David Guivant, a talented young independent director and artist from the South Pacific island of New Caledonia, is working on a fan film sequel to M.A.S.K, based on the toy range that appeared in a DC Comics nine-issue title and 80 issues of Britain’s M.A.S.K. weekly comic.
Mobile • Armored • Strike • Kommand, a semi-live action and animated fan-film, is inspired by the 1980s hit cartoon based on the famous toyline M. A. S. K. The original animated show centred on the ongoing battle between the task force M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armoured Strike Kommand) and a criminal organization called V.E.N.O.M. (Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem).
M.A.S.K. revolved around the Mobile Armored Strike Kommand, a team of heroes who battled Miles Mayhem and his organisation VENOM (Vicious, Evil Network of Mayhem).
Like other 1980s animated shows and toylines, the show featured some special vehicles – and those in the series had the ability to transform into combat, armoured vehicles, developed by US toy maker Kenner. Most of them came with one or two drivers, and each character had a mask with a certain ability.
M.A.S.K. was a hit in the UK and IPC, then Fleetway, published a weekly comic based on the show between 1986 to 1988, that, unlike a short-lived German M.A.S.K. comic, did not reprint the DC material but published original stories for the UK market from the start. It lasted for 80 issues before merging into the 1980s revival of Eagle and featured strips drawn by Ian Kennedy, John Cooper, Geoff Senior, Ron Smith among others.
Principal photography on David’s fan film, which features an international cast, has already ended, taking place on New Caledonia, in an old shop called the Tiki Pacific.
“My project which will take place many years after the first season of M.A.S.K cartoon and DC comic storyline,” David tells us.
“It’s a very ambitious non-profit project indeed,” he admits, “as for those who are not familiar with the M.A.S.K franchise, this adventure describes itself as G.I. Joe meets Fast & Furious!”
Not that David isn’t up for the challenge. Back in 2006, he shot a live action Invincible Iron Man opening credit with his friends on a shoestring budget of just $900, released many months before Jon Favreau’s version’s release on the big screen. Later, he brought pulp comic hero Captain Future to life in a fan made trailer, also shot on a shoestring budget in a classroom.
David recently gained his certification from the Digital Animation and Visual Effects School at Universal Studios, Orlando Florida, working on The Solo Adventures, a Star Wars inspired student film which featured Han Solo and Chewbacca. The animated short won “Best Fan Animated Short Film” at the Star Wars Celebration V in Orlando, judged by Star Wars creator himself, director George Lucas.
He also worked as pre-production artist on ANTHRO by director Aristomenis Tsirbas (Mechwarrior, Battle for Terra) and, after teaching several modules like After Effects and Traditional Drawing / Painting for a semester at the Singapore Polytechnic, he re-located to the UK to upgrade his Visual Effects skills in the Compositing area at Escape Studios London.
His new M.A.S.K. film features around 120 visual effects shots using mainly miniature models, 2D compositing techniques (no 3D has been involved), matte paintings, following Japanese director Kazuaki Kirya’s footsteps (Casshern, Goemon) where cartoon and live action collide.
Although it’s over 30 years since M.A.S.K. was first broadcast, the animated show and comics still have a huge fan following.
“I’ve had emails from Joe Del Beato, the original inker on the M.A.S.K comic book from DC Comics and Doug Stone, the original voice for Matt Trakker,” says David, putting the show’s enduring appeal down to its international crew unlike other cartoons. “Both of them are still amazed that M.A.S.K is still popular after so many years.”
The show’s appeal has also meant Dave has had huge support for his project from across the globe.
“A few vintage toy collectors from Singapore, Puerto Rico, the United States, France and the UK have also joined forces with me on this fun project,” David reveals, “acting as consultants making sure that my new designs, concept arts and technological enhancements in this sequel, remain true to the spirit of the classic cartoon and DC comic book that we all love and treasure.”
He’s had help from UK-based fan William Scott Crawford, who has documented the M.A.S.K. comics on his own blog and launched a petition for the return of MA.S.K., while others supplied David with him with a set of original show blueprints, animated cels and designs from the original show for reference, and others helped by providing models of some of the vehicles that were an invaluable help in the making of the film.
The cast is international, too. “Cardiology Cosplay” from the UK plays Gloria Baker and French redhead illustrator Delphine Delente appears as Vanessa Warfield.
Joe Del Beato makes a cameo appearance as Admiral Dash Davis and actress Jasmine Wright (from the SyFy show The Librarians) will be playing Lieutenant Skye Masters from the Peaceful Nations Alliance crew; Nathanael Zimbler, a mathematics teacher fulfilled his childhood dream by becoming Brad Turner; and Frederic Lassere a shuttle driver is Duane Kennedy, head of the Peaceful Nations Alliance, an organisation similar to the United Nations featured in the DC Comics M.A.S.K. title and UK weekly, which lasted much longer than the DC title, running for 80 issues before it was merged with Eagle.
“Some of the actors from my previous fan-films like Abel, Paul, Angelique and Fred are back on this project and my classmates Dave, João, Claudio from Escape Studios London are also playing members of the Equalizer Band that Brad Turner is part of,” says David.
“This is all done from the heart by devoted fans and no-financial profit is being made from it,” he emphasises. But who knows? Given his past success with his fan films, David has one eye on how Battlestar Galactica’s Richard Hatch made a not for profit BSG fan trailer for his project, Second Coming for just $16,000, screened it at conventions and created enough new interest in the classic show to see its TV revival.
Perhaps the same might happen for M.A.S.K.?
“William’s petition for the revival of our beloved cartoon series has already generating some awareness, but with the support of visual material such as a short concept teaser for a fictional cartoon sequel, I think it might generate stronger interest in M.A.S.K.,” David feels.
“I do hope M.A.S.K will return. Who knows, if the toy company or an animation studio sees that there is enough potential for it they could launch a new season of M.A.S.K cartoon and with it comes a new toy line.”
And failing that, at the very least his work on this fan project will give David the kind of break Director Neil Blomkamp got after he made his third short film, which was turned into the feature film District 9.
“I hope M.A.S.K. will be the one that will give me my first break into the entertainment business,” says David, and we wish him the very best of luck in his endeavours.
• Mobile • Armored • Strike • Kommand is slated for a December 2016 release
• On Facebook: M.A.S.K. Peaceful Nations Alliance (PNA – International)
• On Facebook: M.A.S.K COMICS
• Check out more of David Guivant’s work on Vimeo here
• There’s more about the M.A.S.K. comics on William Scott Crawford’s dedicated blog here