Wednesday, January 19, 2011

SUPERHEROES premiers at Slamdance Film Festival

The Superheroes poster, created by Peter Tangen, features RLSHs (L-R): Dark Guardian, Zimmer, Z, Mr. Xtreme, Zetaman, TSAF, and Superhero.

Superheroes is a documentary film about Real Life Superheroes by director Michael Barnett and producer Theodore James. Heroes in the Night readers will also no doubt recognize the name Peter Tangen, who served as consulting producer and designed the movie poster for the film. The documentary crew traveled around the country to shoot footage of RLSHs in action in New York City, Florida, Salt Lake City, Portland, Oregon, San Diego, and several other cities.

Superheroes is set to premier this Friday (Jan. 21) at the Slamdance Film Festival, which is hosted in Park City, Utah, and was founded in the mid 90's as an alternative to Sundance.

Just eight documentaries were selected from thousands of submissions, and Superheroes made the cut. Heroes in the Night got the scoop from producer Theodore James in a Q and A session conducted by e-mail, which follows.

: What was the "selling point" for you wanting to be producer of this film? Was there a defining moment where you were like, ok, let's do this?

: For me, it was the topic alone. I found it astonishing that real life superheroes existed and that there really had not been a definitive documentary done on them. After a few weeks of researching and conducting pre-interviews I knew that there was a great story out there waiting to be told.

TK: Did your perception of your subject matter evolve over the process of making the film? If so- how?

TJ: My perception of the real life superheroes did change over the process of making the film. I realized that most of them were truly dedicated to helping others, regardless the outcome to themselves. They are a group of incredibly selfless individuals working everyday to make the world a better place.
Members of the New York Initiative, (L-R) Zimmer, Lucid, TSAF, and Z, in a scene from SUPERHEROES, which world premieres at the 2011 Slamdance Film Festival.
Photo courtesy of Superheroes movie.

(Note: If you'd like to read more about the New York Initiative, I wrote a cover story for the New York Press on them in July, which you can read HERE.)

TK: Any favorite/ least favorite moments of the making of the film?

TJ: There were a few difficulties we encountered while making the film. The first was gaining the trust of the community, which took months.

The second was travel. RLSH exist in every major city in the U.S. and we shot in over 15 of them, sometimes returning many times to certain areas, going on patrols in crime ridden neighborhoods and doing community outreach near skid rows and homeless enclaves.

The third major difficulty was technical. We shot this film on the Canon 5D. This is a still camera that just so happens to shoot beautiful video and we repurposed it for our needs before the industry had developed any technical support to assist us in making this camera cine capable.

TK: If someone you knew, a friend or co-worker, told you they wanted to become a superhero, what advice would you give them?

TJ: If they wanted to become a crime fighting RLSH, I'd advise them to do a lot of training. Combating criminals is not something the inexperienced should undertake.
Excelsior! Comic book icon, Stan Lee, in a scene from SUPERHEROES; a documentary film by Michael Barnett; photo courtesy Superheroes movie.

TK: What message do you hope the audience takes away from Superheroes?

TJ: We hope that the audience, after watching the film, will realize how truly dedicated these Real Life Superheroes are, eccentricities and all, to making the world a better place and to affect other people to get involved in their own communities to help and inspire change.

The film's website can be found at
Life, a Real life Superhero of New York City, helps out in a scene from SUPERHEROES; Photo courtesy of Superheroes movie.


  1. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo ---deep inhale--- oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

    (first post)

  2. The poster says it all for Oneself;

    For Real"

    And then the picture is staged, in augmented *fictional* reality. All the imperfections removed and content sanitized. A perfect imaginary representation of an imagined perfect product.

    The movie will spread their message, and this is a good scoop of a story, and one thanks you.

    Still looking for the documentary that shows the real story - the good and the bad, w/out attempting to shill a viewpoint. There will be this documentary - if not by indie film makers, then by investigative reporting.

    One doesn't want to start the comments in a negative light though. Others will say positive things, and one encourages their viewpoints also.

    -Lord Malignance

  3. There's some validity to what Lord Malignance says here, but it is a documentary poster. By way of contrast observe how these documentary posters accurately reflect reality --

    --you know, rather than trying to get you to watch the films.

  4. I am actually very curious to see this documentary. I've heard bits and pieces about it over the course of it being filmed, but I'm not 100 percent sure what to expect.

    They hit a wide range of wildly different RLSH along the way, so we'll see how they compare and contrast their subject matter.

  5. I'd be intrigued to see this documentary and the variety of RLSH in the movement as well as the different interpretations each one has of what the right method is. One thing I took from the interview is that the maker of the documentary grew to understand that "all RLSH seek glory and attention first" is a gross exagerration of the truth. Beyond this he seems to recognize that the RLSH movement is a "think outside the box" way of approaching some of the problems that plague society, especially the indifference it sometimes shows to those in true need. If you are able to see it Tea, please let us know what you think.

  6. I hope I am able to see it sooner than later, Mr. Jingles. The producer told me he'd be sending DVDs of it to me and to people involved in the filming as soon as it is available.

    Hopefully the film gets picked up for distribution after the fest so people can see it for themselves.

  7. Marc, Manchester UKJanuary 20, 2011 at 5:10 AM

    Perhaps I'm missing something but surely to be a superhero you need to have superpowers? I'm also sceptical about the title 'real life' because I'm not convinced that these fellows exist in any kind of reality that I understand. They do seem to have a nice line in stretchy pants though...

  8. The stretchy pants are perks of the job. ;)
    As to whether they exist in a reality that you understand that they may not. However, your perception of reality may vary from that of others and who says your version of reality is the right one? And no, you don't need superpowers to be a superhero. Green Hornet, Batman, Robin, Hawkeye, Mockingbird, ect. ect. All of these famous comic book heroes (which the RLSH are heavily influenced by) have no super powers whatsoever. All they have is intensive training and the willpower to step forward and make a difference in a world that is often apathetic or cruel to those in need.

    Nice try though Marc. I give you points for effort.

  9. Marc, Manchester UKJanuary 21, 2011 at 2:00 AM

    Thanks for the points Mister Jingles. I'd be interested to see how this kind of thing would go down in the UK. I suspect there would be far more violence and bloodshed :(

  10. Marc, Manchester UKJanuary 21, 2011 at 2:41 AM

    I just remembered, there's a British film called Outlaws which tells the story of a group of vigilantes who decide they've had enough and take the law into their own hands. There are no costumes, and it makes the unfortunate mistake of casting Danny Dyer in the lead role, but I think it offers an excellent depiction of what would happen to an RLSH in the UK.

    IMDB link is here if anyone wants to know more...

  11. Marc, Manchester UKJanuary 21, 2011 at 2:41 AM

  12. Your not the first person to browbeat the RLSH movement Marc and you won't be the last. No big deal really.

  13. Marc, Manchester UKJanuary 21, 2011 at 9:50 AM

    How exactly am I 'browbeating' the RLSH movement? I'm merely curious and bemused. I don't believe I've said anything either untoward or intimidating. If you see threatening behaviour where it doesn't exist, Mister Jingles, then I would suggest that you are a poor spokesperson for the movement you represent.

    I think my interest in the RSLH movement has just ended.

  14. Yes, I think this subject is a new one to Marc and when people are first introduced to it (myself included) it is hard to know what to make of it.

    Marc, I think you'll be interested to find out that over the course of this writing I crossed paths with some British RLSH- I'm going to guess 15 or so. I talked a couple times with The Statesman, Lionheart, and others. Also, there was at least one guy in Scotland. They are talked about a bit in my book in a chapter about international RLSHs.

    A majority of these guys were centered around London, but I seem to recall one or two were in Manchester- I'll look into it.

    Also! A British guy made a documentary that looks like a lot of fun where he becomes a superhero named SOS. I'm really interested in seeing it. It's called "Superhero Me."

  15. p.s.- How is Manchester United doing this year?

  16. Marc, Manchester UKJanuary 22, 2011 at 7:41 AM

    My interest has been piqued again Tea :)

    British RLSHs? I'll definitely be googling them!

    Sorry but I'm not a Man U fan. I'm originally from a town called Leicester and we're a city of snooker lovers (boring, i know!).

    When will we get to see your book in publication? I'll definitely invest in a copy. Also, the documentaries you've mentioned are highly intriguing. I'll be checking them out.


    Marc :)

  17. I have a vague recollection of playing snooker in a pub somewhere- I took a trip through Britain and Ireland way back in 2000. It was a great time and I hope to return.

    The book is hopefully moving forward for sometime this summer. I'm looking forward to seeing these documentaries as well.

    Cheers, Marc!