Interview with the Manly Men Behind Modern War Gear Solid Parody

In one of the greatest team-ups in internet history, video game icons Solid Snake and Ghost were brought together in an epic trilogy known as Modern War Gear Solid. The series was created by a group called the Beat Down Boogie, guerrilla-style filmmakers that had rejected the mainstream ways of the film industry to stay true to themselves and their fans.

Filming is currently under way for the third and final installment in the MWGS series. We got a chance to sit down with Director Micah Moore and Technical Director Rick Burnett, to talk about the the making of the series and the upcoming final film.

NERD REACTOR: Let’s start with the broadest question, how did the Beat Down Boogie get started? Judging from the production value of the Modern War Gear Solid videos you guys have been doing this for a while.

MICAH MOORE: We started out working on indie films, and we did a feature called Dogs of Chinatown.  It was supposed to be a pulpy black-and-white film noir with impressive fight scenes.  The early trailers got some positive feedback, but there was a lot of industry pressure to change the film – to make it more mainstream and colorize it.  At the end of the day we ended up with a different film that didn’t see much distribution despite the sacrifices.  That’s when we realized the industry doesn’t really care about what audiences want to see – they care about what distributors and investors want to see.  We wanted to return to something pure, something that was direct communication between us and an audience.  So we became Beat Down Boogie – a name that encompasses the fun we have and the challenges we face.  Despite our lack of money, this approach has attracted a lot of talented actors and crew.  I think eventually we’ll find a way to make a living from film-making again – we just want it to be on our terms – which means the audience gets some respect and we don’t have to work with shady people.

RICK BURNETT: Micah has been doing this a lot longer than I have; for me it’s been a roller coaster of learning, networking and experimenting. Micah and I are always trying to one-up each other. We’re always pushing to exceed our previous capabilities and quality.

MICAH: Yeah, teaming up with Rick has been awesome.  He has a robot brain, so he can handle the technical issues and free me up to direct…and produce…and run wardrobe…and makeup…and write…and edit…and drink…and hit on actresses.  You know, filmmaker stuff.

Where did the idea for Modern War Gear Solid come from?

RICK: Well, it started as something completely different.

MICAH:  We were planning to make a serious military short film to show off some choreography ideas.  It was just a test, so I thought, ‘Hey, let’s have fun with it and use characters we admire.’

RICK: Given the number of Call of Duty and Metal Gear Solid players we work with, it just all kind of fell in place.

What made you think that Ghost and Snake would make great team, since Snake has been in numerous games, and sadly Ghost will only be in one (T_T). Why not Sam Fisher or Master Chief?

MICAH: I like the opposite tactics of Snake and Ghost.  Snake is patient and stealthy.  Ghost will kick in the door in and ignite an all-out firefight.  And I like how a little detail like a mask can make a character iconic.  Of course it’s nice that anyone can be under the mask playing Ghost, since [Kung Fu instructor] Brian Lee brings a lot of martial arts ability to our own Ghost.  And who knows, maybe the real Ghost is also a Chinese guy with a British accent.  OK, probably not.

RICK: Ghost is just an awesome character and needed more air time. He’s like the Boba Fett of today, that awesome character that gets no air time and yet everyone thinks is a bad ass. Deeper than that, we wanted a character from Modern Warfare 2, given the state of affairs in the game industry. Plus, we never get tired of Micah’s bad Russian accent.

What were some of the hurdles you guys had to go through shooting the videos? In one of the deleted scenes when you were shooting in an elevator, someone calls for the elevator. Were you allowed to film there or were you shooting guerrilla style?

RICK: We try to get permission whenever we’re shooting on locations, especially with prop guns.  We don’t want to spend time dealing with legal hassles when we could be shooting.  And we’d hate to get run off before we could finish a scene.

MICAH: For me guerrilla filmmaking isn’t so much about unauthorized filmmaking – it’s about flipping our limitations into advantages.  Will our reputation as hometown underdogs get us more love than a big Hollywood production that comes to our state for cheap labor?  Can our low-profile crew get into places where a large crew would be a burden?  Will actors volunteer their time because we have a fun and noble outlook on filmmaking?  If you have a friendly attitude and a slick looking product, a lot of people will open their doors to you.

RICK: Oh, but Micah did manage to lose Snake’s cardboard box.

MICAH: Ohhhh yeah.  That was…not good.  It was a specific box and pretty recognizable.

RICK:  But a friend of ours just happened to have the exact same box.

MICAH: Yeah.  I figured that was fate demanding more episodes.

In the series the main evil corporation is “ActivistSun.” Does this anything to do with Activision firing the heads of Infinity Ward?

RICK: I can neither confirm nor deny the statements in this question.

MICAH: Not so much the firing as the general character of Bobby Kotick.  I needed a big enough villain for all gamers to agree on.  If you Google his name, the second suggestion is “Bobby Kotick…quotes” (mostly about how he wants to raise game prices and take the fun out of making video games).  The third Google suggestion reads “Bobby Kotick…is the devil.”  That’s pretty impressive when Google’s third suggestion is that you are the devil.

So what is the reaction you get from fans that see your videos? You got two different fan-bases; Metal Gear and Call of Duty.

MICAH: The reaction’s been really incredible.  Despite the silliness of MWGS, there are layers of parody, and we have a really sharp audience that appreciates that.  We’re part of that community too.  We went down to DragonCon the other weekend and got to hang out with some fans of the series.  They were great and can party.  And we dig talking to the peeps on the Beat Down Boogie Facebook page.  We just put up a ton of DragonCon pictures on Facebook.

RICK: Fans of both franchises have been showing us a lot of love.  Though it’s interesting to see people speculate which game we like more.  Our crew is actually split down the middle.  Micah plays both games but he’s more into MGS.  Brian Lee (our Ghost) and I play MW2 all the time.  And Matt Sumner (our Snake) is an MGS fan.  I think some viewers feel Snake got the short end of the stick in our series.

MICAH: It’s funny because we love comedy so when we were shooting Parts 1 and 2, Brian Lee was worried that Snake got all the best bits.  But later we realized that people who prefer action to comedy thought Ghost got the best bits.  For people who love comedy, Snake got the best bits.  But I can say in any future episodes, the badassery of both characters will be pushed to the limit.

So what can we expect from Part 3 of the MWGS saga?

MICAH: It will be worth the wait.  There are 3 major things I can’t spoil, all having to do with big costume pieces that are taking a lot of time and work to construct.  I can say that there will be a character from another franchise showing up and playing a key part.  And one character will fight a large group of PMC’s single-handedly.

RICK: Part 3 is bringing even more epic awesomeness to the table.  We have some additional equipment, lenses, locations, and huge props!!! I can say at least one thing, I doubt
any of the fans of the first two parts are going to be disappointed.  We are bringing out all our guns and boxes on this one!

Last but not least, what is your favorite moment from Metal Gear or Modern Warfare 2?

RICK: I play MW2 myself all the time.  For me CoD’s about the multiplayer, so I can’t really say any one part of the story in MW2 stood out as my favorite moment. Of course, I really wish my favorite time in MW2 was host migration, since it happens so often. I am really looking forward to the dedicated servers for Black Ops out later this year.

MICAH: I’m going to cheat for this question and say my favorite MW1 moment instead, which was the sniper campaign mission.  I tend to be a laid-back sniper in FPS’ and I usually get slaughtered in the smaller COD maps.  For MGS, there are a lot of favorite moments.  The sniper battle with The End from MGS3, Raiden fighting the Gekkos in MGS4, and finding the perfect pink octo-camo pattern to prance around in during the cut scenes.  Now, I’m a manly man and would never shed a tear unless I was shooting them out of my eyes in self-defense….but just hypothetically, if there were two video game moments that really choked me up, it would have been FF7 the first time around, and Snake getting through the microwave corridor in MGS4.  I’m really impressed with that exclusive number of games that can really stir up emotions.  Um, did I say emotions?  I meant, um, beer! And cars! and chicks!  Yeah!

For more information and updates on the upcoming Part 3 in the Modern War Gear Solid series visit:
BeatDownBoogie.com and subscribe to their Youtube page.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”422″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMrwNz24j_g[/youtube]

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