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Brett Culp discusses Batman documentary 'Legends of the Knight'

February 17, 2014|By Elliott Serrano, @ElliottSerrano | For RedEye

When he first launched the Kickstarter campaign for his documentary film, Brett Culp could have hardly imagined the response he'd receive.  The director of "Legends of the Knight" -- described as "a documentary film exploring the power of heroic stories & the inspirational impact of Batman" -- saw the campaign succeed, exceeding the initial funding goal.

Now nearly a year later, Culp is touring with the film, holding benefit screenings in different cities. He’s gotten to see how audiences react to his movie and its inspirational stories.

This Thursday, "Legends of the Knight" will be screening at the AMC Showplace Naperville 16, to benefit the “Tiny Superheroes“ charity.

Since he won’t be able to make the Chicago-area screening, Culp spoke with me via phone from Florida to discuss the film. We spoke about the experience of producing "Legends of the Knight"; the people who’s stories are featured; what makes Batman such an inspirational figure; and what he thinks about Ben Affleck playing the Dark Knight in the upcoming “Man of Steel” sequel:

Geek To Me: Can you summarize how this whole experience has been? Maybe a lesson you took from this?

Brett Culp: You know, this project was an idea that I had in my mind.  I could see it in my mind, but I could also see it in my heart from the very beginning. And I had no idea whether or not there would be any support for it; I didn’t know if people would be excited about it; I just knew that as a filmmaker, a artist, this was a story I needed to tell.

And so we launched it into the world, and at every stage of the process I’ve been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received. This movie is based on grassroots support and funding. We’re not allied with any sort of big production company or distribution company. Any success that we have has been because of the support of people all over the world who have wanted to see this project succeed; and believe in the message of this film.

So for me, the overwhelming, amazing lesson/experience was seeing how you (can) have a dream and go take steps to do something out in the world; give your effort and if it has the potential to make a positive difference, people will step up and help you.

So it’s affirmed my belief that there are some really good people out there in the world that want to see good things happen.

Geek To Me: And how does it feel finally seeing the movie up on the big screen?

Brett Culp: It’s been amazing! It’s been fun. You know we just finished five cities up in the northeast, doing theatrical screenings there. And experiencing it there, not just up on the big screen, but with audiences and watching where they laugh, and where they cry, and doing it where you hoped they would, it’s such a rewarding experience. It’s so great to experience something like that.

My wife asked me the other day “are you going to get tired of watching this movie at some point?” And I’m like no, I’m enjoying this experience of watching it and engaging with other people about it.

Geek To Me: There’s something about Batman that really resonates in folks. Do you think that a movie like this would work using a character like Superman as a touchstone for it?

Brett Culp: You know, I think it would be a very different story with Superman, at least in my judgment. 

Superman, he does the things he does because he was given these amazing powers. It was not within his control. He didn’t choose this.

The story in people like Superman and Spider-Man and superheroes like that, is they’re given this power, now what do they do with it? What do they do with this greatness that has been bestowed upon them?

Batman is the complete opposite.  Batman is a situation where here is this guy, he wasn’t given a superhuman power, he was given a tragedy; he was given this horrible, awful circumstance. That’s the exact opposite of Superman.

And so, I think although that there certainly have been people inspired by Superman, I think that Batman appeals to the part of us that hurts; that is broken; that is sad; that wonders if there is any good in the world; and if we have any good in us.

And I think the story of Batman is ultimately a statement that - even though there are certainly darker versions of Batman - I think ultimately at the core of it is a statement that you can rise up from evil; from tragedy; from heartbreak; and still be a great hero in the world.

And I think that’s the reason why so many people resonate with that. Particularly in a time where there are so many stories where the anti-heroes - and even our biggest celebrities and politicians - are all turning out to be crooks and liars. Celebrities have become ridiculous today.

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