A Joint Interview With 2000 AD Fan Film Directors Steve Sterlacchini & Steve Green

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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.

Strontium Dog effects by Steve Green
FB: What was your budget on Search & Destroy, if you don’t mind me asking? How big was your crew?

Steve Sterlacchini: Somewhere between £10 to £15k. Spread across the three main contributors and four years, makes it sound more manageable for a passion project.

Crew was minimal – Steve and myself operating the camera. Makeup, Stunt Choreographer, Props, Continuity, no-one for sound. It was all ADR anyway.
[Dredd creator] John Wagner asked us after he’d seen Judge Minty. Couldn’t say no to John!
FB: Why take it on? Surely that’s a lot of pressure on you from the start to make something that already has a proven fan base, right?

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?
Judge Minty official film poster and accolades
SG: We got permission, but other than that they kept an arm’s length with both of them. It was getting the blessing from the co-creators for ‘moral’ permission, and then getting the okay from Rebellion for ‘legal’ permission – such as it is with fan films. Basically if we weren’t making any money from it, they were broadly okay with it. Although it got more restrictive with the second film.

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.
Behind the scenes of Judge Minty
Rotherham here, doubling up as a nuclear wasteland.
FB: Why all the 2000 AD properties? Were/Are you a fan of comics?

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.
FB: Is there much red tape in getting a character that is certainly not your own creation on to the screen?

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.
Strontium Dog Search and Destroy exclusive interview
FB: [Strontium Dog co-creator and artist] Carlos Ezquerra died late last year. Do you happen to know if he got to see it before he passed?
SG: Yeah, we ran a lot of the designs and what we doing past Carlos while we were making the film. He was very supportive and helpful. I’m glad he got the chance to see it. I was chatting over messenger with Carlos about props quite a bit, and we miss him a lot – he was a lovely guy as well as being an amazing talent.
We miss him a lot. Carlos Ezquerra was a lovely guy as well as being an amazing talent.
FB: DenofGeek called Judge Minty the “Ultimate 2000 AD Fan Film”. That kind of praise for your work must be rewarding.

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.
BTS of Judge Minty
FB: In my lead-up to this interview I talked regularly with Mr Green, who worked on both of these shorts with yourself, what is the working relationship between the two of you?
SS: I was toying with the idea of making a Dredd-based fan film with Daniel Carey-George of www.planetreplicas.com, who created the props and costumes for both films and went on to do the official props for 2000 AD. Dan met Steve Green at a VFX show, they discussed the idea and Steve joined the team. Which pretty much made the project possible.

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.
FB: 2000 AD has such a rich background of interesting characters and storylines, with your own works aside, why do you think they haven’t been translated to the big screen yet?

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?
Outside of Marvel and DC, indy comic book translations struggle. The market is saturated with Marvel in particular, and 2000 AD doesn’t really have the connected universe that helped Marvel build the brand up, even if you could find backers. Strontium Dog’s probably the most accessible, but something like Nemesis the Warlock would be incredibly expensive, and a tough sell. Closest I can think of would be Valerian, and that bombed at the box-office.

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.
Image result for DREDD
2012’s Dredd. Writer Alex Garland has admitted to being a fan of Judge Minty.

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.

Search/Destroy can be viewed here. Steve Sterlacchini and the team are currently working with artist Mick McMahon and writer Sam Read, to produce an original new comic book “Joe And His Killer Robot Dad” for ages 12 and up. Due to be launched at Thought Bubble Comic Con in the UK this November. You can follow the progress on the various platforms here:
Elsewhere, Steve Green also worked on fellow 2000 AD short, Rogue Trooper: The Quartz Massacre, which should definitely be binge watched in a tri-fecta with the other two films

Click here to read more interviews and learn about how to get into the film industry!


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