Make yourself a cup of tea , sit back and get ready to read an overly long, warts and all, 15+ year history of all things Power...less/Powerless/Superzeroes.
2001 - SECRET ORIGINS
The origins of Superzeroes dates all the way back to 2001 when we were just teens. To a time when we thought we could skateboard, played in crappy punk bands and failed at wooing the opposite sex. It was this sense of failure and optimism that fed in to the origins of what became Superzeroes.
Like most people our age around that time we were obsessed with the TV series Jackass and skate videos such as CKY. We spent our free time videoing one another jumping off or onto things, racing around the streets in shopping trolleys and basically hurting ourselves in the name of 'FUN'. However, as an amateur filmmaker and comic book/superhero fan I wanted to do more. I created several inept superheroes based on my friends that we could make stunt films out of.
- Jake/Supremo - A hero without any special abilities, A bit of a daredevil who risks life and limb in an attempt to save others.
- Alex/Resurrection Boy - Who has the inability to die, and can re attach his severed limbs.
- Jess/Lambrini Girl - Who gains her powers whilst drunk, and had the the ability of the the drunken teleport and a deafening sonic shriek.
None of these films came into being, but the idea never left my head. After a conversation about the lack of UK based superheroes with my life long friend Liam Delaney, we started to craft and hone these characters into something more. We titled it Power...less and it centered around a non-powered hero working for a low level superhero team operating in an alternative version of Birmingham UK; where super powers, aliens, time travel and alternative dimensions exist.
It was around this time we met Paul Nadin, who has since been a collaborator on nearly all of our projects. Together we came up with a fourth hero to join the team- Nigel/Man-Man, who gained his abilities after being bitten by a radioactive man.
The very first Power...less character designs. Yeah, they're rubbish!
2005 - STUDENT FILM
Several years pssed and I was now in university studying Animation; for one of my early pieces, I came up with a short film based on Power...less. It involved Jake/Supremo apprehending a mugger, only for the victim to turn on him instead.
This short was very much a shameless homage to the awesome ‘Batman the Animated Series’ both in tone and style.
Screen Shots, original frames and sketches.
2007 -THE ORIGINAL SHORT FILMS AND FIRST COMIC BOOK
In 2007 we decided to go all in on Power...less. Not only did we write/draw a comic book, we also produced four short episodes.
The comic book ‘The serpent and the summoner’ saw the team going up against an evil shaman and a large two headed serpent.
The episodes saw Jake on a date which goes horribly wrong, Nigel and Jess on a stake out, and a two part episode where Jake is captured by a deranged animator Charles Timm.
To play Jake/Supremo we looked no further than Rob Laity. To date Rob has been in (if not most) all of our productions since we started making films over 25 years ago when we were 8 years old. We also cast Jamie Long as Alex/Resurrection Boy, Paul Nadin as Nigel/Man-Man and Maria Broadman as Jess/Lambrini Girl. Each short took a day or two produce. The costumes were made from wet suits and painted with latex. They weren't exactly the most comfortable costumes to wear, restricting movement as well as being incredibly hot. Overall the shorts failed to live up to our ambitions scripts, mainly due to lack of budget and experience on our behalf.
We launched all the episodes and the comic at the 2007 Birmingham Comic Con. It was great fun, and we got to be among legends such as Hellboy creator Mike Mignola.
Behind the Scenes of the original short films.
Comic book pages and sketches.
2008 - THE COMIC THAT NEVER WAS
The next year, myself and Liam got back together to write the second issue of the Power...less comic. This issue had each team member on a separate missions, with events leading them to join forces for an epic finale.
For one reason or another we never actually finished the book, all that exists is a script and rough thumbnails of the entire comic.
Thumbnails from the failed second comic book.
2009 to 2011 - THE LOST YEARS
Over the years, the concept was constantly evolving/maturing, so we decided that we needed to make a few changes to several of the characters.
- We got rid of the pants on Supremo's suit and replaced it with an oval power sign.
- Having a character called Lambrini Girl, that gained her powers from being drunk was both immature and inappropriate (not to mention infringing on copy write law). It was during this period that Jess evolved into Crimson Mist, the team's leader.
Original design of the Crimson Mist costume.
2012 - POWERLESS: BUSINESS AS USUAL
In 2010, My good friend James Raynor held a successful indiegogo campaign to help fund his short film Stupernatural. Intrigued by this, myself and Liam thought we would give it a shot, so we dusted off the script for our failed second comic and re worked it as a short film. In August 2011 we launched our Power...less indiegogo campaign to gain the funds needed to make the short film a reality. While it wasn't 100% successful, making only half of our goal, we still managed to get in the local papers/ radio stations and even had support from the likes of filmmaker/podcaster/all round nice guy - Kevin Smith.
Casting wise, Rob, Jamie and Paul returned to their roles with newcomer Natalie Gardner joining the team as Crimson Mist. We had previously worked with Natalie on our feature film Lost in the Headlights and thought she would be a perfect fit for the character.
As we had a budget at our disposal, we were able to hire a cast and crew to bring the film to life. One of the biggest wins for us was Brandon Kahn (Director of Photography) who has since become a key collaborator on all of our films. He even suggested we simply call it Powerless. Another great 'Get' for us was costume designer Peter Hewitt, who made four fantastic, made to measure costumes for Rob, Natalie, Paul and Jamie. I’m not going to lie, the moment I saw them all standing side by side in costume, I got a little teary-eyed.
Filming took place during October/November of 2011 over the course of ten days. We shot in and and around a office furniture Warehouse, a local green screen studio and on location in the streets of Birmingham/Sutton Coldfield. It wasn’t the most pleasant of shoots - which I'm sure the actors and crew will attest to. As the film took place at night, we started at six each night finishing at about three the next morning. Not only that, it was also cold… INCREDIBLY COLD. Even though the four leads were wearing nothing but a thin spandex onesie, they were all troopers and stuck it through to the bitter (cold) end. Before we even started filming the van we planned to use for the chase sequence failed its MOT and conked out on us. We even lost our first location due to a set of keys being lost, almost making our first day a disaster. However it's not all bad, considering we were filming in England, it didn't rain once - that is until the last day and shot of the film when it decided to chuck it down.
Having never made a film like this before, with multiple stories cutting back and forth, and extensive visual effects; it took a while to put it all together. Once the music was complete (written and recorded by my life long friend Isaac Cartwright) Powerless was really to be unleashed onto the world and premiered at the March 2013 MCM comic con.
It is by no means a perfect film, we were probably a tad over ambitions with what we could produce with the resources we had. Had I scaled the scope back, we may have had a more successful film on our hands. Saying that, I learnt a lot making this film, all of which I have carried forward on future productions.
Behind the Scenes of Powerless - Business as usual
2013 - POWERLESS: TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
After working on my friend Brandon Kahn's short film - Enter the Streets of Myth, I was very keen to get back to my own characters. With Christmas looming I thought it would be the perfect setting for a short Powerless story. Within the space of a month, we wrote (Via Skype with Liam, who was living in Qatar at the time), shot and edited the Christmas centered episode - Twas the night before Christmas.
We shot for three days in late November/early December of 2013, using a lot of the crew that had worked on the previous film and Brandons film. My good friend Nick Pearson was gracious enough to let us trash/film inside his house, which we made up to look like several different living rooms. Other locations include the Station pub, and several car parks and cul de sacs around Sutton Coldfield. We even managed to get Supremo/Jake a Motorbike, which typically conked out on set, so we had to alter several sequences at the last minute, resulting in the failed car jacking scene.
Unlike the previous film, I wanted to keep the effects to a minimum and do things in camera as much as possible. For example, when the burglar dislocates/bends his limbs; they were simply done by putting clothes on backwards and by making cardboard legs that could bend back and forth (As well as some 'snapping' celery sound effects) I even attempted to make my own sugar glass bottles for Nigel/Man-Man to smash when he finds it hard to control his strength while drunk. As hard as I tried, I just couldn't get the sugar glass mixture right and the bottles melted within a few hours. Luckily, at the last minute, I was able to purchase several professionally made sugar glass bottles, which I have to say looked incredible and worked incredibly well- Even if they did cost an arm and a leg..
Looking back at the original short, I wanted to make this one tighter, lighter, and simpler. Not only that, I was not happy with the offensive language and over the top violence and sought to course correct it with this short.
Overall I was much happier with this short and is more in line with how I want to approach the further adventures of Jake, Jess, Nigel and Alex in the future .
Behind the scenes of Powerless - Twas the night before Christmas.
2016 - SUPERZEROES
For the past few years I put Powerless as I worked on honing my craft. I have worked for the likes of the BBC and Channel Four Films; and Last year I won an Empire Award for one of my short films. I have even had great success directing many music videos, for the likes of &U&I, Sylosis, Bury Tomorrow and The Prodigy (with over 8 million hits on youtube alone)
But now its time to get back to Powerless and do things even bigger and better; using all that I have learnt over the past few years. However, there is a snag. DC comics and NBC have announced they are to produce a superhero themed TV show called Powerless. What was originally a nightmare, turned out to be a blessing in disguise, allowing us to have a fresh start. After throwing around many ideas we came up with SUPERZEROES. While it took a while for it to sink in, we now believe it to be the perfect title for the series. Liam even suggested changing Jake's alter ego to ZERO. I was never a fan of Supremo and welcomed this change as it is much more fitting with the new incarnation.
Not only that but myself, Liam and Paul have worked on an entire mythology for Superzeroes. While each episode is designed to stand alone, there are threads throughout that hint to a much wider universe and story for our characters.
We also felt we need to add one more character to the mix, and that is Birmingham City itself. It’s a rich, vibrant city, full of culture and great locations. Going forward, we really want to reflect what a wonderful city Birmingham is within the world of Superzeroes.
As you can see this is a project I have been working on for a long, long time and is very near and dear to my heart. Myself and the team have all grown as individuals and artists, and I hope you can see we are all constantly trying new things, learning and evolving.
Recently, I launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise the funds for the first two chapters of a new series of Superzeroes shorts.
Please take a look at our campaign, If you can contribute towards the project we have some amazing perks on offer for you starting at just £5. If that is not your thing, please share the campaign among your friends and family. We would really appreciate it and it won't go unnoticed. We have several scripts ready to go, a brand new theme tune by Birmingham based band &U&I, and a cast and crew who can’t wait to get to work. The future of Superzeroes is in your hands!
Please help us make this series a reality!
A taste of things to come.
Thanks for reading,
A more in depth video version of this will be included on the Superzeroes DVD/BLU RAY, filled with never before seen footage and behind the scenes action. Check out the indiegogo campaign for more details.