BODY PARTS.Still.8

When the gang over at How Did This Get Made? gave me the heads up that we were covering Body Parts — a 1991 movie whose premise is as silly as it is strange — I was expecting something schlocky. And while the movie itself isn’t my cup of tea (full disclosure: no horror film is), I was surprised to find a film that had such a unique voice. There’s a craft to Body Parts, and a compelling, noir-ish sensibility.

I mention all this because it made me really eager to speak with the film’s director, Eric Red; to find out what kind of a storyteller would make a movie like this.

Read More »

surf ninjas

What ever happened to the little brother from Surf Ninjas? Is he still acting? Still surfing? Still using martial arts to make the world a safer place? I sat down with Nic Cowan, who played little brother Adam in Surf Ninjas, to find out…

Read More »

sketchiest movie ever made

Have you ever wondered what the Mafioso version of The Producers would look like? Neither had I, until screenwriter Dan Gordon (Passenger 57, The Hurricane) said this:

Phil said, “I’m giving you the opportunity of a lifetime and you’re giving me bullshit…you wanna be a director? Come get the ticket and come to New York. If you don’t, I’ll find someone else.” So I pack my duffel bag and I flew to New York that night. And I wound up making this independent film called Potluck. But what I didn’t know was it was a money-laundering operation for a crew—it was a mixed crew of the Gambino and Genovese crime families—and they were looking for the youngest, stupidest kid they could find and I was the jackpot.

And from there, Dan Gordon proceeded to tell me an epic, unforgettable truth-really-is- stranger-than-fiction story about the sketchiest movie ever (kinda) made…

Read More »

Airborne

In 1979, an inventor/entrepreneur by the name of Scott Olson patented an idea for single-line roller skates. Not long after, with the help of his two brothers, Olson began to manufacture something called “Rollerblades.” With a sleek design and fun neon colors, these inline skates appealed to a generation of leisure sports enthusiasts.

By 1987, inline skating had grown into a $10 million market. And by 1994, that number had skyrocketed to $650. Unsurprisingly, in the midst of this boom, a couple of producers thought it would be wise to make a movie centered around rollerblading; specifically, a movie centered around a rollerblade-lovin’ California teen who suddenly finds himself exiled to Cincinnati. That movie was called Airborne and that teen was played by Shane McDermott.

Currently, McDermott is a real estate broker and artist living in Galveston, Texas. But he was kind enough to spend some time speaking with me about his acting days and the making of Airborne.

Read More »

Escape from L.A

In 1981, John Carpenter’s Escape from New York—a small-budget, post-apocalyptic bruiser—raked it in at the box office and set up Kurt Russell as an 80s action star. Fifteen years later, Russell reprised his role as now-iconic anti-hero Snake Plissken for Escape from L.A. But despite all the hallmarks of promise—star actor, known property, and the return of a legendary director—the $50 million sequel didn’t even earn half its money back in theaters.

Creatively, there are numerous reasons that help explain why this film flopped—many of which are hilariously pointed out in the latest episode of How Did This Get Made? But in addition to all that, there’s another variable at play: timing. Had Escape from L.A. been made ten years earlier—alongside 1986 hits like Cobra and Crocodile Dundee—or even ten years later—alongside 2006 reboots like Casino Royale and Rocky Balboa—it seems more likely that the film would have succeeded. Which begs the question: if Escape from L.A. had been made in the late 80s, what would that have looked like?

So who better to answer that question than Coleman Luck who, in 1987, was hired by John Carpenter to write the first draft of Escape from L.A. Curious to learn more—and also learn why Luck’s bio lists that him as “also a mentalist and a member of the Academy of Magical Arts”—I managed to track down the now-retired writer.  Below is a copy of our conversation…

Read More »

the lawnmower man

In 2014, Facebook acquired Oculus—a scrappy start-up dedicated to resurrecting virtual reality—for $2 billion. Since then, every major player in the tech space (from Google and Microsoft to Sony and Samsung) has begun to prepare for a very virtual future.

With this incredible technology now on its way, I’ve spent the past couple of years working on a new book about the unlikely heroes of this virtual reality revolution. During that time, I’ve had hundreds of conversations with those in the burgeoning VR industry and, at some point, almost inevitably, The Lawnmower Man—the 1992 sci-film film directed by Brett Leonard—eventually comes up.

Read More »

gamer

No matter how you feel about the films of Brian Taylor — a high-voltage assortment that includes Crank, Gamer, and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance — they all, at first glance, inspire a shared singular question: how the fuck did this get made?

Seriously. Just look at what these movies are about:

  • To avoid dying, a British hitman must keep adrenaline coursing through his body.
  • In a future where kids can control humans as if they were video game characters, a wrongly imprisoned death row convict seeks freedom.
  • Years after making a deal with the Devil, a hell-on-wheels monster known as “The Ghost Rider” must save a young boy (and, ultimately, the world).

To many, these films are considered “guilty pleasures.” Yet interestingly enough, they come from an unexpectedly honest place: a desire to provide viewers with an alternative to the four-quadrant, check-the-boxes, CGI-everything Hollywood Machine.

This underlying, upend-the-system ethos was just one the many things I learned during my conversation with Taylor. But by no means was it the most interesting. Not compared to hearing about his wild and crazy “maniac” days, the strange legacy of Gamer and what it’s really like to work with the iconic and eccentric enigma that is Nicolas CageRead More »

dreamcatcher movie

Typically in this space, we speak with the director, writer or producer of a film, but sometimes it can be valuable to see things from a different point of view. Especially when that point of view is such a common one in Hollywood: the perspective of an outsider—of an ambitious young filmmaker—who takes a high-pressure, entry-level job (at an agency, studio, production company, etc.) with the hopes of one day becoming an insider.

It’s a tale as old as Hollywood, isn’t? But this one comes with a little twist. Because when Barry P. gets a job working for one of his heroes—Lawrence Kasdan, the guy who co-wrote Empire Strikes Back! Who directed The Big Chill!!—he learns not only how the sausage is made but, more importantly, who gets to cook the sausage. And, in the process, the strange reality of how a legend like Kasdan ends up directing a very un-legendary movie like Dreamcatcher.

Read More »

stealth

If you stick around and watch the credits of almost any movie featuring armed combat, you’re likely to find someone listed as that film’s “Military Advisor.” But what, exactly, does this job entail? And how much more realistic does their work make our movies?

To find out, we spoke with Jon Iles—a 25+ year veteran of the Royal Australian Navy—who has served as the Military Advisor on several films. An impressive roster that includes Suicide Squad, Mad Max: Fury Road and, of course, the movie it all began with: Stealth.

Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

The Phantom Simon Wincer interview

On February 17, 1936, Lee Falk’s comic strip hero The Phantom was introduced to the world. Over the following years—as the character reached millions of fans through an unparalleled-for-that-era level of worldwide syndication—The Phantom became an international sensation. The comic strip (clearly) excelled in many countries around the world, but perhaps none more so than Australia. So it seems fitting that, six decades later, the man who would finally bring this hero to the big screen would be an Australian himself: Simon Wincer.

To learn about how The Phantom was made, I spoke at length with Simon Wincer. But it took a little while before we even got to talking about the masked crusader. Because, frankly, there was just too much to talk about. Like how Wincer swooped into to replace the original director of Free Willy (and ended up helping to save that film). Or how he helmed an Emmy-dominant, prestige miniseries (years before such things were du jour). We spoke about all those things and much more (like the cinematic value of manure).  Below is a copy of our conversation…

Read More »