Published on August 23rd, 2016 | by admin
Russall S. Beattie Interview (The Empire Strips Back)
We catch up with the mastermind of Australia’s best parody burlesques, Russal S. Beattie (The Empire Strips Back: A Star Wars Parody, Dame of Thrones Burlesque Show and creator of Wookieerotica).
Welcome back to Impulse Gamer and how have you been?
Pretty good thanks.
We’ve noticed that you’re touring again with The Empire Strips Back, so what’s it like moving such a big production around in Australia with all the costumes, sets and equipment?
We take everything with us from costumes to lighting and we have a big truck with up to 18 people on the road. We’ve been doing it for so long that we’ve got it down to a fine-art in Australia but at the moment, I can’t add any more to it because we’ve filled the truck up so I can’t add any more crazy costumes or props to it just yet.
Given that you’ve had so many different burlesque shows (not just The Empire Strips Back), you’ve probably seen many performers come and go, so how do you recruit or hire new people?
Its weird man and it will sound a bit dodgy but I’ve got girls in the bar and ask if they’re dancers and want to be on the show. We also have online ads to open auditions and I might see them in another show and then hit them up about it. But the girls in our show and also the guys for that matter have to have something else like how they move, how they look or anything that goes beyond just being a good dancer to add some charm or quality to the character which can’t be explained.
With Empire Strips Back, who’s your favourite character or act?
That’s like asking me which kid I like the best! Honestly, it would be the Emperor for number one or the land speeder. The land speeder is early on in the show and the audience is still getting into it. They’re not the loudest audience just yet but that act makes them know they’re in for a party and they get so loud, they keep it up for the rest of the show. Now that only gets topped by the Emperor and for people who have seen the show, they know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s one of the acts that people always come out talking about.
With the costumes, how do you tailor them for the show? Do you get official merchandise and then customise it or do you have create them from the found up?
We used to do that <laugh> but we wanted to get that next level of creation. For example, you can’t put one of those Storm Trooper helmets on a girl with no massive shoulder armour and chest pieces because they look like a Bobble Head <laugh>. So ours is fitted for a person with a smaller physique which isn’t covered in armour from head to toe. It’s also other things like how to make Princess Leia’s skirt and dress come off really easy and that the dancers are not tripping over it which is actually quite a specific dress for that character. This is my process… I find the character that I’m going to be doing, I work out what’s going to be happening in the act, then I work out how I’m going to be doing the costume with keeping my logistics of what the performance needs. So that’s essentially the theory behind it.
So how did you come up with all the dance routines?
I came up with the ideas over a period of time and it’s usually a song or idea that’s in the back of my head and one day, I kind of formulate it. I then talk to the various heads of departments, whether that’s my choreographer or my MC who will help me facilitate those and relay that back to the performers. Sometimes I have to get on my hands and knees and do the act to show the dancers what I’m after <laugh>.
We know that you’re a huge Star Wars fan, what did you think of The Force Awakens?
I liked it but it was basically beat to beat of A New Hope <laugh> But hey, we’re back in Star Wars and that’s the fun part but I’m more interested in the spin-offs to tell you the truth like Rogue One.
So are we going to see Rey or any of the other new characters?
Not just yet. I kind of made a vow to myself where I wouldn’t until I found out a bit more about those characters. So before I add Rey, I want to know a bit more about her before I create any new acts for her.
Besides Empire Strips Back, do you have anything else planned for the rest of the year of 2017?
We’ve been hired by EB Games to do some of their entertainment at their big award show which unfortunately is a corporate gig <laugh> so it’s not open to the public which is going to be quite epic. I’m also finishing off a Batman history book which is set between 1919 and 1939. I’m also writing a new comic book called #gaybigfoot and I’m working on our first ever film series called A Girl Called Grit.
Can you tell us what A Girl Called Grit is about?
That’s set 300 years in Australia’s post-apocalyptic future that is like the Middle Ages. It’s a very interesting world and I’m trying to tell old Australian stories from indigenous and also colonel times to combine them in this very marketable and fantastic world. It’s my love of Samurai films, Westerns and post-apocalyptic movies.
What’s the release date?
It’s all funded but unfortunately won’t be till the second half of next year and like all my things, I’m 100% independent so we’re trying to get it up. It’s all written, all cast, costumes have been all done, sets have started getting built and locations are sorted. We’re basically waiting till next spring to shoot it.
You mentioned the Batman history book, could you tell us a little about that? Is it the Golden Age Batman?
It’s pre that! Basically, I created a Batman show a few years ago and it was set in the 1920’s. In my head, that show was like a Broadway version of what happened in Gotham City. So what I’m doing is creating the actual police files collected from 1919 to 1939 but we’ve combined them with real history. Every character has a real-life counterpart so Bruce Wayne is based on Howard Hughes and Bane is based on Carl Panzram and The Penguin is based on Al Capone. So we throw all this real history into book which documents the rise of fascism in Europe and everything like that to combine it with a realistic take Batman.
Is that photographs of models and actors dress in characters?
Yeah we’ve already shot most of it and it’s a year by year blow with different types of vintage photography like pin-type, hand coloured and flash bulbs which reporters used to use. So all sorts of film types to capture the aesthetic that is combined with brief descriptions of a year by year of Gotham City.
Where can we find out more about you?
Best place is www.russallbeattie.com and thanks again!