Emmy-nominated Editor by Day, Indie Filmmaker by Night – an Interview with EONBLADE’s John Soares

John Soares has been in the entertainment industry for two decades, and if you’re a fan of animation in particular, chances are you’ve seen some of his work. In recent years he has risen as a prominent motion picture editor for Dreamworks and Warner Brothers, lending his editing skills to a number of projects including Looney Tunes Cartoons (for which he was nominated for a Daytime Emmy), My Adventures with Superman, Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo, Veggie Tales in the House, and more.

Prior to his Hollywood career, Soares made a splash online with viral action-comedy series like Sockbaby and Go Sukashi (both created with Doug TenNapel), and Agamemnon Tiberius Vacuum, and it’s here that his multi-hyphenate skillset first took shape, both in front of and behind the camera. After scripting, directing, editing, and acting in many such shorts and videos, this path eventually led to a long-in-the-making feature film, The Danger Element, completed in 2017.

Soares is returning again to the world of indie filmmaking, and chatted with us to discuss the next chapter in his journey.

John editing Looney Tunes Cartoons for Warner Brothers

Cinapse: You wear a lot of hats in your work. You’re currently a film editor for Warner Brothers, but you also enjoy making your own films as a writer, director, martial artist, and actor (and I’m probably missing some). Do you have a favorite type of creative work? Are there some parts that feel like more of a slog?

John Soares: I like to write. I’ve spent a lot of time since my last feature just rewriting one script over and over. It’s become much more important to me as time has passed. But of course I like production. I like to be outside, doing physical things, feeling the air, smelling the fuel burn. It tends to be the first notion that I get that something is actually going to work. 

Fundraising is stressful. It’s a roller coaster. I wouldn’t say that it is a slog, but you are riding a high in one moment and tearing your hair out the next, wondering if you’ve done everything that you can, if you’ve reached out to every person that wants to hear about it.

Cinapse: In your day job you’ve had the opportunity to get to work on huge, familiar properties like Looney Tunes and Superman. What is it that keeps you coming back to independent filmmaking? Is it more about the challenge, the creative control, or the finished product?

My Adventures with Superman – Warner Bros.

JS: I’ve always just wanted to make my own films. The skills that I’ve gained just lend themselves to work for these larger corporations. Editing is a good job and it supports my personal goals. And the skills I’ve developed to produce those skills lend very well to my ability to do jobs for other people quite well. So it becomes kind of an obvious pursuit.

Working all the time on these other stories also does a lot to sharpen my skills as a storyteller. If you edit 200 Looney Tunes shorts or 20 Superman episodes, you start to notice things that you never realized before when it comes to story. But in the end, the real joy has always been in making something of my own. Even though it takes years and there are times when you want to give up.

Cinapse: You’ve already touched a bit on the stress of fundraising. Your next film production Eonblade is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter. What can you tell us about Eonblade?

JS: In this business, you find a lot of people who develop many different ideas so that they always have something else to pull out of their pocket in a pitch meeting. I’ve done a bit of that myself, but this one character, Jitni, has been something I’ve been developing beyond the scope of what you might expect from a simple pitch for a character. He started out as a kind of catch-all character for experimental stunt and martial art films that I did around 25 years ago. And his world has just continued to grow and evolve. 

My first feature, The Danger Element, was an attempt to bring him into the public view a little bit. Eonblade is technically a sequel, but will serve quite well as a first-time introduction for many viewers.

It’s an action-adventure film with no shortage of martial art and car-chase action, but also with a bit of a supernatural edge to it. Mix Indiana Jones with a little bit of Jackie Chan’s Armour of God. Maybe throw a little Batman and The Exorcist in there. It’s a good time, trust me. I’m very proud of the script.

The Danger Element (2017)

Cinapse: How does Eonblade fit in with the world you’ve created with The Danger Element and Book of Lies?

JS: Eonblade takes place around 8 years after the events of The Danger Element. But I really wanted to write something a bit more accessible. A traditionally structured story; Less experimental. 

Book of Lies was actually the proof-of-concept for this film. It contains scenes from the Eonblade script. I called it Book of Lies back then because originally there was going to be a scene in there that revolved around an object called the Book of Lies. But COVID actually shut us down and I wasn’t able to get that scene. So it kind of doesn’t make sense. The full-length version of the story is called Eonblade because the greater story revolves around this ancient mystical bladed weapon.

Cinapse: COVID was a huge challenge for a lot of film productions. I’m glad to see you getting back into it.

You’ve worked with a lot of cool people over the years, perhaps most notably having a long history with Doug Jones, who returns in Eonblade. What’s it been like to work with a collaborator like Doug?

JS: As has been said many other times, Doug Jones is the nicest person in the film industry. He’s incredibly generous and equally skilled in his art. He always shows up with all his lines memorized and he leaves everything on the screen for you. The first few times you play a scene with him, you have to get used to looking into his eyes. He is on a whole other level and whatever it is he is playing is truly there in his eyes in a way I don’t get from all of the actors I’ve worked with. It can really throw you and it lifts your own efforts to a new level as well. 

He’s always incredibly kind, though, and always ready for a laugh.

The Danger Element (2017)

Cinapse: He strikes me as a very genuine guy who has a lot of real love for his fans. How amazing has it been to see him become a major character in the Star Trek universe and play the co-lead in a Best Picture winner [The Shape of Water]?

JS: I remember talking to him on the phone right as he was starting Star Trek: Discovery. I have been a huge Star Trek fan since the early 90s and it was kind of surreal. Once you become a part of Star Trek, that’s going to stay with you for the rest of your life. Star Trek fans will never let you go.

When Shape of Water won Best Picture at the Oscars, that was exactly one week after Doug had come with me to my home town to do a free premiere screening of The Danger Element. He climbed into my tiny Kia with 3 other people and rode for 300 miles with me, appeared at the screening, signed autographs, greeted guests, stayed overnight, then rode 300 miles back. Just out of pure kindness. Then literally one week later I was at the Editors Guild Oscar party watching him go up on stage for the Best Picture category. It was crazy.

Cinapse: Thanks so much for sharing with us today. Good luck with your ventures and especially with Eonblade. Where can readers follow your work online?

JS: Thanks so much!  Right now the campaign is running at Kickstarter. And beyond that you can find me at johnallensoares.com

Thanks to John for chatting with us!

Eonblade Part 1 is currently funding on Kickstarter:

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