Many fans will agree that Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is the best animated DC movie, so a live-action adaptation is certainly welcome news. We talk to producer and co-writer Zachary Ramos below:
AP2HYC: What made you want to adapt Mask of the Phantasm?
Ramos: Josh Long (director and cowriter) and I grew up with Batman: The Animated Series and especially loved the standalone film Mask of the Phantasm. After we shot our fan film based off of the video game series Red Dead Redemption called Red Dead Vengeance, we tossed around several ideas that we wanted to do and Phantasm always came up. We have been always been drawn to the look and feel of the character and have been completely dumbfounded that barely anyone has touched this beloved property since and we saw an opportunity.
AP2HYC: For an animated film, Mask of the Phantasm was quite dark, how are you adapting this to live action?
Ramos: Phantasm has always been a darker story when considering the tone and story of the film. Nolan preserved this tone throughout his trilogy with the themes and villains he used. Since the film is set in the Nolan universe, nods to the League of Assassins and their use of the blue flower can be found throughout our films. These all lend themselves to fitting nicely in a live-action world.
AP2HYC: Is this a feature?
Ramos: This is a short and the final expected run time should be around the 7 minute mark.
AP2HYC: Will this be close in tone to the Nolan films?
Ramos: We wanted to blend the two universes together so the Phantasm does make references to being previously affiliated to the League of Shadows. The blue flower that the League used in Batman Begins makes its return as well. We saw this film taking place between Batman Begins and Mu>The Dark Knight.
AP2HYC: Will the Joker appear?
Ramos: We adapted the beginning of the film so we set out to tell the story of the first encounter between Batman and the Phantasm. While Joker plays a big part in the original film, we didn’t feature him. Joker has been portrayed by to many great actors and with Phantasm receiving little to no love over the years, we decided to focus on the Phantasm.
AP2HYC: Which other characters can we expect?
Ramos: You will see other characters from the original film such as Chuckie Sol. As far as other DC characters, you might just have to watch to find out…
AP2HYC: How will the Batsuit look?
Ramos: We actually used the Batman Begins suit. The suit also helped us placing our iteration into the Nolan timeline.
AP2HYC: Can you talk about the cast?
Ramos: We used a lot of up and coming talent in the Tampa, Orlando, and the Sarasota area. Without giving away part of the story from the original movie away, we did cast the actor that played the Phantasm specifically for that role due to their movement and the way that they fight…hint hint…As far as Greg Miller, we’ve been a longtime fan of Greg’s since his early days at IGN. Knowing that he is a huge Batman fan and saw our previous fan film, Red Dead Vengeance, we reached out to him through the Kinda Funny website and received an almost immediate response saying he was down. It is still very surreal to receive e-mails from him and so hard not to geek out every time.
AP2HYC: Can we expect a lot of action and VFX?
Ramos: Since the film’s runtime will be around the 7 minute mark, we wasted no time getting into the fight scenes. There’s of course Batman taking out the goons then the big confrontation between the Bat and Phantasm. On top of the fights, we bring back the blue flower the League of Assassins and the Scarecrow used in Batman Begins which is very special effect heavy.
AP2HYC: There have been several fan made Batman productions, what makes the character so endearing that fans choose to tell their own stores?
Ramos: To become the Hulk, you need Gamma Radiation. Superman, you need to be from another planet. Spiderman, you need to find a radioactive spider. Batman is just a man. Yeah, he might have a lot of money but he is no different between you and me. There is a grounded sense to his character with most the supernatural elements coming from his enemies. This allows for him to take place in any world/scenario. Batman also typically doesn’t require that many special effects which helps in the fan community since effects typically are the most costly part of the production.
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