C2E2: Interview with Vlad Yudin, Creator of “Head Smash”
Head Smash is a highly anticipated graphic novel with a film adaptation already in the works for 2014. Though only a sneak preview issue is currently available, creator Vlad Yudin was willing to share some insights with Flickchart.
TRAVIS McCLAIN: First of all, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Head Smash is the forthcoming project to be a graphic novel, set to be released in July—
VLAD YUDIN: Yes, July 31st.
TRAVIS: –right after San Diego Comic Con. Tonight [April 26th], we’re going to get to see the exclusive Tim Bradstreet cover here [at C2E2].
VLAD: Yes, right.
TRAVIS: Could you describe the nature of the content?
VLAD: Yes, absolutely. It takes place in a pre-apocalyptic society. You know, most action movies take place, or comic book movies take place in a post-apocalyptic [society]; this is pre-apocalyptic. It’s in the city of Ares, where everything is corrupted. You know, imagine the worst possible environment where everything is completely – you know, the whole society is corrupted, you know what I mean? The whole police force is ran [sic] by different syndicates. There’s [sic] a lot of gang wars and everything is just about to blow up.
Smash is a young orphan who grows up in an orphanage and he gets adopted by Maurice, who runs The Horde, which is one of the main syndicates in the city. He adopts him, becomes his mentor and he grows up with Maurice. Then one day, he gets sent to the mission and he gets betrayed. At that point, his pregnant wife is missing. He survives the attack, but he comes back to the city to find out that his pregnant wife is missing. So he starts to go on a quest to find out his mentor betrayed him, and that unravels the whole mystery why that happened and then it turns into a big graphic revenge story.
TRAVIS: Okay, so it sounds pretty emotionally charged, rather than strictly a set up for action pieces. Is that fair?
VLAD: It’s definitely a very strong back story, but then it’s a lot of action because then he goes on a tirade, he goes crazy. That’s why it’s called Head Smash, you know. It’s very brutal.
TRAVIS: Right. I figured with a title like that, he wasn’t spending his time in therapy, talking about how it made him feel!
TRAVIS: What can you tell us about the film adaptation?
VLAD: The film is—we’re working on the script right now, which is pretty much done. At the end of the year, we’re going officially into production for the film. So we really want to build up the comic book a little bit more, you know what I mean?
TRAVIS: To build up brand awareness?
VLAD: Absolutely. You know, a lot of times you find out about the graphic novel after the release of the film. You know, like The Walking Dead turned into a TV show, then I found out about [the comic book] after the TV show, basically. Uh, a lot of other ones as well. But this one, basically, we really want to build the brand awareness that you mentioned and that character awareness, and then the film will come next.
TRAVIS: Okay. Will the film be strictly faithful to the graphic novel, or will you make adaptation changes, or have you gotten that far with the [script]?
VLAD: Absolutely, there will be some changes. Absolutely. We’re going to do a different ending, just because people will know the ending already. So, we want to change the ending. There will be some new characters in the film.
TRAVIS: Ah! So, some surprises for those of us who will read it, and then we go to the theater and we won’t be able to take for granted what’s coming next.
VLAD: Absolutely. It will be a different ending, it will be a few different characters as well.
TRAVIS: Okay. Do you have anybody lined up to work on the film, cast or crew?
VLAD: Well, cast – we’re talking to a couple of very prominent names right now.
TRAVIS: Obviously, you can’t tell us who they are.
VLAD: Not yet, but you will find out very soon, but it’s going to be a very strong ensemble cast. Smash is a twenty-something year old and Maurice, his mentor, is fifty-plus, you know what I mean? So we’re going to have a veteran actor and we’re going to have a younger actor. It’s going to be—and, of course, a lot of great supporting cast around them so it’s going to be very cool to see the dynamics between the two generations.
TRAVIS: It sounds pretty interesting to me, anyway! Um, the press release that was emailed to me described it as a sci-fi thriller. Is that about right?
TRAVIS: So, what would you liken it to that our readers, the movie viewers, would connect to, to get a sense of the tone of what you’re doing?
VLAD: Uh, well, you mean as far as one genre to categorize it?
TRAVIS: Well, if you were going to tell our readers, you know, “When you’re thinking about what to expect from Head Smash, look at these movies.”
VLAD: Um, well, as you mentioned, [Head Smash cover artist] Tim Bradstreet did the cover for The Punisher, so—
TRAVIS: So there’s the revenge factor.
VLAD: Different story, but the gritty aspect. I’m not talking about the Punisher movies per se, but the story, you know what I mean? It’s very kind of gritty and dark, you know, so I would say definitely The Punisher. And also Sin City. It would definitely be in the same kind of genre.
TRAVIS: I think that creates a very specific feel that those – those are very easy for readers to wrap their heads around and say, “Okay. I get what to expect there.” So, are there any secrets you can let us in on?
VLAD: Any secrets? Well, let’s see. [pauses] I’m thinking, man. That’s a good question. I’m thinking right now. What is a secret…? Um…okay, I’ll tell you at the San Diego Comic Con this year we’re gonna have a prop that will be featured in the film.
VLAD: It’s pretty big. It’s being created right now, it’s being built and it’s going to be a pretty significant sized prop in our movie. It’s gonna have wheels. It’s pretty good.
TRAVIS: Alright, alright. Um, and I guess last question: If you could name for us your five favorite movies?
VLAD: That is the toughest question you could’ve possibly asked me, man!
TRAVIS: No, I could have asked for ten! [laughs] Or three!
VLAD: You could have asked or one. That would be hard.
TRAVIS: Okay, what is your favorite movie? All time.
VLAD: Aw, jeez, man! [thinks] You know, I could give you five.
TRAVIS: Okay, I’ll take the five. I’m greedy!
TRAVIS: The Pacino remake?
VLAD: Yeah. The old one is pretty good, too.
TRAVIS: I haven’t seen either one. I’m going to have to edit that out. I’m not gonna put that in the interview. I’ll lose all my film-writing credibility when people find that out.
VLAD: [laughs] Those three are completely different, by the way. Well, Space Odyssey is…[trails off]. Three. I’ll give you two more. There’s a cool movie with a great ensemble cast, Glengarry Glen Close that is strong.
TRAVIS: It’s very popular with some of my friends.
VLAD: It’s not film that lot of people talk about, but the cast is amazing and it’s almost like a play, you know? Like a 12 Angry Men kind of thing, you know?
TRAVIS: 12 Angry Men is an amazing movie.
VLAD: Well, there’s five, then!
TRAVIS: Nice. Alright, well, anything else that you think we ought to know?
VLAD: I want our readers to check out headsmash.net/. We’re launching a new site, check it out. July 31st, get the graphic novel and then check out the film next year.
TRAVIS: Okay. And is there a tentative release date for the film?
VLAD: Not yet, but most likely it’s going to be the following summer.
TRAVIS: Do you know when production is expected to start?
VLAD: End of the year/beginning of the new year.
TRAVIS: Great! Okay, well, it’s been great chatting with you and thanks for taking the time.
VLAD: No problem. Thanks!
How about it, Flickcharters? Are you game for Head Smash? What do you think about knowing already that the movie will end differently than the graphic novel?