Merging old school, 8-bit video game visuals, synth-pop, and a bit of quirky British humor, Chris Blundell has dedicated 60 hours a week to The Hit Squad, an animated film that tells the story of a reunited 80s band in pursuit of their past glory. Interested? Listen to Chris tell you why you should support his Kickstarter, why re-creating 8-bit animation appealed to him, and why Veronica Mars is not bad for Kickstarter.
In 100 words or less, please describe your project.
Chris Blundell: The Hit Squad is an 8 bit animated comedy about a washed up 80s band who are trying to get one last hit to save their studio from falling into the hands of their evil corporate rivals. Imagine it as a mix between This Is Spinal Tap meets Brass Eye meets The Simpsons on an NES.
What is it about the look of 8 bit animation that appeals to you, and why is this story right for that kind of presentation?
Blundell: The “8 bit” look obviously has a lot to do with the 80’s theme throughout the movie. The 80s were an era where videogame programmers also made the graphics and music for their games. The Hit Squad is essentially being made by one guy, so its kinda appropriate in that way. I’ve had one or two accusations of “not being a real gamer”, like I’m some evil corporation trying to sell childhood dreams back to someone, but I’m not. I’m just a guy making a nerdy stupid comedy movie in a style that I really love.
Where did you recruit your voice talent from and how did you get Robert Llewellyn from Red Dwarf?
Blundell: Some people have approached me, I approached some people. For Robert Llewellyn, I’d had a few problems with some actors letting me down and there was a role open. At the point when I was wondering what to do Robert popped up on Twitter and it just clicked in my head that he’d be perfect for the part. I emailed him and he said he loved the idea and agreed to it. I grew up on Red Dwarf and love his other stuff, so its amazing to be working with someone you genuinely admire. That goes for all the members of the cast. There’s a guy, Axel Kozber, who I met on YouTube who makes animations he’s doing a few voices in The Hit Squad. In a few years time, I expect to see him doing huge things. Like dinosaur porn.*
What films, games, and music went into the mixing bowl and inspired The Hit Squad?
Blundell: 80’s music is at the forefront, those tacky over-serious earworms you love to hate. The soundtrack is probably the best thing about the movie, I think that people are gonna believe that the songs are actually 80s songs. Other than that, there’s references to tons of movies, games, (a few indie game devs have allowed background cameos in the movie too, which is awesome). I dont want to list them all because inevitably someone will say “What? You haven’t got a Weird Science reference in the movie?” I’ve just suddenly thought that I dont have a Weird Science reference in there, I should probably sort that.
How much time have you put into this project and have you put a significant amount of your own money into it?
Blundell: I’ve been developing it for 5 years. I spend years trying to sell the concept and scripts and everyone along the way kept saying ‘just make it yourself’, so I sat down and worked out exactly how to do that. Since September I’ve been lucky enough to work on it full-time, working on it for maybe 60 hours per week. I just searched how many “Hit Squad” emails have been sent from my email account: 3680. So, yeah, a fair amount of time.
Does the success of a non-indie project like the Veronica Mars Kickstarter project help or hurt Kickstarter as a whole?
Blundell: Kickstarter is best for projects that are based on existing subject matter. Its a great place to source documentaries, rebooting certain franchises or for established makers to sell directly to an audience they’ve already been building. Its a great model. I dont think that anything can really ‘hurt’ Kickstarter, the only people who will be hurt are the ones who think of it like X Factor, where you just put something on that you’ve spent a couple of hours on and you’ll get thousands of dollars. The reality of anything is that you need to hone and hone and hone what you’re doing until its awesome and even then you need to work your arse off to persuade everyone else that its awesome too.
Why should people donate their money to your cause?
Blundell: Because its a movie that’s ten times funnier than this interview implies. And it has Robert Llewellyn in it. And also some unannounced celebrities. And I really need to pay professionals to do post-production on it.