Superhero Shorts: Lazy Teenage Superheroes
Welcome to another edition of Superhero Shorts, where I feature a superhero themed short film and ask a few questions with the creator. Today I’m talking with Michael Ashton who made a short film about a group of slacker teenagers who happen to have super powers. He did it for practically no money with his friends and did most of the impressive special effects work himself. As usual, you can watch it below, or you can watch it at the official website.
The humor in this short reminded me of a mix between Kevin Smith and Family Guy, with a little Judd Apatow mixed in, though it also feels a lot more raw and unpolished. Not that that’s a bad thing. The highlight of the film is definitely the special effects work, there’s a lot of very impressive effects, the majority of it done by one person. One downside of the low budget is that the camera is very shaky, which is especially noticeable during the first part of the short where not very much is going on, it’s less noticeable once the action kicks in. The acting is nothing special, but it has the right kind of vibe to it: a bunch of guys having a good time. The jokes are more hit than miss and the special effects are worth watching the short by themselves. But enough from me, let’s hear from the writer/director/sfx engineer himself, Michael Ashton.
Bubbawheat: One of the more unique things in Lazy Teenage Superheroes (LTS) is the slacker style humor throughout, what was your biggest influence on your comedy style and was any of the dialog improvised, or was it all in the script?
Michael Ashton: I’ve always been a fan of how Edgar Wright creates his comedy, it’s never as silly as a parody and it is grounded within the situation. I wanted to create a situation that felt real with character that were just a bit oblivious. We tried to at least get what was on the script. Though we only had one day to meet the actors and see the location before we started shooting so a lot the script was stripped the day of just based on our resource limitations. The actors were great and definitely threw a few lines in on what just felt right in the moment.
MA: There were two that I had no idea would work while we were on set. Laser Wing getting punched and flying seamlessly from indoors to outdoors and the final freeze scene. Again, we had limited time and resources so we shot the elements and hoped for the best. Then in post we dove in and did what we could. I wish I could have done more with Chamelicon.
BW: One of the things most highlighted when reading about your short was the $300 budget, what did that $300 get spent on?
MA: The $300 was spent on beer and pizza for everyone helping out. A villain coat we never used, 2 swords and a few tiny random things (painter pole for a boom etc).
BW: Did you come up with the idea for their abilities first, then figure out how to create the special effects for it, or did the special effect designs come first, and you then figured out how to work super powers around those effects?
MA: They kind of merged at the same time. There was a vfx limitation but I didn’t want their skills to be so so standard. There have been a handful of variations of this project all with different characters and skills.
BW: Is 2 really the trillionth significant figure of pi?
MA: I believe so…I recall looking that up at some point just so we didn’t get called out.
BW: Have you seen Chronicle, which came out a couple years later and shares some of the same ideas, although with much less humor. What did you think of it?
MA: I really enjoyed Chronicle. Thought it was really well written and executed. I was a bit jealous that LTS wasn’t on a large scale like that but they did a good job. It was ultimately very different than where I would want LTS to go and hopefully maybe someday I can make it on that larger scale.
BW: I would honestly love to see more of these more original takes on the superhero genre in the future like Chronicle and LTS. What are you working on now?
MA: I created another short film called, The fundamental Guide to KICKING ASS, which was made in a similar fashion, no budget, friends and favors. It didn’t get quite the spread LTS did but I love it.
I also just finished a few shorts for Machinima.
Trying to get a few more projects off the ground soon.
BW: And finally, what is your favorite superhero movie?
MA: Goodness…I might have to go with Tim Burton’s Batman. Its gritty, Keaton and Nicholson are amazing. Its not flashy like a lot of superhero movies are now and on top of all that, Vicki Vale was my first crush!
I always enjoy hearing fans of the original Batman, I doubt that Vicki Vale was my first crush, but I’m pretty sure I had one on her for a while after seeing it. Thank you for talking with me today, I’m glad to share this one with my audience. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.