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An Interview with Keith Hartman, Director of Real Heroes

by Mike Haberfelner

November 2014

Films directed by Keith Hartman on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Real Heroes - in a few words, what is it about?


A washed up reality show producer is desperate to get back in the game. So he hits on the idea of doing The Real World, but with superheroes. Unfortunately, Superman, Spider-Man, and Wonder Woman all have better things to do. So he gets a cast of unknown B-string superheroes - who all have issues...


With Real Heroes posing as a reality show starring superheroes: Are you at all a comicbook fan? And your thoughts about reality TV?


Oh yeah. I’m a comic book geek. As for reality TV, it’s such a huge genre that it’s hard not to find things to both love and hate.

However, the one thing I do hate is the obvious manipulation. The moments when you can feel the producers stepping in to stir up trouble.


Other sources of inspiration for Real Heroes?


Mystery Men. I loved the opening of that movie, where the heroes are competing for corporate endorsements and talking about hiring a publicist. There’s something that appeals to me about underdog superheroes desperate to have someone notice what they’re doing.


How would you describe your directorial approach to your subject at hand?


We shot this in the style of a reality show, so the crew is very much a character in the movie. And when the fighting starts, they’re frequently the first victims ...


Of all your colourful characters, who can you identify with the most?


Sable. She’s the single mom superhero, and the most responsible one of the bunch. And she’s constantly trying to get a bunch of crazy superheroes to pay attention and work together. As a director, I can relate to that.


How would you describe Real Heroes' brand of humour?


Quirky, geeky, campy.


You of course also have to talk about the wonderful comicbook panels, interspersed throughout the film for a bit, and how much of a say did you have in the creation of those?


I’m glad you liked them. They do add a lot of visual fun to the movie.

As with most everything on a movie, those comic book sequences are actually a collaboration between multiple people. I provided the initial idea, but then the animator, the artist and the colorist all ran with it.


What can you tell us about Real Heroes' cast, and why exactly these people?


The cast are all unknowns - for now. I’m betting you’ll be seeing a lot more of them in the next few years.

Mostly, I cast for chemistry. So we cast Sable and Dr. Nightmare not only because they are good actors, but because they are even better when they’re playing off each other. And the same thing goes for most of the principal relationships in the cast.

And it helps that so many of the actors were comic book geeks. I remember when I invited Grant Landry out to lunch to offer him the role of Blue Arrow. I started to explain how small the budget was, how long the hours would be, etc. And he stopped me and asked,

“Do I get to wear a superhero costume for a couple of weeks?”


“I’m in.”


Keith among the Real Heroes

Do talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


The shoot was very quick, only 14 days. In fact, it was only possible because we were shooting the whole thing reality show style, with multiple hand held cameras.

Normally a shoot that short would be very tense. But luckily, the cast and crew had a sense of humor, and everyone had a good time.


A few words about audience and critical reception of Real Heroes so far?


Critical response has been great. Luckily, all the reviewers so far have loved the film. One guy said it was the funniest thing he’s seen all year.

I’ve only gotten to see it with an audience twice. But both times people were laughing out loud pretty much all the way through. And the last line always brings the house down.


Since superheroes are usually sequel-prone - will there ever be a Real Heroes 2, and/or other future projects you'd like to share?


I’m actually working on a spin off now. It’s called Confessions of a Former Teen Superhero, and it centers two of the sidekicks in the movie. It will be a sort of gay superhero coming-of-age rom com.


What got you into filmmaking to begin with, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?


I took a roundabout route to filmmaking. After college, I worked as a journalist and then wrote a couple of science fiction novels. But novel writing is very lonely. Filmmaking is much more collaborative, and I love that. You’re working with other creative people, and the flow of ideas is exciting.

My formal education was actually in Economics and Theater. Which turned out to be weirdly useful. After I realized that I wanted to make movies, I started reading everything I could on composition, editing, and screenwriting.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Real Heroes?


I cut my teeth shooting a bunch of short films. But I really started to hit my stride after Prop 8 passed in California, banning gay marriage. Like a lot of other gay men, I was angry and looking for some way to express it. So I poured my energy into a bunch of short funny ads arguing for marriage equality.

I finally got the chance to shoot my first feature a couple years after that. It’s called You Should Meet My Son! and it’s a comedy about a conservative Southern mom who is horrified to discover that her only son is gay. But determined that he won’t go through life alone and miserable, she sets out to find him the perfect husband.


How would you describe yourself as a director?


The truth is that 90% of directing is hiring smart people, and then letting them do their job. So a lot of what I do is providing a structure that lets other people do their best work. That, and trying to get a bunch of creative types to play nice and not kill each other.


Filmmakers who inspire you?


Joss Whedon. That guy has done some amazing work. And Ii just love the way he can blend snappy dialog with nail-biting action sequences and engaging characters.


Your favourite movies?


Kind of a weird mix: Casablanca, Mary Poppins, Soap Dish, Elvira Mistress of the Dark, Adams Family Values. For recent films, Kick Ass and Kick Ass 2.


... and of course, films you really deplore?


Well, folks are going to hate me for saying this but... everything by Stanley Kubrick except for Dr. Strangelove and Clockwork Orange. The guy did beautiful composition, but his films are boring and soulless. He should have been a still photographer.


Feeling lucky ?
Want to
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?

The links below
will take you
just there!!!

Find Keith Hartman
at the amazons ...


Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)

Germany (East AND West)

Looking for imports ?
Find Keith Hartman here ...

Your shop for all things Thai

Something naughty ?
(Must be over 18 to go there !)

x-rated  find Keith Hartman at

Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?




Facebook addresses:

The movie:

All my stuff:


Probably the best way to stay in touch is to friend me personally on Facebook:


Anything else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


Nope. Just that I hope folks enjoy the movie. And if there’s something they hate, they’re welcome to rant at me on Facebook about it. :)


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD



Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...


Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!


Bauliche Angelegenheiten
ein Roman von
Michael Haberfelner


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