Review Fix Exclusive: Q & A With ‘Black Hat’ Writer and Director Robbie Bryan
Review Fix chats with “Black Hat director and writer Robbie Bryan, who discusses the upcoming film. With a top-notch staff and a socially prevalent theme, big things are expected from this Bryan and his team
Review Fix: Do you remember when the idea for “Black Hat” came to your mind?
Robbie Bryan: It’s the coolest question and quite frankly, scares me to death! Why? Because I just don’t know. Here’s the skinny. About two years ago, one of the Producers from “Phone Booth”with Colin Farrell, calls me up and says, “I have this 15 year old actress and her dad wants to Produce an indie film that will be a star vehicle for her and do I have a screenplay that would be right for her, written.” I respond, as any hungry writer/director would, “No, but I can write one!” He says no nudity or love scenes. Maybe her character and a relative, dad or whatever. So, instantly, I try and figure out a fresh new idea. But honestly, and I tell this to all the anime and manga fans I know and have had the honor of meeting though this process, that until two years ago, I knew nothing about it and, to answer your question, how I came about it. Probably surfing the ‘net for ideas. But the second I did, I knew I had to make the movie about it. I then came about The Cheshire Anime Club in Connecticut, asked if I could come interview them and their leader, teacher Kelley Gile and they have been so kind to let me into their world and I feel like I am a part of it for sure.
Review Fix: Production begins in October. How are you feeling going into this?
Bryan: I’ve been in this business for 20 years now and I have never been so excited about getting to the first day of production as this. Maybe it’s the passion and dedication of all the Otaku out there. Or the chance to incorporate 10 minutes of actual anime in the film, or work with people like Maruyama-san and possibly Shinichiro Watanabe-san, who we are speaking to about doing a cameo in the film, and some other amazing companies. Or maybe the fact that our Facebook page has almost 30,000 “likes” already www.facebook.com/wronginalltherightwaysfilm and the buzz surrounding it all, but yeah, there are really no words to describe how stoked I am.
Review Fix: How does it feel to have Masao Maruyama and Slipknot signed on, out of the gate?
Bryan: The fact that we can have people like them possibly joining us (I never say it’s definite until I see them on set, things happen) but just their interest alone validates the film so much and also opens it up to SO many people of different backgrounds. It’s just an honor and we are talking to major stars to play the two leads, so if they pan out, all I can say is “wow.”
Review Fix: What do you think they will add to the film?
Bryan: In Maruyama’s case, what the FB page and also going to places like Otakon and Anime Boston and interviewing real cosplayers and Otaku, has allowed me to be able to speak one-on-one and ask them what it would take to really do right by them, and be true to them, and authenticity seems to be the biggest thing. Staying true to the Japanese Culture and Art Form. So to have the best-of-the best create the 10 minutes of anime in the film, means I am doing just that. In Slipknot’s case, to have their music and likeness means we are creating the quintessential alternative character in “Dandi,” and amazing music with a loyal fan base who can support the film in a different manor.
Review Fix: The film touches on various social themes prevalent today, such as bullying. Were there any films or ideas from pop culture you feel lend themselves to the telling of this story? In simpler terms, what films or entertainment inspired you to tell this story?
Bryan: The film certainly has a bit of a “Little MIss Sunshine-vibe,” albeit with a hipper slant and it’s own voice, but the teen bullying aspect comes just form watching the news, and seeing things on Facebook for instance, that break my heart. There’s nothing more tragic than a teenager, who is being bullied mercilessly for whatever reason, height, weight, sexual orientation, color, gender, whatever, truly believing that 1- there is no other answer to the problem than taking his/her life and 2- not being able to let them know that 90%, the worst of it is what they are feeling at that moment and that they have their whole life ahead to do truly amazing things and most successful and happy people in life were not in high school. That it’s the tip of the beginning of the iceberg and not the end by any means. I hope this film can give them a bit of sense of that.
Review Fix: How do you believe this film will resonate with seasoned anime fans?
Bryan: I think it goes back to authenticity. From the story, to the anime portion and who is creating it, to “Dandi’s” manga, which is being created by an artist, Christine Chong, who comes for The Far East and works cons all over the country. But the biggest gift, once the film comes out, will be to hear from those fans and hopefully get a pat on the back saying, “You represented our world and us well.”
Review Fix: Great anime, such as Akira, Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D have succeeded and thrived due to their mainstream appeal. Do you think this film has the potential to engage a mainstream audience. If so, why?
Bryan: Well, I believe we have a great shot, since it’s going to be about 80 minutes of narrative and 10 minutes of anime, to reach the mainstream, while staying true to our core audience. It is my hope anyway. Everyone can relate to the film’s themes of regret and also chasing one’s dream. But it is also my desire to steer some mainstream folks to this wonderful world, as I have been fortunate to have had happen.
Review Fix: How do you want this film to be remembered, say a year from when it’s released?
Bryan: I hope that people around the world will choose to visit this fantastically creative art form and embrace it. I hope that the fans of anime will want to share this with all their fellow animated warriors and continue to push this genre forward. I hope one teen will write me and say, “Thank you for having my back and hearing my voice, as I was lonely and desperate and now feel like there is hope for me and my future.” And I dream that Programmers for San Diego Comic Con contact me and say, “We have to show this film at this year’s con.”
Patrick Hickey Jr.
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