Tina Alexander and her team don’t make major motion pictures. And there’s no need to, since they have the undeniable ability of making popular box office hits even more enjoyable.
With their cult short film series How It Should Have Ended, Alexander (producer) and her pals Daniel Baxter (who handles writing, animation, directing and most of the voice acting duties) and Tommy Watson (co-writer) intelligently spoof Hollywood films, video games and TV shows through animated satire.
Succinctly retelling one of the aforementioned in about five minutes or less, the crew — who’ve parodied a variety of titles including: X-Men: First Class, Thor, Pulp Fiction and most recently Assassin’s Creed and an upcoming spoof off The Hunger Games — delivers an alternate ending for each project.
Launching their series in 2005 with How The Matrix Should Have Ended, the HISHE team, based in Dallas, Texas, joined forces with Starz Digital Media in 2009, allowing the guys and gal to turn their hobby into a full-time gig. In 2011, the crew debuted their first video game short, How Halo: Reach Should Have Ended, after partnering with Machinima.
Currently harnessing north of 247 million views from their YouTube channel as well as securing more than 697,000 YouTube subscribers, Alexander takes us behind the scenes of the HISHE think tank.
Andre Lamar for Comics Bulletin: How do you feel about people creating and posting their own "how it should have ended" movies on YouTube?
Tina Alexander: I think ultimately it’s flattering. We took the time and money to have How It Should Have Ended made into a registered trademark, which was a huge thing for us. Still, we can’t get too upset over the idea that they like what we’re doing enough to give it a shot.
CB: The comedic Batman and Superman café scene that appears at the end of most of the comic book films you parody has taken on a life of its own. What inspired the café scene?
Alexander: It’s hard to put a finger on what exactly inspired this, but we wanted to incorporate the idea that superheroes are just normal people sometimes. We thought it would make a nice contrast in the cartoons to show our alternate ending that would likely be related to major action or superhero feats and then end it with a quiet café wrap up. For instance, Batman is always drinking coffee because he’s probably been up the whole night before.
CB: Is it safe to say you guys are comic book fans?
Alexander: We do like comic books, but we’re certainly not experts. We started going to the San Diego Comic-Con about four years ago, and we try to learn more and pick up more stuff every time we go. I don’t know if we could put a finger on our favorite, although Daniel has been a huge Superman fan his whole life, but that includes [the character's appearances in] movies and television.
CB: HISHE has spoofed a wide range of movies including older ones such as Jurassic Park, as well as more recent pictures like Captain America: The First Avenger. Can you give us an overview of how you guys select which films you’re going to parody? Also, what’s a film you wanted to spoof but couldn’t because it was too difficult to execute?
Alexander: We have older films that are on our list of "musts", and then we spread those out amongst the new releases. We recognize — and the numbers always indicate — that our fan base is much younger than us; and in a lot of cases, they weren’t even born when Aliens came out in theaters. Basically, we see a lot of movies, and if something strikes us, it goes on the list. In-theater releases are the most challenging, simply because we have to go to the theater several times, and there’s a much stricter deadline to be relevant.
CB: Describe the relationship between you and Daniel Baxter. What does he bring to the table as a jack of all trades?
Alexander: There would be no HISHE without Daniel Baxter. He is the artist, animator, director, etc. We co-write the scripts for the movie HISHEs together, and there is a lot of back-and-forth that takes place. We definitely disagree, but some of our best scripts come out of those challenges and differences in opinion. He and I have been very good friends for nearly 10 years.
CB: How has the experience been working with Starz Digital Media and Machinima?
Alexander: Starz Digital Media has been a fantastic partnership for us. They are the reason we are able to do this full-time. They support us incredibly, and we love working with them. Machinima is a new venture where we are not actually writing the scripts, just producing the cartoons. The guys at Machinima are terrific as well, but it’s definitely been an interesting new challenge to not be writing.
CB: What line of work were you doing before you started making HISHE films full-time?
Alexander: Daniel was an animator and artist for a children’s program locally and also worked previously in film production. I was a hospital administrator, but I was actually an English-lit major in college; and writing, creating and producing has always been a love and hobby for me.
CB: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Alexander: We have a core group of friends that we hang out with often and who do most of the voices in our videos. Daniel enjoys unwinding by playing online video games through Xbox Live. I have a four-year-old son who keeps me very, very busy!
CB: Since you’re an old school gamer, what are a few classic games you like to play?
Alexander: I was personally obsessed with Mario. And we still occasionally get together and play Mario Kart. We actually made a live-action short film, just for fun, about Mike Tyson’s Punch Out.
CB: What’s the long-term goal for HISHE and how do you guys expect to achieve this?
Alexander: Right now we’re just keeping our head above water with our current production schedule. I’d love to see our videos in other languages. And truly, we just want to keep people laughing.