WATCHTOWER DATABASE video essays

Since the conclusion of GRAPHIC CONTENT, and continued brainstorming before the relaunch of the 12TH LEVEL INTELLECTS podcast, I’ve been creating random video essays for the WATCHTOWER DATABASE. Most recently, I focused on voice actor Mark Hamill, who played various characters in DC Animation like Solomon Grundy, the Trickster, Swamp Thing, and most notably, The Joker from BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. This video might read a bit like an audible IMDb page, but that’s exactly the purpose behind WDb’s CASTING CALL series which spotlights various voice actors who have participated in the DC Animated Universe.

I also lent my voice to a recurring character called Dr. ManHatTed, an amalgam of WATCHMEN’s Dr. Manhattan and the Mr. Nobody villain from DOOM PATROL, who has been interfering in the cosmic construction of the WATCHTOWER DATABASE video continuity in an extensive story that began with Mattie Washburn’s missing chair, and made its way into the chaotic rant that is the following video. Naturally, the character is a man, myself Ted, wearing a hat, with a deep voice modulation.

Lastly, I also recently wrote the script, and narrated the below video essay spotlighting characters from the traditional JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK, a superhero team made up of magical characters that take on cases too mysterious or disturbing for the primary Justice League to handle. Since the JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK did not premiere until 2011, and the JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED cartoon wrapped in 2004, the team was never showcased in the DC Animated Universe (DCAU), though many of its members, such as Zatanna, Etrigan, and Deadman appeared in multiple episodes, and the team received their own animated feature film in 2017 as part of the DC Animated Movie Universe (DCAMU) continuity.

BUSTER BUSINESS short film

Over the first weekend of September, Brittany and I traveled to Greenville, South Carolina to work on BUSTER BUSINESS, a comedy short film in the vein of Charlie Chaplin and Pixar, where a quirky man named Buster interviews for a job at Big Business. The film was written and directed by Gunner Willis and Corey Wavle, who also stars as the lead Buster, with Zach Robinson and MJ Slide as Producers.

Day one took place entirely on a sound stage at Anderson College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. In the photo below, Gunner Willis directs the corporate extras who work at Big Business as an anonymous mob of black ties and briefcases. MJ Slide looks on as the 1st AD, keeping the production safe and on schedule. The rail across the room was the dolly track, which was used for many moving shots.

Corey Wavle played Buster as a timid but quick witted man with a Kurt Cobain hairstyle and taste for vintage clothes. He enters the lions’ den, totally out of his element, but when faced with unpredictable obstacles and impossible questions, Buster turns his troubles into his advantages. I was not familiar with Wavle’s acting, but knew him previously from his work as a 1st AC on GOOD HAIR THE MOVIE. Gunner Willis, the Director, is a working actor himself, who has appeared in minor roles on Netflix’s OZARK and HBO’s VICE PRINCIPALS television series.

The remainder of the crew on BUSTER BUSINESS was a total pleasure to work with, and involved John Carrington (DP), Kyle Vines (1st AC), Levi Milinar (2nd AC), Thomas Propst (Sound Mixer), Rob Leonard (Boom Op), Shane McMullin (Gaffer), Diana Valerie (Makeup / Hair), Carol Flack (Wardrobe), Clayton Tilley (Production Designer), Rachel Summers (Art Design), Jamie Condon (Key Grip), Micah Taylor (Swing Grip), Tommy Schwendler (Grip), Ben Wallace (Grip), Jon Stegenga (Grip), Nina Publico (PA), Elizabeth Paige (PA), and Brittany Jackson (PA) with BTS photos by Elizabeth Kabakjian and Jordan Hawkins. Supporting actors also included Russ Wood, Joe Wilson, Bruce Green, Debbie Goodwin, Rishik Patel, and Jared Buchholz.

We did it. And I couldn’t be more exhausted or proud. #BusterBusiness ? – @jzhawkins

A post shared by MJ Slide (@mj_slide) on

As the Script Supervisor, I worked closely with the Director, Gunner Willis, to note each take for script consistency as well as any visual incongruities. I kept a running log of notes which should serve as an important resource for the Editor, so they may anticipate any problems with a performance or production error in advance, and know exactly which take was best received. As one of the few people on set who actively watched the monitor for each take, I feel lucky to have such an inside perspective on how hilariously beautiful this film will be once it’s finished.

Be on the lookout for more info on BUSTER BUSINESS over the next few months as they enter post production and beyond. I expect the entire film will be completed by the end of the year with a slew of film festival screenings starting in early 2018.