Mark Racop – “Eyes of the Cat”

Eyes of the Cat is a 45-minute movie about a cat burglar who just arrived in Gotham City. Bruce Wayne has a date with an old flame, Selina Kyle, and it isn’t until she drugs him with a hypnotic lipstick that he finds Selina Kyle is actually Catwoman! Catwoman forces Bruce to help in her criminal activities. Breaking free from the spell, Bruce returns to Selina’s—only THIS time as Batman!

The filmmaking bug bit Mark Racop at an early age.  Racop’s father remembers that Mark was interested in making movies even at the age of two!  While other children were reading short stories, Racop was reading Stephen Whitfield’s “Making of Star Trek.”

His filmmaking life was changed permanently when “Star Wars: A New Hope” was released.  “I knew from the first scene of that movie that I HAD to make movies,” Racop said.  He voraciously read everything he could about moviemaking, and made a 60 minute feature film in 1980, which won awards in high school.  Bolstered by the success of his first effort, he quickly made another film, a 30 minute short.  Again, he received awards.

Majoring in Telecommunications with a film emphasis at Ball State, Racop entered the David Letterman Scholarship Contest, and won a $3,500 award.  “That award opened a lot of doors,” he said.  “It gave me credibility to deal with people in Hollywood and elsewhere.

In 1989, Racop formed MagicHouse Productions, and he raised money to shoot the ultra-low budget, ultra spoof, “Rock N Roll Starship.”  The movie featured cheesy sets, cheesy dialogue, and cheesy acting–but it was all part of the plan.  “We watched Dark Star and Hardware Wars on the same night,” Racop said, “And Starship was the result!”  The campy, funny film has played to science fiction audiences across the country, and he self distributed over 1,000 copies on VHS.

The success of the first film brought about a demand for a sequel.  “Starship 2″ was greenlighted in October of 2000, and went before the cameras on May 19th, 2001.  The movie was a radical step up from the original film, featuring great actors–John Astin, Richard Biggs, Jason Carter, Richard Hatch, and Leslie Culton–and a tightly-written script with a great story.  Shooting wrapped in August of 2001, but special effects continued for another five years.  “It was tough waiting on the effects, but the results were well worth it.  Massive Works blew me completely away with the quality of the finished product.”

In May of 2004, Racop bought an 8,300 square foot facility in Logansport, Indiana that he is converting into a movie studio.  With two sound stages, makeup, wardrobe, editing, a paint booth, and plenty of office space, Racop will be able to accommodate many feature films.

Racop is currently developing a spy thriller called “Plausible Deniability” for production in 2007.

FAN FILM FOLLIES (through Christopher Moshier): Any pictures of Hope Young as the Catwoman from the original short?

hopeyoung_001_1MARK RACOP: Unfortunately, we don’t have any pictures of Hope Young.  We were so rushed for shooting time, and none of us owned a still camera at the time, sadly.  Hope had to move to California about halfway through the shoot, so we had to use body doubles and voiceovers to complete the film.  I have no idea what Ms. Young is doing today, but I would greatly like to know.  She was OUTSTANDING as Catwoman.

Sadly, we have just these few attached pictures from the making of the movie.

FFF: Is this the reason that the trailer had more Batman and Robin than Catwoman?

MP: The movie was SUPPOSED to feature more Catwoman than Bats and Robin, but due to Hope leaving before the movie was completed, I had to cut several scenes.

FFF: Is your film supposed to build off the camp of the original 60’s show?

MP: While there were several things borrowed from the TV show, the tone of the movie is more serious. The Batman costume sports the black bat with no oval. There are no overlays of fight words. In hindsight, I probably would have done it exactly in the flavor of the old TV series.

FFF:The Batmobile in the film is very impressive.

MP: The Batmobile was made from a 1974 Monte Carlo when I was seventeen-years-old. Constructed of wood, steel, foam, and fiberglass, the car is an attention-getter everywhere it goes. We had four photos, the Corgi miniature, and my memory from which to build the car, which is why it has MAJOR inaccuracies compared to Barris’ creation. We did some major remodeling of the car about eight years ago. It still isn’t the accurate mobile, but it’s better.


* Check out more pictures of this FAB Batmobile by going HERE.

* Check out other cars Mark is working on by going HERE.

FFF: How about the costumes and the sets used?

MP: I made all of the costumes. I taught myself how to sew when I was ten-years-old. First costume? You guessed it: Batman. Second costume? Darth Vader.

My Dad’s two story firehouse/garage was the location for the Wayne Manor set and the Batcave. As one of the first firestations in Indiana, built in 1862, the building is very unique. Unfortunately, it didn’t have poles, so we cut a hole through the floor and added them. Wayne Manor was made from several 4 x 8 sheets of plywood, and the batcave was made from old political signage, covered in papier machie.

The Wayne Manor exterior is the Kitselman Language Conference Center located near Ball State University.

FFF: Your film won the David Letterman Scholarship Contest awards at Ball State University? Is that thee Letterman from late night?

MP: Yup! The one, the only, the original David Letterman use to be a Ball State Student. He created an annual telecommunications scholarship fund, and I was one of the winners during its second year.

FFF: I did an interview with Don Glut recently and he released a DVD on his old fan films. He gets around the legality of the licenses by making the “how to” the focus of the DVD with the actual films put on as “extras”. Would you consider doing this same thing with your films?

MP: I dunno. It seems kind of cheesy to do it that way, although I can certainly understand wanting to recoup the cost of the project and getting it into the hands of people. Sadly, as soon as I put it out there, bootleggers will be selling it anyway, so. Why should THEY get to do it if I can’t?


FFF: What do you think of the current trend of the fan film?

MP: I am excited to see so many talented people making movies today. I thought “Batman: Dead End,” “Grayson,” and “World’s Finest” are absolutely awesome movies, and they show with today’s technology what can be accomplished when somebody actually CARES about the project they are making. It is sooo much easier to make movies today than when I made “Eyes.” Non-linear editing and green screens have revolutionized the way ALL movies are made, but it has made an enormou impact on independent filmmaking. We don’t have to do it “the hard way” anymore!


FFF: Are you a comic book fiend?

MP: I used to be. I read Batman and Spiderman fanatically for many, many years. I stopped reading Batman when Bane broke Bats’ back, and I stopped reading Spiderman when Venom came on the scene.

I thought Batman the Animated Series (original incarnation) was one of the best representations of the comic book EVER produced. I have a special place in my heart for the TV show, but at the same time, I’ve enjoyed nearly every incarnation of the Caped Crusader–from the 1940’s serials, to comic books, to animated shows, and the new movies. I thought “Batman Begins” blew the other four Batman movies out of the water.

I hope that someday Fox, Warners, Greenway Productions, and anyone else that has a hand out can get their act together to put the original series out on DVD. Soon. We won’t have Adam and Julie for too much longer, so it would be nice to get the job done while they’re still here to enjoy it.

FFF: What kind of reaction do you get when you drive around in a Batmobile in full Batman garb no less?


MP: It’s always a treat to drive the Batmobile. No matter how rough a day, or how bad a week, all I have to do is jump in the car and go for a spin to see smiles on everyone’s faces. I frequently get horn honks, people singing the Batman theme, and the like.

The furthest I’ve driven the car was from Logansport, Indiana to Columbus, Ohio. The coldest trip was Thanksgiving weekend coming home from Indianapolis for a science fiction convention. Brrrrrr!

We get the same reactions from people regarding our costumes, of course, but not to the extent that the Batmobile attracts. It is a tradition on Halloween for several of our friends to dress in costume, meet at Applebees for supper, and go terrorize our local Walmart. It’s always a great time, but it’s even better when we have the car!

FFF: Any final words?

MP: Thanks again for your interest in “Eyes of the Cat.” Your letter has prompted me to start working on the sound syncing again. Four hours of work last night yielded about ten minutes of success. Keep the fingers crossed!

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