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Rainfall Films Shows DC How To Make a WONDER WOMAN Movie

Joss Whedon couldn’t do it. Neither could David E. Kelley. In fact, no one has been able to bring the Amazonian Princess to life since the Lynda Carter series from the 70s. So imagine the shock on the faces of the Warner Brothers executives as they watch this fantastic fan-made Wonder Woman short from Rainfall Films, and wonder why they can’t make something this cool.

Rilead_WW_2a

Heather Green designed the costume.

Starring Rileah Vanderbilt (Team Unicorn and Saber 2 on the Nerdist Channel) as Diana of Themyscira (that’s Wonder Woman to you), the super-short teaser cuts between a modern city where Diana faces off against a group of nameless SWAT guys and the top of Mount Olympus in Themyscira, where she is joined by several other Amazonians (Clare Grant, Alicia Marie, America Young, Kimi Hughes, Christy Hauptman) as they’re confronted by an army of mountain-sized minotaurs. The flawlessly designed costume comes from costumer Heather Green, who collaborated with director Sam Balcomb to deliver an iconic and original take on the famous threads.

Director Sam Balcomb has posted a short statement on the teaser’s YouTube page:

Firstly, thanks for watching. Whether you like, or dislike, our live action interpretation of Diana of Themyscira, Wonder Woman, born of clay, I think (quite a few of) you will agree she is a character just as vital and crucial to our understanding of humanity as any other superhero… if not more so.

We spent the majority of 2013 working on this — the look, the feel, the aspects we most wanted to portray. It’s a scant two and half minutes, but in the end, it’s one hundred and fifty seconds of pure fantasy, where I get to consider the two sides of my favorite warrior: a crusader in man’s world, and a paragon of virtue told through Greek mythology.

It’s a fun world to hang out in. I hope you enjoy it.

- Sam

We spoke to Rileah this afternoon to capture her reaction to the positive response the video has received, as well as to learn a little more about the origins of the project…

NERDIST: That video is awesome!

RILEAH VANDERBILT: Thank you so much. It’s so weird, because it is still so surreal to me that I’m Wonder Woman.

N: Yeah, dude, you ARE Wonder Woman!

RV: I mean, it’s weird, because when I watch it, I just don’t even see myself. It’s funny to say, but I watch it as a fan and I’m like, “Yeah… that’s exactly what Wonder Woman should be.” But then I’m like, “Oh, wait, that’s you in the costume!”

N: How did you get involved with Rainfall? Take us through the origins of the project.

RV: Sam (the director) has been doing fan films for a while. They try to do one every year — they have a Legend of Zelda one and they did some of the visual effects for the Truth and Journalism short film, so they have a history of fan films. But the way I got involved is that Sam’s wife recommended me for Wonder Woman. They were trying to get it cast and it just wasn’t happening, and then she suggested me to Sam. The funny thing is that Joe Lynch, who did Truth and Journalism is really good friends with my husband (director Adam Green), so when he heard from Sam that I got the role, he was, like, “oh, yeah it’s Adam Green’s wife.”

N: This was prior to seeing you in the Wonder Woman costume at San Diego Comic-Con this year?

RV: yeah. This was way before like March or April, that costume from Comic-Con was the one in this film. That was sort of like our coming out party.

N: So when did you first discover Wonder Woman, as a fan?

RV: I was a little girl. There weren’t that many female superheroes when i was a little kid. I was young at the time, so it wasn’t like I was watching Ellen Ripley in Alien. I only had certain heroes to look up to and most of them, to be honest, were male. You know or like male action stars like Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones or Han Solo. So other than Princess Leia, Wonder Woman was the only female I could look up to. I remember the first time I saw her in a JLA comic and I was, like, “Whoa, this chick is legit.”

N: Did you see the Linda Carter version of the character or were you introduced mostly through comic appearances?

RV: Comics. And I never read a Wonder Woman comic; It was always through Justice League or other guest appearances when I was a kid.

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N: Once you got the part, what was the rest of the process like? You do a lot of cosplay, so did you have a hand in the design of the costume?

RV: First thing I said was, we can’t shoot this right away because I have to put on some muscle. I needed like ten weeks at least to try and be more physically like her. I mean I’m a pretty fit person, but she has a weight to her that I wanted to at least try to copy. Then we worked with this amazing costume designer named Heather Green, she did work on Tron and Pirate of the Carribeen, and Sam wanted to bring her in on this. This was a total labor of love for her, this was an opportunity for the most part to get the costume right. I think that the costume, as much as Wonder Woman is an icon, I think the costume itself is an icon as well.

N: Absolutely.

RV: And you can’t really have one without the other. So if you have the right actress but the wrong costume it doesn’t work, and vice versa. So we did a pretty extensive fitting process for that, and Sam, I believe, came up with most of the initial sketches. He really had in his mind exactly what he wanted as far as the costume was concerned. We went through the internet and found stuff we liked and didn’t like, and then he put together this really awesome design. I think he wanted something that was different in Themyscira than in our world, which we achieved with just a couple different pieces of wardrobe. Of course this is all up to people’s interpretation, because I’m sure there will be some who disagree, but as a big fan of Wonder Woman, I think he did a good job.

N: A great job. Anyone who doesn’t like the costume is insane… it IS Wonder Woman. Especially compared to the most recent Hollywood version for the failed David E. Kelley pilot worn by Adrianne Palicki, this version truly captures the character.

RV: Ugh. That costume felt like such a “fuck you” to all the fans that really wanted to see that show happen. It was like… they didn’t even try.

N: That’s what makes this video work so well; It was clearly a labor of love and not a quick attempt to cash in on the brand.

RV: Agreed. It was really funny, because I remember going into the final fitting before we shot, and at that point I hadn’t had the full costume on, hair and makeup and everything. I had had pieces but not the whole thing. I remember putting it on and looking at myself in the mirror and I started to tear up a little bit. It was so crazy because I was such a fan, and to see myself in such a great costume… it was a really emotional moment for me. I don’t even think I teared up like that when I found my wedding dress. (Laughs)

N: Poor Adam…

RV: Haha.

N: Now the pre-production is finished and you move into shooting…

RV: Everything was shot on green screen.

N: What about the stunt work? It looked like it was primarily you. Did you have a double?

RV: No, it was all me! I did all my own stunts, which was so much fun. There was actually more fighting than you see in the short, so the day before they spent a couple hours with me teaching me the choreography.

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N: As a cosplayer who makes a lot of her own costumes, is it hard making the transition back to homemade outfits after wearing something tailor-made and incredibly detailed?

RV: Yeah. Wow. That’s a good question, I mean I haven’t actually been in a costume since, but I’m sure I’ll go back to some of the other stuff I wear and just not feel as amazing as I did in that. I mean the scale-mail was real leather. The whole costume smelled like real leather. it was made for me, like custom to my body. Sometimes I want to put it back on. I remember after cosplaying at Comic-Con that day, I couldn’t breathe and my ribs were bruised but I really didn’t want to take it off. I wanted to stay in it forever.

N: You could just be Wonder Woman.

RV: Exactly. I mean, who knows, hopefully I get to wear it again, maybe in a longer version of this.

N: That would be welcome, because this shows that visually you guys can nail it; It would be interesting to see the same treatment for the story. There have been so many failed attempts. What do you think is missing?

RV: I think what’s really important is her origins and mythology. I think the Thor movie really towed the line between fantastical and our everyday world perfectly. I think you need to do the same with a Wonder Woman movie. Also you can’t make it cheesy. You can also do a serious Wonder Woman story without making her a bitch. It needs to be character driven, and not over sexed-up. It’s a fine line to find the right person for the role, and I’m not sure why that is, because there are so many strong, beautiful actresses that would fit the part.

N: Yeah, like you!

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RV: I mean that would be great, but I think the whole point of this short was to show people what could be done with the character. That’s what Sam set out to do. Obviously all of us hope this goes on to be something huge and we’re all involved, but that might not happen, and it’s okay because we already got what we wanted, which was to see everyone so positive about the direction that we’re going in. And so far the reaction has been so overwhelming. It’s really nice. So far our biggest complaint has been that it’s not long enough .

N: Well that’s a great problem to have.

RV: Hey… you gotta leave people wanting more.

And they certainly have… but that’s just our opinion. What do you think of the short? Post comments below or hit me up on Twitter and tell me your thoughts!

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48 comments

  • Nice work Sam!

    If you like this cool Wonder Woman fan film check out our Star Wars fan films.

    Smuggler’s Run is a (22 min) serious short film shot on location in Tunisia, Hong Kong and various countries (see it on youtube now).

    http://youtu.be/jdV3yjMRF04

    The Dark Lord Auditions is a comedic short (also on youtube).

    http://youtu.be/8Y_WagV3QZs

    It would be great if you could take a look, let us know what you think and feel free to share, check out our StarWarsFanFilmSmugglersRun page on facebook.

    http://www.facebook.com/StarWarsFanFilmSmugglersRun

    All the best and thanks so much.

    Ollie Thompson

    • Agree, the youtube is much better fighting seen less glamorized more real. Granted it doesn’t have the visual appeal much rougher. So many super hero movies go over the top. I think it makes much more difficult to connect to them as an individual.

  • Actually – I am less than impressed with the WW video referred to here. Horrible fighting – if nothing else that kills it for me. But they put too much effort into the special effects and visuals than any kind of a story or acting/choreography.

    Personally, I find this one to be MUCH better :)

    Justin

  • I have to agree with some of the people on here. Its very visually appealing but of course lacks a story line. I would love to see a wonder woman begins movie with a very compelling story line.

    • Why would expect a “story” from a fan’s concept video? They weren’t hired by DC to write the story. They just went out and put together something with their own time and money. This is not a feature length script pitch. It’s not even a short film. This is a fan-made, visual concept.

      I think some people’s expectations are out of the realm of reasonability.

  • SMH at some of these comments. You really can’t please comic book fans. This was a fan made short, that matched the quality of tv, (and dare I say even movie’s) It actually gave me gossebumps. Then I read these buzz kill comments.
    WTF did people expect from a fan funded project? Your not going to get a full blown story and dialogue from what is essentially a teaser trailer. The potential is there. Lets celebrate the effort and encourage progress, and not nit pick and tear it down before it’s even got started.

    • My comments were more about the ridiculous headline and assertion that the creators “did what Joss Whedon et al. could not.” The creators of this piece provided a beautiful thumbnail sketch of what a cool Wonder Woman feature could possibly look like. The undertaking of a full length feature is what DC has not yet been able to achieve. That the author of the article would seemingly compare this to that as “apples to apples” seems a little bit skewed.

      • Hi @thefretboard!
        I say “in for a penny, in for a pound!” There are hundreds of elements in the Rainfall Films Wonder Woman Short that could have gone wrong, but all the elements came together wonderfully. It is the attention to detail that Nerdist is celebrating; having the correct instincts; and I agree with that. Since Rainfall Films has shown us they can get this much right, they have certainly earned the opportunity to be given a little more slack on the magic lasso!

  • I like it. I like it a lot. It has a lot of potential. I can see this being used as a guiding point in the near future. Rileah Vanderbilt is right. If they focus on the character, rather than on the “sexed-up” version, this could actually go a long way.

    • Hi Grace Carrillo!
      I agree! Rileh Vanderbilt shoots from the hip as a fan, and puts her money where her mouth is as a performer. That’s the vibe any Wonder Woman project needs to succeed, and Sam Balcomb gave this project a perfect 3 point landing. There’s plenty to like, here!

    • Hey RamsesTMagnum!
      Your choice has dialogue, which is a plus. This short works as a fine primer for the JLA movie, which is another asset. However, it is a bit too cute about “revealing” that she’s Wonder Woman. The idea that an Amazon princess would use a dating site is a bit common for my taste, it smacks of her de-powered “Diana Prince: Wonder Woman” days, and not in a good way. The Suit scrunching up his face before being knocked unconscious was a tad Batman ’66 TV show: fun, but also hammy. The mythology didn’t mesh as well with the situation. However, Hailey made a fine Wonder Woman!

    • What? REALLY???? Considering Wonder Woman and the Amazons all are the same “people”, how much diversity were you expecting? The S.W.A.T. team was diverse. Besides this was a FAN FILM…they got their FRIENDS to do it with them. They didn’t put out a casting. It makes me laugh what people “expect” out of these labors of love.

  • I would say that this short showed the texture of what a Wonder Woman movie should look like, much in the vein of The Dark Knight. The costume wasn’t flashy ala cartoonish, giving the Rope of Truth a realistic appearance as a rope. Ditto for the bracelets as someone above said. The darkness of the city contrasted with the light of Amazon Island(not Mt. Olympus). Warners and DC might steal the crew to make this and use a different director and actress for box office.

  • Thank you Rileh Vanderbilt and director Sam Balcomb for delivering a majestic, combative and merciful WONDER WOMAN! You and the fearless crew combined fine fight choreography, stirring mythology and crisp street level scenery. Even the soundtrack was soaring! SLAMMIN’!

  • Fan Made!!!!!! amazing labor of love. Brought tears to my eyes. No kidding. And respect to you, RV, for ten weeks of muscle work showing your commitment. Show them how it’s done!

  • And this WW short has a lot in common with Grayson: Earth One…it was a very good attempt in trying to bring a more than The Batman (or Superman re-boot stories every few years) oh wait, that is all DC does (besides Green Lantern nightmare movies). Maybe DC needs to take a step back and try something new and give some of these new indie directors a chance.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIjfdlF-8-Q

  • ” So imagine the shock on the faces of the Warner Brothers executives as they watch this fantastic fan-made Wonder Woman short from Rainfall Films, and wonder why they can’t make something this cool.”

    I think the shock on their faces are more from the audacity of people infringing on their copyright. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say I doubt WB or DC gave the filmmakers permission to use their license in this way (good or bad). Somebody’s paid a lot of money to option this character for their future movie. The fact that someone (doesn’t matter if its a fan, or what the quality is) created something based on another person’s work (property of DC) is criminal and could be prosecuted if there was no license or permission granted for this.

    I wonder how fast it’ll be taken down and how much the DC lawyers will try to sue these guys for.

  • Yes, the actress looks great, yes, the costume looks great, but this isn’t the Second Coming of Wonder Woman. It’s little more than a F/X sizzle reel for the director.

    If you’re gonna do 2 minutes of slo-mo fighting and CGI, howzabout adding 2 more minutes and add a little story, maybe some dialogue as opposed to just posing and fighting.

    Yes, looks great, I was just waiting for the story to start.

  • I couldn’t get in to this. The actress is pretty and the costume looks good (not campy), but the action felt really off. It felt like this world had a broken physics engine. I think i’d somehow believe it better if the actress was stronger, there wasn’t a pause in action for a flouncy hair shot, and the spear handling didn’t look like it flew about 3 feet. I mean, its better than anything I can do, but I wouldn’t spend money to see it.

  • OK…that was AMAZING. And more than a fight scene (which is what most people want in an action film) showed us more than just fighting. It showed us a little glimpse into what makes Diana tick (e.g. fighting the Titan). You can never satisfy everyone, but that short satisfied me (for now) and I want to see more in the future. A TV show (done right) would be amazing…a film, would be nice.

    Thank the gods for Indie filmmakers…good job on this WW short. Hollywood is clueless.

  • Gina Carano would be best for WonderWoman, she is nice, smart, strong, mussled and most of all beautifulest thing on planet, and one of greatest things is that she actually can hit! GINA CARANO FOR WONDER WOMAN! btw for those haters => Gina Carano suggested to play Wonder Woman, everybody attacks her acting abilities.
    Vin Diesel (the guy who’s delivered the same face and cinematic vocal tone for 10 years) teases his involvement in the Marvel universe, nobody makes a f&cking sound.
    Unbelievable. I say bring on Gina. The guy who played superman had crap all acting abilities from what few lines he had in the movie yet people ate it up like street vendor sausages. Let Gina bring some woman power to the mix. It’s not like she’s gonna be reciting Shakespeare on broadway. Plus she’ll be easier on the budget and need less stunt double assistance. She’s the obvious choice i’d say.

    G
    I
    N
    A
    <3
    W
    W

    • Dunno about Gina. She’s got the athletic ability, but they ADR’d someone else’s voice over hers for the entirety of Haywire. What is that even about? I enjoyed that movie well enough, but I am not sure she has the chops to play such a nuanced and complicated character. Unfortunately, it seems like the talent pool is a bit shallow to this end.

  • Tonally, Wonder Woman is tough to crack. I think Grant Morrison will come close in his Wonder Woman interpretation and it should be something that people should look for guidance. Wonder Woman is a character of contradictions, right down to her origin story: she is not supposed to step foot off the island, but she does anyways for Steve Trevor.

    Wonder Woman only works if she has to defend her decisions. That’s the best points in the character’s story. In George Perez’s work, she always has to defend her religion or her people from outside verbal attacks. When she snaps Maxwell Lord’s neck in Greg Rucka’s run (and even before that, in the graphic novel) she has to defend her decision to Superman and the media. When she loses her station as Wonder Woman, she has to defend her right to be a hero to Artemis and other Amazons who want her back on Paradise Island. Even reaching back to when she first donned on go-go boots instead of Stars and Stripes, she had to defend that decision against the Justice League who wanted her out of the team because she had no powers.

    Wonder Woman, as a character, works when her judgement is questioned and she has to convince others of a greater truth. That allows her to be contradicting, as long as she can defend her choices with grace and nobility.

    • It’s easy to sit behind a computer and criticize. Go make something…anything…before you throw around words like “crap” and “awful” about someone’s art. It may not appeal to YOU, but art is subjective and there will always be people who like and don’t like the same thing. This is a great CONCEPT piece made by a fan who doesn’t have unlimited Hollywood budgets. Geesh, stop bullying and grow up.

  • I agree with Mark S. The title of this article should be “Rainfall films shows DC how to make a Wonder Woman action sequence.” That is the easy part. Crafting a cohesive story that makes viewers care about the characters and the world they inhabit is where the true challenge. That is where some (perhaps many) might say that Snyder failed with Man of Steel. I welcome a compelling origin story for Diana. I think the film would need to be something like Thor+Lord of the Rings. I do give props to Rainfall for making a great-looking Wondy trailer though, for sure.

  • I think this shows more “character” than most trailers out there. This wasn’t designed to have a complete story, but they certainly showed Wonder Woman in two worlds and I definitely got an essence for the character’s personality type. Coming up with a look for a film is not as easy as some would be. This took a LOT of work and there aren’t a ton of people who could have pulled this off either creatively or technically. Also, the actress did WONDERS (forgive me) without dialog.

    I don’t think the work in this should be minimized nor should it suffer the expectations of a full length script. It was never meant to be and does what it does, flawlessly.

  • OMG!!’n effing amazing!!!!!!!! This is the perfect representation of WW!!! And this is the first actress I have seen playing her that I think is perfect since Linda Carter!!! This def needs to be made into a legit movie!!!

  • Well then, if you have a few thousands lying around, please feel free to add to it. I suspect dialogue in this short time frame would have taken away from the essence of Diana, the protector. More time, then maybe more exposition.

  • author

    I think she meant more in relation to the recent visual interpretation for the tv pilot. She also made it clear they realize this is simple a visual concept video, and by no means tells a story.

  • ” the whole point of this short was to show people what could be done with the character”

    Sadly, all they did was show that the character can beat up some guys. Yeah, it was neat. But it was essentially just a fight scene. And that’s where the issue comes up. I’m 100% certain any number of Zach Snyders could’ve made a Wonder Woman movie look as good as this, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We still need someone at the pen who can make the story compelling, entertaining, and not insulting.

    I like what these guys have done, don’t get me wrong, it’s gorgeous. But I wouldn’t tout it as “how it’s done” because despite being a great teaser, to me it hasn’t done much.