Greg Pak is a man of many talents. We've been digging his comic book stories over the years but writing comics isn't his only passion. He also writes and directs short films and has been doing this for some time. His latest project, Happy Fun Room has been unleashed upon the world. It may not be comic-related but there are some themes that could apply.
Happy Fun Room stars Cindy Cheung in the story of a children's television show host in the future as she confronts a brave new world. This is part of ITVS's Futurestates series, which is pretty fascinating if you explore all the options at http://futurestates.tv. You can get to Happy Fun Room directly by going to: http://futurestates.tv/happy-fun-room.
After watching this, we asked Greg a few questions.
COMIC VINE: How would you describe “Happy Fun Room”?
GREG PAK: It's a story set in the near future about the host of children's television show called "Happy Fun Room" that's designed to help kids survive in an insanely dangerous, dystopic world. But the world's actually changing for the better -- the question is whether our heroine is ready to change as well.
CV: What brought about this project? What can you tell us about ITVS’s Future State Series?
GP: ITVS is best known for funding documentaries. But in recent years they've branched out in exciting ways and Futurestates is one example of that -- a series of short sci-fi films with a kind of socially relevant, real-world component. So a few years back I made a short film called "Mister Green" for Futurestates. And then ITVS funded the iPad app version of my graphic novel VISION MACHINE a couple of years ago. And then last year ITVS's Karim Ahmad called me up to see if I'd be interested in participating in this final season of Futurestates, which would do something new by creating a shared universe for the different films. And I said heck yes. I'm hugely grateful to Karim and everyone at ITVS -- they've been amazingly generous and supportive.
CV: Your short had a dark tone despite the title. Is it ever a downer to get in so deeply into project like this? I imagine you really ingrain yourself into the subject matter while making a film.
GP: Great question. But Happy Fun Room never brought me down that way. I definitely got laid low while working on MAGNETO TESTAMENT and, to a little lesser extent, RED SKULL INCARNATE. Those were books about the rise of the Nazis and the Holocaust. Doing the necessary research literally gave me nightmares at times. Happy Fun Room deals with some implied horrors in the past, but I didn't have to deal with real-world images and stories of actual atrocities while writing or researching it.
Also, shooting the film was just a blast. Cindy Cheung, the lead actress, is an old friend and a huge amount of fun to work with. Sam Chase, my cinematographer, and everyone else on the crew had great senses of humor while also being totally on target and amazing at what they do. And my producer Nekisa Cooper kept the whole shebang humming so I didn't have to worry about logistics; I could just concentrate on working with the actors and crew. Just a tremendous experience.
Also, all the weird, crazy stuff with the kid's show set and music and everything just made me grin and grin. David Libby wrote that theme song and Tina Marie Casamento sang it - and it's AMAZING and made me smile every time I heard it. And just being on that amazing "Happy Fun Room" show set designed by Sara K White made me ridiculously happy. So I've got a lot more happy than grim memories of the whole process.
CV: With a bigger picture behind your story, what made you focus on this particular area?
GP: Karim brought together a bunch of filmmakers to work on the shared world that all our films are part of. I had a vague idea of a film about a children's television show in the feature, but I let myself be totally open to seeing how the storyworld developed before deciding on the actual form and direction of my script. At a certain point, we came up with the idea of a traumatic time of near revolution in the streets during a time of huge economic and political collapse. And I started to think about how a children's television show might work in that kind of context. What kind of lessons would a kids' show try to teach when robot soldiers might knock down your door and shoot you? That's how the germ of the story came together.
CV: You’ve been doing short films for a while. (Very successfully too!) How often do you make them?
GP: Not quite as often as I'd like but probably just as often as I can handle. ;-)
I made a dozen or so shorts and a feature film in the years before I started working in comics. Since I started working in comics, I've finished three shorts, I think -- one every three years or so. It's a tough thing to find room for when you're writing 36 to 48 comic book scripts a year. But it's hugely gratifying and fun -- I'll keep doing 'em as the opportunities arise.
CV: Do we have to be worried about you someday cutting back on your comic writing as you pursue filmmaking more?
GP: Ha! No immediate worries. I've managed to make the short films while continuing to write my various monthly comics. Someday I'll end up making one of my dream feature film projects. But features take a lot more money and time to get off the ground than comics. It'll be a while before it happens, and I should have plenty of time to arrange my schedule to make it all go smoothly when it does.
In other words, please do continue to preorder, buy, and read all the comics I'm writing! ;-)
Be sure to check out Happy Fun Room at http://futurestates.tv/happy-fun-room, and read Greg's current comics: BATMAN/SUPERMAN, ACTION COMICS, TUROK: DINOSAUR HUNTER, ...basically, anything with his name attached.