Chris Blundell is a musician turned filmmaker who has set out to make the world’s first feature length 8-bit film. Taking influences from across all media, Blundell plans to blend comedy with the pixilated gloss of early videogames. Part Spinal Tap part Codemonkeys, The Hit Squad could do for 8-bit animation what Family Guy did for fart jokes. I spoke to Chris recently over email about The Hit Squad.
C&G Magazine: Could you tell our readers a little about yourself and how you go into filmmaking?
Chris Blundell: I’m originally a musician and, after watching a documentary on Duran Duran, I was inspired to make an album by a fake 80s band. That fake 80s band was called “The Hit Squad”, I wrote characters and their back-stories and before I knew it, I was writing scripts and stories for them. Then during the five years since I started the project I read every book I could on screenwriting, storytelling, writing dialogue, animating and everything else, just so I could know how this whole industry works. So, in summary: Getting into filmmaking happened by accidentally working too hard.
CGM: Are there any filmmakers that influence you and your work?
CB: I have a lot of influences from film, TV, music and videogames. Directors: Edgar Wright, Wachowski brothers, Coen Brothers, Christopher Nolan, Joss Whedon. Pretty much anything with awesome music, a lot of snappy dialogue, fighting and colour.
CGM: What is The Hit Squad?
CB: The Hit Squad is the world’s first movie made from pixel art. It’s an animated comedy movie about Roddy Stones and his washed up 80s band “The Hit Squad” as they try and get back their fame fortune and cocaine stash.
CGM: Why did you choose the 8-bit art style for this project?
CB: I wanted the style to fit the situation. The movie is about an 80s band that never moved on, I wanted to reflect that in the style of the movie. Their lives are 8-bit, repetitive, limited, few options, but there’s the scope for reinvention if they look for it. Plus I thought it would be funny for an 8-bit movie to be played in cinemas. ?
CGM: In addition to directing The Hit Squad you’re also writing it, what kind of humor can we expect from the film?
CB: It’s a huge mix of wit, slapstick, satire and boob jokes. Seriously, it is a mix of loads of things, I don’t like watching a comedy if its only slapstick or only monologuing, it has to have a balance. It also has to have a story otherwise it may as well be a sketch show.
CGM: Is it difficult taking on both writer and director roles at the same time?
CB: No, it’s awesome, I get two paychecks.
CGM: The 8-bit art style obviously has its roots in gaming, are there any specific games that were a big inspiration for this film?
CB: There’s a huge range of games inspired and are also referenced within the movie, not just 8-bit. From Metal Gear to Jet Set Willy, Pac-Man, GTA Vice City, Mario, Sonic all the way up to Halo. The film is really dense with tons of Easter eggs and gaming, pop culture and geek references. You’ll be pausing and rewinding to find them all!
CGM: Who is the target audience for this film and what do you hope those people will get out of it?
CB: I hate the idea of a “target audience”, it makes everything sound so rigid and boring. I wanted to make a movie that I’d want to see, so I suppose I’m the target audience. But I’m sure there’s more than one gamer-moviegeek-musicfan-retroenthusiast out there? Or is it just me and Joss Whedon?
That’s all the questions for you thanks for talking to us Chris.
You can learn more about The Hit Squad and funding the project at http://www.indiegogo.com/thehitsquad