Tim Burton’s Superman Lives documentary needs you

Jon Schnepp talks about his Kickstarter project The Death Of Superman Lives – What Happened?

Some weird storyboard art from Tim Burton's Superman Lives
Some weird storyboard art from Tim Burton’s Superman Lives

Tim Burton’s Superman Lives, complete with giant spiders, Braniac and Nicolas Cage as Superman, has haunted the internet like a pop-rocks and cola urban myth, but one man is so determined to bring the story to light that he’s taken to Kickstarter with an aim to producing The Death Of Superman Lives – What Happened?

A feature-length documentary that’ll not only get the full story from the people who will there, but if the stretch-goal is reached will involved recreating scenes from Clerks creator Kevin Smith’s bizarro script. That’s where YOU come in – so pledge now.

With only 3 days left (at time of writing) writer/director/producer Jon Schnepp talked about the background of his ambitious project and the lunatic attraction to the unreal Man Of Steel…

What is it that appeals to you about the deeply bizarre sounding Superman Lives, and when did you first becoming fascinated by it?

Back when it was first announced, it seemed like it would be a really adventurous take on the man of steel. Getting Tim Burton and Nicolas Cage seemed very inspired to me, and just what the character needed in the feature film world. I am of the mind that this film would have been creatively successful, as well as a box office hit. The character needed to be rebooted, and not by going backwards, but forwards, with a new interpretation.

Was this always a project you intended to take to Kickstarter or is it something you’ve toyed with for years?

This Superman Lives movie has been an interest of mine for many years, but I never thought about actually making a documentary about it until recently. I had just finished a very successful kickstarter a few months beforehand, raising 188,000 for me to write, produce and direct an animated adaptation of the Grimm Fairy Tales based on comics published by Zenescope Ent.

I had finished making this animated film in November 2012, and I was at a dinner party with friends, and was talking about my collection of Superman Lives images and information, and one person said I should make a documentary, and then another person suggested Kickstarter. It steamed in my brain for a few weeks, as I had another project I was completely ready to roll out on Kickstarter, and this documentary would not leave me alone! So I decided to do this first, and then do my other project, also on Kickstarter, afterwards.

Nicholas Cage's costume fitting for Superman Lives
Nicholas Cage’s costume fitting for Superman Lives

The background to the movie seems just a complicated as its plot, is it difficult piecing all of that together into one narrative?

No, it’s actually been very easy, since I’m approaching this like a narrative detective story/archeological expedition. Everything really does fall right into place, and the crosscuts from live interview to animatic scenes to live recreations will flow very very smoothly, if I get the money to do it the way I want to. If not, I will have to make some sacrifices, but that’s show business. It’s all actually really exciting to me, because it’s part puzzle solving and part detective story.

Why do you think Superman Lives ultimately fell apart?

It’s a number of reasons, I think that the internet played a really big part, because a lot of people complained online about the choices of Tim Burton and Nicolas Cage. The executives did not want a repeat of the Batman & Robin, but when you really think about it, if the internet existed in 1988 the way it did in 1998, Burton’s Batman would have been shuttered by executives because the online trolls would have been screaming bloody murder about casting a 5’4 comedian to play Batman, and the costume was all gothy black! Now look into my crystal ball of the future, 2012, and we see Nolan’s Batman looks identical to the mythos introduced by Tim Burton.

A Tim Burton sketch of Superman villain Brainiac
A Tim Burton sketch of Superman villain Brainiac

Have you already spoken to Kevin Smith about the film? Is he supportive of seeing this story told?

I have not spoken to him in person yet, but our mutual friends have spoken to him, and he’s onboard. I tried not to actually talk to anyone before this project actually became a reality, as in being successfully funded by kickstarter, because I would not be making it if I could not afford to make it the way I wanted to. Kevin has actually tweeted out for fans to donate and become backers for the kickstarter, which I really appreciate.

What’s your first move now your funding goal is reached?

Well. now that the project is funded, I begin my pre-production phase, which will be scheduling the interviews, planning out the recreation scenes, storyboarding the animatic scenes, and writing out all the narrative scenes, and then the following month, casting and SPFX and animation work, as well as the actual interviews. Very very excited to get into all this!

Are you worried about any potential copyright issues with the Superman Lives artwork and recreating scenes etc?

No, I’m going to be getting all the paperwork right before I do anything that would violate copyright. All the images will be cleared for use. I’m all about doing this the right way.

There are three days left on the Death Of Superman Lives – What Happened? Kickstarter, so get involved right now!