INTERVIEW: James Heath, producer of The Fitzroy

The Fitzroy started life as an independent feature film about a holiday submarine in post-apocalyptic version of 1950s Britain. Not content with creating this darkly funny film, the guys behind the project have decided to continue the story as a comic book. James had plenty to tell us about the highs and low of translating their work to the page, their partnership with Dead Canary Comics and the future of The Fitzroy…

A Place to Hang Your Cape: So, James, can you tell us more about The Fitzroy comic?

James Heath: The Fitzroy comic is inspired by the feature film we’ve made called The Fitzroy – a post-apocalyptic black comedy set on board a hotel submarine in Margate in 1950’s Britain where the world is surrounded by poisonous gas. The comic tells 6 different stories, of how people get on with life around Britain in this post-apocalyptic environment and doesn’t feature the characters on the submarine. Most of the stories are pretty dark and hopefully pretty funny. .

AP2HYC: What made you decide to continue the story of The Fitzroy in comic book form?

James: I think Andrew Harmer (the director) Liam Garvo (fellow producer) and I all realised we had created a very strong visual world with The Fitzroy, something thats pretty rare for independent feature films in Britain. We would also discuss the world outside the submarine, because people would often ask us what inspired the events that take place or the actor’s would ask what was their character doing before they arrived on board the submarine – so we knew what the world was like. Though sadly, being a low budget feature film we didn’t have the budget to explore what that world was. With a comic though you can just draw it! I brought up the idea of turning it into a comic early last year, yet it wasn’t till the start of this year that we had the time to really make it a reality.

We think it offers a duel purpose for the fans of The Fitzroy. If you’ve seen or know of the film and want to find out more, you can read the comic and immerse yourself deeper into this crazy world. At the same time if you’ve found The Fitzroy via the comic and love the characters and story, then you might just want to watch the film to see what inspired those stories.

AP2HYC: What has been the most difficult part of the project so far? And what’s been the most enjoyable part?

James: Creating the comic has been a hugely rewarding process and has been surprisingly straight forward, down to the incredible work by Dead Canary Comics. The only tricky part was getting started with the comic, as I said we discussed it first a year before and for a long time it looked like one of those ideas that would be discussed without coming to reality. Andrew, Liam and I are far from comic book makers so we knew we had to get experts on board and we spoke to a couple of different people before eventually getting the relationship to work. Once DCC came on board its been nothing but a smooth, effortless ride.

The most enjoyable part is probably being able to do some crazy things with the story and have no limitations. Where with the film we had to hold back in a couple of areas because of budget constraints, there was no such issue with the comic. So we could freely discuss ideas and plan to let our imagination go crazy doing anything and going anywhere with them. Then to see those stories turned into reality with the art work, has been nothing short of mind blowing – simply incredible.

AP2HYC: What has the process of working with Dead Canary Comics been like? How did you get them onboard?

James: Without DCC the comic simply would never have happened and they have been so enjoyable to work with. They have guided us through the process step by step and really taught us a lot.

Matt Fitch from DCC backed the first kickstarter campaign for The Fitzroy and then when he launched the Frogman comic on Kickstarter, I backed it and then the one that followed. So when we were thinking seriously about making a comic for The Fitzroy, it seemed like a no brainer asking whether he would be interested in working with us – especially given he clearly liked the look of the world, having already backed it on Kickstarter. I met up with Matt and Mark Lewis over a cup of tea (of course!) to discuss the possibility of it and thankfully they were very excited at the idea, as were the rest of the DCC team and then agreeing on the approach was pretty straight forward, I guess cause we all wanted to do it. The guys then went off and wrote 12 stories of which we agreed between us what were the best 6 to include in the comic and DCC found the 6 different artists we should work with.

AP2HYC:  Will we be seeing more of The Fitzroy in the future – is there any chance you’d be tempted to make a sequel film?

James: Hah! Who knows!? We would love to explore more of the world of The Fitzroy. Though it all comes down to whether audiences want to see more of The Fitzroy – we hope they do. We’ve discussed lots of potential ways the story could develop and expand – now we’ve taken the story into the world of the comic and the rest of Britain, its pretty limitless what we can do. For now though our focus is on getting the comic and the film out there to the fans and hopefully as wide an audience as possible.

To support the Kickstarter in its final few days, head over here. Alternatively check out The Fitzroy‘s website, full of details about the film and the comic!

About the author

Grace Davis