Pt 1: Getting There It’s been a few months since the events of my small part in the making of “The Amazing Adventures of Little Batman” had occurred. My head is still swimming and trying to absorb the overwhelming experience that I will never truly forget. But so much had happened in such a short period of time, I hope I don’t forget things that may have slipped in between the cracks of my memory. When I came back home from San Diego Comic Con back in July of 2007, I was catching up on my e-mail that had piled up during my vacation. One caught my eye from a fellow named Jordan Wachtell. He managed to send me an e-mail just as I left and then did a follow up just before I got back. Since I hadn’t replied to his first message, he assumed I may have possibly thrown his other mail away. Not the case. He asked me if I could help out with a fanfilm project of his that he had been planning for quite some time. I knew this to be true as I do remember him writing about it almost two years earlier. But he was on the other coast and I didn’t know much else about this project. As I went through my other mail, I came across e-mails from some of my other close batfriends who were vouching for Jordan and that he was the real deal. Okay, I guess I could give this guy a call. It’s those little decisions of the moment that usually end up shaping your destiny for months and years to come. When I got Jordan got on the phone, I was a little taken aback. He went right into good old fashioned New York style pitch mode. This guy had BIG ideas and big plans. I thought he either had no idea of what he was talking about or little idea of what he was getting into but he did have passion. Boy, did he have passion. He wanted to make a quality film inspired by the 1966 Batman series but with all of the primary characters from the show portrayed by young children who averaged in the 5 year old range. He was already working on a miniature Batmobile that he had acquired by my old buddy, Nate Truman and was having it customized even further than any kid’s vehicle had ever been done before to my knowledge. He even had a one of a kind miniature bat cowl that he got from my bat mentor, Wally nearly two years prior as well. I asked him to send me an outline of the story and I would let him know if I was interested. He wasted no time in sending it. I read the basic plot which was cute. I still didn’t quite know how I would fit into this. Once I read further on, I knew this was something that I could put my heart into. His son was going to be Batman and he wanted me to make an appearance at the end of the film as a full grown Batman to deliver an important message to the young man. The story was still not scripted and the ending was pretty vague but the gist was there. Now if he could only pull it off. From that point, I started to get calls about once a week updating me on the progress while asking my thoughts and input of the project. Things like flights and hotel were already being lined up. I was impressed with the follow through and execution that Jordan had in each thing he originally told me about. He was lining up a full size Batmobile for me to drive and was arranging a very complex shooting schedule that required me to drive to the set fully costumed in the Batmobile across town. To insure my timing, he was setting up a police escort that spanned across two towns. That meant that he had to have two separate police departments cooperate in the task. According to Jordan one of the police chiefs asked,”which Batman?” Once Jordan told him that it was the 1966 Batman, the police chief was more than willing. Over the next few months, I was helping out as a consultant in regards to Little Batman’s costume. This was no Halloween suit. I instructed Jordan about the snaps required to hold the cape in place and he even sent me the tights FedEx to try and dye them to the color of my own tights. At this point we were in a serious rush, so I was giving him updates with each dye bath I gave the costume until I got it to my liking. I was blown away when it ended up a dead match. This rarely happens with dyeing.
Meanwhile, I received the proposed final script that Jordan had his recruited director Joe Valenti write up. From the writing, Joe seemed to have a very solid background in filmmaking and appeared that he could make this thing work. He really fleshed out the story and it was obvious that he was inherently a 66 Batman fan. Jordan was very supportive and Joe was gracious enough to listen to my input and discuss any issues that I may have had with the script which was minimal since he did such a great job. We really tackled the ending sequence that we all felt was important. After some re-writes tossed back and forth here and there we were very pleased with the results and now I was genuinely excited. Crunch time was coming. The flight was less than 24 hours away and I was packing up for my red-eye flight from Ontario, California airport to JFK in New York. I got a call from Jordan that everything was a go but that his son was getting hot under the cowl whenever he put it on. I tried to assure him that the boy would be okay. Yes, he would sweat. Yes, he would sometimes be uncomfortable but he wouldn’t bake any brain cells in the process. That reminded me of all the kids that you see around Halloween that don’t wear their masks or put them on the top of their heads until they’re at the door. They don’t know how to suffer for their art yet, I guess. I had my itinerary, shooting schedule and instructions for the next day that Jordan and I had gone over again and again. I took off that night around midnight on Jet Blue. That was a bit of a blessing since I can not sleep on planes. I just can’t. I’ve tried just about everything. So I watched their satellite television that my seat had and then switched to watching videos that I had loaded into my iPod for the trip. I love my iPod. I touched down about 8:30am Eastern Time, very tired. Although I had my cowl as a carryon, I had to check in the rest of my luggage. So a quick trip to the baggage claim and then a call to the limo service that Jordan had reserved for me and I was sitting nice and comfy in the back of the car on my way to the hotel. The driver said we had about a 45 minute to an hour drive. So after a couple quick calls to Jordan and back home to Vickie that I had landed and in the limo, I managed to nap a little along the way. I can sleep in cars. Everything had been set up for me like clockwork by Jordan. The plane, the limo, the hotel and even more was going to happen shortly. Once I got to the hotel, I had too many things to prepare for and keep track of to take any time for more sleep. This was going to be a long day. I had already been running on less than 45 minutes sleep in the past 36 hours but I had to keep going.
Shortly after my arrival, Dan Rodriguez arrived in his Batmobile with family close behind in their SUV. Dan was from out of New Jersey and agreed to let them use his Batmobile because I was involved in the project. I had met Dan before in 2005 at the Chiller Convention in Newark. He’s a great guy and gets a big kick out of the smiles on peoples faces when they experience his Batmobile. His vehicle was featured in the movie “Rockstar” so it is commonly referred to as the “Rockstar Batmobile.” People have to have some way of keeping track of these cars. Dan had arrived early so that I could get some time getting familiar with driving it. I was giddy because I had never actually driven a Batmobile before. I had posed with them and been paraded around in them and on them but never started one up and drove the thing. This was a new first and a BIGGIE. When I stepped out of my room, I saw a few members of the Ardsley Police Department standing outside my room and huddled around the Batmobile. If I didn’t already know this was my upcoming police escort I would have been worried. I could only imagine that the other tenants had no idea what was going on. The cops were taking pictures of the car and since I wasn’t suited up yet, they didn’t pay too much mind to me. I said hi and excused myself as I sat in the driver’s seat with Dan playing driving instructor on the passenger side. I wanted to make sure I looked like I knew how to drive this thing when I was finally in costume. It’s embarrassing for the caped crusader to stall or grind gears. We took it for a spin and other than the very limited field of vision I had with the rear view mirrors and the trying to look around the batfins, the vehicle was easy to handle. I was already concerned with trying to do the same with a cowl on my head.
Batmobile Driving 101..the scariest part is backing up I went back in to suit up as time was approaching for my next piece of business on my schedule. I got dressed into my batsuit, made sure everything looked good, tucked my room key into my utility belt and stepped outside once again. There were even more policemen by this time. I greeted them all and then was introduced to the Mayor of Ardsley, Jay Leon for the press. Jordan is the master at making this sort of stuff happen.
After doing the meet a greet with the mayor, shaking hands and taking pictures with the officers, I took Dan for another spin in the Batmobile.
After we got back from our quick cruise around the block I had Dan check with Jordan for our status. Here’s the scoop. Joe and Jordan were filming the cast of kids all day at a park and trying to wrap it up before I came out there. The kids had no idea that Batman was coming and in a Batmobile no less. They obviously wouldn’t get any work done if I showed up too soon. The location was across this town and into Scarsdale. I was to wait for the go ahead from Jordan and follow the police along the route. We were then supposed to have a hand off to the next town’s police department for the rest of the way. No problem. Right? Well, the shoot was running behind schedule but we needed to make sure we still had plenty of well timed sunlight for my scene since I was leaving the next day. So between taking pictures with the Police Chief and some of his men, I had Dan periodically check in with Jordan via cell phone. The cops didn’t seem to mind the wait and even let me sit in the drivers seat of one of their squad cars and gave me a guided tour of the modern day technology that have their disposal now. “It’s like your very own Batmobile, “ said to one of them. There’s nothing like New York cops. They were great. The time came to roll out and I followed my escort. I was driving the Batmobile solo with Dan and his family following behind me and more squad cars behind them. We were a regular parade. The lights were flashing and they hit their sirens as we passed through the stop lights on a non stop run to the shoot.
The sky was clear and sunny. The old township and surrounding neighborhood was beautiful. I could see people pointing their cell phones trying to get a picture of me passing through their streets. I could hear people yelling from the sidewalks and their cars, “Batman!” and the familiar chant of the theme, “Nanna nanna nanna…” I could even hear one person say as we slowly passed through some traffic at a stop light, “It must be serious. They’ve got Batman on it.” I said to myself, “It’s a good day to be a crimefighter.” To be Continued!