2000 AD-inspired fan films are a must-see

strontium dog

After creating what has been dubbed as the closest thing you will get to the latest Dredd film’s sequel (for the moment, at least), Judge Minty. The team behind the Judge Dredd fan flick have turned their attention to 2000 AD’s second most infamous John Wagner creation: Strontium Dog.

Judge Minty was an impressive feat, with free showings at numerous film festivals across the UK, it garnered a reputation with some spectacular acting and effects – capturing the true essence of the comics and a far cry from Sylvester Stallone's '95 abomination.

Watch Judge Minty

It was Wagner himself who suggested Strontium Dog for the team's next venture, and it spurred a fire in their belly to get the ball rolling.

The team has been lucky enough to receive unofficial input from the creators themselves, with Carlos Ezquerra (Judge Dredd/Strontium Dog illustrator) illustrating them a private unofficial piece of artwork to titillate fans’ tastebuds!

The not-for-profit independent short should be out some time next year, with the bulk of filming done by the end of September.

strontium dog character

The most respected of the Strontium Dogs is Johnny Alpha. His mutant eyes allow him to see through walls and read minds

We caught up with co-director Steve Green to give us the low down on how they are bringing Johnny Alpha and co. to screens…

01. What was your budget like?

It's probably a little larger than the very rough estimate of £6K for Minty, but that's more down to investing in a 3D printer, new camera gear, lights etc. which can be used outside of the project.

strontium dog

Wulf Sternhammer is a Johnny's non-mutant partner, a Scandinavian viking of a man with a conscience of gold.

02. Can we expect more impressive production and SFX?

Yes, we want to improve on a technical level, as well as makeup, lighting etc compared to Minty.

03. Why did you pick 2000AD titles?

strontium dog

“When the filming schedule hit the half way mark, we wanted something to give the cast, crew and supporters a bit of a boost, and the commission from Carlos certainly hits the spot!”

2000AD is a great alternative to the big two of Marvel and DC, it's just something I've grown up with and I'd much rather pay tribute to 2000AD IP, than other IP who are well-served either with Hollywood or fan films.

When we started Minty, we didn't even know about the 2012 Dredd, and nothing else from 2000AD has officially made it to the screen.

04. How did you recreate the iconic Judge Dredd universe?

For the Dredd universe, location and costumes are the biggest hurdles. Daniel Carey-George at Planet Replicas worked on translating the uniform from page to the real world.

Since we're making a fan film, we decide to stick as much as we can with what's served the comics well. There are a few concessions (moving the holster to the thigh) for practical purposes.

Locations always take time and money - the more interesting looking locations are generally not safe, or expensive. It also helps if you can find a location that has variety, the Magna science park we used for Minty was Mega City one for the opening, as well as two locations in the Cursed Earth.

05. What about Strontium Dog: How did you bring that world to life?

carlos helmet

Carlos' original plans for an unaired pilot of Strontium Dog were used by the team to recreate their own 3D helmets for the movie

For Strontium Dog, the Ultimaker 3D printer has been invaluable in prototyping props and costume pieces. Carlos Ezquerra has a very organic style, so we wanted to follow elements of that through other characters, so Johnny didn't look too out of place.

Location scouting took a while - we wanted to get some of the sci-fi western feel, and there aren't many locations in the UK that suit that.

Obviously CGI can be used to augment footage, but you really want to get a good base to work from.

the team

The team used green screen to create CGI environments and special effects

Process/Pipeline wise, pretty much everything is storyboarded so we can tick off shots as we go along. Once we have the shots then it's passed along to the editor, especially if we have a second location shoot where pick ups might be required to make things flow.

Once we have a loose edit, then it's VFX which is mainly 3DS Max and After Effects, it can be tricky though as the VFX can have an effect on the edit, so it can be a bit of back and forth. The grade is usually done as part of the VFX, since we don't have a dedicated colourist.

Throughout we might be passing sequences to the composer, but once it's locked down the sound designer will start adding sound effects, mixing the score etc.

06. What was the biggest challenge?

Probably Johnny's costume - the helmet took a few revisions, and it's by far the most complex in terms of unique pieces!

thought bubble helmet

The teams 3D prints, smoothed off and primed on display at Thought Bubble -Texture was then added, and a cast made, so the filming version is a flexible copy to make it easier to wear.

07. What's next for you?

I'm not really thinking beyond Strontium Dog, as it requires a lot of post production that has to be slotted in between work.

08. Top tip for prospective filmmakers?

Planning, planning, planning - leave as little to chance. If it's a fan film, approach the IP holder, and avoid kickstarters if it's not your IP.

The not-for-profit independent short should be out some time next year, with the bulk of filming done by the end of September.

Words: Alice Pattillo/ Steve Green

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