Do you like science fiction stories that put human characters, story and emotion before action, special effects and visual bedazzlement? Quiet, contemplative, episodically interwoven narratives that use SciFi as a means to illuminate hidden truths, internal revelations and complex interpersonal relationships? Lovingly detailed, retro-futuristic artistic creation lifted right off the pages of an iconic novel? Amazon Prime’s Tales From The Loop has all this and more and is one of the most gentle, low key yet deeply staggering pieces of work I’ve ever experienced in the genre. The story focuses on a small town somewhere that is built above ‘The Loop,’ a mysterious underground research facility home to a subtly sentient A.I. engine used to create and power countless inventions. Each episode shows a story centred around a few families and individuals from this town and how this mysterious power source from The Loop affects their lives in surprising, tragic, metaphysical ways. There’s a teenage couple who find an object that pauses time except for their perception, after which they’re left to their own devices and we see what that can do to a relationship. Elsewhere a lonely man wanders into a parallel dimension and literally (and figuratively too) finds himself. The elderly founder and engineer of The Loop (Jonathan Pryce, fantastic) struggles with his mortality while his daughter (Rebecca Hall) and son in law (Paul Schneider) have their own personal experiences with the forces around them, and so do many others whose lives are woven together organically to create a tranquil, reflective and hypnotic piece unlike any other. The SciFi aspects really only act as background scenery and catalysts for unconventional human experience; we never learn what The Loop really is and most of the robots, structures and tech it creates hover in the background like fish in an aquarium while the human being characters abide in wonderment, learning complex, challenging lessons around love, compassion, self identity, overcoming fear, reconciling one’s own life cycle, coming to terms with death, facing past choices/mistakes and all of that overwhelming stuff that makes us who we are. It’s all set to soul-stirring, mesmerizing and unique original music from maestros Phillip Glass and Paul Leonard Morgan and breathtaking, vintage inspired visual design that brings to life robots, domelike architecture, otherworldly technical ambience and all manner of stylistic splendour that always serves as atmosphere and allows story, characters and themes take centre stage overall. Brilliant piece of work, and the kind of life affirming, empathetic art we need right now.
Now this is how you do a monster movie. Blood Glacier is a terrific Euro-Schlock horror about scientists at a remote research station in the snowy Austrian Alps who discover a spectacularly troublesome micro-organism that arrives in the glacial thaw and stirs up all kinds of cryptozoological shit. The thawing out of creatures from ice, research station and gooey prosthetic effects will draw obvious comparisons to John Carpenter’s The Thing which are of course fair, but the biological modus operandi of the organism differs from that of The Thing and this film finds its own suitable groove. Here’s the hook: this life-force invades the cells of multiple creatures at once, stores the genetic data and creates multifaceted hybrid creatures, so you get a big ass fox/beetle cross, a strange goat/human fucker and wood-bug lice things the size of basketballs that attach themselves to humans like face-huggers and devour their heads. The special effects are obviously limited somewhat by budget but are still incredibly creative, blessedly free of CGI and elaborately slimy enough to be aesthetically pleasing. The human actors/characters are an interesting bunch, as the research scientists join forces with a German family unlucky enough to be hiking in the area and go postal on these pseudo-Lovecraft aberrations which Mother Nature has hurled forth at them. A word of caution though: if you have trouble watching animals in pain, getting hurt or killed onscreen you may want to think twice. The research camp has a dog (similar situation to The Thing) that passes away in the kind of heart wrenching, hyper-emotional sequence I haven’t seen the likes of since Will Smith sang his pupper to permanent sleep in I Am Legend, it’s a tough scene for animal lovers to fight through. This is an impressive effort though with a very cool premise, extremely creative monster effects and a cool wintry atmosphere to boot. God times.
Alright, the Bruce Willis space movie. Breach (aka AntiLife) isn’t terrible, it’s just not super inspired or original and if you go in with your nose already turned up at it, well that’s on you bud, you silly cinephile you. However, if you’re a periodically undemanding moviegoer who enjoys a nice schlocktastic cheapie once in a while you may just get a kick out of it. This thing riffs on everything from Doom to The Thing to Pandorum and if you don’t have expectations higher than Bruce Willis and Johnny Messner clearly got while filming their scenes then you’ll have just as much fun as the two of them clearly did. So it’s sometime in the future and earth has been all but decimated by a plague, the remnants of humanity are packed into a giant space station and hurtled towards a distant exoplanet called ‘New Earth’ under the stern, hambone stewardship of The Admiral (Thomas Jane). Most of the passengers slumber in tranquil cryogenic sleep save for a barebones maintenance crew managed by Willis’s once great colonel turned disgraced alcoholic janitor. They’re watched like a hawk by a military man (Timothy V. Murphy) that Willis literally refers to as a ‘space Nazi’ (to his face), but somehow a doomsday zealot manages to smuggle some freaky alien parasite onboard which quickly begins infecting the crew and turning them into ink spewing, putrefied space zombies. Willis and his team that includes Cody Kearsely, Corey Large, Callab Mulvey, Continuum’s Rachel Nichols and scene stealing Messner are stuck fighting off legions of what I suppose would count as the undead in a way but they’re more like a hive minded organism, really. Willis is cool here and actually looks like he’s having a modicum of fun compared to other B flicks he’s recently done. He also plays against type as kind of a reverse action hero and I never thought I’d see the day he plays a character that gets referred to as a ‘lover, not a fighter.’ Jane only has a few atypical military A-hole scenes but he fires off his lines with glib, cavalier flair and I find it hysterical how intensely he insists on wearing his pitch dark tinted aviator shades *indoors*, in a dimly lit spaceship no less. Look, it’s junk, I won’t call pretend it’s a great film, but as an avid lover of cinematic junk food it did the trick for me, and I had fun with it.
Want something *really* weird? The Caller is an old Empire Pictures flick starring Madolyn Smith as a young woman alone in some forest cabin and Malcolm McDowell as a sinister stranger who knocks at her door asking to use the phone. This film is so rare you couldn’t even find it on VHS or DVD for decades until boutique, niche distribution label Vinegar Syndrome recently did a Blu Ray. The transfer looks terrific, McDowell and Smith handle the strange, talky, stage-play esque roles given to them by the script as best they can but the film overall is a monotonous, repetitive drag.. until the final five minutes when it goes so thoroughly and dementedly off the rails you just have to sit up straight on the couch after being lulled into a coma by the first eighty minutes and go “what even in the fuck?” The film is structured around a Hitchcockian premise where these two are strangers, alone together in the wilderness and both them and us aren’t sure who might be the potentially dangerous one, but their dialogue and interactions are so inane, random and bizarre we get a sense of neither backstory, character traits or motives for either. It’s simply a brain melting extended vignette of two people talking in circles about nothing until the certifiably bonkers ending that although is flashy, shocking and out of left field, does little to explain the hefty, dense several acres of tin drum dialogue that preceded it. This is an Indiana Jones artifact of sorts for me as a DVD collector, I’m a huge Malcolm McDowell fan and this has always been somewhat out of my reach so I’m glad I finally nabbed it but I wouldn’t really recommend this to casual viewers, it’s too unwieldy and inconsistent. Empire Pictures was momentarily famous for grainy, low-fi retro science fiction horror like the Trancers franchise, and this one only fits that mold in the final few minutes when it goes ape shit, while the rest is chamber piece drivel that desperately needed story and structure that the script just couldn’t provide it with.
I mean who doesn’t wanna see Karl Urban and Dwayne Johnson blowing up demonic aliens with excessively heavy artillery on Mars? Well plenty of people didn’t if you look at the overall critic and audience reception to Doom, but I kinda enjoyed this cheesy, bloody, dimly lit and shamelessly lowbrow yet raucously entertaining bit of space action horror. Having not played this game series beyond a few vague rounds of Doom3 back when I was a stoned teenager, I can’t comment on the congruency in style, tone or narrative of the film versus the games but if that’s a dealbreaker and you hate the film because for you it betrayed the soul of the source material, more than fair enough. All I know is I put this thing on as background noise and it served as engaging, very silly intergalactic schlock with big monsters, bigger attitudes and *incredibly* big guns to shoot them with, one plasma cannon wielded by The Rock that’s so large it almost veers into parody. Dwayne is effectively tough as Sarge, leader of a ragtag bunch of mercenaries, among whose ranks we see various archetypes like the religious zealot (Ben Daniels), the rookie kid (Al Weaver), the loudmouth clown (a scene stealing Richard Brake) and of course the strong silent hero type Reaper, played solidly by Karl Urban. The pack of them are off to Mars using a weird teleportation device made of soap bubbles (not sure if that was a staple in the games) to engage murky zombie demon mutant things in vicious firefights down dimly lit space station corridors as a perky scientist (the lovely Rosamund Pike) does her best with unnecessary exposition that had me chuckling.. like it’s a film about space marines blowing up nondescript, raving mutant monsters, do we really need a few pages of explanatory pseudo genetic-science based verbal diarrhoea to try and make sense of it? I think not. Anyways, all the shooting, fighting, bleeding, limbs flying and fast-food action horror are kinda fun, especially seeing Dwayne and Karl in shameless early career genre mode set to a bangin’ metal soundtrack.
I missed out on Richard Stanley’s Colour Out Of Space last year but I’m glad I caught up because wow what a trip into earthbound cosmic madness as only the mind of H.P. Lovecraft could dream up. When a weird meteor thing plummets into the backyard of Nic Cage and his average, slightly hippie family, things start to get strange in the surrounding area as a mysterious ‘colour’ from another part of the universe begins to transform everything around it into something else, sometimes just odd, sometimes beautiful and eventually downright terrifying. I love the idea of a meteor falling and being the setup for a horror film because there’s so much you can do with that concept in the realms of imagination. This film reminded me of Alex Garland’s Annihilation in a sense, but whereas the entity that came from a meteor in that used the genetic codes and biological structures of our planet to create something new, this Colour thing just shows up and begins fucking around with things on its own shocking, illogical terms, like any self respecting Lovecraft monster should. It’s a hoot watching this family slowly start to lose it, starting with Cage in one of his patented full on neurotic meltdowns filled to the brim with maniacal rants, grotesque physicality and pitch black humour. His wife is played by Joely Richardson who I haven’t seen in a while, since Girl With The Dragon Tattoo at least but I always love seeing her turn up. The cast is pretty darn eclectic too and includes the lovely Q’orianka Kilcher as the world’s bitchiest small town mayor and beloved Tommy Chong as a forest dwelling oddball with a cat he calls ‘G-Spot’ (*snicker*). The main draw for me here is the otherworldly, mystical horror elements and director Stanley pulls out all the stops in terms of atmosphere, visuals and things just going berserk. Everything turns pinky purple, the family loses their sense of coherence and time and eventually they begin to transform, and there’s one sequence in particular that is fucking miles beyond how horrific I thought they were gonna go with this film and is disturbing to the core. Great film.
It’s rare for a horror film to exceed an hour and a half runtime these days, and if it does it better be something unexpected, captivating and unique. David Prior’s The Empty Man is two and a half hours and not only stands as the best film I’ve seen so far this year but also the scariest horror to come my way since Hereditary and It Follows before that. It’s also one of the most ambitious, ‘out there’ films in terms of high concept in the same way that, for example, Gore Verbinski’s A Cure For Wellness was, another bonkers, reach for the sky horror gem that went well over the two hour mark. First off, ignore the title, trailer and any of the surprisingly scant marketing that might make this out to be another ‘Slender Man’, ‘Bye Bye Man’ or any other cheapie gimmick piece that caters to teens. This is not your garden variety, jump scare laden, watered down young adult fright flick, it’s dark, complex, philosophical, disquieting and altogether soul disturbing. Before the opening title even appears we are treated to an atmospheric, twenty minute opening act set somewhere in the Tibetan mountains sometime in the 90’s, where four ill fated hikers have an encounter with something… well, something so old there’s no name for it in any language we speak. Flash forward to Illinois 2018 where we follow ex cop turned private investigator James Lasombra (James Badge Dale) as he tries to find the missing daughter of a family friend who got mixed up in a spooky urban legend. That’s all I’m going to get into in terms of plot specifics because every viewer deserves to be led down this terrifying breadcrumb trail of a narrative with unspoiled eyes. Badge Dale is a great actor, one who somehow manages to simultaneously subvert and uphold the Hollywood tough guy image with his own charisma, his reactions and methods of finding information are really fascinating to watch from an acting standpoint. What he does find is some of the weirdest shit you’ll ever see in a movie, and some of it so unsettling I almost got up and stood in the hallway of the theatre for a few minutes to decompress. I also saw The Empty Man in an Empty Theatre, I was literally the only person to buy a ticket and that decidedly added to the spook factor. Aside from being fucking scary as all hell, this is a truly intriguing story with imagination, innovation and so many unpredictable surprises it can sometimes feel like a patchwork quilt of ideas, motifs and thematic material stitched together, albeit in a very fluid and naturally flowing way. There’s shades of Lovecraft, references to Nietzsche and other philosophical ideals and even sly references to everything from The Wicker Man to Blair Witch to the Donner Pass Incident to many forms of demonic lore. It’s too bad they barely marketed it and just sort of lobbed it into theatres with nary a whisper of trailers, posters or internet ads beforehand because no one has heard of it d I wouldn’t even have either unless it was recommended to me in a frenzy of enthusiasm, but it deserves to be sought out and, if it’s playing near you and you feel safe, demands to be seen on the big screen. If you like your horror wild, wooly, whacked out, fucked up and worthy of eccentric cult status, this is your bet. I couldn’t recommend it enough.
Lord help me, this is how you do filmmaking. I haven’t seen a SciFi horror this good since… who knows since when. Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor is a sensational, surreal, coldly animalistic, shockingly violent exercise in retro futurism, psychological netherworlds, jarring identity crises, lethal corporate espionage and unnerving body horror. Cronenberg, son of David, isn’t just a chip off the old block but outright surpasses most of his Pops’ work that I’ve seen with this stunningly original, unforgivingly oppressive piece. Andrea Riseborough gives a haunted, waif-like, primordial turn as Tasya Vos, a contract killer whose hunting ground is the mindscape, the price being she begins to lose her own mental footing amidst traversing that of others. She works for a shadowy firm run by spooky handler Girder, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh in another one off her increasingly unsettling, opaque turns. Tasya infiltrates the minds of chosen targets, takes over their cognition and motor function, using them as scapegoats to carry out high profile assassinations. Her newest target is a corporate pretty boy (Christopher Abbott) who is dating the daughter (Tuppence Middleton) of a powerful, mean spirited business magnate played by Sean Bean in some of the liveliest, boorish work I’ve seen from him in some time. This job proves difficult once Tasya’s mind begins to meld with her host’s, the lines blur and things get out of hand pretty quick. This is a punishingly violent film, and there’s a few genuine bury your face in someone’s shoulder moments, even for those with strong stomachs. Cronenberg flaunts the same fetishistic fixation on what practical effects can show in terms of physical decimation to the human body that run in the family, and the results of his creative exploration are nothing short of soul-disturbing. He also shows a flair for the surreal too, as you can see by the poster. There’s some otherworldly imagery, sound and tactility at play here that give this a nightmarish atmosphere that is pure and singular, thanks also given to a wonderful, elemental electronic score by Jim Williams. There are some themes that border on the taboo, or at least notions I’ve ever seen so bravely explored in horror, such as letting go of the familial/societal boundaries established in the modern world and reverting back to a predatory state of existence, I don’t know about you but that kinda makes my skin crawl in this context. I suppose my one issue would be that there are no characters to care about, the only one I felt sorry for was Tuppence Middleton’s unwitting girlfriend, her’s is the only performance with any warmth or genuine humanity in it. But I realize that’s kind of what Cronenberg & Co are going for here: this is a cold, pitiless piece of horror extremism that isn’t here to reinforce the core comforts of human nature, but rather to turn over every stone and dig up the long suppressed aspects of it that no one wants to admit are there. An arresting, darkly beautiful piece of trippy retro SciFi splatter bliss, and the best film of the year so far.
If Stuart Gordon’s From Beyond is beyond anything it’s the borders of good taste, for the most part anyways. This is a slimy, gooey, sleazy, schlocky piece of ooze that functions on an inherently terrific central premise, but drags it through the muck of lowbrow, lurid horror, and without apology. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just not what I was expecting I guess, or not to that level. Gordon totem Jeffrey Combs plays a twitchy lab assistant whose piece of work boss (Ted Sorel) has patented a weird machine called the ‘resonator’ which uses psychic vibrations to enlarge the human pineal gland and open the doors of perception to whatever horrific beings lurk out there in other dimensions, which in this case is not as many as I’d hoped. A seemingly idealistic yet surprisingly corruptible psychologist (Barbara Crampton) and a cavalier police detective (the great Ken Foree) escort traumatized Combs back into the house where these experiments previously went berserk and wouldn’t you know it, someone pulls a whoopsie, turns the resonator thingie back on and it all goes berserk again! Thing is, I was expecting an impressive variety of ghoulies, icky aberrations and Lovecraftian hoo-hah to emerge and terrorize them, and the only thing that really does is a severely malformed new version of Combs’s boss, as you can see on the charming poster in my photo grid. He’s an admirably gross special effect, but where’s the variety, man? Where’s the whole zoo of disgusting unholy fuckers to rival something like… Carpenter’s In The Mouth Of Madness? Maybe this thing had budget constraints, lack of creative juices or what-have-ya, but I just felt like there could have been… more, given such a delicious setup. Also, there’s some trashy bits that were unnecessary, a weird, awkward S&M freak show vibe that didn’t need to be shoehorned in and take it from someone who appreciates the uber-kinky aura in something like Hellraiser (where it was appropriate) when I tell you… it was not necessary here, it cheapens and dilutes the potential for true otherworldly horror. By the film’s climax we get several folks running amok with their sentient pineal glands protruding from their foreheads like glistening head-penises and it lands squarely in WTF-ville. Anyways there’s scenes that are ok, with the neat 80’s effects, score and aesthetic, but something just feels… ‘off’ about this one. Like the freaky deaky aspects that are so much fun in other similar films just.. landed with a clunk here. I dunno, maybe it’s just me, but a film with such a cool concept just should have done more, and avoided being so trashy in certain key areas.
There have been many a cinematic sensation born out of heart, passion and YouTube.
I think back on films like Sandy Collora’s Batman: Dead End and David Sandberg’s Kung Fury. The doors that opened to these filmmakers responsible for bold and daring exercises in bringing everything they’ve ever wanted to see on the big screen to it…no holds barred!
Now another movie-making warrior has appeared on the horizon. His name, Stefan Chapovskiy with his 80s action opus, WAR GENE. The prospect of such a film receiving a grand treatment, particularly in this era of remakes and reboots, would be a welcome breath of fresh air on top of a blistering, high-octane, action roller-coaster that makes a strong claim to be a smorgasbord of everything that was right, good and true about the action cinema that flourished until Hollywood decided the way ahead would be to stick all of its action heroes in tights.
So, ever curious to shed light on the movers and the shakers in the indie cinema world, I reached out to Stefan, hoping to learn more about the man who kinda looks like Sly, while uncovering a man driven by his passionate need to create and being in possession of the same skill-set that made the man who shares his visage, astronomically successful and a Hollywood staple.
KH: Tell us a little bit about yourself?
SC: Well, I was born in USSR in 1977 (oh God, I feel like a dinosaur now, I mean that was a completely different era). My family lived modestly but mother always tried to give me all she had, first and foremost, a thirst for knowledge, for self-development. I learned to read rather early and liked to draw some characters and scenes from my favorite books. This gave a lot of good material for my imagination and sometimes I wrote my own stories. Later sport also came into my life : swimming, athletics, martial arts(mainly taekwondo) and finally, bodybuilding(I’d like to clarify, I’m 100% natural athlete and don’t use any pharmacologic drugs (anabolic steroids, HGH or something like this). Thus, even today, when I am who I am (former winner of California natural bodybuilding and fitness championships, personal trainer, founder/president of Natural Bodybuilding Federation in Russia, actor, writer, producer, director, world traveler, husband and father) – I work out and read books almost every day. But, as you have probably guessed, there was a third element of my becoming as a creator. I’m talking about movies.
KH: When did you fall in love with movies?
SC: It’s hard to say…I guess everyone, especially at a young age, loves movies. The question is, what kind of emotions do you prefer? For example, I remember my age when I liked a horror movies. But definitely, if we’re talking about «fall in love», my favorite genre is action. No matter, what mix( action + drama , action + adventure/sci-fi/historical/etc.). That’s what motivated me most of all. But if in my childhood, after seeing Spartacus(1960) or 7 Samurai(1954), I was making a swords and fought with the neighbor kids, after seeng Bruce Lee movies I started in martial arts. Finally, one day I saw the movie Rambo 2 and it is not an exaggeration to say that this day completely changed my life : from my start in bodybuilding and military service (for 2 years, so now I am a former sergeant), to film schools in Russia, St. Petersburg and later, USA, Los Angeles.
KH: Were like so many of the cinematic giants of our time and took to making films early?
SC: Actually, no, I made my first project pretty late, when I was 34. But for sure I always felt that desire to create, by any means : painting ( I’m pretty good at it), or writing, photography or music, posing and scene choreography…you know, my coming to film-making was just a matter of time. I’d say I accumulated those preconditions for years.
KH: After film school, tell us about your quest to get yourself and your vision to the big screen?
SC:In my case, film schools were not a determining factor, because I’ve been involved with the acting since my childhood. My mother and uncle had a theater education, so I’ve acted on stage during my school years. Later, since 2001, I started to play in movies but after several years of playing stereotype characters(gangsters or bodyguards, because of my emphasized bodybuilding image in those years), I realized that I want to progress further. As I said before, I started thinking about my own projects. And idea of the War Gene movie it’s something where I can embody all my best skills : as a writer, actor, director, concept-artist, etc. But most importantly, this project is the greatest opportunity to express my love, my passion to the 80’s action movies that created me.
KH: WAR GENE is an impressive exercise in genre mash-up…was that what it was always intended to be?
SC: Yes, that was a part of my strategy. The thing is, I wrote the War Gene synopsis a while ago, in 2017 and later, a full screenplay (actually I still re-writing some details but story line is completed). But after new experience during my visit to American Film Market, I realized that promo-trailer it’s a good way to show much more about your project and get some feed back faster. Moreover that is a perfect challenge for every aspiring director. Another temptation that finally convinced me to start the War Gene independent production was an understanding that I can, literally, go back to my favorite 80’s, but this time as a film character, not as a viewer. At the same time I expected that it will not be easy (even for experienced director) to reveal the all lines of War Gene story ( just imagine the elements : a war drama, psychological thriller, an action, sci-fi and adventure, several time lines : 1984 and the 60’s, Vietnam War – and all of this under the old school style cover, some sort of tribute to the 80’s epic movies. Add to that the necessity to meet several minutes length and very small budget, so …finally I decided to increase the duration. That’s why, as you can see now, War Gene has two different, in its structure, parts (except for an intro) – the first one looks more like a movie and the second is a classic trailer. According to my director’s vision, this way allows to immerse into the film atmosphere firstly, and then to see the all its genre diversity.
KH: Tell us about the film’s journey from your mind to the film the world can now see?
SC:Hmmm, it’s a long story… Well, I have to start with the main point – my initial motivation. As you can see from my previous answers, since my teenage years I was inspired by Hollywood action movie characters(as well as probably every guy of my generation). I have to say I grew up without a father but fortunately I found someone who has taken his place and became a role model for me for a long years.I’m talking about Sylvester Stallone and his characters, especially John Rambo. By a strange coincidence, when I got older, I started to look him, partly because of my gym workouts. When I came to USA I was surprised that many people told me about it. And for sure, I used it in my performances – as a bodybuilder, then as an actor on stage. Since 2010 I’ve been focused on idea to make a First Blood prequel, about the early years of John Rambo. I was lucky to meet Sly Stallone himself a few times, contacted to Millennium Films producers and even made(as director, producer and actor) a fan-art trailer Rambo 5 : The Beginning that reached over 7.5 million views on YouTube. Finally I was invited on the set of Rambo 5 that I consider some kind of the top of this story. But at that moment I realized that I can’t pursue that dream all my life…I became older and wiser. On the other hand I was (and still am) a “pure product” of the 80’s movies, its legacy. So I started to create my own project, using all my specific experience and skills. I wrote a new, original story and obtained copyright. Here is a log-line :
“1984, a team of rangers on a punitive expedition in Colombia jungle gets abducted by aliens. During the experiment, conducted on the space station, humans are forced to pass deadly tests, competing with warriors from other worlds. “
It was an idea to combine some typical elements of the 80’s action and sci-fi movies but in the new mix. So, in 2018 I started pre-production of the War Gene short movie. I did everything step by step and was learning on the fly. First of all, I calculated a film budget(going forward, I have to say I exceeded it on the stage of post-production because of visual effects). And I was lucky to get support from my old friend Paul from Florida with whom we have worked on the set of my fan-art project (Rambo 5 :The Beginning) in 2011. So, I made a storyboard, bought (and made) props and costumes, included some rare things like a real flak vest M69 used in Vietnam War. I assembled cast and crew, chose the locations and studio. And in March of 2019 we filmed it in Florida. It was really exciting for all of us, especially a night jungle scenes. I have to say, Gavin, our cinematographer, did a great job. But most of all I was pleased with that total old school atmosphere of military brotherhood…I’ll never forget it. During 2020 I did post-production in St. Peterburg, using a Russian VFX artists and young talented composer. We worked together long hours and Ruslan were listening all my ideas and music sketches(according to my vision, we tried to reconstruct some music styles of iconic film composers from the 80’s, especially Jerry Goldsmith and Basil Poledouris). As you can see, almost every scene, even very short, has its own music theme and the same time it’s in harmony with the next one. Such a brilliant job for that short independent film.
And a couple of words about an intro. Actually I have in mind just a one intro, inspired by typical for the 80’s dark opening scenes of sci-fi movies like The Thing(1982), Terminator(1984), Running Man (1987), Cyborg (1989), etc. I’d say the making of War Gene intro were the most difficult job, because we used the real (!) scorpion and mantis. By the way, for sure none of them were harmed( despite of the our movie where they both died – scorpion was “killed in action” by mantis and later mantis was crushed by my character, Sergeant Rabek, who suffering from insectophobia, due to the post traumatic stress disorder after his captivity in Vietnam camp in 1969. But finally, I added one more opening scene, from the beginning – I mean a real chronicle compilation from the different military conflicts of the second half of the 20th century (till 1984) : Vietnam, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Salvador, Lebanon, Rhodesia…I did it for more realistic atmosphere of the Cold War era when the our film takes place. And yes, I fully realized that the first intro(about 30 seconds of documentary)will scary off most of YouTube viewers…but, you know, at this level(short movie) it’s not about some profit…it’s about my director’s vision and creative expression.
KH: Like most indie filmmakers I have encountered, you haven’t let your limitations hamper the final product… Do you think ultimately, that is the key to success in the film industry, being bold?
SC:Success in the film industry…I’d say, success in your own soul much more important. It makes you HAPPY in your life, what could be better? Of course, to be a world-famous filmmaker it’s just great. But, by my opinion, you shouldn’t try to do it because of popularity or financial profit only. For 99% this direction will makes you dissapointed. But if you do it according to your soul, your passion, your creative ambitions – I salute you, this is a way to the happy life. Not for everyone, but for “creators” – it’s undoubtedly.
KH: The scale of your canvas and your ingenuity have seen WAR GENE explode as an inspired beginning to a larger work…is that the trajectory, or do you plan further, smaller films to further develop your craft?
SC:War Gene project is something I have to develop nearest years. My main goal now is to find a suitable production film company and make a feature film. Even 3 years ago, at the American Film Market 2017, during my first presentation of War Gene (at that time as a short synopsis and several concept arts), I attracted interest of several independent film companies. But I took a pause because I’d like to get the larger scale and worthy budget for this movie. Now I have a screenplay and short promo movie/trailer, so we’ll see…I say more, I already have a synopsis of War Gene 2, in case of success with the first part. Thereby, my nearest years is going to be very interesting and productive, I believe. The same time I admit some probability to make a couple of new short movies in War Gene cinematic universe – like I said I have a lot of material as a creator and really happy to work with it.
KH: I’m excited to see where you go next after such an audacious debut… I for one will be looking forward to the next movie you bring to fruition?
SC: Thank you, Kent! By the way, feel free to reach me if James Cameron will call you soon and ask for my contact info 😉 Ok, seriously, I appreciate the opportunity to tell more about my story. I’m always open for a new ideas and proposals. Everyone can contact me on my FB page https://www.facebook.com/stefan.chapovskiy and Instagram Stefan Chapovskiy (@stefanchapovskiy) . to see what’s new in my life. My big Hello and best wishes to your readers , take care and keep in touch!