Midnight Mass

Behind the Scenes

Go to Images | Go to Video

Production Notes

As crazy as it sounds, Midnight Blue is actually based on a true story. Or, at least, inspired by one. Writer-director Samuel Marlow was at college when the story broke that his home of Tunbridge Wells had indeed, apparently, acquired a super-hero.

The story ran for several weeks, making it as far as Have I Got News For You and the Indian national news, with people claiming to have seen a man dressed in an orange costume with a huge letter O on his chest. Eventually, however, it was revealed to be a hoax, perpetrated by local man Matt Lees, and some of his friends.

Thinking it would make a good story, Sam filed the idea away until the time came to produce a web series. Feeling that the ultimate revelation that the hero was hoax would be too much of a downer ending, Sam decided to take the unmasking of a hoaxer as the first part of the story, devoting the majority of screen time to the character who takes up the role.

The Christmas Special was first written, along with the rest of Volume One, in 2009. Initially planning to shoot and release the Christmas Special shortly after, the shoot stalled when Mark Millar's Kick-Ass was released. Feeling comparisons were inevitable, Sam shelved the project for the time being. There were various false-starts in the intervening years, with the casting of Nathan (alias The Man in Midnight Blue) proving to be the hardest part.

With the discovery of local actor-producer Matthew Turbett, the time seemed right to revisit the project, and the tongue-in-cheek Christmas Special was produced in time for Christmas 2014. A few more stand-alone episodes will be released prior to Volume One entering production in 2015.

Keep an eye out for Matt Lees' "Stan Lee"-style cameo in the Christmas Special.

Producer's Statement

Writer Alan Moore has made reference in the past to a non-mainstream theory about a shared global consciousness, explaining how similar ideas can appear in different parts of the world at the same time, seemingly independently of each other.

I would like to say this is how Midnight Blue and Kick-Ass came to be. In fact, however, I think it is more likely we were both influenced by the same source material. While I can't speak for Kick-Ass writer Mark Millar, my college years were bookended by "real-life super-heroes". My time at college started with Matt Lees' Spa-Man hoax, and ended with the release of Batman Begins and my reading Watchmen for the first time.

Looking back the idea of making super heroes "realistic" (or at least more believable) was in the air. It was in this atmosphere and knowing that I wanted to write an episodic work of web television that led me to the idea of a small town super-hero. While I loved the immediacy of Nolan's Batman and the psychologically believable characters of Alan Moore's work, I could never connect with backdrops as vast as Gotham City or an alternative reality New York. So I took my own town, changed the name and made it my canvas for an entirely mundane costumed vigilante, who would come to be know as the Man in Midnight Blue to the story's characters.

Trying to find a character who would believably take up this role led me to write aggressive, antisocial, problem-drinker and compulsive liar Nathan. Knowing where I wanted the character to start and end up over the course of the story I knew finding an actor who was both capable of portraying that, and looking the part was going to be tough. It proved so tough, in fact, that it stalled the project for 5 years.

Imagine my joy, then, when I saw Matthew Turbett playing the lead in a production of Ella Hickson's Boys by then-new theatre company Get Out Of My Space. As I watched Matt, playing a few years older than he was, I started to get flashes of him as Nathan in my brain. I met him briefly after the show and was relieved to find he was both friendly and charming.

After a few weeks I contacted him to discuss the project and the rest, as they say, is history. As well as being talented and relaxed, Matt also turned out be a martial arts instructor, so it kind of felt meant-to-be.

With the costume having to be bespoke tailored to fit the actor I had not been able to make a start on it until the role was cast, and there were a few refinements needed before it was perfect, but by the end it was perfect. It was a slightly surreal experience seeing Matt dressed as a character I had imagined five years before, looking exactly like the design sketches I had done. It got even more surreal when I realised Matt would only have been 12 years old when I created the character.