Author

Christian Genzel

Christian Genzel has 11 articles published.

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 #11: Joshua Michael Stern, Director/Writer of SWING VOTE

Today’s guest is director and screenwriter Joshua Michael Stern, best known for his 2013 biopic of Steve Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher, and his 2016 TV series GRAVES starring Nick Nolte as a former president of the United States. In our conversation, we focus on Stern’s 2008 movie SWING VOTE which stars Kevin Costner as a working-class man who suddenly finds himself in a very curious position: through several circumstances, the outcome of the current presidential election will depend on his vote – and so both political parties try to win him over by tailoring their campaigns to what they think will appeal to this one individual person.

A satirical movie about the election process, SWING VOTE emphasizes the importance of voting and engaging with politics – and so our discussion of the film quickly opened up to include many of the issues of the political reality of today’s America. The conversation was recorded at the end of September 2020, and when we mention “yesterday’s debate”, we are referring to the first TV debate of Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Joshua talks about the necessity of being involved, the ideas of democracy and the challenges it’s currently facing, the impact of social media, the themes of his work, and much more.

The interview was conducted in connection with our German-language companion podcast Lichtspielplatz. If you speak German, go to www.lichtspielplatz.at , where you’ll find an in-depth discussion of SWING VOTE in episode #44.

So here’s Talking Pictures with Joshua Michael Stern!

The mp3 file can be downloaded HERE.

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

Talking Pictures #10: Jackie Kong, Director of BLOOD DINER

Today’s guest is cult filmmaker Jackie Kong, best known for her outrageous horror comedy BLOOD DINER – the charming story of two homicidal brothers who dig up their uncle’s corpse and follow the instructions from his undead brain to kill a large number of people so that they can use the body parts to resurrect the ancient Lumerian goddess Sheetar. The film, which came out in 1987, is now well-regarded as an underground cult movie which has seen quite a few successful revival screenings in the past few years.

Jackie Kong directing Carl Crew on the set of BLOOD DINER.

Kong made her first film in her early twenties: a monster movie called THE BEING, shot in 1980, released in 1983, starring Martin Landau, Jose Ferrer, and Howard Ziehm‘s former producing partner Bill Osco. Jackie also made two comedies, both in the vein of the POLICE ACADEMY movies: NIGHT PATROL, starring The Unknown Comic Murray Langston and Linda Blair, and THE UNDERACHIEVERS, starring Edward Albert and Barbara Carrera.

And then, after four films, she stopped making movies and mostly disappeared from the public eye, briefly resurfacing in 2001 with an early webseries called KARAOKE NIGHTS. In recent years, she’s launched a website where she addressed rumors about herself, she attended many screenings of her films, she recorded audio commentaries for re-releases of her movies, and she’s currently working on a new project. In our interview, Jackie talks about the making of BLOOD DINER, her aesthetic and her characters, she discusses her particular twisted brand of Americana, and she teases a new project she’s currently working on.

You can find out more about Jackie on her website jackiekongdirector.com. BLOOD DINER is available on Hulu.

So here’s Talking Pictures with Jackie Kong!

The mp3 file can be downloaded HERE.

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

Talking Pictures #9: Charlie Haas, Screenwriter of MATINEE

Today’s guest is screenwriter Charlie Haas, best known for his work with cult filmmaker Joe Dante. Our conversation focuses on their movie MATINEE, released in 1993 – a love letter to the horror films of the 50’s and 60’s set during the Cuban Missile Crisis: John Goodman plays Lawrence Woolsey, a producer not unlike William Castle, who comes to Key West, Florida, to promote his new monster movie MANT! – half man, half ant, all terror! The story is told from the perspective of a young boy who loves horror cinema, and who befriends the eccentric producer while out in the real world, the United States and the Soviet Union come close to a full-scale nuclear war during the October Crisis of 1962.

In our interview, Charlie talks about his own movie-going experiences and his memories of the Cold War, about working with a film scholar like Joe Dante, about the development of MATINEE and the inspiration behind the Lawrence Woolsey character. We also talked about some of Charlie’s other work, including the teen rebellion drama OVER THE EDGE, the sci-fi cult classic TRON, Joe Dante’s anarchic sequel GREMLINS 2, their TV movie RUNAWAY DAUGHTERS – and an exciting project they worked on which unfortunately didn’t come to fruition.

The interview was conducted in connection with the German-language podcast Lichtspielplatz where we produced an entire episode on MATINEE, so if you speak German, check out our Lichtspielplatz episode #43 at www.lichtspielplatz.at.

So here’s Talking Pictures with Charlie Haas!

The mp3 file can be downloaded HERE.

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

Talking Pictures #8: Midge Costin, Director of MAKING WAVES

Today’s guest is sound editor-turned-filmmaker Midge Costin. Midge worked as a sound and dialogue editor on some of the biggest films of the Nineties – ARMAGEDDON, CON AIR, THE ROCK, BROKEN ARROW, CRIMSON TIDE – but also on films like CRY-BABY, LEAP OF FAITH or SWING KIDS. She later became a teacher at the University of Southern California – and most recently, she created a brilliant documentary called MAKING WAVES – THE ART OF CINEMATIC SOUND which I became aware of when she ran a very successful Kickstarter campaign to finish the film. The film premiered at the Tribeca film festival in 2019 and also ran at the Munich Film Festival, at Cannes, and other film festivals.

MAKING WAVES discusses the history and the art of sound design and features interviews with filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Ryan Coogler or Barbra Streisand – but more to the point, it features dozens of interviews with excellent sound artists like Ben Burtt, Walter Murch, Gary Rydstrom, Anna Behlmer, Ai-Ling Lee, Cecilia Hall, and many others, taking an in-depth look at scenes from movies like SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, STAR WARS or APOCALYPSE NOW, and many others.

Midge Costin with legendary sound designer Walter Murch.

I first contacted Midge because I was writing an article on the documentary for the German trade magazine Film & TV Kamera (a shortened version can be found online here). In our interview, Midge not only discusses the importance of good sound design and the individual creative roles of the sound artists – she also explains why it took the team nine years to finish the film, why there is a strong focus on the New Hollywood era, and she discusses the sound design of the documentary itself. You can learn more about the movie at makingwavesmovie.com.

So here’s Talking Pictures with Midge Costin!

The mp3 file can be downloaded HERE.

All photos (C) Ain’t Heard Nothin’ Yet/Dogwoof.
Special thanks to Dr. Wily, my Lichtspielplatz podcasting partner for audio editing. The music was created by Clark Kent.

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.

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