Legends of the Knight

Picture Taken From The Film’s Facebook Page
At Amazing Arizona Comicon 2014, I was able to attend a
screening the film “WEareBATMAN: Legends of the Knight”.  Legends
is a documentary that captures the story of ordinary people who have been
inspired by Batman to do wonderful things in the world. From the 19-year-old
college student who dresses up in his homemade caped crusader costume and
performs around his small town to inspire goodness in his neighbors, to the
young boy with Leukemia who had an entire town help him spend an entire day as
the Dark Knight fighting crime, it is clear that the film’s message is one of
inspiration and hope.
For a culture that is often much maligned, a purely
feel-good film such as Legends shines
brightly. It is proof that, beneath the violence and darkness that is often
highlighted as a troublesome aspect of comics and super heroes, there is a
message of charity and goodwill. I feel I left the screening a happier and more
inspired person than when I went in.

I had a chance to chat with the film’s creator, Brett Culp,
afterward. Brett shared what his inspirations for making Legend of the Knight were, what his hopes for the film are, and how
he defines the word “hero”.

Interview with Brett Culp, Creator
of Legends of the Knight
Interviewer: David Baumiller

What got you started in
filmmaking?
I started making films when I was
10 years old. My Dad got a home movie camera and I would make little
stop-motion animation films with my Batman figures and TMNT figures and
anything else I could get my hands on. When my friends got together we would
make little movies. I did that all through Junior High and High School. And
then when I was in college I started making wedding films.  I got really good at doing that and really
skilled. And that lead to a lot of other documentary style projects for me.


I’ve had a very interesting
career. I’ve gotten to work with celebrities and rock stars and Hollywood
A-list celebrities, but also fortune 500 companies and not-for-profits. So,
it’s been an amazing group of people I’ve been able to work with and create
these documentary style films for. So I’ve had it in my mind for a long time
that I wanted to make a feature length film, and Legends of the Knight is my
first feature length movie.


What were your primary
inspirations for creating Legends of the
Knight
?
There were 2 primary inspirations
for Legends of the Knight. This first is my life-long love of stories. I have
watched, as a filmmaker, how telling a story effectively and experiencing a
story can change you; can alter and influence the way you see yourself and the
way you see the world. I’ve seen people given information about something and
not have it really change them very much. But when they see that same
information through a story, all of the sudden they see if so differently. And
so I wanted to create a film that was about that, was about how stories change
us.


And then I was looking for the
perfect story to use as an example of how people could be changed by it. Batman
was, for me, the obvious example. I’m a life-long fan of Batman and of super
hero stories. To take a character that is now 75 years old, and to show how
it’s affected people through many generations and many iterations, and all of
these different version of Batman that have existed have all been very popular
and embraced by the popular culture. He seemed like the perfect character to
explore this kind of concept with in a feature length film like
Legends of the Knight.

Walk us through the creation
process: how you got started, how you got support for the film, and what
obstacles you ran into along the way.
Certainly, I could talk about
that for days. When you make a film like this, it’s a grass-roots, independent
film. There’s challenges all throughout the process. The first one was raising
the initial funding that was needed. So, we launched an “Indiegogo” campaign in
April 2012 and we raised about $27,000 from that campaign so that I could get
going with the production. The process of launching that campaign and raising
the funding, in some ways that was a full time job in and of itself. But it was
great and we had a lot of support, even though, at that time, we were just
trying to express this thing verbally. It was very difficult to try and explain
the concept. To my knowledge, nobody’s done anything quite like this before.
So, we’re just trying to verbally explain it.


And then we spend a year in
production, filming. And I filmed in 15 cities all over the country. And that
was a challenge: trying to find the stories and determine which stories were
good and qualify them and make sure that if I got on a plane and flew out there
to film for two days that I was indeed going to be able to capture what I
needed, arranging all of that. Doing that as a small company, we’re just a three
person company, so it’s not like we had a huge credit list of people that most
Hollywood productions do or television shows do.


So arranging all of that, putting
it together, and then it was the epic task of the editing. Taking 140 hours of
raw footage and turning in to something that had a cohesive story line. So I
began that process and in the midst of it we created a trailer for the film and
launched a “Kickstarter” campaign last year in February, 2013. And that was a
huge success; we had great support for that. I was so happy to have people
really stand behind us. Over 1000 people contributed to that campaign, so it
was just wonderful.


Then the process of having the
film, thinking it was done and then really looking at it again and thinking,
you know, it’s really not done. I’m going to re-edit some things. I’m going add
some things, take some things out. It was a journey, it was adventure. And now
we’re on the adventure of sharing it with the world, which has its own trials
and struggles along with it.


Has there been anything that has
surprised you thus far as far as the reactions from the audiences that have
seen Legends?
I think what has surprised me,
and what has been a wonderful surprise, is how widely and by how many different
audiences this film has embraces. Obviously, the geek/ pop culture community,
Comicon community, really loves this film for obvious reasons. It’s Batman, it
explores the power of this culture, these stories in our world. In many ways it
celebrates and affirms that these stories have a wonderful, powerful role in
our world.


But there are people that aren’t
even Batman fans, that don’t love that kind of stuff, that just love the spirit
of the film. They love, not necessarily the pop culture exploration, but the
community service and the spirit of overcoming. The idea that the young people
of this generation, the things that they love and embrace, that those are
hopeful signs that there is positive in it. So, I think I’ve been very
pleasantly surprised at how wide the audience is. We’ve launched this
opportunity through “TUGG” for people to request screenings of the film in
their local theaters. You can bring
Legends
of the Knight to a theater near you. You
can do that request through our website and raise some money for a local charity.


And, so, I’ve just been so
pleasantly surprised at the different types of people and backgrounds that have
made those requests and are promoting screenings in their area. It’s not just
comic book stores, it’s also church groups and writers and book clubs and all
kinds of different groups of people. So I feel like, as we start to share this
with the world over the months ahead, that it will have a great audience and
I’m excited about that.


Is there anyway else people can
go about requesting group screenings?
 There are a couple of different ways. There is
the way we just mentioned, the opportunity to request a screening. The beauty
of working with “TUGG” is that you end up with the opportunity to watch the
movie in a local theater on a big screen, the way you are used to watching a
movie. There is no cost for the request. It is free, but you do have to hit a
minimum number of ticket sales within seven days of the event, so there always
kind of a catch to that, but it just insures for the local theater, that
they’re not going to lose money. That their expenses and costs are covered and
that it’s a worthwhile venture for them since there is no cost involved for the
person requesting the screening. So there’s an upside and a downside. 


The other side of it is that
there is an opportunity to watch the movie any place you want to watch it with
a group of people. Whether it’s on a college campus, or at a community center,
or a church group, or whatever like that, those opportunities are available as
well. There’s a small licensing fee for that. But once you pay that small fee,
then you can either have a free screening, or you can use any ticket sales you
raise and give to a local charity, or cover the cost of that licensing fee, so
there are multiple options for that.


Do you have any other projects on
the horizon?
The project right now is getting
this out to the world. I don’t know how long we’ll pursue that. I’ve got some
other projects that are in my head, but right now I am 100% focused on bringing
this to the world, and doing it in a way that meets the vision that we had for
the film. I don’t want to just sell this to a distributing and just let people
randomly watch it. I made this film to inspire people to do good and to help
people do good. For the film to be a vehicle for good. So, we’re going to keep
pursuing that agenda: helping people see it and helping to make a positive
difference in the world. I feel like right now, us spending our energy on that
and this independent distribution that we’re doing, I fell like that’s the best
use of our time right now.


Has it gone International at all
yet, or is it purely domestic so far?
So far, all of the screenings
we’ve been involved in have been in the U.S. People, internationally, can
purchase the film on DVD, BluRay, and digital download. You can preorder the
film right now. It will be available, for general purchase, in the month of
March. But right now the only other country there are any screenings schedules
for is the Philippines. One of our production partners that joined us early is
in the Philippines and he’s putting together screenings there. But besides
that, nothing else has come up in any other countries.


Not including Batman, who was
your favorite comic book hero growing up?
Well, my favorite hero
growing up is my Dad. He’s not fictional, but he’s definitely my favorite hero
growing up. In the fictional world, I love characters like Sherlock Holmes and
Zorro. Those characters that were very human and that also had aura of mystery
to them. They always left people kind of dazzled by their abilities. I’ve
always been drawn to those kind of stories. And Batman was influenced by—when
Bob Kane and Bill Finger created Batman—he was definitely influenced by those
kind of characters. And I love those kind of stories, the swashbuckling, the
caped crusader, I loved all of that. People that, even in their eccentricities,
in their own unique ways, try to make a difference in the world.


Brett, anything else you’d like
to add?
You know, I do hope people will
be inspired, when they watch this film, to put on a cape, whether it’s
physically or symbolically, and become heroes in their own lives, in their
family’s, in their communities, and in the world.  I hope people will be inspired to be like
Batman, and do something great, and to believe that there’s still hope for
Gotham City. That the story is not done, that we are not done, and there are
still wonderful things to do in the world. The world can be better than it is.

Brett and his team and currently circuiting the nation
showing Legends of the Knight at
various theaters and conventions. A listing of current screenings, as well as
information to request a screening in your town, can be found at their website:
WeAreBatman.com.

Our thanks go out to Brett for taking the time to sit down with us! 

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