Sunday, August 8, 2010

007: FQAC theme song

We couldn't find a clear, crisp MP3 of the song, so here's a Youtube link for those who are interested.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Justice League Promo - Wonder Woman

Here's another snippet from Justice League, this time centered on Wonder Woman.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Justice League Promo - The Flash

Justice League won't be airing until August, but Ian Austin has written a few one page scenes centered on different members of the team in the film. We'll kick that off with this scene featuring The Flash.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Justice League Q&A w/Ian Austin

First, a little bit about yourself. You’ve been around the VS world for a long time now. What other projects have you worked on and what’ve been some of your more enjoyable experiences?

Where to start?

Probably with Jackson Cruise. That's been an on-off property for years that I can't shake. I know conventional logic would be to ditch it, but I... I don't think I want to. The VS has basically meshed with me to such an extent that I don't think I'll ever be fully rid of it. Out of everything I've done, it's the one thing I feel a connection to above all else. It's something I feel I have to fight for, to stand up for, to call out 'No, it isn't that bad' about. It's imperfect and flawed, but I've done nearly a dozen versions (in different mediums), and I think it'd be truly sad for me to never think about how to do it.

I did some work on the Buffy/Angel continuations, but I can't write Buffy-speak. At all. There's a pattern to the dialogue that eludes me. I remember trying to write one episode, and feeling physically sick at how bad the first line was. Over and over. It's probably a fault of mine that I physically change with writing and how much it drains me, but I do think it forces the writing to take on a unique quality. Whether that's good or not, who knows... but those experiences were, though no fault of anyone else, somewhat unpleasant for my mental state. Somethings just shouldn't be done, especially when you love a show so much that you set an impossible task for yourself.

Then I moved onto SIB. Or Chris & Sunday, as it was known. I wish every VS gig could be that awesome. It was fun. Pure fun. Me, Lee and the crew were making it up as we went along and having the most fun, ever. There's a scene in Death Proof where they talk about an awesome film shoot, and it sums up how SIB was. Sadly I left after S1, and sometimes I think about what it'd be like to go back. Even enquire. But I think I made the right call - I have terrific memories of the crash-course in VS writing, as well as an episode (1x08) that, while primitive, is something I'd proud of because I was given carte-blanche to come up with something that I wanted to do... and thus told a story that I think stands up, despite being primitive and having NHL Hockey (Sega) references aplenty.

DSR and Schism were pretty good. I liked just being able to write, and flexing different muscles in making an outline work for me and my sensibilities.

Daredevil... well, S2 is going to air eventually, so I'll just give a sly no comment - no, the truth is I dropped the ball. I'd been waiting years to do that show, and when I did it I let myself down by suffering from 'you wished for it, you got it' syndrome. That and the atrocious outline for 1x10 that plagued me. Now I'm back and intend to make it much more focused. I'm thankful that I get the chance to go back to it, and like to think that I have matured. It's difficult to do VS writing as it is slightly thankless in terms of when you write an episode and it goes out there, it doesn't really belong to you anymore, and the high you had quickly vanishes... but at the same time, you get a rush from that high that you'll always have a vague memory of.

Let’s talk comic book to screen adaptations for a moment here. You’ve been rather outspoken about staying true to the core of a character instead of, for lack of a better term, Hollywood-izing and taking creative license during the translation. What would you say has been the most faithful live action realization of a comic character?

Iron Man.

I know I'll get shit for that from Batman fanboys, but seeing Iron Man was seeing the personification of a character on screen. RDJ was Tony Stark, for better or worse - to the extent whereby I doubt anyone else could pull the character off. It isn't just appearance, it's the whole package; which is likely due to the fact that he has a lot of the demons Stark has.

And the worse?

That's more difficult. I know a lot of people hate Spawn as a film, but with no comic-book context it doesn't offend me particularly. George Clooney gets a bad rep for Batman & Robin, but within the confine of the film he works tonally. Now he's not the best, or even particularly good, but he fits into the universe. Same with Nicholas Cage in Ghost Rider - the film's awful, but he does a reasonable representation of the character. I think, for this, I'd have to go with Dafoe in Spider-Man. He's entertaining, but far too hammy and over the top. The guy is a great actor, but we never really get a sense that Norman is all there. And that conflicts with the vaguely serious style Tobey has to a grating extent.

Would you say that those two subsequently are the best and worse films of the lot or are there examples that deviated and still managed to be entertaining and well done?

Iron Man and Daredevil are the best in terms of faithfulness to the comic, Batman Begins and X-Men II are (however) on a whole other spectrum of awesome because they adapt the stories and lend them into a relevancy which means non-geeks can dig on them.

As for the worst, I'm not a fan of The Dark Knight, but I think you'd have to put X-Men III up there. Just a terrible piece of cinema I'm afraid - it doesn't work as a comic-book adaptation, as an action film, as a sequel, as a finale or as a film in it's own right. It is just awful, awful noise.

What’s your personal preference? DC or Marvel? Do you feel like there's enough of a distinctive flavor (for lack of a better word) in each verse to have a preference?

I'm more a Marvel guy because I tend to like human stories. DC is terrific in terms of presenting these greek tragedies, but that's not really my thing. I think they both bring something great to the table, and there's some phenomenal DC TPBs out there (Watchmen and Identity Crisis are as good as anything you'll ever get from the medium), but for consistency and characters it has to be Marvel all the way.

Alright, onto Justice League in particular, I guess the most obvious question is why a movie and not a series?

Because a series demands a looseness that I don't think works. With the team, you really need to focus and bring them together for a reason. In a series, it would feel too much like Heroes in having people gradually come together to fight this big monster, whereas in the film I can bring them together quickly and have more of a structured piece.

Unlike a lot of comic book “teams” the Justice League is comprised of characters that all had their own worlds and mythologies created well before the coming together. What do you think makes this conglomeration of characters work given most of them have been leads on their own? There’s certainly the potential for a “too many chiefs, not enough Indians” syndrome.

Actually, that's why I didn't include Batman and Superman. Those two, from my POV, are too iconic to work as part of a team. Even when they do, you'll usually find they're separated quickly because it's hard to buy those two having difficulty against a villain if they're working as a solid unit. That, and their personal systems of morality mean there'd be a lot of clashing when, really, I'm more interested in the team coming together than it being all about Bats and Supes light vs. dark rhetoric.

In regards to the characters, worlds and mythologies - I can see that. But these guys and gals I've chosen strike me as being far more effective in terms of a team. They each bring something to the table. I'm sure someone can argue Wonder Woman doesn't need a team, but I think it's more than just a physical need - mentally, emotionally, spiritually, all of these characters have a built in desire to be part of something greater than their own mythologies.

Before we get into the story itself, the cast list is missing two notable names in Batman and Superman. What prompted you to leave those two characters out, given they’re easily the most popular of the bunch?

I gave an answer above, but I think the popularity is another key point. Both characters are so iconic and so popular that they'd overshadow everyone else. And I wanted an ensemble feel here, so they both went straight away. Wonder Woman has a third-ring feel to her DC wise, people don't know much about her so I can deconstruct and have her as part of a team without feeling like I've dropped the ball.

Without giving away too much, tell us a bit about the story and the thought process behind it?

The basic gist is that you're taking a group of people with different backgrounds, and bringing them together to save the world. It's not a complex story, it's more about taking on responsibility and learning to rise about yourself to do what has to be done.

Are you writing this with the intentions of potential follow up efforts? Either screenplay or series?

At this stage, no. I leave it open-ended, but I'm not looking at a franchise. It's one story told effectively that has a start, a middle and an end. There could be more stories, but I'm not into this fad of trilogies. The stories have to work on their own merits.

Of all the team members, which character do you think would be a natural fit for a series and which do you think wouldn’t work on a smaller scale like that? There’s a gap in how much suspension of disbelief is plausible for a series or movie as opposed to a comic book. Granted, that’s likely more due to the entertainment industry’s standards than anything, but still a character like say, Galactus wouldn’t work as a prime time television villain, in my opinion.

Oliver Queen could leap into a series. He's got a natural lead character schtick to him, but not so much that he can't play with others as his solid recurring role on Smallville shows. There's also his low-key style of attack - the problem with a Flash is that it'd be too effects heavy. In a screenplay that works because he's not always doing something, but in a script it'd get a little dull to constantly have him rushing off to save the day. Not to mention that he's capable of running so fast he time-travels; which puts a damper on realism and the limitations of his power. Wonder Woman could work in a series, Black Canary too. The Martian Manhunter would get a bit old, because you'd have him in human visage so much that it'd become a dull hybrid of other 'I want to be human' dribble.

I agree with you on Galactus. In the FF sequel people threw a tantrum because he didn't exist in his comic template, but really... how lame would that be? It's something that works in comic-books, but would be goofy in real-life. Same with the Sentinels in X-Men, the glimpse in X-Men III was pretty mediocre and goofy looking.

How much of the animated series have you seen? JLA’s another in a line of high quality DC cartoons that have been churned out over the last two decades, starting with the Batman Animated Series (a personal favorite of mine).

I've seen bits of it. Seemed to respect the genre, which was cool.

Last question. Would you say a medium like a virtual series or an animated series has an easier go of it in terms of translating these characters than a live action interpretation? Casting alone has a contentious point of a lot of these films. I remember a huge uproar over all of the casting for the Daredevil film.

Oh, the DD uproar. Pure idiocy. They didn't touch The Kingpin's background, his personality, his attitude or his nature - but people got upset because he wasn't white. It's ridiculous. Michael Clark Duncan nailed The Kingpin as well as anyone else could have. I'd even say Affleck did a pretty good job.

I think that an animated series has an easy go because they just draw what's on a comic-book page, in live-action you'll rarely get an exact replica. RDJ looks like Tony Stark, but usually you'll see a fair bit of artistic license in a character. Which is fine by me - Hugh Jackman's too tall to be Wolverine, but he's such a good actor that it doesn't make a damn bit of difference.

Appreciate the responses and we look forward to the movie in August.

Thanks for the questions.

Nines Lives 2 Artwork

::Airing August 2009 exclusively at GypsyVerse Productions::

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Nine Lives 2 Q&A with Lee A. Chrimes

::Interview conducted by Michael Jay::

First, the obvious question. Why Catwoman? Are you trying to pull a Chris Nolan and redeem the character after the critically panned Halle Berry film?

The Berry travesty took so many departures from existing canon that it's CINO - Catwoman In name Only. Much like Godzilla fans disowned the '97 American movie (although I actually liked that - but anyway).

Catwoman's one of Batman's longest running antagonists, with a fascinating backstory and a tremendous number of adventures on both sides of the fence over her 67 year career (she debuted in 1941, if you can believe it!). She's a morally driven thief who isn't an outright villain or a full-on good guy either - there's a huge amount of emotional depth and layers of conscience to pick apart as a character, a great supporting cast built up over the years and, most importantly, a girl who kicks ass, chews gum but isn't driven solely by the pursuit of romance. Frankly, I'm amazed nobody's done anything like this sooner!

The tone I'm aiming for here is a blend of first season Dark Angel (i.e. before it went really bad) and Nolan's Batman movies. As realistic as I can make it, basically, with an emphasis on character development over flashy heist-of-the-week plots and tacky supervillains. DC's always prided itself on its more believeable views on superheroics, so it's a trend I intend to follow - but there'll be lots of Alias-style action, don't you worry!

Was it always your intent to do a second movie or would you rather have preferred just going to series following the first screenplay?

There wasn't even going to be a screenplay originally - the first pilot I wrote a few years ago was basically a reduced version of Nine Lives, but it sank under the weight of too much set-up and not enough backstory. Having the freedom to show more of Selina's past via the flashbacks in NL meant a lot more ground was covered, and the world of Selina, Holly and the rest was more firmly established.

The second movie came out of a need for new content to keep the ideas moving - especially in the wake of this month's cancellation of the Catwoman comic book - and also the fact that there were still lots of characters for the series who weren't introduced in NL who needed to get their foot in the door. The Gotham PD officers we'd be dealing with and some of the East End characters populating the show's landscape were the main targets, so with that in mind I expanded on my ideas for two of the proposed series episodes into one bigger event.

I think the ground that NL: Caught covers will result in a stronger lead into the series proper - all the players will have had a good chunk of screentime and we can leap right into the world straight away. There's the obvious danger of giving a new fan too much to absorb straight away - and we've already seen The Feratu Chronicles fall foul of this - but by keeping the movies short I think we'll be okay.

I myself am very ignorant when it comes to the character. All I know of her is Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Halle Berry. So for the uninitiated, tell us a bit more about the character than we’ve gotten from the television and film versions of her. What liberties with the character were taken when she was adapted to the small and big screens?

Initially, Selina Kyle was a cat burglar who crossed paths with The Batman back in the 40s - the Golden Age of DC Comics, as it's known. As time went on, she morphed throughout the 60s into a more gimmicky costumed villainess (the TV series had a big hand in this), and was thankfully spared too much involvement in the cosmic stories of the late 60s when Batman reinvented itself in the 1970s.

To suit the darker, grittier tone of the book, Selina's backstory revised itself a little to make her into a more morally ambiguous cat burglar, with the now famous purple catsuit starting to develop along with a more fun-loving, independent style for Selina, but it was the Batman Returns movie and subsequent tie-in comic books and graphic novels that the modern Selina became more established.

Initially pitched as a former hooker left for dead who trained herself as a thief to escape from her wretched life, subsequent revisions (because my sweet Jethro Tull does DC love doing those) to the backstory saw Selina as a rebellious child forced onto the streets when her parents died, caught and sent to a juvenile hall for stealing only to break out and start etching a name for herself on the mean streets of Gotham City. From there, the first run of the Catwoman comic book launched (1993, I believe), and from then on she did some great business, riding high on the female empowerment kick of the mid 1990s (thank you, Buffy, Xena and Lara Croft).

Several annuals (like the excellent Year One) added fresh touches to her past - several years training under Gotham's famous Armless Master, a rivalry with professional ninja thief Hellhound, and her sister Maggie who was taken into care when their parents died. Most of these elements found their way into my version of Selina, as you'll see.

Selina played a huge role in the major DC events like Contagion (where a virus ravaged Gotham City), Cataclysm (Gotham is hit by an earthquake) and No Man's Land (where the devastated city tries to rebuild itself), and her on-off romance with both Bruce Wayne and Batman had her working alongside the heroes as often as she was scrapping with them. Sadly, some very questionable plots in the last third of the comic's run (like Selina running for Mayor, or going bonkers and turning evil) lead to a downfall in sales, and Selina was killed off in issue #93 by the assassin Deathstroke.

However! She was soon back in Darwyn Cooke and Ed Brubaker's masterful Selina's Big Score, which reinvented Selina again as a more contemporary, high class thief for hire. Selina landed a big enough paycheck to return from self-imposed exile, only to find Gotham's East End a wretched hive of scum and villainry. Deciding to appoint herself its protector, a new run of Catwoman had Selina taking on the villains of the East End (a rogue's gallery large enough to rival Batman himself!), thieving on the side to fund her activities and becoming more of a self-styled vigilante than the burglar of old.

And it's this take on Selina that I use as my starting point - I've used elements of the old Selina (namely some of the origin and, as you'll come to see, many of the bigger Batverse plots of the 80s and 90s), but my Selina is a lot more like the leather-clad, sparkling freedom fighter of the comic's second volume. There was a bigger focus on Selina's past this time round, deepening her as a character and re-introducing some excellent supporting characters like reformed junkie Holly Robinson, grizzled PI Slam Bradley and earnest Dr. Leslie Thompson.

I've made all the players a little younger to reflect the 'Year Two' approach I have - we open the NL movie with Selina's thievery career already a year old, but the events of the film take her from that life into the East End-based work of New Selina - it's a blend of the two continuities, I guess.

Nine Lives is a project I’d heard about for nearly two years before the first movie was released. Why such a long delay in getting things going writing wise?

Because of the three other VS that I run! Somewhere InBetween, Faith and Slayer Academy were all going strong and there simply wasn't time to do another show as well. With all three shows set to end in 2009, the time had finally come to take some of my shelved projects back to the light, and NL was right on the list.

Was Jessica Alba always your first choice to play the title character?

Yes. I considered other people - Eliza Dushku was a frontrunner, but was a little overcast back then and probably too heavily identified with Faith by now - but there's a combination of factors behind Alba. Her time on Dark Angel showed me that she had the physical style I needed (plus also opening up lots of images and video for promotional usage), her mixed race heritage ties in with elements of her backstory, and she looked the part - petite but athletic with curly dark hair.

Modern day Alba pre-baby Alba with the blonde hair and waif-like figure almost made me recast, but I figured that by using a specific era of Alba (namely the 99-00 Dark Angel look), I'd get away with it.

And the rest of the casting?

A lot of it is still to be confirmed - I had too many Whedonverse alumni in there at one stage but a lot of that's shifted round now. Holly changed from Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under) to Alexz Johnson to keep the character young enough, but names like Gillian Anderson as Dr. Thompson and Mia Maestro (Alias) as Renee Montoya have stayed constant.

Looking back on the first movie, which had a bit of a quiet release at Blackster Virtual Community, what would you say were the main strengths and weaknesses of it?

Not promoting it enough! It's been out now over a year but people are still only just hearing about it, which was partly because of keeping it as a BVC exclusive and also due to my commitments to other projects. I think as a movie, it's quite obviously a backdoor pilot given the scale and pacing of the thing, but in hindsight I'm still pretty pleased with how it came out. It was a reworking of the original pilot anyway, but second time around I think I nailed the plot and dialogue a lot better, as well as the third Act and how it sets up a lot of the show.

Most casual fans know that Catwoman’s life has been intertwined with that of Bruce Wayne/Batman. How much of a presence will Batman be in this franchise, if at all?

NL was originally planned to air alongside Tony Black's Dark Knight (conceived before Nolan's movie of the same name, thank you very much), allowing us plenty of cross-continuity and the ability to feature both characters in each others series without overshadowing each other - much as Buffy and Angel managed for a short while.

With DK on the shelf for now, NL is going to focus on Selina and her own little world as much as possible. I'm building up a background plot of the Batman starting to make himself more known throughout the city - he'll start featuring more in the show as the seasons roll on to balance Selina's increasing role in his life, but Bruce Wayne will be a recurring character from the start. I'm conscious of keeping Batman's presence limited so he doesn't steal the limelight, but I've got enough plots and ideas on that theme to let me run things pretty evenly.

Off topic: what’d you think of the one-and-done series Birds of Prey?

I've honestly never seen it - I know I should, but I hear so many awful things about it I'm not sure I should bother. That had its own, alternate continuity anyway so it'd be for the heck of it only.

The Nine Lives I vdvd will be coming out soon after this interview airs. What kind of goodies can we expect for the release?

The original (and largely unaired) pilot, plus lots of background goodies on how the series was originally going to play out - casting, plots, all that kind of development stuff. Obviously nothing that'll spoil the new series, but a taste of how the show could have been. I'll also look into commentaries and/or interviews too.

Nine Lives II is tentatively set for August of 2009. Can you give us a little insight into the story? Potential villains?

This one is Renee Montoya's story. She's the main Gotham PD-based antagonist for Selina's life, so NL2 follows her arrival and initial partnership with Harvey Bullock before she crosses swords with Selina. There are lots of characters and plots within Gotham PD to get going, so NL2 gets them up and running without bogging down the following series with them.

As for Selina, she's going to be taking measures to up her efficiency and taking some big gambles to make herself the best thief in town - but that's going to lead her into Montoya's path and the inevitable fireworks will establish the first season's other main rivalry (Selina's bitter emnity with Hellhound from the first movie is the other).

Last but not least, want to give any cheap plugs for your other projects?

I'd have to say watch out for the revamped Natasha Tyreen, due out Summer 2010. I went back to the drawing board and built up the futuristic aspect that was sorely lacking from the original series, did a spot of recasting and worked out a better seasonal arc that means I honestly believe the new show will kick ass.

And then there's The Witnesses, but that's still largely under wraps as Alden [Caele] and I work on that one. Suffice to say it's going to be a wholly new take on the urban fantasy genre that shows like Buffy, Supernatural, Reaper and Torchwood do so well!

Thanks for your time, Lee. Glad to have you on the GVP team.

Monday, October 27, 2008

What is Justice League?

The Plot

An Alien race known as the The Dominators are the primary alliance behind all violent and attack orientated extraterrestrial lifeforms, a kind of intergalatic terrorist cell that serves to eradicate all forms of life in the purpose of universal conquest and extreme bigotry against other lifeforms that don't correlate to their belief system.

Having slain a bloody path across the galaxy, they turn their attentions to Earth, keen to give themselves a warm-up before going to war with Mars. But when they get to Earth they find that it isn't quite as easy as they thought; for while they are able to trick Batman and Superman (I figure that there'll need to be an explanation for why they aren't here... perhaps they have their own missions unrelated to this, and thus are out of the equation for when the story occurs. Something that plays into their characters, I'll work out the specifics later), they don't count on the appearance of a band of misfits who pool their resources to protect Earth from the incoming threat.

The resistance group begins with the appearance of Martian Manhunter on Earth, a green-skinned humanoid who was sent from Mars against his will. When he lands on Earth, he finds himself trapped inside a human body, forging a human identity which he battles with for the entire film. We later find out he was sent to Earth to help fight off the Dominion, for the express purpose of seeing how tough they were, so that Mars could adequately prepare for their arrival. He has his superpowers, but for all intents and purposes looks human. His major role in the story is going to be making Green Arrow into a leader, turning said Arrow (real name Oliver Queen) from a billionaire playboy vigilante without purpose into someone who can help defend the human race.

To this end they recruit other purposeless human beings in Flash (Bart Allen) and Black Canary (Dinah Laurel Lance), who possess superhuman speed and sonic scream powers respectively. With these two in check, the team tries to enlist Wonder Woman for their cause. But she's iconic, a Goddess, a legend, and won't bow down to their team, content to stand her ground. (What I plan to do here is have her like Batman and Superman, disconnected from the team... but she'll eventually get into it. I do this because she's incredibly powerful and awesome, and I think having her in it for the entire screentime is just going to result in cutting short her powers -- and the Lasso of Truth -- in a redundant way, which doesn't really work for the character.)

Zatanna is also on the team. She's an exceptionally powerful magician (a genetic trait here) who acts as a childhood friend of Oliver's. Out of all of them, Zatanna is the one who most obviously embraces her ability and her role in life, but at the same time she has no real concept of how far her power can go, or to what ends it can be used.

It's not too much of a spoiler to point out they kick ass, yet also get their ass kicked.


Oliver Queen/Green Arrow (Neil Hopkins)
Dinah Laurel Lance/Black Canary (Christina Hendricks)
John Smith/Martian Manhunter (Tony Todd)
Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Morena Baccarin)
Bart Allen/Flash (Jason Segel)
Zatanna (Emilie De Ravin)


Not obviously comic-book, not obviously real. Based in reality, but a hyper-reality. The team will have their original powers, but it won't be a 'wow' style. They'll be awesome, but they won't overshadow the story. Well, not too much. I hope to take a lead from the Brad Meltzer work (Identity Crisis etc) where he deconstructs them in a visualised love-letter, showing us their flaws and imperfections and ambiguity and humanity in a way that makes us see how great a group they are.

The Justice League is, first and foremost, a group of friends. This group doesn't start that way, but they end it. While the actions within the scrpt do cause tension, it's more because they like each other and don't want to have to face the fact that they are flawed than anything else. And Green Arrow is the heart of the story, it's him whose the character I really want to explore.

What really resonates with me is looking for the humanity within these Gods (and Green Arrow). The parts that make them human, flawed, connected to Earth. It is an origin tale, but not in terms of powers. The majority of them have had them for a while when we begin. No, it's an origin tale of bringing strangers together and making them a family, making them a strong unit who can be counted on to join forces and go kick some intergalactic ass when need be; who can mesh past their individualistic nature and become part of something greater than each of them.