The superhero film genre is greatly beloved by many (and vehemently despised by some ). Every year sees a spat of new movies, some really great, some not so much. This year we will see two very highly anticipated new films: “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises” (and if you didn’t know this, you won’t care anyway). However, you don’t need millions of dollars to make a superhero movie. I had the pleasure of meeting with local filmmaker John Vanderford to discuss his movie “Wingman,” which plays this upcoming Monday, March 26, at the Comedy Caravan.
Tell me about “Wingman.”
“‘Wingman’ is the first feature that I worked on. It was brought to me January 2010 by a friend of mine, the screenwriter. [It] had originally been written as a series of web episodes and he was interested in having me direct it. I looked at it and saw the potential for it to be a feature and went through and reworked the script. A few months later we started shooting it, at the end of May 2010, and we were wrapped by August. We spent plenty of time in post-production doing all the fun stuff and then it premiered at Village 8 last June.”
What’s it about?
“It’s a superhero mockumentary. It’s about a sidekick who’s terrible at his job; he gets fired by the superhero he’s working for, and there’s a documentary crew that’s following him around through all this. They were wanting to tell the story of a young hero on his rise to greatness, and instead they end up following him as he goes from odd job to odd job. It’s very comedic, not very action-y for a superhero movie. The overall message is sort of learning what it truly means to be a hero.”
You said it’s your first feature; have you done other things before?
“The only thing I have really done on my own before is the 48 Hour Film Project, as far as film goes. I come more from a theater background. I’ve been doing technical theater since I was five years old. I got into the film world late 2009, just kind of on a lark… I picked up a camera and was working on a documentary project that got scrapped… but the first thing that I finished was the 48 Hour Film Project.”
How’d that go?
“It was interesting. I look back on it and I’m proud of it; I can see a lot of the techniques that I still use today, but I also cringe because of all the stuff I didn’t know. I didn’t know what I was doing. But I’m still thoroughly satisfied with it as a first thing, and honestly at this point that’s how I’m looking at ‘Wingman’ because since I’ve finished this I’ve been working on a lot of other projects with a lot of other people around town. I’ve learned a lot of things since we wrapped up ‘Wingman’ and I still am very proud of it for what it is.”
Do you have any future projects of your own [planned]? Do you write at all?
“There’s a few that I have written that I’m not ready to tackle yet… But there is one that we started work on last summer called ‘Handyman.’ It’s a slasher/suspense film. We shot a prologue for it and we’re looking to get back into production later on this year… But since we finished ‘Wingman’ I’ve been working mostly on other peoples’ projects, getting more integrated into the film community, because I just kind of jumped in feet-first… so I’m trying to get more acquainted with the people who do this kind of thing.”
As a member of the local film community, what are your views on the film scene around Louisville?
“I think it’s great. I think there’s a lot of interesting things going on and I think it’s kind of on the cusp that Austin was a few years ago and then Philadelphia even before that and… there are several filmmakers that could potentially burst out of this scene and move on to bigger and better things.”
Who are some filmmakers you admire overall?
“I’ve always been a fan of Kubrick. [As for] modern filmmakers, I’d probably say the Coen Brothers. It’s hard for me to narrow it down. I try to see as much as I can, so it’s hard for me to pick favorites.”
As ‘Wingman’ is a superhero movie, do you like superhero movies in general?
“In general, I wouldn’t say I’m all that into or obsessive over superhero movies; there are definitely some good ones and there are definitely plenty that leave a lot to be desired. I’m looking forward to the ‘Avengers’ movie; I hope that it’s actually got some substance to it. Of course, what Christopher Nolan is doing with the ‘Batman’ series, I’m interested to see how he wraps all that up.”
“Wingman” plays at Comedy Caravan this upcoming Monday, March 26, at 8:00. Entertainment for the night includes a band playing before the show, stand-up comedy from Wingman himself, Kent Carney (who was voted as Best Comedian in the LEO Reader’s Choice Awards two years in a row), and other special guest performances, as well as the film itself – and all this for $5.00! Details for the event can be found at the event’s Facebook page .
Image: event page on Facebook.