In the coming months, Platypus Underground will not only continue to develop movies, but we will also be branching out into other media fields. This summer we will be launching the video game division of our company. Our first game will be (of course) a martial arts side-scroller, where you take control of the hero and go on a 2D quest to save the world from bad guys. The game will be a spin-off taking place in the “Sins of the Dragon” universe. A beta version of the game is planned to be released in the second half of 2013. Here you can see the first official sprite of the game’s hero.
Sins of the Dragon!
Alex: What was the biggest challenge in getting Sins of the Dragon made?
Get a FREE copy of Sins of the Dragon! From now until next Friday (March 22) you will have a chance to win a FREE copy of our 28-minute festival cut of Sins of the Dragon on DVD. All you have to do is sign up for our (also free) newsletter via our website. Everyone who signs up is automatically entered into a raffle for a chance to win a free DVD. The winner will be announced next Friday, March 22, after 8pm. Just fill out the contact box with the subject line “Sign me up” HERE: http://www.platypusunderground.com/#!contact/c21nl
A new short Sins of the Dragon trailer
The whole family sat down and watched Sins of the Dragon this morning.
Let me get this out of the way right away: on your next film (and I trust there will be a next), try taking a more jovial tone with your main characters. I genuinely believe the angsty teen thing is a mistake. If I heard the exact same dialog come out of a pair of main characters with wry smiles on their faces and an obvious genuine love for each other, it would have made them much more appealing.
Having said that, putting something together like this on a budget is a real achievement - certainly more than I’ve ever accomplished with video.
The comedy worked - it’s very subjective stuff, so not all of it hit me just right, but some of it really did - and I’ve seen a hell of a lot of big-budget Hollywood scripts with absolutely NO comedy that works (everything National Lampoon has done in the last decade, for example). Definitely continue to hone this in your next film (which you must make).
I also heartily approve of the blood effects. In your next film (which I command you to begin working upon), I suggest that you take these to the next level. Why spill a cup of blood when a gallon could be there instead? Did you know blood can spray out of someone’s fingertips if you slap them hard enough in the face? It’s totally true. Did you know that someone can be killed with someone else’s eyeballs? I’m not sure how that works, but I bet it would be awesome to see.
My 24 month old daughter also said, “Grrrrr!” at one point. I think she thought she saw a bear, but she was totally wrong. I was watching closely and did not see a bear. Maybe she just saw one of her stuffed bears in the living room. Or maybe she was just thinking about bears. Hard to tell. I thought I should mention that as something to watch for in your next film (which you will surely be starting soon) - you don’t want to have things that look like bears but aren’t because that confuses the audience.
The half-hour went by quickly, which is the sign of a well-edited movie. It must have been a ton of work to edit all of that action together. Great job on that.
Again, my heartiest congratulations for completing this. Seeing this stirred up desires to make my own movie.
Best of luck to you and the other platypuses!
P.S. Certainly feel free to quote me on anything I said or if you’d like to have me post this whole thing on my b-movie website as an “open letter”, I’d be happy to do that.
In a spastic fit of excitement, I hit a ‘2’ instead of a ‘1’. My daughter is 14 months old, not 24. You were probably thinking, “Damn, that two year old kid is really bad at identifying bears.” But I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s an easy mistake to make when you’re 14 months old.
Generally speaking, she’s really good at identifying animals.
Sometimes we’ll be strolling around and she’ll say, “Roar”. And I’ll look around and just see trees and grasses and stuff and I’ll say, “Sorry, honey, Daddy doesn’t see any lions.” But then a few minutes later, we’ll run across the partially-eaten carcass of a gazelle or boar or whatever. And then I’ll be all like, “There was totally a lion here! And it could have killed us all! I will trust you in the future.”
But I’m not really sure what I could do to protect us from lions even if I knew about them. I usually just carry a pocketknife, and that’s not much use against 400lb of muscle and claws and fangs. But I’d rather know about it than not. Maybe we could climb up a tree.
Many of us go to school every day wondering what to do with our lives, but the filmmakers of Platypus Underground, Ltd. had it all figured out. Four Easton alumni form this independent film company, which recently held its first formal premiere of the martial-arts-action-humor film, Sins of the Dragon. With their beginnings in backyard film, the company is now seeing Sins of the Dragon off to the Action On Film International Film Festival in California and 2013 Fright Night Film Festival in Kentucky. Not only are alumni involved, but one of our current students created the film’s stunning soundtrack. Here, we introduce the company and interview them with regard to their production.
The Makers of Platypus Underground, Ltd.
Joey Corpora- Graduated Easton in 2009, now a senior film major at Temple University. I started making movies in 5th grade with the Lego Studios camera after I watched Jurassic Park and decided I wanted to work for Steven Spielberg and make a dinosaur movie. Other influences are Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. I also love Hong Kong action movies and Ray Harryhausen’s monster movies. And Star Wars!! I’m the one who dragged everyone else into this crazy dream.
Kyle Frankenfield (stage name Kale Sweeney)- Graduated from Easton in 2010. Currently a 3rd year Film and Media Arts major at Temple University. I have always been fascinated with all types of storytelling so when me and my little brother took my dad’s video camera into the backyard one day as kids it was all downhill from there.
Shannon Lee Haines – Graduated from Easton in 2007, and from Tiffin University in 2011. I first got involved in the filming process when Joey and Kyle asked me to help out on some of their movies. One day, I woke up and realized that this was no longer something I did just to support my friends. Making these movies has become something I am deeply passionate about as well.
Melissa Kenney-Graduated from Easton in 2007 and in 2011 from Edinboro University with a BFA in Drawing and Wood Furniture. Storytelling has been the root of all my creative impulses since I was a child, be it through writing fiction, drawing comics, or illustration. It was a logical step to branch out into film, animation, and screen writing. Being able to work with great friends provided the perfect opportunity to do this.
Interviewing the Underground
What were some difficulties and obstacles in the formation of your company? In the making of the film?
Joey- The biggest problem establishing the company was that it cost a lot of money to set everything up, and at this point we aren’t rich and famous so that was rough on our bank accounts. Also, computers never work when you want them to, so editing was a nightmare.
Shannon- The most difficult part of filming was the lack of bodies we had on set. There were days where there’d literally be three of us trying to work the camera, hold the microphone, read the script, clap the slate, AND act all at the same time. However, I wouldn’t change those long days for anything because it taught us to be versatile. All of us are willing to do absolutely anything for Platypus Underground.
What was the most rewarding aspect of the Sins of the Dragon experience?
Kyle- I really enjoyed having a real venue booked for the premier. Seeing your film on the big screen at a black-tie affair is a great experience.
Shannon- The thing about “Sins of the Dragon” is that it was four years in the making. We talked about shooting this movie forever before we finally had the money and the means to do so. After all those months of rewriting the script, raising money, accumulating costumes, practicing fight choreography—it was finally here. But standing in the back of that movie theater, watching the audience watch our movie, was the most incredible feeling. It was worth every bump and bruise, every 2 mile hike and every night that we only slept 3 hours. That’s what making movies is all about. You work yourself into the ground to tell this story, and then you tell it to everyone else.
Melissa- Seeing the finished product up on the big screen was definitely the most rewarding aspect. On a more personal level, being able to see close friends working in their element, fulfilling their passions was also a great part.
Has anything you’ve learned at Easton been useful, in film-making, or in post-high-school life in general?
Joey- Mr. Chillot’s class on graphic design was my first introduction to Photoshop, which we now use all the time for creating posters for our movies. Also, the English department at Easton was fantastic. Nobody at college knows how to write papers or do MLA format! But I’m a pro at that now, so thank you Easton!
Kyle- Mrs. Folcher and Ms. Capecci had us doing multi-media and film projects in their classes and that really pointed me in the right direction as to what I wanted to do with my life. Also all the writing intensive courses are coming in handy because I have a concentration in screen writing as part of my major.
Melissa- Mrs. Wascura was a wonderful influence on me at Easton. The discussions our class would have exploring all the nuances of why things happen in stories, what they could mean, whether they were important or not-those conversations really made me view stories three dimensionally. She also taught me the value of the rough draft, the more the better. Ms. Romkey and Ms. Marquardt of the art department were also invaluable towards helping me focus on the fine arts path I would take throughout college.
What are your future plans for Platypus Underground and yourselves?
Joey- We have a couple of things lined up right now. We just finished filming a 15-minute movie called “Fist of Justice,” which I’m using for my senior project at Temple. I’m also writing an animated TV pilot called “Prince Ashley and the Magical Crystal Quest.” As for the future of the company, we’re hoping to one day have our own studio and backlot to film our movies on, and to acquire other people’s movies and distribute them along with our own. A mini Hollywood!
Kyle- Joey has an animated kids show we are trying to get off the ground. I have a few shorts I’m polishing up and a feature tentatively named “Ralf’s House of Assassins” that I am and finishing up and trying to get funded currently. It should be good, bloody fun.
Shannon- What matters the most to me is that we just keep making movies. It would be wonderful if Platypus Underground could come into some money so that we could REALLY increase our production value, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t change anything. I personally am not sure what I want to do with my life just yet, but I do know that I want Platypus Underground to be a part of it. I really enjoy the pre-production and production process. Being one of the key people who makes everything comes together is very satisfying.
Melissa- Several things in the works. I’ve got several scripts in the works intended for a compilation of short films. I’ll be working with Joey on an animation, story boarding the script and working on character models, and with Kyle on the graphic novel tentatively in the works to coincide with the production of “Ralf’s House of Assassins”. Good stuff.
Sins of the Dragon premiered at the Pocono Community Theater on December 2, 2012. An exciting, intense, and witty production, the film is an impressive take-off for the young company. Visit the company’s Youtube page, Platypus Underground, or website, www.platypusunderground.com, for DVDs, trailers, and special features.
Making the Music: Brandon Frankenfield
An extremely important part of every film is its soundtrack. Brandon Frankenfield, younger brother of Kyle Frankenfield and EAHS senior, composed the film score for Sins of the Dragon.
I started teaching myself piano at 12 by learning songs by ear. I wasn’t the most talented musician back then so my songs were “freely adapted” to say the least. I would arrange well known piano songs for myself so that I could play them with my limited piano skills. Once I became a better musician that hobby gave way to arranging and composing my own music. I’ve been enrolled in the band, choir, and musical theater programs here at the high school for my four years as well as various other music classes offered, which has helped tremendously.
What other compositions had you done prior to Sins of the Dragon? Would you consider it your biggest “project” so far?
Before Sins of the Dragon I had composed a couple of short songs for some of Platypus Underground’s first films. These mostly consisted of poorly recorded piano and guitar duets on a grainy camcorder mike with some cheesy MIDI drums in the background. After stepping into the high school’s music program my freshman year, I gained an interest in orchestral and symphonic ensembles which put me on the path of composing that I’m on today. Now my portfolio of compositions is an interesting mix of orchestral film-like music and quirky, questionable compositions as I experiment with my own personal musical styles.
Sins of the Dragon was definitely my biggest project to date. For most of the film I had written instrument parts for a full symphonic orchestral which I had never done before. But Platypus Underground has already put me to work on some more projects that are more ambitious than ever.
Approximately how long did you spend working on the music alone?
All the music found within the movie was written in sporadic periods ranging from the beginning of that summer all the way to a week or so before we premiered it, which was in the first week of December 2012 and most definitely a close call. I mostly worked on concept music and the main title theme for the movie during the summer before Platypus Underground had any of it filmed. Then in the fall the real work began when I had to score the music to each individual scene.
You’re planning to go into musical composition, correct? Even if not, what kind of influence has EAHS and Easton’s music program had on you, your work, and (if applicable) your decision to compose professionally?
Yes, I’m planning on pursuing music composition as a career. Ideally I’d like to score and write music for movies on the big screen or television. Easton High School’s music program has influenced me to no end in my interest in music. Walking into freshman year I had no idea what plans I had for college or a career. I was entertaining the idea of going into engineering or computer sciences. Luckily the band and choral programs, along with some very talented music directors, instilled a passion for music in me that I plan on pursuing for the rest of my life.