Movies & TV / Columns

Vincent J. Roth Talks w/411 About His New Movie Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel

February 20, 2018 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Surge of Power Revenge of the Sequel

The 411 Interview: Vincent J. Roth

SurgeofPpower2VincentJRoth

Vincent J. Roth is a writer, actor, and producer who plays cinema’s first out gay superhero Surge in the indie superhero comedies Surge of Power: The Stuff of Heroes and Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel (check out my review of that flick here) as well as on the internets with Big City Chronicles. In this interview. Roth talks with this writer about the making of the long awaited sequel Revenge of the Sequel and more.

**

ROS_Wrap_Poster_8x11_4laurels

Bryan Kristopowitz: Why did it take over a decade to make a Surge of Power sequel? Did you always intend to make a sequel back in 2004 when the first movie came out?

Vincent J. Roth: Homophobia is what took us so long. I did not initially intend to make a sequel when I made the first movie, Surge of Power: The Stuff of Heroes, but over the years, colleagues kept nudging me, saying that all superheroes must have sequels, so they motivated me. Life interruptions and homophobia slowed us down. There were some people who really didn’t want this movie made, which, of course, made it all that more necessary to do so – reintroduce our gay superhero to a society that needs more tolerance and acceptance. We had a big delay in the middle, but the delays turned out to benefit us, because they allowed us to work more on the story, add scenes, and recruit more celebrities into roles that would have had standard actors in them. So, we ended up with a better product and cinema’s first out gay superhero flies again!

BK: Was it hard to find investors for an indie superhero comedy with gay themes or was it easy since the concept is fairly unique?

VJR: Fundraising is never easy. Fortunately, I had enough of my own resources to take care of what was needed so that we could do what we wanted to do with the movie.

BK: Was it relatively easy to get back into making a movie or was it difficult to sort of get back into the swing of things?

VJR: I learned a lot making the first movie and have all my files, mostly electronically, so it was fairly easy to get back in the saddle. Plus everyone else in the core crew are ongoing filmmakers, so I organized plenty of support around me.

BK: Once you had a story idea and script in place, how long did it take to make Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel?

VJR: Not counting the delays in between, it took 4 years to make the movie. As mentioned, the delays actually worked to our favor because we were able to rework scenes not yet shot and added new scenes. The additional scenes also added to the shooting, so filming took longer.

BK: Where was Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel filmed? How much time did you actually spend in Las Vegas?

VJR: The movie was shot in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Mississippi and London. Much of the story takes place in Las Vegas. We had 4 shoots in Las Vegas that amounted to 12 days, which was not quite half of our total shooting time. We shot all over Las Vegas – The Strip, Red Rock Canyon, the Fremont Street Experience, the Hoover Dam. We really took advantage of the beautiful scenery Nevada has to offer.

BK: What was the hardest part of making Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel? The easiest?

VJR: There were so many hard parts, it’s difficult to identify one particular hard part, but if I had to pick one, I would say the technical aspects of shooting in digital turned out to be unexpectedly frustrating. The first movie was shot on 35MM film, wide screen, anamorphic, like standard movies at the time. Thanks to George Lucas pushing the envelope with the second Star Wars trilogy to make the industry turn digital, nowadays almost all movies are shot on digital. At first, this made things easier to do visual effects, which was easier than the first movie. However, along the way, so many issues surfaced with camera settings, frame rates, file formats, compatibility of software, compatibility among the vendors working on their parts of the movie, and compatibility with all of today’s digital platforms, most of which didn’t even exist when the first movie was made. I was constantly dealing with issues cropping up, all unexpected, for months and months, and the effort to resolve and correct them took so much more time and money than was planned for or budgeted.

SurgeOfPowerRevengeoftheSequelEnergyBlasts

BK: You are listed in the credits as a “collaborating directory” alongside Antonio Lexerot. What does a “collaborating director” do? Is it similar to being a co-director?

VJR: Antonio is the director and has the title of director because he was mostly the one calling “action” and “cut” on set. The world of Big City is my creation and the movie is my vision, so I think Antonio wanted to show that I was more than a producer. When Antonio was setting up our info on IMDB, he put me down as “collaborating director” because I had a hand in pretty much everything. I directed a few of our celebrities on small shoots when Antonio was not available, but I really don’t need a director credit. It was really nice and considerate of him to list me that way.

SurgeofPower2ERRPSurge

BK: How did you get so many cult celebrities to appear in Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel? How difficult was it to get them all together once they agreed to appear in the movie? Were there any celebrities you wanted to get but it just didn’t work out?

VJR: Having 20 celebrities in the first movie was certainly a big help in getting celebrities in the sequel. Getting our 3 featured celebrities from the first movie to return – Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek’s Uhura), Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk) and Noel Neill (Lois Lane from Adventures of Superman) – also added legitimacy to the movie. They must have enjoyed themselves in order to come back and work with me again.

While I wasn’t aiming for 50 stars the second time around, the momentum and gravity kept building, and Antonio and I kept thinking about who we could put in another scene. We packed every scene with as many stars as we could in dramatic roles as well as cameos. Having that many celebrities presents scheduling issues, so we developed a sort of “plug and play” approach to shooting. It was unorthodox to the crew, but it worked, and allowed us to compartmentalize shooting so that we could accommodate as many as possible.

There’s always celebrities we’d like, but couldn’t get. Scheduling is often a big issue. Another phenomena I realized is that I can’t seem to get any celebrities who are currently working on a TV series or another movie. Either their schedules or contracts prevent them from coming on board.

BK: What is Big City Chronicles?

VJR: Big City Chronicles is our web series featuring Surge. It is a variety show and in its second season now. Episodes are sometimes our gay superhero interviewing celebrities who have either played superheroes or prominent sci-fi characters. Some episodes are behind the scenes looks about both movies. Some episodes are new, mini adventures of Surge.

BK: What’s next for Surge? Will we see a third Surge of Power movie? Will there ever be a Surge of Power TV show?

VJR: Surge can be seen twice each month in Big City Chronicles episodes on our website, on our YouTube channel and on social media. We have lots of fun episodes ready to go for cinema’s first out gay superhero. Surge will be doing some things not seen in either movie.

SurgeofPower2Nichelle

We have already shot several scenes with Nichelle Nichols for the third movie, Surge of Power: Call of the Champions. Nichelle returns as Omen not only for the threequel, but we also shot footage with her for Big City Chronicles episodes. So, she will be a consistent presence across all Surge of Power projects. We have also connected up with other indie artists who have their own superhero characters, some of whom make brief cameos at the end of the sequel, and some of whom are intended to team up with Surge in Call of the Champions. I’m building the “Indie-Verse.”

We haven’t really thought about a TV show yet, aside from the short episodes of Big City Chronicles. Maybe when we get a little further down the path, we can pursue that.

BK: Who is your favorite superhero?

VJR: Green Lantern was always a favorite since I was a little kid. Then Firestorm became a favorite in high school years and after.

Surgemobile

BK: Does it take a lot to maintain the Surgemobile? Is there anything that car can do that we haven’t seen yet?

VJR: Yes, the Surgemobile is a 1985 Nissan 300ZX and it is getting temperamental and difficult to maintain. Fortunately, I have a great auto shop in San Diego, Mission Hills Automotive, that takes good care of her and knows how to get the parts she needs. The owner goes out of his way to make sure she gets proper attention. The Surgemobile does a lot more in the sequel than it did in the first movie. In The Stuff of Heroes, the Surgemobile was just a mode of transportation. In Revenge of the Sequel, the car comes to life with 2 celebrities playing the artificial intelligence of the car (comedian Bruce Vilanch and Super Friends Wonder Woman, Shannon Farnon), both of whom are scene on a monitor on the car’s dashboard.

The Surgemobile has lots of switches that activate different features. The car reveals a lot of tricks in the sequel, like transforming into a robot and a jet plane. The Surgemobile is a lot of fun. Audiences have reacted really well to the car’s personalities, so it’s pretty much solid that the Surgemobile is an ongoing character in the world of Big City. There are some other features I’d like the car to display, but there was only so much room in the sequel and only so much that would make sense. So, some features will have to wait for either Big City Chronicles or Call of the Champions.

SurgeofPower2SurgeWinks

**

A very special thanks to Vincent J. Roth for agreeing to participate in this interview and to Justin Cook for helping set it up.

Check out the official Surge website here.

Check out the official Surge Facebook page here.

Check out the Surge of Power YouTube page here

All images courtesy of Vincent J. Roth.