I managed to grab Chris Blundell, creator of the upcoming feature The Hit Squad, for a chat…
My first question is why? What prompted you to come up with the idea?
I’m a musician, I’ve always had a love for that cheesey sound of synthesisers and drum machines and wanted to write a fun 80s inspired album. So I drew up an idea for a concept album of a washed up 80’s band making a new album. Before I knew it, I was drawing characters, writing back stories and it suddenly hit me to make it into a cartoon. Some bits of the film are based on my own experiences in the ridiculous music industry world. There are so many ridiculous stories I could tell that I could write a quadrilogy of movies about The Hit Squad.
What were you doing before The Hit Squad?
Music! Gigging, writing, recording. I just got bored of the whole process. I love music, but there’s people out there like Muse and Pendulum that are making these concept albums that go across different types of media. The Hit Squad is like that… But with swearing cartoon characters.
How is it all put together? Talk us through the process?
I sat down and wrote 10 half hour scripts, for a Family Guy-type series. When I started discussing it with TV companies, most of them just said “You don’t need us, you can do this yourself, you dont need cameras, sets, lighting etc…” And they’re right, I’d already dabbled with pixel-art and got myself drawing the characters and animating them. The first 3 scripts were re-written to work as a movie and now we’re just about to hit production. I use a custom videogame engine to work and animate the characters, then I fine tune the animation in After Effects. I’ve made sure that it’s all authentic, everything is 256 colours and 8 bit resolution. I transfer it all into HD later on to make sure all the edges are crisp and sharp. There are easier ways of doing it, this is just the way it works for me.
The one thing I always remember is the line “Do It Yourself”. If I need something done, I’ll try and do it myself before asking someone else to do it. It works for ultra-low budget films, actors doubling up as sound people, editors doubling up as camera people.
What 1980s music/computers/games etc. are in your blood?
Oh god, I was born in the mid 80’s so I missed a lot the first time around, but I’ve caught up thanks to the ‘net! Everything from Caddyshack to Escape From New York, from Van Halen to Falco, from ZX Spectrum to NES. There’s a certain charm to the times when people like John Carpenter can write, direct and compose a whole Hollywood film or that a team of 5 people can make a blockbuster videogame or have a hit record, no matter how ugly you are!
Have you received feedback, ideas, etc on your website?
Through Facebook, Twitter and all the usual networks, I get feedback and criticism (yep, before I even release the film, people still let you know if they think something is taking the wrong direction!). Its nice to be able to leak certain bits of the film out and get a reaction from the public, especially when you’re making most of it yourself.
What are you hoping for when it’s out?
I’m going to take a stand for its release, I want a simultaneous release on DVD, internet and cinema. It’s outrageous that noone has done it before. People pirate films because they don’t want to wait. I don’t want to wait 3 months before I see Hot Tub Time Machine go from cinema to DVD. And if I order a DVD, don’t want to wait 3 days before I can watch the film! So what’s the answer? You buy The Hit Squad DVD, you get a digital copy of the film as soon as the DVD is shipped, you want to watch it the day its released in the cinema, it will be available on the net, immediately.
What will we expect when we see The Hit Squad?
We’re aiming for October 2010, but a few film companies have contacted us, so we’re seeing what they can provide for us which may mean a little later.
Can you tell about any future projects?
Other than The Hit Squad? I’m certainly concentrating on this for the foreseeable future, but I have some ideas for something a little more sci-fi for 2011
Any films you have seen that have left a lasting impression with you?
I could give you a list as long as your arm. Geek-comedies like Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz really hit my spot. Requiem For a Dream, I watched once and it still bums me out when I think about it. Oh and every zombie movie ever made.
Anything you want to get off your chest right now ?!
Don’t watch Survive Style 5+ starring Vinnie Jones. It’s not worth 2 hours of your time.
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