The 80s and 90s, to many of us, were the golden decades for cartoons. From 9.00am to 11.00am we religiously set aside time for He-Man, Bravestarr, Centurions, Silverhawks and many, many more that graced our screens and made us feel that one day, we would save the world.
While there’s been a resurgence of many 80s and 90s favorites, some in the form of a re-booted animated series, like the Thundercats, or others as live-action movies on the silver screen like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. David Guivant, an aspiring filmmaker from New Caledonia, is working on a concept trailer in the hopes of reviving another fan favourite – M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand).
To the uninitiated, M.A.S.K. was an extremely popular animated series that ran for 75 episodes (two seasons) from 1985 to 1986. The animated series was a hybrid of G.I. Joe and Transformers (both of which have taken their live-action bow in Hollywood with varying amounts of succcess) where the agents of M.A.S.K. took on the criminal organisation V.E.N.O.M. Both sides made use of vehicles that could transform and the characters all wore masks (more helmet-like actually) that had their own individual abilities.
Like almost every animated franchise during that time, the M.A.S.K. toyline was released and it also found its way to print via DC Comics and spawned three video games as well for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC – this is when the classic Nintendo was considered next-gen.
It’s been 30 years since then and David Guivant feels that the time is right for M.A.S.K. to return and he (together with his own team of agents) has decided that he’s going to do it himself if no-one else is going to. This isn’t David’s first time tackling such a project. He made a Captain Future trailer prior to this and in fact, much before we ever saw RDJ in an Iron Man suit, David released his own trailer – the Invincible Iron Man:
Here’s a look at how far David’s come along with the M.A.S.K. project so far featuring Brad Turner and Condor:
M.A.S.K, G.I. Joe, transformers, Silverhawks, Visionaries, Galaxy Rangers, Sky Commanders, Inhumanoids, Masters of the Universe, Heathcliff, and many more… I grew up watching all those cool and amazing cartoons. I gotta admit, those were the best. We had a pretty great childhood with fantastic cartoons and toys.
What made you want to start this project?
After watching Transformers 3 at the cinema, I couldn’t help but feel like it reminded me of something else… and then it hit me – M.A.S.K.
Transformers and G.I. Joe all had cartoons, comics and new toy releases including big budget movies. Why not M.A.S.K? I decided that I wanted to bring the cartoon back on the screen.
So, how did you begin?
I was in Singapore at the time and my former colleague (Jan Ang) told me her husband (Kenny Ong) has got an attic full of 1980s vintage toys. I was invited to see the attic and wow, indeed, it was filled with Star Wars Toys, M.A.S.K and much more.
My other friend Weelian Soh also offered to help by using his HD camera. I was planning actually to shoot it in Singapore, would have been awesome isn’t it, all done in Singapore, unfortunately my VISA expired and I went back home.
So I shot some of the scenes using a camcorder with the same crew who was with me on CAPTAIN FUTURE and the Invincible Iron Man. Principal photography for M.A.S.K already ended, filming took place in New Caledonia South Pacific island in an old shop called the Tiki Pacific. None of the fanboys were hurt during filming.
I am also a big admirer of director and designer Shinji Aramaki (Appleseed – Captain Harlock) who also contributed to M.A.S.K back in the 80s, Starcom and Captain Power. He is a big influence on all the mecha designs.
How big is the team that working on it right now? Who are the people of note?
Quite a few people actually, a few vintage toy collectors from Singapore, Puerto Rico, USA, France have also joined forces with me on this fun project, acting as consultants making sure that my new designs, concept arts and technological enhancements in this sequel, remain true to the spirit of the classic cartoon and DC comic book that we all love and treasure. It’s quite amazing how everyone’s come together.
Mickael Dubillon (France), Jose Manuel Rosario Rodriguez, Jose Mercado (Puerto Rico), Jason Gross, Mauricio Corona, Chris Cole (USA), Gordon Chen, Ivan Koh (Singapore), are vintage toy collectors who supply me with many photos of vehicles for my project and Christophe Casaroli, a friend of mine provided the camcorder to shoot the project.
Aurelien Kobler also has a set of blueprints that he sent me. Robert Grignani provided the official M.A.S.K guide with animated cels and original designs from the 80s. William Scott Crawford from the United Kingdom launched a petition for the return of MA.S.K.
Delaun Fifield , a Daytona pilot from Florida and miniature model maker found a small red Camaro I-Roc Z (Thunderhawk) which I use for reference and my cousin Julien Leconte bought me a Corvette ZR1 for the Raven. I purchased a Peterbuilt miniature truck for the Rhino as well as a BMW 1000 RR for the Condor.
I also received a mail of praise from Joe Del Beato, original inker on the M.A.S.K comic book from D.C Comics and Doug Stone (Original voice for Matt Trakker). Both of them are still amazed that M.A.S.K is still popular after so many years.
The trailer will be semi-animated. Who can we expect to see in it?
The lovely Cardiology Cosplay from the Uk will be Gloria Baker and French Illustrator, Delphine Delente will be Vanessa Warfield. Joe Del Beato mentioned above makes a cameo appearance as Admiral Dash Davis and actress Jasmine Wright will be playing lieutenant Skye Masters from the P.N.A (Peaceful Nations Alliance – kinda like the UN).
Nathanael Zimbler, a mathematics teacher, fulfilled his childhood dream by becoming Brad Turner. Frederic Lassere, a shuttle driver, is Duane Kennedy, head of the P.N.A.
Some of the actors from my previous fan-films like Abel, Paul, Angelique and Fred are back on this project and my classmates Dave, João, Claudio from Escape Studios London are also playing members of the Equalizer Band that Brad Turner is part of.
M.A.S.K ‘s appeal was that it had an international crew unlike other cartoons. In true spirit of M.A.S.K, there are many international contributors, but I get to handle post-production all by myself.
What budget are you working with? Do you have any investors or is this self-funded?
Since this semi-live animated fan-film is non profit, like it should be, I am working with 230 U.S Dollars out of my pocket. No crowd funding is needed.
Most of the budget was spent on miniature vehicles like a red Camaro I-Roc Z (Thunderhawk), a Peterbuilt Truck (Rhino), a Corvette (Raven) and filming items such as black cloth and white cloth for the shooting of this project.
I am now in Post-production phase. Principal photography has already ended and filming took place in New Caledonia South Pacific island in an old shop called the Tiki Pacific.
It’s a daunting task which includes around 120 Visual Effects shots all by myself, using mainly miniature models of realistic vehicles as reference, 2D compositing techniques, motion graphics (no 3D has been involved) 2D Digital Matte paintings, Rotoscoping – following Japanese director Kazuaki Kirya’s footsteps (Casshern, Goemon) “where cartoon and live action collide.”
I intend to make the faces of the characters more realistic then other contemporary cartoons series who have simplified their facial features and designs to please a younger audience.
How long is the fan-film?
This project is gonna be a two and half minute concept teaser… especially since I am alone on the whole post-production. Updates are posted on a regular basis on MASK COMICS and MASK PNA on Facebook.
When do you hope to release and how do you intend to distribute this animated fan-film?
The project is slated for a Dec 2016 deadline. There won’t be any distribution since it’s non profit project. No money is being made out of that project.
However we aim to upload it on youtube, different video platforms and screen it at several comic book or sci-fi conventions. Free to watch and enjoy.
What is the end goal/aim of this undertaking?
The first goal is to bring M.A.S.K back.
Actor and Director Richard Hatch imagined a Battlestar Galactica sequel entitled the Second Coming. In fact he was the first fan-filmmaker and not the guys from Troops (Star Wars fan-film). He produced a non profit fan trailer with 16,000 dollars out of his pocket and screened it at several conventions, creating a new interest in Battlestar Galactica and the desire for viewers to see it return on Television.
Mission accomplished, Galactica returned in a re-imagined version, written by Roland D Moore, with several seasons and a conclusion which the classic series never had back in the 70s.
M.A.S.K Fan and toy collector William Scott Crawford has launched a petition for the revival of our beloved cartoon series already generating some awareness, but with the support of visual material such as a short concept teaser for a fictional cartoon sequel, I think it might generate stronger interest in M.A.S.K.
I deeply hope M.A.S.K will return. Who knows, if the toy company or an animation studio sees that there is enough potential for it they could launch a new season of M.A.S.K cartoon and a new toyline.
A second goal would be to follow in the footsteps of Director Neil Blomkamp who was discovered after his third short film, which was turned into the feature film District 9. I hope M.A.S.K. will be the one that will gives me my first break into the entertainment business.
I extremely enjoyed watching M.A.S.K. as a kid and it looks like David is on the right track. I can’t wait to see more. Good luck!