Discover the history of Mattel’s definitive action figure toy line this September! From Randall Lobb and Robert McCallum, THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL: The Definitive History of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe chronicles the beginnings and blockbuster-success of ‘80s toy sensation He-Man in an exhaustive, captivating 95-minute documentary that melts back the plastic on Eternia’s best-kept secrets!
Featuring Dolph Lundgren, Frank Langella, Richard Edlund, J. Michael Straczynski, Alan Oppenheimer and many more, the “fantastic documentary”* THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL will be available on digital and DVD for the first time this September from High Octane Pictures.
In the early 1980s He-Man arrived on the scene and hit the world with a punch as powerful as the character himself. Designed in the wake of Conan the barbarian and under the shadow of Star Wars, He-Man’s surprising popularity spawned a multi-billion dollar empire that included toys, comic books, cartoons, live-action movies and a literal sister spinoff show – She-Ra – and continues to appeal to a ravenous fan base today. Watch as artists, creators and collaborators dig deep, tell tales and share the surprising developments of an unlikely, unparalleled pop culture success in this “Definitive History of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.”
Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with director Robert McCallum to discuss the making of this can’t-miss documentary on one of the world’s most beloved franchises.
Where were you born and bred, Robert?
I emerged onto Canadian soil in 1981; it was long journey but worth the trek.
And when was it that you decided you wanted to make movies?
I was lucky to know in high school after making three short films, all of which were in French and all of which parodied “Evil Dead.” The audience reaction along with the production process sealed my fate.
Remember the first film you shot – even if it was something on a Super8 in someone’s backyard?
Yep. It was a parody of “Evil Dead” and I had a ghetto blaster playing the music behind the camera for our score as each scene played out. We had cheap Halloween masks and off-screen sounds that were inexplicable but it was a lot of fun.
How did you wind up being a go-to guy for pop culture documentaries? By accident?
Ha! I didn’t know I was that guy. I just make films about the things I love whether its toys, video games, or heavy metal. I’ve always felt that if I like something then other people must like it too and maybe they want to see a movie about it. It’s that sense of passion that fuels me through the process.
As a kid, what are the iconic shows, films and toy lines you were obsessed with? And before you’re done, which of them would you like to make a documentary about?
All the big toylines: “He-Man,” “GI Joe,” “Transfomers,” “M.A.S.K.,” “TMNT,” “Dick Tracy,” “Super Powers,” and “Secret Wars.” I loved watching “He-Man,” “TMNT” and the Disney afternoon stuff – “Ducktales,” “Gummi Bears” and “Darkwing Duck.” And of course, “Batman: The Animated Series”… and Fox Kids “X-Men,” “Spiderman” and “Silver Surfer.” In terms of tackling any of this in documentary fashion, I am! I’m shooting a series right now called “Action Figures: The Most Powerful Toy in the Universe” that looks at the evolution and process of that culture. For the cartoon side, I’ve got some ideas but most of my films it’s not just a look back. I like to couple the history with a story that takes place nowadays.
How did the Power of Grayskull documentary come to be?
Well I heard about a group of filmmakers not far from my hometown who made “Turtle Power” which is a great doc on all things “TMNT.” I talked to Isaac, one of the producers on Skype as I was just finishing “Nintendo Quest,” and pitched him the idea of making a doc on all things “He-Man.” Nothing came from that initial call, but Flash forward a year later, and after a cryptic post I made on Facebook that suggested I might make a he-man documentary, I got a call from Isaac with renewed interest in teaming up to tackle it. A few more talks with him, Mark and Randall, and the rest was history. We were gonna make it happen!
Hit any hurdles along the way – anything or anyone you couldn’t get access to, for instance?
It was more a matter of where and how our super small indie budget was spent. Travel from Canada to LA for weeks at a time isn’t cheap. Throw in a few unexpected trips back to LA, and even New York and there really isn’t much left for folks in other parts of the country.
What do you think audiences will find most interesting within the doc?
I think they’ll appreciate all the behind the scenes info on the live-Action movie as well as the in-depth world building of the cartoon. Some really great iconic stuff happening there.
Do you have a favorite segment in it?
I like the research portions where we get to see the other options and directions the brand may have gone. That’s fascinating.
Has any brand since come close to even matching the success of He-Man?
“Star Wars” has done fairly well, as has Marvel, of course. “TMNT” and “Transformers” have never gone away like “He-Man” has from time to time, but with a new “He-Man” movie coming out, who knows where things will go?
‘The Power of Grayskull: The Definitive History of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe’ has the power September 3 on DVD and Digital from High Octane Pictures. Visit Robert McCallum’s official website at www.robmccallumfilms.com.
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.