The Fan Film Awards has been showing fan films for the past 4 years. A popular fandom that we often receive submissions from is Batman. With the newest addition to the villains from this universe taking center stage since the release of Suicide Squad, it seems like the Dark Knight has since shared his spotlight with the ever growing cannon.
Among this line up of Gotham villains, Mr. Freeze is one of the more iconic of the several menacing personalities. Yet, as fans there isn’t that much in understanding his motives to the life of crime. David Strano, Director of The Cold Dance, sought to answer this. In his film we get to get personal with the ice man himself and his origins before he turned to his life of crime.
Here is the following commentary interview from David Strano on Mr. Freeze’s origins and love story:
Your film is beautiful. And adds a new depth to the Batman Universe. What made you decide to create a film about Mr. Freeze?
I grew up watching Batman. I used to run around in the classic Adam West costume fighting imaginary baddies. But I was inspired by The Batman Animated Series that began in 1992. I was always drawn to Mr. Freeze because I found him to be a tragic/sympathetic villain. He never chose this life. He was forced into it. I was fascinated with his origin. How Freeze is trying to save Nora’s life so he can be Victor again. I always wanted to show their relationship pre-freezing and pre-accident.
The film is first and foremost a love story. What dynamic with both of the characters relationship were you aiming to portray? We slowly realize towards the end who the characters truly are in the Batman Universe. Was this how you had originally envisioned it?
It was always my intention to keep the characters a secret. No one really knows Nora’s name or what significance she holds to one of the most famous Rogues in Batman’s Gallery so we could get away with saying her name. At first I wanted to have references to Batman and Gotham City but my cinematographer thought it’d be better if we just focused on the two of them and springed it on the audience at the end.
As far as portraying the characters. I wanted to show Victor as a loving and caring husband. And when Nora reveals to him that she is dying, Victor doesn’t want to let go. He wants to control her to fit his needs and becomes obsessed with finding a cure. And when Victor betrays Nora we can see how he was easily turned to a life of crime. We see his Cold Heart.
There is so much symbolism in your film. Can you walk us through some of them? What were your thoughts as a Director adding these nuances to the film?
I wanted to portray Nora as a free spirit. In the opening we see her dancing out in the cold. She knows she’s dying, she knows it’s the end, she just wants to do whatever she wants and live life. At the end of the scene where they fight I wanted to show Victor looking at a ballerina trapped in a snow globe. Unfortunately, I never found a snow globe like that so I just went with the ballerina statue. It was supposed to symbolism how Victor wanted to trap this free spirit and lock her away to try and save her.
There is a very monochromatic palette that you chose to work with the film. What made you go with this as your filming aesthetic?
The monochromatic palette follows Nora’s arc in the story. As opposed to the traditional color arc of many films where they become more bleak as the arc develops. We chose to move towards a more colorful arc as Nora accepts her time is getting shorter. As Nora accepts her fate we allow the world to become more colorful as she has a better appreciation for the littler things as most people do when they are forced to stare down a shrinking timeline. Nora is not a depressed character. She is a character that understands that things are out of her control and is at peace with this. After the injection in the last act we see the world become bleak again since that peace has been stolen from Nora.
Nora was a ballet dancer. Creating some beautiful bits of cinematography for the film. Was this something true to the Batman universe or your creation? What were your motives in pushing the plot with this?What would you like Batman fans to take away from your film? What would you like them to know about Mr. Freeze and Nora?
I never read a Mr. Freeze comic that talked about Nora. It was only what I saw in the Animated Series. And even in that they don’t go in depth with her backstory. I just assumed his wife was a dancer because in the show, whenever Mr. Freeze spoke about her, he was holding a ballerina statue carved from ice. I focused on that because we don’t see that in Fan Films. The whole point in making this short was to do something completely different than what you’d see in most Fan Films. I didn’t have the budget to make the Mr. Freeze we know from the comics. And I didn’t have the budget to combine that while pitting him against a guy in a Batman costume. I used my budgetary constraints to focus more on the dramatic side of these two characters. Showing Nora accept her fate through dance I found to be more powerful than just saying it.
Thank you for sharing The Cold Dance with the Fan Film Awards. Are there any other films in the works that we can look forward to?
I’m developing a Lex Luthor short film, but that won’t be out for quite some time. I love villains. I hope fans of Batman and fans of Mr. Freeze enjoyed my short and if you want to follow me you can find me on instagram @david___charles. I’m so grateful that the people at Fan Film Awards picked my film. Thank you!
For those of you who missed the screenings, here is David Strano’s The Cold Dance: