Captain America Goes to War in ‘The Fighting Avenger’ Fan Film [Video]
Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger will be hitting theaters later this summer, but we’ve got something that’ll hopefully make that wait a little easier and maybe even get you more excited for the final product. This week marked the release of the fan film The Fighting Avenger. Made by Wayside Creations, the same team behind Fallout: Nuka Break, the short film looks at Cap through the eyes of a squad of American G.I.s in desperate need of a heroic rescue during a battle of World War II.
You’ll find The Fighting Avenger below, as well as ComicsAlliance’s interview with director and co-writer Julian Higgins. We’ve got details on how the film was made as well as its connections to the recent similarly named Captain America: The Fighting Avenger one-shot comic book by Brian Clevinger and Gurihiru. Higgins’ account of just how difficult it can be to make a short fan film is harrowing, and definitely of interest to aspiring filmmakers.
ComicsAlliance: Julian, what led to your involvement with Indymogul.com and “The Fighting Avenger?”
Julian Higgins: I’m one of the directors/editors for Backyard FX, which is a movie special effects do-it-yourself web series on Indymogul.com. Back in February of 2010, Zack [Finfrock, one of the co-writers and actors in The Fighting Avenger] suggested that we submit an audition video to be the new hosts of the show after Erik Beck, the original host, announced he was leaving. Flash-forward to today and we’ve been the creative team behind the show for just a little over a year now. It’s been amazing to be given the reigns of such an awesome web series that has a large, passionate fan base. We’ve been very lucky to have their support so far!
CA: Why Captain America? I know that this was done as a test film for the War Movie Month contest at Indymogul. And it’s also a character a lot of fans are getting excited about seeing in a big summer action film later in the year. But was there any other special reason for picking Cap as a figure to build a larger story and cast of characters around?
JH: I’ve always been a bit of a WWII history buff, myself. The history, the literature, the movies. I even did some WWII reenacting as a hobby back in high school. So when we decided to do an entire month of war-themed props and effects for War Movie Month, I pushed the idea that Zack make them all WWII-era props/weapons. Mostly because I just wanted to have a crack at directing a WWII project again. On top of that, with the Captain America feature coming out later this year, it seemed like a natural choice to tie-in one of the most kick-ass Avengers with our period piece so that all of the fellow geeks out there have a little something extra to sink their teeth into. We know how wary fans can be of comic book movies, so we wanted to try out own hand at it before the big studios came out with their version. So far, people seem to dig it!
CA: Were any particular Captain America stories an influence on this project? We’re guess that the 1990 feature film was not.
JH: Ha. I’ve never personally seen the 1990 feature film adaptation, but I’ve certainly read some… interesting reviews about it. I think most of the influence and inspiration for our take on Captain America came through Zack’s collaboration and close friendship with comic writer Brian Clevinger of Atomic Robo and 8-bit Theater fame. He also worked with us on our earlier fan film, Fallout: Nuka Break. Brian is a fantastic writer, and we wanted to pay tribute to his short-lived The Fighting Avenger comic for Marvel, even if only in name. They’ve got a plethora of comic book knowledge, and combined with the WWII knowledge of myself and our other writer/actor Aaron Giles, we came up with our final shooting script.
CA: Take us through the production process. From the initial concept to the finished film, how much time did it all take?
JH: Woo. This is a big question. Pre-production was planned on-and-off over the course of 20 days, which started with Zack coming up with the original script treatment idea and creating all of the props for the month. After that, I took the reins and arranged some local WWII reenactors to bring their gear and worked on organizing a shooting location, as well as coming up with the shot list and additional costume materials. Zack met minds with Erik early in the month, who put us in touch with Pujo Latham and Raleigh Latham who had already created a Captain America costume for their own fan-made Captain America trailer. That’s where the amazing costume came from. Then Zack added his own touch by making his own Captain America shield and helmet in the final week before shooting (The shield is soon to be a build episode on “Backyard FX”, by the way).
The actual production day was a roller coaster! After getting a late start, we drove with our 11 person cast/crew to location only to find out that it was now inaccessible by cars due to a mountain of construction dirt. All the crew/cast jumped in and worked around that problem with shovels, but we were soon shut down by a park ranger and asked to pack it up and head out. That is the kind of risk you take when you’re guerrilla shooting, so we expected it might happen. Getting shut down led us on a new location goose chase for the next hour or so through Angeles National Forest. Eventually, we managed to find a new location to use with permission on private property that turned out to be even better than our initial choice. We didn’t even get a single shot off until 6 hours before sundown! It was madness! Luckily, our cast and crew are amazing at thinking on their feet, and we managed to get the entire thing shot within those precious few hours before sunset without compromises.
This was definitely made possible by our choice to shoot with two DSLR cameras at once, one operated by myself and one operated by our director of photography, Aaron Moorhead. After production was completed, the entire post production process for the teaser trailer and final movie was about five days. The teaser took me about eight hours to cut and I edited the entire film in just under two days. Our score was masterfully created in under 48 hours by our resident film music genius, Dan Martinez. Likewise, the lion’s share of the visual effects were done in 24 hours by the incredibly multi-talented Teague Chrystie. It was certainly a lot of hard working hours by a lot of talented folks, and I couldn’t be prouder of their dedication. We just released a 15 minute “behind the scenes” video that shows all of our production day.
CA: If someone’s seen and enjoyed Nuka Break and The Fighting Avenger, what else would you point them towards?
JH: If you dig any of our fan film stuff, then you’ll most likely dig our other short videos on Wayside Creations’ youtube channel. We’re already talking about future lengthy projects in the vein of Nuka Break and The Fighting Avenger, so subscribe and be on the lookout! Likewise, we put out a new special effects build episode every Monday and a new test film every Tuesday for Backyard FX.