Steve Sterlacchini and Steve Green worked together in various creative roles on Judge Minty, a 2000 AD fan short. The pair followed up their working relationship by collaborating on Search/Destroy: A Strontium Dog Fan Film, a few years later. Both shorts found their audience almost immediately, with big supporters in on the Hollywood scene more than happy to shout about how great the pieces were. Via email, FinalBoss talk with the directors about their process.
FinalBoss: SEARCH/DESTROY looks fantastic, especially for a fan-film. Do you have a background in effects?
Steve Green: I’ve had an interest since a kid, I studied animation at Bournemouth and worked in games for a while. Doing effects was just a hobby really, to see what could be achieved at home.
FB: What was your budget on Search & Destroy, if you don’t mind me asking? How big was your crew?
SG: Crew was minimal – Steve and myself operating the camera.
[Dredd creator] John Wagner asked us after he’d seen Judge Minty. Couldn’t say no to John!
SG: John Wagner asked us after he’d seen Judge Minty. Couldn’t say no to John – we’d mulled over ideas for a Rogue Trooper short, but didn’t know how to get hold of Gerry Finley-Day to ask for permission, so we did Strontium Dog instead.
SS: Yep, I think it was John’s encouragement that ‘dragged me back’ to make another fan film. I thought it might also be good to see if we could learn from the mistakes made on Judge Minty.
FB: You cut your teeth on the Judge Dredd-themed, JUDGE MINTY. How involved were 2000 AD/Rebellion in the two shorts, if at all?
FB: Minty’s a fantastic short, really. It really feels like part of Mega City One. Where did you shoot it?
SG: Magna science park exterior in Rotherham. It’s a refurbished steelworks, although I think we could have made more use of it still, looking back.
SG: 2000 AD is pretty absent from fan films compared to others, and also as a fan, I’m more interested in converting something from page to screen, than doing a Trek fan film, or even a movie Dredd fan film.
It gets tedious second-guessing what’s going on, when all you want to do is make a film, and you’re losing money on it to boot.
SG: Fan films are a weird area, just because there’s a precedent of it being okay doesn’t mean situations don’t change. Kickstarters always appear to be a no-no in general, so best avoided. For example, Rebellion were much more distant with Strontium Dog, but the feeling was they were negotiating a ‘proper’ film behind the scenes, so they wanted to keep extra distance. It just gets a bit tedious second-guessing what’s going on, when all you want to do is make a film, and you’re losing money on it to boot.
We miss him a lot. Carlos Ezquerra was a lovely guy as well as being an amazing talent.
SG: Hah, well we tend to be level-headed over positive and negative criticism. If people enjoy it, wonderful – it makes it worth doing, if they didn’t – then there’s a ton of other things to watch.
FB: What other works have you been a part of, un-related to the world of comics?
SG: I do bits of TV sequences, Room 101, Harry Hill, that kind of thing. Mostly do a lot of building projection mapping though, which is fun.
SG: A few reasons… Too expensive and weird for the most part, and some properties not unique enough – MACH 1 a good example there. Even something like “Flesh” – well, we had cowboys and dinosaurs back with Valley of Gwangi. Why licence out a 2000 AD property when you could just tweak it enough and do your own thing?
FB: Did you see Dredd?
SG: Yep, we really enjoyed it overall. Alex Garland was making Dredd at the same time we were doing Minty, and was very supportive of our work – even though we’re at two different ends of film-making.
FB: What do you think we’ll get from the upcoming Dredd series?
SG: Honestly, I think it’s a long way off. Reading between the lines, I think they will be hard pushed to get funding at the level they want, unless they give up a lot of control. Dredd as a character is a tough sell, especially in the context of police brutality in the real world.
FB: Any advice/caution for someone wanting to take on their own fan film?
SG: Finish it. The longer it drags on, the harder it is to get the project finished. A lot of people love talking about making a film, but fall down when it comes to the boring but necessary bits.
Work within your means – no shame in aiming high, but there is a reason things cost a lot. Good sound, that is one area that really makes something feel more professional, and also easier to add atmosphere without costing a load. Plan, plan, plan, but be willing to adapt. There is an amazing amount of material available on the internet – time spent figuring things out before you go to shoot is invaluable.
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Jon Holmes is a writer based in the UK. Alongside his work writing for film, he is a multi-accoladed filmmaker in his own right, and also performs. He can be followed on Youtube at Hans HS and on Twitter on @jonnyjonjon1