Judge Minty, the Judge Dredd fan film.

Judge Minty Edmund Dehn
Judge Dredd Greg Staples
Director Steven Sterlacchini
Director of Photography and Digital Imagery Stephen Green
Prop and Costume Creator Daniel Carey-George of Custom Creations
Storyboards & Concepts Barry Renshaw
Written By Steven Sterlacchini & Michael Carroll, based on the work of John Wagner

Monday 22 December 2008

Why Minty?

Judge Minty only appeared twice in 2000AD, the first time over eighteen years ago.

It's a classic Judge Dredd tale, written by creator John Wagner and illustrated by one of the definitive Dredd artists Mick McMahon. It stood out at the time, because it showed a Judge with feelings. In a few pages Wagner and McMahon managed to create a fully formed person. Also, a number of issues are touched upon in this story, which will be mirrored in Judge Dredd's life much later on, namely doubts (about the 'justice' system) and 'The Long Walk.'

Illustration by Mick McMahon.
Copyright of Rebellion.

In the story, Judge Dredd is assigned to assist an older Judge in the routine arrest of a gang of criminals. During the tracking down and apprehension of the 'perps' Dredd remarks on a number of flaws in Minty's methods. Eventually Minty is wounded when he hesitates to shoot one of the gang.

As Minty recovers in hospital, Dredd informs him that he had to file an adverse report and that Minty is going to be retired from the streets. Minty gives a poignant response, "It had to come... I -I always knew you were on this case just to watch me... When you get old, you start gettin' strange notions... like maybe people aren't so bad. Maybe if we treat 'em with kindness, the good in them will come out! I guess that's when it's time to quit."

Dredd explains that due to his excellent record Minty is eligible to become a Tutor at the Academy of Law. However Minty declines the offer "I've been on the streets too long, there's only one way for me... The Long Walk!"

After Minty recovers there is a small ceremony, as he leaves Mega City One to enter the radioactive wastes that surround it, "there to take law to the lawless - until death."

One thing that always struck me, in the final panel of the story Minty almost appears to be smiling as he walks out in to the 'Cursed Earth'.

Minty's second appearance came in the 1982 Judge Dredd annual, in a written story by Jack Adrian called 'Desperadoes of the Cursed Earth' with illustrations by Dave Gibbons. The tale follows a gang of criminals escaping from Mega City One in to the Cursed Earth. They crash land in a frontier town and immediately begin intimidating the inhabitants and pushing around the local, elderly, sherif. Of course the sherif turns out to be Minty, who has settled down and become even more of a pacifist. He tries to settle the situation peacefully, but when it becomes clear that there is no other alternative, there is a gun fight in which he despatches the gang with ease.

Our story will take place directly after the first appearance, with Minty setting out in to the Cursed Earth and his initial experiences there.

Minty's strength of character and reluctance to resort to violence, made him a very interesting contradiction for a Judge. The quiet, unassuming, Henry Fonda style, lawman of Minty, juxtaposed against the totally confident, black and white, Clint Eastwood, tough cop of Judge Dredd (at the time).

The Judge Minty story is available to buy as a reprint in Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files 03.

Friday 19 December 2008

Going public?

By the time we had assembling the bones of our project, we started thinking about discussing it with other like minded 2000AD fans. Despite the fact that is was going to be a slow build up to the production and people may begin to get bored, we decided to share our ideas.

As well as allowing us to promote interest in the film, it also gave us an opportunity to gauge what fans would really like. However one completely unexpected outcome was that as well as the huge interest we received, we were also contacted with offers of help and support.

These offers ranged from people wanting to be extras (which is great) to professional composers, writers, assistant directors and storyboard artists.

The final advantage of this was, with so many people getting involved, we would have to see it through or be ridiculed at every convention I ever attended after that. I'd have to join the 501st, so that I could attend incognito.

Enter the 'Green' Dragon.

We started keeping the project in the back of minds. Later that year Dan attended 'Monster Mash Exhibition 2008, An exhibition of artwork from the creative talents of the UK creature FX industry". He took a selection of his 2000AD related portfolio pieces, which attracted the attention of CGI artist, Stephen Green.

They discussed 2000AD and other projects, Steve showed Dan his breathtaking showreel, and Dan mentioned the Minty project in passing. Steve was interested and offered to join the cause. It would be a good piece for his showreel, using chroma key technology and interacting CGI with live action. Plus it would be fun bringing Dredd's world to life, in the comic style.

No sooner had Dan told me the good news, than Steve started modeling a KICK-ASS Lawmaster motorcycle! We started discussing our plans and with every suggestion made, Steve began to expand the story telling possibilities, inspiring Dan to produce new ideas to work with the CGI world. The standard was totally professional and I was feeling a little inadequate with my half finished Mini DV project.

Wednesday 17 December 2008

Ways and means.

A year or so ago I was searching the web for a item that I'd always wanted, but had eluded me for many years - a Judge Dredd helmet. The comic book version of course. I wanted one so badly I couldn't understand why no body made them.

Then for the first time, I spotted one on the web site of a professional Model and Prop Maker. It was part of his portfolio and not for sale. It was perfect, it didn't look like a plastic hat, it looked like the real thing. On browsing the rest of Dan's site I discovered a wealth of 2000AD related pieces, including a Lawgiver (Judge Dredd's side arm).

It was probably then that the idea started to hatch, "Wow, these are amazing, you'd only need a 'few more' bits and you'd have all you need to make a Judge Dredd film!"

I contacted Dan regards another item on his site, a classic Porsche 356. At the time I also had a nice example of the mark and it turned out we were in the same car club. Ironically, I have since sold my Porsche to help finance my other hobbies including the making of the film.

I managed to help Dan out with some graphic design work (my day job). I started discussing my 'filmmaking', as I called it, the fact being that I had only made one film and that was far from complete. We knocked around the idea of making a Judge Dredd based Fan Film, where we concentrated on a secondary (or even tertiary) character and that way avoided having to use Dredd.

I suggested one of my favourite characters Judge Minty. An aging Street Judge who is forced retire, seemingly because he has become too compassionate in his old age. Judge Minty takes 'the long walk' in to the radioactive wastes that surround Mega City One (we'll discuss him in more detail later). "We can shoot it in North Wales!" I said, "There are some areas around there that scream drama."

I was already trying to work out, in my head, ways we could make it cheap and simple, trying to learn from the lessons I had experienced on my first (current) project. However, with Dan's experience in prop & model making and being a fellow 2000AD fan he was soon expanding the idea far away from the smaller project I had first imagined.

The cogs were grinding into motion.

I guess that's when you know it's time to quit.

I think it's about time I started a progress blog on the Fan Film I am making with Daniel Carey-George and Stephen Green.

I have always been interested in filmmaking, but the idea of actually doing it just seemed way out of reach. I remember hearing a Director, I think it was John Waters, answering a question about how to get in to filmmaking. His response was something along the lines of, "you buy 'some many' thousand meters of film stock, you hire a camera and get your friends together and make a film". This always stuck in my head.

With the birth of the digital age in cinema, the cost of 'professional' equipment began to drop and the idea began to grow. Until the means to make some kind of project finally came within reach.

So armed with a high end Mini DV camera and a bunch of friends dressed up as 'space soldiers' we started making our first film. Galloping around the forests and moors of Northern England, we made our short stories about 'The Boys and Girls of SAC22'. This project is tantalising close to completion and is the main reason for the delay in progressing with 'Minty'.