CineFix 8-Bit Intro for Valiant’s Unity #1 Coming in November 2013

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Valiant Entertainment will release 8-bit variant covers of all their current titles during October 2013. They won’t stop there though! They’ve teamed up with CineFix to create a Super Mario Bros inspired introduction to Unity #1, written by Matt Kindt and artist Doug Braithwaite, coming in November 2013 by Valiant Comics.

It’s a well established gimmick in the comic industry to come up with variant covers to increase comic sales. For those not in the know, a variant cover refers to a comic books printed with multiple unique covers, with a focus on taking advantage of the uber-fans completest consumer habits. This was an especially absurd practice in the speculative boom of the 90s, and it ultimately crashed the industry for some time. The practice went away during the healing years, but despite the negative commentary regarding the practice, variant covers are making a comeback.

What Valiant offers, though, is an enhanced experience. Whereas other comic publishers are sticking the the same tactics, Valiant is thinking outside-of-the-box. They already came up with covers that the “first speaking comic covers” in February 2012 using QR codes. This time they’re offering this fun 8-bit cinematic summarizing previous events in a creative and entertaining way.

Granted, the issue didn’t have to be purchased to watch what they came up with, but I’ll be damned if they haven’t already taken my money.

Koroo, the Black Lion – Public Domain Character Comic to XEI Books

Red Dead Redemption Fan Film: “The Hanging of Bonnie MacFarlane” by Silk Dog Films

“The Hanging of Bonnie McFarlane” is a short fan film (14 min) created by Silk Dog Films. It’s based on the critically acclaimed, open-world, western-adventure, video game series, Red Dead Redemption, by Rockstar Games.

It follows the lead character, John Marston, as he sets out to retrieve the rancher, Bonnie McFarlane, who’s set for a hangin’. In typical western-flick fashion, there’s a high body count, bloody shoot out… with a twist ending that makes it, well, embrace the games later horror-influenced downloadable content.

I certainly didn’t expect the ending to go in the direction it did. I’m curious to see what happens next! You can subscribe to Silk Dog Films on YouTube to follow what happens after its cliffhanger ending!

More Silk Dog Film Links:
https://www.facebook.com/SilkDogFilms
https://twitter.com/SilkDogFilms
http://silkdogfilms.tumblr.com

“Dirty Laundry” Fan Film Featuring The Punisher

“Dirty Laundary” is a 10-minute fan film written by Chad St. John, directed by Phil Joanou, and produced by Adi Shankar.

The story spotlights Marvel Comic’s Frank Castle (The Punisher), played by Thomas Jane–yes, the very actor that played The Punisher in the 2004 film–with an appearance by Ron Pearlman.

I actually enjoyed the 2004 Punisher movie and its amazing to see an actor get on board this small indie flick. Here’s a comment by Thomas Jane about reprising the role as The Punisher for “Dirty Laundry”:

I wanted to make a fan film for a character I’ve always loved and believed in – a love letter to Frank Castle & his fans. It was an incredible experience with everyone on the project throwing in their time just for the fun of it. It’s been a blast to be a part of from start to finish — we hope the friends of Frank enjoy watching it as much as we did making it.

Adi Shankar was interviewed on Collider.com, and when asked to talk a bit about the philosophy behind making these short fan films, Shankar responded:

The philosophy is simple: Let’s take some of the money made from these movies to make something cool.  I’m here now, I’m inevitably going to die at some point, and as an artist I feel an ardent urge to constantly be creating.  I don’t subscribe to the school of thought that as a feature film producer I shouldn’t dabble in television, web content, or even comic books … that thinking perpetuates the consumerist mosh pit we are now desperately trying to dig ourselves out of.  I have a burning desire to entertain and different mediums allow me to do this in different ways. These shorts are as much a part of my filmography as the movies are, I care about Dirty Laundry as much as I care about my upcoming movie The Voices.  Kevin Smith called me last week after Comic-Con and encouraged me to make more of these.  He told me that the vast majority of the people you’ll deal with in Hollywood won’t care about these shorts because they can’t make a buck off it.  It doesn’t matter.  It’s not for them it’s for the fans.  Kevin’s really good at putting things into perspective, and it wasn’t till talking to him that I realized that I’m making these for the 14 year old me.

It leaves me hopeful to know there are creative folk out there, in Hollywood especially, who still believe in more than turning a massive summer blockbuster profit. I hope Kevin Smith’s comment strikes true, and that we’ll see more great productions come out of Adi Shankar in the near future!

Also, check out this great poster, created by comic book colorist, Rod Reis (Aquaman, Nightwing).

Dirty-Laundry-Poster

“Truth of Journalism” Fan Film Featuring Eddie Brock (Venom)

“Truth in Journalism” is a 17-minute short fan film, written and directed by Joe Lynch, and produced by Adi Shankar and Sam Balcomb. It features Eddie Brock, a Daily Bugle reporter who’s always hungry for a new story.

Eddie Brock is played by Ryan Kwanten (TrueBlood) who does a remarkable job of playing an over-the-top antihero in a gritty and grounded world. The short is presented as a found-footage mockumentary which adds great texture to the experience. This fan film is a must watch.

Adi Shankar’s thoughts on pursuing creative projects:

“I don’t subscribe to the school of thought that as a feature film producer I shouldn’t dabble in television, web content, or even comic books … that thinking perpetuates the consumerist mosh pit we are now desperately trying to dig ourselves out of. I have a burning desire to entertain and different mediums allow me to do this in different ways. These shorts are as much a part of my filmography as the movies are. I’m here now, I’m inevitably going to die at some point, and as an artist I feel an ardent urge to constantly be creating. “

Make sure you watch past the end credits!

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“Tonight I Strike” Sci-Fi Short Film by Dan Gaud

Tonight I Strike” is a short film by Canadian filmmaker Dan Gaud, and produced by Dimeworth Films. Although the short contains scenes with human-serving robots, the story has nothing to do with that angle. The story is about Liam and his relationship with his sister; it’s about loss, and redemption; it’s about the little things in life that go unappreciated until it’s too late. This is a subtle, focused, dark, emotional tale, with a simple–but effective–story through-line.

Gaud has spent most of his career attached to VFX work, having worked on movies like District 9, Watchman, Iron Man 2, The Spirit, and Source Code. This science fiction short was shot in seven days on a $15,000 budget. There are about 60 VFX shots in the 14 minute video.

Gaud’s hope for “Tonight I Strike” is to get signed on to an agency. This might create opportunities to tell stories set on the alternate earth featured in this short, or make no-budget films like James Blum, who is known for producing high-quality micro-budget films for wide release (Paranormal Activity property for example).

You can follow Dan Gaud on Vimeo and follow the film commentary on Vimeo as well. He also has a Facebook Page dedicated to “Tonight I Strike”.

8-Bit Variant Covers of Valiant Entertainment Coming in October 2013

I have nothing but good things to say about Valiant Entertainment; both in terms of the quality comics they’ve been releasing since the company’s rebirth in summer of 2012, and to their inspiring marketing and business-related efforts.

In October 2013, Valiant Entertainment will be releasing variant covers for all their titles. These covers will mash-up their lineup of characters with retro video game designs.

As a retro gaming fan, I can only hope Valiant will take the work for these covers and offer them as high quality prints at conventions. I have a feeling these would make a killing, and have a lifespan stretching well beyond their initial entertainment value as variant covers.

Also, if you’re a comic fan, you really should be checking out Valiant’s titles. And if you aren’t a comic fan, then Valiant’s stories and characters might just convert you.

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“Archer & Armstrong”, issue #14

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“X-O Manowar”, issue #18

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“Shadowman”, issue 11

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“Quantum & Woody”, issue 4

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“Harbinger”, issue #17

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“Eternal Warrior”, issue #2

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“Bloodshot”, issue #15

“Fallout: Nuka Break” Fan-Made Series, Written by Brian Clevinger

I never got a chance to play Fallout. I know, terrible, I know. But I’m aware of the lore. Because, it’s awesome.

Fallout is a roleplaying game series created by Interplay Entertainment. It features a post-apocalyptic, retro-futuristic, post-war 1950s America, which was released in the late 90s. The game property is still being released today. I, for one, believe this is a spectacular setting to carry a movie franchise on. I’m still uncertain as to why this hasn’t been pushed through, at the very least, some pre-development stage in the movie industry.

This not-for-profit, fan-made film (and series) written by Brain Clevinger. The name might be familiar to comic fans out there. Brian Clevinger is the writer of “Atomic Robo, published by Red 5 Comicsand the “8-Bit Theater webcomic. The main thing that impressed me about “Fallout: Nuka Break”, was the script. The first time I watched this video, I had no idea Clevinger was the writer, so I was shocked by how darn good it was! Everything made sense when I saw the credits. What I’m saying, is that Clevinger is great, if you didn’t catch that earlier. Seriously, check his stuff out.

The production value of the series is top-notch though. It’s not just the script that shines. The acting is wonderful; the effects are passable but thoroughly entertaining, and the retro-slide-films featuring Vault Boy were just remarkable. They nailed the feeling of this video game series.

Here’s the summary of this episode:

Join Twig (Zack Finfrock), a former Vault 10 Dweller, as he searches the barren wasteland of eastern California for ice-cold Nuka Cola. Along for the ride is Ben (Aaron Giles), a radiation-ravaged ghoul, and Scarlett (Tybee Diskin), a sexy former slave. Together, the three attempt to survive both the harsh wastes and a relentless group of bounty hunters while trying to find the coveted beverage — Nuka Cola.

You can see more episodes of this series on the Wayside Creations YouTube Channel.

“Joker Rising” Teaser and Trailer by Smoking Alien

I’m getting the sense that a new era of fan-made films is upon us! The teaser video above is for “Joker Rising”, a film that will explore the dark underbelly of DC’s Gotham City.

This fan-made, non-profit, feature film, produced by Smoking Alien, seeks to show a love and respect for the Batman universe, with a focus on its robust criminal underworld, and in particular, gives fans Joker’s origin story.

What’s remarkable, is that this film was conceived of only four months ago. It is currently being edited with an expected release date of August (yes, a month from now)! The team is looking for support via their Indigogo and Kickstarter campaigns (which are over now), but still, if you have a moment, go check them out there, or fan them up on their Facebook Page, and show your support by spreading the news!

I had a quick back-and-forth with Alek Gearhart, the screenwriter and filmmaker of the film. He’s an enthusiastic creator who spoke about this story with great passion. As this project’s own origin story goes, after Gearhart met Hisonni Johnson–the filmmaker of the fan-made web series “Grayson: Earth One“–he was left with the motivating thoughts,

Yeah, that’s right, you can make what ever you want–maybe not any money off of it–but you can tell a great story in a universe that is already established. The Joker immediately popped into mind.

I’m a huge Batman mythology fan–and more a Batman-rogues fan than a Batman-family fan–and, I find Joker is a character that doesn’t tend to get lengthy character treatment. He tends to hit one note for me: he’s an insane, clown-makeup wearing, sociopath. Where’s the human component, I keep wondering. He is human, right? As far as origins go, and especially one that focuses on the “man before the clown”, it’s just rare to none-existent.

So, when asked about “Why the Joker?”, Gearhart had the following to say:

The Joker was chosen because, to me, he was always the most mysterious. There was always some sad story behind those eyes and that insanity. We wanted to elaborate on that. And besides, some of the comics, like “The Killing Joke”, he has never gotten a true back story. Also, because I have never seen a film that really portrayed a scenario of where he could have gotten his scars.  And based on the scars, it wasn’t from somewhere pleasant.

When I watched the teaser, and especially the trailer video below, I sensed a bit of “Scarface”  coming through. Gearhart lists “Goodfellas”, “Taxi Driver”, “Casino”, “Drive”, “Tree of Life”, and “Shame” as having influences on this project.

The film sort of works in two parts. One part crime drama, another part emotional drama. The last 30 minutes will have you at the edge of your seat. Many might even cry. [...] We did one day of casting and found Dylan Hobbs (Joker) and Katie Young (Harley), and knew that we were on to something.

I’ve always thought DC Comics could carry an ongoing series based purely on Gotham’s underworld. I was curious about the possibility of “Joker Rising” leading to other features getting made by Smoking Alien, focusing instead on other Gothamite criminals. Although Gearhart states that they’ve already thought of another crime picture set in Gotham, it’s not likely to get made and that this is most likely going to remain a closed story. Gearhart concludes with the following,

Goals for this film: showcase what we can do on no budget; and the intensity of the drama and acting that is portrayed on screen; push genre and comic book films into artistic and award worthy cinema.

Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth, by “Glove and Boots” Puppets Webseries

The Monomyth, or The Hero’s Journey, is Joseph Campbell’s theory that all great stories follow specific conventions in regards to character archetypes. This is a remarkable video by web series “Glove and Boots“, which uses puppets to present a summary of the seven character archetypes of The Monomyth… and even applies the theory to the Adam Sandler movie, “Happy Gilmore”.

If you’re a writer who doesn’t know about The Monomyth, you really should take some time to research it. Here, I’ll give you a cheat: Monomyth on Wikipedia.

My research into The Monomyth was fuelled by comparing elements in the theory against ideas presented in Blake Snyder’s “Save the Cat”, a book about effective Hollywood scriptwriting, from loglines, to story beats, to character archetypes, to everything you’ll ever need… trust me. It’ll affect the way you think about story structure, in general. Immediately. It’s brilliant. Just read it.

Glove and Boots: YouTube | Facebook

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