lördag 10 december 2011

Intervju med Seb Hunter!

Seb Hunter har skrivit den otroligt underhållande "Hell bent for leather", där han berättar om sina tämligen misslyckade försök att bli rockstjärna som ung.
Hans senaste projekt handlar om att göra film av KISS "(Music from) The Elder". Tanken är att filmen ska vara löst baserad på historien som knåpades ihop av Gene Simmons i början av 80-talet och utspela sig i en dyster framtid då större delen av världens befolkning utrotats av ett virus.
Det hela lät så spännande att jag inte kunde låta bli att kontakta Seb och några dagar senare snackades vi vid över telefon.

When did you first get the idea of turning ”The Elder” into a movie?

Seb Hunter: About two years ago! I was just e-mailing somebody and bizarrely I was e-mailing Julian Cope´s wife, who I e-mail every now and then and we sort of e-mailed each other back and forth and I can´t remember why we were talking about “The Elder”. Sometimes you´re just doing streams of consciousness e-mails and I just said “Oh, and I´m finally going to make The Elder film!” as a joke literally and she e-mailed back and said “Yes, what a brilliant idea!” and I just thought “Yeah, that is a brilliant idea! Fucking hell!”. Basically that was about two years ago and I´ve just been sort of developing the idea. It´s one of those ideas that when you say… when you mention it to people, some people just go “That is the best idea in the world, ever!” or they just think it´s ridiculous. I knew it was a good idea and enough people agreed with me to get to this stage. It does actually seem to be happening.

Cool! When it comes to the script and stuff like that, are you writing it?

SH: Yeah, I´m writing and directing the film myself. I´m writing a screenplay at the moment. I´ve not written a screenplay before, but I´ve written books. It´s a very different discipline and it´s much more like an instructional manual. You´re sort of hiding behind your style. You can lose…. I don´t know, there´s a lot of places to hide in a book, but in a screenplay you are literally describing the action and you´re kind of describing a 3-D scene in real time and it´s a whole different way of looking at the whole creative process, but I´m really enjoying it. There is a rule apparently which is that one page of screenplay should equate to one minute screen time, so essentially if you´re making a 90 minute movie, you should a have a 90 page screenplay. I´m taking a lot of advice from a lot of wise people, but it´s going well so far.

There never was any kind of script for the original idea, right?

SH: I don´t think so! Since the website went live about a month ago, I´ve had all sorts of people contacting me about all this sort of interesting stuff. I think it got a lot of development, but I don´t think there was ever a script. I know that Gene Simmons wrote a lot of stuff and had a lot of notes about it and they certainly had ideas. You know, it was supposed to be a trilogy! “(Music from) The Elder” was the first one and then there was another one, I can´t recall what it was called and then there was a third one. I think they sketched out a vague sort of narrative ideas for the trilogy, but of course it all got scrapped after the commercial response to the original one was so terrible.

It was kinda like the “Lulu” of the 80´s and Lou Reed was involved in that one too!

SH: (laughs) It was, wasn´t it and he was wasn´t he! I rather like that! (laughs) It was exactly the “lulu” of the 80´s. So maybe in 30 years time someone will actually make the play of “Lulu” that it´s based on, you know. Poor Lou Reed, or not poor Lou Reed! He´s a rich man!

But I understand it´s gonna be a serious movie?

SH: Yeah, yeah! It´s a very serious movie! I think the only way to do this is to do it properly and not to make some kind of kitsch sorcery thing. Not to completely copy the ideas that KISS had. It´s 30 years and a lot has happened in 30 years in art and culture and cinema and everything. I think the only way to make this credible, to make it work as far as I see it… I´ve decided to reset it as a kinda post apocalyptic road movie, but with all the signifies in place and the characters are the same and the general narrative is the same or at least what we know of it. It basically tells the same story and of course it´s an old story with a boy on a quest and the story of good and evil. It wasn´t exactly a radical storytelling, but in a sort of credible environment really and that´s it. I´m not making a film for KISS fans! I´m making a film that I want to be for the general audience. I want to make a good, low budget, high concept film which will appeal to everybody. Hopefully it will be underwritten and paid for by KISS fans, as long as they don´t sue us. This is the big potential problem that we have at the moment. We´ve gone this far and people know about it and I´m 99 % sure that KISS know about it. We´ve written to the management and we´ve written to the label, but we haven´t heard anything and the big worry is that they… you know how Gene Simmons likes to wield his lawyers and he´s not scared of doing that, so the big worry of course is that he´ll come down on us like a ton of bricks… and we´re prepared for that. People ask question about what chance do we have on a project that doesn´t set out to glorify the KISS brand? I understand, but we´re not asking for money and we´re not asking for investments. We´re potentially reactivating some long dead part of their catalog in an incredible new way. We´re doing it respectfully and we´d love their authorization. I´m hoping they´ll be able to see the potential in it.

It could never get worse than “Phantom of the park”!

SH: Yeah, I don´t think I should say that, you know what I mean? (laughs) I don´t think I should ever mention those words. (laughs)

Location and so on? Is it gonna be filmed in Britain?

SH: Yeah, yeah! If we get massive investment and KISS get involved and we suddenly get a huge budget increase, we might shoot it somewhere else, but at the moment because of costs, we´ll shoot it around southern England. The plot is kinda this landscape where a virus has wiped out 99,9 % of the people living and it´s set in southern England and what happens in the wake of that. The characters and Mr Blackwell is a baddie and we´ve got the structure of it there, but it could be set anywhere. It´s a window on what happens in a particular part of the world when a catastrophe like this happens to mankind.

I was checking out the website and you´ve already got some actors involved. Are those professional actors or amateurs?

SH: No professional actors but my best friend, Owen Oakeshott, he´s a Royal Shakespeare Company actor and he´s been in lots of television and films and he´s a very accomplished actor and he´s going to play Morpheus. He´s gonna be great and he´s gonna help produce the film and he´s produced film in the past. My cousin is a man called David Knox-Williams and he runs his own theater company and he´s gonna play a guy called Father Cerberus, who´s a baddie and he´s kind of Blackwell´s tenant on the ground and he´s got lots of experience and he´s written lots of things. It´s not gonna be lots of people who don´t know what they´re doing. We´ve got all the camera equipment for free and people have offered that and a guy who does the matte paintings and we´ve got a 3-D animation specialist and people have just kind of offered us their services for free because they just love the idea of this project. If we´re successful and we go to cinema, then of course everyone gets paid. It´s a real passion project for everybody concerned! It only works if we do it seriously and properly with passion.

Yeah, I saw that you´re involved with that 3-D company… that Serpent guy who´ve done all those KISS stages.

SH: Yeah, I have had lots of e-mails from people and I got a call from this guy that does Serpent
3-D and I don´t know him. He linked to his website and he said “Can I do 3-D stuff?” and I said “Yes, fantastic!”. Do you know anything about him?

All I know is that he started posting on KISS FAQ and I think he works for some kinda constructing company or whatever and apparently he´s a KISS fan and I think the first one was the “Dynasty” stage set and then he just kept on going to show what he could do with that kind of animation. He´s done it really well and seems serious. It all seems legit.

SH: Oh, that´s good! He seems like a great guy and he sends lots of technical stuff that I don´t know about.

Is the plan to also include the music in the movie?

SH: Good question! I think it would be disingenuous to attempt to sort of shoe horn in a 30 year old album into a new film. I think the best thing to do is to use bits of it. This all depends on if we get authorization to use the music at all. I think we could definitely have something over the opening credits and in the closing credits. Maybe if a song feels appropriate for a scene, we´ll definitely use it, but we´re not building the film from the album. If we get access to master tapes we could take a piano fill here or a vocal line here and use it very discreetly, so fans will recognize melodies coming in and out, but we´re certainly not gonna cover the film with the music. Hopefully we´ll create a whole other potential for a soundtrack recording. Some of the original and some of the new stuff.

If everything works out, you´re plan is also to cast Gene Simmons?

SH: I would love to cast Gene Simmons! Back in the 80´s I went to see “Runaway” and he had a descent enough acting career. He was in “Wanted dead or alive” and he was good in those. They were good films! I know he´s very keen on acting, so I´m hoping that this might be the bait that lures him into the project. He might be so flattered by the fact that I want him to act in this film. I think he would be great and I´d love for him to play Blackwell.

It sounds awesome! I was totally thrilled when I read about it. There´s a book coming out about “The Elder” as well.

SH: Yeah, I heard! A guy in America. A friend of mine at Classic Rock Magazine told me about it and it´s incredible isn´t it? Suddenly you wait 30 years and these two things come along at once. I got in touch with him and I think first of all I thought “Oh shit, are we gonna get in each other’s way?”, but I think both projects will kinda complement each other and I think we´re gonna sort of see if we can do some stuff together and kinda publicize each other´s projects. I think his book comes out in the spring. Our plan was to start the website to just get out there, really. To get serious and get the blog going and then start raising money for the film and then start to write the screenplay and take things from there and also we´ve got a TV company doing a documentary. We hope that´s gonna happen. It´s a company called Mentorn, who are kind of an independent production company here in the UK and they´ve got international arms as well and they want to film it. It´s like a human interest thing, me small town guy against the KISS machine. They say it´s a bit of an Anvil type thing, so hopefully that will be something and that might open the door for KISS.

Did you hear “The Elder” when it came out or way later?

SH: My first KISS album was “Animalize” and I bought it in the shop and although it was… Christ, it was only three years before but it felt like a lifetime. Like any band, you discover them and then you go back into the back catalog. I remember when I first discovered it, I was genuinely… since nobody else liked it, I felt that I had it to myself. Nobody likes this record, so I´m able to give it all my love.

It´s pretty funny that for so many years people laughed about it and looked at it as a big joke, but later on and the last couple of years, more and more people come out and say that they really like it. I do as well, if you don´t look at it as a KISS album it is a good album.

SH: Exactly! I agree! I think actually people don´t like it because it doesn´t sound like what they think KISS would sound like. And also, people get lazy about it. It´s famous for being the shit KISS album that no one bought and it´s embarrassing. People are lazy and they like falling into clichés. If you get beyond that, it´s a great record and KISS shouldn´t be ashamed of it. I think the only reason they´re ashamed of it is because it as such a failure and KISS don´t like failure! If we can turn it into a success, KISS might embrace it. On the KISS Kruise they played a medley from it and if they´re prepared to go that far, maybe we can help properly rehabilitate it. I hope to maybe get a book out of this as well. We might get a soundtrack album, a film, a documentary and hopefully this can provide a lot of cool stuff! We´ve got a real momentum now. Cinema release my friend, cinema release!

Definitely! This was really interesting Seb!

SH: I really appreciate it Niclas and your interest in the project! Let´s stay in touch, man!

Absolutely! Have a great weekend!

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