The Other Catwoman Movie: Colin Blakeston talks "Catwoman: Copycat"

Thu, June 16th, 2005 at 12:00am PDT

TV/Film
George A. Tramountanas, Staff Writer

Last year, two comic-based movies won awards. The first was an Oscar for Visual Effects awarded to "Spider-Man 2." The second? A Razzie for Worst Picture of the Year given to "Catwoman."

This isn't exactly a bragging point for comic fans.

On average, it seems that for every comic-based film a studio gets right (like "X-Men") they get two wrong ("Elektra" and "Man-Thing" come to mind). So what is a true fan to do?

Well, if you have the time, patience, knowledge, and money, you make a fan-film. Granted, you can't make any money from this endeavor (since you don't own the character copyrights), but it can bring you a quick 15-minutes of fame plus the gratitude of thousands of fanboys. In fact, I'll still sing the praises of Sandy Collora's "Batman: Dead End" even if "Batman Begins" delivers (and the current buzz indicates there's a good chance it does).

It's this kind of thinking that led Colin Blakeston to jump into the fan-film fray by making his own filmed version of Catwoman, titled "Catwoman: Copycat." CBR News contacted Blakeston to find out more about the "how's" and "why's" of this intriguing project.

To begin with, we started with the obvious question: Had Blakeston seen the Halle Berry-version of "Catwoman," and if so, what did he think of it? He responded, "I did, and I thought it got a lot of bad press.

If I hear someone say Catwoman, I always think of Michelle Pfeiffer. Halle Berry was great too, but her Cat wasn't the one I grew up with. I love the documentary on the Catwoman DVD, and if you watch it through you can see why the filmmakers went in that direction."

As for his decision to make this movie, Blakeston explained, "I've been making short films for awhile. I shot a romantic comedy. I've done dark and mysterious. And I wanted to do something a little different, with action and a great lead character. I'd seen 'Batman Returns' as a teenager and always thought a film with Catwoman in it would be pretty cool. It just didn't exist, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

"Also, I really wanted to challenge myself. I'd never really done much green screen work before, never shot any action, never got into costuming, and I figured this was my chance to give it a try.

"Making it has been a blast. I've met and worked with some amazingly talented people and learned so much (who knew women's gloves have sizes?). I'm a big fan of original work too. This is the first fan-film I've ever done and I'm often asked by other filmmakers, 'What's the point?' Obviously, this is a no-profit film, so effectively I'm throwing money away by making it. But I'm having a lot of fun putting this together and for me that's a big factor. I guess it all depends on your motivation.

"I remember reading about a 'Batman: Dead End' showing at the ComiCon and remember thinking, 'Wow, a bunch of fans watching your film on the big screen. That must be pretty cool.'"

According to Blakeston, "It will be just over a year from the first idea of 'Hey, wouldn't it be cool if…' to the finished film going online."

The film was shot in Hull, England over a series of weekends throughout the past February, March, and April. Planning and prep work for the movie occurred over the last half of 2004. Blakeston elaborated on this period by saying, "Pre-production was great. The actor playing Batman and his girlfriend agreed to help me out with some test shots. It turned out to be the hottest day of the summer and not the best time to be wearing skin tight PVC and rubber outside in the heat. But at the end of that, I had some great footage I could work with to put together a few concept shots. So I knew I could achieve the look and style I was going for.

"Obviously finding the right lead was important, and after meeting Amber Moelter (who plays Catwoman in the film), it was clear she was the one. She's beautiful, talented and had such fun with the character. She looks stunning in the costume and brings Catwoman to life exactly as I imagined.

"Chris Jones (the fight choreographer) came on board not long after. I'd been contacted by the FSAT (First Strike Action Team) stunt team who heard about the film and couldn't have been more impressed when I met up with him. The guy really knows his stuff and has worked on TV, film, and has been motion-captured for games. He trained with Amber and choreographed the big fight scene, as well as agreeing to play a bad guy.

"At this point, I had an idea of what I wanted to happen in the script but it wasn't written. I'd enjoyed a number of Catwoman fan-fiction stories by author Chris Dee, one of which described the first meeting between Batman and Catwoman. I thought the writing was amazing, as well as her take on the character. There are stories out there where Catwoman begins as a battered wife, a prostitute, or a poor orphaned street kid - it's like this idea of a totally free, totally sexy woman has to be excused and manufactured from some horrific exploitation.

"What I found here (in Chris Dee's stories) was a Catwoman who could be sexy and playful, joyful and bitchy, witty and kinky and smart, simply because that is who she is. I got in touch, asking if she'd be interested in writing the screenplay. She was, and we went from there."

For comic-based movies, the story and its details are usually the biggest sources of contention for most fans. They can spend hours debating the merits of organic webshooters or whether or not Krypton should explode (which it didn't, in an earlier draft of the newest "Superman"). So, what is the story of "Catwoman: Copycat?" Blakeston responded, "Catwoman is the best cat burglar in Gotham City, and everybody knows it. When a sloppy amateur begins hitting her favorite targets, she wants to know why. The search for answers leads her on an action-packed prowl through the city - and into a surprising confrontation with Batman!"

For those curious about the technical details of this endeavor, Blakeston was happy to share information about the cameras used and his editing process. He said, "We shot with an XL1 and XL1s (Canon digital video cameras). They are great cameras and I know my way around them. We mainly used one, so I knew exactly what shot we were getting and how it would cut together. For the big fight sequence, we used both as there was so much action it was handy to cover as many angles as possible. I'm editing on my PC at home that I've built up over the years - using Premiere Pro and After Effects, with various plug-ins and FXhome software."

The big question most people ask about any production though is the budget. Basically, how much did it cost? Well, according to Blakeston, the answer isn't quite clear, which is what he prefers. "I actually don't have a final figure. To be honest, I'm not sure I want to work it out. Everyone involved donated their time and talent for free, but I did cover expenses and the costumes took time and money to put together. It didn't cost thousands of pounds - it's still low budget with a surprising amount of gaffer tape holding things together behind the scenes."

If you would like to know more about the behind-the-scenes occurrences of making a production like this, you're in luck. The film's website has plenty of featurettes, with a new one arriving around June 15th. In addition, the film's preview is available for viewing online, on mobile phones, or on a Sony PSP. As for the final product, Blakeston doesn't have a date locked down, although he hopes to have it up before July 1st.

As previously mentioned, Blakeston isn't legally allowed to make any money from this fan film. Therefore, one might wonder what he hopes to get out of this venture. Blakeston responded, "I hope it will be enjoyed by as many people as possible. I originally set out to make something that I could watch and think, 'Hey, that was pretty cool!' My hope is that fans will watch it, and maybe one or two will think the same."

When it comes down to it, Blakeston had a simple response for what really gets him excited about the film: "Seeing how everyone's hard work has come together, and Catwoman as I always imagined her - onscreen, kicking ass."

 
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