In February 2017, Arvin Bautista won the award for Best Film, in this year’s FanFilm Awards. Hosted in the city of Pasadena, Bautista’s fanfilm, Lila Cheney: I Will Steal Your Heart, was showcased at the Pasadena Central Library – and being absent at the award ceremony, the Azure Lorica Foundation had the pleasure of giving the trophy to him locally, after the celebrations. Lila Cheney: I Will Steal Your Heart was nominated for both Best Film and Best Cinematographer, and was gracious enough to give us an exclusive interview, to publish for your enjoyment:
1) Of all the X-Men characters, why Lila Cheney?
Well, Dazzler was the first character we tackled, because I had more of an affinity for her and I had a good grasp of her character by the time I started conceiving the video. From the popularity of the Dazzler video, I had the opportunity to make a sequel, and I didn’t want to just rehash the same idea at the time. Lila Cheney is the other musician in the X-Men universe, she’s a rock star, and she was even more obscure than Dazzler, which was all really exciting.
2) As we understand, this is a sequel to your first X-Men FanFilm, correct?
Yes, as mentioned above. I love Dazzler as a character and what she stands for in the greater X-Men, Marvel, and superhero world (a gifted person that doesn’t let anyone define who she is), yet she wasn’t particularly popular at the time, which made me love her more. It wasn’t until I made the video did I realize this side of fandom, and their response prompted me to make another video.
3) In an industry dominated by male roles. Why do you always have female leads in your FanFilm?
Well, Dazzler is a woman, and so is Lila. The characters came first. But I think it does add a unique angle to my videos to have them be female-centric, in the same way that having them be music videos were also unique.
4) What challenges did you find in producing this fanfilm?
The same challenges as everyone else, probably: money. Both films were entirely self-funded, so I was extremely aware of our budgetary limitations, though luckily as producer/director/writer/editor/vfx artist, I was able to plan accordingly. Beyond that, getting the costumes made and writing and producing two original songs were new and exciting challenges for me. I am grateful for the work my crew did in making that happen.
5) Where did you find the songs for these music videos? Are they originals?
They are both original songs, which was pretty daunting since I’m not a musician. I was lucky to have a producer partner named Taiwo Heard who wrote the music, produced the songs, and played guitar, and then also found our two lead actresses (Gentry Roth as Dazzler and Sage Montclair as Lila), who not only embodied their characters perfectly, they were also fantastic singers.
6) Are we to expect more FanFilms in the near future?
I have an idea for a third film which would be even more different than my previous two, but I have to recharge my bank account 🙂