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An intersection of film and comics: PK Colinet and Elsa Charretier talk 'Room Service' Kickstarter

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An intersection of film and comics: PK Colinet and Elsa Charretier talk ‘Room Service’ Kickstarter

Get an inside look at Elsa Charretier, PK Colinet, and James Tynion IV’s ‘Room Service’ Kickstater.

Comics stand at an intersection of film, art, and writing, which makes comics creators James Tynion IV, Elsa Charretier, and PK Colinet’s next project a logical step. As announced by THR yesterday, the three are working together to craft a short film called Room Service. That exciting new project is now available to back on Kickstarter, which comes with a lot of extra goodies and various tiers for comics and film fans alike.

All three are respective creators in comics, with Tynion winning the Eisner Award for best writer just this year and Charretier drawing and writing some of the most fabulous comics in the last decade. Colinet and Charretier not only crafted a comic with The Infinite Loop but are also coming off a series of well-filmed YouTube episodes disassembling comic craft.

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With Tynion writing, Charretier drawing storyboards, and Colinet filming, I was lucky enough to get a chance to peel back the curtain to see what we’re in store for with Room Service. I ask about what we can expect from Room Service, what went into the mask of the character on the poster, how they got a bevy of creators involved, and more.

Room Service PK Colinet Elsa Charretier

AIPT: You’ve collaborated on comics like The Infinite Loop and your incredible videos on your Youtube; what made now the right time for this Kickstarter short film project?

PK: Making movies was always my long-term plan. From age 9 to my mid-twenties, I constantly had a camera in my hand, shooting short movies, documentaries, stop motion animation, going to movie school, etc. Writing comics was almost an accident. I wanted to step up my writing game, and since I was an avid US comics reader, I started studying the work of my favorite writers. By the time I finished my first screenplay, I realized it was not a movie but a 12-issue mini-series. It was the premise of The Infinite Loop, and I loved the process so much I couldn’t stop. Flash-forward six years and the shooting of our first Kickstarter video. I had so much fun that this led to Elsa and I launching a YouTube channel, which in turn led to Room Service, our short horror movie. I just couldn’t help myself anymore, I had to get back on a set.   

EC: PK tells me he wants to make a movie. Okay, I’m in (we have this thing that when one of us has an idea, the other one drops everything to join in). Then James tells us the story of a man, down on his luck, who agrees to participate in a grisly transaction and what happens to him when he decides he wants out. So the question is more: when isn’t the right time to make this film?

Room Service PK Colinet Elsa Charretier

AIPT: Can you talk a little bit about Zonjić’s mask design? What went into the choice to make it red and almost faceless?

PK: The Caretaker is a mysterious figure who provides rich people with the means to fulfill their darker desires. I had a visceral idea of what viewers should feel when they see him but no idea how to translate it visually. It had to be iconic but low-key:  a work uniform not meant for spectacle but strictly for preserving his anonymity (contrary to most iconic horror movie masks). It also had to be equally elegant and utterly terrifying. Zonjić took all those absurdly contradictory notes and found a way to produce the jaw-dropping design you see today.

EC: James had written the mask’s facelessness into the script, but up until Tonci Zonjić came back with his interpretation, we were all picturing it as a sort of fancy ski mask. No eyes, no mouth, just a head shape. That’s simple enough, right? Do you even need a concept artist for that? The truth is, that’s when you need one the most. Tonci came up with that incredible bun shape and suggested the red fabric, which worked beautifully with PK’s idea of playing off hotel grooms.

AIPT: For the short film aficionados, what cameras are you using, are you using a crew, and what is your timeline for production?

PK: Most of it will depend on the success of the Kickstarter campaign. The dream, and our goal, is to shoot with an Alexa and the best possible crew we can put together. In case we need to be more budget-friendly, we’re prepared: we’ll work with the gear we already have, a Panasonic S5, and some vintage Summicrons lenses. The same goes for the production timeline: the bigger the budget, the bigger the scope, and the longer the planning and actual shooting, but we’ve planned for a Sept 2023 delivery at the very latest (which will also give us plenty of time to produce the movie artbooks and other physical perks for backers).

If we go well over our initial goal, that would be wonderful and would allow for more things, but I knew from the beginning that we would be in the dark on the budget until after launch. That’s the main thing I asked James to keep in mind while he was writing, and he did so perfectly: one room, and three actors over the course of a single evening. Even the windows are blacked out! 

Room Service PK Colinet Elsa Charretier

AIPT: You have prints being made by all-star creators. What prompts did they have to run with to craft their art for this project?

EC: Time and time again, we’ve been surprised by how our collaborators come up with interpretations that hadn’t even crossed our mind. And I feel that process isn’t fully allowed to happen when you give too many notes or prompts, so we give everyone as much inspiring material and freedom as possible. In this case, artists had James’ script, my storyboards, and PK’s Director’s notes on the tone of the movie.

For his print, Cliff Chiang managed to fit in every major element of the story in a seamless composition, and I didn’t even think that was possible! Rafael Albuquerque’s, on the other end, is simply the Caretaker standing in a doorway holding something. That’s it. And yet it sends shivers down my spine every time I look at it. We’ve got 5 prints total and they are the most perfect companion pieces to the movie.

AIPT: If Room Service had a sizzle reel, what sort of films would pop up in it?

PK: Definitely Park’s Oldboy for its poetry and brutality, Ex Machina’s for its beautiful reflection on humankind, and Get Out for its social commentary and modern take on horror.

AIPT: Elsa, was this your first time storyboarding a project intended for film, and did you find it a lot different than breaking story layouts in comics?

EC: Vastly different. In comics, you train yourself to not think in continuing motion but instead select the minimum keyframes you need to tell a story and trust your reader to fill in the blanks. Essentially, your “camera” is fixed, and all you do is cut cut cut. When that’s how your creative brain has been thinking for the past ten years, it truly is a challenge to rewire it. But that’s why I wanted to do it! PK had done the heavy lifting of figuring out the camera moves and angles he wanted so my job became to translate what he had in his head into pictures and tighten up the compositions, a collaborative process I found extremely exciting.

In the end, it’s simply another way to tell a story, to bring out as much humanity in the characters as possible. Even the deeply flawed ones, which is to say, pretty much everyone in Room Service.

You can back Room Service right now on Kickstarter.

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