The filmmakers I respect the most are the ones willing to do whatever it takes to get their movie made. Nothing can stop them once they’ve set themselves on the path of expressing their vision. Impressive stories like maxing out credit cards or spending years shooting on weekends or going to jail or selling blood to get a film produced, are inspiring. But I have never heard a story like Dan Poole’s. He risked his life to make a movie. Sure, it is a cheesy, homemade Spider-Man film. Dan Poole not only wrote, directed and starred in the movie, he did all of his own stunts and almost died in the process clinging to a cable in a full Spider-Man costume wearing slippery cotton gloves without a safety net. Dan Poole is not just a dedicated filmmaker — he had to be completely nuts to pull this off! (And I mean that as a compliment, of course.) “The Green Goblin’s Last Stand” made me gasp as I feared for this guy’s life. Poole performed stunts like swinging from a skyscraper six stories above the ground, leaping from building to building, jumping through roofs, swaying beneath a bridge and clinging to a moving car. It’s insane! And simply amazing! You have to see it to believe it! Now, the film itself is pretty amateurish – like a crappy, shot-on-video Mexican soap opera – but those stunts will leave your jaw on the floor.
I first saw this tape at my birthday party in September, a gift from a friend who didn’t know a thing about the filmmaker or the origins of the tape. As a longtime Spidey fan, I was stunned. I had to find Dan Poole and ask him, from fan to fan, what the hell he was thinking. I grew up on the faithful Ralph Bakshi cartoon with its roto-scoped acrobatics and kickin’ jazz soundtrack. The cartoon is actually not bad in retrospect. The Spider-Man TV series was a huge letdown and the Japanese incarnations of the Web-Head have been an embarrassment. So, like a lot of film geeks out there, I am happily awaiting the big-budget Sony Pictures, Sam Raimi directed Spider-Man flick starring Tobey Maguire. It’s really poised to be the definitive Spider-Man, even with those bio-web shooters. But I am blown away by the dedication of this fan who couldn’t wait until they made an official Spider-Man movie, so he just made one himself.
I tracked Dan down because I wanted to find out what kind of person would risk death for a movie. In the following five-part interview, you’ll see incredible behind-the-scenes pictures of these stunts, learn the secrets behind the making of the movie, plus there’s a link so you can download the video itself. Some people involve themselves in extreme sports, Dan Poole does extreme filmmaking. Read on true believers and F.O.O.F.T.! (Fans Of Ol Film Threat. Yeah, I know, it’s lame but I couldn’t resist.)
MEET FILMMAKER AND SPIDEY FAN DAN POOLE
Where did you grow up and what got you interested in filmmaking?
You are assuming that I did in fact grow up! I have lived in Baltimore, Maryland all my life and I have always been a bit extraverted and have always enjoyed telling stories. In 1988, while working at the National Aquarium in Baltimore I had access to some AV equipment and as a gag for a good friend who was leaving, made a satirical documentary on his time there. It was 20 minutes long and pretty fun, so at his going away party we sprung it on him and the crowd roared. At some point after the second or third showing, someone turned to me and said, “You’re a pretty good director.” DING!
Were you a Spider-Man fan as a kid?
Absolutely. I have always loved to climb and perform gymnastics and Spidey was so much fun to emulate. I have a picture of me around 10 years old with a Spider-Man tank top on, so I was even into the commercialism as a youth!
What do you think of the old Spider-Man TV show?
It sucked. I remember hating them as a 12 year-old kid. I thought, “Why doesn’t he speak? Where are the wisecracks? What’s with his eyes? They look like salt and pepper shakers. Why is he wearing his webshooters on the outside of his costume? This is crap!” Whoever made that shit didn’t give a damn about the character or the fans.
I think it was Stan Lee who made the TV show. What made you want to make your own Spider-Man movie?
The fact that no one in power would ever give me the opportunity, and I knew I could make something cool.
What was the budget?
Budget? No. Let me clear something up: I designed on paper the adaptation of the comic book story and then I just went along every day and amassed what I could to get it shot. I didn’t have any money. The reason it only took $400 to complete is because that’s the most I could scrounge as time went by. I begged, I borrowed, I stole (as far as locations go) and A LOT of people deserve A LOT of thank you’s from me for all they gave.
Read The Real Spider-Man Part II: WHY MAKE YOUR OWN SPIDER-MAN MOVIE? See more amazing photos you won’t believe! Dan Poole almost died making this film!