Comic fans havebeen buzzing about the AFI short film The Lobo Paramilitary ChristmasSpecial ever since Comics2Film broke the news of it last week.The number one question on most readers' minds is "where can I seeit?"
Unfortunately,we don't have an answer to that one yet. It's a student film made without thepermission of DC Comics, so any legitimate distribution of the movie is tricky.
Click thumbnails for a better look at the construction of the Santa set.
However, thisweek C2F did talk to James W. Thompson, Jr, the production designer forthe film. Thompson shares some behind-the-scenes photos from the project andgives us some insights as to how AFI students, on a shoe-string budget and alimited schedule, brought the main man to caustic life.
"We had aweek and a half maybe two weeks to prep for this particular film. And then wehave four days to shoot," Thomson said, adding that the school only allots$2400 for the movie's budget. "Then you have about a week and a half toedit this film, score it and screen it. To throw a piece like this together inthat amount of time is a really cool thing."
Thompson said hetried to reference the comic books as much as he could when working on the Lobomovie. "It's difficult because when you look at stuff that's drawn withincomics and you have to somehow materialize it and it has to function within ourworld. It's not an easy task," Thompson said. "For instance, a gun wasdrawn oversized. You're not going to find [a gun like] that so you have to makethat."
Thompson saidthat his art department budget was about $800 for the movie. Given that, the artdepartment had to make do with the materials they could find in the AFIinventory. "The stainless steel walls that were behind Santa Claus, theywere flats that were donated to AFI. I thought this would be really cool to takethat industrial, stainless steel and then put a fire place in it and paint it sothat it's Christmassy and homey," Thompson said. "The same thing withthe control booth for the elves."
Scrounging forparts in the AFI inventory raised a few eyebrows on the production.
"One of ourprop designers, Melanie Rein, she said after the piece was done she was quiteamazed because she saw the stuff that I was pulling out of the yard and shelooked at this stuff and said 'what's he going to do with this shit,"Thomson told us.
Click thumbnails for a better look at the construction of the bar set.
The Space Bar,where the film opens, was also quite a challenge, leaving the design team tostart with the movie-set equivalent of a blank canvas.
"It wasthis totally white room, there was nothing in there. I had to convert [it] intoa black, space kind-of bar that you see. The trick of it was that I was not allowedto paint the walls," Thompson said. "So I had to cover the walls withpaper and fabric and everything possible so that it looked like a bar but yet,not touch those walls."
The team managedto create an environment that convincingly portrayed the seedy world Lobo livesin. Thompson also emphasized that the the production design is clearly a teameffort. "Without all these people I couldn't possibly have done it. My jobis to keep them all on the same page."
Thompson hadparticular praise for the supervising art director Gretchen Houk and propertiesmaster and assistant to the production designer Melanie Rein. "Thebeautiful thing about both of these people is that they're not students. They'reprofessionals in the real world and they do this sort of thing in their sparetime because they enjoy helping students get their work out. They live for theart," Thompson said.
Thompsonapplauds everyone involved with the movie for contributing to the top-notchproduction. "One of the things I learned working on these short films inschool is that, even though the script is really good and even though themembers of the team all were talented, if they didn't work together as a teamthen the film was going to flop," Thompson said. "Although all of myfilms had aspects of them that were good, this was the only one that I thinkthat everyone was on the mark with what they had done."
For a completelist of the film's credits visit our LoboParamilitary Christmas Special project page.