red in her hair, but it didn’t take away from the scene too much, she made up for it with some nice lived-in chemistry with Parker. But enough listening to me, let’s hear what the man himself Al White has to say about his own film.
Bubbawheat: First off, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you decided to make a Spider-Man fan film?
Al White: Well I’ve spent my whole life only wanting to be a film director. I went to film college but then came out and accidentally started a band called GHOSTLIGHT that did quite well for a while here in the UK. It’s taken me a while to make the money to get back into film and fund my own shorts so I could try to secure a feature. I was working with a DOP on some music videos who had became a good friend and he was upgrading his camera (RED ONE) to the RED EPIC (The Hobbit, Prometheus, Amazing Spider-man). He told me if I came up with something that excited him then we could make a showreel piece together. I went away for about 5 months while working on other things and developed a bunch of ideas – a Half-Life fan film, an Assassin’s Creed one, eventually we settled on a Friday the 13th short.
While doing pre-production on it the Amazing Spider-man trailers began to come out. I was incredibly excited as I’d been a Spidey fan my whole life but wasn’t a lover of the Raimi trilogy. I started telling my wife how I wished they would do a Spider-man movie, in particular giving Peter a more realistic, practical uniform to wear. I showed her some sketches and she told me that this was the short film I should be making. I thought she was crazy. There was no way to make a Spidey film with no money! But my DOP got excited and things very quickly went from there! We stipulated that we had to be out on the same day as the reboot, which gave us a tiny window of time to make the film. Our post was done in just 2 weeks! I literally hadn’t seen the finished film with all the FX and grade until it went live on Youtube. That’s how crazy it got!
BW: Wow that’s pretty crazy. I know I was looking for a Spider-Man short to feature for this week and not finding anything too exciting, then a couple days later this one popped up out of nowhere and floored me right from the start with the dark tone of the opening sequence, in fact it’s much darker than the Sam Raimi movies, did you specifically set out to show a darker side of Spider-Man?
AW: It was definitely a conscious decision. I wasn’t interested in making something that was similar to the reboot or the Raimi films. I didn’t see the point. What I love about long-running comic series like Spider-man is that there are so many different takes on the character. I grew up reading the Todd McFarlane run in the 90’s and I had always dreamt of a darker, more adult Spidey film. I wanted to make people feel as uncomfortable as possible in the opening scene – showing Spidey in a situation that they aren’t used to seeing him in on film. Beaten, bruised, spitting up blood and chained to the walls. Some people hate it, in particular the prolonged silence of this opening, but that was a very thought-out decision. The comics constantly dip into this darker territory and I just wanted to see that faithfully recreated onscreen.
BW: Another thing that stood out to me, which is something often overlooked or underused in a fan film is the music, how did you manage to get such a well made score?
AW: Yes! We were very lucky. Normally I do the score myself for my films or I structure the film around pre-existing music. This was the very first time I worked with someone who was creating original music for me and I hope she’ll work with me again! I’m not sure I’m the easiest person in this department to work with! But she was amazing. I met her through a friend and she’s worked on tonnes of incredible productions. Her name’s Jessica Dannheisser and she really got the vibe I was looking for – brooding, melancholic and yet flourishing into action and heroism but without ever having a real ‘theme’ or cheesy motif. She did it all in just a couple of days too.
BW: The acrobatics used in the fight scenes were also something well above most fan films, did you specifically look for an actor who could do those kind of moves, or was it more of a happy accident?
AW: Well when we first began pre-production we were looking for reasons to stop us to be honest. We didn’t think we could do it. So we made lots of conditions for us to make the film. The first was that we didn’t want to use any CGI for Spidey’s movements so we had to get one of the world’s very best parkour / free-runners as our stunt Spider-man. If we didn’t get one then we wouldn’t make the film. I e-mailed my first choice 3RUN who have worked on Casino Royale, Harry Potter, Death Race 2 and many other Hollywood productions. I was amazed as the next morning I had an e-mail back from their CEO Chase Armitage who is a real legend amongst free-runners; saying he’d love to be involved. It was tricky fitting it in around his incredible schedule but he was really nice to us and gave us as much of his time as possible – coming through with some brilliant stunts for us. He’s a world record holder in Parkour and he also used to represent the UK in wushu. We were so incredibly lucky to have him on board.
BW: That’s really amazing to hear that you got such a professional performer, it really shows. Can you tell me a little bit about how you ended up working with IGN’s .start channel? I’ll be honest, this was my first time watching anything on that channel even though I’m somewhat familiar with IGN, is this the first fan film they’ve featured?
AW: IGN was another blessing. I can honestly say that over the past 4 or 5 years I check IGN more than any other site on the internet other than my e-mail. I wake up – turn on IGN, pray for new podcasts, watch all the new videos, read some articles and then leave it on throughout the day – constantly refreshing. I’d always dreamt about being featured in some way on their site. We were on our last day of pick-ups and Irene (PR) had just sent out our press pack to IGN. I didn’t realise this and thought Greg Miller (Executive Editor at IGN) would appreciate a little video of Alex in the Spider-man outfit shouting “BEYOND!!” (his podcast). So we recorded it on my iphone and I tweeted it at him. After shooting we all went for supper and I checked in on my tweets. Suddenly I saw Greg had retweeted it, started following us, and sent us a private message saying he was sending us an e-mail. I was so excited it was ridiculous! We then talked on e-mail for a couple of days and I sent him our internal trailer. IGN got all excited and asked to take the film as an exclusive for their START channel. Honestly – I couldn’t have wished for anything better for our little film! I’m still a little in shock from it all and am incredibly happy to be involved with IGN and their channel START. It’s an incredible buzz for me personally to currently be on the front page of IGN twice as a news item and an advertised link! I really can’t thank them enough for all the support they’re showing us and Greg in particular for opening the door for me. I’m not sure if the Splinter Cell fan films were done through START or IGN originally but IGN promote those as well. They’re well worth checking out.
BW: Can you tell me a little bit about what you’re working on next?
AW: I’m currently finishing off 2 short films. 1 which I shot last November and never finished which is just a low-fi-sci-fi short that I shot all by myself with a couple of lovely actors (including Alex actually). The other is a 48hr Challenge which we did and placed in the Jury’s Top 10 with [BW note: It’s listed as Choose by Bokeh Pictures]. I’ve expanded it and re-edited it and am launching it as a proper short film next month. I’m also finishing writing 6 film treatments which I’m then going to be approaching companies with to try to secure a feature film deal. They range across all genres from indie drama to science fiction to horror and even a found-footage one is in there. I was very lucky with my first short Beneath and had some interest from a few companies but I wanted more time to get my treatments together and to make a few more short films before going back to them. Now’s that time!
BW: Good luck with your future projects, you sound to be keeping very busy. Now for the important question, what’s your favorite superhero movie?
AW: Ah a great question! Well technically it’s not an official superhero movie but ‘Unbreakable’. The camera work and music is just phenomenal in that film and I love the subdued atmosphere. But if we’re talking official adaptations then the first half of Batman Begins is almost perfection for me. It then loses it completely once the suit goes on, but that initial hour or so is just incredible. X2 : Mutants United is sensational too as is Batman : Mask of the Phantasm, Watchmen (yep, I said it!), and Avengers obviously kicked serious ass. Sorry, that was too many answers!
BW: While Unbreakable may not have been a comic book adaptation, it’s totally a superhero movie in my book. Have you seen the new Spider-Man movie yet?
AW: NO!!! And it’s killing me!!! We had a big celebration night planned for last night (3rd July). We were going to upload to IGN, go to supper as a group, then on to see Amazing Spider-man and then come back to see the fallout of what’d been happening online. But I came down horribly ill the night before our launch and I’ve been in bed ever since! I’m doing everything I can to get better for tomorrow as I’m so upset to not have seen it yet. I’ve been waiting my whole life for a Spidey film like this! My consolation has been sitting in bed playing the Amazing Spider-man game on my 360, which is so full of spoilers that it’s pretty much ruined the film for me!
Thanks kindly for the interview and for supporting our little film! Really appreciate it.
No problem, the more I see of the fan-film genre, the more I love it, and the people that make them have all been such a treat to talk with. It looks like you’ve got a big hit on your hands with Eclipse and I wish you luck in the future. Thanks for talking with me, and tomorrow I’ll have my review up for the new Amazing Spider-Man to finish out my Spider-Man week, or week and a half. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.