With the internet so filled
with review sites for everything a geek's heart could wish for, a couple of
local video makers have taken the review to a completely different level.
--- One Shot Presents takes the conventional review process many of us comic and toy fans know, and presents it in well-scripted video shorts for your viewing pleasure. Expressing their feelings about titles and products while giving you an actual visual of what you're looking for beyond the front cover. I got a chance to chat with the men behind the series while we played around in Night Flight's downtown location, talking about how they got into filming and comics, thoughts on the show and the industries out there today, and a few other topics. What the... SISKO! LOOK OUT!
Bert Estrada & Matthew Taggart
Gavin: Hey guys. First off, tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Taggart: I grew up in
Bert: Well my name is Bert Estrada. I've been reading comics and playing with toys since well, I'm pretty old and I guess I've been reading and playing all my life. I'm videographer here in town and I tend to jaw a bit.
Gavin: What first got you into comics, and what were some of your favorite titles growing up?
Taggart: All the standard kids favorites: Batman, Superman, a lot of X-Men books. That sort of thing, I also seemed to have a fondness for Star Trek and Ghostbusters comics.
Bert: Like I said, I've been reading since I can remember. A few of may favorite titles are X-Men, G.I.Joe, (in fact it was a real treat to meet Larry Hama this summer at Comic Con), Batman.
Gavin: How did you both become interested in video and film production?
Taggart: I've always been pretty obsessed with movies since I was a kid, and so running around with a video camera was always something I've done, but it wasn't really till high school that me and my friend Nick Martin tried to make a movie that I decided I wanted to make movies as a profession. So from there I just started doing that. I did a little film school, but couldn't really hack it there.
Bert: I always wanted to do something fun and creative and early on I realized that I watched a lot of movies so I thought, why not try and so I did. I now realize that it is not easy, in fact it can be down right depressing, but when you get it to work its like an orgasm, so as I travel on my journey, it gets more satisfying everyday.
Gavin: Have you both been seeking education in it, or just been experimenting with it spare time?
Taggart: Both of us work in film, our day jobs are for an industrial video company where we make videos that teach people new techniques in the health and beauty industry, but we've both made a few movies and worked on narrative things like music videos, short films and full length movies.
Bert: Well I went to school for it if thats what you mean. And its what I do for a living, so it consumes my time.
Gavin: Where did the idea come from to start up One Shot Presents?
Taggart: I think it basically came from the idea that there were a lot of opportunities that could be found on making short web based "mini-movies" for lack of a better term. And since we both make our home in comics and toys, it just seemed a great fit.
Bert: Well its a little complicated. Tiger came up with a sitcom idea about two guys that own a comic book store and get into all sorts of hijinks. Now before we get to far, it was a bit of a dramatic script which totally intrigued me. So we started to plan a pilot. Well, when we realized that we couldn't find actors to play the two main characters quite right, we decided to try ourselves, so in order to practice acting, we created One Shot Presents.
Gavin: How did you get Night Flight Comics involved with the project?
Taggart: They were one of our first fans, and were very supportive from the get go. So it just kinda happened.
Bert: We shop there and they liked our show so they decided to sponsor us.
Gavin: What were some of the first attempts and interviews like for you?
Taggart: It actually came pretty easy I think. Thanks to our day job we both knew how to talk to professionals and work fast. It's only been difficult when the people we interview don't give much of an answer to work with (which could be our fault for asking lame questions) but on the whole everyone has been really kind to us and so it's been a breeze.
Bert: Easy. We do this for a living.
Gavin: What was the public reaction to it when the videos started going up?
Taggart: I remember that when we put up our first video, before we could even call our moms to tell them to watch, we had five hits, and I think that night we had 25 hits that didn't come from family or friends so it was a great motivator. But the internet is a fickle mistress and we know there have been some people who don't like us or the show, and that's fine. I don't mean to focus on that though because some of the best parts of the show have been when people we don't know have told us they love the show. We know we have a few fans and honestly, that is really one of the biggest things that keeps us going. We have a friend Robert Bear who probably watches the show more than anyone and always calls us or leaves a note telling us he liked the show. It's crap like that that makes you want to keep going and kinda makes all the haters seem insignificant.
Bert: Okay I guess. We never planned on having a following and so as we get more fans it gets more exciting. I hope they like it cause we like doing it.
Gavin: Putting you on the spot a little, what's your favorite interview to date and why?
Taggart: For me Simon Pegg was huge, I'm just a huge fan of his writing and acting. I almost threw up I was so nervous. I don't get very nervous or star struck but I really did on that interview. Pia Guerra was fun too, she drew me a cool little picture for free. Very gracious.
Bert: Paul Chadwick, writer and artist of Concrete. Reason: After the interview Tiger told him that his panels moved him and to me he was deeply touched by the comment and it made me feel good to see someone appreciate a fan.
Gavin: Does it ever feel lonely being the only people doing this kind of work, or do you consider yourselves part of the local media collective in a different way?
Taggart: I think it feels great. I've never really thought of ourselves as part of a media collective. Maybe I should?
Bert: Well, I feel lonely when you can't get help to put the show together, but you know I'm having a good time and every-now and then you get a little bit of sunshine. And with a partner like Tiger it always is a bit of sunshine. Now I will say that if we banded together then bigger fish would look at us, but I've been doing this long enough to realize that everyone is a little selfish, so when you find the people that help, I feel you've got to hold on to them because that is ultimately the greatest strength.
Gavin: Utah-wise, how would you describe our local comic scene both positive and negative?
Taggart: I can only think of about two people in all my years in comics that were not cool. One of them it turned out was just having a bad day the day I met them, and I think that's very much how the scene in
Bert: Here's the thing. I think that the comic scene needs to chill out. Its okay to like Archie, Hulk, and whatever indie comic is out there. There is no positive or negative. I don't really get into arguments about comics because, well its a comic book. Is there an arc or hidden messages in the pages? Argue if you want to, but is that cool? Well, I'd rather make love to my wife.
Gavin: What would you say needs to be done to make it bigger or better?
Taggart: The best thing for us nerds and geeks to do is just be comfortable with what we like. Our friend Trevor likes all kinds of seemingly girly books and he's totally comfortable with who he is and secure in his persona. I think if everyone can be that way, we'll all be better off.
Bert: Hmm. If your talking about creating books, Its easy. Get off your ass and make a book - draw it, write it, whatever. If we get criticized so what? At least you are a creator rather than just a talker, and man we got a lot of the latter. Now for the guys and gals who like to complain about whats out there, look at the first part of my answer. Don't stay on the sidelines get in the game.
Gavin: Going a little more national, what are your thoughts on the comics today, both good and bad?
Taggart: On the whole it's a great time in comics. We nerds are becoming more and more mainstream, comics are more and more accepted as art or at least a source of reading as opposed to trashy cartoon books. So it's awesome.
Bert: There was a big debate between Kirkman and Bendis about this question. There is nothing wrong with comics as an educational tool. There is nothing wrong with comics as entertainment. However, they should not be dumbed down for kids, believe me we catch up. We get it. I didn't understand Shakespeare when I first read it. But the poetry was cool. Now I still don't understand it but I can get more of the story, maybe when I'm sixty I will get it, but guess what? I'll catch up. Comics are the same way. Make them for your audience not a paycheck.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it better than it is now?
Taggart: It's hard to say since I don't sell or make comics. Part of me thinks that if there were less event's like DC's Final Crisis or Marvel's Secret Invasion and more single issue stories it would make comics easier for people to jump on and start. At the same time though, Secret Invasion was amazing and huge runs or major story arc's are so good that it's hard to say if changing anything would make it better or just different.
Gavin: If you had to make a top five, what are your most favorite comics currently out?
Taggart: Avengers, Thor, Madman Atomic Comics, Criminal/Incognito, Buffy.
Bert: Walking Dead, Avengers, X-Factor, Magneto Testament, Green Lantern.
Gavin: On toys, do you think the market is getting better or worse with the influx of all the different sets out there?
Taggart: It's defiantly frustrating when you see a figure you want and you can't get it without a bunch of hoops to jump through. I hate that I have to buy another Superman figure, and a Vixen figure to get a Hawkgirl figure in the “Justice League Unlimited” toy line.
Bert: If you got the money, buy whatever you want.
Gavin: Do you think the day and age of “complete collections” is over with now that there are several series that are almost impossible to completely gather?
Taggart: "Everything is possible"- Dr. Gillespie Flem Madman comics #2. I tried to get the complete collection of Invincible and I think I have like two issues left, and that's been hard, but it's part of what makes it fun. I think it's possible, it's just a question of time and money.
Bert: No, because I get complete sets when I want them, with eBay or traveling you can get those hard to find issues, but you got to have money and be patient.
Gavin: Who would you say are the companies putting out the best toys today, and what specific series would you recommend overall?
Taggart: The Mighty Muggs are useless but very cool, the Geek Show had a great rant about that, but those have been some of my favorites despite being a chunk of plastic. The Mini-Mates are great too.
Bert: DC Direct. Simple articulation, great cuts, and easy to pose and play with.
Gavin: What can we expect from you guys over the next year?
Taggart: We just started a run of episodes we're calling The Furious Five, which we are both excited about. Each one is going to be a unique little narrative type intro that is original as opposed to us riffing on a TV show or something. We also hope to add a few more things to promote some local musicians. So here's hoping.
Bert: Keep on rolling.
Gavin: Besides the obvious, is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Taggart: Our friend Trevor Nielson's Deviant Art page and another good friend of the show Andre Symanowick's. Check em out. Also Night Flight Comics.
Bert: And any little guy trying to make it out there!