What does it take to turn Bungie’s famous Halo into a hilarious Bollywood-style musical for an April Fool’s prank? According to the folks behind it, it was a mad-science experiment that led to an “insane, Technicolor explosion.”
In 2008, IGN broke the hearts of videogame fans everywhere with its surprisingly awesome trailer for a movie based on The Legend of Zelda – a movie which didn’t actually exist. April Fools, everyone! “IGN Video doesn’t usually do grandiose productions, but we always like to come out swinging for April Fools’ Day,” Fran Mirabella, Director of IGN Video, explained to The Escapist – but how do you top something as notorious as the Zelda movie trailer?
The answer: You do one for beloved shooter series Halo, but you give it a Bollywood-style twist. It wouldn’t have been enough to do a regular fake Halo trailer, said Mirabella, because nobody would have believed that it was real after the Zelda prank. “So, the whole setup of the trailer is that during the first 15-20 seconds you think IGN just made another serious attempt at portraying Halo: The Motion Picture. Not that unthinkable,” explained Mirabella. “We wanted everyone to think, ‘Oh, nice try IGN! Fool me once…’ Then, when Master Chief’s helmet comes off, you realize we’re doing a Halo Bollywood trailer. Fooled you twice.”
The idea had been to do a Bollywood-style Halo movie from the start thanks to IGN founding father Peer Schneider. As fortune would have it, while looking for Bollywood talent to make it happen, production director Caleb Lawson saw a clip of dance troupe Ishaara performing on America’s Got Talent – and it was a perfect fit. “[W]e immediately knew we had to work with them,” said Mirabella. “Then when we started talking to them, we discovered some of the troupe already knew about IGN and were fans of Halo.”
It isn’t just Halo, either, said Ishaara Co-Director Shahil Patel. “Most of our team is comprised of college students born and raised in America. Halo was the game we all played throughout high school, just like Super Mario Bros. was the game we all played as kids. I don’t think any of us are gamers anymore, but we used to play tons of games like Counterstrike, Splinter Cell, Zelda, Smash Bros., FIFA, NBA/NFL Live, Starcraft, WoW, GTA, Diablo … the list goes on.”
The trick was to blend the essence of Bollywood cinema with the essence of Halo, which Mirabella said was a bit like taking “two volatile chemicals and [shaking] them up just to see what kind of insane, Technicolor explosion we would get.” Bollywood films are a “very rich, involved performance art,” and the team worked hard to combine the traditional over-the-top, high-energy performance with the epic space opera and “really sweet, cinematic shots” of Halo.
Once production started in earnest, said Mirabella, it only took a few weeks to put together – with music composed by Chris Tilton, the man who did the tunes heard in Mercenaries 2 (and who works on Fox’s Fringe) and lyrics translated internally. The result was one hilarious trailer that I chose as the officially unofficial winner of April Fools 2010, and something that Halo fans will probably be bitter about for years to come. Well, the ones without a sense of humor will, anyway.
The full interview with Fran Mirabella and Shahil Patel can be found over at our sister site, WarCry.