We here at Filmotomy love supporting indie filmmakers, and we were giving the exclusive opportunity to speak to film director, James Atkins, about his highly amusing short film Bragging Rights. The short film follows three superheroes who happen to be roomies, and get into a bragging match about who has done the most heroic deed, which get more and more ludicrous as they all try to outdo each other. There are many laugh out loud moments, and by the end you’ll be wanting to see more of these characters, they and their world are very well developed.
It felt like Spaced meets the Avengers, and personally speaking I hope James makes a follow up to Bragging Rights because this is such a highly original concept. Anyway, without any further ado, let’s crack on with our interview!
Bianca Garner: How did you come up with the concept and the story.
James Atkins: I watched the Monty Python sketch ‘The four Yorkshiremen’ where the sketch has them saying more and more absurd things about how their deprived childhoods were, and that inspired me. I knew that it couldn’t just be a reverse of that, so I included more diverse characters and some story threads.
BG: How did you develop your characters, for example were they based on anyone you know? And, how did you decide on their powers as well (I love how original their powers were).
JA: To make the comedy work the brags about the superhero activities each day had to be more and more ridiculous. The characters also could not be copies of existing heroes so I decided to make them practically omnipotent, and effectively able to do anything. When Marcus (Professor Tomorrow) got his costume with the front zip we decided to use that heavily as a flirtation device, and Francesca’s (Ms Stupendous) costume I knew she would want to get out of upon getting home, so I again used that as a plot device. For Nikolas (Captain Awesome) I wanted to show him relaxing at home, so he was dressed casually, but I also wanted the audience to see he’d had a long day fighting crime, so Kirsty (our make-up artist) made him look beaten up.
BG: What films/TV Shows/Comic books etc. influenced you? I picked up on the British sitcom Spaced, and Monty Python but was there anything else?
JA: My favourite comedies are Spaced, Red Dwarf and The IT Crowd, so that influenced me a lot. I also like superhero films but some are a bit generic and repetitive, so I tried to keep away from that.
BG: What was the process of finding your crew, and had you ever worked with them before?
JA: Some of the crew I knew from previous short films I have been on myself as a member of the crew, either as a continuity/script supervisor or director. The others I found from Facebook and job sites like Mandy.com and shootingpeople.com. I was incredibly lucky to get extremely talented and professional people to help me out, especially as there was no budget so they only got fed.
BG: What about you cast, how did you find them and have you ever worked with them before Bragging Rights?
JA: I had never worked with any of the cast before, and I found them on shootingpeople.com and starnow.com. I was so lucky to find four great actors, who were totally committed to bringing out the stupidity of the film, and some of the dialogue I gave them was very hard (Demon Zulugooglanar and kangerooligan being particularly challenging on the day). It was also a very windy day which made the outside news broadcast difficult for sound but also for Clare’s hair!
BG: Are you able to tell me a little bit more about the shooting experience. For example how did you find your location?
JA: We had a lot of difficulty finding London locations when there was no budget. In the end we use Toby Osmonds (co-producer) mums house. That was quite a squeeze.
BG: I bet it was! I really loved the actors makeup and costume designs, are you able to talk to me about that process?
JA: Kirsty Graham of FX Gremlin Productions, our makeup artist, did an amazing job. She gave me all kinds of examples of what she could do before the shoot, so working with her was fantastic. The costume design was all me and spending hours om amazon.co.uk finding different and original options.
BG: Have you entered any festivals, and what has been the general feedback from audiences?
JA: The film has screened all over the world, but mainly at American Comic Cons, where it has been screened at well over a dozen events. It has also been nominated for a few best comedy and acting awards, although it sadly hasn’t won anything yet. The feedback has been generally positive, and when I have been able to attend screenings it’s great to hear people laugh at the right times.
BG: Do you have any plans to revisit these characters?
JA: The film will be at festivals until the end of the summer then the intention is to put it online. If the online audience likes it then I have a few ideas for further stories for the characters, and expanding the universe to include the villains and their henchmen.
BG: Oh, great stuff! I believe you have another project in the works. Are you able to give us us a brief synopsis about the film’s storyline?
JA: The Promise Goblin is a dark comedy about one of Santa’s helpers who works on the naughty list. When he finds out that Santa delivered presents to kids on the naughty list he is furious and confronts Santa about the consequences of his actions. Eventually he steals Santa’s sleigh and begins stealing the bad children’s presents.
BG: Are you able to explain about the pre-production of the film?
JA: With self funded films this is always challenging, however I have now cast our 3 principal actors and have had an amazing opening narration provided by Russell Biles. We are now looking for supporting actors, and have to find a office and a house we can shoot it.
BG: And lastly, here’s a fun question, if you had to have any superpower what would you want?
JA: The ability to eat fried chicken and chocolate without putting on weight would be great. Anything more ‘super’ than that and the government would probably come after me.
BG: Thanks for taking the time for answering our questions and we wish you the best of luck with your next project.
Readers can follow James via Twitter at @JamesAtkins101 and check out his