Micah Moore: Fired up for Dragon*Con 2011A comics interview article by: Andre Lamar
Micah Moore is the creative director behind Beat Down Boogie production's successful web-based series Modern War Gear Solid. The project, which has generated more than 2 million views on YouTube, is a parody featuring video game icons Solid Snake (Metal Gear Solid) and Ghost (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2) as they join forces to prevent the terrorist group ActivistSun from building the deadly robot known as Modern Gear.
With the recent conclusion of MGWS's final episode, Moore took the time to chat with Comics Bulletin about how comic books have inspired him as a filmmaker, as well as rolling with the entire Beat Down Boogie team to Dragon*Con 2011, and more.
Andre Lamar: Last year the Beat Down Boogie crew made a splash at Dragon*Con, as fans got a kick out of seeing Ghost and Solid Snake in person. What do you guys have planned for this year's con, and what are you looking forward to most?
Micah Moore: I imagine Dragon*Con 2011 will be awesome. I'll probably be raving all night with Leonard Nimoy and getting hit on nonstop by Felicia Day. That's how I see it going down. As far as the rest of Beat Down Boogie we'll be at Dragon*Con in full force! We're filming a new adventure for Snake and Ghost at the convention. We'll also be shooting an overall Dragon*Con 2011 recap to share the experience with those who can't make it. I think the Modern War Gear Solid cast might be in the parade, too.
Even though there's some cool guests, D*Con is really all about the attendees for me. The creativity on display is amazing, and everyone is super-friendly.
Lamar: How does it feel to have completed the Modern War Gear Solid series? Are you surprised by the amount of praise the project has received?
Moore: Usually when I complete a project, I'm relieved. I can't wait to go out and have a drink. ButMGWS was so fun that it's hard to quit. I'm glad we gave it a worthy ending filled with robots, light sabers and cardboard missiles. Now we've combined the episodes into a single re-mastered film on DVD and it's even better in that seamless form. We were overwhelmed by the amount of attention MGWSreceived. We did our best to keep up, launching a Facebook page and website.
Lamar: How did you come up with the idea for MGWS?
Moore: We were originally working on a test project to develop some rifle choreography. Since it was just a test, we decided to incorporate characters from the games we had been playing. I had just finished [Metal Gear Solid] 4 and it had a big impact on me. The more I thought about the difference between Metal Gear and Modern Warfare's gameplay, the more I realized the comedic potential there. I kept developing the characters and never actually used any of the rifle choreography.
Lamar: Has anyone from the Konami or Activision camp complimented you on the project?
Moore: No, but I would love for Kojima or David Hayter to see it! I'm a big fan of both.
I'm not holding my breath for any praise from Activision since we poked fun at their controversial CEO. They shouldn't be too upset though; the MGWS series has reinforced a lot of viewers' interest in Modern Warfare. When I watch our series, I often get the urge to dust off a MGS or COD game. I figure the guys at Respawn Entertainment have seen it.
Lamar: How did you get into filmmaking?
Moore: I was a DJ when I was younger. My college buddy Patrick was into video production. He taught me how to shoot and edit in exchange for DJ'ing lessons. Our first films were about killer snowmen and evil toaster ovens - real absurd action films. I switched over to the film department during college, but it was outdated and impractical. A lot of my early films were made to give the department the middle finger. Patrick and I eventually teamed up with another filmmaker, Will Stroud, who's now a top BMX videographer.
Most of our teachers couldn't make a film while we were making DIY squibs and putting in as much nudity as possible. I've heard that since then, the department's implemented a "no nudity" rule. I like to think we began a trend that led to that rule.
Lamar: What comics did you read growing up, and are there any books you're currently reading?
Moore: My first serious experience was collecting Fleer Ultra Marvel cards. I was into drawing and the cards were a good reference for poses. Along the way I learned the bios of many Marvel characters. The books I own are pretty standard: Sin City, Hellboy, 100 Bullets, The Walking Dead - stuff like that. But I used to work in a store that sold pre-owned comics, so I passed the time absorbing hundreds of titles... and occasionally finding gems like Muktuk Wolfsbreath: Hardboiled Shaman.
My all-time favorite thing to read is Twisted Toyfare Theater. TTT was a huge inspiration for Modern War Gear Solid.
Lamar: How has your inspiration from comic books influenced you as a filmmaker?
Moore: I'm not someone that can make a subtle dramedy. I like big universal themes: love, revenge, prejudice, courage, etc. Superheroes and villains tend to represent archetypal emotions. Parker wants to avenge Uncle Ben. Bruce Banner must control his temper. Mutants must deal with the temptation of power… and the prejudice of society. These are simple concepts that anyone in the world can understand. It doesn't mean the characters are simple - they are usually detailed and layered - it just means people can relate to them.
I also love the art of comics and animation. I feel that good illustrators have a lot of freedom when it comes to angles and composition. When I study composition, I look at animated films like Akira and Ghost in the Shell.
Lamar: What's your dream project? If you had a Hollywood budget and could hire anyone you desired, what film would you make?
Moore: I have lots of fleshed-out ideas for films, TV shows, books and video games. First I'd make a decent Street Fighter movie. It's a tricky franchise for a faithful adaptation, but there's a way. I've researched some of the original Japanese Street Fighter canon and the characters have solid personalities and motives. Most of their storylines can exist and converge in the same world - as they gather for the Street Fighter Tournament.
My version would draw from Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, but I'd remove some outlandish elements that wouldn't translate well to live action. The focus would be on character motivations and amazing martial arts action with international casting and locations. I'd want to tap into choreographers on the level of Panna Rittikrai (Ong Bak, Born to Fight) and Yuen Woo- Ping (Kill Bill, Fist of Legend, Kung Fu Hustle).
Lamar: Many aspiring filmmakers produce fan films as a way to build up their resume and generate publicity. Considering the success of MGWS, do you intend to use this publicity as a launching pad to write or direct for a major film studio?
Moore: This is a fun way for the Beat Down Boogie crew to hone our skills. I've learned so much about character development by playing with existing characters. Making fan films is a way I can study characters like Han Solo, Solid Snake or Batman – and examine what makes them so cool and attractive. Then I can hopefully apply the lessons to my own original characters. I don't really care if I'm working in the studio system. The most important thing to me is making films for the audience.
I don't want to sacrifice the viewer experience to please a distributor or investor. My first feature film was changed to satisfy industry suits and I lost the audience. It was soul-crushing. Ever since then, I've made a point of trusting my instincts. The next project I did was Modern War Gear Solid, which has been my biggest success so far.
Filmmaking is a ton of work and sacrifice. If I'm not having fun, it's just not worth it. I could be out delivering pizzas to hot babes or something instead. Or being a fireman, posing in a sexy calendar that's pinned up in some hot babe's cubicle. There's so many other job options out there.
Lamar: What's the long-term goal for Beat Down Boogie, and how do you intend to achieve this?
Moore: We'd love to be working on fun film projects full-time. Right now we work around our day jobs. We're looking into ways we can fund bigger projects without selling our souls or letting down the audience. We also want to be an example of what's possible outside of the traditional industry. This era of online global connectedness and streaming media is very exciting to us. Fellow YouTubers like Freddie W and Corridor Digital have audiences that dwarf some mainstream films. And they're not spending millions on marketing.
Lamar: Will we be seeing more MGWS films in the future?
Moore: Yes, Ghost and Snake will be popping up from time to time. When the world really needs them to solve a big problem, they'll be there.
Lamar: What other projects can we expect from you in the future?
Moore: Our next project is Mario Warfare. The spoiled heiress to the Mushroom Kingdom is kidnapped from a rehab center. It's up to Mario, Luigi and Toadstool to save the day. We want to take all the best aspects of Modern War Gear Solid and inject steroids. It will be funny and have a lot more fighting. And it will have great characters!
Lamar: When will you debut Mario Warfare?
Moore: At the moment I have no idea when Mario Warfare will launch. We start production at the end of September and it will take many months to shoot and edit. It's likely it will launch in 2012.
Modern War Gear Solid is available on DVD for $15 (includes shipping within the United States) or $18 (includes shipping outside the United States) at BeatDownBoogie.com .