Millennium Exile Interview

This week we got the chance to chat with the talented Ty Hanson from Australian based anime project Millennium Exile! Check it out:

1:   Tell us about yourself!
I'm just a giant man-child who has a passion for Anime & Manga.
Besides adding new collectibles to my precious Anime Room, I also enjoy photography, building Gunpla, and collecting shoes :)

2:  What is Millennium Exile?
Millennium Exile is a fictional story of a young man named Vincent, who meets a mysterious stranger with amazing abilities and is thrown head-first into a war that transcends humanity.
Blessed with a power that has been locked away for one thousand years, Vincent and his friends will travel across the mysterious region of Kou...learning of hidden secrets, and exploring unknown perils.
All the while, he must fight against a demonic foe that has once again resurfaced from the shadows of a long forgotten history.

3:  Where did you draw your inspirations from?
It's probably a shorter list of what "doesn't" inspire me.
While I always wanted to make Anime, it was the title: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann that inspired me to write MillEx in the first place, and I'm such a massive fan of the show!
If you can successfully tell an epic tale that results in giant robots throwing galaxies at each other like frizbies, then why not have a crack at telling your own story, amirite? 
I also absolutely love Lord of The Rings, and Tolkien's world-building is freaking awe-inspiring!
That said, I'm constantly inspired by several other creative works...be it Japanese anime, cartoons or Live-action alike.
While our world 'may not' be as magical as a fictional one with dragons, elves, and floating islands; there's actually plenty to just sit back and take stock of here on Earth.
After all, I think that often the most other-worldly of ideas are somewhat grounded in reality :)

4:  What made you decide to go into anime creation?
I really didn't choose Anime...Anime chose me! 
It blew my mind at such an early age, that I became utterly and hopelessly infatuated.
And so, in a country that prides itself on sports, cars, double-pluggers, and good ol' fashioned hard yacka...there I was, in 1995 - wanting to make Japanese cartoons for a living.
Most kids didn't even know what Anime was back then, and those that did, thought it was either Sailor Moon, Pokemon or Dragonball Z.
I strongly believe in following your dreams and giving it your all; regardless of what that dream may be.
If you really love something and you want to do it...then I think you owe it to yourself to see it through. 
Win or fail, it doesn't matter. Well it does, but the last thing you want is to have regrets about not trying.
You don't want to look back on a particular cross-roads of your life; and wonder "What happened if..." or "I really wish that..."
Regardless of income, status or personal circumstances; really, the only thing you can do is to learn from your failures, show your scars with pride, and do your best to kick more butt than you did the day before! 

5: Do you have a favourite character in M.E?
I actually wrote large parts of myself into all five of my main characters - so I can't help but to both love and hate them all a little.
But...gun to my head (pun intended), if I had to pick a favorite, I'd have to say Zero.
I mean, who doesn't like a dual-wielding, gun-toting badass with an eye patch?

6:  What are some challenges you’ve faced trying to bring M.E to life?
Literally everything...and I mean everything.
You think of it, and I've probably had to deal with it haha.
Haters? Check
Creative blocks? Double check.
Family, friends and loved ones not taking my dream seriously? Check, check aaaand check.
Actually, that one was tough.
Although all my friends and family are now SUPER supportive of my project (and have been for many years - love you guys), I think most people close to me back then were waiting for me to "grow out of it"...as if it were a phase.
Some really wanted me to get my head out of the clouds - and it was hard disappointing them on that.
But I think beyond all else, one of the most painful challenges Iv'e had (and still somewhat face today) is being taken seriously as a person of non-Japanese culture - wanting to make an Anime.
You take a concept like this to the internet, and your work is immediately judged from both sides - torn in opposite directions.
It's either not considered Anime at all because I'm not Japanese...or the Australian industry wants to make it into anything else but and an Anime - keeping it 100% in the country.
I never thought that a collaborative, cross-country spirit would have been so hard to get people's heads around.  
But...people are passionate and they often try to protect the pure spirit of what they love. 
Either way, you end up existing in both worlds, but belong to neither.
That said, I'm happy to say that those views are fast becoming outdated and a thing of the past.
More and more regularly, we are seeing a greater catchment of multicultural people contributing to Anime, the world over and it's really bloody awesome!
After all, a great idea can come from anywhere, and I absolutely have no intention of letting that magic of "what makes Anime special" out of the bottle.  

7: How are you funding what I can only imagine is an expensive endeavour?
For years I worked multiple jobs that I hated, just to pay for professional artwork of my designs. 
I'm a decent enough artist, but I'm no pro - and I wanted to be taken seriously. I saved and saved....sometimes for months, just to afford a single commissioned piece of work.
Then crowdfunding became a thing, and I caught the attention of a professional Anime voice actor / director in America. 
He encouraged me to put it out to the people and open myself up to donations.
This is back in 2015 / 2016, and I was really nervous if anyone would even care.
But this person (who shall remain nameless - lest he be bombarded by fans and requests for assistance), encouraged me a great deal.
One thing he said that really made an impression on me was: "If your story is interesting, then people will find it. Don't assume what they will or won't do....just put it out there and hope for the best."
He also further drove home this point by explaining that the industry isn't for the faint of heart, or those afraid of rejection. 
So I ended up opening MillEx for donations and I was gobsmacked by the outpouring of love and support. 
Even today I still receive the odd, once-off donations from fans wanting to help, along with my regulars on Patreon....I love you all so much! :) 

8:  What are some things you know now this far into the process, that you wish you knew from the start?
A few things.
Firstly, networking is everything! 
If you don't know anyone, then make sure it's something you focus on :) 
It isn't all about "opening doors" (although that is a very big benefit), but even just knowing other creatives can be a BIG motivation and make you feel less alone. 
Also...be patient. Rome wasn't built in a day.
Now, my story isn't an empire, or a beautiful Italian city - but it's still not an easy feat.
In this world of counting likes and subscribers, it's very easy to fall down the rabbit hole of "instant gratification". 
Don't forget that for every internet sensation, there are hundreds of thousands of people you don't see,  all who tried and failed to blow up big. 
And even then, our world absolutely brimming with overnight celebrities who go viral overnight and are unable to hold on to that fleeting high. 
Just take your time, and enjoy the process :) 
A quote I always try to remember comes from Theodore Roosevelt, in which he says:
"“Comparison is the thief of joy”

9: What are the future plans for ME?
Get it made hahaha.
To make MillEx into an Anime is my number 1 dream, but I'm also in the process of writing up the story as a series of Light Novels.
I just hope people read it and enjoy the ride :) 

10: What else would you like to do with the IP given the chance.
Pretty much everything I just mentioned, but I;'ve been told that MillEx would make an awesome 2D fighting game, and I'd have to agree.
Having an Arc System Works Millennium Exile game would be wild.
DAMMIT, now I want a Millennium Exile fighting game!

11: Is this something you would encourage others to do?
To quote the great Reverend Lovejoy from the Simpsons:
"Short answer-- yes, with an "if." Long answer-- no, with a "but."
Truth is...creating a story on the scale of what I'm trying to tell is hard.
It's demanding, soul crushing and painfully slow, but it's also super rewarding and meaningful work. 
I'd certainly go back and do it all again if given the chance, but that doesn't mean it's for everyone.
But if it's something you want to try, then 10/10 times I'd say do it. 
You won't know if it's for you or not until you give it a go...you miss every shot you don't take in life. 

12: How can people find out more and support this amazing project?
Probably the easiest question of the lot :) 
My Millennium Exile website has all the links you need.
You will find buttons for my social networks, a demo reel teaser that has been voiced by professional anime Voice Actors, informative videos, artwork, blogs...even links to other press releases that the project has been involved in - it's all there!
Whether you find it amazing or not, will be up to you though.
https://www.millenniumexile.com/

 

Be sure to go check out Millennium Exile on their website and social media pages! Also make sure you come see Ty talk more about Mellennium Exile at #AKACON on March 5th 2022!

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