INTERVIEW: 1st AD Romel Punsal on “The Oath: A Batman Fan Film”

Continuing our series of cast and crew interviews for The Oath: A Batman Fan Film, we spent some time with 1st Assistant Director Romel Punsal to talk about his experience on set, his favorite version of Batman, and more! Romel has worked behind the camera on many shows and movies over the last 10 years and we’re excited to have him as part of The Oath team!

Before we get started, The Oath is now funding on Indiegogo and has SHATTERED its original funding goal! An original story set in the world of Tim Burton’s Batman (1989), take a trip back to the Burtonverse with us, get your name in the credits, and help bring this project to life!

The Oath: A Batman Fan Film is now funding on Indiegogo.

Welcome Romel! How did you become interested in film production?

Filmmaking always intrigued me – you’re talking to someone who’ll always watch behind-the-scenes extras on DVDs! While I had toyed with the idea of going to film school, my career had other plans and I could never find the time. Fortunately, through another interest of mine, I met several fans-turned-filmmakers at sci-fi conventions who were happy to have volunteers. The next summer I spent two weeks on a replica of the bridge of the USS Enterprise in upstate New York! It was a whirlwind, getting experience with lighting sets and talent, working with grips, getting audio on boom mics, a studio move, and plenty of time watching shots and scenes getting caught on camera.

Director Johnny K., actor Jerry Morgan, and 1st AD Romel Punsal review playbacks on the set of The Oath. Photo by Dana Paul Franz.

You were the 1st Assistant Director (1st AD) on The Oath which began filming in November 2021. What was your experience like on location shooting multiple night exteriors?

Just seeing the effort that (director) Johnny K. put into getting permits and permissions from owners and city government, I knew this wasn’t going to be your typical guerrilla “run-and-gun” production. I had high expectations but even those were exceeded. Seasoned talent, quality costumes and props, excellent shooting locations, and some of the best snacks on set changed long nights of work into an escape into Gotham City. Operationally, the existence of shot lists, storyboards, and locations scheduled out to maximize efficiency and minimize inconvenience highlight just how professional this experience was. And believe me, on that last cold night we wanted convenience!

Actor Jerry Morgan, director Johnny K., and 1st AD Romel Punsal on the set of The Oath. Photo by Dana Paul Franz.

How was your experience working with the cast and crew?

There was so much professionalism and camaraderie on set I’m still beaming about it! I was most impressed by both the crew and the cast being willing to pull a ladder, guard the equipment, blow more fog, or hold up a 6-foot reflector in a wind-tunnel. I also appreciated that creative suggestions from any source were respected and considered. This might have been one of the first productions I was on where egos were checked at the door!

1st AD Romel Punsal with actors Chris Konke and Jerry Morgan between takes on the set of The Oath. Photo by Dana Paul Franz.

Are you a Batman fan? What’s your personal history with the character and why?

My parents weren’t fans of comic books so my first serious experience with Batman was actually Batman (1989), and the style of that movie inspires The Oath. Re-watching it in preparation for this shoot, I was struck by how nuanced the story is; it’s not just one set of bad guys, it’s a set of bad guys that fragment, splinter, and ultimately result in the Joker.  As a kid, that nuance was lost on me; I just loved watching the Batwing against a full moon. I’m glad to be able to appreciate it now, and we’re exploring some of that nuance with The Oath.

1st AD Romel Punsal, director Johnny K., and John Broughton recording sound. Photo by Dana Paul Franz.

Who is your favorite version of the Caped Crusader and why?

My favorite portrayal of Batman is Christian Bale in Christopher Nolan’s take on Batman’s origin story. Like Batman (1989), it’s nuanced but it’s also filmed in a more realistic style compared to Burton’s mechanical aesthetic. Bruce Wayne’s journey to Batman is given plenty of attention letting the audience adopt his transformation rather than taking it as a given. At the same time, this focus makes the later reveal even more impactful. I think it’s a great take on his origin!

1st AD Romel Punsal on the set of The Oath: A Batman Fan Film. Photo by Dana Paul Franz.

What other projects are you working on?

I’m deeply involved with set construction and prop development with Farragut Films for an upcoming Star Trek fan-production, Farragut Forward. It will be one of the only independent productions set in the “Wrath of Khan” era of Star Trek, an era woefully underutilized, and my personal favorite. Standing in stark contrast to the primary colors and sometimes comedic aspect of The Original Series on one side and the bright and optimistic Next Generation on the other, this era is characterized with deeper lore, more serious topics, and darker tone. We’ll be working with Kaotica Studios again and believe that collaboration will give this era a great new chapter.

Romel Punsal and director Johnny K.

Thanks to Romel for all his work and commitment on this project! The Oath: A Batman Fan Film will be released in 2022 on YouTube. This non-profit project is now funding on Indiegogo, and thanks for your support!

Enjoy this interview? Read more interviews on The Oath with actors Oz Keenum and Chris Konke, with more to come!

Follow Kaotica Studios and #BatmanTheOath on all social media for more updates!

** Batman and all related marks, logos, and characters are solely owned by DC Comics and Warner Bros. Entertainment. This non-profit fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with DC Comics or Warner Bros. Entertainment.**