Gremlins online presents the long-awaited exclusive interview with the incredibly talented Sacha Feiner.
Here are two of his videos on Youtube for you to check out, including the incredible Gremlins Fan Film Mash-Up.
Without further delay, let’s get the interview started!
Q: First off, thanks for letting me interview you for Gremlins Online, Sacha. By now, the gremlins community knows your name and you are something of a Gremlins Celebrity among fans. What can you tell us about yourself?
A: First of all, thanks for your invitation. I hope my written english will be ok! I’ll briefly talk of my career: I made graphic communication studies, and was graduated in 2005. I didn’t like it that much but I succeeded in diverting it to cinema and animation;
my graduate project was an interactive political sci-fi animated movie. After that, I made several short movies and cartoons, also working as a graphist. My first big professional work (but still personal), the one I am the most proud of today, was the “World In Progress” series, that was played before each screening at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival in 2007 (you can watch that series on Youtube – type “sacha feiner”). After co-directing a recut trailers series last year, a very interesting editing exercise, I am now making another more personal series for 2009, but it is still in pre-production so I shouldn’t talk too much! Same thing for my first long feature, which french producers are interested in…
(The rest of the interview follows after the break!)
Q: Could you share what exactly originally inspired you to do these Gremlins movie Mash-ups?
A: As a movie maker and Gremlins (and special effects) fan, I always wanted to do something with those creatures. However, as I had no real time limit, I postponed the idea after the years. But last year, after watching the BT Gremlins commercial, I thought time had come. As I did not want to make just a “fan film”, but something that could really get me involved in an official Gremlins remake or sequel, I was even in the hurry.The Gremlins 25th anniversary was (and still is) also coming…
I stopped thinking. I had read in an interview that Joe Dante would have liked the Gremlins 2 “film break” scene to be updated to DVD era, but that there was never a budget nor interest from Warner Bros to do it. That was going to be my mission. The unique chance to fulfill an “empty” place, to create the missing updated sequence. Something that would be attractive for today’s audience (by invading classic popular films), but also a demonstration of my skills. The idea of an interaction with invaded movies came fast, after thinking of adding Gremlins to push the furniture in the Exorcist. The other movies followed.
Q: The Goonies, The Exorcist, Batman, and Indiana Jones are all movies ingrained into the public’s concioussnes, but in the end what influenced your decision for those specific legendary films of the 80s?
A: First thing: the movies had to be popular, commercial and classic blockbusters. Not because I like that genre, but because I needed my work to get known. The invasion in known cult scenes is more attractive to the public than “just gremlins”. I knew Indy, Batman fans, and so on, would also be interested. Of course, the possible interaction was also very determining. It was a difficult work of research, analysis and editing, but I was used to it, as I had made recut trailers a few months before. The Goonies line was obligatory, as they reference about gremlins on purpose… and the “Beast from 20 000 Fathoms” was chosen because of the link with Joe Dante’s “classic sci-fi spirit” (there is another excerpt of that movie
in Gremlins 2), but also because that is the kind of movie I definitely love. Even for “modern audiences”, black and white giant stop-motion monsters are an universal reference. I also wanted all of them to be released BEFORE Gremlins 2… which is not essential, but in my eyes it just added some authenticity to the tone.
Q: What kind of time investment was required to accomplish the first clip, and then did it get easier as you went on?
A: I think the Exorcist sequence was made within 10 days, but I did not see the project as separated sequences; more like a big interactive labyrinth; the sequen
ces were not shot chronologically. All the (material) investment was made at the start; everything was ready, and the only
thing left was… the painstaking animation and compositing. Of course, I learned a lot and the process was easier and faster in the end, but also more “skimped”, as I was quite tired (two months to do it, means two months night and day without anything else in my life!).
Q: Have you encountered any resistance regarding the creation of your Gremlins fan film?
A: Any resistance… Well, I can’t say so. Everything was planned, and I know enough in every movie creation and effects step not to be too much surprised. I already had enough experience in animation and compositing to be sure everything planned was feasible, and I knew how to do it at every step.
Q: That is really good to hear, so what makes Gremlins so appealing to you, over any other fan films you could have done?
A: Well, except I especially like the creature design, I suppose I still like the Gremlins movies so much because with the years, the way I see those movies evolved with my vision of the world. That is not easy to stand for most “childhood” movies; most of the films I saw as a kid, enjoying them at first degree, are uninteresting to me today (however, 80’s children movies were in general WAY better than today). But not with Gremlins movies; with the years I understood Gremlins is the most outrageous attack to Christmas in a studio picture ever, and Gremlins 2 is just… the most unconventional and unthinkable studio picture ever. Warner Bros orders you a movie, and you give them that… unthinkable and heroic. I need to see some “meaning” and society questioning in movies, and Gremlins 2 fulfills that need at every frame, as well as all political sci-fi movies. Gilliam’s Brazil remains my all-time favourite.
Q. What are your thoughts on the Gremlins British Telecom ad that recently took British television by storm?
A: Hmmm… I can find good and bad points. The good points are mainly related to the puppets and their animation. However, I can’t say I like the puppets nor their animation… just their principle (not CGI). As you could see it in the ad, they hastily resculpted a gremlin, without really knowing the design, which gives deformed creatures (in my eyes, but I have the original Chrs Walas desing branded in my head, so I’ll understand if no one else shares my opinion…). I can’t say either that I like the fact of using my favourite anarchic monsters for making money on telecommunications, especially 25 years after the movie.
I also was told that ad was very, very expensive, with 20 puppeteers being paid about 1000€ a day… A consultant on this ad told me about MILLIONS of pounds budget. I just couldn’ believe it…
As you know, my fan film had a 2500€ budget, including all the materials and camera price… and I’ve been told from every public and official side (including Joe Dante, Michael Finnel and Rick Baker) that my gremlins were way better animated (!). As we speak, the BT ad has 75 000 visits on Youtube in 8 months, while my fan film (which had not the same promotion!) counts 327 000 in 4 months… I don’t want to be pretentious but I think it reflects the quality of both works.
The BT ad did not take any risk (but which ad does?); it gave the audience what they had already seen. It was not imaginative at all; a gremlin breaking cables or turning on a fan had already been seen… while my fan film took them in completely different universes. I think, and I hope, that is the reason why my film has more success.
Q: Has your Gremlins fan film opened any doors for you?
A: I was lucky enough to know an amateur film maker, who happened to attend a convention in Pittsburgh, where Dante was signing autographs. He was kind enough to show Dante my fan film there. Dante appreciated it so much that he seriously wanted it included in the next official DVD release of Gremlins 2.
Here is his testimonial just after watching it:
Today, I am in contact with him and Michael Finnel, the original producer, who is in talks with Warner Bros… So this will happen. I will let you know. That is the first step, and I hope once my work will be officially released, I may be in position to take part in a new Gremlins movie, who knows… anyway that was the purpose, and it is going its right way. Remakes, reboots and late sequels are so common these days, they have such a lack of ideas, that a new Gremlins franchise is just inevitable. For the worst, or, I hope, the better, and I hope to be a part of it.
Otherwise, I got a very nice mail from Rick Baker himself, telling me my effects were very clever… and that the way I did it was exactly what he wanted back in 1989… which was impossible, even for his studio, as those were times in which, of course, digital compositing was not as accessible as today.
Q: You said that technology has advanced way beyond what was available in the 80’s , how do you thing this will affect the rumors of Gremlins 3 being Direct-to-dvd, and the gremlins most likely being completely CGI?
Q: I am not surprised. Crappy movies and sequels are everywhere today. Fortunately, they did not do it yet. Like every other fan’s testimonials I read on forums, I am against CGI gremlins, but especially, I am against bad movies. And everyone knows DTV are bad movies at any levels. Conventionally written and made to fit in the “wall-mart discount DVD’s” rack. But they don’t know what to do with Gremlins, as, like Dante said many times, they don’t understand the material. That is why nothing has been made yet. And I hope to catch the train soon enough to help building a new, rich, real gremlins project.
Thank you very much Sacha, and hopefully we will see your videos in a new DVD release of Gremlins 2!