So where to begin.
- What? Really?
- They did this with what kind of budget?
- I need to interview these people.
So let's meet David Paritsky, the mad man who got this working, and what it's done for him. He's got a degree in film and is currently working after graduation to get the right career. I rather imagine anyone capable of creating a film adaption on his own is going to do fine . . .
1) OK, so let's ask here - why do this film?
I have always been a HUGE fan of the Sailor Moon series. As a kid my friends and I would dress up as the characters to attend conventions and in my father's basement we'd attempt to film music videos and small scenes based on the story lines from the show. Years later after graduating from art school with a degree in video editing, I wanted to start my own project so I could build a reel. I told myself that if I ever made it as a film maker the first big project I'd want to work on is a live action Sailor Moon movie but it was such an exciting idea I figured, why wait? All the stylized attack and transformation sequences from the show seemed like such a fun thing to conceptualize and execute with live actors. Once the idea was in my head I just couldn't resist.
2) How did you pay for it - and what can you share with our audience about raising money?
It's hard to raise money for a project like this. Nobody is willing to give money to a random self proclaimed filmmaker saying "Hey! I'm taking this Japanese cartoon about young girls who fight evil in mini skirts and making it into a live action movie!" When I describe the project to people the first thing they do is laugh and then ask "Is this X-rated?" But luckily Sailor Moon is such an iconic character from animation history, the show still has a pretty wide spread fan base. In the early stages of filming we released a couple teaser trailers which spread around a few conventions and with the aid of social media we were able to to build our very own small but continually growing fan base. One of the many reasons Sailor Moon The Movie was in production for so long was because we had literally no budget. Everything from props, costumes, lights, camera equipment and post production work was funded entirely from my own pocket over a long period of time. Most props and costumes were hand made with the exception of the main characters outfits which we had custom designed. Everything was sort of put together as we went along, filming only one or two scenes a week if we were lucky. It was only after principal photography had been completed that we started an online fundraiser through a site called IndieGoGo.com to both help spread the word of our film and to raise a little money, which ended up barely covering the cost of printing the promotional materials like posters and DVDs for the campaign.
3) What about legal issues? This sounds like it could be nightmarish.
Copyright infringement is definitely one of the bigger issues with making a film adaptation of this kind. Since American production companies can't even afford the rights to produce an English language translation of the original Japanese animation, it's highly probable that someone like me who's just starting out their career could afford the rights to make their own live action version. We all went into this knowing that the film could never be sold or shown for profit. It was merely a means for us to help build our careers but it was also a project we continued for the pure enjoyment of it all. It was something we always wanted to do and had a blast doing! Upon completion the film will be online for everyone to see and we'll also be touring it around the convention circuit. So if you see a copy of our film up for auction on ebay don't buy it! It's illegal, haha!
4) Let's get to the pro question - did this help the career of you or anyone on staff or in the cast? Is it helping anyone?
Even though the project isn't finished yet it's still been a great step for me career wise. I've been contacted to do numerous interviews for different sites and blogs both about animation and filmmaking in general. I've also been invited as a guest of honor to a couple conventions. This sort of publicity has led to people working on other projects to seek my help. I've been able to land a few freelance editing gigs because of people I have come in contact with through Sailor Moon The Movie which is a trend I'm hoping will continue and eventually land me an editing position somewhere cool and exciting. Our leading lady MaryBeth Schroeder is also a very talented musician and actress who gained a lot of exposure through this project and also shared her own fans with ours which worked out great for both of us.
5) What did you learn as a professional that you'll use in your career.
I have taken away so much from this project. Most of my school experience was based mainly in editing so when it came time to produce and direct I felt very much out of my element. I've learned that no matter how much time and energy you spend preparing for a shoot, double confirming and checking off every last detail, no matter what you do there is always something that goes wrong. Sometimes it's just one tiny little bump in the road, sometimes is twelve things going wrong at once. The filmmaking process relies so much on team effort that just one person or thing going wrong can result in a terrible domino effect of mishaps. You learn that the only thing you can do is just keep moving forward. Work the best you can with what you have right then and there. You can't have every scene come out exactly the way you envision it and rather than waste everybody's time causing drama, you just push through it.
...And then explain in the commentary why your scene came out terrible because it kept raining or the stupid wig refused to stay on.
6) Do you use the film in job interviews, cover letters, etc.?
I use this film as the most recent example of my work but only in small clips. Usually one or two scenes that are completed only to show off my digital effects abilities and editing work. As the whole the project is still unfinished there isn't much to show. But I intended to lead with this film as the prime representation of my work and talent.
7) So what's next for you?
Through this project I have development many relationships with other filmmakers and musicians. One of my passions is creating music video concepts that tell a story and editing them. I love how a song can be the main storytelling element in a video where the visuals are only complimentary and visa versa. I look at music videos almost as if they were all really short silent films. I plan to focus mainly on smaller projects like these or movie trailers to build my reel as I tour Sailor Moon The Movie around the country.
8) A big issue at fan to pro is adaptions and media. What have you learned that you'd share with people doing other adaptions - and what would you tell Hollywood they need to learn about adaptions?
One of the main things to consider when doing an adaptation I feel, is determining how faithful to the source material you plan on being. Sometimes you want to stray very far away from it and try and make something thats really new and your own, which is great. But you always have to consider the pre existing fan base. Obviously a complete word for word rehash of something that's already been done will seem unimaginative, so you need to put your own spin on things. But hardcore fans of any series will judge you harshly for pulling away from what they felt was really important to the heart of their story. It's a very dangerous game of balance and the only way to win it is by making it clear to your audience that you know and understand the depth of the whole story. There's nothing more disappointing than seeing a less than entertaining film adaptation with no soul that has obviously been made for the paycheck.