Otherworld Theatre Company, Chicago’s premier Science Fiction and Fantasy theatre company was delighted to receive a submission from Kyle Higgins for their annual Juggernaut Film Festival.
For those who may not know, Kyle Higgins is a comic book writer best known for his work on the DC Comics Batman series. Kyle actually grew up in Homer Glen, Illinois, making him a little bit of a Chicagoland hero.
Kyle is a filmmaker out of the comic book world, a number one New York Times Best Selling author whose past work includes Nightwing, Batman Eternal, Gates of Gotham, and Batman Beyond 2.0. After spending two years at the University of Iowa, Kyle transferred to Chapman University where he directed a superhero noir titled The League, about the 1960's superhero labor union in Chicago (I would LOVE to see that!). In addition to opening doors at Marvel and DC Comics, the film served as a creative launch point for Kyle's 2014 Image Comics series, C.O.W.L.
At present, Kyle is developing several live action properties, including an adaptation of his critically acclaimed Image Comics series, Hadrian's Wall. He is also writing the number 1 selling monthly title in Boom Studios history, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
Find out more about Kyle Higgins and his amazing body of work HERE!
After watching Kyle’s short film The Shadow Hours as I prepared for the festival, I reached out to him to ask a few questions. He was kind enough to respond and will be attending the 5th Annual Juggernaut Film Festival on Saturday! Get your tickets ASAP!
Fantasy Queen: I've been lucky enough to watch The Shadow Hours in advance of the festival. It was so intriguing and suspenseful. What inspired you to tell this story?
Kyle: You know, it’s an idea I’d had for a long time. I knew I wanted to design it as something akin to Memento—a low budget, high-concept thriller that I could go shoot as my first feature. That said, as you can probably tell, it was a complicated one to figure out… which is part of why I set it aside. I’d come back to it from time to time, but it was something I just couldn’t seem to crack.
Then, a few years later, I was talking to a friend of mine, who happens to be a very well-respected feature writer, and I mentioned this idea to him. He barely blinked before he said “You have to figure out how to write that.” So, that really got me into it again, and I started coming at the concept from different angles. Then, a few months later, I was both going through a breakup and feeling really burnt out on writing comic books. So, I decided to really throw myself into The Shadow Hours script, and also decided I would try and put together a version of it that could work as a short film. It’d been a few years since I directed anything, and I was really itching to get back to it. I may write comics for a living, but filmmaking is my first love.
Anyway, fast forward a year and we finished the short and started submitting it to festivals. The feature has still taken some time to figure out, but I’m close on the script. Which is great timing, as the short is starting to screen at more and more festivals.
Fantasy Queen: What about the Science Fiction genre resonates with you?
Kyle: When its done well, the Sci-Fi genre provides for fantastic opportunities to explore complex, often morally-complicated ideas through a different lens. I’ve always found the best Sci-Fi to be allegorical, saying something about the human condition and repackaging issues as stylish, cautionary tales.
Fantasy Queen: You're very well known for your work on the Batman comics for DC. If you got to be a superhero, who would you be and why? Oh, and you cannot choose Batman. :)
Kyle: Ha. Well, that’s good, because I wouldn’t want to be Batman :)
Actually, Nightwing has always been my favorite superhero. For those who don’t know, Nightwing was the first Robin—Dick Grayson—who went on to grow up and create a superhero identity of his own. He’s often described as “Batman without the baggage” because of how emotionally well-adjusted he is (his parents died tragically, too). Nightwing is as skilled as Batman—in my opinion, better in some ways—but isn’t obsessed with fighting crime in order to avenge his parents’ deaths. Instead, he fights crime and helps people in an attempt to celebrate his parents’ lives. There’s a level of optimism in him that I’ve always admired.
Fantasy Queen: You grew up in Illinois. What is your advice for aspiring comic book and film writers? How do you feel that growing up in the Midwest and close to Chicago has helped or hurt your ability to pursue your dreams?
Kyle: My main advice is to just do it, everyday. If you’re a writer, write. If you’re a filmmaker, make films. Practice and hone your craft. Get your stuff out there. When you’re ready, the rest will take care of itself. In a lot of ways, it’s never been easier to get attention for your work. The world is so interconnected now. If you’re talented and driven—and have the work samples to back it up—you’ll be able to cut through the noise and find opportunities. There’s no such thing as undiscovered talent in 2017.
As far as how Chicago helped or hurt, I don’t know. I left when I was 18, for college, and haven’t spent much time living back there since. That said, I do know that having access to art, museums, a world class orchestra, old movie theaters, and big comic conventions definitely helped me to develop both my taste and passion for what I do now. Chicago is a wonderful place with a ton to offer, especially if you fancy yourself a creative type. Growing up, I certainly did.
Fantasy Queen: What drew you to the Juggernaut Film Festival?
Kyle: I had heard nice things about the festival, and between its focus on Sci-Fi, the fact that it was located in Chicago, and was also playing at the Music Box… it felt like too good of an opportunity to pass up!
Fantasy Queen: Will you be attending the festival? If so, do you plan to spend any time in Chicago. Where are your favorite places to go in the city?
Kyle: I will, yeah! Besides hitting a Blackhawks game and snagging some deep dish from Pizzeria Uno, I don’t have too many plans just yet haha.
Fantasy Queen: How have your stories shaped/changed/molded your life?
Kyle: Life imitates art, and vice versa. I try not to think about this too much, because I don’t want to mess with the formula I have going, but I do know that fictionalizing issues that I’m going through—or have gone through—has helped me find the necessary perspective and closure that makes dealing with them in reality, a little bit easier.
I’ve also gotten really good at Escape Rooms. It’s all that Batman writing ;)
Life imitates art, indeed.
A big THANK YOU to Kyle for answering all my questions! I, for one, cannot wait to meet him at the festival on Saturday! I would also love to meet YOU. I will be co-hosting with the stunning Robert Wilson and pulling out some of my favorite science fiction and fantasy cosplays for the event.
SEE. YOU. THERE!