Hollywood could stand to learn a thing or two from Aaron and Sean Schoenke. With just $27,000, the father and son duo, founders of Bat in the Sun Productions, produced Batman: City of Scars, a fan film that’s got what most high-budget films seem to leave on the cutting room floor: heart.
Picking up where Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight left off, the Schoenkes produced a 30-minute Batman film. The Joker has just escaped from the asylum and kidnapped a man and his young son, after brutally murdering his wife. The mini-movie debuted on The Daily Motion this past weekend, already with more than 100,000 views under its belt. (Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if more people have seen this fan film than went to see that train wreck Marmaduke.) Not too shabby for $27,000.
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Gotham questions the safety of the city under Batman, sending the caped crusader into a lengthy inner monologue, once again igniting that inner-debate: To kill or not to kill? He explains, in a pretty impressive Batman voice, that it’s his oath to never take a life that keeps him, well, human. With rigid frown lines and a fire hose full of rain, Batman is sad. (Okay, it was a little cheesy, but actually, I’m glad they went there.) Instead of breaking up every fourth line of dialogue with an explosion, car chase or shoot out, the film makers took their tiny budget and set FX aside. Instead, they tugged at those little superhero heart strings, a fool proof plan because everyone knows Bruce Wayne is the king of brood. (Yeah, you heard me, sparkly vampires.)
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Truth is, if I had never seen Nolan’s Dark Knight, this mini Batman flick would be a favorite of mine. Admittedly, it was tough to get into someone else’s Joker performance – how on earth could you follow Heath Ledger? – but overall, I think the strategy paid off.