Screamfest LA 2011: Filmmaker Andy Fetscher Talks Urban Explorer Premiere - Dread Central
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Screamfest LA 2011: Filmmaker Andy Fetscher Talks Urban Explorer Premiere

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With Screamfest LA running Friday, October 14th, through Saturday, the 22nd, at Manns Chinese 6 in Hollywood, CA (at Hollywood & Highland, buy tickets here), we chatted with Urban Explorer filmmaker Andy Fetscher regarding his tense gore-fest, which is set for its West Coast premiere on Tuesday, October 18th at 10pm. Read on for his comments as well as exclusive stills.

Produced by Oliver Thau, written by Martin Thau and directed, filmed and edited by Andy Fetscher, Urban Explorer (review here) stars Nathalie Kelley (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift), Nick Eversman (Hellraiser: Revelations), Klau Stiglmeier, Max Riemelt, Catherine de Lean and Brenda Koo. According to the film’s synopsis it centers around ‘an international group of four urban explorers who hire local guide Kris to lead them into the maze of escape tunnels and subterranean fortifications under the city of Berlin. When their guide has a bad fall, two of the girls in the group frantically set off to seek help while Denis, the young American, stays behind. Armin (Stiglmeier) a former East German Border guard, suddenly appears from nowhere. Out of sheer desperation, Denis allows Armin to lead them and their unconscious guide to safety, and it is at this moment that Denis realizes he has just made the biggest mistake of his life!

Urban Explorer

Said German filmmaker Fetscher of his all-too organic (and accidentally macabre) inspiration for the flick, “I’ve been obsessed with urban exploration for a long time. As kids my friends and I spent all our summer holidays climbing through run-down factory buildings, abandoned Bavarian breweries and even one day a burnt-down family house in our neighborhood, where we found the remains of the people that had died in a fire. That was eerie and somehow beautiful at the same time. When I moved to Berlin some years ago, it became obvious to me that I wanted to do a movie about it. My producers and I pretty soon came to the conclusion that the capital of Germany is one of the best, if not the best, filming sites for an illegal spelunking tour into the urban underground world of a city full of history. The writing process went comparatively fast since we all talked the same language. The principal question for us was, ‘How far can we go in depicting violence without setting local authorities against us?’”

As for as the process of location scouting in regard to how integral the locations themselves were to the film’s narrative, “We went down into Berlin’s underworld before scripting started,” related Fetscher. “Since the movie is called Urban Explorer and the main aspect of that adventure sport is to enter and explore sites that have not been entered end explored before, our approach was to show very special locations to our audience and locations that have not been filmed before. About eighty percent of the movie is set in real locations – real tunnels, real sewers and real bunkers – so location scouting became pretty delicate for us.”

In true independent form, “We had to bribe hands to get access or sometimes we also had to sneak down into the tunnel systems without permission,” Fetscher expounded. “Again and again we had to run away from security officials! But then again finding those locations was easy compared to shooting in them, of course. Lots of crew members got arrested during the shooting process. My assistant director and I had to spend one day in custody, and that was bad because we lost one whole day of shooting.”

Pertaining to the challenges of financing Urban Explorer, “It definitely took a while to get the money together to start. In Germany they don’t do many horror movies. Why? It’s frowned upon. They do ‘art-house’ movies, not entertainment! So we did not get one cent from any kind of film subsidy or state money like you normally do, but on the other hand that gave us free (creative) reign, and we really enjoyed being the misfits. One day I got a letter from some European film commission, and they asked me to stop working on the project since it would cast a bad light on German cinema. The letter was very crude and funny. Of course I didn’t take it seriously because we were not making that movie for any kind of a commission. We made it for the audience, and so far they’ve liked it.”

Raising the budget of Urban Explorer wasn’t the only challenge for the director, given the scripted narrative and locations. Finding a cast willing to endure what would be required of them was as well.

“From the very first moment of casting I told every actor that this shoot would become a very delicate and unpredictable adventure, as we were mainly shooting in real locations and places you don’t want to be in. On each day the actors would get new scratches and bruises and everything was full of dirt, and we would have to run away from police pretty damn often! Nathalie, Nick, Brenda and Catherine were the most ready ones to face these grim conditions, and that’s why we picked them. And of course they did a marvelous job in performing their roles and in an intriguing way.”

Urban Explorer

Shot over the course of twenty-nine days, Fetscher said of principal photography, “(Having so much time was a) luxury. I loved it. But still it was exhausting. On some days we would work until we’d drop. On other days we maybe just had one or two hours because police would expel us from our sets! In those cases we would have to wait for hours until the sun would set, and then we would secretly sneak back into the location.”

Filming in subterranean catacombs and vast tunnel systems, the shoot itself was one of actual urban exploration and according to the filmmaker was nearly as dangerous as his scripted narrative.

“One day we were shooting in a former autobahn tunnel that was built by the Nazis around 1939 and sealed by government people during the Cold War,” Fetscher related. “In the middle of the night, while taking down our equipment and distributing electricity, we bumped into some three-phase electric power supplies, very professionally installed behind fake concrete walls. Before we knew what was happening, the cable-way led us into a subterranean dance floor that was built by some drug addicts in 2000. There were deep green flickering lights, smoke all over, and an illegal underground rave party going on! Literally everyone was on crack and dressed in surreal latex costumes, and when they saw our filming gear, they immediately shut down the music, and it was dead silent. They were not happy to see us.”

It got worse, according to Fetscher.

“One of those creeps was a fire-breather, and he started to try to burn my camera assistant,” said the filmmaker, who was rescued by none other than Urban Explorer ‘heavy’ actor Stiglmeier. “He saved us, as (coincidentally) that same morning he had stolen a battery power drill from the art department and threatened the fire-breather that he’d do some ‘Mujahideen-stuff’ to him that he had learned in Afghanistan. I even had to intervene so that the poor devil would not panic and accidentally ram the drill chuck into his own head, as he was so scared of Stiglmeier.”

Possessing multiple layers of scripted menace, from the all-too real historical terrors of Nazi Germany and the East German Occupation to the more fantastical and scripted tale of the ‘Oden People’ (Nazi super-soldiers still dwelling beneath the city), we asked Fetscher of how his country’s past and its world view informed his narrative.

“There are a lot of historical elements of Germany’s past involved in our story,” answered Fetscher. “They do justice to the expectations that tourists do have when they come visit Berlin. Our main protagonists are tourists. They’re extreme sports tourists that want to descend even deeper into the Hauptstadt’s past so they encounter many different factors down there. On the other hand, some of those elements are nothing else but part of a (scripted) diversionary tactic to play with the expectations of the audience. I think that a lot of people expect a Nazi villain when they watch a horror movie that takes place in Germany. In this film it’s not that easy. There’s much more lurking underground.”

Urban Explorer

As for the post-production process, “After the very difficult shoot, locking myself into the editing room for almost two months where most of the day I was on my own, going over the same hypnotizing movements over and over again on the computer, it almost felt meditative. I love this part of the production process though, where you can cure your bruises and watch the images become scenes, and the scenes become a story. Working with both my musicians and the sound designer was great fun. We didn’t have much money so we had to be inventive in creating the proper atmosphere in sound. But it all worked really well.”

Admittedly partially inspired by Neil Marshall’s intense and claustrophobic feature The Descent, “I like that movie, and I certainly was inspired by it, but we created a villain that is more human and sarcastic and (I think) almost funny! If you want to compare the evil in our movie with the evil of an old-time classic, maybe one could compare it with A Nightmare on Elm Street. Does that sound odd? All the better!”

Commenting on the flick’s premiere at Screamfest, “I’m absolutely excited about showing the movie to a US audience for the first time,” effused the filmmaker. “We were just at Busan International Film Festival in Korea, and every nation has a different individual code of fear so I’m very much looking forward to see if they tear me into pieces or if they like our Berlin underground horror flick. It’s a delight being able to come over to LA and screen the movie to all those genre lovers.”

As for what’s next on the filmmaker’s plate, Fetscher revealed, “Well, we’ll wait for our first theatrical release in Europe (of Urban Explorer). It all depends a lot on this obviously. Then I have to make sure that I can convince my supporters to trust me a second time! We have several horror stories in our repertoire, but there are also other different genres (I’d like to tackle). I like the multi-lingual aspect of making movies: having people from all over the world gather to work on a film set is stimulating. So maybe my next movie will take place somewhere in Asia or Africa? I don’t know yet.”

Be sure to “like” the film by visiting the Urban Explorer Facebook page, and also stop by the official Urban Explorer website for more.

Urban Explorer

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Exclusive: Rocky Gray Talks Halloween Horror Anthology 10/31

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The last time we gave you guys word on the upcoming Halloween horror anthology 10/31 was to bring you the knock-out exclusive official poster, which you can peep to your left (click for a higher-res version).

The new horror anthology in the vein of V/H/S and Creepshow joins an ensemble cast together to spin twisted tales of the macabre. The film is executive produced by P.J. Starks, creator of the critically acclaimed Volumes of Blood.

The film’s stories are directed by the likes of Justin M. Seaman (The Barn), Zane Hershberger (Devilution), John William Holt (The Dooms Chapel Horror), Brett DeJager (Bonejangles) and Rocky Gray making his directing debut.

This past weekend we were able to catch up with producer-director Rocky Gray and ask him a few choice questions about the anticipated upcoming anthology film.

You can check out our quick interview below and then make sure to hit us up and let us know how excited you are to check out 10/31 in the comments below!

Dread Central: How is the film coming along?

Rocky Gray: The film is now completed and we are getting the perks out to our Indiegogo backers. The backers and Death By Festival got to see the first cut of the film in October and they loved it so we’re very excited to get the film out to everyone else very soon.

DC: What can expect from this anthology?

RG: Expect to have a lot of Halloween themed fun. Each segment has its own flavor so the pacing and the look change throughout the film. With masked killers, vampires, scarecrows, tricksters and old hags there’s something for everyone.

DC: Will there be a sequel?

RG: If there was a demand for it we would make it happen!

Sounds good to us. Thanks for chatting with us, Rocky!

You can become a fan of the film on Facebook HERE.

SYNOPSIS:
A Halloween treat bag of all the things that go bump in the night. From masked killers to scarecrows, witches, and tricksters. There’s a scare for everyone in this anthology of horror and the macabre from the creators of The Barn and Volumes of Blood.

Red Letter Entertainment, Inc. brings you the directorial debut from Rocky Gray (composer of The Barn, Killing Floor 2), two-time Grammy-winning musician and former drummer for Evanescence. A new horror anthology in the vein of V/H/S/ and Creepshow brings an ensemble cast together to spin twisted tales of the macabre. The film is Executive Produced by P.J. Starks, creator of the critically acclaimed Volumes of Blood.

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The Duffer Brothers Have Begun Working on Stranger Things 3

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I wasn’t the world’s biggest fan of the first season of Netflix and The Duffer Brothers’ “Stranger Things” to tell you the truth. That said, I absolutely loved the second season (read our reviews HERE).

It is with this in mind that we are all looking forward to “Stranger Things 3”.

Recently Deadline reported that at Vulture Festival LA the Duffer Brothers, producer Shawn Levy, Finn Wolfhard, Paul Reiser, and Linnea Berthelsen talked about season two and teased season three.

“We are [in] very early days on season three, and we’re still figuring it out,” Ross Duffer said, before taking a beat, then adding: “I probably wasn’t supposed to say that. That’s not official; that wasn’t an official announcement — we’re just working on it, just for our own amusement… for fun!”

Whatever.

We all know at this point that there is going to be a “Stranger Things 3” and that The Duffer Brothers will one day begin working on it. Don’t worry so much, Ross Duffer.

After all, your brother already let us know that season three will begin after a time jump:

“Even if we wanted to hop into the action faster, we couldn’t,” says Matt Duffer. “Our kids are aging. We can only write and produce the show so fast. They’re going to be almost a year older by the time we start shooting season three. It provides certain challenges. You can’t start right after season two ended. It forces you to do a time jump. It’s a long way of saying that yeah, we’re going to do a time jump.”

What did you think of “Stranger Things 2”? Did you dig it more (or less) than season one? Make sure to hit us up and let us know in the comments below or on social media!

“Stranger Things 2” is currently streaming on Netflix.

Synopsis:
It’s 1984, and the citizens of Hawkins, Indiana, are still reeling from the horrors of the Demogorgon and the secrets of Hawkins Lab. Will Byers has been rescued from the Upside Down, but a bigger, sinister entity still threatens those who survived.

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James Cameron’s Terminator Reboot/Sequel Hires Screenwriter

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The last word we brought you guys on producer James Cameron and Deadpool-director Tim Miller’s new Terminator film was when we let you know that Paramount had set the film’s release date for July 26, 2019.

Today we have news via The Wrap that the studio is bringing in screenwriter Billy Ray (Captain Phillips) to pen the movie’s script based on a story crafted by Cameron.

You may remember that Cameron and Miller created a writers room a while back to plan out an all-new trilogy of films, but while that writer’s room included David Goyer, Charles Eglee, and Josh Friedman, it seems like Ray will be the first film’s sole writer. For now.

Story details are, of course, being kept under wraps, but Cameron and Miller are treating the new movie as a direct sequel to Cameron’s T2: Judgment Day.

“This is a continuation of the story from ‘Terminator 1’ and ‘Terminator 2.’ And we’re pretending the other films were a bad dream,” Cameron told THR. “Or an alternate timeline, which is permissible in our multi-verse.”

We also know that Cameron plans to center the new film/trilogy around a new group of younger characters, who will eventually carry on the baton as it were.

“A lot of this is handing off the baton to a new generation of characters,” Cameron said. “We’re starting a search for an 18-something young woman to essentially be the new centerpiece of these stories. And then a number of other characters around her and characters from the future. We still fold time in the story in intriguing ways. But we have Arnold’s character and Linda’s character to anchor it.”

How excited are you for James Cameron’s new Terminator flick? Make sure to hit us up and let us know in the comments below or on social mdeia!

The new Terminator film is produced by James Cameron and will be directed by Tim Miller (Deadpool). The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton.

Terminator 2.5 is expected to hit July 26, 2019.

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