In the autumn of 2008, lifelong TMNT fan and DIY DoP Isaac Elliott-Fisher (impossibly, maybe even delusionally enthusiastic) approached Mark Hussey (post production autodidact and tech-wizard/magical thinking optimist)) and Randall Lobb (writer/director and hypervigilant cynical pragmatist) as they stood outside a coffee shop on a cold, grey day and Isaac asked if they would be interested in working with him on a little project he had in mind.
“It’s about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” he said. “I want to make a documentary about the fans and the impact of the franchise.”
“I remember when that first black and white over-sized comic came to the Silver Snail back in ’84,” said Randall. “I told Mark Askwith it would never catch on and he laughed at me. ‘Don’t bank on it’, he said. I should have…”
Isaac laughed. “Does that mean want to do it?”
“No way,” Randall said, naysaying hard, as always. “It’ll never work. Too complex.”
“You bet,” said Mark at the exact same time. “Bring it on.”
“Awesome!” said Isaac, without even the tiniest shred of an inkling as to what this was getting them into (and listening only to Mark’s response).
Randall sighed. “Well, it is a niche market. That’s always good.”
Mark smiled like he had been waiting for days to hear Isaac walk up and pitch this idea. “We can sell the movie ourselves.”
Isaac’s eyes spun in eager circles in his head as Mark gassed his fire. “Yeah! There are thousands of fans. Maybe millions. And they love the turtles! They really want this doc!”
Randall and Mark looked a each other a moment, then back at Isaac. “Okay. What have you done so far?”
“I sent an email to the CEO of Mirage, but I’m worried he just thinks I’m a crazy fan.”
“You are a crazy fan. Send me the email and I’ll give it a little rewrite.”
“Cool! I’ll start building the set!” Isaac’s face was glowing.
“Set? What set?”
“I’m going to build a miniature New York set. You know, for all the toys!”
And that’s exactly what he did.
Which meant that Randall had to call Gary Richardson at Mirage instead of sending that email and Isaac had to drive down to the New York Comic Con where he met Peter Laird and then Kevin Eastman and then Isaac, Mark, Randall and everybody’s favourite Swiss Army Cousin Curt Lobb all went to L.A. and stayed in Kevin’s house for sale in the Hollywood hills and they set up a reunion of the voice cast of the original animated series and they interviewed Brian Henson in the office Charlie Chaplin built on LaBrea and then went back to Northampton and New York and then New York again to the Tribeca Film Festival and then L.A. again and Golden Apple and Meltdown and the Foot Clan tryouts and Comic Con and and they met Stephan and Michelle and Galen Walker and Scott Mednick and John Handy and Steve Varner and Ernie Reyes Junior and Steve Barron and Michelan Sisti and everybody else and then Viacom bought the Turtles and they kept shooting and working and struggling and pushing and calling and writing and editing and doing everything they could do to keep it going and get somebody to care.
And now, they count many of those people they met through all that as good friends.
They still have their day jobs – Randall’s a high school English teacher, Mark’s a multimedia developer, Isaac’s a DP/camera operator and Curt’s an editor.
They’re still shooting.
Still making this doc out of pocket, on a shoestring and without clue where it will go.
But they’re still going to L.A. and New York and Mirage and Detroit and Toronto Fan Expo and San Diego for Comic Con, still cramming into one little hotel room and calling and emailing and hopefully not bothering people too much as they do whatever they can to get this movie made and out there somewhere that it can be seen, someday, by those thousands and millions of fans.
Which is why we will not quit, why we’re still here in a small town in rural Ontario, where one guy’s crazy idea to make a short documentary on TMNT fans, their collectibles and the personal impact of this funky little franchise has turned into hours and hours and hours of the most amazing footage of the most amazing history of the most amazing turtles the world has ever seen.
Call it Turtle Power.