If you believe in the notion that any publicity is good publicity then surfing around the various movie news websites and their message boards would lead you to believe that Uwe Boll may very well be the most prolific filmmaker of our time. From the people that call him this generation”s Ed Wood to those that regard him as the filmmaking equivalent of the Antichrist, you”re hard pressed to find anyone active in the online film fandom community that doesn”t seem to have some sort of fascination with the antics of Uwe Boll, so he has to be doing something right.
I heard from numerous people after my first interview with Boll last January who said they came away from it seeing Boll in a different light and that he actually seemed like a cool guy after all. Unfortunately, Alone in the Dark came out about a week later and it was back to playing Whack-A-Boll. Then word came that his Dungeon Siege movie was going to be a three-hour epic split up and released in two parts ala Kill Bill. Suddenly, questioning the man”s sanity seemed more valid then ever. Still, I personally can”t help but think that the level of raw hatred directed at the man has gotten more than a little out of hand with people that have clearly never even seen any of his films jumping on the hatewagon. Usually you only find that level of online vitriol directed at the current Bush administration. Then again, one has to expect to take a certain degree of abuse when the two films you”re most well known for are House of the Dead, a movie that reaches Plan 9 From Outer Space levels of ineptness, and Alone in the Dark, a motion picture so astoundingly incoherent I strongly suspect that if it had been filmed in Japanese without the rock music or gun battles it would have been hailed a surreal horror masterpiece and Hollywood would have already snatched up the remake rights.
With the impending release of his movie adaptation of the video game BloodRayne, I conducted another interview with the man that has become the online film community”s favorite directorial punching bag. And for the record, Boll asked me to fix his grammar this time (Asking me of all people to correct grammar? He is insane!) although I didn”t have to do much as his English seems to have improved considerably. Now let”s play HardBoll!
The Foywonder: Well, it”s been nearly a year since the first interview. Any New Year”s resolutions for 2006 you care to share?
Uwe Boll: I will spend the first few months finishing my scripts for Seed and Postal. Finally, after 6 years I”m writing again.
TF: What were your favorite and least favorite films of 2005?
Uwe Boll: I really loved Sin City and couldn”t stand Elektra.
TF: I”m assuming you”ve seen the movie version of Doom. Your opinion of the film?
UB: It was okay but not great. There were similarities to Alone in the Dark in regards to the trailer, the camera, the music etc.
TF: What films are you most looking forward to seeing in 2006?
UB: I see everything.
TF: What video games are you currently playing?
UB: Postal only, for research.
TF: Have you gotten an Xbox 360 yet?
TF: If as many people that have posted online calling you the worst filmmaker alive have actually seen House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark then shouldn”t those films have grossed hundreds of millions of dollars? Does the amount of sheer hatred directed your way seem to have gotten completely out of hand, especially when there are other directors out there that have made their fair share of lousy movies that have gone on to be more commercially successful thus encouraging Hollywood producers to make more mediocre films along the same lines?
UB: What should I say about it? If people hate me, they hate me.
TF: Which group do you find to be more hyper critical: movie fanboys or hardcore gamers?
UB: The worst are the wannabe filmmakers.
TF: When I found out I was going to be interviewing you again, I put out a call on several sites I frequent for (legitimate) questions to ask you, and seemingly everyone wanted me to ask you about the German tax laws and how it relates to the funding of your films. In fact, I”m just going to quote from the website Wikipedia and let you comment.
“Whereas most directors would no longer be able to acquire the funding to continue such projects after the immence criticism against them and the small returns, it is rumored Boll is exempt because he funds them under a loophole in German tax law that is supported by contributors and actually rewards movies that perform badly, via a writeoff at the end of the year. It has been reported, however, that this loophole has been revised. Starting on January 2006, contributors to failed movies will no longer be able to profit from failed films through a tax writeoff at the end of the year. This could deliver a major blow to Boll”s production company, potentially making it difficult to capitalize on the commercial failure of the projects he has become associated with. This in turn would make it more difficult to lure the investors that have helped Boll continue his projects in the past. However, any projects announced before midnight on the last business day of 2005 are grandfathered in under the old law.”
UB: It”s interesting to see how wrong Hollywood thinks in regards to German tax funds. The investors are getting a 100% tax loss but they are also investing to make a profit and get their money back. They are not happy with only the tax loss because if they would not invest they would get 50% of their money in cash on their accounts. If they invest in film funds they have zero on their account, so every movie must recoup money otherwise the investment didn”t made sense.
My funds have grown every year and this is because my movies got the investors most of their money back, more than all the other funds. My funds paid more money back than the Lord of the Rings, Rush Hour, I, Robot, and T3 funds. And the reason is because I”m not giving my money to major Hollywood production companies, and I don”t do Hollywood accounting; I do my own worldwide sales. I produce for a low price and I sell it on my own to 80 countries.
A movie like House of the Dead with around $7 million budget or Alone in the Dark with around $16 million budget are much easier to make profit than the typical $50 million major motion picture. On DVD, all my movies are worldwide out-performers in a big way with the same revenue as Alien Vs. Predator, Resident Evil, and other major movies.
Now while the German money is over for Hollywood, I still have $80 million to make movies, and we will have two things coming up: less major movies and the price for actors will go down. The price for my movies will go up because there is less other concerns.
But in the mind of all that stupid idiots on the web I”m a dumb idiot and a shitty filmmaker. At he same time, I”m the only fucking filmmaker on the whole planet who actually managed to raise the money, develop the movies, produce and direct the movies and sold the movies. Even the US Release is always under my control. And that ALL MY MOVIES are sold in 100 countries is not because my movies are so bad.
TF: One thing you”ve been greatly criticized for is your practice of hiring name actors at the last minute. While this is certainly beneficial to the marketing of the films, do you think it ultimately hurts the production?
UB: And? I”m not a studio. Actors don”t have real value. Nobody gets a ticket sold anymore except maybe Tom Cruise (but he looks more like an idiot in the last few years). Agents are still asking for millions of dollars for actors that don”t sell one ticket. So if I get these actors for 30% of their price by coming in so late with an offer when they know they are not getting another offer then I do it this way.
For some movies the actors needs training etc., so this a problem, but I try to solve it if I hire action proven people. Like Kristanna Loken, Michelle Rodriguez, etc.
TF: Your choice of making BloodRayne a sort of medieval fantasy horror flick has been met with much criticism by many fans of the game. What would you say to them to convince them otherwise?
UB: I think it is interesting to show how she became BloodRayne. And for this we must go back to Transylvania in the 17th Century.
TF: Any nervousness about BloodRayne opening the same weekend as the heavily hyped Hostel?
UB: Lionsgate did that because they didn”t get BloodRayne. I think it will cost both Hostel and us money. Eli Roth is probably also not happy about it. I do think Hostel will be a good movie.
TF: I”ve heard conflicting reports regarding In The Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale not being split into two parts after all, instead being released as a single three-hour film. Which is it, and could you tell us a bit about the kind of film you set out to make?
UB: We have a 145-minute theatrical version and a 3-hour DVD/TV version. It is a big action epic. December 1st, 2006 is the release date. This is my first movie where I really need big box office to recoup the money back.
TF: Just a personal observation, but do you think the title might be a tad excessive in length? Who came up with the title by the way?
UB: The title Dungeon Siege would limit the movie. Only 20 minutes take place in a dungeon. In The Name of the King is the right title. To be honest, I don”t know who had the final idea for the title, but I liked it and it has a strong connection to the movie”s story.
TF: Burt Reynolds is notorious for being difficult on the set. Any problems with him on the Dungeon Siege set?
UB: Absolutely not. It is his first period film. He was super motivated and easygoing. In one of his first scenes he was sitting on his horse and I was behind my video village yelling something over to him. He couldn”t understand me and yelled back: “Send me a fax!”
TF: Usually your announcements of acquiring the film rights to a specific video game have been met with the usual bemoanment from the overreactive internet. However, your announcement of a Postal film was met with a collective, “Huh?” What is it about the game that makes you want to turn it into a film, is it going to be a dark comedy or more serious, are you planning to really push the envelope with the material as the game did, and who do you envision playing “The Dude?”
UB: It will be harsh, violent, politically incorrect, and funny; like Falling Down without the good guys. “The Dude” is not cast yet and I suspect a lot of actors will pussy out because it maybe the last film they do.
TF: Also, can we look forward to seeing Gary Coleman going on a killing spree?
TF: Admit it; Postal is going to feature a scene where the main character shoots up an internet cafe, isn”t it?
TF: Will Postal be your next film following Dungeon Siege?
UB: That or Seed.
TF: Speaking of Seed, I understand this is not based on a video game, but on a script you wrote yourself. Any plot details you can reveal about that one?
UB: In the Seventies, a lot of executions via electric chair failed because of technical problems. Seed tells the true story of someone who survived and sought revenge. They buried him alive to make it seem he was dead.
TF: What”s the status of the film versions of Far Cry, Fear Effect, and Hunter: The Reckoning?
UB: Far Cry shoots in 2007. I maybe only sell or produce Fear Effect. Have a great script for Hunter: The Reckoning but it”s not my first choice.
TF: Ever been approached by a video game company to make a movie based on one of their video games only to turn them down? If so, name a video game you rejected?
UB: I get offers every day. I will not say names.
TF: One thing many of your most vocal critics slam you with is whether or not you”re ever going make an original film not based on a video game. They seem to be unaware that you made films like Blackwoods, Sanctimony, and Heart of America prior to House of the Dead, and, something that may shock many of your detractors, Heart of America actually got some glowing reviews. Is that the film you”re most proud of?
UB: Heart of America is a movie I”m very proud of. The young actors are great and the story has impact. I”m proud of all my movies for various reasons, but Heart, BloodRayne, and In The Name of the King are by far better than the others.
TF: A press release recently began circulating touting the future release of House of the Dead: The Funny Version and Alone in the Dark: Director”s Cut. What are these?
UB: The AITD directors cut is a harder version with more gore effects. HOD: Funny Version is a director”s cut special version. The rest is a secret….. It is the real HOD….
TF: Seeing as how remakes of cult horror films are even more in vogue right now than movies based on video games, have you ever considered jumping on the bandwagon with your own horror movie remake?
UB: Before Michael Bay started talking about it, we tried to remake The Birds. We had a great script with Dark Sky.
TF: You recently met Ain”t It Cool News” Quint face-to-face and yet did not take the opportunity to kill him, or at the very least inflict serious bodily harm. Are you going soft?
UB: We had a good conversation, with Harry too. It was a nice evening in Austin, Texas. 310 people loved the movie. Only our 5 fat retards from AICN did not. If they ever climb out of the ass of Rodriguez, Tarantino, or Jackson they have might have a clearer view.
TF: I know you said in our previous interview that one of your all time favorite video games is Pac-Man. I don”t know if you”ve heard but a live action Pac-Man movie is in the works. Are they nuts?
UB: I assume. If they do it. I could do Asteroid or the Tamagotchi movie.
TF: More entertaining when they”re drunk: Tara Reid or Michael Madsen?
UB: They are both more entertaining if they are not drunk.
TF: Better actresses: Tara Reid or the actual Romanian prostitutes you used for BloodRayne?
UB: Tara is good for comedies.
TF: How many minutes would you have trimmed from Peter Jackson”s King Kong?
TF: Word Association Time:
UB: A great actress, human being, and friend
TF: Meatloaf (the actor not the food)
UB: Too bad he was too drunk to do the music video with Alice Cooper
TF: Jason Statham
UB: The new Bruce Willis – cool, tough, straight
TF: Christophe Gans
UB: Very good director. I cannot wait to see Silent Hill.
UB: My second home and my favorite place on earth.
TF: Those Burger King Commercials
UB: I go to McDonalds
TF: Revenge of the Sith
UB: Better than I thought before. Satisfying.
UB; A great company but not for me
TF: Harry Knowles
UB: A film lover who got bought by Hollywood
TF: Tom Atkins (the actor)
(Foy: That one came by special request of the message board. Hey, I tried.)
TF: Final question: Ever consider marketing “Boll Stays” t-shirts? You”d probably make a small fortune.
UB: We are on it. Thanks for remembering me.
While I”ve certainly had my fun at Boll”s expense, I”m now rooting for the man. As a bad movie lover, I win. If he churns out a good movie, I win. It”s a win-win situation for me. I also can”t help but see a Karate Kid scenario in the making. The man has been beaten down so much by the online film community that I can actually see him as the underdog who will eventually stun his critics with a cinematic crane kick in the form of a genuinely good film. Whether or not it happens remains to be seen, but if and when it does, I”ll be Rob Schneider up in the stands yelling, “You can do it!”
Be sure to visit the official site for BloodRayne right here, and get out to see it on January 6th!
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