Thursday, November 19, 2009

Black Canary Fan Film Project - Blog 010: Preliminary fx test

Black Canary Fan Film Project - Blog 009: Origins & Progress

These are excerpts from the (rebooted) origin of the Black Canary, written by Alan Bennett, art by Joe Staton & Dick Giordano.

It's actually the version that we're planning on using. Don't get me started on the issue of reboots in comics- I don't mind them, but the frequency has been happening so often, it makes making any real creative attachment to any of the comics very unnappealing. Chris Claremont reportedly had been on 'X-men' as a writer voluntarily for 17 years straight- and while it's not perfect, the sense of something personal inevitably has to be part of the project, that makes the project far more interesting.

Anyhow- getting a team together in front/behind cameras is tricky. In many ways, the hours spent in hunting and tracking down comrades of like enough mind always reminds me of 'The Seven Samurai' or (the western remake) 'the Magnificent Seven' or (the scifi remake) 'Star Wars: A New Hope', wherein one gathers companions to embark on a journey with many unknowns.

But--- no matter what, it's an adventure to get to a certain destination creatively. Especially in these relatively darker times, going from the day to day life of work (or looking for work, depending on your situation) to a time of just joining others to create a waking dream in the form of video film--- it's like (at times) stepping into another dimension of make believe for awhile with others who don't mind helping out/joining you for the journey.

It may not pay the rent, but to me, in ways, it pays the creative soul in other ways.
It's something.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Black Canary Fan Film Project - Blog 008: BC- Male/Female?

((Yes, this is Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor & not Black Canary, but I'll get into why I'm posting that here in a bit...))

Before even shooting one frame of this project, doing 'research' has been extremely interesting, and has taken me to different creative corners- and dissolved some very deep set assumptions I've had on male/female hero archetypes. But before I get ahead of myself, let me introduce a few bits that have made me take a step back in my own approach at adapting Black Canary to the fan film youtube screen. ;)


Jennifer Ford, creator of the Black Canary/Birds of Prey website and unofficial expert on Black Canary lore (check out her excellent website- linked on the side of this screen) generously let me pick her brain a bit on what she thought made Black Canary great.

With her permission, I'll share my questions and her answers here:
Question #1:
What version of the character has had the best appeal to you/ what qualities of this particular version feels 'right'?
(Or which writer do you feel had the best interpretation of BC?)

Her early Bronze Age appearances in Justice League, Adventure, and Green Lantern/Green Arrow (Hard-Traveling Heroes) were the ones on which I imprinted, and Gail Simone’s run on the series came closest to matching and updating *that* version of the character. “Sensei and Student” arc is definitive for the modern era. And while I love the classic costume, I like her current one best (or Amanda Connor’s original redesign of it from the 3-part Terry Moore arc [BoP #47-49]).

Question #2:
What are the top 5-10 things that attract you to THIS character, as opposed to other characters in comics?

I think what I liked about her from way back when I was a kid reading Justice League, etc., was that she was different – not a female version of a male character but her own woman. She dated, she was in the JLA, she was very modern and independent and unapologetic about it back when that wasn’t a very common thing (Supergirl in that era, for instance, was constantly trying to quit being a superhero; Wonder Woman was never as accessible). In her GL/GA appearances, she was in a comparatively realistic world as a strong superheroine which was even cooler. Canary is like a Batman – a “normal” human (she rarely uses her superpower and relies on her martial skills) who has worked to become amazing at what she does.

Question #3:
Is Black Canary more appealing as symbolic role model or more as human being?
(i.e. Superman or Spiderman?)

Gail’s portrayal of her underscores what also made her a great character back in the 70s – she’s this amazing kickass martial artist and superhero who’s knows everyone and has saved the world a zillion times, but she’s also a normal human woman – she worries about people, she notices things, she pays attention to details, feelings, emotions, nuance – and that is never portrayed now *or* then as a weakness. That’s one of her strengths, that she can save the world and talk to you about what’s bugging you and help you figure it out.

Question #4:
Is there an 'ultimate' Black Canary solo story or storyline that stands out to you personally above all the rest?

Bronze age two-parter by Alex Toth (Adventure #418 & #419, also in the BC Archive collection) is a great solo adventure from that era

JLA/JSA: Virtue & Vice is a great story for her as a super-team member (and just a great JLA story)

And most of Gail Simone’s run on the Birds of Prey title, (I would say Sensei & Student is the stand-out arc)

((Birds of Prey: Sensei and Student))
Again, thanks to Jenna Ford for granting me permission to share this!

BTW, I have to say, that I did pick up Gail Simone's "Sensei & Student" ((As well as between "Dark & Dawn")) trade paperbacks- and the story IS great- though a lot resonates far more, if you are familiar with the guest DC characters (Cheshire, Lady Shiva, among others) and their history in the DC comics' universe.

Anyhow- this, plus: Gail Simone's own words (wait towards the end when she talks about her favorite character ever and why) ---

Kinda convinced me that maybe what I saw in Black Canary and what aspects I thought were there and inspirational as a hero were possibly a bit different than what Jennifer and Gail see---but maybe not- anyhow I knew that I needed to figure out (for myself) just WHO is the 'correct' Black Canary before going forward.

Similiarly, it reminded me of a conversation I'd had with a feminist (that what she wanted to be called, not me labelling. I hate labels) friend years ago about Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in "Terminator 1" versus "Terminator 2".

To me, Black Canary is parts Sarah Connor (from T2) and Lara Croft, only BC came first a LONG time ago.

((Linda Hamilton/Sarah Connor from "Terminator" the classic James Cameron movie))

((Linda Hamilton/Sarah Connor from "Terminator 2" the almost as classic James Cameron sequel))

What's the difference?
According to my friend, she felt: "Sarah is a woman in "Terminator 1". In "Terminator 2", she's a man."

Huh? What? I didn't get it.

I thought she was someone that transformed from being an average person who would wiped out by a robot in T1, but that she was able to transform HERSELF into someone (male/female didn't matter to me) that could be strong enough to repress fear and insecurity when necessary and kick butt when need be.

To me, that's the appeal of a human super-character in comics. It's an empowerment myth, and when times are tough, and the spirit is low, stories of heroes (male/female) help us escape our every day world and uplift our inner ones to face it.

But my friend thought she 'just became a man' in the sequel. That she became a cold machine and that she wasn't really a woman in the sequel.

I dunno. I thought she was cool and I never thought of Sarah as having an internal sex change in T2.
But I always thought it an interesting point of view.

In talking about Black Canary, I don't think that she's AFRAID to have feelings or to show them- but when someone puts on a suit to be a powerful symbol to send a message to thugs, as a character, I imagine that if she were real, then it's a bit of role-playing, if you're going to brush your teeth, put on a wig, and go outside to beat bad people up. Just as people role-play to go to work (or look for work), or to give a speech before an audience, it's not just putting on an exterior suit/costume- it's putting on an interior coat of invincibility as well, I would think.

Does that mean that burying (some) feelings of very realistic human fears of death or capture make one male or female?
Does my friend mean that being a man=no feelings, being a woman=feelings?
I would hope that's not true, though of course society frowns on expressions of emotions out of control on either end.
("There's no crying in baseball Shouting and punching, that's much more civilized!")

In what proportions? It's a whole other discussion. But-
Back to conception of Black Canary and creating a correct view of her:

I like what Jenna said about her having feelings and being able to help others sort it out as well-
I'm reminded of a work acquaintence I knew who did social work for awhile: she talked out how her bosses trained her to
empathetic((understanding of the distress of others)) not sympathetic ((sorrow for the distress of others)) with those need- because if you did, then you could become 'pathetic' ((well, I think anyone can know what that means)) by becoming so identified with others' pain that you cripple yourself mentally and emotionally.

Like Jenna said, I don't think BC is afraid to have and show feelings, but I'd also like to think that there's a streetwise sense to her, too, that knows when to be nice. And when not to.

I don't think that makes her male or female. Just pretty cool. Much like Sarah Connor in T2.
(Well, at least the part AFTER she realizes that trying to assassinate someone for the sake of the future may be going a little too far)

Well... anyhow. Figuring out the specific personality and not only who Black Canary is, but should be, has been more than a bit elusive--- but Jenna's and Gail's answers have made it a little bit easier.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Black Canary Fan Film Project - Blog 007: Did I mention this already?

I thought I did mention this already in my blogs, but I guess I didn't after all.
I forgot to mention the BEST site I've seen for Black Canary and the Birds of Prey comic books,
created by Jennifer A. Ford- Check it out!

More BC film pre-production/planning stuff soon...

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Black Canary Fan Film Project - Blog 006: First effects test

First fx test went well.

Also, although the outline is done and the idea is set for the film... I realize that one common mistake that I see in a lot of comic book films is that often it doesn't try to use anything from the comics- which is ok - (and sometimes necessary budgetwise)- but if you're going to go through the effort, why not try to study the best stories and work out there on the character?

The Black Canary I was familiar with (in the original JLA) has been re-invented and re-jiggered a few times. Despite trying to keep down a low-budget (that keeps growing through odds and ends- *sigh*), I went out and picked up the "Birds of Prey: Of Like Mind' TPB by Gail Simone (who wrote the EXCELLENT recent Wonder Woman animated film) and Ed Benes (Whose work here I actually like much better than his JLA stuff).

Originally, I HATED the "Birds of Prey" television show that shot itself in the foot by having a nice cast, great look, great concept--- and horrible horrible horrible writing.

The comic book, however... now, I don't know about the earlier issues, but the Gail Simone/Ed Benes stuff is just wonderful. Much like the WW Animated film (both that and the Justice League Unlimited episodes she wrote), there's a sense of fun and humor that goes through the book- but a great story and 'kickarsery' (is that a word? Probably not, but so what?) moments that make you stick to it. Reminded me of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' the tv show in many ways.

Anyhow--- after flying through the trade paperback (always a good sign that I dug it), I didn't find anything specifically that I could 'ape' from Gail Simone for the project- but.... I'm more than tempted to pickup the others by Simone, for reading enjoyment- and-like I said, it'd be silly NOT to crib SOMETHING if there's a great body of work on the characters already sitting there. And like I said, great read.