Feature: The Strange Case of Mrs Hyde
By Jordan King-Lacroix
Characters such as Batman, the Phantom and even the Puppet Master have carved out a name for themselves among hardcore comic book fans. Carmilla Hyde, a dark, new female character, has not yet reached that status, but with 20-year veteran comic writer and artist Dave de Vries at the helm, it might just get there.
"Comics and film probably have more in common than film and theatre because they’re both about telling a story in pictures," de Vries says. And he has brought a comic book style to his debut feature Carmilla Hyde – a controversial, adult-noir film made on a shoe-string budget.
It recently won the South Australian Film Corporation’s Best Feature Award as well as two awards at last year’s Melbourne Underground Film Festival.
Like Batman – which de Vries worked for DC Comics – Carmilla Hyde is the central character’s alter ego in the revenge thriller. He plans to use several different posters to show Carmilla’s split personality as part of the film’s marketing strategy, which should also tap into his comic book fan base.
Carmilla Hyde, played by Anni Lindner (Look Both Ways)
"Take the character of Batman,” de Vries says, "you’ve got Tim Burton’s very sort of spooky almost gothic, vampire-like Batman, you’ve got the Adam West Batman, quite high camp from the 60s.
"And then of course you’ve got the Chris Nolan Batman of recent times where Batman is far more high-tech and more like a Sherman tank than a sort of spooky character."
"These different types of ‘Batmen’ have been around since the character was first created and the readers get it, they understand that you can have more than one version of Batman and yet they are all Batman."
De Vries turned to filmmaking because it offered extra depth to his already-strong visual storytelling abilities. "I’d kind of done everything that I’d wanted to do in comics," he says.
He made the film without a storyboard, relying instead on his strong visual memory, while also performing the role of writer, director and editor.
The film was shot in just 17 days in January 2008 with a budget of around $250,000 using the Sony EX1 camera.
De Vries says, however, he is still looking out for his comic book base audience. "They are my audience through the comic scene, so obviously after 20 years of doing comics I understand that audience quite well.
"I have this natural recognition with them that would help sell the film and also that audience is the type of audience that are most likely to be responsive to the new forms of digital distribution."
Carmilla Hyde will also be showing at international film festivals this year in South Africa, Thailand and Ireland, as well as the Heart of England International Film Festival.
The Carmilla Hyde DVD will be released on August 15. Check out the trailer here.