Thursday, July 29, 2010

Browncoats: Redemption - Interview with Michael Dougherty and Heather Fagan

Before Browncoats: Redemption neither Michael Dougherty nor Heather Fagan had worked on a fan-made production. But they certainly picked the right franchise and the right fans to appeal to. Never underestimate the power of the Firefly 'Verse and its fans, the Browncoats. I suspect they will have no trouble making money on this project. Here's another trailer to set the mood.

AW: How long have you been doing pre-production work on this film?

MD: We started back in August 2008 with an idea, pitched it to the Browncoats in September, of the same year, at Dragon*Con and then did about eight or nine solid months or pre-production from then on till we filmed in April of 2009.

AW: How long in production?

MD: It ran about four months of evenings and weekends. We were very fortunate that all of our locations, except for the ship, were pre-existing so that cut down on overall construction. We filmed the entire movie over ten or eleven days at about eighteen to twenty hours a day. We wrapped filming at the end of July 2009 and moved into post-production in August of the same year.
AW: Heather, what's the deal about the flying props?

HF: One scene required a prop gun to be thrown towards me and swatted away. Unfortunately, one of the the first throws (on the first day of filming) went a little wild, the swat didn't connect, and the hard resin gun hit my head. The entire set - the entire main cast, about 80 extras, and numerous crew members - went silent while I curled up into the fetal position. Thankfully, instead of trying to figure out how to put me back together again, we had to figure out how to put the gun back together again as it had broken into at least three pieces. Ironically, Mike took over throwing the gun, and there was another fumble later in the day where the gun hit the same spot. My mom and dad always said I was stubborn, but I guess we proved that day that I really do have a hard head.

AW: Why is the Old West and expansion into space such a cozy pairing?

HF: Before Firefly aired, I was skeptical. I remember watching some ads and wondering exactly how a space western would work. And then I saw it, and it just made sense. It's easy to see how, even with all our technology, we would go back to our roots, so to speak, when colonizing other planets.

MD: I’d have to agree with Heather on this one. Old West and Space movies/shows just visually clash, prior to Firefly/Serenity, when you think of the two.

For me, Joss created a universe that allowed you to suspend your disbelief and really think that this could be what it would be like five hundred years in the future. Because of that, you stopped focusing on the fantastical settings and the story of the people became your focus.

AW: What do each of you enjoy most about the Firefly universe?

HF: The interactions between and the growth of the characters. Plus, the characters are all pretty easy on the eyes. Joss Whedon certainly picked a pretty crew.

MD: The characters are always at the top of the list, but for me it’s the stories. Firefly gives you just enough of a story that it leaves you wanting more. You want to follow this crew and their adventures, not because you’re waiting to see what aliens they will run into, but you want to learn more about the story of each character.

AW: In what ways does Heather's character, Laura Matthews, differ from Captain Malcolm Reynolds of the TV series and Serenity (besides the obvious gender thing)?

MD: I’d have to say the choices she makes. Laura doesn’t have the deep connection to the war that drives Mal. She’s had her own experiences that shape the choices she’s made. She puts ship and crew first and not always in that order. If there’s something’s wrong with the ship or the crew, she gives them what they need to repair it. She hates being diplomatic and realizes that sometimes she’s not the best person to make the deal because of that. Laura is Mal’s opposite in many ways. I often wonder what they would be like sitting across the table from each other in a bar.

AW: Does this crew have a wild card: A mysterious crewmember or an unstable one?

MD: They have a new crew member, Petra Jo Chen, which is forced upon them because they accepted a job. The crew is mostly happy with the new addition, but she rubs Laura the wrong way because she’s loud, brash, and everything that Laura is not. I wanted to stay away from the expected “unstable” character like River. It wouldn’t make the characters special just to have them be one off’s of the original characters.

AW: Is there a new enemy or someone new behind the alliance?

MD: There are some new faces behind the Alliance that are the source of the trouble for the crew of Redemption. The ‘Verse doesn’t know that Mal is the one that sent out the signal and the Alliance is looking for a public scape goat for the trouble the signal caused them. The crew of Redemption gets caught up in the whole situation by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

AW: What can fans do to support this project? To spread the word?

MD: They can visit our website at or support us by following us on Twitter or Facebook, which can be reached through our website. This project will live and die by the Browncoats so we need their help to rally the troops to move the 32,000 DVD’s we need to make our goal in one year's time. Browncoats are pretty creative in how they get the word out to their friends and fellow fans. We want to make sure they have just enough information to help make the message their own.

AW: What did you most enjoy about Comic-Con?

MD: Everything. The biggest for me was meeting Joss Whedon in person, albeit briefly, and having him autograph the initial email where he gave his blessing on the project back in 2008 when we reached out to him. Hands down that brought home the scope and size of what this project means to me.

Second only to that is speaking to over 250 Browncoats about the film during the California Browncoats panel on Sunday. The overwhelmingly positive response we got to the film and the cameo announcements was worth the trip out. Hats off to the California Browncoats for having us out.

HF: Oh, wow. Where to start? There was just so much to take in, but I'd have to say that meeting Joss Whedon, even as brief as it was due to the size of his autograph line, was the icing on the cake for me.

AW: What surprised you about Comic-Con?

MD: That people would stop Heather and I to let us know they were aware of the film. It was completely unexpected, since we didn’t have a booth, but it means we, and the Browncoats that supported us, are doing an amazing job raising awareness of the film.

HF: Even though I had heard about the scope of things, and been warned about the sheer volume of people and things to do and see, it felt much more like an expo to me than a convention. I didn't expect that, although in retrospect I should have considering all of the big names that have booths there.

AW: Can you each tell me about the best thing you took away from the event and what you might do differently next time? You're going next time, right?

MD: We definitely have intentions of going next time. I think the biggest take away is to never underestimate San Diego Comic Con. We could have done more there to get the word out, but it was our first time there and we had no idea what was in store for us. We have some interesting ideas that we can’t wait to share, along with the film, at next years Comic Con.

HF: We're definitely already planning to go back. The best thing that I took away would be the same as I answered above (meeting Joss). As far as doing things differently next time, if there's ever something in Hall H that I'm interested in, I plan to camp out there all day, not just try to get in line three hours early. I'd also figure out how to make my shoes more comfortable. I thought my hiking boots and gel inserts were nice and comfy before the con started; little did I know that my feet would hate me by the end of the weekend. What I wouldn't do at the moment for a good foot massage!(Maybe I shouldn't admit that...)

AW: What's next for you, Heather?

HF: In addition to helping promote Browncoats: Redemption, I'll be filming an independent horror film in August for Nevermore Films called Metamorphosis. It will be directed by Todd Broadwater, who has also been the Art and Design Director for a number of games and action figure toy lines, including Oblivion and Fallout 3. I'll be playing the lead female role, the wife of a man going through a rather unique metamorphosis (hence the title).

AW: And you, Michael?

MD: Some mandated rest after the release of the DVD. Browncoats: Redemption has been my life, besides my wife and my day job, for two years. I'm not sure how I'll manage not working on something for a bit, but I would hate to go right into a new project without a fresh point of view. I have a script for one of our actors I'm working on tightening up and finishing up the outline for the script to the sequel for when we come around to it.

vote it up!

1 comment:

Maurice Mitchell said...

I love fan films and this one looks a cut above the rest. Is it me or does the guy looks exactly like Nathan Fillion?