Hero Complex Film Fest '12: 'Wall-E', 'Serenity' with Nathan Fillion
by Ben Pearson
May 21, 2012
Downtown Los Angeles was filled with visions of the future during the third & final day of the third annual Hero Complex Film Festival. Science fiction fans were treated to the one-two punch of Pixar's 2008 film Wall-E complete with a Q&A from writer/director Andrew Stanton, and Joss Whedon's 2005 directorial debut Serenity, wrapping up with a Q&A featuring fan-favorite star Nathan Fillion. The LA Times' Geoff Boucher and his team put together another fantastic event, and I already can't wait until next year's festival. This was my first time attending, and it's quickly joined the ranks of my favorite film festivals of the year.
I had watched Wall-E again recently enough where I didn't feel the need to check this one out on the big screen again so soon, and according to a few friends, I missed a surprise performance of "You've Got A Friend in Me" by "Battlestar Galactica" composer Bear McCreary which kicked off the day's events. Wall-E played to a good-sized crowd, and I arrived in time for director Andrew Stanton's Q&A. Hero Complex head writer Geoff Boucher moderated the event, and though questions about John Carter were undoubtedly on everyone's minds, he respectfully avoided that film and concentrated more on Stanton's history with Pixar and stories involving the creation of the charismatic little robot we all know and love.
Stanton talked about the variations this project went through, one of which included the human characters looking like gelatinous blobs who spoke in dialogue pulled from an Ikea catalogue. He spoke about the obvious Apple connection in regards to Eve's design, and reminisced about working with Steve Jobs (who he said had a "leader gene") during the film's development. But most interesting to me were his observations as to the reason behind Pixar's success. Stanton said that he and his co-workers at Pixar are "lifers," giving a sort of built-in accountability to their work together. Pixar's notoriously long development process for their projects (anywhere from 3 to 8 years) outlasts the length of time that many other studio heads get to run their studio, and he jabbed other studio executives' shortsightedness instead of looking at a bigger picture where story and characters are more important that quarterly earnings.
With the ridiculous worldwide success of The Avengers, Hero Complex could not have chosen a better film to close the festival than Joss Whedon's Serenity (based on his TV show "Firefly"), a true cult classic that played to a sold-out crowd. The film is fantastic, and while the writing, acting, story, and action are all spectacular for a comparatively low-budget film, I have to give special props to actor Chiwetel Ejiofor for his excellent performance as The Operative. He's a great villain, and Ejiofor's layered performance actually makes him somewhat sympathetic as the film goes on.
The evening concluded with a Q&A with star Nathan Fillion, who was easygoing and answered questions that ranged in topic from his days as a soap opera star all the way up to his current ABC series, "Castle." Fans were able to ask questions and it essentially turned into people asking about every project that has had Fillion's name attached to it over the past few years. Someone asked if he wants to play Ant-Man in Edgar Wright's upcoming Marvel film, and he shrugged and said, "did you ever just love Ant-Man? Not me." He had a similar reaction to a question about a role in a potential Wonder Woman movie, but perked up when the topic of the Uncharted movie came up, saying "that would be great, because everyone wants their own Indiana Jones movie." But ultimately, he recognizes that he's not a big enough box office draw to recoup a big budget, quipping, "If I were making that movie, I wouldn't get me to do it. Do I want to be in it? Yes!"
Special thanks to John Conroy at the LA Times for facilitating my coverage of the festival, and I hope you all get a chance to attend for yourselves in the coming years. It's always a star-studded festival, and Hero Complex is always hosting great events in the Los Angeles area, so keep your eyes peeled for any screenings they might be putting together later this summer. Boucher and his team are hoping to expand the guests to more than just actors and directors, aiming to bring in more folks like makeup artist Rick Baker and people who work in different areas of the industry to talk about their experiences making the movies we all love. For a recap of the first day of the festival, click here, and for the second day's rundown, click here.