Category Archives: Interviews

CRYSTALLINE STRUCTURES: DIRECTOR ADOLFO J. KOLMERER ON “SNOWFLAKE”

Adolfo J. Kolmerer on the set of "Snowflake"
Adolfo J. Kolmerer on the set of “Snowflake”

Snowflake is a twisted meta-narrative movie in which an amateur dentist screenwriter finds his own characters pressuring him to change the outcome in his script that features hitmen, angels, superheroes, and fascists fighting it out in a dystopian future Germany. In his review of the film, raved, “Using a bold style while slavishly following scripted narrative logic, [director] Kolmerer continued to amaze me at every twist and turn.” Snowflake director Adolfo J. Kolmerer was kind enough to answer a few questions submitted by 366 Weird Movies staff via email.

366: William James is credited as “guest director” (“gast-regie”). What was his role in the production?

AK: William James is not only the guest director, he is one of the editors and the creator of Hyper Electro Man1)The surperhero character in the film.. William is one of my closest friends and collaborators, we have been working together for a long time.  He wanted to do Hyper Electro Man as a short film and direct it. We decided to put the storyline in the film and I asked him to direct it.

366: Snowflake was made independently on a very low budget— how did you convince so many people to work without immediate pay?

AK: I think we convinced them with the crazy ideas the script was offering. I promised them that I would finish the film, that it will remarkable and different.  It was a lot of energy that we invested into convincing people to help us not only the ones in front of the camera, I’m happy that at the end everyone is happy with the result and they are proud of being part of this unique and mostly wild ride.

366: Did your previous work in making commercials influence Snowflake? Commercial directors are often obliged to make a small budget look big.

AK: Well, what we spent in Snowflake is a quarter of the budget of a normal commercial, but yes, that’s something important that I learned while doing commercials, which is to find a way, always! To work under massive pressure and stay focused.  Of course shooting a film is a different job but I think it helps a lot to have experience in both.

366: With so many characters, who do you see as the primary protagonist of the story (if there is one)?

AK: I developed a different kind of love for everyone, but the primary are TAN, JAVID, ELIANA and CARSON.

366: Is Hauke (synonym for “warrior”) Winter based on anyone in particular, or just representative of the rising fringe in German politics?

AK: Hauke is based in Populism, the men of power that disguise themselves as victims of the system to get to power (Left and Right wing). It is very sad to see what is happening in the world right now. No continent is safe from their own Hauke.

366: Did you know screenwriter Arend Remmers before beginning this project? How did the script come to you?

Still from Snowflake (2017)
Arend (Alexander Schubert) performs a quick script rewrite at the urging of Javid (Reza Brojerdi)

AK:  I was involved on the project since the beginning, the writer Arend Remmers is one of my best friends. Snowflake was born out of frustration because of failed past projects, that never got done because of financing and producers trying to make our stories more conventional, so Arend and I decided to do a bonkers film and break the rules, but only under one condition: we have to do it ourselves together with our friends, so we don’t have to compromise, that meant no fancy production companies or any budget. We have known each other for 8 years now, we worked together in many small projects before Snowflake. Now Arend is one of the most brilliant writers in Germany, he is not afraid of breaking rules and changing the form, which I love. I am like that too, so we work together very well! We are like brothers, we respect each other’s opinions and share the same film DNA.

366: Why was “dentist” the day job for the in-movie screenwriter?

AK: Because a friend of ours is a dentist and said “you can shoot here.” Everything in the movie is based on ’s rule: Use what you have 🙂

366: How did you go about casting someone to portray a character with the real name of the actual screenwriter?

AK: Alexander Schubert, who plays Arend Remmers, is a friend of ours. I remember we pitched him his character and what he does and he was very excited. When we told him that his name is Arend he went crazy and started laughing. He took the job on the spot, ha ha.

366: Did you consider a cameo role for the real Arend Remmers?

AK: No, ha ha, my Arend is too shy, it would give me a headache to direct him.

References   [ + ]

1. The surperhero character in the film.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: THE MAKER OF “MANDY”

From my vantage point on the less-esteemed side of the velvet rope, I saw my quarry, Panos Cosmatos, posing for innumerable photographs with various industry and festival bigwigs just before the Canadian premiere of his new movie, Mandy. I had been shuffled around no fewer than four times before being planted right underneath a bright spotlight a few feet from the director. Eventually, he came over—and I got my four minutes.

366: I’m with 366 Weird Movies, and we’re a big fan of your previous movie, Beyond the Black Rainbow. It beat out 63 contenders in a readers’ choice poll to be certified on our list–

PC: A list of “weird movies”? Nice.

366: Yup. We’re looking for  366 of best, weird movies we can find, one for each day of the year including leap-year.

PC: Love it.

366: I have a few questions for you. In Beyond the Black Rainbow, we saw some and influences; I was wondering if you might remark on some of the directorial influences specifically for Mandy?

PC: Honestly, for this film, I felt more that I was just tapping into myself, just following my instincts a little bit more and seeing where that took me.

366: In Beyond the Black Rainbow, there’s a melancholic, sort of space-y feel. Obviously it’s a very different tone from Mandy.

PC: Yeah, it’s more “melancholic and barbaric”.

366: Nicely put. Now, tapping into yourself, I know that your father was involved in any number of motion pictures. I was curious personally in regards to your mother, who was a sculptor. Did she influence you artistically in any way?

PC: Very much so, yes. She nurtured my creativity from the beginning and had an incredible way of looking at the world, and that’s a big part of me.

366: Now your previous movie and this one, they both take place in 1983, and you’ve indicated in a number of interviews your reason for that. 1)1983 was the first year that a young Cosmatos went to the store “Video Addict”, during which time he would imagine the stories behind the box covers of horror films he was not allowed to rent. Obviously it might be too early to ask about future projects, but do you think you’ll be sticking with the year 1983 in the future, or do you think you might eventually go forward or backward?

PC: *laughs* I think the next film will probably go forward — but never the present. Never the present.

366: Your previous film was largely self-funded–

PC: Yup.

366: –This was a larger production. Were there any problems with “strings attached”, or were you able to maneuver things?

PC:Amazingly I was given basically complete freedom, that’s why I got involved with SpectreVision, because they vowed to protect my vision and nurture it all the way through, and they lived up to that.

366: That’s excellent. I’m from the United States, and I’m fearful I might not be able to catch this movie again; do you know anything about wider distribution?

PC: I think it’s getting released on about 300 screens in the US on September 14th. Where in the US are you from?

366: Upstate New York.

PC: Cool! I always romanticize that area in my mind, having never been there. But I do have that romanticized version of Upstate New York in my mind.

366: Well, Upstate New York is very flattered.

PC: *laughs*

366: In regards to Mandy specifically, where in Heaven’s name did that “folk song” come from?

PC: The lyrics were written by me and Dan Boeckner from the band “Operators”. He wrote the verses, I wrote the chorus. And then Milky Burgess wrote the instrumentation and Randall Dunn produced it and we kind of just threw it together in the recording studio in a day or two.

366: It is, in its way, a very good song–

PC: *laughs*

366: –and it certainly conveys that fellow well. And one question I like to close all my interviews with, what’s your home town and do you have a restaurant you can recommend?

PC: Where I live now? Vancouver, and I would recommend “Kingyo”.

366: Thank you very much for your time. Fantastic movie, and I wish you the best of luck.

…and with that, mere minutes before the film’s start, he was summoned for further photographs. 

References   [ + ]

1. 1983 was the first year that a young Cosmatos went to the store “Video Addict”, during which time he would imagine the stories behind the box covers of horror films he was not allowed to rent.

RAW AUDIO: CAM CAST AND CREW

366 Weird Movies interviews the cast and crew of Cam, 2018 psychological thriller in which camgirl Lola finds that somehow, someTHING has nabbed her account and is posing as her, performing acts she would never agree to…

Interviewees: Daniel Goldhaber (director), Isa Mazzei (writer), Patch Darragh (actor, “Tinker”)

See also the mini-capsule in Giles’ Fantasia 2018 batch update, “A Second Slice of Strange.”

INTERVIEWING AARON SCHIMBERG: KEEPING IT NORMAL

On Thursday, July 19, I had the pleasure of meeting with director Aaron Schimberg, whose new movie Chained for Life had its International Premier the night before. Nestled in a back room in the SGWU, we had a quick chat.

366: This is Giles Edwards sitting down with Aaron Schimberg who directed Chained to Life … Pardon? Oh, Chained for Life. Terrible start. It played to a full house, and I also noticed when I was out in line that the press line was as long as the ticket-holder line, so that will hopefully get the word out on this great feature. You probably saw the reaction of the house a lot of clapping and laughing.

AS: I only paid attention to the people who weren’t clapping and laughing.

366: Well, there were plenty of people who were. Now, Chained for Life is kind of a “meta-movie” about making a period hospital-horror film while mostly focusing the actors’ world. We actually recently did a long-form review of the movie Freaks, and one of the things remarked on by the reviewer was that that was the kind of film you really couldn’t make anymore. But you, obviously, have put together something that, while different in tone, is comparable in structure, with a band of “normal” actors and production people and individuals with different disabilities. So it looks like that kind of thing is still possible. Did you have difficulty corralling the groups together or starting this project in any way?

AS: The film is in many ways a response to Freaks and an update of it. It was hard to cast in a way because there aren’t a lot of advocacy groups for people with disabilities, but not everyone in the film was an “actor.” Just because it’s a low budget film, it’s difficult to cast anyway, so I had to cast sort of by any means necessary: either pick people out from the street, or go through casting agents, or friends, or people that we’d seen in other movies. Everyone seemed to me—if you’re asking about actors with disabilities—seemed to relate to the script and and seemed fully on board. It was almost like a summer camp atmosphere, a very positive environment. It’s hard to get a film off the ground, but once we were up and running it was a pretty smooth process.

366: I like how you said “summer camp atmosphere,” because that was definitely captured—certainly in the scenes at night at the hospital with just the “freak” part of the cast there, hanging out.

You said [last night] that about twenty pages into the script you were writing about this lead character with certain attributes, a certain accent. How did you get in touch with your leading man, ?

AS: Yeah, so I had written a character with neurofibromatosis, who was British. I don’t know why. I was probably thinking of the Elephant Man, who had neurofibromatosis—possibly, there’s a debate Continue reading INTERVIEWING AARON SCHIMBERG: KEEPING IT NORMAL

INTERVIEWING JOEL POTRYKUS: THE MAN BEHIND THE COUCH

A lazy man with a movie-making mission, Joel Potrykus continues to tap the deep creative vein of Grand Rapids, MI with his fourth feature, Relaxer. We sat down together, perched high above the SGWU mezzanine.

366: I’m here with Joel Potrykus whose movie Relaxer debuted at Fantasia to much laughter and applause. I’ll admit from the get-go that I’m not well prepared, so if you’re feeling chatty about anything, feel free to continue talking at me.

JPI’m never prepared, so we’re on the same page.

366: Then I’ll start with an easy question: other than the promise of fame and riches, what was it that got you into filmmaking?

JP: Shoot, well, it was really all about the fame and riches… I was a “VHS kid,” and there was one summer, when I was ten, I broke my leg playing baseball, so I had to spend the whole summer in a cast up to my hip in the basement. It was so hot, and nothing to do, and we didn’t have cable in the basement, so my dad would bring me five movies every day from the video store, whatever he picked, so I just spent a whole summer watching, like, two-hundred movies. And in there was American Werewolf in London, and that kind of changed a lot of things for me. Seeing that kind of blend of horror and comedy, and [director John] Landis going whatever direction he wanted.

Then when I was fourteen, I was really into the Doors, and I was at a birthday party where they rented that movie and ‘s at the beach saying, “Yeah, I’m going to film school right now!” When I was fourteen, I had never heard those two words connected to each-other: film cchool. And I was like, “That’s where I’m going to go.”

366: You’re from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Do you have much to recommend about that part of the world?

JP: Yeah, dude, if you want to make a feature film, and don’t want to spend a lot of money for permits, and are asking the police if it’s okay to close off the street, go to Grand Rapids, Michigan. We still make the movies there because it’s really the only place… I have a manager in LA, who’s like, “What are you doing? Come to LA and direct TV, and pitch your big ideas…”. So I guess maybe it’s not fame and fortune I was after, because then I’d be out in LA. But I prefer to just hide out, that’s the only place I know how to make films.

366: Well, maybe the fame and fortune will hunt you down. Your rep said you had big ideas to pitch. What are your big ideas?

JP: In my head they’re big ideas, but I was recently tracked down by Amazon and I pitched the ideas, and I don’t think they were very big. They’re weird and small. [Amazon had] a specific budget range they need to hit, and it was ten-million dollars. I had no idea how to Continue reading INTERVIEWING JOEL POTRYKUS: THE MAN BEHIND THE COUCH