Lensbaby + Bad Choices Project

photographed by Andy Batt

Lensbaby asked me to help them launch a new lens, the Sol 45mm. They wanted me to choose a personal passion project—for me, that meant a new story in the Bad Choices world. They gave me the room to concept, write and shoot the first graphic novel in this world, while helping announce a very cool new product!

The first key was to integrate the lens look with my storytelling—Lensbaby gave me a pre-production version to carry around and experiment with. It’s a distinctive lens—lots of personality, but not overwhelming. The important part for me was integration; I didn’t want to simply overlay a lens on top of an image. I wanted the lens to be part of the storytelling, part of the visual design of image. There’s a swirling, dreamlike quality to the images the Sol captures—so it felt like story should be communicating that idea purposefully

Fourteen wanders, lost in the woods, lost in his mind, lost in his helmet

I spent time sitting the writer’s chair, figuring out which characters would be part of this world. I realized it was an opportunity to add a character that had been waiting in the wings, “Subject Fourteen”, someone who’s been stripped of his own name and lost in the woods. Someone who might be having problems telling the difference between waking and sleeping, dreaming and nightmare, of being lost and disoriented. I’d need 14 to interact with someone—and who better than Bad Choices’ veteran wanderer, Turner. So now I had a rough story concept, and 2 characters to play with.I did a quick set of graphic novel storyboards—stick figure sketches to help me map out the story, and figure out what the visual story would be. I slugged in some basic dialog and storytelling, and with that firmly in place, I went looking for locations. We eventually found a park that had amazing stands of old growth, a river bank with multiple looks, infrastructure, parking and easy access to ‘set’—all the things we needed to pull off all the storytelling elements in a single 10 hour day of work.

Therese got busy pulling permits, getting insurance lined up, and getting the schedules of our talent, our crew and the Lensbaby team all coordinated. I turned to Becca, my costume designer, and we came up with a backstory for 14’s outfit—as it turns out, he’s not the first ’14’ to wear it—it’s old, patched and worn, and now that it’s been through salt water, and a muddy slog through the woods, it’s pretty ugly. Turner would wearing a version of her existing ‘basement crawler’ wardrobe. The helmet though—that was tricky. I didn’t want it to be military or look like a robot—I wanted it to feel like something that would trap someone, with various test probes and hoses attached to it—a helmet for testing someone and keeping them isolated. The multi-talented Galvin Collins jumped in to offer his services doing a ‘savage’ level build, and he knocked it out of the park! He offered up a full package of working parts, age and damage, mysterious hose attachments, medical gauges and straps.

We had an amazing day on location, creating all the shots that ended up in the book, and working with the fine people from Lensbaby. It took some time to refine the design process, do a few rewrites of the sparse text and dialog, but now that I can look on it as a final printed piece, I can say that I’m happy, and truly looking forward to writing and shooting Misled No. 2

-andy batt

Misled issue No. 1 on sale now! As part of the fundraising to continue the project, this beautifully printed 24 page graphic novel is on sale for $25—completely overpriced! BUT it comes with a signed mystery 5×7 print, my hearty thanks, and the joy of knowing you supported ART! You can always go read the comic online—it’s FREE to read, and FREE to share. If you like it, buy a print copy!