Interview: Kyle Newman

SciFiNow talks Fanboys with the film’s director.

SciFiNow recently had the opportunity to talk to Fanboys director Kyle Newman about his film’s release, the story behind what actually happened during its production, as well as any plans for a sequel.

Now that Fanboys is coming out on Blu-ray and DVD, how do you feel about its performance?

I’ve been very, very pleased considering the nature of our domestic release, which was hard considering the distribution and where they were at financially. I still don’t think we got a good enough posting in the United States, but what was very rewarding was the fan response, and the way it kept growing out into more and more cities. Even though we weren’t everywhere at once it went all through the United States and North America, 15 cities at a time – we got into 200 different cities, which was great. And the digital downloads were incredible – on iTunes it was doing so well that they took it down, because they were giving too much to the digital distributor, they didn’t ship enough physical units. We were number one on Xbox for almost a month, and we were top ten of iTunes for twelve weeks, it was incredible. It definitely showed me that there was a big audience for it and we missed an opportunity to go wider and to get out there theatrically, but the good news was that people heard about it, people saw it and people were recommending it, so it was very pleasing in that way. And then the international release was insane because it was almost staggered – in spring there was Japan where they had a big release over there which was again, a phenomenal response – and finally the UK which was a no brainer. It was like, why isn’t this out in the UK? We don’t have to translate it. I mean we were in Turkey and Russia and Czechoslovakia… there’s such a strong Star Wars, fanboy type contingent in the UK, so I’m very happy that it’s finally come there and people have been so vocal.

It’s had a long and, it’s fair to say, tortured path to release, and there have been a lot of rumours and false reports about what exactly happened. Can you set the record straight on what actually went on?

Well, I wanted to make a movie with heart, a movie that had an emotional side to it but that was also a comedy, but at the core there’s heart, it’s about friendship and it’s a love letter to fandom and to Star Wars. We had the movie, it was working, and it was testing very well, but I think they saw an opportunity to make a bigger and broader comedy. There were definitely differences of opinion between what the studio wanted to do and what the producers, myself, the writers and the actors wanted. But at the end of the day they owned it, and you know, you only have so much artistic ownership in films as opposed to other mediums. I paint, so I know about the difference, a film’s like a hundred people with a paintbrush moving in different directions, it can be very hard. So we had to kind of go through the motions, and there was almost a year of them bracing us for what they wanted to do with it, and how they were trying to take this movie, a $3.2 million independent dramedy, and turn it into a broad, lowest common denominator studio comedy with spoof elements. That was the direction they wanted to go, they wanted to put Harry Potter in the movie, and Harry Potter wasn’t even around in ’98. They wanted to put YouTube clips, they wanted circus freaks, they wanted naked wrestling like Borat, there was all these things that came up and it was all squashed. But it took time. We set the stage for what we wanted to do and what the vision was, but they shot other stuff and there was a cut of the movie, but it didn’t conform to our Lucasfilm agreement, which was a PG-13 rating, they wanted to go racier with it. The material wasn’t as good either, it didn’t really elevate, it tested lower, and so they came back and said you win, here’s the movie back, and here’s 36 hours to go and cut the entire movie back to your movie. But you have to do it from our version. So it was a complete… almost like a game? In a way I won the game because I was prepared to go in there and do whatever I needed to do to get it exactly right. And at least we introduced the major storyline, the emotional subplot of Linus dying, and bringing them back together, otherwise it’s pointless. Otherwise it’s criminals going on a road trip to break in somewhere and there’s no real drive or purpose. So I got the cut back, I was able to do that. I feel like I only had the broad strokes and I wasn’t able to nuance it, but for the most part it’s the way it was supposed to be. Obviously there’s still a better cut out there, if I had more than 36 hours – and there’s a stipulation that it has to be exactly 90 minutes, for whatever reason, like nine-zero-zero-zero. So it didn’t yield an organic final cut in some places, but it gets the job done and I’m very happy that a lot of people are still responding to it.

Would you consider going back and doing another cut at another time if you had the chance to?

Absolutely, I love the material, I’ve stuck with it for closing in on seven years. It showed that it was selling well and there was demand for extra features, so who knows? They might come back and say hey, why don’t we do the special edition, the very final version? I’m open to it, you never know.

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