A Marvel-ous Movie
The making of our short film, "Mr. Marvelous"
It was a cold December night, a week or so before Christmas, day two of four on production. The shoot had run a little long, as they tend to do, but we were going to make our day (a point of pride of mine is we always make our days). It was around midnight after a long day of filming inside Mitch's house, and we had to get some shots of him in tights and bathrobe running barefoot down the street.
Mitch had previously questioned whether he had to be barefoot or not running down the street. I initially was just thinking of the cold, but later realized it is a bit of a hazard with rocks and glass and whatnot that might be in the road. It's a hard thing for anyone to do. It's even harder when it's below freezing, and you're trying not to alert the neighbors while prancing around late at night in purple tights.
We not only had to do this exercise on Mitch's own street, where he at least, knew the neighbors if anyone were to become alarmed, but after we got those shots, we had to go find a better street/neighborhood with more Christmas lights for some additional shots.
Mitch did a lot of barefoot running that night. And we made our day.
It's usually only in retrospect that any of these things sound strange. We're accustomed to the pursuit of the weird and unlikely. I have a habit of putting my actors in pretty humiliating circumstances, as those are the kind of characters I'm drawn too. Our day job is to make people look good. Nights and weekends are for the absurd. This was all just another day of Moviesauce.
Of course it can be hard to ask people to do a lot of the things I ask people to do. This is why our filmmaking team has a lot of repeat cast/crew that have largely just become a big group of friends and family. Once somebody trusts you to light their arm on fire without a pyrotechnic specialist or medic on set, that creates a lifelong bond (see our first movie, "Getting Outer Space").
Mitch has been a clown and a bank robber, a cowboy, a "pumpkin man" with a pumpkin on his head, but most notably, Mr. Marvelous.
While most of our stuff leans toward comedy, Mr. Marvelous was a long gestating attempt at dramatic genre filmmaking. In this case the genre of superhero, more "The Batman" than "The Avengers" despite the allusion in the name to Marvel. We're always challenging ourselves and trying to do new things. MM was really a way for me to try and make the kind of superhero movie I want to see.
The pitch was a mix between "The Incredibles" with the idea of a retired superhero with a normal job (in this case mall santa), and "The Wrestler" with the idea of a washed up character who has fallen from grace, struggling to live a normal life (and who used to have his own action figure).
In other words, a character driven superhero movie that wasn't really about the fights or special effects though we have a little of that. Shout out to Jessie who did special effects make-up, built our superhero costume from scratch, and even 3D-printed the MM action figure.
Mitch, as an avid superhero fan, definitely wanted more of the traditional superhero glory, but was committed to my vision of the opposite. It was an unflattering, but deeply human character with very few lines. Mitch really brought the character to life, playing perhaps not the hero he deserved, but the one that I needed him to play.
We had a strong festival response to the short, from our hometown Louisiana Film Prize, to festivals in Omaha and San Francisco.
And even some decent published reviews:
There's certainly more of that story to tell one day - be it through a series or a movie, but it's going to require a bit more resources than we're used to managing on our own to pull it off.
Watch the full short film here: