Happy 2013, Examiner.com readers! It seems that with a new year comes a new beginning for some, for others…its business as usual. Well, this reporter would DEFINITELY like to get into this type of business!
Hard Rock Casino and Hotel located just a wee bit south of Albuquerque, NM decided to kick off their new year by hosting the 2013 ABQ Comic Con! As always the place was full of comic fans of all ages, a lot dressed in wonderfully elaborate costumes and were ready to meet their favorite artists or celebrity in residence or to collect awesome photos and accessories to add to their growing collectibles. This particular Comic Con was special however. It was also the premiere of local movie makers, Mega Ultra Studios, short movie which happened to be about…Batman!
Mega Ultra Studios debut Batman: Sleight of Hand during the Comic Con weekend and it was a big hit with the people who had gotten to see its first showing! The plot is short and sweet and wickedly well put together as the eccentric Joker (Paul Cochrell) and his sizzlingly, psychotic assistant Harley Quinn (Melissa King) are up to no good as he’s taken the “Gotham Elite” hostage, dosing them with his “smiley gas” and torturing them with bad jokes! Who will save these poor people from this maniacal madman? Why, Batman (Miles Blackman) of course! I’m not going to give the plot away but this can be said that this story has a crazy TWIST that truly makes it a stand out film feature! Once this reporter had viewed the short, contact was made with one of the film’s makers and actresses, Michel West. Michel and her husband and film's director, Mikel-Jon West, are local movie makers and HUGE comic book fans. Especially of, you guessed it, Batman. Mrs. West had been very kind to grant an interview just asking about “Sleight of Hand” and a little bit about how it goes in the local movie biz.
IP: What’s your background in the film industry?
MW: I started out helping my cousin when I was in high school. He made his first movie when I was 17, and I have always looked up to him and I just really love movies. I also use to do theater in high school.
IP: As a local film artist, you’ve previously worked on a movie project called Left For Dead. At Comic Con 2013 at the Hard Rock Casino/Hotel, it was a Batman short you and company premiered that actually received a lot of praise from what this reporter has heard? Care to share any details about the project?
MW: Sure. We had shot the Grindhouse movie. Then we met with a few issues, like people dropping out last minute and script needing something more. So we put it on hold and are finishing it this spring. So in the mean time we decided to do a side project. Found and met with Miles [Blackman](Batman) and Paul [Cochrell] (Joker) then met with our writing partner and came up with a story line. We thought we could do a short fan film using the Batman universe since we all love Batman so much. We just wanted to get something easier than a full length movie done and out there to show people what we can do as a company.
IP: The plot in "Sleight of Hand" is well planned out for a 10 minute story and the characters played their roles very well! This was a good example of what many comic book fans are describing the film as “vintage Joker”; what inspired this intriguing tale of one of the Joker's many schemes?
MW: Again, we all love Batman. And with recent movies and cartoons and such we felt there had been no real "comic book" Batman movies in a long time. We are all huge fans of the old animated cartoon and wanted to see something more like that. So we decided to do kind of a "live action" cartoon/comic book movie. And we wanted the Joker to be much dark like he is in the comic. So pretty much we brought and made what we as fans would really rather see then more "Nolan type" movies.
IP: Susana Martinez and her State officials are really putting the pressure on local movie makers and the Hollywood crowd as money becomes an issue. Do you feel the “crunch” as well?
MW: I don't think we, as being the smaller end, feel it as bad. In fact since she has cut some things, we are finding more out of work people that help out with our films. Which is awesome! They just want to do something and even if it’s just to come help us out for a film. I really wish she would stop putting pressure on this industry ‘cause they really bring in more money to this state then she gives them credit for.
IP: Very true! And so is a lot of the work you put out because of “volunteer work”?
MW: Yes, we fund our projects currently out of pocket. So we ask everyone to work on a "volunteer basis". Until we can find someone to either fund us or we get famous.
IP: Any new projects on the horizon for Mega Ultra Studios?
MW: If this short does well we would like to do more of it. And like I said earlier, we are re-shooting our Grindhouse movie, re-working our own Superhero web-series, and filming The Southwest Burlesque Showcase for the lovely ladies of Burlesque Noir.
IP: Very nice, something to keep an eye out for! One last question: Red or green?
MW: Green mostly. I do like red once in a while too.
Many thanks once again to Michel West for giving you readers and this reporter a little insight on the local film scene. Though Mega Ultra Studios is just a part of it, it’s filmmakers like these that help inspire others to follow their creative instincts because as seen here, it can definitely make something brilliantly fantastic!