Three months ago, we got a glimpse into the world of UA:LA (More than 2.9 million views on YT as of the writing of this article). Set in and inspired by the My Hero Academia Universe, UA:LA focuses on one its students encountering a pickpocket and showing off their skills in a cinematic and stylish brawl that captured the imagination of its source material. Earlier this month, we were treated to the full 15 minute pilot in all of its incredible glory. The “pilot” of UA:LA instantly captured the hearts of the BNP staff, and when we had a chance to talk to the director, Christopher Clark Cowan, and lead villain, Khleo Thomas, we knew we had to jump at the opportunity to learn more about the process behind creating the series and how they went beyond, Plus-Ultra style.
Inspired by the Journey to Become the Greatest
BNP: It was clear from the get go that you and the cast loved My Hero Academia. What about the series personally resonated with you two?
Chris: I loved how it took the American culture of superhero and added this honorable Japanese influence. It really emphasized the important of being a hero, something that gets sometimes gets lost in American comics which more about being a badass. With My Hero Academia, it’s really all about the heart.
Khleo: For me, it was Deku and All Might having one hell of an origin story. All of these new characters, inspiring questions about what’s happening with the rest of the world. The series only focused on Toyko, and it makes me curious about what’s going on in, well, LA.
BNP: Building off that, what are some of your characters and moments in the series so far?
Chris: The one that got me, and I know it’s a cliche moment, but the PLUS ULTRA at the villain invasion with the Nomu. All-Might’s epic speech and entrance gave me goosebumps, and I’m glad that I watched it by myself because I was all over the place.
Khleo: For me it was the Todoroki fight. With Endeavor cheering on from the stands. Todoroki never wanted to use his powers, but he over came that and showed the world his own power and damn near wrecked the area. And the coolest part is that was Deku who helped me through that. Even as they were fighting, Deku took it upon himself to help Todorok become the hero we wanted to be.
From The Silver Screen To YouTube Play Button
BNP: Both of you have worked have worked in the industry before and worked on some big titles.
BNP: What is it like working on a fan project under your complete creative control?
Chris: Honestly, that’s the dream man. Hollywood is very much a business, and more concerned with making money. Here, it was nothing but fun, love, art, and jokes. We were just trying to make the best thing possible.
Khleo: Yeah, I asked to join for the second episode, and I walked on set for about 8 days. And every day was just incredible, between the script and the physical work and look of the fight. It was incredible.
BNP: So Khleo, what were some of your head canons and influences when you started bringing Veil to life?
Khleo: The Lion King, specifically Scar. The facial expressions, the mischeavous aura, the speech pattern particularly. The cadence from Scar commanding the hyena to “Kill him”, that’s exact same energy I tried to put into the video. Couple that with the overall story of UA:LA and then the future stories were trying to tell, that’s how I got into character.
BNP: Chris, pivoting over to you, for aspirining film makers, fans or otherwise, could you give us insight into how long the process took from start to finish?
Chris: Eleven days. Eight hours per day, editing totaling about 7 of those days, with episodes 1, 2, and 3 combined. Conceptualization actually the longest time. Took a couple few weeks to develop once I had the rough concept. So… a month just for these minutes?
Looking to the Future (And A Little to the Past)
BNP: So, question on my mind: when are we getting more episodes? Cards on the table, I absolutely loved the pilot and I definitely cried at the dramatic reveal.
Chris: *laughter* Yeah, we definitely want more episodes. We’re making a push for an official series, forming pitch decks for a full, license series. A lot of the cast and crew got pulled on to work on other shows, and we were essentially working with full time employees, but we did this project out of love and we’re hoping to get backed by Legendary, the company the owns the live action rights to MHA.
BNP: Oh, and let’s talk about the actual film’s release. I followed you on YouTube and saw that there some original plans for releasing it at LA Comic Con, but I think those plans changed.
Khleo: We knew this was a big event and we wanted to make it special, so we decide to premiere it at the Los Angeles Film School
Khleo: It was a packed 300 seat theater with a Q&A, and all of the attendees who are studying just one aspect of film making, were just inspired by Chris doing all of the work (Writing, editing, directing, etc.). There was clapping, cheering, yelling. It was not a silent premiere. They even asked for an encore, so we rolled it back. It was nothing sort of amazing. People kept saying, “I’ve never seen live action anime look this good.”
Chris: And now our goal is to shake every branch for attention, to create something for the true fans of UA:LA.
BNP: Wrapping up, anything you want to tell to your fans at BNP.
Khleo: Just thank you for shining a spolight on the blerds.
Chris: Yeah, thank you for having our backs on this and support UA:LA.
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