Author

Christian Genzel

Christian Genzel has 7 articles published.

Christian Genzel
Christian Genzel works as a filmmaker and journalist. He has written and directed the psychological thriller DIE MUSE/The Muse plus several music videos and short films. His mystery short CINEMA DELL' OSCURITÀ was nominated for the 13th Street Shocking Short Award in 2017. He is currently working on a documentary on cult filmmaker Howard Ziehm called FINDING PLANET PORNO. As a journalist, Genzel has been published in/at Film & TV Kamera, Celluloid, 35 Millimeter, GameStar, Neon Zombie, gmx.de and the All-Music Guide. He has conducted in-depth interviews with numerous filmmakers, musicians, game designers, and others.

Talking Pictures #7: John Orloff, Screenwriter of ANONYMOUS

Today’s guest is John Orloff, the screenwriter of Roland Emmerich’s ANONYMOUS – a complex and fascinating historical drama about the theory that William Shakespeare may not be the author of the works of William Shakespeare. Instead, the movie claims that the Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere, wrote famous plays like HAMLET and ROMEO AND JULIET, and that through complex political scheming he wasn’t able to receive credit for them, but instead a hapless young actor, William Shakespeare, served as a front for him.

In our interview, John discusses the long process of developing the script, which began with a completely different take on Shakespeare. He talks about his collaboration with Roland Emmerich, which added many new elements to the story, and about the intricate structure of the film, which Orloff himself says may be a little bit too complicated. He discusses the angry reactions and reviews the movie received, and he talks about why he believes that Shakespeare isn’t the author of the plays – and why discussing the authorship issue is a worthwhile debate.

John also discusses some of the other projects he’s worked on, like the BAND OF BROTHERS miniseries which was produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, and he talks about some of the guiding themes of his work.

The interview was done in connection with our Lichtspielplatz podcast on ANONYMOUS, so if you speak German, check out episode #40 of our Lichtspielplatz podcast with an in-depth discussion of the film and its themes.

So here’s Talking Pictures with screenwriter John Orloff!

The mp3 file can be downloaded HERE.
The Talking Pictures podcast can be found on iTunes: HERE.

All photos (C) John Orloff.
Special thanks to Dr. Wily, my Lichtspielplatz podcasting partner for audio editing. The music was created by Clark Kent.

Talking Pictures #6: Kevin Droney, Screenwriter of MORTAL KOMBAT and WING COMMANDER

Today’s guest is screenwriter Kevin Droney – who adapted not one but two computer games for the big screen back in the Nineties: MORTAL KOMBAT and WING COMMANDER. MORTAL KOMBAT, directed by Paul W.S. Anderson and based on the fighting game series that was known for its ultra-violence, was released in 1995 and was a huge success, spending three weeks at the number one spot of the U.S. box office. Unfortunately, WING COMMANDER, released in 1999, was not as successful – in fact, it was a failure both critically and commercially, even though it remains to this day the only game adaptation directed by the creator of the game series himself, Chris Roberts – whose WING COMMANDER sci-fi action series was a gaming phenomenon throughout the Nineties and continuously pushed the technological boundaries of computer gaming.

In our interview, Kevin discusses how he created the story for MORTAL KOMBAT, a game that didn’t really have a plot, and how he focused on the mythological aspects of the game’s background. He talks about how Linden Ashby kept adlibbing lines and confusing his fellow actors, and he also talks about how his love for the Bruce Lee movies influenced the script. Kevin also shares his memories of developing the WING COMMANDER script together with Chris Roberts and exploring his sci-fi universe, and he discusses how the script got rewritten without his involvement and why the finished film doesn’t really represent his original script. We also talked a little bit about another film that Kevin wrote, a drama starring Raul Julia and Laura Dern called DOWN CAME A BLACKBIRD, a captivating, serious story about a clinic for survivors of torture that shows Kevin’s versatility as a screenwriter.

For more on the video game movies of the Nineties, please check out our other interviews here on Talking Pictures, including an interview with Rocky Morton, co-director of SUPER MARIO BROS., an interview with DOUBLE DRAGON director Jim Yukich, and an interview with Steven E. de Souza, writer/director of STREET FIGHTER.

If you speak German, there’s also episode #38 of our Lichtspielplatz podcast with in-depth discussions of all these movies.

So here’s Talking Pictures with screenwriter Kevin Droney!

The mp3 file can be downloaded HERE.
The Talking Pictures podcast can be found on iTunes: HERE.

Photo of Kevin Droney (C) Kevin Droney.
Special thanks to Dr. Wily, my Lichtspielplatz podcasting partner for audio editing. The music was created by Clark Kent.

Talking Pictures #5: Steven E. de Souza, Writer/Director of STREET FIGHTER

As part of our series on video game adaptations, I spoke to Steven E. de Souza, writer and director of STREET FIGHTER. After SUPER MARIO BROS. and DOUBLE DRAGON, STREET FIGHTER was the third video game adaptation to be released in the Nineties, and unlike its predecessors, it actually turned a healthy profit. In our interview, Steven talks about several of the problems that plagued the production of STREET FIGHTER – like co-star Raul Julia’s failing health, which meant that the shooting schedule needed to be rearranged, which in turn meant that there was not enough time to work on the choreography of several fight scenes; and he also talks about the impact of the negative reviews the movie received.

Steven, who is probably the fastest-talking screenwriter in Hollywood, also shares with us tons of funny, absurd and insightful stories on several of the other movies he’s worked on – like DIE HARD and DIE HARD 2, HUDSON HAWK, RICOCHET, the TOMB RAIDER movies and the Schwarzenegger film COMMANDO.

For more on the video game movies of the Nineties, please check out our other interviews here on Talking Pictures, including an interview with Rocky Morton, co-director of SUPER MARIO BROS., an interview with Jim Yukich, director of DOUBLE DRAGON, and an interview with Kevin Droney, the writer of MORTAL KOMBAT and WING COMMANDER.

If you speak German, there’s also episode #38 of our Lichtspielplatz podcast with in-depth discussions of all these movies.

So here’s Talking Pictures with Steven de Souza!

The mp3 file can be downloaded HERE.
The Talking Pictures podcast can be found on iTunes: HERE.

Photo of Steven E. de Souza from imdb.com.
Special thanks to Dr. Wily, my Lichtspielplatz podcasting partner for audio editing. The music was created by Clark Kent.

Talking Pictures #4: Jim Yukich, Director of DOUBLE DRAGON

As part of our focus on the video game adaptations of the Nineties, I spoke to Jim Yukich, director of DOUBLE DRAGON – an adaptation of the popular beat’em up video game series. The movie came out in November 1994, one and a half years after SUPER MARIO BROS. and just a few weeks before Steven de Souza’s STREET FIGHTER movie, so it’s actually the second video game movie to be released – and just like SUPER MARIO BROS., it was a commercial and critical failure, even though the film is much better and more enjoyable than its reputation.

While DOUBLE DRAGON was Jim Yukich’s first movie, he had already established himself as a very prolific music video director. Jim shot videos for artists like Genesis, Phil Collins, Iron Maiden, David Bowie, Kenny Loggins, Foreigner, Jeff Beck, Mike & the Mechanics, Pat Benatar, REO Speedwagon, Cheap Trick, Whitney Houston and a ton of other famous musicians. He created Michael Jackson’s “Liberian Girl” video which featured superstar cameos by the likes of Steven Spielberg, Quincy Jones, John Travolta, Weird Al Yankovic, Richard Dreyfuss, Dan Aykroyd and many others. While Jim has made only one more movie since Double Dragon, he remains busy creating concert videos for bands like Crosby, Stills & Nash, Def Leppard and even Megadeth.

In this episode, Jim shares how the DOUBLE DRAGON movie came together. He talks about how he and producer Alan Schechter, actually a good friend of his, didn’t quite see eye to eye on the tone of the movie, whether it should be a tough dystopian action picture or a cheerful and fun adventure for kids. Jim also recalls several of the problems the production ran into, like the original director of photography, Tony Mitchell, injuring himself right at the beginning and then trying to continue working on the film from a stretcher. And he also talks about how the film turned out to be very popular on a small island in the Pacific.

For more on the video game movies of the Nineties, please check out our other interviews here on Talking Pictures, including an interview with Rocky Morton, co-director of SUPER MARIO BROS., an interview with Steven de Souza, writer/director of STREET FIGHTER, and with Kevin Droney, the writer of MORTAL KOMBAT and WING COMMANDER.

If you speak German, there’s also episode #38 of our Lichtspielplatz podcast with in-depth discussions of all these movies.

So here’s Talking Pictures with director Jim Yukich!

The mp3 file can be downloaded HERE.
The Talking Pictures podcast can be found on iTunes: HERE.

Photo of Jim Yukich (C) Jim Yukich.
DOUBLE DRAGON photo: (C) Christian Genzel.
Special thanks to Dr. Wily, my Lichtspielplatz podcasting partner for audio editing. The music was created by Clark Kent.

Talking Pictures #3: Rocky Morton, Director of SUPER MARIO BROS. and Creator of MAX HEADROOM

For today’s episode, I spoke to British director Rocky Morton – the co-director, together with his then-wife Annabel Jankel, of the infamous SUPER MARIO BROS. movie. Released in 1993, this very first video game adaptation was plagued by endless rewrites and heavy studio meddling, so it became almost a cautionary tale – even though the film has a lot more to offer than its reputation would suggest. Before SUPER MARIO BROS., Rocky and Annabel were also the creators of MAX HEADROOM, the world’s first virtual TV host, who became a cult figure with his own music video show, a series, commercials, and even a computer game. They shot music videos for the likes of Elvis Costello, the Talking Heads, Rush, the Tom Tom Club and even Miles Davis, and they were also known for their cutting-edge commercials and TV title sequences. Due to the failure of SUPER MARIO BROS., Rocky hasn’t directed another feature film since, but he remains very active in the field of commercials.

In this Talking Pictures episode, Rocky discusses the process of adapting a video game without a story into a huge Hollywood movie, he talks about many of the problems he and Annabel ran into while making the film – like receiving a completely rewritten script just a few days before principal photography, or getting locked out of the editing room. Rocky also shares memories of his early career, like getting thrown off the crew of the movie adaptation of Pink Floyd’s THE WALL, one of his first gigs as an animator, or developing the cyberpunk world of MAX HEADROOM, or creating particularly subversive music videos, including one for the Sex Pistols.

This interview is part of a series on video game adaptations, so be sure to also check out the Talking Pictures episodes with DOUBLE DRAGON director Jim Yukich, with STREET FIGHTER writer/director Steven de Souza, and with MORTAL KOMBAT and WING COMMANDER screenwriter Kevin Droney.

If you speak German, there’s also episode #38 of our Lichtspielplatz podcast with in-depth discussions of all these movies.

So here’s Talking Pictures with director Rocky Morton!

The mp3 file can be downloaded HERE.
The Talking Pictures podcast can be found on iTunes: HERE.

Photo of Rocky Morton (C) Rocky Morton.
Special thanks to Dr. Wily, my Lichtspielplatz podcasting partner for audio editing. The music was created by Clark Kent.

Talking Pictures #2: Mark W. Travis, Director of GOING UNDER

Back in the Nineties, I came across a comedy on German television starring Bill Pullman that was called U-BOOT ACADEMY – a film that seemed to be in the same vein as the POLICE ACADEMY movies, with lovably goofy characters and a delightfully silly kind of humor. Even though Michael Winslow had a small part in it, the film actually didn’t have anything to do with the ACADEMY series, as I later found out – its original title was GOING UNDER. Regardless of its connection or lack thereof to the ACADEMY movies, I loved the film – its visual gags, its crazy ideas, its Zucker-style absurdity. Pullman was in his wonderful early comedy mode, and the film (which I’ve always seen in its dubbed version, which adds quite a lot of puns) remains endlessly quotable.

Over the years, I’ve always kept an eye out for other films made by GOING UNDER’s director, Mark W. Travis. While Mark has worked extensively in television and theatre, GOING UNDER remains his only feature film. However, Mark went on to become a well-regarded teacher, doing acting and directing workshops all over the world, and releasing several books on directing, e.g. THE FILM DIRECTOR’S BAG OF TRICKS. You can find out more about him on his website.

After revisiting the film and writing a piece on it for my German-language blog Wilsons Dachboden (here), I decided to contact Mark and interview him about the film. I was surprised to hear that there was a lot of behind-the-scenes drama in post-production, and the finished film isn’t what Mark wanted at all …

The mp3 file can be downloaded HERE.
The Talking Pictures podcast can be found on iTunes: HERE.

Photo of Mark W. Travis (C) Mark W. Travis.
Special thanks to Dr. Wily, my Lichtspielplatz podcasting partner for audio editing. The music was created by Clark Kent.

Talking Pictures #1: Howard Ziehm, Creator of FLESH GORDON

In February 1994, a film that was shown late at night on TV caught my attention: FLESH GORDON MEETS THE COSMIC CHEERLEADERS. It was labelled “flop of the day” by my TV guide, but that never stopped me from checking out movies that looked different and interesting. The film turned out to be one of the craziest comedies ever made – a SF spoof with no shortage of dirty jokes, inspired silliness, weird monsters and … yes, penis- and breast-shaped spaceships. Certainly not a film for everybody, but done with an amazing amount of creativity.

A couple years later, I got the UK VHS tapes of both FLESH GORDON and FLESH GORDON MEETS THE COSMIC CHEERLEADERS. I watched them over and over again, sometimes with friends who I tried to introduce to the offbeat charm of both movies. And, having an Internet connection since 1996, I tried finding out more about FLESH GORDON creator Howard Ziehm. I gathered he had done a number of adult films and hadn’t made a new movie since 1989’s FLESH GORDON MEETS THE COSMIC CHEERLEADERS. Other than that, information was very sparse.

Turns out Howard Ziehm didn’t just direct a few random adult films – he was actually one of the pioneers of the porno revolution of the 70’s, having directed its first feature film with theatrical distribution, MONA THE VIRGIN NYMPH!

Several years later, FLESH GORDON was released on DVD – along with an audio commentary by Howard, who told the fascinating story of how that film came together. It’s a tale of accidents and police raids, betrayal and overcoming adversity – simply put: a riveting account that makes you wish it didn’t end after an hour.

Last year, Howard told the full story when he released his autobiography TAKE YOUR SHAME AND SHOVE IT – which isn’t just a highly entertaining story of a porn pioneer who’s also been the co-owner of a folk club in San Francisco and tried his hand (not too successfully, as he is quick to point out) at smuggling drugs from Mexico, but also a fascinating portrait of an era that brought immense social and moral changes.

And now, Howard’s my first guest on my new interview series Talking Pictures. I feel honored that he took the time to talk to me about his book and his career. We’ve discussed how he almost threw in the towel when making FLESH GORDON, how the adult movie industry has changed, why people are ashamed of their sexuality, what Howard’s stylistic touches are – and Howard gives the most concise advice ever on how to shoot good porn. Enjoy!

The file can be downloaded HERE.
The Talking Pictures podcast can be found on iTunes: HERE.

Many thanks to Howard and Judy Ziehm for the picture.
Special thanks to Dr. Wily, my Lichtspielplatz podcasting partner, and Dia Westerteicher, from the Evil Ed Podcast, for audio editing and mastering. The music was created by Clark Kent.

Go to Top