A few weeks ago, we reported on some movie updates from Sam Worthington's upcoming film slate. Those updates came out of a press event at Radical Studios, which, as we reported earlier this month, had set up an imprint deal with Worthington and his longtime friends, brothers John Schwarz and Michael Schwarz. The Aussie trio had formed a new company called Full Clip Productions, which would be developing comic books and graphic novels, properties which could then be lined up for feature film adaptations.
I was one of a select group of press members invited down to the Radical Studios facility in Hollywood to speak with Worthington and the Schwarz brothers, but first we were given a warm welcome by Radical Studios executive Barry Levine, who made it clear that these projects are not being set up for Worthington to star in, but rather for Worthington to create.
"These comic books, graphic novels, illustrated novels, all sorts of different formats, this is not something Sam (Worthington) is going to star in," Levine told us. "If something happens down the road and he becomes part of it, that's great. But the characters are not geared towards Sam. So when they told me that the story comes first, they loved our art and that's one of the things that they talk about with our company. But the story, we have to have a foundation, the story has to be very very relevant. When they told me that, I said 'Okay, I want to be with these guys' because you never know where the next greatest idea come from."
After his intro to the company, Worthington and the Schwarz brothers took questions from the press members in attendance and here's what they had to say.
How did this all come together for you three?
Sam Worthington: Oh no. It was mainly Michael in his basement playing Guitar Hero and reading comic books. I thought to get him out of the damn basement and send him to Comic-Con, you know. He needs to try and learn that the world is massive. (Laughs) Mike actually astounded me, blew me away, when he came back and he made all of these connections. Not because I wanted to make a movie, more so because to show Mike how big this world is.
John Schwarz: We've always loved comic books and graphic novels. Mike was kind of almost like the professor of it, we were both juniors. He was the master, you know what I mean. So we said 'Why don't you go to Comic-Con and see what you can do'.
Sam Worthington: Honestly I was expecting you to come back drunk and say 'thanks for the opportunity'. I didn't think you'd come back hooked up with Barry Levine and Radical and said 'Hey, these boys want us to help out. We need to talk to them about where their ideas want to go' and they had no idea what ideas we had.
Michael Schwarz: Well The Last Days of American Crime got me straight away. The thing about Radical is that they've been around for only two years, and during that time they were only a year old, but they've kind of got this swagger about themselves that they've been around for so much longer. Even though they're still in their infancy. It's exciting to be around it, sort of exciting that it's infectious. John, Sam and me latched onto Last Days and we hopped onboard. Barry Levine became our producing partner and I pitched him more about comics and Damaged, which is an original idea we had years ago. He dug it and from there he said 'Well why don't you go and make a bunch more?' So we ended up getting this imprint.
Can go you back earlier and tell us how you guys met each other?
Sam Worthington: Six to eight years ago. I went to drama school with John Schwarz and Mike's his younger brother, so he tends to just hang out, that's it. So we're a pretty tight bunch of guys, they do whatever they do and they're my brothers basically.
When Kick-Ass was coming out they were developing a novel and a movie at the same time. So is that kind of the same thing...
Sam Worthington: No no, cause I think that's arrogantly egotistical in the sense that you're not going to have what you think you will. Essentially our idea is, through any kind of creative force, is to create a good story. It's as simple as that. We're comic book fans, so let's create a comic book. If down the line Radical decides to pursue this further then that's a great opportunity for us. But that's not primarily why I wanted to get involved, and that's how it's kind of come out, been blogged and read about. Well with Damaged they're sixty year old men so unless I'm weaing a f**king latex mask then I'm a bit sh*t out of luck aren't I? And Patriots is about a lot of women so I can't be in that one. (Laughs) But even to create them you can't look at it like that. I think the great thing about them is that we're not limited by time or, you know, 'we have x amount of days to shoot it' like on a film. It gives us an avenue to get a lot of creativity and basically the only thing it's going to cost us is ink and paper. Then we can run wild. Then if down the track something happens, then that's out of our hands and that's fantastic, that's a great opportunity.
Michael Schwarz: I think the integrity of the actual comic would be totally compromised if we were just thinking about it as changing it to another medium and selling it along the track. You've got actually think to yourself 'let's try to create a piece of art'. The strongest piece you can do without compromising down the track saying 'let's think about Nic Cage playing this dude' or whatever.
Sam Worthington: I know I've said this again but putting your integrity at stake I think audiences can smell that. We're a lot smart, all of us are pretty damn smart to notice 'I can see what you're doing here, to be honest the story is just a vehicle to make the movie'. And they don't even dig the story so why in the f*ck would they go to the movie? If you deal with the story, then suddenly people jump on board and say 'I'd like to see this developed further'. Then a decision has to be made.
What's the hallmark of success for you guys on this project because in the comic book world, especially in this day and age, it's a small business. Sales are small, there's a really core audience, so are you looking to break out of the mainstream or just trying to hit into that core?
Sam Worthington: We're happy to get the f*cking imprint to be honest, brother. You're talking to three Australian dudes here who some crazy guy who used to photograph some Motley Crue and basically taking a run on it. That's an amazing opportunity in itself so I think the goal is short-term rather than long-term that the first goal is for people to go out and actually dig our stories.
Michael Schwarz: And Damaged in particular, it's an idea we had as a comic five or six years ago. Just the realization finally getting to be able to see that. That's satisfaction right there.
Sam Worthington: Yeah, and we're doing other things as well with it to get the comic books and get them out and actually get them to the stage where the core audience is going to be responsive to them and it will be successful. At the moment that is our goal, which may or may not seem very massive-orientated.
Sam, since you are the star in the biggest movie of all time, maybe 1/1000th or one percent of that audience will probably read the comics because that's the nature of the publication. It's a small core audience.
Sam Worthington: Yeah but we all have our own separate careers. But together, collectively, we did start a small business and that's kind of a cool thing. That's how we looked at it, we aren't looking at it like we're going to dominate the comic book world, that's ridiculous. Right now we're just touching our toe in the water to see if one kid down a the Golden Apple can say, "He, that's cool, man.
This is more a labor of love thing. You were a kid who just loved this sh*t and now...
Sam Worthington: Yeah and then sometime I realized down the line 'Holy sh*t, I've got a comic book'. All you need in any industry is someone to back you, and James Cameron backed me up and Barry's backed him outta nowhere. and the first thing I said to him today was 'You don't know Mike from Adam, why the f*ck would you ever want to produce anything from Mike Schwarz:?' And he said that he's got passion and integrity, commitment and creativity, and that kind of drive and hunger is exciting. So yeah, in a way he's a labor of love for us too in an exciting world.
Michael Schwarz: Well it's like a dream come true. We've loved, I've loved comic books ever since I was a kid, I learned to read by reading Batman. So to be able to create these books that are going to be around for a long time is great. It's very important.
John Schwarz: We've got a bunch of nephews back home between us. The next book, we've got two that we've announced so far with Damaged and Patriots. The next one we're going to make it a little more geared towards a 9-12 year old market. It's something we can enjoy with our nephews.
So you guys are sort of looking towards the broad spectrum of comics?
Sam Worthington: Totally. If you look at Radical, Radical is very spread not necessarily dealing with any specific genre. If he likes an idea he runs with it. He gets other creative guys like J. Michael Straczynski come in here, Antoine Fuqua, and they were developing comics with him. To us we need to go and it's like now you've got as many comics as you want to create. He is enthusiastic with any kind of genre we give him an idea for.
Speaking as a comic book fan, and you guys are comic book people, who have been around the block with "name" creators coming in. Famously, they come in and they kind of disappear. What's your involvement, in the real specific aspects as far as sticking with them is concerned?
Sam Worthington: Every time we came up with an idea we've always agreed that -- with Damaged these boys had an idea so they can shepherd the story. For example. Lapham comes to the story and then he says 'this doesn't work, this doesn't work'. And with Patriots, Schwarz had the idea and Mike becomes the hammer, and that's how it works. The origin of the story or the idea does come from any of us. If Mike's got an idea by himself then me and (John) Schwarz will help him shepherd it. That's how a good trio works. We work pretty fast and since we've known each other for so long we're not afraid to be brutally honest with each other and say 'Mate, that idea sucked. I see what your doing there, you've written this for Lucy Liu you f*ck'. (Laughs) You know, you can see what's happening.
Full Clip is a production company as well. So is there any projects that you guys put together for Full Clip that would turn back?
John Schwarz: Well, for example, me and Schwarz took the idea of Quartermaine to DreamWorks and not really expecting anything to come out of that. Not expecting DreamWorks to have their own kind of Quartermaine idea. Then they jumped together to find out that they're ideas are working with our ideas. Now that kind of does happen, that kind of cross-pollenation does occur. If Quartermaine came out it was a kick ass new movie and they wanted to go and make a comic book out of it. Yeah, but it has to stand alone and not just be 'let's just cash in on it'.
How did David Lapham get involved?
Michael Schwarz: That was Radical approached, and so far all those that have approached are just top named talent in art and writing. He was the first to be approached. I was a bit star-struck to talk to him for the first time and I was really nervous to see what he would do with our story. A man with his caliber, would he just take it and make it his own completely? What he did with it was great. It's still our story, our characters but it's still got his stamp on it without taking away from the story we created. He's given it his voice which is my favorite thing. He stands aside in the comic industry, my favorite writers just have really distinct voices and he's added his voice to our story.
Sam Worthington: Which is the same with the artist. We at that moment went through who we think would be best to do the artwork for it. Partly that was the case of Barry saying, "Go for your dream team and all they can say is no." And that's kind of a cool kind of thing, and it is nerve-wracking. You've always got to be smart enough to go 'Well they're going to have to bring some of their own in'. We don't want to be a monopoly where we get shoved out, it has to be symbiotic.
In regards to Damaged, what's the time line? When are we going to start seeing this out in comic book stores?
Michael Schwarz: We were looking around January/February for the first issue. It's quick.
John Schwarz: Well we gave David our treatment and he gave us like a five to six page treatment. Then about a week later he gave us a thirty page treatment.
Sam Worthington: So that just shows that the idea of the story is compelling enough for him to work on it immediately.
Michael Schwarz: Yeah, and a week later he gave us issue one. So it's going to be a six-issue series and it should be out probably around January/February. We still have a lot of things to do with it, mess around with the story, and make it as good as we can.
Sam Worthington: Yeah, so Barry, what do you reckon? Damaged, January, February?
Barry Levine: February.
Would you mind saying a little bit of what each of the comics are about?
Sam Worthington: Damaged is about basically brotherhood. Two cops, one becomes a vigilante. It's basically about redemption, passing fathers and sons, and all of these kind of brotherly things that these guys have come and dealt with in their lives set in a violent kind of noir-like world. Patriots is quite simple; there's seven continents in the world, if you had to sacrifice one continent and make it six would you do it? That's the question we're posing with that one.
So you haven't released a reason?
Michael Schwarz: Well with this one I think we're going to try and handle it like Christopher Nolan handled Inception. Keep it under our f**king hats. This one, Damaged is a six issued series and this one (Patriots) is a stand alone graphic novel.
So Patriots is a graphic novel?
Michael Schwarz: Yeah, it's a graphic novel.
Sam Worthington: Because it's more epic in scope. Yeah Barry was the one who said we should make it into a graphic novel. Because we're illustrating this whole world and we can get an understanding of what it is having a serial comic book or graphic novel, trying to see which one suits us best. At the moment it's all learning from Barry.
Is there a backlog of ideas here that you have a bunch of things planned?
Sam Worthington: Like I've said we've known each other for fifteen years We're a bunch of young, idealistic Australians who happen to be able o play in your pool. I mean I got involved with f*cking "Avatar". Some other people have opened up to us, and we're lucky enough to have all of these creative kind of outlets over here to help us get involved. It shows that the spirit that America has, the American industry creativity it has where anything is possible. Three idealistic Australians bringing in new ideas and being able to make the damn comic books that they've always dreamed about, it's kind of a cool thing. You get to go and play with the big boys, it's a very privileged thing for us to do. So I'm sure we have more ideas than what we actually have time for.
John Schwarz: Not all of them good. (Laughs)
For more information on the complete Radical lineup, you can visit RadicalPublishing.com. We'll be sure to keep you posted on any other news regarding Sam Worthington's Full Clip company and any film adaptations that come out of this company as soon as we have more information.