EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Kaylon Hunt About His Short Film HERO STORY
Kaylon Hunt is a long time fan of the comics, which brought him down the road to making this great fan film Hero Story. Kaylon tells me about the process of making a short film, including costume designs, special effects, casting and much more!
Recently I had a interview with the brilliant Kaylon Hunt, but don't take my word for it, be sure to check out Hero Story at the end of this article yourself!
Everybody wants to be the hero, but do they have what it takes? Faced with his increasing popularity and demand to fulfill his responsibility as the new hero on the block, a young man wants to profess his love to his longtime girlfriend and reveal to her his super hero alter ego. Only, his plans are foiled when a new villain arrives and an unlikely ally intervenes.
What made you want to do a superhero film?
I wanted to do a superhero story because the genre is very relevant to me and is something I think everyone can relate to, even if they aren’t generally a fan. I grew up on comic books and after-school cartoons. From Dragonball Z to Batman: The Animated Series, you just could not pry me away from the TV during these ‘magical’ hours. I was glued. Fun and fantastical, yet serious and relevant in nature, they were pretty much the only escape I could count on growing up. Even though you’re not physically in the story yourself, your imagination puts you there and the character’s experiences becomes your own experiences. That’s the power of storytelling and imagination and I think the superhero genre is the perfect avenue in which to realize that, especially in film and television.
What made you choose super speed as a power for your superhero White Bolt?
There were a few considerations for that but, primarily, it was trying to get a film of this scale done with limited resources. Superspeed is an effect that can be achieved relatively simply through editing tricks, vfx, and sound design. You can’t see light move. It’s there or it isn’t. The only thing that changes is your reaction to it. That was the idea with White Bolt. Once we established this ability visually in the film’s beginning, we didn’t have to worry about showing it visually later on. Hero Story was done on a pretty small budget so we didn’t have the resources to showcase other powers as effectively as we’d like. Our goal was to keep it simple this time out, with a minimalistic approach to the vfx, and focus on the personal experiences of the characters. My rule of thumb here was...if it doesn’t push the story forward in some way, then it doesn’t need to be there.
Superspeed also adds obvious ironies to the character, such as a hero with lightning-speed who is always late.
How did you go about casting?
An actor myself, I always try to stay tuned into the work of those around me. Which I’ve actually found to be very helpful in my writing as well. I try to base my characters on people I know or give them sensibilities that I know certain actors can portray well, so long as it serves the story. I’ve known Nick Edwards-May (White Bolt) for some time now and I think that both he and Annie Quigley (Rose) are very talented actors. I first came up with the idea of Hero Story and brought it to Nick. He liked the concept and that’s when we decided to produce it together. Annie came onboard later as we are both mutual fans of her stage work.
As for me, the decision to direct Hero Story came after a summer of rewrites. At which point I considered offering the role of Neuro to someone else, so that I could focus on directing. I had never done it before, but thought it important to experience the directing side of things at least once. On the other hand, there is a specific quirkiness to Neuro, as a black character, that I wanted to be there and I’m not sure another actor would have brought that. Plus, Neuro was just a fun character overall to inhabit. And while it wasn’t necessary that Neuro be black per se, it was important to me that he was not a white character. I felt his ethnicity, in the context of this story, could serve as a commentary on the lack of diversity amongst superhero representations in the media. He himself wants to be a superhero, but he’s held back by societal forces. The character of Rose is an extension to this as well, only in the sense of gender as opposed to race. The only woman in the story, Rose isn’t taken seriously at first by either White Bolt or Neuro. Yet, when all is said and done, she played a huge role in saving the day.
That’s interesting. I didn’t initially think of it in that sense. Were these things you thought of when coming up with the plot of "Hero Story"?
Well I merely wanted those considerations to be present, though they certainly aren’t the focus of the story. At its core, Hero Story champions the idea of being your own hero --- regardless of who or where you are in life. We are all connected, but you are the one who is ultimately responsible for what you become. Not someone else’s definition of what you should be. We are all different and come from different backgrounds, but no one individual is less capable or less worthy than another. In the case of Hero Story, I was aiming to inspire a pertinent question: Who is the hero of Hero Story? If Rose hadn’t intervened, White Bolt would have be blown to ashes. If Neuro decided to continue with his plan, there would be no more ‘superheroes’ left. There is no one hero in Hero Story. They all are.
How did you settle on the costumes for the characters in the film?
The process of designing costumes with the little budget we had was very interesting. From fabric to gadgets to hair paint to shipping costs, I think we spent a total of $600 dollars for the costumes of White Bolt and Neuro. Luckily, I was able to turn to the expertise of my mom and her superhuman seamstress skills as it would have cost up considerably more to hire someone else. I sketched up the costumes myself, and she delivered.
I liked the idea of the two stripes on either side of White Bolt as they are akin to racing stripes which compliments the idea that he is fast. The white hair and the Gambit-style headpiece were suggested by our other producer, Jus Riddick, and I immediately fell in love with it. For Neuro, the biggest challenge I faced when designing the costume was actually settling on a color scheme and coordinating it with the other characters. Couldn’t go with red as that would be too indicative of an evil alliance --- plus red was already designated to be Rose’s theme. Blue would suggest him to be more heroic, which he isn’t. Thus, I found purple to be a happy medium between the two.
How long has it taken to produce and direct this short film?
From inception to release was about 11 months. We originally planned for 2 days of production, but we actually got rained out midway through our 2nd shoot day. So we ended up with about 3 days total spread over a few weeks due to scheduling issues. 99% of this film is pre and post-production work.
How did you do the epic opening using the sketched drawings?
The opening sequence of Hero Story is a twist on the familiar and classic spinning newspaper bits right out of 1940s and 50s movies and TV shows, only with a modern flare. We initially didn't plan for sketched images. Our first intention was to use a sequence of composited photos of Nick in costume, but after discussing the sequence with our VFX lead, Aaron Moorhead, we decided that professionally drawn images was the best way to go. That's when I turned to Ayla Lee Barber for the artwork. I think she did a great job capturing the characters and nailing the artwork for that bit and Aaron did a great job with the VFX and animation. An epic score from our composer Jack Gravina rounded it all out very nicely. The work they all brought to this was beyond my expectations and it sets a nice tone for the rest of the film.
Why should CBMers be interested in this short film?
I think Hero Story embodies the spirit of comic book storytelling. This particular piece draws heavy influence from the Superman and Batman serials of the 1950s in style and tone, but with modern day elements ala Scott Pilgrim. I wanted to create something fun, original, and sincere, while at the same time embedding an important message -- we all have the power to be our own heroes. And I think that my team and I accomplished just that. Hero Story is a CBM.
Will you be doing future films in the "Hero Story" universe?
Hero Story is actually is part one in a five part story arc. We wanted to see what the reaction was to this first episode before continuing with others. The story actually gets fairly darker after part one, and there are some things established here that pay off later down the line for an epic finale. Whether we actually get to complete the series is still uncertain.
What would you like to direct next?
My main goal with Hero Story was to get my feet wet, with this being my first time holding the reins as a director. As of now, there are no plans to direct anything in the foreseeable future. However if I come across something that I’m absolutely passionate about, that could definitely change.
What is your next project?
There are a few larger scale projects I’m developing right now, including a science-fiction thriller that I’m considering turning into a graphic novel. It’s something completely different and darker than my past work and I hope to be shedding some light on that in the not-too-distant future.
Click on the picture below for Kaylon Hunt's official site!
Click on the picture to go to Hero Story's official site!
Hero Story Short Film
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