Interview with Director Cisco Davis Jr. on ‘The Peculiars.’
Director and Producer Cisco Davis Jr. talks about The Peculiars – an Indie Superhero film set to start filming this autumn. Something peculiar is coming…
First things first, What is The Peculiars about?
The Peculiars is a actually a spin-off of my webcomic “The Pure and Hidden Truth” (www.pureandhiddentruth.com). It tells the story of a team of crime fighters based in Baltimore City that have just gone public as they take on their first big challenge of facing off with a domestic terror cell of dangerously imaginative mimes.
I’ve long suspected Mimes to be evil! Interesting villains to say the least; Mimes can do amazing things with their bodies. Have you cast actual Mimes and what feats can we expect to see from them?
During the casting process when I was casting the lead villain and and “henchmimes” I was very disappointed that I was auditioning ordinary people for these roles. And then I lucked out one day when I got an e-mail from an actual professional mime from New York! A week later the person came down to Baltimore for dinner and to talk about the movie and was cast on the spot for the lead villain! What’s cool is that the actor is a professional mime and can coach other villain actors during filming. I don’t want to give away too much of what these mimes are capable of but let’s just say that the phrase “dangerously imaginative” alludes to the very real possibility that their “miming”
of various actions or wielding certain objects could pose a serious threat to our heroes… 😉
Very cool. So you say The Peculiars is a spin-off of your webcomic. Do the characters appear in The Pure and Hidden Truth? Are the two related in other ways?
So far The Peculiars are not mentioned in the comic as I have yet to get that far in the comic’s current storyline. Rest assured everything all takes place in the same universe however. I like to call it the “Pure and Hiddenverse,” haha! Even though The Peculiars as a superhero team haven’t appeared in the comic yet there are quite a few characters from the comic that will make cameo appearances in the film. The cool thing about The Pure and Hidden Truth being a photocomic is that I can use the actual talent from the comic’s photo shoots to appear in this film and vice-versa!
How do your skills as a film-maker translate into making a photocomic?
Well, I’ve always wanted to make movies ever since I was a little kid, so for the longest time I knew how I wanted my movies to look on screen. When I decided to do a photocomic I already had a keen idea of how my photos would look based on how the scene played out in my head when I wrote my script. Plus it helps that my comic was actually adapted from a sci-fi/fantasy TV-series pilot episode I wrote a couple years ago. The comic has been toned back due to not having all of the resources I needed at the time but the comic is still very faithful to the original plot.
I recognise the open-source character Jenny Everywhere. Why did you decide to use her and how has she been adapted to fit the Pure-and-Hiddenverse?
I chose to utilize the Jenny Everywhere character for a variety of reasons. One of the primary reasons was because I thought it was an amazing idea to have an open source character than anyone can use and I knew that I could pioneer a new frontier with the character by bringing her out of the normal comic medium she’s typically found in and to bring her into a live-action form. This is the first live motion Jenny Everywhere and I’m proud to have done it. Another reason I wanted to use Jenny Everywhere was to be able to have an already established Jenny Everywhere fanbase that I can outreach too. She fits in the Pure and Hiddenverse with a few tweaks to the normal way she’s portrayed in webcomics. I have her set up as a teleporter with some other neat tricks up her sleeves that you’ll just have to see the movie in order to find out. 😉
Speaking of fanbases, what sort of reaction have you received since casting Obama Girl?
Its been a very positive response. Mostly from peers and the cast. The news hasn’t quite hit the mainstream yet because we had just made it official. The cool thing about it was that last summer I joked I would put her in a movie and my friends laughed. Fast forward to today and they aren’t laughing any more!
You’re currently raising funds for The Peculiars on Kickstarter and have so far raised nearly $5,000 (Congratulations by the way)! Are you worried at having only 18 days left to raise $20,000?
Yes, I am a little disappointed in the progress our kickstarter fundraiser has generated. We were really hoping online communities would support our project by featuring us. Despite many press releases not one blog has mentioned anything about our story. It isn’t impossible for us to pull it off but its damn well going to be very difficult.
Oh dear! Well, I’m featuring you and hopefully others will follow suit *glares about* They’d better… What will happen if you don’t get enough pledges by August 4th?
If we don’t succeed with this kickstarter run we will still start filming in August but I’ll have to be very conscious about how I go about things and the filming process may go slower than I originally intended for it to be. We are in a recession and making a feature length superhero film is definitely counter-intuitive to scrimping and saving in order to make ends meet and survive in today’s economy. I have a lot of faith in my project and what this project represents so it’s well worth the trials and tribulations I’m going to ‘suffer’ through. There is also a possibility of relaunching a revamped kickstarter with a smaller fundraising goal. Other than that I’m still pretty positive about the whole project. Sometimes you have setbacks. If everything in life was easy what would be the point in living? Y’know? That’s the way I see it.
Good attitude! What advice would you give to aspiring Indie Filmmakers?
My best advice for any aspiring filmmakers is to get out there and do what you want to do. Movie-making isn’t rocket science — it’s a simplistic and pretty straightforward process — but that doesn’t mean it can be difficult at times. With such easy accessibility to affordable equipment to film with there shouldn’t be any excuse to hold you back from doing it. For the longest time I kept making up excuses for myself to keep from working on The Peculiars. “I wasn’t ready yet” or “I needed more experience.” No, if you feel it’s in your heart to tackle a project then I say tackle it. The only person holding you back will only be yourself.
Now the big one: Do you believe in aliens?
Do I believe in aliens? Of course I do! I believe it is too self-centred to believe that humans are the only living sentient life in this infinite universe. I kind of have a romanticised view of otherworldly life. I really wish I could see what their lives are like. It’s very interesting. Now do I believe they are visiting Earth? That’s where the line between science-fact and science fiction starts to get a little blurry. That’s why it makes such a fun playground to work in with these types of projects. I don’t know WHO I would be without science fiction.
Okay this is the last question and it isn’t really a question. This is open mic – Your chance to say anything else you want to say about The Peculiars.
I am very proud to be working on The Peculiars. Independent movies haven’t truly tackled the superhero genre because the market for them is dominated by Hollywood production studios. The Peculiars marks the first serious attempt at doing a superhero film on a limited budget. If we play our cards right this very well could open up a new genre of indie films. There’s low budget comedies, dramas, action, horror (currently the king of low budget filmmaking) – but we’d like to add superhero flicks to the roster. That’s what we’re hoping for! Please support and join us, a bunch of twenty-somethings not much different from yourselves, as we take this project head on and make some kind of history. This is a good time to be a filmmaker and an even greater time to help be a part of this amazing project. Thank you for your time everyone and I’ll see you at the movies!
This interview was by Amy Letts, if you like my stuff why not follow me on twitter?