Introducing: Thomas Farr – the award winner of Best Film at the FanFilm Awards 2016.
We’re all begging to know: how did you recreate the 1970s film quality in Aquaman: in the cast of Angler?
My earliest memories of a childhood is getting out of bed and running to the television to watch the original Batman series on TV. It was very campy and fun ( I actually still like the original series better than the new Batman movies). Growing up a child of the 70s, watching all the films and TV Shows of the time, they all seemed to be funny and campy with action. CGI wasn’t really around. So, I felt, let’s try and have the audience laugh with us and not at us. I guess, Batman, Buck Rogers in the 25th century, The Six Million Dollar Man and Saturday Morning cartoons like Shazam were my inspiration. I think my childhood memories bleed into the film making style of Aquaman in the Cast of the Angler. I don’t think Jeff Klein (co-writer- producer-director) and I were trying to re-create the 1970s film quality. I think it was just the way we saw the show from living through the 70s.
We’re introduced into the film with a cartoon. Why did you choose the style of animation for the film?
Originally, we had written a thirty page script that would have probably cost about a million dollars to produce correctly. We were winging the financing. Paying the bills as they hit us. The film eventually cost around 10 grand to finish. We talked to an Artist and described how we wanted to tell the origin of Aquaman through art. He did a really nice job on the art and worked for free. My partner on the film, Jeff Klein, found him at UCLA. The guy was nice but a little off in a funny way. I remember we were at UCLA going over the art work with him. The Artist disappeared and came back dressed like Peter Pan. He was wearing blue contacts. The Artist was obsessed with Peter Pan. He wanted to make a Pan movie before Michael Jackson did. We really just did the animated beginning so we could try and tell a somewhat complete story for basically just the cost of the film. It was a lot cheaper that trying to film the scenes.
Where are the original Cast now?
Gordon Goodman, is a very successful stage actor. He is also a Doctor. Gordon works a lot with director Ted Lange (Issac from the Love Boat) on his stage plays. The main henchman (the guy that gets grabbed by the groin and thrown off the pier), Tom Deweir, became a very famous Stunt Man and Coordinator. The Dolphins, escaped Sea World, and now live in Hawaii. The Editor of the film, James Melkonian, went on to direct, “The Stoned Age” and The Jerky Boys: The Movie”. The Director of Photography, Dana Dru Evenson, went on to be a famous Stunt Woman. Another Cameraman DP, Dino Parks, went on to work on TV and Film shows in the Camera Dept.
What challenges did you experience in making Aquaman: in the cast of Angler?
It was an up hill battle trying to make this film. Jeff and I produced the film as our advanced film production project at California State University, Northridge. Jeff and I had worked well together on a film school project just before Aquaman. So, we decided to work together for this class. One day, after valet parking a golf tournament in Pacific Palisades, I went down to the beach and went for a swim. That’s when it came to me “Aquaman”. I told Jeff and he immediately said “YES, we are gonna make “Aquaman”. I remember, I was writing the script in my dorm room and one of the other people in the group called me up and told me that he didn’t want me in the group. I was like “Right dude, I came up with the idea”. I finished the script and the group got an “A” on it. That guy (don’t recall his name) did not go on with the project. It was a two semester class. Writing the script the first semester. And filming the production the next semester. Jeff is unstoppable. The film would have never been completed without him. He wrangled the locations at Sea World and Marineland. The beginning of the film making was a disaster. We had filmed at Scripps Pier in La Jolla. All our footage was ruined by a camera leak (we shot 16MM). This was before the digital age. We had to go back and re-shoot everything. The Sound Man was just a student and the quality was awful. We ended up doing ADR for almost every line in the short film. The students in class would laugh at our dailies and were real haters. Our professor, brought Jeff and I into his office and told us to give up on the film. Well, thank goodness we didn’t quit.
About three years later, CSUN had a film festival of all the films ever produced at the school. The Top Five were chosen. Aquaman was in the Top Five and was the last film shown at the festival. The response was amazing. We also won Best Fantasy Film from the Los Angeles Teachers Association. And by the way, the Professor that told us to quit, gave us an “A” on the film and introduced the film at the festival.
This looks like an episode. Are there more?
We would love to make a sequel. I wrote the sequel script last year. Jeff and Gordon are down to do it. It really comes down to time and finding the money to make the show happen. Maybe a kickstarter campaign could work? What do you think? Jeff is a wiz at CGI (nowadays), so I know we can produce something really cool for not too much money. But not too much money is still a lot of money. Probably need 25k to 50k to pull off something worth going for. I hope it happens. It would be one of the best fan film ever. I think at least. DC Comics actually gave us permission to shoot the film (Thanks Jenette Kahn DC Comics 1979-2002) The movie was pirated and sold as a TV pilot. I accidentally found it at a comic book convention in the 90’s (as a double feature with another super hero pilot). After the film was screened we had a few Hollywood companies approach us wanting to make Aquaman into a show. New World Pictures brought us into meeting, optioned the material, and basically didn’t talk to us afterwards. The show never happened. Jeff and I will always be proud of the film.
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