Webmaster, inside info hunter and now the man who brought you The Batcave and Fabio2's Superman Lives page is attempting to add screenplay writer to his interesting resume. He recently answered some questions about his upcoming project Batman: Shadow of The Bat.
AJ: First off, I know that most of us know you as the webmaster of The BATCAVE website, but for the sake of those who don't, can you tell us a little about yourself.
Fabio2: I'm a 27 year old, former Librarian living about 80km south of Sydney, Australia. I quit my job when I disagreed with their policies over retrenching valuable staff members and with their outsourcing of positions, and decided I didn't want to be a part of that. I've been reading comic books (Batman in particular) since the late 70s, my hobbies are watching/collecting movies, writing, the internet, the great outdoors (believe it or not).
AJ: Where inspired you to make your own Batman movie?
Fabio2: A long answer, if that's okay? Actually, I had no intention of making a Batman film to start with. After leaving my job, I had a lot of time on my hands, and I started my two websites as a way of a) learning about the internet and creating webpages b) to report on the films and characters dear to my heart. After BATMAN & ROBIN, so many fans decided to try their hand at writing a Batman script, and unfortunately most of these were so poorly written they gave me toothache. So, I said to myself - 'I can do this' and wrote my first Batman script (my first period), and I had the urge to write another, and another and another. I'm in the middle of one right now, but I've fallen way behind. But I worked on my first one - BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT - for nearly two years before I had it where I wanted it. The director of the film emailed in July 1999, and we got to talking and we decided 'why not give it a go?'
AJ: What is your role in the production?
Fabio2: In a mouthful, I'm the screenwriter/executive producer/co-casting agent/2nd unit director/co-location scout. I think that's it.
AJ: When you look at the WB movies, what flaws do you see in them that you think your production will attempt to improve on?
Fabio2: Flaws? How much space do we have? To keep it short, I feel none of the films truly captured the spirit of Batman/Bruce Wayne, his relationships with those around him, especially Commissioner Gordon, and while our budget is very small, personal scenes such as those don't require money. I originally wrote the script as a straight sequel to the four movies from Warner Bros. but as a way to correct some of the mistakes of that series. Hopefully we'll be able to do some of that. We're dealing with the Batman/Gordon relationship like no other film has done before, and we're correcting the Batman/Robin (now Nightwing) relationship and fixing Batgirl while still sticking with the version Joel Schumacher gave us.
AJ: For the most part, where is the film being filmed? Is it true some scenes were filmed in Los Angeles?
Fabio2: 99.9% of the film is being shot in and around Los Angeles. That's where the cast and crew are located, and L.A. will make a really good Gotham City for the shots we have planned. I'm doing some minor exterior establishing shots here in Australia, some of which I've already completed.
AJ: What are some of the limitations that you and the crew have come across or will face? What I mean is, things such as the Batmobile, the Batcave and special FX.
Fabio2: We'll be using miniatures to bring the Batmobile to life, and we'll also be using small scale matte processing and CGI. I've been looking into getting some more extensive CGI for the film, and things are looking rosy on that front. Of course, our film won't have the gloss of a Hollywood film, and may even look a little cheesy in places, FX wise that is, but we're working hard to make this film as good as we can, with the funds we have at our disposal.
AJ: When you were casting people for the roles, what kind of traits and qualities were you looking for in the people trying out?
Fabio2: Just to start with, we didn't audition anyone. For a film as small scale as this, I felt it wouldn't be fair to put actors through this if we couldn't offer them anything monetarily. Now then, I cast most of the roles myself, and I looked for several things. Firstly and most importantly, I checked out the actor's resumes. I wanted to see the extent of their acting training, more then anything else. Most of our cast are professional Hollywood actors starting out in the business, some have even had small roles in major productions. But their acting training was important, and all our cast have exemplary resumes. For example, Mark Cross (our Batman) has two college degrees I acting, as well as the usual acting school honors. Secondly, I tried to look for actors which resembled their characters, at least vaguely, as best I could. I feel we got the mix as right as possible, certainly as good as W.B. have thus far. And of course, the actors had to agree to work for free, most had no problem with it, due to the quality of the script.
AJ: Is their anyone on your production new to Batman? How many people on the production are fans of the character?
Fabio2: Well, I'm a huge fan, of course, and so is the director. Most of the on-set crew are fans, generally, as well. Most of the cast are familiar with the character through the movies, but I can say that Bill Winter (Alfred in our film) is quite a big fan. He surprised me with his knowledge of the character and the mythos, and he's really thrilled to be a part of this film, which is a thrill for me as well.
AJ: One of the biggest criticisms about the movies stems from the casting of the main heroes. For instance, we had Michael Keaton as Batman and Nicolas Cage in the upcoming SUPERMAN LIVES. Both actors, of which can be said, were miscast. Was there a formal casting for roles? Did you set certain requirements for some of the roles as in "To be Batman you have to be 6'2 to 6'5" etc.
Fabio2: Yes, I had physical characteristics in mind when I was casting, but I mostly looked for the best actors I could find, and who didn't mind working for free (they will be fed though J) Those were the basic elements I looked for when casting the lead roles. It was pure luck that our Batman - Mark Cross - turned out to be 6'4". For the smaller roles, I actually advertised in professional casting websites, and I listed the age and physical characteristics that were requirements of each role. Actors would answer those advertisements, and through various processes, I narrowed them down to those whom were cast.
AJ: How much is the film going to be close to the comics? Can we expect some tinkering?
Fabio2: I see the film as being a cross between the official W.B. movies, the comics and the animated series. As I said, I wrote this script as a sequel to the official series, but also as a way to fix their problems, mainly from the last film. So, this is Batman after he's been Batman for several years. He's in his prime, he's experienced, he's clever, he's the best. But, the friendship between Batman and Commissioner Gordon is carrying over from the comics. We're not ignoring that important part of the mythos like W.B. did. But, as with all live-action adaptation, there is some slight tinkering. Scarecrow's comic book origin is still intact, but I added to it for the film. Harley Quinn is in the film as well, but her origin is totally different, so as to fit within the Scarecrow plotline. I think it works very well. Nightwing (formerly Robin) and Batgirl are carried over from the previous film, but they're both given a comic book spin, which I feel corrects the mistakes from the last two films.
AJ: To date, what percentage of the film is complete?
Fabio2: Not much. Two short scenes, between Commissioner Gordon/Sgt. Harvey Bullock and Gordon/Mayor Marion Grange, were shot in January 2000. Since then, some basic exterior establishing shots, both in L.A. and Australia, have been completed, with shooting with the actors set to start any time now.
AJ: What is the standpoint of Warner Brothers and DC on the production?
Fabio2: They don't know about it, and that's the way I like it.
AJ: Are you at all concerned that some fans may shun your film as it is not an "official Batman film?" What do you plan on doing in the hopes of gaining a massive fan following?
AJ: Not concerned at all, this film was basically being made by us for us, as a way of gaining experience in the world of filmmaking, and to see how good a Batman film we can make. Once we really started getting the ball rolling, I was personally intrigued to see how good a film we could achieve with next to no budget.
AJ: How do you plan on distributing the film?
Fabio2: Not sure how the director feels, he's changed his mind a few times, but I would like to distribute the film on a very small scale. This film is a labor of love by fans, and I've received so much praise and support for working on this film by some fans, that I'd like to repay them by distributing the film to them. I figure the regular fans on my message forum will be the main viewers of this film.
AJ: Finally I'd like to end this interview by throwing out some names and you respond by giving a word or thought that comes to mind when you hear them.
AJ: Bob Kane
Fabio2: The creator of the greatest character.
AJ: Dennis O' Neil
Fabio2: Great writer, somewhat more slack as an editor, in terms of continuity.
AJ: Tim Burton
Fabio2: A quirky director totally unsuited to Batman.
AJ: Michael Keaton
Fabio2: good actor, funny, good Batman, poor Bruce Wayne.
AJ Jeewa: Joel Schumacher
Fabio2: a good director who made some very bad choices with Batman.
AJ: George Clooney
Fabio2: I'm a fan, could have been a great Batman, but wasn't.
AJ: Val Kilmer
Fabio2: bland actor, but not a bad Batman/Bruce Wayne.