While we’re waiting for the next major Batman movie to hit theaters, whenever that may be, we have filmmakers like Aaron Schoenke who are doing their part in helping keep Gotham City alive by creating their own Batman movies. Sure, Aaron would’ve liked the king size budget Hollywood films command, but it just didn’t work out that way. So he made up for what he was lacking in budget with something many Hollywood productions are completely void of – heart.
With two Batfan films under his belt, Batman Beyond: Year One and “Batman: Dark Justice,” we just had to talk with Aaron to find out what kind of bats are in his belfry.
When did you decide that you wanted to make films?
I decided I wanted to go into filming when I was very young. It started with action figures because you can story board and visualize everything from angles, locations to special effects. I wanted to share my vision and stories with my family and friends, so I started filming my action figures, and from there it just kept growing and growing. It’s been hands on from the very beginning.
Will you continue making fan films, or will you move on to characters you’ve created yourself?
I enjoy doing fan films very much. I like to compare it to a band that does cover tunes. You get people to take interest at what you can do, and then you can branch off into original projects. I’ve been developing some original stories and characters, which I will introduce as my next project. Although, I do have my eyes set on one day directing a major superhero movie.
Where did the Batman costumes come from?
The Batman costume featured in my new project, “Dark Justice,” was chosen from Tim Sale’s, Jim Lee’s, and Alex Ross’s rendition of the costume. The suit is made of heavy-duty spandex. The gloves, belt, and boots are pieced together from army supplies. The mask is rubber and the cape is thick double-sided vinyl. You would be surprised at how some of this came together. It’s all about working the imagination.
Do your parents support your filmmaking ventures?
My parents are all for it. My father is a large part of the films I make. He composes original music for my films, helps produce, and together we bounce a lot of ideas off each other.
Was it difficult getting a cast and crew together for both films?
For my first film, Batman Beyond: Year One, all my friends were very eager to help out, I owe them a lot. With my new project we held auditions and found two professional actors. For the Batman character we wanted someone who had a huge superhero type build. We kept looking, but found no one. Then, when I least expected it, I was at Tower Records checking out some music when I noticed this huge guy wearing a tank top and I thought that guy would be great as Batman. I approached him and quickly found out that he is the Rock’s stunt double and has been in many action films including the Daredevil movie. His name is Tanoai Reed. After going over the storyboards and locations with him, he said he could choreograph the fight scenes, so that was an unexpected big plus. Tanoai is 6’3 240 lb. and is also a karate state champion, basically with his size and quick moves he became Batman. He has been super cool and a blast to work with.
Has directing a cast and crew helped you be a more responsible person in other aspects of your life?
Directing a cast and crew has really made me appreciate the art of filmmaking and everything that a director encounters. It is so time consuming that other aspects of my life get put on hold. I can see why many directors need a break in between projects, so they can catch up on personal things.
Would you like to pursue filmmaking as a career?
Definitely yes. I am currently interning at Sony Studios and have had a chance to meet and present my film resume to a lot of people on the inside.
Has making the Batman films been a positive experience?
It has been an extremely positive experience. I get tons of emails asking me questions, or for my autograph, or telling me thanks for making these movies. It has just been a blast, but no doubt a lot of hard work. I’d like to thank everyone for making it a fun ride!
Who was the best Batman – Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, or George Clooney?
Well, it all depends, Adam West was great for the 60’s camp and Michael Keaton was great for Tim Burton’s vision. Although I feel that I haven’t seen any actor that is true to the comic book version yet and that is what I would like to see.
If you were handed over the reins of a major studio produced Batman film, what would be the storyline? Who would you cast as Batman and your villains?
I would have to go with making a “Year One” style movie, because I like the ultra realistic edge that “Batman Year One” has. I would also go with no supervillian to help keep the realism. As far as casting, I’m not to sure, but definitely go with an unknown about 6’4″ 240 lb. for Batman. It’s tough because you’re also casting Bruce Wayne at the same time, so it’s more than just a big guy. Bruce is a complex character.
Visit Aaron at the Bat in the Sun Productions website.