PopCultHQ had the privilege in connecting with indie comic book publisher 451 Media in late 2015, conducting previews and reviews for titles like Sunflower, Exmortis, and Self Storage. In the summer of 2016, they kicked it up a notch releasing the 4-issue fantasy miniseries NVRLND and in November dropped the sci-fi series RED DOG.
Thanks to the relationship we are building with the awesome team at 451, they asked PopCultHQ to be a part of an interview with Rob Cohen, the creator of this futuristic thriller. If the name rings a bell, it’s because you know it from outside of the comic book industry. Ever hear of a little film called Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, DragonHeart, The Fast and the Furious, XXX, or The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor? Rob Cohen was the director on all (and looking at those titles, he may have an affinity for dragons).
Not only those, but how about being an executive producer on movies such as The Witches of Eastwick, The Running Man, and XXX: State of the Union, as well as producing credits for The Wiz, Bird on a Wire, and The Hard Way to name a few. Actually, with over 40 years in the business and more than 60 film and television credits to his name, you’d think the award-winning director clearly had found his niche in the entertainment industry. But there’s no coasting through life for Cohen, as he wants to continue to grow, expand, and most importantly create. Enter 451 Media.
The publisher with Imagination to Burn saw exactly that in the acclaimed Hollywood filmmaker and collaborated so he could finally bring this futuristic story of his to life. Now two issues in, the series is already gaining a good deal of momentum and Cohen, with the help of 451 and the creative team on RED DOG, appears to be reaching yet another large audience…the comic book community.
So sit back, relax, and let yourself go, as we’re about to drop the RED DOG scenario. Here’s a look at the 451 Media/PopCultHQ joint interview with director, producer, and now comic book writer Rob Cohen.
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Q: RED DOG has been a passion project of yours for a decade. Can you tell us how the story of RED first came together and what inspired your take on the classic “boy-and-his dog” story and placing it in this all new context.
Rob Cohen: When I was 5, my father brought home a stray dog he found abandoned by the side of the road. I loved him and named him ‘sniffy’ because he had a cold and his nose was running. I was fascinated by him as I had never had a dog.
Unfortunately, he was wild, had been abused and destroyed everything he touched. My parents gave him away to a farmer and I never saw him again. I was heartbroken. I think the loss of that dog never left me and ‘Red Dog’ is an indirect result.
Q: You re-ignited and re-defined the action genre with such blockbusters as FAST + FURIOUS and xXx that have gone on to become epic franchises. With RED DOG, we see you taking on your first sci-fi family adventure. What was that a specific strategy on your part to move into this genre and did you use any specific films as reference and touch points in the development of RED DOG and do you see feature franchise if RED DOG’s future as well?
Cohen: Of course, one would always like a film to be so well received the audience demands more but the best way to insure thats not happening is to try to make a franchise. I believe one should try to tell a good story, create an engaging set of characters and make them, and it, complex enough, that, should it hit a chord, there are other off-shoots and character developments to explore. If you set out to make a franchise, you are truly getting ahead of yourself and that kind of commercial calculation usually is ferreted out by the audience pretty quick and can lead to massive rejection of the first installment. Be your best once and let others ask for more.
Q: Given both the fan and industry reception that will come from the release of RED DOG a big screen adaption can’t be far behind. Do you have any early casting choices for Kyle and the other lead characters you envision in those roles?
Cohen: I named Kyle after my oldest son, so I always saw him in the role as I wrote. Of course, he is not an actor nor is he a boy anymore but I would love to find a young actor with my son’s intelligence and pure heart, with his good will towards the world, and his openness to others. Those are the qualities of both Kyle’s.
Q: We saw some fantastic images of the cyber canines inspired by the models created by Phil Tibbett of JURASSIC PARK and STARSHIP TROOPERS fame. They look to have tremendous toy-etic appeal. With merchandising and licensing such an integral part of larger studio tentpole productions was this an integral part of your thinking that went into writing RED DOG?
Cohen: Toys were not on my mind originally but they definitely are on the minds of the wonderful people at 451. They urged me to diversify the number of dogs for starters. I did that but to keep the integrity of my original intent, I gave each of them special talents and abilities so, as a pack, they were a greater sum than the separate parts. And, of course, ‘you can own the whole set!”
Q: Your new film, CATEGORY 5, was also filmed overseas. It sounds like it’ll be a huge event film. Can you tell us anything about the filming the hurricane sequences and when we can expect to see the movie hit theaters?
Cohen: Category 5 is the story of a $600 million heist meticulously planned to take place during a severe hurricane when the town will be deserted. But the bad guys miscalculate on two levels: one is that the hurricane becomes the storm of the century; and two is that the only other people left in the town are the woman treasury agent (Maggie Grace) who is determined to stop them and meteorologist (Toby Kebble) whose brother they have kidnapped. His knowledge of the hurricane becomes the weapon he uses to defeat them and rescue his brother. Big, loud, and more reliant on stuff we did in front of the camera than in VFX, I think it will be a special kind of ride. Very different and very absorbing. We are editing now and it should be out either late this year or early 2018.
Q: If you had to describe RED DOG as a mash-up between two of your favorite films what would it be?
Cohen: Influences? ‘Lassie Come Home’ meets ‘Lost in Space’ meets ‘Enemy Mine’ meets my long lost dog, sniffy!
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A very special thanks to Rob Cohen for taking the time for this interview, and from all at us at PopCultHQ, we want to thank and recognize 451 Media Group for allowing us the opportunity to team up with them.
Be sure to pick up RED DOG #2, which hit retailers today! And for more on 451, their library of titles, and RED DOG, we’ve got you covered…read on!
Writer: Rob Cohen
Adapted by: Andi Ewington
Art: Robert Atkins
451 Media Group proudly presents a new vision from writer/director Rob Cohen; an out of this galaxy tale of love and loyalty between a boy and his best friend. Welcome to the world of RED DOG. RED DOG takes place on the distant mining colony Kirawan. The remote outpost houses 197 men and women, however one of them is not like the others: Only one of them is a kid, and that kid’s name is Kyle.
Life is hard for everyone on Kirawan, but growing up there requires a whole different set of demands. To help Kyle cope with his situation (and teach him responsibility), Kyle’s uncle built a robot K-9 named Q. Q Is very truly the greatest friend a boy could ever ask for. Q’s quantum chipped brain allows him to learn and develop much faster than their earthbound counterparts.
However, when Q ends up lost on the desolate and dangerous planet, Kyle does the one thing he promised he would never do, leave the colony alone. Away from the relative safety of imperium mines Kyle finds himself surrounded by an entire world of species, smack-dab in the middle of a centuries old civil war. Kyle may have left the colony to save his best friend Q, but on this adventure Kyle will be asked to save much more, as the the entire destiny of Kirawan will rest in his hands.
Welcome to the world of RED DOG, an epic sci-fi adventure that reminds us all, even in space, every boy needs his dog.
* Extra-special shout-out to
Jesse “Often Imitated, but Never Duplicated” Senger
for everything he’s done as the bridge uniting 451 and PopCultHQ.
THANK YOU JESSE!
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