Comicmaniac Spotlight: Yavez Deandre Fuller Creator, Director, and Actor of Fan Film Static Shock “Phenomenon”
Static Shock is an amazing character that was created by the late Dwayne McDuffie at MileStone comics and later became part of the DC Universe. Static was featured in his own cartoon in the 2000’s that was extremely successful and brought more fans into the fold. Now one of those fans-Yavez Deandre`Fuller aka Fez-is creating a Static FanFilm. I had the opportunity to interview him and learn more about the film, how Dwayne McDuffie inspired him, and what are his goals and future projects.
Can you tell readers a little more about yourself?
Yavez: Sure! My name is Yavez Deandre` Fuller, I tend to go by Fez. I live in Charleston, South Carolina. I am 19 years old, I am a very fun and open minded person, happy, easily excitable and I’m not very predictable I like to be adventurous. I am a skateboarder, bit a traveler, a filmmaker and aspiring Director :)
What inspired this project? What was the creative process?
Yavez: It started out as a seed of an idea from a Halloween costume. I kinda thought there wasn’t a live action Static short on YouTube and it took off from there. I had been a fan of the character since I was a kid. As for the creative aspect, I am a bit scattered but I researched as much as I could. I found out as much about Dwayne McDuffie as I could, I reviewed comics and the cartoon, not to necessarily to mimic, but to ensure my ideas kept the integrity of the character.
How did you get into comics?
Yavez: We moved back to my mom’s hometown a few years ago. She gave us a footlocker of her comics from her teens. From there I read these old Marvel comics then I began collecting my own. When money was tight I just checked out what the library had to offer.
How far along are you in this process?
Yavez: To be honest as of right now I’m about ⅓ done with the project, I have half my scenes shot and ready to edit the other half is written and the location is solid, now I just need finish planning for it and shoot it, then I’ll go into post for about a month. I was having issues getting time to get everybody together but it’s summer now so people are out of school and every one’s schedules are freeing up. But every night for the past 5 months I’ve been very busy planning, writing talking and editing all for this, so yea its a good ⅓ done and it won’t take 4 more months to finish since I have what I need and who I need just a matter of filming now.
What inspired you to get into film and when did you start?
Yavez: Funny you’d ask, like I said I’m a skater and from that I became a filmmaker. See as a skater we watch and see skate videos, and among almost every skater group you have the one guy who is the “Filmer”. That’s how i got started self taught on filming and editing had been doing that for about 3 to 4 years, I got better and better at it and then one day I made a test video that was for a certain “film look” that I could add to the videos but this test video, what I made was not a skate video, I guess the technical word for it is ‘ART house” I call them artsy videos. Basically a bunch of really pretty shots of everyday things. I thought nothing of this video but after a teacher and my mom saw this video they both told me I should really look into going into film making. I thought about it I had always loved movies ever since I was a kid and I even wanted to be an actor, (matter of fact i was taking drama classes at the time) so I looked into it found out about short films and youtubers and all of that good stuff. After my research into it I said “This is perfect for me!” I loved making videos as it were and to do fun stuff that weren’t just skate videos and have fun acting in them i was hooked and the more i made videos and started doing my own shorts the more I loved it Now I wanna make it my career since it’s my passion and I feel it’s my calling. I’ve been making videos for like past 6 years but I’ve been making my films for the past 3.
What advice can you give aspiring filmmakers?
Yavez: No matter what, make your film. Don’t let anyone discourage you; lack of equipment, lack of instruction, naysayers. None of those matters, film on a flip camera, a cell phone, or even a digital camera , use whatever you have. Execute your craft to the best of your ability. Every time something doesn’t go the way you planned, accept it and learn from it. You will get better; it will get easier for you to bring what you envisioned to life.
What future goals do you hope to achieve with your films? What type of future projects would you like to do?
Yavez: I have a myriad of projects in mine. There isn’t much I don’t want to do. There are always at least three ideas in my head at any given time. Like I said, I’m scattered. Plus every filmmakers goal is to have their work be seen all over. I want my work to be seen and enjoyed worldwide (that’s obviously long term like feature films I’m talking about) I wanna make an impression, create stories that actually can give back and contribute the world. Short term get my original shorts to be seen and screened at Film Festivals and start up my own production studio making our original films and doing freelance work. As far as the future is concerned? Everything I do is about 2-3 minutes long (Static Episode 1 will be like 6 to 8) . I would like to release 20 minute films. Music videos are a big interest of mine, so maybe a few music videos will be in my future.
What other projects are you working on?
Yavez: I am currently working on and partnered with somebody to do two promotional animations. The first one is an animated short featuring my version of Static doing his thing beating up bad guys and basically at the end promoting my Fan Film miniseries, I am doing Static’s voice as well as writing the script for it and directing technically. The second project is with my writer friend Timothy Mably who is working on his own Fan Film series. He’s working on a Lego Animation for Spider-Man entitled Spider-man Phenomenon, which has a uniquely different take on Spider-Man and making the story rather deep this will be Directed and Animated by Ricardo Valdez. The animation we are collaborating on together however is gonna be a cool crossover of my version of Static and his version of Spider-Man cuz face it they make a great team and its gonna help promote both of our Fan Films.
What do you hope to achieve with this film?
Yavez: Hopefully to pay homage to a superhero I admired growing up. I wasn’t really aware how rare a minority superhero was and still is. Static was relatable on so many levels, I have been lucky to never have to question my place in the world. In a way Dwayne brought that to me, there was someone, even within the realm of the fantastic that I looked like. Also it be awesome is a DC saw it and decided to bring Static back on TV or in his own line of comics that won’t get cancelled after 8 issues. I wouldn’t mind being the voice of Static or face should they wanna pick up and fund my live action adaptation I have a feature for him that would be amazing to do.
What is it about Static Shock that makes him special to fans?
Yavez: There is an everyman quality Dwayne built into Static. He is highly intelligent, witty, and powerful. Yet he struggles with girls, gang members, and overt racism on occasion. Virgil has amazing abilities, but his powers don’t solve his problems. He is fully realized as a human being… a powerful human being, who has to navigate life just like us.
What’s the best part about being an indie filmmaker and what’s the hardest?
Yavez: Best part, all of the creative freedom and flexibility no real deadline and no real rules on how my film should be made . I just get to make it in whatever way I see fit and have a lot of fun with some of my best friends. The worse or hardest part is the lack of resources. I have amazing friends who really help make each shoot possible. So in a way it is a good thing, but I’ll see footage shot on a Red and I can’t help but drool.
Can you talk about what the story of this film will be about? What challenges will Static face?
Yavez: I have kind of alluded to the fact that I am cash strapped and this is on like no budget. I would love to have amazing scenes with Puff or Rubberband Man but I have to stick with what is doable. This first episode will deal with Virgil discovering his powers after the Big Bang and his development into Static.
How close are you keeping the story to the source material?
Yavez: I am not going to commit a sacrilege and stray too far from the initial Static lore. I also have to differentiate between material from the comics and cartoon. Like having a Richie or Rick character are at the forefront of that decision… as opposed to having Static as the solitary figure. Characters like Frieda, Daisy, and Hotstreak are also characters with many dimensions, depending on the source material. So taking creative license as the director characters may be created or combined to have the characteristics of a more notable/important character from either the cartoon and comics. Casting is difficult, since I call on friends to be the players, and a natural fit for each character is needed since we aren’t actors. I will deviate into my independent ideas for Static after the first 2 episodes.
Can you introduce fans to the actors in the film?
Yavez: Yea ok… Well there are 3 main recurring roles to mention so that I don’t give away who the main bad guys are. You have me playing Virgil Hawkins, and I already have told you about myself I guess it’s cool to note that I look alot like Virgil and I already act a good bit like him personality wise. For those who don’t know that means I’m sorta a geeky nerd but not like an outcast nerd. I’m funny and fun to be around I make jokes with and at my friends and I know when it’s time to get serious, I’m probably not a quick witted and as far as I know I don’t control Electromagnetism :P
Next you have my best friend Trervor Pham. He;s playing Richie. He’s a really awesome funny and fun guy, He enjoys skateboarding, soccer, dinosaurs, playing xbox, and DUBSTEP! Basically anything thats awesome. He is currently going to school to be a Dentist. Lastly we have my female best friend Amber Millard she will be playing Daisy Watkins (who shows up briefly but becomes part of the story as it unfolds through out the episodes) Amber is a close friend of mine She likes fashion, and wants to be a model. But she’s surprisingly a nerd, she enjoys Anime, comic books, superheroes, and is a boss at fighting games, She will soon be studying film and animation
There aren’t a lot of minority comic book characters, especially superheroes in the industry how do we change that?
Yavez: I think Dwayne hit it dead on. Static owes a great deal of his success to the fact that he is a lot like The Cosby Show. He is a teen, with a family that loves him. If you removed his pigment he’d still be Virgil. I think that’s true for most of us. Our race is a part of our identity but it isn’t the whole of who we are. There have been comics for every junkie, criminal, cliché about a black man from the ghetto you could find. I’m not preachy but moving away from those stereotypes is necessary. “Sweet Christmas!”
Dwayne McDuffie passed away too soon. How did he inspire you? What are your thoughts on his work?
Yavez: Yeah Dwayne inspired me. He crafted every character to not be defined by parts of who they were, but engaged the reader into recognizing their humanity and therefore our equality. Rick was a gay character anyone would want as a friend. I read where Dwayne was at a comic convention and was pleased with a black fan dressed as Static, his goal was to have fans of many races dress as Static as well. I mean how inspiring is that? He wanted his character to transcend race, for people to admire his creation for his attributes. He was an amazing storyteller and gifted us with a unique hero that I hope will stand the test of time.
When will the film be finished and where can fans see the finished project?
Yavez: All I can say is Episode 1 is slated to come out this summer. Fans will be able to find it on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/user/yvzproductions?feature=mhee or on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/yvzproductions Please help me out support this! Go to my Youtube Channel and subscribe and tell your friends about this!! Post to Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube, Vlog, Twitter please help me get the word out show them this trailer http://youtu.be/N42NGKNseQE Thanks so much for talking to me :)
actor, cartoon, DC Comics, Dwayne McDuffie, fan film, fans, film, Milestone Comics, Static Shock, Virgil Hawkins, Yavez Deandre Fuller, YouTube