As you will recall as part of the Glasgow Film Festival there was a showing of a fan film or followed by a panel on the making of a fan film. The film in particular which I am referring to is Judge Minty, a film which is set in the world of Judge Dredd. It tell’s the tale of an aged Judge who begins to question the nature of being a Judge and has to take the Long Walk over cursed Earth dispensing Justice to hoards of muties. One thing about the film which has garnered it quite a bit of buzz is the astounding level of effects in addition to how faithfully it renders the world of the Judges.
Being somewhat excited by the project It seemed like the perfect subject for an interview, Steven Sterlacchini the director and writer of the film was only too happy to oblige us with an interview. Here is what he had to say:
Who have been the main Influences on your work?
‘My work’ is probably a grand title for one fan film, but the things that have inspired me? It would be a shopping list of 2000AD creators, who wonderfully warped my mind at a young age. Entertaining me, whilst at the same time making me think. Big influences on me have been the art of Mick McMahon and the films of Terry Gilliam.
What have you been involved in previously?
This is the first film project I have finished. I had nearly finished another much less ambitious project when Minty started to snowball. I hope to go back and finish that off.
Favourite Comic Characters?
Dredd, Nemesis, Rogue Trooper, Halo Jones, Robusters and the usual 2000AD suspects. Marshal Law, Boba Fett, and anyone drawn by Colin Wilson.
How did you become a fan of Comics?
I used to get the Beano as a child and my older brother got 2000AD. I would often read his comic. The stories were amazing, but at that young age it was the artwork that drew me in.
Favourite Comic Moment?
There a so many to chose from. Possibly the 2000AD cover of Prog 148. Judge Dredd, drawn by Mick McMahon, stooped over with a smoking Lawgiver in hand. The line “You’re Next Punk!” was when I realised – Dredd isn’t your friend, he’s threatening and violent, if you met him, he’d most definitely arrest you.
At what point did you decide that you wanted to stage a Fan film?
I already knew that I wanted to make ‘a film’, but it was when I saw Daniel Carey-George’s beautiful Dredd props that I thought a fan film would be a good idea. Dan and I started talking about it and it made perfect sense.There was already and audience crying out for a Dredd film (this was five years ago, well before the superb Alex Garland and Pete Travis film was announced). We thought if we could make it half decent quite a few people would like to watch it. Dan then met Digital Artist Steve Green who came on board and increased the production standards ten fold.
The opportunity to work with talented people like Steve, Dan and Edmund seemed too good an opportunity to miss. The work of these people also attracted other professionals to contribute, like writer Michael Carroll, Editor Ben Woods, Sound Designer Travis Hefferen and composer Phil Oates.
And following on from that, Why did you choose Minty?
Making the story about Dredd would have been extremely difficult with little of no money. Everyone has their own preconceived ideas about the character and trying achieve something that satisfied most, if not everyone, would have been a massive undertaking. That’s why I think Karl Urban has done an amazing job bring the character to life.
I chose Minty because even though his story was only five pages and was printed decades ago, he always stood out to me. Also themes addressed in Minty’s story are echoed later in Dredd’s life, mainly doubts about the justice system and ‘The Long Walk.’
What has been the greatest hurdle in the development of Judge Minty?
Logistics and location filming were the greatest hurdle which caused the most delays. We filmed all over the country trying to get the correct location for each scene. Fellow fans traveled miles to help with the project. It often lead to the actual live action filming having to be completed very quickly. I was constantly amazed by the crew and especially the fans who volunteered to be actors. I was expecting people to be enthusiastic, but I don’t think I was expecting the level of professionalism and creativity.
How did you know Edmund Den was the right man for the part?
Steve Green, Dan and myself went through casting websites looking for the right actor. Edmund’s showreel was by far the best. We didn’t approach anyone else. If he’d said no, we may not have made the film. We knew we need someone who could portray grizzled toughness as well as tired compassion, often at the same time. The added bonus was Edmund needed very little direction, he’d read the comic and the script and we’d discussed what were trying to achieve with the character. It was ‘simply’ a matter of trying to capture his performance in the best visual way. It wasn’t until I was looking closely at the footage that I noticed how much he actually looks like Minty in the comic.
Your adaptation of the 2000AD characters is said to be very faithful, with that in mind was there anything you felt wouldn’t translate well from the comics to the screen?
We were very conscious of the uniform. We knew we could be quite faithful to the comic look, as our audience would be fans who were already well versed in the visual language of Dredd. Dan did an amazing job, creating his vision, which was an amalgam of classic artists. He carefully scaled back elements and selected the correct materials to achieve a gritty realism.
The city and the Lawmaster were also a challenge. Steve Green worked out a way we could utilize real locations and film actors ‘handheld’ then track them in with his digital work – with no budget. That’s one of the main reasons Steve also shot all of the film, as he knew the footage would have to work with the extensive digital effects he would be creating.
Sorry, I think I went off on a tangent there. “Anything that wouldn’t translate from comics to screen?” I think it might depend on what kind of film you want to make and staying consistent.
What has been the best praise you have received so far?
Praise from people like John Wagner, Mick McMahon and other 2000AD creatives has been immensely flattering. John has been very kind in mentioning the project in interviews and panels and has increased interest in the project a great deal. Names checks from Alex Garland in interviews, the Dredd film credits and ‘easter eggs’ gave everyone involved with the project a real thrill.
We have been very pleased (and relieved) by the reaction we’ve had from fellow Dredd fans. They are very knowledgeable and passionate about the character. Small references that we thought were subtle and would require multiple viewings to notice have been immediately commented upon by people.
Your film was part of the Glasgow Film Festival, Did you imagine it would develop as much of a following and if so did you have to put lot’s of effort in getting it out there
We tried to make information about the film available, without shoving it in peoples faces. We attended a few conventions and if people wanted to talk about it we were happy to share what we we doing. I started a blog, which was only really updated when something new happened. When Steve Green put up our ‘work in progress teaser trailer’ people started to get more interested.
Word of mouth has been the biggest way people have heard about the project. We’ve put effort into trying to get the film screened at conventions and festivals. To try and create a bit of a buzz outside the 2000AD community, before putting it online.
We’re amazed the film has a following, but it’s hard to know how large that is. When it goes online in May, will be the ultimate test.
Where can we see your work next?
If you mean Minty, we have about ten screenings ‘in consideration’, but none of them are guaranteed to happen. It will be online around May time. If you mean new stuff? – starting too many projects is my Achilles heal, I’ve decided to try not to think about anything else until Minty goes online.
So if you are unlucky enough not to have caught Judge Minty there is only a small wait left till you will be able to view it for yourself however you can:
Judge Minty is a NOT FOR PROFIT fan film, shown with the kind permission of 2000 AD and Rebellion Judge Dredd® is a registered trademark, © Rebellion A/S®, All rights reserved.
Judge Dredd is the Creation of John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra.