Home Blog Interview with the Director of the new Turtles documentary Randall Lobb

Interview with the Director of the new Turtles documentary Randall Lobb

by Justin Bozung


Director of the new Turtles documentary  Turtle Power: The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) talks with us about the new documentary slated for release on DVD and VOD on August 12th, 2014.


TEENAGEMUTANTNINJATURTLES.COM: Were you a fan of the Turtles before you started working on the documentary? If not, then, what did you find so interesting about the Turtles as characters or the fandom itself that made you want to make a documentary?


LOBB: Hold onto your seats!  I wasn't a Turtles fan when I started making the documentary and I'm so sorry about that. My name is Randall Lobb and I was not a Turtles fan when I started this project.   Back in 1984, I was at the Silver Snail Comic Book Shop in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.   I was there going through the stacks and I was really excited to get Marvel Comics' Secret Wars.   I think it was on that day that Mark, the store owner, was opening potentially the second shipment that he had received of the first issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.    He said to me, "Look at this. It's done in this Jack Kirby and Frank Miller style. It's crazy, it's wacky… Look at this title…" I took a look at it and said, "Nah… It will never work. Is it for kids? Who is it for?" He said, "It's a parody. It's for you… The comic fan." 

Plus I thought at the time that it was sort of commercial product because of the size of the book, it didn't fit in the stacks so it had to be up next to the cash register. Of course that couldn't have been farther from the truth. It was really something that was grass roots, but back then I was just a cynical kid and didn't get that. I didn't see how great it really was back then.  


How did the Turtles documentary morph as an idea from the minute you first conceived of the project to the final movie as it is about to be released on DVD?

LOBB: Originally the focus of the documentary was going to be about the fans who are on the Turtles message boards. It was going to be about the "Turtles-Lifers", the hardcore Turtles fans and collectors.  We were hoping that we'd be able to get some participation from Mirage Studios and as we started to do the interviews we got pulled into this circle of trust and these imaginary gates opened up for us.  We got invited to San Diego Comic Con and all of these other Turtles events and Kevin and Peter opened up their archives to us as well because I think that they saw that we had nothing but the best intentions.


Some documentaries just give you talking heads followed by some footage, some photos, and then they cut back to more talking heads, almost as if the documentary is a feature length DVD extra feature, but with TURTLE POWER there is a sense that you approached the Turtles story with a different aesthetic. It doesn't feel like we're learning the back-story of the creation of the Turtles, but that we are remembering the story with Kevin and Peter and the others who helped create the phenomenon with the usage of all of that home movie footage and the use of fade-outs…. Was that the plan from the start?

LOBB: You saying that makes me feel super awesome. I don't think we said from the start, "We're going to fade out here and there and it will feel like a memory…" But we very much deal in metaphor and theme. In talking about the structures that are inside the creating of the documentary, our editor [ Mark Hussey], he would mediate and come up with a way that would embody the metaphors and what he tried to do is exactly what you noticed in the documentary. It was important that TURTLE POWER be not just about the Ninja Turtles but also about the people that created them.


That home movie footage in the documentary is pure gold…

LOBB: When Peter opened up the archives for us, and what you see in the movie is just a tiny tiny portion of their archives, you realize that what you are doing has just become something bigger than it had been before.


With the Turtles having been around for 30 years, was it difficult to sort of widdle down what should be included in the documentary? I noticed that someone like Ciro Nieli was absent from the movie and I have to wonder, as the filmmaker do you ever worry about not exploring particular avenues on a project of this scale?

LOBB: Well we wanted to focus on firsts in the franchise, but yes, I was enormously concerned with that.  I would have loved to show what Ciro was doing at Nickeloden but they weren't interested in allowing us that. I would have loved to shoot some of the behind-the-scenes of the new Jonathan Liebesman movie as well.  I had footage of some of the things that were going on at IDW that we couldn't include too. We have a lot of footage that we weren't able to put into the movie, as the process doesn't allow for us to include it at in a 98 minute movie.


Going into this project as someone who wasn't necessarily a fan of the Turtles, what kind of impact did the experience, the fans, the Turtles and their creators have on you after it was over with?

LOBB: It made me a fan of the Turtles. I made this documentary and while this is about the Turtles it is about my own exploration of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles through the people that created them.  I knew Kevin Eastman before I knew the Turtles. The same with Peter Laird. I got to know the Turtles through those guys and as a movie fan and as a fan of pop culture, I got to be on the inside of it for a while and I got to make a contribution to the Turtles in my own way. I'm a fan of the Turtles from the inside out now.

Turtle Power: The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comes to DVD and VOD on August 12th, 2014.

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1 comment

TurtlesAdmin August 11, 2014 - 3:28 pm

Funny how he wasn’t a fan before starting this project.

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