Behind the Mask: The Batman Dead End Story (2017)

Eric Dow’s “Behind the Mask” should be seen by every aspiring filmmaker out there as a course on how to navigate Hollywood and how to basically approach any kind of endeavor involving the Hollywood system. Sandy Collora is a consistently fascinating and interesting artist who has been making waves online for years thanks to his amazing special effects and consistent efforts to get a movie made. He’s also one of the forefathers of the fan film who helped make fan films not only legitimate works of cinematic art, but also a cause for Hollywood to take notice. Sandy Collora, for those unaware, is a brilliant and talented special effects artist who spent years hoping to emulate his favorite creators including Batman artist Neal Adams.

In 2003 he collaborated with his friends to make “Batman: Dead End,” a stellar short fan film where Batman crosses paths with and ultimately becomes a part of the war between the Aliens and Predators. With every element created by Collora and co., “Dead End” became one of the most important short films ever made, and propelled Collora in to the radar of pop culture. But with “Dead End,” it also created a battle within a young man who was desperate to become a Hollywood artist, but was unwilling to play their games. “Behind the Mask” is not just a chronicle of the making of “Dead End” but how Sandy Collora brushed up against pure Hollywood stardom and was ultimately a victim of his own hubris. “Dead End” is a remarkable fan film, and it also became something of a double edged sword for Collora whose own ego and self confidence in his work became his undoing.

In one of the pivotal moments of “Behind the Mask,” Collora jumps on stage after a screening of his film in front of a packed audience and hoots and hollars with the crowd victoriously. This brief moment ultimately hobbled his momentum as a budding Hollywood filmmaker, as even Collora looks back on the footage in embarrassment, explaining how his pure lack of humility became his big failure in a career set for stardom. Eric Dow doesn’t just discuss the art of Collora, but the flawed man behind the art work, and how Collora can often be his worst enemy. We’re given rare looks in to the fall out behind “Dead End,” and how Collora anxiously tried to write his own ticket, and refused to work within what he describes as “the machine” of Hollywood.

Even when approached to develop and direct “Creature from the Black Lagoon” and “Snakes on a Plane,” Collora remains adamant that he simply never really could compromise his vision with Hollywood executives. There’s also a very sketchy anecdote where Collora discusses his development of an alien gladiator movie and his falling out with a famous actress who took interest in making his movie, with the stipulation that she didn’t cover herself in prosthetics and make up. Collora can either be thought of as an artist of strong principles or as a stubborn man who is his own worst enemy. In either case, his meeting with fame however brief is a fascinating story, that touches on an important point in fandom where the often controversial art of the fan film was popularized, for better and for worse.

Available on DVD and Digital HD Platforms Including iTunes and Amazon on July 18th.