The other day I made a post about 2012 being the year for Civil War Copperheads, as two films featuring the subject, though taking entirely different routes and aimed at different audiences, are going to be either filmed or released within about a year of each other. Not since Lionel Barrymore’s famous 1920 depiction have theaters been graced with portrayals of anti-war citizens and groups in the north during the War Between the States, and here we now have two—I guess it was about time for them to get their due. Anyway, the first, if you have been following this blog, is Copperhead, by Ron Maxwell, which is a more intense and in-depth look at the political group set during the second year of the war. This other film, a kid-friendly, family adventure movie, titled, Mickey Matson and the Copperhead Conspiracy, takes a more lighthearted route, as the story combines some science fiction with history and adventure.
Although I said in my initial post that I had no intention of seeing this film, that sentiment has now changed, because if there is a movie involving the Civil War in some way that is out and about, no matter what the subject matter, this blog should be there to cover it. However, two other things that I previously mentioned have not changed. The first is that this could be a very important movie because it is aimed at kids and could get them interested in our favorite subject—the gateway drug into the Civil War addiction, if you will. The second item, is that I mentioned in a comment responding to another reader my wish for whatever scenes involving the Civil War (not having to do with their fictionalized storyline, which they have the right to poetic license on) be historically accurate. I feel that there is more than enough information out there now that any film involving the war, whether it be a hardcore epic or a whimsical children’s story, should be authentic in regards to uniforms, weapons, events, etc. Well, somehow that article found its way to the film’s producer, Edgar Struble, who contacted me and assured me that everything in the flashback scenes would be accurate. One thing led to another, and I asked for an interview, and he was kind enough to grant one.
But first, a little bit on Edgar, whose career so far has involved more music than film producing. An accomplished composer on the piano, he has served as a Music Director for the Academy of Country Music Awards, as well as numerous TV movies and Kenny Rogers specials. Country singer Dolly Parton has called him, “…one of the best musical directors and instrumentalists I have ever worked with.” And now on to our interview below, which includes his involvement in something much different, the film Mickey Matson and the Copperhead Conspiracy, which stars Christopher Lloyd, Ernie Hudson, and Derek Brandon in the title role:
GC: Can you tell us a little bit about the project and how you got involved with it?
ES: I was asked by Harold Cronk, the director, to help him produce this film about a year ago. He and I are from the same small town in Michigan and had developed a friendship and a mutual respect for each others’ abilities. I accepted the project after reading the script and coming to the conclusion that we could actually pull it off.
GC: In regards to the Civil War, what facts/events/people are going to be portrayed?
ES: Our references to the Civil War are mainly fictitious. We conjured up The Secret Order of Patriots, who were a small group of special forces commissioned by Abraham Lincoln to destroy an alchemy machine that had been developed by the South. They also captured the elements that powered the machine and hid them away, passing them down from generation to generation. Then we have the Copperheads, who are southerners currently living in Michigan who are out to re-capture the elements, rebuild the alchemy wheel, and take over the United States.
GC: What lengths did the production go through to ensure authenticity in the scenes involving the Civil War?
ES: It was always our intent to get as close as we could, but we were led by the story, not by historical accuracy. The actual Civil War scenes are treated as flashbacks and only take a couple of minutes out of the whole film. The Confederate uniforms are accurate and the weaponry is accurate. We throw a couple of ancient hand grenades that are a product of artistic license, and the whole premise of the Secret Order of Patriots and their Copperhead counterparts is fictitious. Our Civil War authority, Jim Newkirk, provided the outfits as well as some of the personnel for our flashback shoot. He’s really an expert on these things and was very helpful in maintaining authenticity.
GC: Did you have an interest in history prior to making this movie?
ES: Yes, I love history, especially the Civil War period. But I’m certainly not a scholar.
GC: Being that this is a kids movie, what goals or aspirations do you have for it?
ES: It was our goal to make a movie that children and parents could watch without having to worry about bad language or moral issues. We feel we’ve accomplished this with Mickey Matson, having earned a Dove Foundation seal of approval. It is not a faith-based film but it does have a positive message and some great lessons for young people, IE: “Making the right choice isn’t always easy.”
GC: Is this a film you envision die-hard Civil War buffs taking their children or grandchildren to see?
ES: There are probably not enough Civil War scenes in this film to make it a must-see for Civil War buffs, especially those who might expect an accurate portrayal of actual events. Having said that, a Civil War fan with an imagination might really enjoy our take on things.
I would like to thank Edgar for taking the time to conduct this interview. You can visit his official website by clicking here.