Cleveland is not exactly a hub of film activity. Nor is it a hub of the comic book industry. In fact, judging from my one visit there, it’s not a hub of anything other than two guys beating up another guy for a whiskey bottle in a paper bag, as well as a bunch of dirty needles and Jolly Ranchers wrappers. But then again, I only saw the part of the city between the bus station and a basement bar where Samhain was playing a reunion show. The point I think I’m trying to make is that Samhain was awesome, and they played Halloween II. I got hit in the head a lot at that concert.
Or maybe I was trying to talk about
Hero Tomorrow, an independent film shot and set in Cleveland, Ohio. It’s fitting that I got confused, because
Hero Tomorrow is about a confused character, a comic artist who begins to believe that he has become his creation.
Hero Tomorrow revolves around aspiring artist David (Perren Hedderson), who’s having a hard time pitching his creation Apama to publishers. Director/co-writer Ted Sikora and co-writer Milo Miller based much of David on Sikora’s high school years. “A lot of the drawings (in the film) were stuff I pulled out of my high school days,” says Sikora, “A lot of what David goes through, I can relate to.” Except Sikora likely never went insane on LSD and kicked the crap out of kids stealing Halloween candy. Or maybe he did. I don’t know. He does like Moon Knight, after all.
Sikora and Miller’s love of comics runs deep. After meeting in university, their relationship really took off when they began to discuss comics. “This is how nerdy we were. We actually got a bunch of guys together to listen to those Power Records, where you turn the page on the beat, and they had Spiderman “Mark of the Man-wolf”, and the origin of the Fantastic Four, and all that stuff.” This passion infuses the movie with equal parts energy and unabashed, mildly coagulated nerdiness, like an IV drip full of Benzedrine and super soldier serum. “It’s really a love story with a comic book backdrop”, Sikora explains. Aside from Moon Knight, Sikora is a fan of Spiderman. “Almost anything to do with the Peter Parker character,” he says, and can’t resist adding “I don’t think he belongs in the Avengers.” Miller prefers Steve Gerber’s work, like
The Secret Defenders,
Man-Thing (#4 and 5 are his favorites), and
Howard The Duck, and while actor Byran Jalovec isn’t a huge comic fan, he was willing to join the film due to the dedication and commitment of the filmmakers. “These guys, they had so much belief in the project… this film that these guys were making was their passion, about another one of their passions. And that’s what everybody likes about it.” The film features many comics, from
Frankenstein Mobster to
Flaming Carrot, all of which have been licensed for use in the movie.
Filmed for about $80 000,
Hero Tomorrow was of course limited by its low budget. But that didn’t stop the cast and crew from pulling together. The script was three years in the writing before the project was ready for financing. The filmmakers enticed investors by promising to use invested funds to buy equipment, which would then be given to the filmmakers. Shooting on video, a Panasonic SDX900 to be exact, allowed the director to shoot over 60 hours of footage, a luxury that would have been cost-prohibitive on film. Production took over a year, but despite the low budget, the setbacks, and Cleveland, Sikora and Miller are finding that audiences respond to the film. A screening at last year`s San Diego Comic-Con was followed by an enthusiastic reception at the 2007 Fantasia Film festival this summer.
Hero Tomorrow is gaining momentum, the filmmakers believe, and while Cleveland may not be destined to become either a film or comic hub, it will still remain a great place to see Samhain.