Exclusive Sandy Collora Interview[Date: July 30, 2004]
Sandy Collora is the creator of the highly acclaimed fan film "Batman: Dead End" and the Movie Trailer "World's Finest".
The Superman Homepage would like to thank Sandy for agreeing to do this interview, and for fitting it into his busy schedule.
THE INTERVIEWQ: Can you please tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
A: I grew up in NY and Moved to Southern California when I was 17. My very religious, very Italian parents named me Santo, which means saint. Go figure... I live at the beach and like to surf, fish, and dive when I'm not working. When I have time off, I like to travel and go surfing. Brazil, Fiji, Samoa, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Mexico are some of my favorite destinations. I'm also into skateboarding, skydiving and base jumping. Throwing yourself out of a plane or off a building is the closest to being Superman you'll ever get. I guess that all started when I jumped off the roof of my garage when I was 5 with a red towel tied around my neck. When they asked what my name was at the emergency room, I said Clark Kent... I figured it'd go over better than Santo... Anyway, I hate Mondays, love rainy and cloudy weather, my favorite color is sea foam green, and I usually don't wear shoes.
Q: How did you go about getting into film making? Where did you study?
A: I started working for Stan Winston when I moved here in 1987, I just learned a lot from watching the talented people there. I eventually went on to work at other studios and eventually got to work on the set. That's where I learned the most, watching guys like Jim Cameron and Steven Spielberg work, was better than any film school I could ever go to. I was basically just the annoying kid who got to set five hours early and stayed to help wrap out, asking everyone from the DP to the Grips all sorts of questions. Eventually, I got involved with the film program at UCLA and made my first short film there... Right after that, I started directing commercials and music videos.
Q: Would you recommend that others join the movie industry?
A: I would recommend anyone doing what makes them happy and what they feel most passionate about. If that's working in the movies, go for it. It's definitely something that is not by any means easy, but the rewards of seeing the outcome of what you're doing when it really works are without measure. The movie industry is a very odd entity, I've been working in it now for over 15 years in varying aspects of it, and I'm no closer to figuring out how it really works than I was when I started...
Q: Have you always been a comic book fan?
A: Absolutely, they're the first things I ever read. I remember when I was 7 or 8, I got my tonsils taken out, and when I was in the hospital recovering, everyone brought me comic books and mego's. It was awesome, all I did was eat ice cream and read comics the whole time. I also have fond memories of the Star Wars comics, they got a little nutty when the green rabbit showed up, but they were cool. It was one of my favorite titles at that time in the late 70's along with Batman, the Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Avengers and the X-Men.
Q: What was your reasoning behind making "Batman: Dead End" and "World's Finest"?
A: There were a lot of reasons, actually. That's a whole other interview in and of itself, but mostly just to do something with the superheroes I grew up with, re-live my childhood, so to speak. It was cool, instead of playing with mego's, I had life size heroes walking around. Quite the jump... But in many ways it was no different. The same passion, love, and vigor that I had as a child was running rampant on the set. With every frame of film that passed through the camera, there were enjoyable moments, funny things that happened and sentimental stuff I remembered clear as day from being a kid... It was a really fulfilling experience, but almost melancholy in an odd sort of way...
Q: How did you manage to fund, what appear to be, expensive projects like "Batman: Dead End" and "World's Finest"?
A: Most of the money comes from me personally, mostly from doing artwork (Right now, I'm doing some Doctor Doom designs for the new Fantastic Four movie) and directing commercials... I also have an incredible group of talented, supportive and very tolerant friends and family who contribute in many ways to these productions. It's very much a team effort on all fronts.
Q: Did Warner Bros. or DC Comics ever contact you in regards to these 2 films? Either negatively or positively? Were you ever concerned about legal ramifications?
A: Not at all, at least not yet anyway... Nothing from the legal dept. Artists, executives, and other people I know working for both DC and WB, love the films and have been incredibly complimentary and supportive. Sure, we were a bit concerned, but both films are done with the deepest respect and the highest regard for not only the integrity of the characters, but for WB as well. Also, no money whatsoever is generated by these films, they are purely labors of love, done simply for the sake of making them, learning, sharing, growing and having fun doing it.
Q: Did you get any contacts in the film business from your "Batman: Dead End" short film? I've heard nothing but "Get this guy on Batman!" from all who have seen the movie.
A: Sure... I'm traveling in circles now, that are quite different. I've been very fortunate over the past year to get a great agent and meet an incredible group of executives and producers with major studios who really enjoyed the film, and want to be in business together. I have a select few projects that I'm currently developing that I'll be involved in at different levels. It's been a very interesting year... Actually, very recently, it's become even more so...
Q: How did the success of "Batman: Dead End" impact you?
A: Well, it was very unexpected. All of us were just totally stunned that it got that out of control, on both of them actually. I'm still in awe at how many downloads "Dead End" gets after one whole year, and now with "World's Finest", it's happening all over again. It's kind of surreal... People recognize me all over the place "Hey, you're the guy who did that Batman movie..." It was actually hard getting through the Con this year, I just wanted to enjoy the show, buy toys, eat hot dogs and pretzels and see some panels, but every 50 feet, someone was stopping me, wanting to talk or asking for an autograph or a photo... Crazy. It's all been very humbling and so incredibly appreciated. Without the support of the fan base, we wouldn't be enjoying all this success. They're the ones who really made the movies what they are, not us.
Q: How long did it take to shoot the "World's Finest" Trailer? How many people worked on this project?
A: The shoot was three days. We spent 12,000 dollars, and had a very talented, very fast crew of about 30 people.
Q: How did you go about casting the actors in "World's Finest"? Was there an auditioning process or did you already know who you wanted?
A: What's funny, is that before I'd even met Mike, I saw a picture of him in a bodybuilding magazine and colored his hair with a black sharpie, drew in the spit curl, and put a big S on his chest. The producers, Simon Tams and Daren Hicks just looked at it, smiled, and went "Oh no, not again..." It all kind of started from there. Of course, I'd bring back Clark to reprise his role as the dark knight, and I thought Kurt Carley, who played the Predator in Dead End, would make a great Lex. I'd either worked with the other actors before, or they were friends of people on the production. There were no auditions per se'.
Q: Was there anything you or somebody else wanted to include in "World's Finest" that didn't make it in the final cut?
A: There's always tons of that stuff, I had so many cool ideas for shots and scenes I wanted to do, but there's only so much time and so much money. A big part of being a director, even on the small scale I've been fortunate enough to do it on, is making decisions, choosing what to shoot, when, where how and why. Not being able to shoot everything I really want to has just become part of how I work, it forces me to be precise, prepared and expeditious on the set.
Q: Many fans have commented on the "Superman catching and lifting car" scenes in "World's Finest". Can you tell us how these scenes were achieved?
A: My multi talented, multi tasking producer, Simon Tams rigged the truck on a crane and put Mike underneath it, he'd lift it as the crane brought it up, or hung on to the chassis as it was lowered to the ground. For the shot when he takes off with it, we just sped up the shot where he lands and ran it in reverse. The shot where he catches it was done by Neal Adams and Continuity studios. They used what we shot as plates and then removed the truck and made it fall on Mike, making it look like he was catching it. In the amount of time they had to do it, I thought it looked pretty amazing... Thanks Neal!
Q: Is there something in particular about "World's Finest" that you are personally most proud of?
A: My extremely talented and dedicated cast and crew. Without a great DP who can move fast and still make stuff look amazing... talented, experienced producers that have your back... And a support team of exceptionally gifted artisans and craftsmen, a director is just one guy standing alone in the dark amidst all the equipment and stuff.
Q: Is there something in particular about "World's Finest" that you would have liked to improve on or change?
A: I would have liked to have had the budget and time to spend on the flying stuff, maybe do some wire work and some more involved CG. I also wish we had more balloons!!!
Q: How has the reaction from fans been? How important is the Internet to your career?
A: The reaction has been mostly very positive. I get tons of emails and letters from all over the world from the fans saying really nice things, so does Clark, and now Mike is starting to be flooded with them. But there's always a small of group of super nitpicky, nay sayers out there in cyberspace who really bash the films and get very negative, and in some cases, even vindictive. It's part of the game, you have to take the good with the bad and accept the opinions of all people toward your work, and kind of take them from where they come. The bottom line is, they're ALL seeing it and commenting on it... Talking about it on all the boards and talkbacks, which is good. I'm very thankful and appreciative to everyone who downloaded and watched the film, whether they liked it or not.
Q: You've teamed up with "Hellboy" and "Blade 2" director Guillermo Del Toro on what you hope will be your feature film directorial debut. Can you tell us more about this project?
A: Guillermo is one of the coolest people I've ever met, and an immense talent. He's a big "Dead End" and "World's Finest" fan, we wanted to work on something together, so he's co-producing a film that I will direct in the near future with "Hellboy" and "Watchmen" producers Lloyd Levin and Larry Gordon. The project is called "Offworld", and the script by David Leslie Johnson, is one of the best I've ever read. I'm really fired up about the whole thing, to be associated with so many talented and respected people in the industry is truly a gift.
Q: You cast Michael O'Hearn as Superman in "World's Finest". Who would you like to see play Superman on the big screen in the up-coming Superman movie?
A: Michael O'Hearn.
Q: What do you think of the Superman Homepage?
A: It's, well... SUPER! It's great to see someone so dedicated to all things Superman.
Q: Thanks for allowing me to interview you!
A: The pleasure's mine. Thank you for giving us some exposure on your cool corner of the web... It's greatly appreciated.
This interview is Copyright © 2004 by Steven Younis. It is not to be reproduced in part or as a whole without the express permission of the author.