When I was a kid - ok, not too young, maybe 13 or 14 - I was obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I watched every single movie, saw every episode on TV, and even paid my own money to see the Turtles Live Concert at the Baltimore Arena - yes, I am admitting that to you.
But that was nearly 15 years ago; it's 2006, I'm 28-years old, I'm not into supposed to be into the Turtles anymore - and I'm not, even though I know there's a cartoon series on FOX Kids. I heard some rumblings about six months ago that there was going to be a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, CGI this time, I have to say, I wasn't that excited - in fact, I really could have cared less!
Then, I went to Comic-Con 2006 - I am a changed man! I have Turtle Power! Writer and director Kevin Munroe introduced the teaser trailer to the 5000 people in attendance at the San Diego Convention Center floor. The graphics and the look of the turtles was - if I may - un-freakin-believable! It was dark, but not too dark; all four Turtles were introduced in their own kind of way. Of course, my fav, Michelangelo ended the teaser falling from a rooftop into a dumpster.
But I have to say, I still wasn't 'hooked' until Kevin introduced the additional footage from the movie. That sh*t blew me away! I was pumped and ready for March 30, 2007 when TMNT hits the big screen! It's already been set on my Google Calendar - sorry, I'm such a dork!
After the presentation, I went upstairs to sit down for an exclusive interview with Kevin and Tom Gray, the executive in charge of production for the Turtle movie franchise. I was kind of a little giddy talking to them; after seeing that footage and the tremendous reaction they received from the crowd.
Kevin told me, "I was nervous; I wasn't expecting that. After the second montage show, there was a two-second pause of silence, and I thought 'Oh no, we showed too much.' And then it was that 'boom' and I went 'Holy Crap!' And the fans went crazy. I actually had my phone open and I had my editor and the head of my pre-vis under the table so they could hear the reaction."
And there was nothing that made them happier then hearing that a 'member of the press' enjoyed the TMNT footage. "I'm very pleased, and that's what makes me feel good about you - not someone who's 7 or 8 years old, because they didn't grow up with it.
Tom even laughed when I told him about the Turtles concert; but he did tell me about other people's reactions to the Turtles. "My daughter was at university and I went to see her; she said, 'Dad, I want to take you to this beer bus before we go watch the football game.' I was like Tommy Lee, I was like a rock star; these guys told me, 'You did the Ninja Turtles! You have no idea what you did for our generation!' I told them about this movie, and they got so excited; I really got a good feeling about it."
For Kevin, who is virtually an unknown to the mainstream film world, making TMNT meant so much for him. "I still get excited and I still get tickled when I see it now, when I see that footage. We were working on that montage for about two weeks, and I just wanted to throw everything in there; it didn't matter that something wasn't finished, I wanted to put it in. And when it does the 'boom, boom, boom' and it shows the faces - I still get a tingle when I watch that. I've always worked on stuff that I would put an asterisk on it, that 'it's good, but it's not great.' This is the first thing that comes asterisk free! I'm so proud of it, and everyone who's working on it, because it feels right."
As a fan of the series, he was psyched to take on this project. "I think this comic is so fun, and fun doesn't mean funny, like Ghostbusters. Fun is a lost art! The idea of approaching this movie in that respect was what I'm most proud of."
So where did Tom find Kevin? "The only way I can explain it is we found a guy who loved the Turtles and we wanted to stay true to the series, and he was. We took him up to Peter (Laird, creator of the entire TMNT franchise) to meet him to see if he was right for the job, and he passed with flying colors. And it's not been easy for him; Peter has looked every step of the way, making sure Donny wouldn't say this, or Leo doesn't wear this. But it's kept the essence to where we wanted to go. But the point is, we've stayed absolutely true [to the franchise]."
I couldn't leave without asking both of them who their favorite TMNT characters were. Kevin was a little hesitant about his choice. "It changes from day to day; right now, it's probably Raph, cause I love the way that we're treating him in a more complex way. He wants the same thing Leo does, but they're both going about it completely differently; and the fact that he's such a raw character on the outside, but he's showing exactly why he's doing what he's doing. There's this great scene where we explain why he's doing what he's doing and it's great; it's one of my favorite scenes in the film."
Tom's answer was a little more practical. "Well, since I put two kids through college wit all four, I can't decide. People ask me that all the time, and I really don't any favorites; but, I would have to say Mikey, because Mikey's probably the best fighter with the nunchucks. But he's goofy, but I like him; he's just such a good guy. Raph is a hothead and Leo is always the guy who overachieves, and Donny's the nerdy guy. But I like Donny - and Mikey; I love the combo of those two."
You can see Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, and Leonardo in TMNT when it opens in theaters March 30, 2007 - heck, you can even be as big a dork as I am and mark it on your calendar!