Updated 12/05/2011 10:47 AM
Lone Star Scene: Ninja Turtles fans film 'Casey Jones'
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With a love of the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" franchise and nearly no budget to work with, filmmaker Polaris Banks didn't follow many rules in the making of "Casey Jones."
His ambitious production applied for no city permits while shooting in whatever locations they could sneak into.
The money shots include a hockey-masked vigilante cleaning house on the Foot Clan, and Michelangelo, the Ninja turtle, joining a rumble in the shadow of the Frost Bank Tower. A scene that's the climax of a 35-minute mini feature which started as a modest tribute.
"I was actually just thinking about one action sequence, maybe, and then I realized Casey Jones had never had his own solo movie so I thought this would be maybe the opportunity he gets so I wanted to do it right," Banks said.
Banks shot the film over a two-year period while living in Austin. He cast his brother as the feisty title character.
"I think he (the character) is just kind of a happy-go-lucky sociopath, if that makes sense. He doesn't really understand what hurts," actor Hilarion Banks said.
The characters are modeled from the many Ninja Turtles comics and feature films.
Robbie Rist, the actor who played the original Michelangelo, lent his voice to the production, which operated on a nearly non-existent budget.
"The turtle suit probably cost the most and took the most time. Everything else is just stolen shots here and there and calling in a million favors from a million friends," Hilarion said.
New York City is the fictional setting, but Polaris Banks found all the locations he needed in two Texas cities.
"So the first half of the movie is in Dallas, where they have a lot of these great junkyards and metal salvage yards that play into the film. The whole second half of the movie is in Austin. Austin has really good grimy alleyways, and Dallas has more of the sprawling vertical modern city stuff, looks a little more like New York," Polaris said.
The Banks brothers believe "Casey Jones" could be fledged out into a full-length feature film, but either way they feel overachieving fan film stands on its own.
"I've made a lot of movies in front of and behind the camera. This is by far the most difficult to make and hands down the most rewarding, too," Polaris said.
"Casey Jones" recently premiered in front of much its local cast and crew.
You'll be able to see the entire film for free at CaseyJonesthemovie.com. It premieres online September 17.