Now on release, Sparks is the superhero genre’s dirty little secret. The titular hero has no powers to speak of, just the ability to take, not to mention dish out, one hell of a beating. When he loses all that he has, Ian Sparks must fight to regain what truly matters, with twists, turns and sleek, stylish action aplenty. We were lucky enough to grab some time with some of the cast and crew of this low-budget, high-entertainment feature, including cinematographer Jackson Myers and veteran character actor Clint Howard. First up, we spoke to Myers about the look and feel of adapting the smooth, noir Sparks graphic novel, whilst we then caught some words with Howard (albeit through a terrible phone signal) about his involvement in the movie.
Starburst: How did you find working on Sparks?
Jackson Myers: It was an amazing experience. The feature was condensed in to 2 weeks shooting, and we were lucky enough to have the graphic novel at our disposal, so it was like having these pre-drawn, beautifully-done storyboards that we could base the film’s look off of. I had the opportunity to work with Chris before on some projects but this was the first time that we got to work together on a feature. It was long days and long nights, as always, but in the end I’m really happy with the end product. Both Chris and Todd did a wonderful job directing.
How easy was it to keep the tone and feel of the Sparks book when adapting for the big screen?
I wouldn’t say it was easy. I would say that there were a lot of intricate things, then all of the constraints that we had based on time, schedule, etc, etc really helped us. Everybody was in it together and we had a visual profile set before we even started filming. It one thing to have a graphic novel and have it on paper, but to turn that into live-action, it creates so many more elements to harness. It was difficult and challenging, and I think all of the challenges really paid off. We had 4 RED cameras going, 2 separate units going simultaneously. We used green screen, although most of it was practical locations.
How was it, trying to obtain the final product that you wanted but within a relatively small budget?
It was a great challenge to have, but I’m really happy with the final product. I think everybody worked so hard to make it happen. Yeah, I’m proud of it; I’m proud to have my name on this project. I think you take all of the limitations and all of the restraints that we had to work with, I think we made the most of what we had. The directors had a vision and we were able to take it through to the end. And the music, I think the score was done phenomenally and really helps carry the moment of each scene. It was a really worthwhile experience for me creatively, and I learnt a lot from the beginning to the end.
How was it working with the actors in terms of the post-production side?
It was a pleasure, truly. It was very professional and all of the actors worked their asses off and gave it their own. I think that’s all you can ask for. As far as the cinematography, they were willing to work with it. Each and every one of them were a pleasure to work with - we were a team.
Playing the role of newspaper head Gordon Eldridge, Howard is tasked with being the one that the titular Sparks tells his story to. Having taken in big hitters like Apollo 13 during his time, Howard talks to us about what drew him to this low-budget superhero movie.
Starburst: What excited you about Sparks?
Clint Howard: I really like the idea that these guys really did make a movie in a very short period of time. Principle photography was 12 days! The budget was micro. There are big movies like the Harry Potter movies that spend more on craft service in a week than we spent making the movie. $350,000 – it’s amazing, it’s really amazing. The business is changing so fast. I get tired of films that are too self-important.
Had you read the graphic novel before getting involved in Sparks?
I hadn’t. Originally, Chris wrote the story in several comic books. I flicked through a few of those. But the film is a lot bigger than what he did in his artistry. The final graphic novel itself is a pretty good replica of the movie but the excellent thing about Chris is he came up with this concept, imagined and created this world that Sparks lived in, and yet he was certainly willing to change dialogue, discuss attitudes, motivations, but it wasn’t like this story had to be done a set way. It really felt collaborative. It had an old feel. I remember the old Roger Corman movies. He wouldn’t compete with the studios. I remember years ago, Jurassic Park came out and Roger Corman immediately got the idea of his own dinosaur movie. And he did it. He hired Diane Lane to be in it, and I played a little bit. They knew they were doing a cheap knock-off. They weren’t trying to create with Jurassic Park, there were just people that liked to be entertained. And I think Sparks does that.
Sparks is available on DVD and Blu-ray now. You can find our review here.
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