Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: You are currently in production on The Teen Titans Project, a fan film / web series that features the DC comic book team of the same name. For our readers who may be unfamiliar with the project, how would you describe it?
Chelton Perry: First off, I would like to thank you and your team for this interview. The Cast and Crew of The Teen Titans Project are grateful for this opportunity. I have been going over this question over and over again in my head. And, after writing this about 3 times, I FINALLY came up with an answer. I would describe this project as EXCITINGLY SCARY. I believe I can speak for most of the crew when I say doing a hero-type production is something every kid has dreamed of. And, when that kid obtains the tools and resources to make it happen, it can be a scary and exciting moment. I mean we are taking the story of the Teen Titans (after the events of Graduation Day) and making the first live-action anything. Stepping into a place where you are creating the first of its kind is not something you should take lightly, especially when fans across the globe have been awaiting its arrival. You want to make sure that you do everything right and hope it does not tank. But, at the same time, you feel so strongly and excited about the outcome that you know you can pull it off. You believe you can do the story justice, make the costumes right, pick the proper cast/crew, and take the term "web series" to a whole new level.
BD: As the director and editor of the film, what inspired you to create this project?
CP: Around 8 years ago, an independent film company called Untamed Cinema came out with an epic, 5-minute trailer called GRAYSON. If you have not seen it, you should. It showed the events of Dick Grayson coming back to Gotham City after 10 years, investigating who "killed" Batman, and picking up the Robin mantel once again. It was the first time that I had seen a sidekick be "featured" in anything. I mean, sure, there was the Batman Forever movie and Robin made his appearance. But, it really did not do the character justice. Dick Grayson/Robin was the main character in that Fan Trailer. Everything was centered around him, and that's what I loved. After seeing the trailer, I knew I had to start something of my own. But, I did not want to repeat what other people had already created. So, in early 2012, I began preparations, and all I knew at the time was that I wanted to do something no one has ever touched. Fan-based films for many of the major heroes, and even Star Wars, had been visited. But, no one had concentrated on the next generation of heroes. So, I wanted to pick up where GRAYSON left off and focus on some of the characters who have not gotten a lot of love in the movie world. During further research on the Titans and seeing that each character had amazing depth to them, I decided that this was the story I wanted to tell. They were the heroes I wanted to finally bring to life.
BD: Given that you wear many hats in the creation of The Teen Titans Project, did you find that one aspect of the creative process was more challenging (or more natural) for you?
CP: I have to say the creativity, editing and filming part of it is easy. Let me rephrase that. It's easy in a sense that I am used to doing it. By no means is editing an easy task. And, I can tell you first hand that it takes a lot of energy and effort. But, because I am used to the long hours and understand what needs to be done in order to complete a video, it is definitely more natural. Getting people together (to work for free, mind you) was hard, but also not a task that I was uncomfortable with. And, even the directing side of things was natural, because I love working with people. I think the hardest thing I have had to deal with is the crowd fundraising. THAT is a challenge. I have so much love for people who are doing the same thing I am. Putting their dream together and doing crowdfunding for it. But, let me tell you, sometimes it can be frustrating when in 2 days a project will raise $20,000 dollars, and in 10 days yours raises about $60.00. So, you begin to doubt yourself and the idea of your project. Believing that you did something wrong in the advertising process. But, in actuality, it's nothing that you did, it was just the luck of the draw. Still, when putting together a project like this and not always getting the intended results at the exact time you want it to happen can be a headache. However, through this process, I have come to appreciate a good challenge. Not only that, but I understand now, more than I ever did in the past, what people will do in order to obtain a dream.
BD: In addition to your work on the project, you have the support of a talented creative team that includes artists, graphic designers, music composers, and cinematographers. Can you tell us about the process of working with the creative team and the contributions of these individuals?
CP: Everyone says this about the teams that they work with, BUT I AM TELLING YOU, THESE PEOPLE ARE AMAZING!!!!! They are the ones that are really making this project come to life. Our lead Art Director Christopher Canchola and Assistant Art Director Teddy Wright IV are doing an amazing job with the art team. They make sure that work gets in on time and our final art work is rendered to a quality where fans and potential clients can see we are trying to make more than just a fan-based web series. Omer Ben-Zvi has a talent beyond his years to create wonderful cinematic music with the resources he has. And, of course, our amazing Costume Designer Amanda Hosler who has assisted with such films as The Amazing Spider-Man and the new Man of Steel movie, has her work cut out for her. I will admit we shall be cutting it close when we do these costumes, but with the help she has and the extra help coming in, I have full confidence that she will lead her team very well. In the creation process, I want everyone to have their freedom. Of course, I want the project to go in a certain direction, but the liberty to play with the idea and expand on it is theirs. And, because this freedom is allowed, amazing work is being produced. Each member brings something different to the table. A cinematic eye, common sense, or just seeing something that myself or my assistant director might have overlooked. Every one of us has our strengths and weaknesses, but together we fill those gaps.
BD: What is the status of The Teen Titans Project, and how can fans of the DC characters help the project to complete the production process?
CP: As of now we are less than 2 weeks away from filming the web series. Some of our fans may have seen the "Character Shorts" we have put together. Giving the audience a taste of what we can do with the limited resources we have. But, as we come closer to our actual production date, we need help with our crowdfunding. Our previous attempt at a Kickstarter and Indiegogo did not go as planned. So, instead of restarting another Kickstarter/Indiegogo we have a website where a donation pay-pal page has been set up. This way, we can always have something constantly running. Just like the Kickstarter, we offer rewards like T-Shirts, producer credit, signed artwork, and dinner with the cast and crew. The main reason we are asking for donations is so we can finally build those awesome character designs you have been seeing. Though we will take every route possible to make this production cost efficient, we still need your help with funds. This is our last hurdle before film time. If we can reach a goal of $2,500 (or even more than that), we will be well on our way to finishing these costumes and filming the first 3 episodes; however, if you are unable to donate, the next best thing you can do is help spread the word about us. This is a great project with an amazing team. And, they deserve to have their hard work be seen by others.
BD: Once the production process is completed, what is your ultimate hope or goal for the project?
CP: Ya know, that's a really good question. First and foremost, our ultimate hope for this project is that it becomes popular enough that we generate a bigger following, giving us a bit more leverage when we begin another Season of the Teen Titans or even another fan film. I want all the talent on this team to be shown to the masses, and, in doing so, we might be seen by game companies, networks that do cartoon shows, Hollywood production companies, or even DC Comics themselves. Every single one of my teammates worked long and hard to get where they are, and I believe that this project will be a huge starting point for all of us. We also want to present this video to every CON there is, because, if I'm not mistaken, many people have shown fan films at a CON. So, that would be really exciting to be able to present The Teen Titans Project to a live, large audience. I also plan on putting this into multiple film festivals and internet festivals. From what I have seen, there are a multitude of online competitions for fan-based projects which would be great advertising for us. Even if we didn't win, it would still be phenomenal exposure for our group. And, if we are lucky, I would definitely like to present this to Warner Bros. and see what they think. So, there are many roads that we can take with this project. And, I plan on exploring everyone of them.
BD: Being that we focus on all things “geek” at Fanboy Comics, would you care to geek out with us about your favorite comic books, movies, and fan-created projects?
CP: So, I have two things I want to geek out on. FIRST, STAR TREK!!!! Ok, I have been a HUGE Star Trek fan since I was 1. Seriously, 1 years old. Apparently, my mom use to put me in front of the TV, and we used to watch the original Star Trek together. So, for all you Trek nerds out ther,e do not get mad at me, because this is my opinion. But, I think that JJ Abrahms has done a great job with the reboot. Though I do have more than a few issues with the new Star Trek movie that came ou t(like being blinded by lens flares), it was still a good movie. And, I believe the new reboot is going in a good direction. I know, a lot of people will disagree with me on that but hey . . . to each their own. With that said, I am looking forward to seeing what he is going to do with the new Star Wars movie. Moving on to fan-based projects, I am really looking forward to the MMPR fan film that's being created. Myself, like many other Power Ranger/Super Sentai fans have wanted to see a darker version of the rangers. And, I pray that they do a good job with this. The trailer looked pretty good, and I believe it was nominated for an online award. Like, Best Fan Trailer of the Year or something. Do not quote me on that. Never the less, I can't wait to see the results for it. As for comic books, I need to catch up on them. I am very reluctant to read any of the New 52 stuff, though I have skimmed through a few of the Nightwing, Teen Titans, and Justice League issues. Justice League and Nightwing I am ok with. The Teen Titans, well that's a bit of a different story. They definitely brought a new approach to the Titans. Which can be viewed as good and bad. But, just like with anything new, you just never know what's going to happen. So, I'm going to give it a few more years before I put down my final judgment.
BD: What is the most important piece of advice that you can offer to our readers who aspire to make their own fan projects?
CP: Never quit. One regret that I have is that many of my past projects have gone unfinished. I started off strong, had a great idea, did a lot of the filming, but never took that extra step to get all the final touches done. EVERYTHING you do will take time. Sometimes, it will be much longer than you expect, and you won't wanna go back and do those tiny things that are usually the most important. But, once you just "beast mode" those last tedious touches and get that project polished up and completed, it will be the most amazing feeling in the world. That accomplishment will not only make you feel good but inspire you to create more work. It does not matter if you have never filmed, directed, or edited before. The only thing that's important is bringing your idea to life.
BD: On that same note, which creators have inspired your work?
CP: I cannot say that any one creator inspired my work. Every director and movie has their unique style, and I have appreciated all of them; however, if I had to pick a genre that's influenced me, I will say that sci-fi and action have greatly directed my style. I tend to make everything very epic. The camera movement, my editing choices, the music that I use, and even the basic effects I put into my projects.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about The Teen Titans Project?
CP: Go to our Facebook page and look at all the work we have produced so far, and I'm sure you will understand how hard we have been working to make this happen. Most of our updates are posted on the Facebook page, but we do have a Twitter, deviantart, and Tumblr account. After you are done reading about the project, log on to YouTube and search for "Teen Titans Project" to check out some of our video updates. And, if you want to learn how you can donate, go to www.epicet.net/teentitansproject/donations. This Kickstarter-inspired page will give you a breakdown of the project, show you how much you can donate, and what rewards you will get for your efforts. If you cannot help by giving a bit to the project, please spread the word to everyone you know. Not only do we enjoy hearing from fans of this project, but anyone who has grown up with the Titans.