On September 20th, the internet saw its next big user-created video. Pokemon Apokelypse came on the scene and in four short four days has already reached 3 million views! I’m here with some of the creators behind this very impressive project, to bring some of your most asked questions to them in an exclusive interview. Here we go!
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1Q) Paul Gale Network: In your role, just what were some of your most challenging tasks in creating this video?
1A) Kial Natale (Too many credits to list): Due to the large number of locations and characters, It was very difficult to make sure all the actors were available for our shoots. We mostly ‘funneled’ production, meaning we started with the most cast, crew and equipment and ended with two actors and a camera operator. That helped immensely!
1A) Dylan Innes (Executive Producer): Finding time. Time was the number one issue among everyone involved since this was a labour of love and not one that paid any sort of tangible currency.
1A) Lee Majdoub (Ash): One of the toughest challenges was seeing eye to eye with everyone that was involved creatively. We all had great ideas, but it was hard to agree on what should be included and what should be left out.
Q2) PGN: How many people were on board the project in total?
A2) Kial: I estimate well over 50, although spread out over many shoot days/post roles. I’m fortunate to have so many friends interested in film-production: it’s a very tiring process both intellectually and physically. I am honored that my friends donated so much of their time and energy on this project.
A2) Dylan: Dozens of people from the core crew to people who designed posters set decoration and did background performances. This project was only possible because a lot of talented people wanted to see it through.
A2) Lee: It started off with 3 or 4 and then started to grow faster and faster. It’s hard to say exactly, but we had dozens.
The video is at 3 million. How I can it go?
Q3) PGN: How long did it take to film the entire video?
A3) Kial: The majority of filming took place over a single weekend. I remember racing around on Monday trying to return all the gear we rented before I had to be at work. The rest of the shoots were low-key: sometimes just a golden hour scene to make it feel like the trailer was composed of many different locations and scenes.
A3) Lee: The filming took about a year. We filmed the main scenes we needed, then realized they weren’t enough so we filmed more a few months later, then a few after that.
Q4) PGN: How long was the editing process?
A4) Kial: Nicholas Porteous is a great editor. We had a 9 page script, which somewhat resembled a short film, but without a clear story arc. Within two cuts he had already established the 3 to 4 ‘movements’ of the trailer which tell the story in a really intelligent way. The editing took maybe 2 months of intermittent work, so really this thing could have been released without CGI and music last year.
A4) Dylan: Months? A year? The edit really depended on the Pokemon being designed and animated and that definitely took a lot of time.
A4) Lee: NO COMMENT
Professor Oak in the lab
Q5) PGN: How long did everything take from beginning to end…from when you first got together and started brainstorming until it went live?
A5) Kial: I don’t remember. The script took less than 7 drafts: mostly the changes were just gags or interweaving lines from the anime. The first idea I penned was the voltorb carbomb scene: that’s when I knew we had to make the film happen.
A5) Dylan: The first brainstorm session was at Kial’s house in December 2008. We were really more joking around at that point but we quickly realized it was something we should actually make.
A5) Lee: About a year and a half.
Q6) PGN: Who wrote it?
A6) Kial: I wrote the film with Lee, although I remember having lots of talks with Dylan, Nick and Barry as we worked on sets together. Dylan came up with the last line of the trailer, which is such a wonderful play on movie clichés. It’s the best ending we could have ever asked for.
A6) Dylan: Kial and I worked out the framework for the story and Lee was involved in writing the jokes and dialogue with us and then Kial put a script together out of our brainstorms.
A6) Lee: Kial wrote the original draft. Dylan helped out with the idea/concept. I added the meat (Physical and Emontional scenes). We all sent it back and forth until we had something we all liked.
Jesse and James with Weezing and Arbok
Q7) PGN: How did the project come together?
A7) Kial: I attribute the support and success of the film to the pokémon franchise: if I e-mailed all my friends and said I needed people to act as a pit-fight crowd for a short film, I would have gotten 3 to 4 people. Because it was a pokémon fan-film, we had close to 25. People were a lot more interested to help out, because it was relevant to something they loved.
Q8) PGN: What are some of the other ideas you toyed around with or was Pokemon always the first choice in creating a fan film?
A8) Kial: I always loved watching fan-films, and was immensely impressed that a few individuals with passion could achieve something that in Hollywood would take millions of dollars. In fact, some of them I didn’t even register to me as fan-films, like Sandy Collora’s Batman Dead End.
A8) Dylan: It wasn’t a matter of choices since the original goal wasn’t to create a fan film and then fit something into that mould. The idea of a gritty feel like in Dark Knight in the world of Pokemon was just a funny idea that Lee and Kial came up with and that we eventually decided to be serious about.
A8) Lee: SEE 7
Q9) PGN: What was the reasoning behind the gritty and mature nature of this otherwise cute and cuddley franchise?
A9) Kial: I thought it was funny, but I have a very strange sense of humor. It’s partly a comment on the idea of a dark-reboot: it’s common for ‘long-in-the-tooth’ franchises to try to go back to the original’s ‘core’, but often times this means creating something that is more extreme or more dark. I don’t think it’s really the same thing anymore: ideas have to evolve! Don’t press ‘B’: let them evolve!
A9) Dylan: Because it’s really, really funny. Or at least we think so.
A9) Lee: Somewhat as a joke. Personally, I was sick of seeing my favorite Anime shows and videogames being turned into live-action projects I didn’t like. Pokemon was a way to show how dark and gritty would turn out for a seemingly child-oriented franchise.
Ash throwing a Pokeball
Q10) PGN: Is there more to this video that we haven’t seen yet? If so, how many more minutes of awesome footage do you have?
A10) Kial: I am somewhat embarrassed to say that our shooting ratio (what we shot vs what we used) is probably close to that of ‘Apocalypse Now.’ That’s the real meaning behind ‘Apokélypse.’ It was important to me that all our lines like ‘I choose you’ and ‘when I’ve caught them all’ didn’t feel artificial or mugged to the camera. There are entire short scenes leading up to these lines that we filmed with no intention of cutting in. I think it gives the weight, and impression that there is a world beyond what is shown in the trailer.
A10) Dylan: The trailer is probably only a tenth of everything that was filmed. We shot a lot.
A10) Lee: We have A LOT of footage. The script was between 8 to 10 pages.
Q11) PGN: Do you plan to release any more of these videos, either via trailers or in segments of film?
A11) Kial: There are a few other videos I intend to release that give something of a ‘behind the scenes’ look (you’ll see what I mean by something). Otherwise, I have an idea that might just help people satisfy their desire for a more complete apocalypse.
A11) Dylan: Maybe the blooper reel because it’s rad but other than that, probably not.
A11) Lee: No plans as of now.
Q12) PGN: I think your fan based film would give most video game movies a run for their money. Do you agree?
A12) Kial: It’s true: anybody with a decent computer and a 3D package can create amazing work (much better than mine)! My personal hero is MDotStrange: he personally animated an entire feature length film in his basement! I’m definitely going to support him and buy his new film ‘Heart String Marionette’ when it comes out.
A12) Dylan: I think in concept and execution of vision we legitimately compete and could at a feature film level. But the only way to prove this hypothesis is for someone to give us a whole lot of money and permission to make the film.
A12) Lee: It’s amazing to hear that. I would love it if it were true. I think the story we came with is pretty solid, but there is so much that goes into film. Production value, backing by the financers, backing by a production company, etc. It’s very easy for a film to start off with an amazing story/concept, and then turn into something totally different by the time it hits theaters.
Ash and Misty
Q13) PGN: I’m really amazed at your production value. Please tell me anything you can on it.
A13) Kial: Video DSLRs. The T2i is a beast of a camera! I know $1,000 dollars is expensive (and that’s not even including lenses) but I can’t recommend this camera enough. I spent $1,000 on renting a HVX-200/mini-35 kit just two years ago; now I can go out and buy a camera! Otherwise, it’s just a matter of throwing as much detail into the frame as you can, and lighting it in a way that shows creates gradients and depth. Thing is, production value means nothing unless you have an engaging idea or story: focus on the story and you are bulletproof!
A13) Dylan: We had talented camera operators, lighting guys, and set decorators. All you really need for good production value is a decent camera, a bit of gear, and an awesome crew. Most people don’t realize that if you work hard and at least sort of know what you’re doing, you can make some really great stuff. We spent practically no money on this.
A13) Lee: It look a lot of love, time, sweat, tears, and physical pain. I think we were very lucky, because most people (if not everyone) stayed extremely dedicated to the project.
Q14) PGN: Why is it that fan projects like this, Street Fighter: Legacy, and Street Fighter High turn out so well and most actual, multi-million dollar budget video game movies turn out so-so? Is it just the fanmanship they lack? Is it the inability to stick to the subject material? Or go so far off like you guys did, but still be faithful?
A14) Kial: I have very little experience working in the film industry, but what I have seen is very telling. No one wants to make a bad film: even the people making intentionally ‘bad’ films like ‘Birdemic’ want people to enjoy themselves, but budgeting issues can make people fight against their collaborators for control. Then egos typically get involved, and decisions are often forced from above that are at odds with the good of the film.
A14) Dylan: I don’t think it takes being a die hard fan. It’s just negotiating between what the source material is, what you want to do with it, and what you think an audience would want to see. We spent a fair bit of time thinking about things that internetters would find funny and how we could take the innocent source material and make it badass and interesting. But more importantly we thought a lot about what would make us laugh.
A14) Lee: I think it’s got to do with all of that. But it also has to do with what I mentioned earlier about films starting off with a great idea and then changing so many times by the time it gets to theaters. I think you loose sight when you try to please absolutely everyone, because that will never happen. As long as you stay true to yourselves and trust that you have something original, I think it works out.
Brock and Onyx
Q15) PGN: Do you have any upcoming projects?
A15) Kial: My friends have been talking about another dark-reboot trailer in which we treat Inspector Gadget more like Robocop, but I want to get back to making original short-films (or if I ever get enough research done, a feature film!) Filmmaking is very time-consuming, so it’s going to be hard for me to keep producing great content while working crazy hours, but you know what? You just gotta make it happen!
A15) Dylan: I’m writing a feature script but that’s a ways off. Kial and I are planning to work on another project together but it probably be something entirely different and unrelated to video games.
A15) Lee: Kial and I are trying to put something together 😉
Q16) PGN: What other video game would you like to turn into a movie and would you make it totally faithful or with a unique spin like this?
A16) Kial: Bioshock 1 and 2 are are absolutely amazing games with fantastic storytelling: I would love to make that film, but I really don’t know what I could contribute to the series. With any adaptation, I think you have to add to the source material in a way that is either faithful to the style or throws the underlying ideas under unique light. I prefer the latter: I think that direct adaptations are a waste of time: you might as well just read/watch/play the original.
A16) Dylan: In a world turned upside down, rectangles are forced to square off in the most brutal bloodsport of our time. Prepare to enter the world of Pong.
A16) Lee: We have a few ideas floating around, but Kial and I really need to sit down and figure out what we wanna do.
Q17) PGN: I’m getting literally hundreds of e-mails, all of which I’m directing towards your YouTube channel: MegaSteakMan. Is that the best place to reach you, or is there a site I can direct your fans to go to as well?
A17) Kial: Youtube seems like the best place. I’m doing my best to answer all the e-mails and wall posts I’ve been getting: that is a full time job!
A17) Lee: If they have questions, just have them get in touch with us on Facebook.
Thank you Dylan, Lee, and Kial so much for the excellent interview! I’m sure that your fans will be very happy to get some of their questions answered. 🙂 I wish you all the best of success in the time to come. Next up for me, I’m going to contact Nintendo and see what their thoughts are on your project.