“As I filmmaker I grew up loving animation and comic art in hopes of telling stories that I could create and tell. Watching movies like Tim Burton’s Batman or the 90’s TMNT films and shows made me love the medium,” director Yaron Betan tells Ottawa Indie Fest during a recent conversation about his feature documentary film Heroes Manufactured.Yarton with Poster in BG

Winner of five awards and the official selection in 30 international film festivals, the film explores the world of Canadian independent artists who are trying to break into the comic book industry while dealing with fandom and the craze of comic book conventions, super heroes, cos-players and everything else the comic-con markets have to offer.

Heroes Manufactured has its Ottawa premiere on Saturday June 3, 2017, 11:00am at Ottawa Indie Fest 2017.

How did you get involved in making a documentary on this subject?
Comic books have always been a passion of mine while growing up. I had produced a number of documentaries and feature films in the past and wanted to create something that I really loved and appreciated. Comic creation, illustration and story telling have always been a subject I had interest in.

As I filmmaker I grew up loving animation and comic art in hopes of telling stories that I could create and tell. Watching movies like Tim Burton’s Batman or the 90’s TMNT films and shows made me love the medium. When conceptualizing the project I realized there is so much great talent out there. Why not make a film that tells the story about some of the great work that comes out of Canada.

When looking for stories about Canadian comic books and comic cons I fell upon lost heroes which gave more of a history lesson about Canadian Comics. So I thought right there and then we need to expose both new and old Canadian talent. I also remember thinking that wouldn’t it be interesting to show the challenges these artists face in the market. They too like myself probably face the enormous challenge of creating and distributing their work.

We wanted to show Canadian talent at it’s best and therefore chose to document the lives of some of these great artists. This had to be a great topic to cover.

What attracted you to the world of comic-cons, comic artists, cos-players and super heroes?
Its funny not too long ago was my first comic -con. I actually think the whole scene grabbed me in as a fanboy right away. I never realized I was a fan until recently. I always thought comics, superheroes and comic movies were the coolest. I loved most of the Marvel and DC movies growing up and didn’t see the divide between geek culture and comic book lovers. I think I was always a fan of comics and pop culture. Through that I learned to live it all including cosplay and superhero fandom.

Megan Kearney in Heroes Manufactured (2016)

Comic artist Megan Kearney

What were some of the challenges in making the film and why?
One of the biggest challenges we faced was finding female artists that were willing to be a part of the the documentary. We noticed that female illustrators were either interested more in the art creation process than promoting themselves to fame like other artists we met. Female artists were still a smaller group when we looked at the scene as a whole. It feels like the industry is still predominantly male centred when looking at the artists working at the cons.
In addition, we also noticed that getting celebs to participate was a slight challenge but we managed to overcome that through getting to the right channels.

Alfonso Espinos in Heroes Manufactured (2016)

Comic book creator and illustrator Alfonso Espinos

Can you tell us about any of the interesting celebrities/characters that you met while making the film?
I have to say working with Alfonso Espinos from Studio Comix was interesting. Seeing a Canadian immigrant struggle and succeed in creating comics in Canada was a unique learning experience in itself.

Yaron Betan and Stan Lee Cropped

Stan Lee and Yaron Betan

In addition we got to meet the famous Stan Lee (Comic book writer, actor, and former president of Marvel Comics) who shared his long wealth of knowledge with the industry which can be seen in the film. This was inspiring and great to have as part of our story. Stan Lee’s story is unique and almost parallel to our story of Alfonso as both characters share there experience and challenges in the film.

Can you tell me about your future projects? What’s next?
Heroes Manufactured will likely be developed into either a series or a sequel, or both. We are applying for some government grants and have a potential deal with a major Canadian distribution company. So hint hint sequel? Trilogy maybe. Who knows?

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Heroes Manufactured features celebrity interviews with: Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead) Jason Mamoa (Aquaman, Conan) Mike Tyson (Legendary Boxing Champ) Christian Slater (True Romance, Mr. Robot) Malcolm McDowell (Clockwork Orange) Ray Park (Star Wars ) Sam J.Jones ( Flash Gordon, Ted) as well as interviews with celebrity comic book artists from Marvel and DC comics

As a cinematographer, director and producer, Yaron Betan has worked on a number of independent documentaries as well from time to time on Hollywood studio budget productions. Aside from producing, Betan manages to find the time to teach at the Picture Perfect Film School in Toronto, Canada.

For more information about the film check out the film’s website.

Heroes Manufactured screens on Saturday June 3, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. along the short film Hue Quilted Windowpane at Ottawa Indie Fest 2017.

 

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