ComicBuzz Chats With HaZ

With the release of the Max Beyond movie, we are delighted to be joined by the director/writer and producer HaZ.


Hi HaZ, it’s so great to have you here with us.

Pleasure to be here.


Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

Hi everyone, I’m HaZ Dulull, the director of Max Beyond, I also wrote the original story and produced the movie with my producing partner Paula Crickard via our production company Hazimation.  


How would you describe the Max Beyond film?

Max Beyond is a cerebral sci-fi action animated movie about family, love and the length one would take to protect the family, yet the consequences from decisions made will ripple across time and multiverses.

Think of it as THE RAID meets EDGE OF TOMMORROW with a lashing of AKIRA.


Can you tell us about the origins of the Max Beyond film?

Originally it was a short story / concept I wrote back in 2019 called BROTHER, where it was about a big brother trying to break out his little brother out of a medical facility and it took place entirely in a high tech medical facility, it was a pitch for a contained action movie I wanted to do.  We then did a proof of concept in 2020 called RIFT which was 2D photographs I took with my action filmmaker friend Jean Paul Ly, and animated into a teaser which DUST ended up featuring it. Then the pandemic hit, and all Live action projects were put on hold.

I was already using real time game engines (Unreal Engine) to do previs for another sci-fi film.. and loved the flexibility of using game engines to tell stories, and was surprised no one was doing it at the time. So I pitched the idea of doing a full animated feature film in Unreal Engine to my producing partner Paula Crickard, who suggested we take the craziest script idea I had and use the animation medium to make it.  So we took the Rift concept and brought on screenwriter Stavros Pamballis to work on the script.  But whilst he was working on the script, me and my Head of CG and long time collaborator Andrea Tedeshi started working on assets, scenes in Unreal engine.   We did a 10 minutes test and showed it to a bunch of people including Epic Games, who then awarded us with an Epic Mega Grant to help kickstart the production of the project which was pretty much self financed by Mine and Paula’s produciton company HaZimation.  We then got the attention of other Executive producers to come on to help, those Execs were Yariv Lerner (Producer of Rambo, Expandable, HItman’s Bodyguard etc),  Jason Potter and Amy Gardner from Finite Films. 

The project also attracted support from the likes of ASUS, WDBLACK, Reallusion, SCAN, WACOM and more, who have all been so supportive in us producing this ambitious animated movie during uncertain times in the film industry.

We later changed the name from RIFT to MAX BEYOND because we wanted something that connected more with the character, but also there isn’t any movies out there called Max Beyond (yet) so it helped with the IMDB listing 🙂


Who is Max?

Max is a 8 year old who has the ability to distort the fabric of space and time to access multiverses.  He is the adopted brother the Walker family, and is close to his big brother Leon Walker.  Not much is known about Max’s background, apart from the fact he was found as a baby by an orphanage.   His character is the driving force to the movie, as he burdens all the realities he has witnessed across the multiverses.  But every time he resets a reality he gets weaker, so there is a ticking time bomb / high stakes to his character.     


What can you tell us about Leon?

Leon is a troubled man with demons he is constantly battling with himself, he is suffering from PTSD as a former Marine, although he is broken, his undying love for his brother Max is strong and he would do anything to protect him.


Can you tell us about the cast of the Max Beyond film?

I was blessed to have a wonderful voice cast for this movie.  I reunited with actress JANE PERRY, who I had worked with back in 2017 on my first live action feature film THE BEYOND, which was an indie success, but Jane is also a rockstar in the gaming world having been in games such as Cyberpunk 2077, Hitman 3 and Returnal and won a BAFTA too!   Jane played the character of Dr AVA JOHNSON.     

Another gaming rockstar voice talent I got to collaborate with is Dave Fennoy, who has been in games such as Mafia 3,  The Waling Dead and World of Warcraft..   Dave played the character of LEON.

The one cast that took a while to get, as we went through so many auditions for is the character of MAX, who we were fortunate to have landed with Cade Tropeano,  he has been in a bunch of commercials, TV shows and movies.  You can see him in the Apple+ show called BlackBird.   He was great to work with, for a kid he sure has an amazing range in his voice and carries the emotion I was looking for in the character, there are some moments in the movie that will make your heart melt… and that’s down to Cade’s amazing emotional performance.

Other great actors who contributed to the other characters included Natalie Britton (from the Amazon show THEY) and Hiro Matsunaga.  We also worked with a wonderful casting person – Hugh Edwards from High Score, who found Dave Fennoy for us as well as other non lead characters.

I also have to do a shout out to the motion capture actors in this project who brought the characters to life – Gabriella K, Ace Ruele, Alex Kong and Noeleen Comiskey (another talented actor who I’ve worked with on previous projects).


What can you tell us about HaZimation?

Well, the clue is in the name, ha ha, just kidding.. well kind of….   Its a company I founded with producer Paula Cricaked, after we both worked together on my feature films THE BEYOND and 2036 ORIGIN UNKNOWN (starring Katee Sackhoff)  we decided to setup a production company that will allow us to take unconventional approaches to producing movies and not rely on the legacy filmmaking industry to get our projects made.   HaZimation utilises Unreal engine as its core for our animated feature films and video games that also feeds into our live action feature films and series.  We leverage the Transmedia approach to telling stories and creating original IP. 


How many people have worked on the Max Beyond film?

At its peak it was around 12-15 on top of the voice actors and wonderful audio team (Sound Node) and music composer – Roman Repack (Miroshot).  So it’s tiny compared to most animated feature films!


We understand that a Max Beyond video game is in production; what can you tell us about the game?

Oooh yes! Im so excited about that, we did a demo back in 2021 and put it out on Steam as early access, and I got ripped to pieces (hah hah) yet people were excited about the idea of the game and how polished it looked (well we did use all the same assets from the movie!)  but it did get us into Microsoft’s  ID@Xbox program. (Yes we have Xbox development kits to make the game on Xbox) . The game is a spin off from the movie, meaning its the same characters and world, but takes an alternate reality to the story, as I felt we could do things in games we can’t do well in movies (the fact the movie is locked to 92 mins and is linear).  We will be announcing a publisher we have teamed up with soon, so look out for that announcement, but we anticipate the game to be ready for mid 2025.


Could you tell us about the music score for Max Beyond?

I love this score so much! Many because im a fan of the band MIROSHOT, and the front person to the band is a good friend of mine – Roman Rappack, so it wasn’t like the usual approach where composers would pitch to me to score my movies,  with Roman, I was like check this 10 mins test sequencer for a movie in production, and he was like “that’s dope!” And the next day he sends me some tracks he created as sketches based on the tone of the test sequence.. and I was like.. um.. I was gonna ask can you score the movie, cos im a fan of your music! 

Working with Roman on the music was like two nerds who love movies like The Matrix and Akira jamming every day, he would send me these music stems that were very much tonal pieces, and I would use them right away to edit the movie with, he would then see the editorial dailies with those music stems edited, and then he would go off and write specific music moments based on the stems I was using, it was a pure joy collaborating that way!  



Has it been a challenge to direct the Max Beyond film?

I think every movie I do is challenging in its own right, for this movie, the challenge was the budget being super tight and the fact we are using a gaming engine to produce final pixel frames in 4K that needs to hold up like a CG animated film.  There were times where I was thinking, this is bonkers, what am I doing? But then when I would show the shots to various industry friends of mine.. they are like this is bonkers, because it looks insanely cool and no one is doing animated films like this!  So to me, that was “challenge accepted!”  🙂


If our readers would like to see the Max Beyond film, how can they do that?

You can rent or buy the movie from Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video,  Google Play and Microsoft Store.   For the UK audiences you can also get the movie on SKY MOVIES and Virgin Media.   There will be more platforms announced throughout the months, so stay tuned via our social media channels.


With the Max Beyond film releasing in April, how do you feel? 

I’m nervous and excited at the same time! 

Any message for the ComicBuzz readers?

Thank you so much for reading, and I just want to say that Max Beyond is an indie animated feature film produced as a labour of love from me and my team, and I hope you all watch the movie and enjoy it and shout about it to your friends and online. Please do follow us on social media because I will be posting tons of behind-the-scenes material, making of’s, cast and crew interviews etc to share how we made this indie animated movie.  + news about the video game in production too 🙂 

Now available on Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video and Sky Movies.

We would like to say thank you to HaZ for chatting with us and wish him and the whole of the Max Beyond team the best of luck with the release of the movie.

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