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It's not a hoax.It's not an imaginary story. It's not an alcohol-induced nightmare. It's TheLobo Paramilitary Christmas Special: a live-action film adaptation of DCComics' main man.
A DVD of theedgy film landed in Comics2Film's mail box this weekend. While the Lobofeature languishes in development hell at Warner Bros., up-and-coming studentdirector Scott Leberecht has completed a high-quality, 13 minute 26 second film,complete with Hollywood actors, as part of his first year studies at AmericanFilm Institute.
Leberecht is nostranger to Hollywood. He's worked for years at Industrial Light and Magic onmovies like Sleepy Hollow, Flubber and Spawn.However, he soon got the itch to helm his own movies and embarked on his director's studies at AFI.
When thinkingabout a subject for his first-year video short, Leberecht quickly settled on hisfavorite comic book character.
"I thinkone of my first comics, that my brother bought me was the ParamilitaryChristmas Special," Leberecht told us. " I just couldn't getenough Lobo in my life after that."
Adapting thestory, in which the Easter Bunny contracts Lobo to kill Santa Claus, was seenas highly ambitious for a student film. One of the first hurdles was casting.
"One of thebiggest things I was worried about was finding an actor: someone who could actand look like Lobo. He has to be a big guy," Leberecht said. Fortunately, ascan of sites like C2F revealed that there was already an actor who wasboth a perfect match and wanted to play the part.
For years,Andrew Bryniarski has been dying to play Lobo on the big screen.Back in 1999 the actor had circulated make up tests he had done, showing hisuncanny resemblance to the main man. Although he's been a staple of big-screenmovies, appearing in such films as Batman Returns, TheProgram, Street Fighter and Any Given Sundaythe studio did not seem to be moving forward with the Lobo featurefilm.
Leberecht waseager to contact Bryniarski and tell him about his project. "Then Irealized, 'Oh my God, he's this huge actor. He's been in all these huge movies.He's never going to do it. He'll laugh.' But then I thought, 'maybe he's just asinsane as I am about the character and he'll jump at the chance.'"
Bryniarski, whocan currently be seen in Scooby Doo, was pleasantly surprised byLeberecht's offer. "I thought it was lost forever, that nobody would make aLobo movie," Bryniarski told C2F. The actor quicklyagreed to do it.
After Bryniarskicame on board, the actor enlisted none other than Lobo creator Keith Giffen todo a touch-up on the script that Leberecht and his story editor Paul Bello haddeveloped. "He added a bunch of total Keith-isms," Bryniarski told us."It's a very Keith Giffen Lobo film."
Initially thenay-sayers had doubts about whether or not the first-year student could completesuch a film. "They told us we couldn't do it because we didn't have enoughtime or enough resources," Bryniarski said. "but we didn't want to doanything else so we made it."
Likewise,Leberecht was undeterred, "I had to make this movie. I'm just a hugefan," the director said. "This is just like any other kid drawing a Wolverine.I had to draw my picture of Lobo."
The AFI budgets$2400 to the students to complete their movies. However, Leberecht knew that hisvision would need more. Fortunately, the Christmas Special ideawas compelling enough that donors came on board. "It was amazing what I wasable to get out of people when they heard the premise, when I told them I wasmaking a movie about a bounty hunter who is hired by the Easter Bunny to killSanta Claus," the director said.
Filmed in fourdays, the movie sports great costumes and makeup. One casualty of the low budgetis the lack of Lobo-inspired mayhem. "That's probably the one regret I haveis that we weren't able to do the ultra-violence," Leberecht said. "Iwanted to do the whole thing where he's blowing [Santa's elves] away, body partsflying, stuff like that."
Another strengthof the film is some top-notch acting. Aside from Bryniarski's spot-on take onthe title character, the director got a great performance from Michael V. Allenas Santa and a hilarious turn by Tom Gibis as the Easter Bunny. "Tom Gibisis amazing," Leberecht enthused. "As soon as he got finished with thefirst reading I was like, 'Ah...you got it.' It was perfect."
By the time themovie screened at AFI in May it was the most anticipated project on the campus."Everybody had been seeing everything coming together, like bits and piecesof it, and there was all this talk about it because it was such an ambitiouspiece for a first-year video film," Leberecht said.
The LoboParamilitary Christmas special played to a packed house and was greetedby enthusiastic cheers.
Sadly for fans,such movies are not intended to be screened publicly for profit. They areconsidered educational exercises, which was one of the reasons the directorcould utilize characters and stories owned by DC Comics.
While the shortfilm may never see wide release, Leberecht hopes the right people in Hollywood,the ones control the fate of the Lobo feature, get to screen it."I think Joel Silver needs to see it. I think people who are holding therights to Lobo over at Warner should see it," the directorsaid.
Bryniarski addedthat he would love to see a Lobo feature, and hopes that the moviedemonstrates the potential. "He's such an interesting character. He's sucha contradiction," Bryniarski said.
If such a moviewere made, no doubt Leberecht would jump at the chance to direct. "If itputs me in a position some day to be able to make a real, live-action, featuremulti-million dollar Lobo film, that's great, but that's not why I madeit," Leberecht said. "I made The Lobo Paramilitary ChristmasSpecial because I fuckin' love the character and I had to do it."