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Ewan Telford

Director - "Apocalypse Oz"
Interview by: 
Catwalk

Horrorview faithful have the opportunity to check out a new type of short film, one titled a Cineclash.  The first such film, from Cineclash Productions, is titled Apocalypse Oz, bringing together the classic family tale, The Wizard of Oz, with Coppola’s brutal film, Apocalypse Now.  It sounds insane, but the result is a slick, well-shot and terrifically-acted ride.

The rules of a Cineclash are easy; combine two original movies, making sure that every character is a hybrid from both films.  There can be no original dialogue, just a “remake” of the original script.  (For instance, the great line in AO where Dorothy states, “There’s no horror like home!”)

Filmmaker Ewan Telford was gracious enough to take the time to answer a few of my questions after I reviewed this wild little flick.

HV: Ewan, welcome!

ET: Thanks Nick. It’s good to be here.

First of all, talk about the origin of the film and what gave you the idea for such a new blending of cinema.

I had been thinking about genre and about structure in film. A given story or structure might be clad in the generic conventions of a war film or a musical or any other genre, but remain the same story. I realized Apocalypse Now and the Wizard of Oz were essentially the same story, both at heart deriving from the same sort of Homeric archetype. I decided it would be fun to combine them.

From the info on the film’s website, www.apocalypseoz.com, it sounds like there haven’t been any intellectual property issues.  Coppola himself seems energetic when discussing the project.  Is that still the case and do you think it’ll change when the film starts making some real money?

It is still the case. There are no intellectual property issues, partly because the short film will not be making any money.

Apocalypse Oz has been a hit at festivals.  Talk about the reception and what fans are saying.

The film’s been really well received for the most part. There are negative responses though. Some people get upset because one isn’t supposed to treat established classics with anything other than reverence. It’s interesting, because these two films are based on novels that had been cherished for many years before the films were made and are not primary sources at all, yet it’s the films that they feel are desecrated. Others feel it’s creatively bankrupt to use found material in this way, which is to miss the point entirely. Overall though the response has been very positive.

You can’t mention AO without giving a huge nod to the actors.  Alexandra Gizela (Dorothy) and Kevin Glikmann (Kilgore) really keep the film going while the others dazzle in their supporting roles.  What was the casting process like and how did you find your stars?

We had a great casting team, Tochett-Davis, who understood the script and the tone and were able to bring the right sort of talent to auditions. We were surprised by how difficult it was to find Asian actresses though, there just don’t seem to be that many of them, and of course it was that much harder to find AmerAsian talent. Finding Alex Gizela was very fortunate as she does not live in LA and happened to be in town when we were casting. Bradley suggested MC Gainey, who plays Kurtz. They’ve long been associates  and MC turned out to be perfect.

The DVD doesn’t feature any extras, which was a huge bummer.  Since you’re looking at a full-length version of the film, are you also considering a buffed-up DVD release?

There are no plans at this point for extras for the short DVD. Perhaps we should give some thought to that. The feature length version will have all sorts of exciting goodies, but that’s a little way off at the moment.

Our readers would love to hear some of the unique and bizarre tales from the set.  Is there a particular event that really sticks out during the shoot?

Gosh, so many odd things. We had a few pick up shots to do with the car and were on the freeway driving it out to the desert when the engine caught fire. We pulled it over, got out, and within moments it was a huge ball of fire with flames leaping two lanes into the freeway. Amazingly it didn’t explode. Then the fire brigade were all over the place in their trucks and they put it out. That was the end of it, a black crisp. It just spontaneously combusted. Surprised it hadn’t happened before to be honest. We just cut the film with what we had.

You’re from Edinburgh originally.  How did you wind up getting together with producer Bradley Warden and D.P. Kev Robertson?

Bradley and I have known one another for years socially. Kev we met through interviewing DPs. His reel was great and we very quickly found him to be right for the shoot.

Is Cineclash solely focused on Apocalypse Oz right now, or are there plans to start on the next collaboration, and can you give us a peek into what it might be?

We are only focusing on A/Oz the feature at the moment. I have no plans to do another film of this sort afterwards though. Once is enough!