Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts Production Journal #2

This has been a busy week in the Captured Ghosts world. I was going to discuss the experience of filming with Warren, but I’m going to save that for next week and instead discuss our three major days of work on the film this week.

On Tuesday, Jordan (DP/Producer of the film) and I headed over to the Triple Crown bar in New York City to interview Garth Ennis, a friend of Warren’s and a comics icon in his own right. I’ve been a longtime Garth fan, and I remember reading Preacher back in high school at the same time I was getting into Warren’s work.

Garth was not an easy guy to get a hold of; it feels like we’ve spent an entire year looking for an in with Ennis. He doesn’t have any sort of internet presence and doesn’t even have his own e-mail address.

We were on to shoot for Tuesday, and I was wondering, would this be a booze soaked crazy experience, would he be as iconic as his characters? As is often the case, Garth did not quite live up to the wild man image you might have of him, but he was a wonderful guy to talk to: very chill, very calm, and an engrossing storyteller. He filled in some much needed background on Warren’s early work and discussed the varied paths they both took to the comics big time.

It’s crazy to me that Warren, Garth, and Grant Morrison all broke into comics in their teens. They’re making me feel like a slacker for going to college instead of jumping right into the working world. It’s also notable that all those guys, and Alan Moore, chose to forgo college (or university, as the Brits would call it) and jumped right into comics. They’re all really smart and are largely self-taught.

So it was a great time shooting with Garth in the basement of a bar. He picked coffee over a beer, which was a bit disappointing, but I suppose it was 1 PM and he had to get back to work for the day after the shoot.

Over the next two days, I sorted through all the Ennis footage, organized it and pulled the selects that I would integrate into the current edit. By Thursday afternoon, I had a revised cut with Ennis incorporated, and Jordan and I headed over to my old place of employment, Postworks New York, to screen the cut with producer FJ. After Jordan extricated himself from a stalled elevator, we watched that new edit and got some notes from FJ.

I never really like watching rough cuts for notes. It’s a necessary part of the process and is key to improving the film, but after spending so much time getting the film to the place it’s at, it’s hard to hear someone critique it. But sometimes when they say stuff, you see it through their eyes, and realize, yeah, this has to be changed. I suppose the goal of a screening is to just hear “It’s great! Perfect! Don’t change a thing!” In reality, that’s going to be useless. You need that criticism to keep making the film better.

This isn’t to say the screening went bad. FJ seemed to really enjoy the edit, and had some great suggestions on how to keep making it better. So, I’ve taken those into account, and am editing accordingly.

We capped it all off with a shoot with Dean Haspiel at the MoCCA Fest in New York City. Dean had a lot of great insight into Warren, and I was excited to hear that he had seen and enjoyed the Grant Morrison film, Talking with Gods. We also got great material from George O’Connor and Tony Wolf.

Every week from here on out is going to be pretty transformative for the Ellis film, but this was definitely a big one. A lot of improvements were made, and I think we’re closer to a solid film. This week, I’m going to work with Jordan to start shooting visual elements to illustrate the various anecdotes and ideas Warren presents in the film. Does anyone know somebody in the New York area with a spacesuit?

NEXT WEEK: Return for a more detailed explanation of what it’s like to film with Warren! For real this time!

For more information on Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts, click here or here. You can also make pledges towards the film’s production and earn cool rewards here.

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