Trevor Krainik and Victor Omar love comics. When Omar and Krainik, a Falls Church resident, formed their Arlington-based Happy Reaper production company this year, they started work on a debut film based on the characters they admired so much. But it would prove to be a labor of love, because those characters are licensed products of DC Comics.
They weren’t the big-name characters from the DC Comics universe seen in blockbuster films, like Batman and Superman, but they were still the product of someone else’s imagination. Omar and Krainik could make the film, they just couldn’t legally make a profit on it. But for love of the characters and for the need to tell a story, they’ve been pouring their time and resources into making “Justice League Dark: The Gathering.” And they’re inviting donors to help them make Happy Reaper’s debut a success.
“Justice League Dark: The Gathering” features some of DC Comics’ lesser-known and darker characters. In the screenplay, an original work by Happy Reaper, the fortune teller Madame Xanadu seeks to rescue the ghost Deadman from the goddess Rama Kushna. Madame Xanadu rounds up Zatanna Zatara, an illusionist with true magic powers; John Constantine, a detective of the supernatural; and The Phantom Stranger, a mysterious figure of unknown origins, to help her free Deadman from his captor.
From costuming to high-definition filming, the costs to make the 12-minute film are steep. Through a campaign on the crowd funding site Indiegogo, Krainik and Omar hope to raise $10,000 to offset the money they’ve already put into the project. Thus far, they’ve collected nearly $3,000 with less than two weeks to go in the campaign and shooting set to take place at the end of the month.
Because of licensing restrictions, they aren’t able to sell or even screen the film they make, but Krainik, a 1993 graduate of George Mason High School, says that such “fan films” are a big industry for movie-makers, with the films finding their audiences online instead of through theaters.
“People put a lot of money and time into it because they’re passionate about the material; they’re passionate about the story they want to tell, not because they’re trying to get anything out of it,” Krainik said.
Krainik said the $10,000 is merely a goal and not the full cost of creating the film, and Omar added that all funds raised from the Indiegogo campaign will be put toward the film – and if they should exceed their goal, that just means they’ll have more money to improve the quality of the finished product.
Though Happy Reaper’s debut is a not-for-profit endeavor, Krainik hopes “Justice League Dark” will serve as a demo reel for a burgeoning production company with several pending projects waiting for resources.
“We have a lot of really big ideas,” Krainik said. “There’s more coming – this is just the first of many stories.