The magic that fuels Eternia found it’s way to our crew in late May of 2016 as we hit the road and started production on Power Of Grayskull: The Definitive History of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Four of us set out to film in LA for round one, yet only three arrived. Manny, our good friend and frequent collaborator was turned away at the border thanks in part to a misunderstanding with the rest of the crew’s visas that allow them to work in the US. This came out of nowhere for me; I expected to pick the guys up at McCarran airport and head to LA. Instead, Isaac, our Director of Photography, called me with the update an hour before their flight from Detroit informing me about this Trap Jaw-like monkey wrench in our carefully crafted plans. While we quickly thought about pulling in another person to help, we made the decision to run as a three-person crew for our first round of production. I mean, what could go wrong? It’s not like each of us was carrying an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on our backs.
I won’t write a 10,000 word blog post about everyone we talked to in the 30+ interview sprint that encapsulated round one of production, but I’ll drop in with my thoughts on various participants as we continue to make the film. Day one saw us head to the art museum, I mean, house, of William Stout. Bill, as we called him, was the production designer on the live action, Masters of the Universe film, directed by Gary Goddard.
As I may have already suggested, art covers every inch of wall space in his house. The frames for each piece are different, and the shape of each piece of art was as varied as the style and medium used to create them. Oh, there was also a replica T-Rex skull in his foyer. During his interview, Bill talked about how he transitioned from storyboard artist to production designer on the film, came up with for designs for Skeletor inspired by Doctor Doom and other Jack Kirby creations, among other tales of his time on the production. For example, he walked us through a sequence originally designed to include She-Ra… and then later that day, in his archives, showed us the concept art that supported all this and so much more.
Overall, I would say the first two weeks of shooting was exactly what I expected but nothing that I could possibly imagine. While that statement sounds like it’s contradictory, it’s really not from a certain perspective. As a documentary filmmaker, I’ve become used to hearing stories of process, and seeing material that’s never been seen before, but it’s always enlightening to hear the stories of the people that I’m meeting for the first time. More often than not, the subject matter takes second stage, in this case Masters of the Universe, and the person stands center stage and holds your attention for the entire duration of the interview with information and connections to the subject material you never saw coming. Despite where most people start their career, one can see how Masters of the Universe became a logical stop along their path, and how they imprinted that brand along the way before moving on to other projects.
With that, I’ll leave you with a quirky behind the scenes look at what happened during the first round of filming. We presented this reel at Power Con 2016, so we only had footage from a handful of participants to showcase. At Power Con, we were able to secure another 9 interviews, which would’ve been great to show too. Maybe next year? Stay tuned!
Power Con Reel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANlMzFy3q4I
For other episodes of our on-going behind the scenes look at making this film, be sure to check out our Chasing Grayskull section on our website: http://heman.fauxpop.com/category/chasing-grayskull/
Raise the sword,