An entirely understandable passion for 1940s pulp adventure/crime fiction culture has inspired filmmaker Mark Ross to undertake the always daunting task of making a movie of his own, intended to capture the style and aesthetic qualities of such influences as: 1940s radio dramas, The Shadow (“Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men? The Shadow Knows!”), The Phantom, B Movies generally, Dick Tracy, early Batman, Spy Smasher, Republic movie serials, comic books and pulp novels/magazines of the 1930s/1940s.
The Curse of the Phantom Shadow (US-2012; short [approx. 30 min.]; dir. Mark Ross)
The year is 1948 and the United States has a new enemy, The Phantom Shadow. This dark figure has diabolical plans for captured scientist, Dr Hammond and his War Department weapons of mass destruction. When the Phantom Shadow launches a treacherous missile attack on key locations in the United States, the government takes action.
There is only one man to call, Agent 236, an elite government agent. Agent 236 has been dispatched to launch a rescue.
Along the way, Agent 236 is befriended by a spunky, sarcastic gas-station attendant ,who just happens to have pinup-girl good looks. She also just happens to be in the market for a little action and excitement. Luckily, Agent 236 is the man of her dreams. Agent 236 puts the station attendant and her tow truck into service in pursuit of the Phantom Shadow and together they take on the most diabolical villain the world has ever faced.
“Our film takes place in 1948,” explained director Mark Ross. “We have professional actors, some of which have been in Hollywood productions.” The Backbrain asked him what inspired him.
As a kid growing up in the 1970s/1980s I was a huge Star Wars fan. After I learned that Star Wars was influenced by pulp magazines and movie serials, I started to track them down and soon fell in love with the source material. I have always had a huge affinity for the 1940s, as my father was a 16mm film collector. Growing up, my dad screened classic movies in our basement. Before there were VCRs or DVD players, our family watched full length movies on a cold New England night.
My father was both an engineer and cinematographer. He gave me my first movie camera when I was in grammar school. By the time I was in 4th grade my father had already taught me stop motion animation. He had also introduced my to radio dramas, decoder badges, and his vintage 1940s Gilbert Erector set. Before I knew it, I was already trying to find a way to combine all of these interests.
The short film is well underway, and looks great (as you can see from the promotional video below) but more money is need to complete the task. Hence, like many others before him, Mark is making a play for backing through the Kickstarter website. “Until recently,” he explained, “we were 100% self financed from my personal savings. We are now trying to raise money to finish our production.”
The Backbrain asked Mark what he was aiming to achieve through this film:
I’m trying to put together a concept film that will demonstrate the skill and talent of my cast and crew. It is my hope that someone will see this movie, and fund us to shoot either a feature-length film or television pilot based upon these characters and story situations. I would like to be able to bring back my entire cast and crew for a full-length movie, and beyond that a series of films based upon these characters.
If you think you’d like to help Mark complete his film and fulfil these ambitions, check out the Kickstarter site to see what rewards your pledge will get you.
Source: Mark Ross; Kickstarter. Written by Robert Hood