Electric Man Redux


Posted by in December's Magazine

Regular readers of this august journal may remember an article in last year’s December issue about a proposed low budget superhero comedy movie called Electric Man, which it was hoped would begin shooting in early 2010. Well, we all know about God and plans, and if you don’t, try making some plans and sit back and watch God. Is he laughing yet? So, what’s happened since last year? Director and co-writer David Barras takes up the story.

A kick up the bahookie
In 2009, I was sitting in the audience at the Edinburgh Film Festival listening to Shane Meadows (This is England, Dead Man’s Shoes) talk about how he’d just made a feature for £50,000 and encouraging would be film-makers to get off their arses and do it. It was the proverbial kick up the bahookie I needed; a call to arms.

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I phoned my friend Scott Mackay and told him my plans – the script I wanted to make was originally written by Scott in the mid 90s, we’d re-worked it together and sent it off to several people. After some mild praise, a bit of development and some failed pitches, the project went on the back burner as we both moved on to different things. Originally, the script concerned a missing copy of Action Comics issue 1 (the first appearance of Superman), the most valuable comic in the world and what happens when it pitches up in an Edinburgh comic shop where the two owners are desperately in need of cash. We described it as Clerks meets The Maltese Falcon.

I was pretty sure Scott wouldn’t want to be bothered by such a crazed scheme. Raising a budget and making a film with no backing from any studio or TV company is pure madness. I was wrong. Scott relishes such craziness. I then phoned a producer friend of mine, Ellen Raissa Jackson who also said yes; soon after we secured the services of cameraman par excellence Rich Steel and we were off.

But first we had to update and rewrite the script to include more modern references and lose that Superman comic, it could have proved tricky to get permission to use it and cost us a lot of time and money… So was born Electric Man!

“Electric Man? Whit does he do, read the meter?”

“Electric Man? My wife’s got one of those.”

Ah, the wit of the general public never ceases to amaze. Electric Man is not a meter reader or a marital aid but a new (and for new, read old) superhero, who’ll be debuting on cinema screens next year. The film, however, is not your average superhero flick. Made on an astoundingly low budget, it still features the original plotline but with Electric Man at it’s centre.

Money makes the (film) world go round
Trying to raise money to make a film in the middle of an economic apocalypse proved to be a bit trickier than we envisaged. Ever optimistic however, we started to gather the forces together that would eventually coalesce into team Electric Man, a crack squad of freelancers, friends and acquaintances willing to work for very little short-term reward.

A main cast of six performers meant we were not dealing with a cast of thousands or a wage bill of thousands either. Aside from comic shop owners Jazz and Wolf, we needed to find Lauren McCall, the femme fatale of the piece, Uncle Jimmy, the murderous brother of the comic’s true owner, Edison Bolt, an obsessive American comic collector and Victoria, ex girlfriend of Wolf.

Director of Photography Richard Steel suggested a young American actress named Jennifer Ewing whose father he knew. She sent an audition tape across and won us over with her obvious love of comic books and her enthusiasm for the script. Next up, Uncle Jimmy required an imposing figure. A brainwave threw up Fish’s name and after a carefully worded letter and a brief meeting we had our man. Wolf, co-owner of the comic shop and comedy sidekick to main character Jazz was found at open auditions as was his on screen girlfriend Victoria.

In the meantime, a raft of investors both small, medium and large had come on board, allowing us to schedule the shoot for September 2010.

This left us Edison Bolt and Jazz, our main character. By this time, we’d run an event for interested investors and amazingly managed to scare up the budget for the film. A chance meeting at the Edinburgh Film Festival with Mark McDonnell who I’d worked with in the past solved the problem of who would play Edison Bolt. Now we just needed our hero. Two weeks before shooting was scheduled to begin we found Toby Manley. You’ve probably seen Toby on BBC 2, hiding in a big wooden cutout of the channels logo in one of those bizarre idents the BBC loves so much.

Come September, with the cast and crew in place, we boldly went where no low budget film has gone before – into a grungy comic shop in the Grassmarket where we spent a great deal of the shoot. Other locations include Princes Street Gardens, the Hibs club (doubling as a Glasgow boozer), Leith Academy (doubling as a Police Station) Bristo Hall (scene of a comic convention) and King’s Stables Road, where a member of the Clan stunt cycle team gamely hopped his bike onto a truck’s bonnet for several takes, with only the truck coming out of it with any injury.

As befits a comedy drama, the three week shoot was good-natured and high-spirited even when filming in peeing rain on increasingly cold days. Everyone was there for the right reasons.

We’re deep into post-production now, editing a rough cut to send to South by South West Film Festival (Austin, March) and targeting Tribeca (New York, May) and Edinburgh (June). After that, we’ll hope to get picked up by a distributor and see what happens.

We’re still fundraising to complete the film and if you’re interested please check out our website (below) where you can donate some money linked to various packages or simply buy a t-shirt to support us. You can also keep track of our progress, read more about the film and watch our selection of video interviews and promo material.

Info: electricmanmovie.com

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