In July of 2012, Nightwing, a fan film featuring a clash between two former Batman proteges, became a surprise hit for filmmakers Jeremy Le and Danny Shepherd. Inspired by the success, the duo are endeavoring to create a three-part series featuring the titular character and have turned to fans, via Kickstarter, for assistance. With over $30,000 pledged, $10,000 over the initial asking, fans have thrown their support behind the project. We recently got a chance to ask Danny Shepherd, who also stars as the former Boy Wonder in the original and upcoming series, a few questions about how Kickstarter and the Internet are giving artists a new way to create and distribute their works.
HEAVE: At what point did you decide to bring the project to Kickstarter for funding?
Danny Shepherd: Well Batman is my all time favorite super hero, but as a kid I always loved Robin. I had an older brother so when we played pretend he got to be Batman and I was always Robin. That stayed with me for a long time. As I got older I noticed that Robin did too. Always fascinated by his character, I decided that it would be awesome to explore him more and share that with the world.
HEAVE: Backers take a financial risk, but there are risks when turning to crowd funding, chief among them being a lack of interest. Was there a fear that the project may not have been funded?
Danny: Absolutely, originally I wanted only $2,000, a number I was sure we would reach. But the more we talked about the project the more elaborate it became and the more money we realized we would need. We took a risk asking for $20K but people seem to have really gotten behind us.
HEAVE: Do you feel a responsibility to your backers when it comes to how you go about planning the series? Does it impact any of the decisions beyond the financial?
Danny: There is definitely a sense of responsibility for our backers. I think the biggest responsibility we have is not just making cool rewards but giving them a Nightwing experience that they will remember forever. Trust me, there have been many sleepless nights because of that.
HEAVE: What do you think draws artists to YouTube and the Internet in general as a means to create and share their art?
Danny: In my opinion it’s the newest form of consuming media. First we had movies, then TV, now we have the internet. Not every actor or filmmaker has to starve on the streets of LA as a waiter, there’s a new avenue that we can tread in order to prove ourselves.
HEAVE: With big name actors getting into the online video-game thanks to sites like Funny or Die, do you think the space is gaining more respect? Do you find that you have to work harder (more creative) to gain attention based on the project rather than the names attached?
Danny: Of course. With the internet saturated with talent we have to be hungry motivated and willing to make sacrifices in order to prove ourselves.
HEAVE: Is there a community feel among other online filmmakers or do you all mostly do your own thing?
Danny: I would love to work with other talented filmmakers, but as for now we are just trying to get our name out there!
HEAVE: You and Jeremy Le wore many hats on the original project (producer, actor, writer/director). How do you prevent the series from becoming a vanity project?
Danny: Actually we have both taken a step back and are putting on only one big hat! I am continuing the role of producer and also I will be playing Nightwing. Jeremy is stepping back as an associate producer and will be our prop/costume designer. We await to play to our strengths and allow other talented people to help us in order to make this thing the best it can be and also not exhaust ourselves. My older brother, Chris Shepherd, will be producing along side me and we will have Mike Slater and Andy Hansen of MG Studio directing.
HEAVE: I’ve read the positive reaction to your original Nightwing video inspired you to turn it into a series. Was it your hope going into the original video that it would spawn a following or was it more a planned one and done deal a la your Aladdin and Assassin’s Creed videos?
Danny: It was just a one and done deal originally, but from the beginning we talked about doing more with it. We both love the character and the DC universe but the massive reception from our audience is what truly inspired us to do more!
HEAVE: The original video was aimed squarely at fans of the character and comic book fans in general with the inclusion of Red Hood and Oracle. Will the series continue this trend?
Danny: Yes and no. We want to appeal to the fans of Nightwing, and the original video. But we want to share Nightwing with a new generation! Since it will be a series we thought that it would be a good idea to touch on Nightwing’s origins a little bit.
HEAVE: It’s difficult to ignore The Joker Blogs, which has made a name for itself in the world of Bat-related projects. Are these videos even on your radar when it comes to planning this series?
Danny: As a fan of Batman, I love watching other fan videos. Most of the time they give me inspiration. I see a great fan film and try to see what they did right, and for the less than stellar ones, I try to see what opportunities they missed. All of that ties in to the way we want to create our series.
HEAVE: Finally, any hints about the story line?
Danny: I can’t give away to much yet other than it will touch on Nightwing’s origins! We will reveal more information soon, I promise :]
Danny Shepherd’s Nightwing film was successfully funded this week, and (with some of the staff being backers of it) we can’t wait to see the finished product! Watch the teaser trailer for the series below: