In one of the more awesome and unlikely comics-to-film adaptations to come down the pipeline in recent years, Joe Casey and Chris Burnham's Image Comics title Officer Downe is coming to the big screen from director Shawn Crahan.
Don't know that name? He's better known as Clown, of the band Slipknot. He's bringing a strange and singular vision to a strange and singular comic, which has about as much input from the creators as you can hope to see in a movie.
Officer Downe is available in print and digitally through the Man of Action imprint at Image Comics. Man of Action Entertainment are also producers of the film and Casey is a producer, the screenwriter and the writer/co-creator of the original source material.
Casey joined ComicBook.com to discuss the film, how it came to be, and his hopes for Officer Downe going forward.
As somebody who's got a fair amount of experience in Hollywood, do you think you were better situated than most comics folk to see to it that your movie was something you could be proud of?
I don't know if I'd say it like that. I didn't really "see to it" any more than anyone else who writes and produces a feature film would. I just did those jobs. The fact that Burnham and I controlled the IP (thanks to the best creator-owned deal in the business at Image Comics) certainly put me in the position to do those jobs, but there was never any talk about it being any other way.
I wrote the screenplay, I was there for pre-production, I was on the set every day, I was there for every step of post production... and the main reason for me to do all that work was because I'm a process junkie. I like to actually make stuff. And while I do it all the time in my comicbook work, this was the biggest example of "process" you could ever possibly imagine. It was an enormous challenge, but it was also incredibly gratifying.
Honestly, the movie actually being seen by anyone else's eyeballs is just icing on the cake.
How did you end up working with Crahan on this?
You say "Crahan," I say "Clown." But he answers to both.
He was brought in by Skip Williamson and Mark Neveldine (my producing partners on the film) and he was a great fit for the material. Yeah, Clown's a big-time arena rock guy with Slipknot, but he personally leans toward the more artistic side of things. He's all about creativity, which is exactly what we wanted.
This movie needed a point of view. It needed a specific vision. And that's what a guy like Clown brings to the party. He also loved the graphic novel, he responded to everything in it on a very visceral level, and he brought that enthusiasm to shooting the movie.
Obviously Deadpool is at least a little on your radar because the character is no stranger to Man of Action creators. But when a kind of wildly unexpected success like that comes along, do you think it helps things like Officer Downe, another violent and darkly comic comic book adaptation?
I guess it could help, in theory. It certainly seemed to have other studios -- and other potential comicbook movies still in development -- panicking and scrambling to come to terms with Deadpool's runaway success. That's always fun to watch.
But I try not to play those parlor games, if I can help it. At least, not in public. I'd rather concentrate on doing my part to make the movie as good as it can be and I assume the rest will take care of itself.
I can say, having seen Deadpool and liking it quite a bit... our flick is 100% its own beast, with its own unique brands of humor and mayhem.
The look of this comic was so stylized, was it important to you to connect with a filmmaker who could retain as much of that as possible?
Definitely. But, really, that was everyone's mandate on this movie. From the production designer to the costumer to the director of photography to the stunt team... everyone would all constantly refer back to the graphic novel for inspiration.
It was surreal to walk around and see copies of it lying around everywhere. Even Clown's area of the production office was adorned with most of the pages from the book, blown up and mounted on the wall like black light posters. And because of that, there are definitely certain shots that you'll see were taken right out of the comicbook.
Can you give us a kind of elevator pitch, for the readers who don't already know what Officer Downe is?
Officer Downe is the story of Terrence Downe, a Los Angeles super-cop who, through a mysterious, highly technical process, is resurrected time and time again after repeatedly giving his life in the line of duty.
Not to mention, this is a Los Angeles that -- in terms of being crime-ridden and packed to the gills with bizarre super-criminals -- makes Gotham City look like Mayberry. It's completely over-the-top in every way you could imagine.
Any more than that... and you'll just have to step off the elevator and read the graphic novel (ideally in its BIGGER BETTER BASTARD hardcover edition) or hopefully see the film.
Is it a little strange, bringing a film like this around to festivals? It doesn't exactly feel like arthouse fare.
Well, who's to say what's "art house" these days? Compared to other comicbook movies, we're definitely art house in the way we made it. There was no studio -- and, thus, no studio execs -- to tell us what we could and couldn't do. It might've spoiled me, quite honestly, because we did have so much freedom.
Conversely, we also had no big corporation to back us up, should anything have gone awry. Luckily, nothing really did, and we made it through to the other side. And so, on the festival trail we go.
With the premiere screening at the LA Film Festival having already sold out, they added another screening on June 7, so there's still a chance for any Southland residents who want to see it right away. Just head over to the LAFF website and snap up the seats that might be left.
What's the biggest thing that you hope fans know going into this film?
For anyone who has actually read the original comicbook, I think they'll be happy with how true we remained to the source material. It literally is the comicbook that Burnham and I created come to life onscreen. I mean, a film like this isn't going to cure cancer or anything like that. Clearly, we're not expecting to win Oscars here. It's just not that kind of movie.
But it is one helluva roller coaster ride, unlike any comicbook-based movie that's ever existed before. If anything, our aspirations are simply to blow the goddamn roof off whatever theatre it ends up being shown in.