Interview With The Elektra: The Hand and The Devil Creators
(November 2008)

The director and cast of the Elektra fan film "The Hand and the Devil" talk about the project! Special thanks to Chris .R. Notarile for organizing this interview and the actors, Kim Santiago, Adam Shorsten and Damien Colletti!

If you haven't seen the movie yet, here's your chance...

Kuljit Mithra: Thanks to all of you for taking part in this interview. I'll start with Chris, can you give some background on yourself and Blinky Productions?

Chris .R. Notarile: I have been making films for over 5 years now. I started officially in January 2004 with a short film called Baby Punisher. Since then I've made nearly 100 shorts and a couple of features. Basically I started in animation and knowingly majored in it to become a more proficient filmmaker.

Mithra: Why Elektra as your first Marvel fan film?

Notarile: Why not? She's hot. She's probably the most badass Marvel female as well as the most memorable one. I mean if someone were to ask me to name 5 Marvel girls, she would definitely be at the top of the list.

Mithra: So, for Kim, Adam and Damien, how did you each get involved with this project? Can you also say a few words about your background?

Kim Santiago: The day that Chris and I met, we immediately started talking about our love for comics and how poorly most characters have been portrayed in Hollywood films. Then Chris asked if I could play any character, who would it be? I immediately said Elektra. About two weeks later we were writing the script. As for my background, I was born and raised in the Bronx, went to college for theatre and decided to take a year off to pursue acting full time. And it's a good thing I did because that's how I ended up meeting Chris. I am now taking martial arts training so that my moves can be a little more up to par for my next Blinky Productions film, whatever it may be.

Adam Shorsten: I was called in for a meeting with Chris. After some discussion about the project and his goals, along with some research of Blinky productions on my part; I auditioned for him and was hired.

Damien Colletti: I had recently worked with Chris in the short film, "Maniac Cop". A week later, Chris asked me if I'd like to play Bullseye in "Elektra". I said, sure! Sounds like a... Bullseye! I've been an actor for 2 1/2 years now. I've been in the films: Methodic, Shooter, Gods of Hellfire, Harts Ridge, and The Ritual just to name a few. Also, the TV Shows: "Forensic Files", and The Travel Channel's, "Mysterious Journeys".

Mithra: As co-writers, Chris and Kim, what did you want this story to showcase about Elektra? About Daredevil? Why did you choose the Miller storyline specifically as a springboard?

Notarile: We chose the Miller storyline because it was at the core of the characters and probably the most memorable of moments between Matt and Elektra. We wanted to do something all DD fans could relate to. Matt Murdock is probably the biggest hound in the Marvel universe, though he has a real soft spot for Elektra. Frank Miller exploited that in his DD run and we wanted to celebrate that in the film.

Mithra: What kind of budget was involved?

Notarile: There was no budget involved. We had nothing. We spent like 40 bucks in total on materials, metrocards and hot chocolate. It was the definition of shoe string.

Mithra: Who created the costumes and why did you go for something that more closely resembled the comics?

Notarile: I created all the costumes. I chose to keep everything as accurate to the comics as possible simply because I believe its not impossible to make these designs work. It all just depends on the lighting and how the actors look in them. It boggles me how professional filmmakers will so willingly abandon the spandex for dark leather. I don't follow that philosophy. If you don't like the costumes the characters were created with, don't make a movie about them. Plain and simple. Part of creating a good movie is respecting the source material.

Mithra: What did you all think of the Daredevil and Elektra movies?

Notarile: CRAP. Daredevil was okay, but it left so much to be desired. Mind you I'm only talking about the theatrical release, not the director's cut. Elektra's solo film? Don't get me started.

Santiago: The Daredevil movie was tolerable and entertaining. I can understand the reasoning behind the story changes, but as a comic book fan, I have to say I was insulted by a good degree from the Elektra movie. I kind of feel they took the name Elektra and just made up a story that had absolutely nothing to do with the actual character or any of the other characters featured. At least in our case, we tried to stay as faithful as possible even when we took the creative liberty to somewhat change the events of her resurrection.

Shorsten: I thought the Hollywood films were just that. Hollywood. Great production values, big budgets, and neatly wrapped... if not completely true to the heart of the comic.

Colletti: I enjoyed Daredevil a lot. I think it was much underrated and had a great cast. Elektra was enjoyable to watch as well.

Mithra: (To the actors) What were some of the challenges and research you did for your role? Did you use the movies as a basis, or the comics?

Santiago: As far as research goes, I definitely collected a good amount of past and current Elektra comics to better understand her mentality and basically I wanted to find out what makes her tick. I ended up using the following: Graphic Novel- Redemption. Visionaries: Miller Vol 2 as both an inside to the mind of the character and for costume ideas. Afterwards I am now reading Ultimate Elektra and got the actual death of Elektra issue, yellow cover and all. It's kind of my pride and joy at the moment.

Shorsten: Chris was much more interested in the comic than the film adaptation. As an actor I try to bring my own ideas to the character I am playing. Daredevil was no exception. I did some research on the Marvel comic and mixed it with the directors' input. (It also was a good excuse to work on my back flip! lol)... The bulk of the film was shot in two, very cold, rainy nights in China town. I was running around in spandex, and Kim was wearing even less then me! Between takes, both our teeth would be chattering away until Chris would call action, then we would just suck it up, and get to business! I had a cold for a week!

Colletti: Research wise, I watched the Daredevil movie again, and read the comic book containing Bullseye's scenes with Elektra. So yes, the movie and comic book had an influence. I've worked with Chris on several films; he is a real pro and easy to work with. So, there weren't many challenges. Working with great people like Chris and Kim make things easier, and a great atmosphere to work in.

Mithra: What were some of your favourite scenes from your movie?

Notarile: The Daredevil fight. I thought it was pretty cool how I cut it together. Some of the people who have seen the movie don't realize that Daredevil had a stunt double. Correction- a black stunt double. Which was hysterical to me. When we were getting ready, picture if you will, me sitting at a table in McDonalds with like a dozen other people there, my fight coordinator Manny, in the red spandex, and me painting him to look like a white guy. It was priceless. I also enjoyed some of the gags with Matt in the flashbacks.

Santiago: Well, I guess my girly cheesy side takes over here. I really loved the flashbacks between Matt and Elektra. I love how touching and warm the footage came out. The funny thing is the part where Adam kisses me at Columbia, was totally unplanned and the blush in my cheeks was not makeup. Visually there were definitely my favorite scenes. I also really love the resurrection scene. I still get chills everytime I see it. Those contacts are a little creepy.

Colletti: Well, I always enjoy kicking Kim's butt in films, that's usually a good time. So I did enjoy our fight scene in the film. I was happy with how it came out. But, I really liked when Bullseye followed Elektra to Matt Murdock's home while she was dying, as I had a sinister, evil look in my eyes the whole time. I think the music for that scene was perfect too.

Mithra: What do you think didn't work as planned? Were there any unforeseen problems specific with you or some of your scenes?

Notarile: Yes. The weather. It was freezing when we did the Elektra & Daredevil fight and raining no less. Kim nearly got beat to death with the nunchucks and still has a battle scar on her wrist. It was hard shooting in that weather specifically because I could not risk damaging my equipment so I had to spend all night with my jacket over my head covering the camera. Also scheduling is always a bitch. Originally Ethos, Elektra's body guard was supposed to have a bigger role and actually be in a suit, but my actor bailed on me without warning. So I ended up wrangling a security guard who actually worked at Columbia to play the part. It was funny though, he did a good job for having no experience. Also the morgue we shot in was actually the basement of a diner near my house. Come to think of it, the coroner was a waiter there. As a whole, the film did go pretty smoothly. Nothing really went horribly wrong.

Santiago: Yeah, the cold weather was definitely NOT fun to shoot in. Everytime Chris yelled cut, I ran to throw on my jacket for as long as possible. Let's face it, that costume doesn't leave a lot of room for weather preperations. What really got me was that my fingers were so cold sometimes, I could barely grip the sai which were metal and therefore even colder. One pleasant unforseen circumstance were a few occasions when people who passed by would stop and cheer us on. That definitely warmed me up a little.

Shorsten: I truly enjoyed working with Chris. He is a gorilla film-maker, and a very capable one at that! As a stage and TV actor I was taken a little by surprise at the speed and improvisation Chris uses when we gets to filming. This process was very fast pace! Not a lot of time to plot out the characters and the scenes, its more of a shoot and go style. The real magic happened in post-production where Chris cuts and pastes and molds it all together. Colletti: I think everything worked out as planned. We didn't have any set backs or problems on my shooting days, or at least none we couldn't overcome.

Mithra: What were some of the locations used for filming?

Notarile: We shot at the following locations:

Corlandt Ave & Canal St. in Chinatown NYC.
The Coach House Diner in Jersey City NJ
Columbia University on 115th St.
Near Battery Park on the lower west side NYC.
And my house- that address is none of your damn business.

Mithra: Did everyone do their own stunts/fight scenes? How was that to do?

Santiago: I did all my own stunts but I can't say the same for Adam, bless his heart. The fight scenes were really cool, I have four years of kick boxing under my belt, but translating kick boxing techniques into fight choreography was much harder than I anticipated at the beginning of shooting.

Mithra: How long did this project take from writing to end product?

Notarile: We began writing this sucker nearly 6 months ago. After that it was time to start casting. We found Adam nearly instantly, but Damien was not originally cast as Bullseye. In fact, he came in literally the day we shot with him. We started filming in August. Our first day of shooting was the flashback scenes. So all those shots in the montage were done that day. Our second day of filming was a few weeks later when Elektra was resurrected in the morgue. Then another few more weeks later, we shot the Resurrectionist's scene. And then even another few more weeks later, we shot the Bullseye fight scene and Elektra's walk to Matt's place. That was in October. And finally in November, we finished the film with Elektra's fight with Daredevil. It's been a process. Usually my fan films are shot and completed in under a day, but being that this film had so many scenes with so many different little things in it, complied with actor's schedules, things just got out of hand and drawn out. Never again is all I have to say about that.

Mithra: What's next for all of you in terms of fan films or acting in other projects?

Notarile: I have a few things lined up. I do have some fan films I want to tackle, possibly something else with Elektra. I also have a bunch of original pieces in the works. So we'll see. I don't want to say much just because on the offset something doesn't happen. I hate jinxing myself.

Santiago: Chris and I have just finished a few other scripts we plan to tackle in the coming weeks and months. We've also been banging out ideas for new fan films featuring some more under used Marvel characters. So yeah, keep an eye out.

Shorsten: I will let you ask Chris what the next fan film we are collaborating on is. Don't want to ruin his surprise, but it will be from the DC comic. I am looking forward to that. At the moment I am working on the Musical "South Pacific" playing Lt. J. Cable. and have several other stage jobs lined-up after the Holidays.

Colletti: I would work with Chris on any fan film he wants me to be a part of. No plans yet though on that. Currently, I'm still filming the horror film, "Gods of Hellfire", where I play, Acid, a cult member. Also, I'm happy to say I just got the lead in a full length film called, "Malevolent Ascent" (working title), directed by Dave Wascavage. I play an evil, split personally, former doctor turned mental patient, named, Damon. Dave has several films in stores and online and I've heard a lot of good things about him so it will be nice to be a part of one of his films.

Mithra: And finally, what has the online reaction been like for the movie? Would you be interested in doing an official Marvel movie (doesn't have to be DD/Elektra)?

Notarile: Thus far, the types of reactions are squarely based on where they originate from. On Youtube, we have received nothing but praise for the film. Though on more comic themed sites or Daredevil Elektra themed forums, we get more mixed reviews. For the most part, people like the movie, but we do get the occasional "You can't change that." about something in the film. To which I usually have to start explaining myself in very long winded statements because well..... I'm like that. In any case, for the most part, we've gotten some great response and I am very pleased so far.

Santiago: I think the best review I've received was from a couple of people who have told me that I look like the way the character was drawn in the comics. That is without a doubt, the biggest compliment anyone can give me about this film. Our goal was simple, to embody the characters as accurately as possible, so to hear that just makes me smile.

Shorsten: I am so happy about how the community is receiving this fan film. I was not exposed to it before this film and I am very grateful for the support. I look forward to working with Chris and Blinky Productions again. I had a blast stepping into this characters shoes. Maybe I will have the chance to do it again...

Colletti: A lot of people seemed to like the movie a lot and how I portrayed Bullseye which is great to see. I wanted to play Bullseye a little crazier, and less comical, and I'm glad to see that worked out well and people liked it. I am definitely a fan of Marvel Super-Hero movies. So, I would love to be a part of one, or for one day Chris to get the go ahead to create a Super-Hero movie for the big screen.

(c) Kuljit Mithra 2008
Daredevil:The Man Without Fear

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