Thursday, July 19, 2012

It's All About Perception

If you were to walk up to someone and tell them that you just saw the most amazing movie, complete with powerful characters wearing masks and tights, an evil villain with a face like a corpse, and a beautiful woman waiting to be saved, your enthusiastic description would be discounted as the discourse of just another comic book geek. But the story I just described was Phantom of the Opera, an Oscar winning film that was also awarded a Golden Globe award, and was nominated for a Saturn Award for the best Action/Adventure Thriller film by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films in 2005.

So why is Phantom of the Opera considered important entertainment achievement while the X-Men are a niche sci-fi production? Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with all the components of the genre. It’s all about perception.

The other day, I was talking to a friend, and he was saying how he was going to be seeing “The Dark Knight Rises” on Friday. Now, this friend isn’t a comic fan, but he is looking forward to the movie. He said that one of the things he liked about Nolan’s Batman films is that they are dark, and that before Nolan’s trilogy, Batman had never been portrayed seriously. I thought his viewpoint was interesting because Batman was originally portrayed as a somber character, and has been portrayed as a serious character for a long time. My friend thought that Nolan was responsible for the interpretation. Adam West’s name came up real fast, and the very idea that Batman might have been dark before Nolan was impossible. But Batman was not the campy character that he was turned into in the 1960’s television series. The producer of that show, William Dozier, was not familiar with the Batman character and decided that the character, and the concept, should be geared towards children. It’s interesting to note how the television show has influenced the perception of Batman to a much greater extent than the original comic stories.

Comic fans know that superheroes have been portrayed more seriously since the 1960s, but even now, general audiences think of their stories as light and campy. When is that misconception going to change? When will some of the more sophisticated stories in the superhero and sci-fi genre get the respect they deserve?

I think we’re still a long way from this deserved respect for the genre. Despite box office successes, superheroes are still considered “kid’s stuff “and mindless action. The idea that superhero stories are anything more than cheap escapism is still met with skepticism by moviegoers who think that a Meryl Streep situational dramady is some sort of earth shaking event (even though no one can shake the world like Hulk!). Perceptions may change in time, but for now, revel in the fact that this escapism includes the biggest box office successes of all time.

Chip Perro
Writer, Director & Producer

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Drawing What You See

If you’re an aspiring artist, you’ve probably bought your fair share of books to learn how to draw.

How many of you have read “How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way” or basically any book by Christopher Hart?

I know, I’ve read them!

One of the things these books recommend is to start with a stick figure and sketch out the muscles and costumes from there.

Good advice, but boy is it painful! It’s really boring, and what’s the right number of stick figures that you have to draw before you’re ready to launch into more creative drawings. You see all the wonderfully drawn pages in comic books, and that’s what you want to be doing, not bumbling around with stick figures all day long! I know for me one stick figure is enough to teach me the general proportions, and then I’m ready to go.

And to make matters worse, when you go to conventions, or watch a professional comic artist draw in public, half the time, they’re sketching with markers, and aren’t starting with anything even resembling a stick figure. They’ll start with an arm, or a leg, or maybe even eyes. Then they just create a masterpiece out of thin air. Well, maybe masterpiece is overstating things… after all there are some very well done paintings at the Louvre. But still!

So, trying to compete with an experienced Marvel artist in the beginning is discouraging, because they make it look so easy, while you’re still sketching stick figures in super-poses.

The books always tell you to keep on practicing with the stick figures until you can master any pose for any eventuality you might have to draw someday, but I’ve noticed that people have different drawing styles. For me, It’s far easier to draw something that I’m looking at. That’s a great skill for life drawing, but not so great when I’m trying to work out a hero fighting a giant monster in mid-air.

So when it comes to creating every pose in stick-figure form, that’s rubbish! At least, for me it is, because I already know my drawing strengths. For me, I need that visual guide in front of me. That’s why I’m a big fan of using wooden artist mannequins to draw my form (those little statues that you can pose to stand in any way you want them to stand). That way, I don’t need to practice every possible pose before I start drawing up my own comics. If I did that, I’d still be practicing.

What I’m saying is that sometimes what works best for one artist doesn’t work as well for another. It’s important, when you start drawing, to recognize what your strengths and weaknesses are and compensate accordingly. That doesn’t mean that it’s not important to master some drawing techniques and develop your own style… you do! So if I’m saying anything, it’s that you need to find what works for you, and use all those drawing books as a guide. The faster you start drawing your own comics, the farther ahead you’ll be.

- Chip Perro
Writer, Director & Producer

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Audition Process

Finding the right actors for a superhero movie franchise isn’t easy. At Perro Productions we have been auditioning new faces for the Mission Park Quinology since last October. We are not only looking for talented actors, we’re looking for actors with a passion for comics and sci-fi! To add some excitement to the whole process, we hold the auditions in a public setting where fans can watch and vote for their favorite actors. Comic and Sci-Fi enthusiasts are the most passionate fans in the world, so it only makes sense that they get a say in who lands a leading role in this upcoming superhero movie franchise.

As the screenwriter, when I hear an actor completely personify the character I’ve written, it’s magical! Suddenly, I’m watching a scene that only existed on paper come to life. The actors don’t always look like the characters I’ve imagined, but when they’re good, their performances transcend appearance. You know you have a good actor when you hear that same scene read for the millionth time, and suddenly it’s interesting again. You laugh at the right points and you’re engaged, even though you have the entire scene memorized word for word. The hard thing about auditions is that they can be routine. I hear the same scenes read over and over again, and that can get a little boring. It’s especially painful when an actor puts on a less than stellar performance. I just want to scream. They’re butchering my finely crafted dialog and they’re wasting my time! Of course that’s why auditions are important, you need to see a lot of performances to find the right actors.

On Tuesday, June 26th, we held the seventh PWC Hero Cast Party Audition, and so far 97 actors have read lines from the original Mission Park movie script. Currently 28 actors have received enough votes to move on to a second audition. If you think it would be fun to check out the latest group of actors, and cast your vote for the best audition, head on over to PWC Hero Cast (www.pwcherocast.com) and meet the June Hero Cast Group. Vote for your favorite, and have a say in who becomes the next great superhero sensation!

- Chip Perro
Writer, Director & Producer