Posted by Billy in December's Magazine
So here, as they say in the film world, is the pitch – a £100,000 comic (Electric Man No1) doesn’t appear without attracting trouble. Unfortunately for Jazz and Wolf trouble comes in more than one package. There’s Jimmy, a Glaswegian heavy who’s already killed once to get his hands on it. Edison Bolt, an unhinged American comic collector, who hasn’t a clue what he’ll do next.
Add the alluringly seductive, and not entirely truthful, Lauren MacAll…trouble, you see, comes in threes. And that’s before Electric Man himself turns up. Dugbus Ltd in tandem with Strange Boat Films are in pre-production on the film – best described as the Maltese Falcon meets Clerks – in which two perennial underachievers find one of the world’s rarest comics. To save their livelihoods and love lives, Jazz and Wolf must outwit, outsmart and outrun them all. That’s when they discover that superheroes don’t always wear Lycra… We asked director David Barras to elucidate.
Gotham City has Batman. Metropolis has Superman. Edinburgh…not so much.
How are you going to colour in that ‘not so much’?
Superhero movies are massive just now. We’re obviously not even going to try and compete on that level. Our film is all about the people who love superheroes – who love the source material for those movies – and the world they inhabit. Our two main characters, Jazz and Wolf, will be the audience’s entry into this world. Jazz is the comics’ expert, the nerdier of the two, whilst Wolf is just someone coasting through life, one situation at a time. He’s the chaos to Jazz’s stability.
How long has the Electric Man project been in development and when would you hope to see its release?
Believe it or not it was originally written in the mid 90s and sent to the BBC. We had a meeting with them and they asked us to contribute to various sketch shows from that period. Later on, Fresh Films optioned it, but nothing came of that, so we returned to the original idea last August. Updating it, re-writing it, and making it a whole lot better. The script is set to go but we will polish prior to casting and workshop it when the cast are in place. As to a release date, we hope to premiere towards the latter half of 2010. We’ll be looking to attend film festivals, build word of mouth and hope to be picked up for distribution. A DVD will appear whatever the outcome.
You begin filming in Edinburgh early in 2010, which can’t be cheap, and you mentioned a micro budget, I presume that means the minimum it would take to get the film made?
Well, we all live in Edinburgh, which helps! The absolute minimum, with everyone being paid at least something, would be around £20,000-£25,000 for the shoot. Roughly the same amount would be required for post-production and readying the film for distribution.
Do you have an ideal cast in mind?
Since four of our main six characters are in their twenties, and given our budget restrictions, we’re looking for the next James McAvoys and Kelly McDonalds.
Your chosen method of financing the film… normally one sees an article in the Evening News about some dodgy historical epic starring Brian Blessed, with the strap line, ‘pay £500 and see yourself on the silver screen’. Then you never hear of it again. How will you avoid that fate?
In the current climate it’s very difficult to get a film made. Funding schemes are bureaucratic and time consuming. Conditions are often attached and the whole thing can become a torturous process. Robert Carlyle, Irvine Welsh and Mark Cousins have struggled for years to get their film ‘Meat Trade’ off the ground. But yeah, I know the films you’re talking about; historical epics on a budget are hard. Comedy and horror are the only genres that work on a low budget. We hope to be a Gregory’s Girl for the 21st century – a comedy/drama, let’s say dramedy – not an underachieving, half-baked Braveheart.
You mention that you are targeting the 16 to 34 year olds, I’m in my forties, am I excluded?
(Laughs) no of course not! That’s a reference to the main cinema going audience; the people who help make big movies big. It’s a message to investors to say, we want people to see this and we’re aiming it at the biggest cinema going demographic.
You also mention the film will appeal to a female niche audience. How exactly?
Not quite, we say it will appeal to a male and female audience and then add, niche it isn’t. That’s because we have two separate love stories going on within the plot, centred around two very strong female characters, Lauren MacAll and Victoria, the yin to Jazz and Wolf’s yan, if you like.
Tell us a bit more about the production team.
I’ve been in media production since 1993. Strange Boat was set up in 2004 and we deal mainly in films. Scott and I were role-playing writers and had a company together in the early 90’s called Delphi Concepts. I’ve written five feature film screenplays. A TV series.We have been close to going into production a couple of times, only to fall at the final hurdle. Very frustrating. I’ve known Scott for 20 years. He was best man at my wedding and he came up with the first draft of the original script. He also came up with the Electric Man character. Initially when we wrote the script it was Superman (Action Comics No.1) but we needed permissions etc, so Electric Man was born. I met Ellen, our producer, at the last place I worked; she was a volunteer for a while then went on to join the BBC. Rich is one of the best steadicam operators in the UK. He’s worked on a number of productions from corporate to music videos to BBC shows like Sea of Souls. Stuart worked with a friend of mine and he’s just a great artist. We love what he’s done so far in creating the cover and feel of Electric Man. Everyone’s on board because they like the script and because it’s the kind of film we don’t see enough of in Scotland. And, it’s do-able. There’s nothing tricky about it.
We can achieve this if we take this opportunity.