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An Interview with "Fall of Grayskull" Creator, Daniel Benedict

Last year, Geeks a Gogo had the pleasure catching one of the limited viewings of "Fall of Grayskull" last year at the Patio Theater in Chicago. "Fall of Grayskull" is a wildy sucessful fan-made short film that takes place in the He-Man universe. It's been extremely popular among Masters of the Universe fans. The fan was funded through a Kickstarter campaign, and now there's a campaign to release the film on Blu Ray, which you should support by clicking here.

The movie was pretty amazing, if you grew up watching He-Man. Even, if you're nostalgic for the old He-Man series, you have to admit that it was a bit cheesy. The 1987 live action film starring Dolph Lundgren and Frank Langella wasn't great, and didn't look very realistic. "Fall of Grayskull", however, has a great story that's far edgier and darker than the old cartoons, and effects and costumes that put the 1987 film to shame. For a fan-made movie that had a $12,000 budget, this movie is miraculously good.

When we attended a showing of the film in Chicago last year, we had the good fortune of snagging an interview with "Fall of Grayskull" creator and director, Daniel Benedict. At the time, Daniel was on tour promoting the film, and had spent the day meeting with fans at various events around Chicago. We're grateful that we had a chance to speak with him.

Here is a transcript of the interview:

Monica: So, Daniel, I'm a huge He-Man and She-Ra fan.

Daniel: Good.

Monica: So, when did this project cometo fruition? Was it in the same year that you thought about it, or has it been going on for some time now?

Daniel: At Power Con 2013 I got the idea because I met a guy named John Carol, who had done some fan films. It looked really fun, and you know, I've always loved He-Man, and I make films. So, I was like “I'll just make one!”, and I had met a lot of people who had costumes and stuff so I thought I could probably pull these guys together and maybe do something. And so I thought about it, I wrote a script, and that was September of 2013. Around spring of 2014, I said “Okay, let's make a Kickstarter”, and we made the Kickstarter in April. I think we succeeded in May, and it's been insane ever since.

Monica: That's awesome. For today's events--I know are non-stop events going all day on today. You had one at Challenger's Comics, and then you had to go to Toy DeJour, and now tonight—the showing here in Chicago. What is the most memorable thing so far that you've encountered.

Daniel: Okay. The most memorable? I guess, walking into the theater for the first time and seeing how magnificent this 1,200 seat theater was—that was memorable. Meeting some people earlier who were very complimentary, saying that this video that you've done is the best thing I've ever seen on the internet. So, things like that made me feel really good. And the most negative memorable thing would be all the technical issues we had when I first got here, but it's fixed now. And I guess I'll remember this interview because I didn't know this was going to happen...

Monica: (laughs) We weren't expecting it either. The minute we saw the event, I said “We have to be there”. So, can you give us a bit of a preview of the movie?

Daniel: So, Skeletor, has defeated He-Man and has taken control of Castle Grayskull with the help of this special artifact, the Amulet of the Elders (because it's He-Man, you've got to have a special magical artifact). So, basically, it's kind of a last-ditch effort by all of the remaining heros (of which there aren't very many), to try to win the day—to beat adversity. You've got Teela, and her big thing is that she's become the sorceress, and she's struggling with her old-school ways of fist fighting and weapons—and trying to cross over into the world of magic and trusting her true self. She has that inner struggle, and then you've got He-Man's inner struggle. If you read the comic, you see that his dad died, so he's going to have to be king. He's asking, “what do I do with Skeletor? Now I'm ultimately responsible for everyone on the planet, so do I let him live or do I not, can I even defeat him because I've been beaten?”

Monica: So, the whole set-up with the comic book first—so, you're encouraging everyone to read the comic book before watching the movie. Where did that idea start?

Daniel: Well, you don't have to—it's a self-contained movie, but it's good to read it because you have a little context. But, when the “Secret of the Sword” came out in '85 (the He-Man and She-Ra movie back in the day), when you went to the theater, they passed out comics with it. I thought that was so cool, and so I was like “let's do this, let's make our own little comic and at the screenings, let's give it out just like the old days”. Hopefully that brings back some memories for people.

Monica: That's awesome. Speaking of memories, with He-Man being one of the most memorable things from my childhood—back in the 80's and 90's I absolutley loved watching it, and She-Ra—how close is it to the original He-Man show?

Daniel: I think it does a really good job of remaining true to the most of the source material. There's a couple of liberties here and there, but I think that it's a good mesh of the Filmation cartoon, a good mesh of the toy-looks, a good mesh of the 2000's comics. It's a good pull of everything together. I think most people have enjoyed it, and give compliments about it, saying “this is the way it should be, this is how He-Man should look”. Aside from the sword. A few people had a problem with the sword, because it doesn't look like the toy sword or the cartoon sword. This isn't a toy or a cartoon—this is a movie.

Monica: Yeah, this is real-life... (laughs)

Monica: Out of all the cosplayers that you've seen here today, who is your favorite?

Daniel: I'm gonna have to go with Crita, because I've never seen a Crita before. I've seen the others—which are awesome. They're very good, but I have to go with something new.

Monica: Thank you Daniel.


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