life, drums, family

The making of: AWESOME SUPERHERO MOVIE…

ASM thum sq

This is a project that my 6 year old son, Taiyo, and I decided to do while we were together in Caldwell, Idaho.  I was there to be with my father in his final days, may he rest in peace, and Taiyo was there with me for a month, before he left to go to Japan, where he is now attending elementary school.

We used LEGOs that Taiyo had mostly gotten for late Christmas presents, and because Grammie loves to spoil him, as a Grandmother should!   While there, we watched Big Hero 6, and Box Trolls, and those films got us fired up to make our own movie.  Originally I thought it would be about a 5 minute short movie, but it took on a life of it’s own, and became twice that long.

It began with talking about the concept of a “becoming superheros” movie.  They needed a reason.  With our imaginations leading us, and a bit of focused direction, we quickly had a basic outline of the movie.  From there, we did some rough story boarding, and determined what sets we would have to make, and the basic vibe we wanted for each scene.  We began some early stop-motion tests, and watched some tutorials online for “brick films” (I guess that’s what they call LEGO stop motion animation films).   We built the first set- the mountain scene, worked out our lighting, and got to work.  The rest was learning in action-  each day we would shoot some scenes, and at the end of the day, I would make rough edits for what we had shot that day.  So we were learning what was working, and what wasn’t.  Then we had some dialogue to shoot, and so had to figure out what each character’s voice was.  Taiyo wanted to do the voice of Golden Claw, and that was it, so it was up to me to come up with the voices for everybody else.  He helped in the development of each voice, and would tell me when I was getting it right.  I had a lot of fun using the ‘pitch up and pitch down’ features on iMovie for iPad, which, by the way, this whole thing was edited using only my iPad.  While I was definitely finding out what it’s limits were, I was very surprised by what you can do on that little device.

Very quickly, it was time to take Taiyo to Seattle where he was going to take his first solo flight to Japan.  This meant that all of the stop-mo and Taiyo’s dialogue had to be done!  So our shooting schedule got a bit intense towards the end.  But we made it.  Taiyo flew to Japan, and I was left with a bunch of little scraps of film that we had cut, and a whole lot more work to do.

We were getting ready to sell all of my dad’s tools, and I thought it would be cool to record the sounds of all of his tools to use as sound effects in the film, so I went into the garage, and did just that.  A lot of the sound effects that you hear in the film are dad’s old drills, table saws, grinders, chunks of metal, boxes of screws, and whatever else I could make sounds out of.   The rest of the sound effects were done in my house here in Orlando, and having this all on my iPad meant that I could just cary it around the house with me, and use the sounds in whichever room sounded the best.   It was a really fun process for me to do the foley work like that-  finding sounds to match the film was great fun, because my world is sound, and I feel like I have a knack for doing this stuff.

Then came the music.  The theme song for this movie is the first actual song that I’ve ever written.  And yes there are only about 5 words to the entire song, but it was pretty thrilling to come up with a melody, and then chords, and send off a demo version with my horrible singing to Matt Bloodwell only to have him send me back some killer vocals that I could then add to the track that I had been working on in the mean time-  and play live drums to- (yes I realize this is a long ol’ run-on sentence, but that’s what the process felt like) – and come out on the other end with a track that I think sounds close to pro, and like it could actually be a theme song for a TV show or something!  I can’t tell you how much fun I had.   And the other tracks just kind of came together as well-  it was really cool having a movie to score like that, and of course, I’m the director here as well, so nobody’s going to tell me that it wasn’t right!

I also video recorded myself playing drums along with the theme song, and the segment I call: ‘BeSuperher0s’, so I’ll be making videos of that for my youtube channel.

The last track “SuperFreeky” is a play on the song, “I fink u freeky” by Die Antwoord.  I changed it around, and kind of made it my own, but if you hear the original, you’ll see exactly where the main line comes from.  I’m not going to claim that I just made that one up out of thin air, and I’ll just call it a ‘parody’ of the original.  I also had a lot of fun doing that track.  Doing the whole thing pitched up as Kenji, the main character in the film, was really fun.  It allowed me to get out of myself a bit, and take on this other persona, which was a blast.

Overall, I probably spent waaaaaaaay too much time on this whole thing, but I don’t regret any of it-  I’ve learned so much along the way, and had a blast doing it.  It’s been really fun showing this to different groups of my friends and co-workers.  It’s interesting to see how different people find different parts of it funny.   The first time Yuki and Taiyo saw the whole thing, I was on Skype with them, so I got to see their reactions to the whole thing-  that made it all worth while.

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2 responses

  1. Thats great Rion. Hope we get to see the final product. You just might have started your son on a path to some type of movie making career. – 🙂

    May 23, 2015 at 9:59 am

  2. June

    Great article! I’m glad you wrote this. The movie is beyond description! Loved every second of it, especially the music and sound effects.

    May 23, 2015 at 4:03 pm

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