Filmmaker Lisa Downs is the director of Life After Flash, a documentary commemorating the 35th anniversary of Flash Gordon.
The documentary chronicles the cultural impact of Flash Gordon, along with updates on those who worked on the film.
She has been a fan of Flash Gordon for as long as she can remember.
“I actually don’t remember the first time I saw it. I spoke to my parents last year and they never even saw it. Somewhere in my childhood when I was really young, I saw it for the first time. It’s really one of those films I’ve grown up with. So I associate it with my childhood. I remember it being one of those things that was magical when I was little. I used to drape my mom’s jewelry around my head so I can be like Dale. I would take my sister out to the garden to seek out hand in holes to see if some tree monster would bite her. It’s one of those films I always loved.”
Downs said this won’t be your typical behind-the-scenes look at the film.
“I didn’t want to fill this with interviews you’ve heard already. I feel that sometimes actors has this media wall up. They always give the same answers and try not to insult anyone and be very PC. He was very himself and that was a big surprise.”
Downs talks about how star Sam Jones always wanted some platform to talk about his life and when he found out about the film, it answered his prayers.
“The biggest surprise was how accommodating Sam was. I remember asking why he said “yes’ to this British girl from London. He’s been so open with the whole thing. In his interviews, he’s told me everything, things I had no idea. I interviewed his family, his five children. I met his granddaughter. I met his closest friends, and they all gave me incredible interviews. He took us down to Mexico. I never met someone who would open as many doors. I wasn’t sure how it would start. It was probably the biggest surprise.”
Downs also talked about the initial struggles of crowdfunding.
“I think the biggest challenge has been raising funds for it. I started doing a crowdfunding campaign as soon as I got back in January and I didn’t think I gave myself enough time to promote it. I underestimated how much work goes into a crowdfunding campaign. I never done it before. After about a week, I don’t know if I was asking for too much money. I didn’t have a following. I shut it all down and spent six months building an audience on social media and trying to get press and everything. I did another campaign with a smaller amount just to get us to the States, because another challenge is doing a film about an American when you’re in England.”
Downs gets into fan resurgence in Flash Gordon thanks to Seth MacFarlane and a revival thanks to Matthew Vaughn.
“I think there was a huge influence from Flash Gordon into the films. I feel like it’s brought [Sam] back into the spotlight. It reminds fans that he’s still around, and others are still huge fans. It’s introduced him to a new generation. When I was at the Alamo City Comic Con last year, there were a generation there who only knew him from ‘Ted’ and had no idea who Flash Gordon was. It’s really interesting and I think certainly, I’ve been really lucky. Also the remake with Matthew Vaughn has been announced and I feel it’s a new era for Flash Gordon. I think a huge part of that is because of ‘Ted.’”
She also talks about what could have been if George Lucas gained licensing rights instead of pursuing Star Wars; how producer Dino De Laurentiis and director Mike Hodges helped bring Flash to the big screen; the musical influence of Queen and composer Howard Blake; and why there hasn’t been much of a follow-up beyond the short-lived SyFy TV series.