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Interview: Brandon Jerwa Kickstarting ‘Untold Tales of The Comic Industry’
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Brandon JerwaRecently, Kickstarter has seen many a project. The site has become nearly overcrowded with creative people putting out their truly unique ideas in varying levels of quality and originality. Some are more interesting that others, and when I came across Brandon Jerwa‘s project about shooting a documentary that focused on the creator’s side of the comic book industry, believe me, it caught my interest. It caught my interest so much so that we felt like we would be doing a disservice to him and his fellow creators as well as the Geeks of Doom readership if we didn’t try to shine some light on his truly amazing project.

Brandon Jerwa is a comic book writer with credits to his name like G.I. Joe, Xena/Army of Darkness, Battlestar Galactica, The Shield, and many more. He’s using his connections within the industry, and experience as a creator in the unique comic book business to bring to us an intriguing look into a side of the comic book world that we normally don’t see as fans.

Luckily, I had the chance to get in contact with Brandon and discuss some of the details about his upcoming Kickstarter project, when we can expect to see a final product, and who all is involved. The interview follows here below.

But, before we get to that, for your convenience, we’ve embed the trailer for the project below the interview. So, if you’re interested in the project and want to check out some more of the details not covered in the interview and possible throw out a donation, make sure to go here and here to do so.

Geeks of Doom: Hi Brandon, this is a really cool idea for a documentary. We don’t see very many comic documentaries, and the ones that I’ve seen have been more or less about a character or a specific writer. How does your project differ?

Brandon Jerwa: I don’t know if I’ve seen any comic documentaries that focus the bulk of the narrative attention on direct interviews with a wide variety of comic pros, so that’s our unique angle. I think that the “welcome to the amazing world of comics” territory has been covered extensively as well – and very capably, I might add – so we’re going to minimize that sort of primer material. There will be context and information for the viewer who hasn’t ever picked up a comic, but this film is more about the great shared experience of falling in love with comics, choosing the artform as a career, and navigating the very uncertain waters of the comic industry.

Geeks of Doom: When did you start putting the idea together for a documentary showing the professional side of the comics industry?

Brandon Jerwa: The original idea was a ‘no-agenda’ panel event for fans; I was putting together this massive event as a kickoff for the 2011 Emerald City Comic-Con, but it just didn’t come together in time. It was really kind of a bummer, because everyone involved was extremely enthusiastic and supportive about the whole thing. I couldn’t drive the idea out of my brain, so I brought it to Tom Nord, a local [Seattle] indie film producer that I’d been working with for a while. Tom was 100% behind it, so we called Ali Mohsenian to direct. The rest is…well, not quite history yet, but we’re working on it.

Geeks of Doom: What was the inspiration for the project?

Brandon Jerwa: I’ve been writing comics for 8 years now, and in that time, I’ve heard the most amazing stories from other comic pros – and gained a few for myself – at conventions, in bars, at dinner, and via email. I’d challenge you to find an industry as passionate as ours, and I feel like that passion should be shared with fans, with people who don’t read comics, and with other people in the industry. We lead amazing lives and love what we do immensely, and I think those qualities will really surprise and genuinely move people. I hope so, anyway.

Geeks of Doom: Who all is involved behind the scenes? Is this project solely yours, or are there other creators that are participating in the making of the documentary?

Brandon Jerwa: The core team consists of Ali Mohsenian (he films, directs, and produces), Tom Nord (producer and common sense watchdog), and myself (acting as creator, writer, off-camera interviewer, and executive producer.)

Ali has a company called Arc Media, and some of his people have pitched in on various fronts. Professional pals do things like advise on business plans and double-check wonky audio. Wives and friends and family are always there to lend a hand when it’s needed, and I’m sure we’ll be expending the team once we get into the really work-intensive phase of production and post-production. We’re really still in the first phase of work here, but believe me when I tell you: the second phase starts VERY SOON, and we’re going to launch like a rocket when it does.

Geeks of Doom: Who are some of the creators or editors that you sat down and talked to for the film?

Brandon Jerwa: Oh, gosh. So far, we have 23 interviews in the can. Pros like David Gallaher, Ben Templesmith and B. Clay Moore; editors like Joe Rybandt; even comic press figures like Marc Mason and Heidi MacDonald. The list goes on.

Geeks of Doom: Will you be making any convention runs for interviews and material?

Brandon Jerwa: We’re going to do our best to avoid larger conventions. Our first filming trip took place during – and I mean “working around” – San Diego Comic-Con. We walked out with 20-odd interviews, but we lost another 10 confirmed interviews in the process, because the convention madness was simply too much to work with. We’re going to set up shop at Seattle’s Jet City Comic Show in a couple of weeks, and that should be just fine. A decent-sized, evenly-paced local convention that’s big enough to attract some excellent talent, but without that Thunderdome aspect of the gigantic shows.

Geeks of Doom: Also, are there any ideas in place to take the film to conventions for panels and screenings?

Brandon Jerwa: Oh, absolutely. We are pursuing every avenue possible to show this film to the world. Of course, the ideal would be a Netflix / HBO / Hulu situation, but we’re also pretty keen on the idea of making sure that we’re screening at cons and film festivals. “Take it into the stratosphere, but keep your feet on the ground” is a motto that’s been in my head lately. Yes, that sounds cheesy. I just realized it, right this very moment. Oh, well.

Geeks of Doom: Why did you choose Kickstarter instead of a different source funding?

Brandon Jerwa: Kickstarter is the crowdsourcing option that’s the best-known at this point, so it just seemed like the obvious choice.

Geeks of Doom: How has the site been working for you?

Brandon Jerwa: I’ll let you know once we find out if we met our goal or not! Haha!

Seriously, it’s been perfectly fine, but we’ve honestly struggled to meet our goal. It’s been nerve-wracking.

Geeks of Doom: Is Kickstarter being used only for the production of the film, or will you also use the revenue to release it?

Brandon Jerwa: The $18,000 we set as our Kickstarter goal is being used first and foremost to fund filming trips to NYC and LA for a week each; we were so thrilled by the San Diego interviews that we decided upon arriving home that we needed to expand our reach beyond the original plan of filming in San Diego, Portland and Seattle only. Once those expenses are covered, we’ll use any overage to cover costs ranging from extra camera batteries and memory cards (not cheap, believe me) to defraying the cost of licensing images (because I’m pretty sure you can’t show an issue of The Punisher onscreen without giving someone a check.)

Geeks of Doom: If the funding doesn’t hit its goal, what’s your next avenue? Is the documentary dead? Will you head back to Kickstarter? Or will you try another source to fund the project?

Brandon Jerwa: If we don’t hit our goal, we’ll have to live with that and adjust the plan. People are free to donate their money to us independently, and I hope they’ll do that; we’re certainly willing to offer them the same rewards we listed on the Kickstarter site. Of course, meeting the goal is the ideal outcome.

One way or another, we’ll get it done. We’re 100% devoted to this film.

Geeks of Doom: Assuming everything goes well with Kickstarter, when can we expect to see the film?

Brandon Jerwa: Our goal is to have the film ready for convention season 2012. Which is, y’know, not too far from now. Remember what I said about the second phase taking off quickly? It’s going to be a busy fall and winter season for us.

Geeks of Doom: Also when is the deadline for people to make donations to the project?

Brandon Jerwa: Thursday, Sept. 15th at 8 A.M. PST. (Please don’t wait that long. I don’t like to sweat!)

Geeks of Doom: Kickstarter is unique in the fact that project leaders offer certain rewards for contributors based on the amount of the contributions. Can you break down some of the offers you’re making to those who provide funding?

Brandon Jerwa: We offer everything from a ‘thank you’ on our website, to various packages promising your name in the credits with digital and/or physical DVD copies of the film, to the high-end rewards, like an executive producer credit and a trip to a screening with a night out on us.

I also want to mention a Seattle comic store, Comics Dungeon. They donated some $50 gift certificates and even offered a day at the store in which they’ll teach you the ins and outs of running a comic shop. I mean, that’s amazing, right? We still have some of those rewards left, and as much as I want to hit our goal, I also don’t want those incentives to go to waste.

Geeks of Doom: Thank you, Brandon for taking the time to answer all the questions. I know that your very busy with production and promotion to kick off the project, as well as your excellent comic work. It’s greatly appreciated, and all of us here at Geeks of Doom wish you the best of luck because this is a really awesome idea, and I’m sure we all want to see what you have in store.

Brandon Jerwa: Thank you! It’s really appreciated.


If you want to see more from Brandon, as well as get updates on the project, make sure to follow his Twitter account: @Jerwa!

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