By JESSICA A. BOTELHO
Not all actors are willing to change their physical appearance to land a role, but for Jeremy Carnrike, 32, shaving his head full of red hair to star as Lex Luthor in the non-profit fan film, Superman: The Golden Child, was a no-brainer.
“That was the thing that got me the role in the end,” said Carnrike, who in addition to being an actor is also the guitarist for the East Coast Runaways, a rock band based in Worcester, Mass. “The director called me and we did a phone interview and it came down to, ‘let’s just cut to the chase. Are you willing to shave your head?’ And I was like, ‘Absolutely.’”
As the film’s genre explicitly suggests, a fan film is a movie or video inspired by a film, television program or comic book, which is made by fans, as opposed to the source’s copyright holders.
Considering that, it should be no surprise that Carnrike, along with everyone involved in the film, is a huge Superman fan. Starring as Luthor is something he’s wanted to do for a long time, however, he used to fantasize about playing The Man of Steel.
“As little boys watching Superman, we threw the towel around our neck as a cape,” he said. “I grew up with that, but I’m a little guy and I’m a redhead, so if I can’t be Superman, I wanted to play Lex Luthor. It’s a lot of that built up, redhead anger,” he joked. “It almost let me be myself, only a little more moodier.”
Carnrike, who said this was his first big movie role, learned about the available part about a year and a half ago on SupermanHomepage.com, one of the world’s largest Superman fan sites. He saw a posting about the movie, but ignored it at first.
“I thought, ‘I’m just some little Massachusetts guy with big dreams,’” he said. “But then a few months later I saw it posted again, so finally I sent in an email.”
A week later, Andrew List of AList Productions, the film’s writer, director and producer, interviewed Carnrike via phone. By the end of the following week, Carnrike emailed List again inquiring about the role.
“Within five minutes he got back to me and said, ‘the role’s yours,’” Carnrike said.
Made on an $850 budget, most of the funds for the 22-minute film came out of List’s pocket. Originally written as a full-length film, List decided to shorten the script as time went on. It was shot from July to October of last year in San Angleo, Texas, with a Panasonic DVX100 and a Canon Rebel T3. There were never more than two crewmembers working on any given scene, one of them always List.
“He pretty much did everything on his own,” said Carnrike, who served as an executive producer with List and List’s wife, Taylor Moehnke. Moehnke also did the photography stills for promotions.
The film made its online debut in December. According to Carnrike, it stays true to the classic Superman plot, as it highlights the intense power struggle between Superman and Luthor.
It is comprised of two main actors: Carnrike, along with Texas native Joshua Boultinghouse, who starred as Superman/Clark Kent. Boultinghouse is the official Superman at the “Superman Celebration”, an annual Superman festival that takes place in Metropolis, Illinois during the late spring or early summer. List is trying to secure a screening of the film at this year’s event.
“He’s the closest thing to the real Superman; his persona fits it perfectly,” Carnrike said of Boultinghouse. “He’s easily two or three times my size and he’s all natural muscle. He has the height, the chest build – there’s not extra padding. It’s real bodybuilding. And it’s not just his physique; just talking to him – there’s never a bad thing that comes out of his mouth. He works really hard and it’s been his life dream to play Superman.”
So far, the film has received lots of positive feedback from fans. Carnrike said people have commented about it on Superman Homepage.com.
“The people who go to those pages are hardcore fans and they love it,” he said. “They love seeing new fan stuff because it’s more accurate to the original story line.”
Carnrike, who studied music business and education at Berklee College of Music, was happy that the East Coast Runaways contributed to Superman: The Golden Child, as they wrote and recorded a song of the name for the film. In other band news, he said they have been working on a two CD project for the last year called, “Nosebleeds and Maybelline.” The album has already been recorded, with each CD comprised of seven songs. They are in the midst of mixing and mastering it and plan to release it soon.
“It’s a concept album, so the songs flow with each other,” said Carnrike. “We’re trying to reach back to the Pink Floyd days where they put real albums together where it was more of a story.”
In addition to the upcoming album, Carnrike has been working on a Superman script of his own. He started it about eight years ago and it’s based on the Doomsday storyline that came out in the 1990s. He’s also trying to bulk up for a short fan film based on Superboy, which is Superman as a young man in his late teens or early 20s.
“It hurts a lot,” he said. “All my muscles are aching.”
But Carnrike understands that sometimes there is no gain without pain and he’s willing to tough it out to follow his dreams. After all, starring as Luthor in “Superman: The Golden Child” was a dream come true.
“It was a great experience all the way around,” he said.
As for List, he’s focused on creating another Superman fan film based on the “Kingdom Come” storyline.
“The reception to this is even bigger than the Golden Child,” said Carnrike.
Watch Superman: The Golden Child at www.supermangc.com and click the “support” link to help fund future projects. Learn more about the East Coast Runaways at http://www.reverbnation.com/eastcoastrunaways.