Today, HJU brings you an exclusive interview with Creator of the the viral hit Mighty Morphin Power Rangers parody, Mighty Moshin’ Emo Rangers, Chris Phillips! He talks about the show, it’s production, and his career since. We also have some exclusive Behind the Scenes photos of the production of the Tenth Anniversary Special! Hit the jump for more!
First, if you could introduce yourself, and talk a little bit about your entry into film.
My name is Chris Phillips – I’m a director/editor from the UK, currently living in the Northwest USA. I started out making videos as a kid with a VHS tape machine and a security camera, and at 15 I got my first PC capable of video capture, so started to make spoofs of short films. Then I went to college and studied TV Production. After that I got into music videos, and eventually started work at MTV in London as a video editor through connections I made from friends and Emo Rangers publicity.
Tell me a bit about how the development and creation of MMER. What was the inspiration?
It was a combination of being bored having finished college and unemployed at first, the desire to do something cool, and my appreciation for silly comedy like Monty Python. I wanted to do some sort of Power Rangers spoof and my friend made a joke about being an emo ninja, and i thought “woah, emo rangers would be awesome!” The launch of Myspace and Youtube in the same year was a great coincidence which helped the show get a lot of popularity.
Were you a fan of Power Rangers or other similar shows growing up?
Well I loved Power Rangers. I was a teenager when it came out, so I could see how the show was put together. I didn’t know about the Japanese footage at first, but I worked out myself that there was something strange about the show! There were 2 types of outfits the Rangers wore, one more shiny than the other. (Tommy’s soft shield in the USA footage! lol) I figured out something weird was going on with the video editing or there were different versions of the same stuff. Eventually, I started to understand that it was an old show that had been updated. Then a little after that I read about it being a japanese show. I loved the way the show stretched your disbelief to absolute breaking point. it was ridiculous but at the same really bright and entertaining. Action/Robots/Special FX and all done in a way that you could see how to make your own version. That’s what I really loved about it. Also the Japanese directing, crash zooms, whip pans, all that kinda stuff meant you could tell an epic martial arts story with little budget.
In the earliest episodes, Rangerboard was mentioned. How did they factor into the show?
I don’t remember that, but i did start off by doing a making-of thing on RangerBoard. I thought most of the fans would be Ranger fans, but in the end most were emo kids. Rangerboard were really supportive. A lot of the people on it were kinda kooky but there were some nice people. At first a lot of the armchair general dudes who live in their moms basement were kinda going “there’s no way u can make this. it will fail. you should give up,” but after a few weeks and the progress started to happen – then we got some great support and people were more positive.
I personally love the effects in the series, and appreciate the DIY look of the effects. Was this a conscious choice throughout or was this a budget constraint?
I guess it’s a combination of it being as silly and half-assed as Power Rangers is, and also it being a DIY show with no budget. Often the more silly the fx, the bigger laughs we get haha. It’s almost an in-joke to see how bad it can get and still work.
Was there much of a budget at all?
The show had a run on MTV 2 and MTV UK. How did this come about?
MTV2 Europe which was a Pan-European rock channel. Went out in England, France, Spain, Germany and a bunch of others.
Well, basically the head of MTV2 was a lovely woman who had seen the press it got in some newspaper articles, so she emailed me, and by coincidence I had also just started working at MTV in London on another channel, so it turns out i’m in the building anyway! From there I put together 5 small edited down versions of episodes and copied them to tape and handed them in! MTV would play anything at any time, so it was easy to get short funny stuff on the channel.
As far as tokusatsu itself, are you a fan of the genre? If so, are there any franchises or series you currently follow?
I watched all the adapted ones that were on the same time as power rangers. VR troopers/Masked Rider etc. I’ve followed a few of the PR series over the years. I’ll mostly watch youtube clips of the japanese ones if they have some big event maybe.
Emo Rangers returned in 2010 with several new episodes. What led to the development of the new show?
After we had the first 5 mini episodes on MTV me and my friend Nick Pittom who helped make the originals, started to make 5 new episodes. We wanted the production values to be a bit better, and also make it slightly more colorful and silly. We intended to get these episodes out in around 2008 but as we hit our mid twenties, real life started to happen, and other projects became more important – as we started to make a living from working in the media. So the show got put on the back burner for a while – but one day i realized I had all this footage, about 75% done, so I started to work hard to get it finished. So we hit the tail-end of the Emo band thing in 2010. It was a bit late, but we still had a great response from the fans.
Let’s talk a little about the cast. How did you choose these individuals? Did any of them have any stunt or acting experience prior?
Mostly they were local kids who were into bands or friends of other rangers. I knew Stef as she was a fan of some bands I’d been filming locally, and she recruited her buddies to be in it. So from that we got five kids together. As it happened Luke, the Red Emo Ranger, was training in free running and actually did some professional stunt work on a few commercials for soft drinks and candy in between the two shows. They were all fairly outgoing characters so that helped.
As far as the latest episode, how did it come about?
Well I was noticing that there was some dedicated fans on our Facebook page who wouldn’t let the show die. Then a few guys in Russia did a translation of the old show and it started to pick up hits. I noticed that the 10 yr anniversary was coming around so i thought “WHY NOT?” I’d moved to America so I didn’t have the old rangers available, and they are all working adults, so they wouldn’t have had time to do too much stuff for it. I’d met a local comedian called Krystal Moore who did a bit of martial arts, and I’d showed her the show. She was really enthusiastic so I thought “Why not do a one off show?” As it started coming together I let the old rangers know I was doing it, and they all seemed keen to add a little phoned-in cameo. I’ve been wanting to get into making more drama stuff, and even though Emo Rangers has dumb, bad drama in it, I felt like it might be good technical practice for making a show.
In total, about how long did each series take to shoot?
Most episodes really only take a day or two to film. We dub over all the sound so we can shoot in noisy places without trouble. I’d usually do an hour or two filming a few times and have enough for a show.
What sort of effect did the show have on your career? Ever get awkward questions from employers or potential clients?
The show was a great thing for my work. As well as it getting me known in my early days at MTV, it helped me develop a lot of pretty decent skills that i can use on more serious work, and more refined stuff. Some of the “bad” effects I discovered, actually led to me making some pretty decent animations for other clients so that was good.
Where can our readers find more on you and your work online?
The new Anniversary episode teases another return, in ten years! Is this just a tongue in cheek joke, or is there something more to it?
Well I can announce that we have a 2015 Christmas Special coming out with the Mary-Jane character again.
We had over 15,000 plays across Youtube and Facebook for the 10 yr special, so I thought since I have so much stuff already made – the suits and virtual sets – I might as well use them again for one more quick episode!
Who knows if there will be another 20yr anniversary? That would actually be pretty funny. Let me get back to you in ten years about that!