Many comicbook fans still shudder at the memory of the mid-1990s Judge Dredd movie staring Sylvester Stallone. Not only did he infamously remove his helmet only minutes into the film (a cardinal sin), but for many he failed to capture the essence of what makes Dredd so beloved by his fans. Stallone himself acknowledges this disappointment, opining in one interview that the film “probably should have been much more comic, really humorous, and fun”. Rather than trying to make Hamlet, he said, they should instead have made ‘Hamlet and Eggs’.
Another Dredd film, written Alex Garland, is currently in production with Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby in its leading roles. Scheduled for release in 2012, it is still up for grabs whether it will rescue the Dredd mythos from Hamlet and Eggs or leave ‘old stony face’ with more egg on its face.
Dredd fans, however, do not have to wait two more years for a fix of Mega City One’s finest. The fanfilm, Judge Minty, directed by Steven Sterlacchini and written by Sterlacchini and Michael Carroll (based on characters created by John Wagner), is due to be released in 2011. Focusing on the story of Judge Minty, a character who appeared only briefly in the Dredd story back in the late 1970s, the film shows what happened when he is forced to retire from active duty and take the ‘Long Walk’ into the Cursed Earth “to take law to the lawless”.
I recently interviewed writer/director Steven Sterlacchini about the film.
FAN FILM FOLLIES (through John Walliss): Can I start by asking what inspired you to begin working on the project?
STEVEN STERLACCHINI: I think we were most inspired by the thought that ‘it could be done’.
It was more a case of chance meetings than anything else. I initial saw some of Daniel Carey-George’s comic book Dredd prop work on his website. I thought “Wow! These are amazing, you’d only need a ‘few more’ pieces to create a fan film”. I started to discuss it with Dan and we kept the idea at the back of our minds. Dan then met Stephen Green at an industry show and they got chatting about their shared interest in 2000AD. Steve showed Dan his brilliant digital showreel and offered to come on board. It sort of snowballed from there.
FFF: Producing a fanfilm takes a great deal of time, effort and money, what do you think it is that inspires fans such as yourself to do this?
SS: Well, for us, I would say the main thing was the source material. It’s an enormously rich vein which hasn’t been properly tapped. We can create a ‘fan film’, but without having to repeat anything that’s been seen on screen already. It’s also an excellent opportunity to show our work to a large audience. In the beginning these were our main reasons, but I have to say it’s been the enthusiastic response of fellow fans that’s helped to keep us going.
FFF: In recent years, media companies have differed in their response to fanfilms, with some celebrating them, others tolerating them, and yet others responding with cease and desist orders. What has been the response of Rebellion and Dredd authors?
SS: Rebellion and a number of 2000AD creators have been very encouraging. I think they’re interested to see what we can come up with and have been positive about what we’ve shown so far. Though I think it’s important to point out that we are following the four rules of fan film making to the letter – 1. Do not make any money from their property. 2. Do not bring the property in to disrepute. 3. Do not create competition with their official works. 4. DO NOT MAKE ANY MONEY FROM THEIR PROPERTY!!!
FFF: What has the fans’ reaction to the news of the film?
SS: The fan’s reaction has been outstanding. Dredd fans tend to have a strong understanding of the character and his world, anything out of place would be spotted in an instance. They know how it should really look and feel, so we’ve been listening to all the feed back with interest.
We were worried that by announcing the project too early people would get bored of waiting. However by doing so it’s allowed us to get in touch with talented Dredd fans who have been more than willing to help out.
FFF: The choice of Judge Minty is interesting, as he is a canonical figure, but only a minor one. What drew you to tell more of his story?
SS: I think the fact that he is still remembered by a lot of fans after so few appearances and such a long time speaks volumes. Though the main reason would be that his story is a precursor to important events in Dredd’s life. Mainly doubts about the justice system and the ‘long walk’. Minty is a more compassionate Judge. A Henry Fonda style lawman, reluctant to use violence, in contrast to Dredd at that time who was a Dirty Harry, black and white, type of character. If I was not wearing the most comfortable walking shoes for men – I probably would not have made that super long trek of a walk.
FFF: What would you say are the main challenges bringing Mega City One to life on screen?
SS: Only a small portion of the film is set in the city, it’s just a taster of the original story, before Minty heads out into the Cursed Earth. Unsurprisingly location filming has been biggest challenge and the most expensive one. Unforeseen costs, weather and logistics can create a strain when working on a very limited budget. We’ve been put back a little on our original release date due to location difficulties, however we only have four scenes left to ‘get in the can’, so we’re still optimistic about earlier next year (2011).
|Edmund Dehn is Judge Minty|
FFF: Fanfilms have been around for years, but have achieved a degree of prominence in recent years (with, say, the media interest in The Hunt for Gollum). Why do you think this is and what do you think the future holds for fanfilms?
SS: It could be a number of things, the better quality available from budget equipment, the willingness of professionals to get involved, or simply the fact that fan films aren’t tied by having to cater to a mass audience, they can simply focus on a story that appeals to a fan base.
We’ve been lucky enough to attract a few professional actors to our project, most notably Edmund Dehn, who takes the lead role. His work, along with the work of industry professionals like Daniel and Steve Green have taken the story telling possibilities of the project to a another level.
For more information on the film click on over to the official website.
CLICK IMAGE FOR LARGER VIEW: