Uwe Boll Film Festival Day 1 AKA My Personal Interview with Doctor Boll0
Matt posted in Games on December 18th, 2008
The inaugural day of the Uwe Boll film festival was today in Downtown LA, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Unfortunately, it started at 12pm on a Wednesday. I had already seen all of his video game adaptations, so I was just planning on attending the Q&A and world premiere of Far Cry. Someone informed me that the website was factually incorrect and that Far Cry was already out in Crytek and Boll’s native Germany, so I guess it’s only the US or North American premiere of the movie. Not quite as impressive anymore, is it?
LA traffic seemed bad, so I decided to leave early to make sure I could get a good spot in line for the Q&A. I’m used to the panels at Comic-Con where if you want to get a question in, you have to get in line before the actual panel starts, stand there the entire time, and they’ll still probably run out of time. My title is a bit of a spoiler though, so it didn’t quite play out as I had imagined. I showed up at about 8:15 pm. Seed is an hour and a half and was supposed to start at 7 pm, so I was pleased that I showed up in time for the Q&A. When we arrived, we were immediately disappointed to find out that Uwe was NOT actually in attendance… Either day! Yet another ruse to sucker more people into coming! Luckily, most people are smarter than I because when we asked how turnout was, the people running the show laughed and said there were a lot of invisible people in the audience. We bought a ticket for Far Cry, and they said we could go in and “enjoy” the tail end of Seed. When we went into the theater, there appeared to only be 5 other people there. We ended up watching most of Seed because they were running a bit late.
Now one might ask why I was there in the first place. I love bad movies – they crack me up. Imagining the people making them and why they made these silly choices always brings a smile to my face. Well, almost always. Sometimes movies are too bad to be funny like Gigli or Texas Chainsaw Massacre. However, Uwe’s films are usually the correct level of badness to be entertaining. Unfortunately, I have a very loud laugh that’s kind of hard to stifle. It’s gotten me into trouble at some other films I’ve seen in the theater like Catwoman. I wouldn’t stop laughing so the people in front of me gave me a dirty look and moved. I was really expecting to find a large audience of people who delight in the badness of Boll films, but instead I was greeted by an unknown audience of people. The people there were hard to read. Why were they sitting alone in the barren theater? What motivation did they have to be one of the few at the Uwe Boll Film Festival?
As a precaution, I was trying to not laugh too loudly to not ruin the other 5 people’s enjoyment of the film, but I unfortunately cracked up at several points. I say unfortunately because as it turned out, in the audience was Michael Paré and composer Jessica de Rooij. I talked to Jessica a bit later and she was an extremely nice young lady (and I tried to listen to the score for Far Cry, and I thought it was good), but I didn’t really talk to Michael Paré, but I’m sure he’s a nice guy and a talented actor. I just don’t think he had much to work with for the script with Seed. Hell, even Sir Ben Kingsley managed to look bad in a Boll film. So, I’d like to personally apologize (in writing) to both Michael Paré and Jessica de Rooij. I meant no disrespect. I just found Seed really funny…
Anyway, since Uwe was in Canada filming The Storm, the Q&A session was conducted via Skype and projected on the big screen. It initially started out with Michael and Jessica engaging in some small talk. I guess Uwe had an infant child because he was playing with him when the interview began. I wasn’t aware that he was married, but I guess there’s not a lot of info about his personal life out. Anyway, so he said the baby was the real Boll and was going to give the interview and joked around for a bit. Then he was talking about how cold it was in Canada. He took the camera outside to show the snow, and his dog almost ran out. He told his dog “nein”, when it tried to leave. I don’t know why, I just think it’s funny that he speaks to his dog in German. He continued to make small talk about his dog and how he spent one evening from 11:30 pm to 1:30 am looking for the dog, but it turned out he/she was just at the neighbors. I really wanted to ask Uwe some meaty questions, so I sort of interrupted to try and get some serious discussion of film in.
Uwe was happy to answer my questions and seemed like a friendly good natured guy. I don’t want to get into a boxing ring with him though. Although I thing Uwe’s movies are so bad they are funny, I didn’t want to ask anything really mean spirited because I don’t have anything against him, and he doesn’t seem to respond well to criticism. Who does though? I hope he keeps making movies, and I will keep seeing them, so I wish him the best of luck. The video game adaptations are my favorites especially after reading about some of the movies he has planned that aren’t based on games. Have you heard about Stoic? No, me neither until Jessica mentioned that she did the music for it. I looked it up on Wikipedia and here’s what it had to say:
“Stoic centers on the true event where three German inmates gambled on a poker game. The loser is forced to eat, regurgitate, and eat his own vomit. The tale escalates into much more when the inmates rape the man for 10 hours before forcing him to commit suicide”
Yeah, I like it better when he draws his inspiration from video games…
Anyway, so I had the mic and no one else seemed to want it, so I got to pick Uwe’s brain about whatever. So, to the best of my recollection here’s what happened. My first question was supposed to be: “One of the main differences between the theatrical cut and the director’s cut of Bloodrayne was scenes of seemingly random violence inserted near the end. Was this meant as a social commentary on man’s inhumanity to man?” Now, when I say seemingly random, I mean definitely random. It’s ridiculous! It seemed like he just had some extra special effects budget and put in a bunch of random gore that hit the cutting room floor. However, I didn’t want to come out and say that it didn’t fit in the movie, so I wanted to come up with a description of a somewhat believable explanation of perhaps why it was in there, so he’d have an out if he didn’t want to come out and say it was just to add more gore. However, he didn’t hear me, so when I repeated the question, he picked up on it before I gave my half-assed explanation and set the record straight. It turns out that the director’s cut is the theatrical cut, and the DVD distributor just made him add in extra gore. That’s a much more sensible explanation than what I came up with. Although it may seem like a silly compromise to make, I imagine getting a better distribution deal for a low budget movie like that is important, so it may have made financial sense.
My second question was about the camera work in Seed. The camera was pretty shaky, so I asked if he was inspired by Lars von Trier who started the Dogme 95 movement that includes the tenant “The camera must be a hand-held camera. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted. (The film must not take place where the camera is standing; filming must take place where the action takes place.)” He picked up on the comparison to Dogme and mentioned that wasn’t really an influence. I couldn’t quite follow him during this explanation because Skype isn’t exactly the greatest connection in the world, and he does have a pretty thick German accent. I think he was saying that he was influenced by other things for Seed, and I think that he said he was more influenced by Dogme for another movie called Rampage. This movie isn’t on his imdb page, but I heard Jessica mention it later. Her friend said it was the name of a video game with giant monsters breaking buildings, but I didn’t get the impression that was what it was about (unfortunately). I was kind of (okay, definitely) eavesdropping at that point, so I don’t have the full scoop on Rampage.
My third question was about the camera work on Seed as well. During a torture scene in Seed, the camera does a quick zoom in and out when Seed hits some random lady. In my opinion, it looked pretty bad. I took a few film classes in college for fun and was under the impression that they didn’t really use the zoom lenses much on cameras for professional films. However, when they do, they can do some really cool stuff like an amazing scene in Goodfellas where the main characters remain in the same place on screen but the background moves. This was done by moving the camera away from the characters while zooming in on them. I don’t really care for camera shake in video games so maybe a rapid zoom in and out would look cool to others. He said he wasn’t and went on that a lot of the camera work was influenced by the way he shot the film. There wasn’t much of a script (according to him), and they changed a bunch of stuff in order to make it work. There was apparently also a scene of Seed doing aerobics and pushups or something for a while before attacking the poor woman. He said that was too absurd. I would have argued that Seed was able to walk around and kill people in broad daylight without anyone calling the cops was absurd, but what do I know.
Although Uwe may not be the world’s greatest director, he may be competent given a good script. However, I think the scripts for his movies are extremely weak, and that’s where he gets a bad rap. This is apparently why he wrote Postal because he felt like he was getting blamed for the story when he hadn’t written the scripts to any of his video game adaptations. My fourth question was how he finds writers for his video game adaptations when he doesn’t write them himself. He misheard me and instead talked about when he chooses to write the movies instead of hiring writers. He said he can’t write stuff really quickly and can’t really churn out 80-100 pages really quickly, so he only writes them when he’s hearts in the project. The video game adaptations are fun to make he said, but his heart is really in films like Postal, Seed and Tunnel Rats. I’ve heard in at least Tunnel Rats that most of the dialog is improvised, so I’m not sure if he had to churn out 100 pages for that. As well, he mentioned there wasn’t a real script for Seed either…
I followed with my original question. He mentioned that he gets treatments from different writers. He tried to get a more serious writer for Bloodrayne. He said he got Guinevere Turner because he felt the writing was weak in House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark. (I didn’t quite hear him, but I think he also put in a dig about Tara Reid when mentioning Alone in the Dark as well.) Interestingly, Guinevere Turner co-wrote American Psycho (with the director Mary Harron), which I really thought was a great movie. I enjoyed it even more than the book. However, I think the story for Bloodrayne was pretty awful. Anyway, Uwe wanted to get her to do it, so she could write about Rayne’s struggle as a woman. He then started talking about Bloodrayne 3 and how he was going to get Kristanna Loken to reprise her role as Rayne. I should have used this opportunity to mention that I preferred Natassia Malthe in Bloodrayne 2 to Kristanna, but I missed my chance. If Uwe is reading this, please make a note!
Anyway, perhaps I didn’t like Kristanna in Bloodrayne because the character Rayne wasn’t the Rayne from the games. My friends will know that I really liked the Bloodrayne games. I get a lot of crap for it, but I genuinely enjoyed them. Part of the reason is because the story is like a campy cult classic. Rayne always has a super cheesy one liner for every situation that is cringe worthy. However, it really works with the campy settings. I really enjoyed the character and the stories because of that. A Bloodrayne movie that delivers on the promise of the game would have a special place in my heart like other cult classics Plan Nine from Outer Space and The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the Eighth Dimension. However, in Bloodrayne the film, instead of a confident wisecracker, Rayne was emo and internally torn between the human and the vampire worlds. I asked if he was going to make the character of Rayne more similar to the video games rather than the struggling character from the film. He said yeah, he was going to make it similar to the games since each movie takes place a decade later, and they were going back to the fighting Nazis idea, which is completely brilliant. If you are making a game or movie, have the character fight Nazis or zombies – the two most hated concepts in the entire world. Or if you are particularly brilliant like Treyarch, have the player fight Nazi zombies.
At this point, I was running out of questions, so I figured I’d ask a standard one – what video game movie he would want to make if he could make any. He said he really wanted to make a World of Warcraft movie, but now that he’s done In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, he’s gotten the whole fantasy/Lord of the Rings thing out of his system. He mentioned he wanted to do Hitman and Silent Hill, but others got the rights. He also wanted to do Metal Gear Solid, but he couldn’t get the rights. Finally he said that he’d want to make a Grand Theft Auto film. He said it’d have to be really brutal to capture the feeling of the game. If they’d try and make it PG-13, it’d be complete trash.
I couldn’t really come up with any more questions off the top of my head and was feeling a little guilty since I had hogged the microphone for pretty much the entire session so far, so I decided to relinquish my control to see if anyone else was interested in querying the controversial director. There were no takers. Eventually a woman who said she was on the Michael Paré fan forum or something thanked him for some interview that he did for her and said the turnout was only poor because of the weather and that it had snowed in LA. I didn’t encounter any snow on my way there, and I have trouble imagining it was cold enough elsewhere in the sprawl to snow (it was raining though), but perhaps she was correct.
That pretty much ended the Q&A session. Michael Paré and his friends left, but a few more people showed up so we were at 9 for the US premiere of Far Cry. How was Far Cry you ask? About par for the Boll course. The plot was pretty much nonsensical, the action wasn’t very good, it wasn’t very exciting and there was a terrible romance shoe-horned in. As well, there was a really bad comedic relief character that followed the protagonist around along with the clichéd reporter bimbo that gets in over her head and needs him to save her (and screw her, which was surprisingly not shown considering Uwe’s previous films seemed to cater to lowest common denominator). The supposed comedic relief character wasn’t the least bit funny and was completely excess baggage. The female character was completely unnecessary as well, so I feel like they did the Sonic Team adaptation to Far Cry – take the action hero and add a bunch of worthless characters to surround him and waste your time.
Anyway, that’s what happened to the best of my recollection. If I misquoted Uwe or remembered something wrong, I sincerely apologize. I’m sure if he reads this he won’t be too thrilled that I find his movies bad, but remember! I find them so bad that I enjoy them. I’m one of his few devoted fans, so I’ll keep seeing all of his movies (unless he beats me up in a boxing match). I even brought my Alone in the Dark and House of the Dead DVDs to be signed (I also have Bloodrayne, but I lent it to a friend and haven’t gotten it back yet), so I’m definitely supporting his work financially!
As I mentioned, I talked to Jessica a bit because she was sitting near me, and she was really nice. She mentioned that Kristanna Loken will be there tomorrow, so if you are an autograph hound or a fan of her work as Rayne or the T-X, be sure to show up! I’m sure Uwe will appreciate it if the turnout is a little better than 9… There’s another Q&A session tomorrow, so you can get all your Uwe questions answered since I won’t be there, so I’m sure the mic will be free.