If there's one thing readers remember about Image's 2010 graphic novel Officer Downe, it's the over-the-top violence that fell upon the title character, a super-cop who's brutally killed over and over, only to be revived repeatedly so he can hit the streets and fight crime and, well, die again.
The unique approach got the attention of a couple film producers, who contacted the book's writer, Joe Casey. But instead of just selling the film rights to Hollywood, Casey suggested they all join forces to make the film together as an independent project.
"We didn't go to a big studio. Because of that, we had the freedom to make the movie we wanted to make," Casey said. "Just about everything that's in the comic ended up in the film. So if you've read the comic, get ready."
The film that resulted is being released this Friday, November 18, in theaters, on digital HD and via On Demand. Adapted from the graphic novel by Casey and artist Chris Burnham, the film stars actor Kim Coates, who played Tig Trager in Sons of Anarchy, in the title role.
"It's a modern mythology, really... a new type of heroic icon," Casey said of the main character. And the film, he said, ended up having a blockbuster feel despite the small budget - a real "cinematic roller coaster ride."
"These days, especially, we could all use a little escape and our film definitely provides some," the writer said. "At least ninety-five minutes' worth."
The film is directed by Shawn Crahan, better known as Slipknot drummer Clown. Although Officer Downe is his first time directing a film, the musician/filmmaker directed the band's videos, and Casey said this type of film was exactly the type of project he was hoping to get his hands on.
"We were lucky to have a great director of photography named Gerardo Madrazo," Casey said. "I feel like he was mainly responsible for how good the film looks. He paints with light and did great work, often under some pretty brutal conditions. So the look of the film is pretty spectacular overall."
Casey said he enjoyed turning the comic book into a film, but that was his intent when he first made the printed story. "When I make comics, I never consider they'll ever be anything but comics," he said. "And that's just fine with me, because I love comics. Anything beyond that is always just a bonus."
"In my opinion, anyone who makes a comic specifically to get a movie out of it isn't doing it right."
As for the unique approach — making the movie himself instead of selling the rights to a big studio —Casey said he's glad the opportunity arose, even if it was hard work.
"The other producers saw the comic and liked it," Casey said. "They got in touch and we made a deal. I wrote the script and signed on as a producer with them. Then we found the money independently and eventually shot the movie. Once it was done, we sold it to Magnolia Pictures for distribution. Typical indie movie path.
"It's ball-busting work, not for the lazy or the weak-willed," he said. "You've got to know what you're in for. For me, indie filmmaking is a great challenge and a lot of fun."