We got there first, folks! Back in 2013, Future-Rocker interviewed musician / director Ilya Naishuller about the groundbreaking and spectacular 'Bad Motherf*cker', a pop promo that very quickly went viral on the internet. Now, two years later, he is premiering his debut feature-length sci-fi action spectacular, HARDCORE, at various film festivals around the world. Using the same vertiginous point-of-view photography, it looks absolutely tremendous!
''I do like to think Zardonic is DJ music and not Metal music''
One of the inevitabilities of modern life is the proliferation of hybrids: People experiment with technology and cultures that previously would not be accessible. They fuse their disparate influences, and make it their own. There is no better embodiment of a cultural gene-splice, than ZARDONIC. A pan-cultural collision of dance and heavy metal ( distinct from industrial, EBM or electro-goth ), DJ Federico Agreda brings a hard-edged apocalyptic form of dance music to the world's arenas.
This is Zardonic's time. We talk to him before - and then after - a ground-breaking Sri Lankan gig, where he was the first dance DJ in the world to headline a metal festival, and on the eve of the release of his CD, Antihero.
First of all, explain how Zardonic came about. Being from Venezuela, how has your background shaped your music?
I think living in a country where bullying is the rule makes
you inevitably angry and vindictive. That paired with the terrible economical
and political crisis the country is facing. I left the country in July 2014
shortly after the latest riots began. Kids playing the hero / freedom fighter /
terrorist role with anything and everything from burning tires to mortars, against a relentless military police. Thankfully for some, it wasn't happening
all over the country. But it sure was happening three blocks from where I
lived. So I couldn't even go to the yard to look at the twilight - my hometown,
Barquisimeto, is known also as Twilight City because of the incredible sunsets
we have - without seeing clouds of smoke, hearing all sorts of explosions,
gunfire and screams. Not to mention there's been a recent electricity
regulation where they have to cut the power three days a week for 2-3 hours at
random times. It was the perfect scenario for all sorts of raiders to do as
they pleased. And they did. And they still do.
the music scene like in Venezuela?
Despite what I just told you, the scene is surprisingly
REALLY good. We have all sorts of internationally acclaimed artists. Look em up
whenever you want: Guaco, Los Amigos Invisibles, La Vida Boheme, Desorden
Publico, Gustavo Dudamel, all of them incredibly talented and successful. When
it comes to Metal, I guess I could mention Paul Gillman and Krueger in terms of
popularity, but the underground has a lot more to offer in terms of composition
quality. Verminous is a great death metal band to check out.
You obviously are influenced by metal, but I notice
from the tracks you’ve remixed - such as Arkhon Infaustus and Anaal Nathrakh –
that you have a singular taste for the more 'progressed' Black Metal that came
after the millennium ( Black Metal was/is a hyper-fast form of heavy metal, originating in Scandinavia in the 90s ). Is it fair to say that this is an era that interests you
Nailed it. Post-2000 Black Metal is right up my alley. Older classics like Bathory, old Mayhem and old Sepultura are also among my
favorites, but that technical touch you hear in Mayhem's "Grand
Declaration Of War ( 2000 )" as opposed to their "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas ( 1994 )" is
something I personally prefer.
I agree. When Mayhem went back to a more primitive sound to please the die-hards, they were in danger of making themselves obsolete.
I don't even know what they were trying to do by
forcing their old sound back. That's involution. They should have kept the path
they were taking if you ask me. A lot of people keep complaining about bands
changing their sound. That's like you complaining about a fifty-year-old not being
able to think the same way he did when he was ten. Evolution is natural, and so
should be music. You can always go back and play the old albums and enjoy them
for what they are, but trying to replicate it in new music will never be the
Were you into the more 'electronic' Black Metal such as Thorns and Aborym?
Of course!! I'm still waiting for Thorns to release another
f**king album! And "With No Human Intervention" by Aborym is probably
one of my favorite albums of all time! Loved the work of Attila Csihar ( Mayhem's vocalist ) particularly on that one.
''I am not a guy trying to bring electronic music into metal - that has been done to death''
Genre-busting music is always difficult to label. For
example, I’ve noticed Celldweller is often listed on dance charts, whereas it
would be more accurate to call it Metal, Progressive Metal, or perhaps even
Electro-Metal ( – and very distinct from Industrial, which is how his music is labelled on
my iPod ). Without wanting to reduce what you do with a simplistic label...what do you
call the music of Zardonic?
Zardonic is Zardonic and I do what I feel, but I do like to
think Zardonic is DJ music and not Metal music. I am not a guy trying to bring
electronic music into metal. That has been done to death, and Celldweller is an
excellent example of it. What I'm trying to do is the opposite: bring metal to
the dance arenas. I like the energy you find in dance events. People are moving,
they give you so much power, and everybody is all gathered and happy. Add a bit
of extra heaviness and power to that and you've got an unmatched formula.
That's why my live shows are still DJ sets. It's dance music with a lot of rock
metal, not metal with electronic samples. In other words, I'm a DJ that sounds
like a band, and not the other way around.
What inspired you to wear the mask? Kiss, Daft Punk, or Predator?
None of them. The mask was originally conceived and it's
based on my logo which is based on my own face. People keep comparing it to
Predator because it has "dreads" - RCA cables, to be precise - which
were a later addition. But it wasn't inspired in anything that wasn't my own.
Although I do like the idea that the final result resembles all of those things
you mentioned, and other characters such as Deathstroke, Fulgore, Cyrax... a
guy once said it looked like the cross of a Cylon and the mask from Scream, so
I guess everybody will see what they will. I see nothing but the real me.
Quoting Oscar Wilde, "Man is least himself when he talks in his own
person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth."
Give us your Top 5 list of classic albums, any genres.
I hate Top 5s. I always end up turning that into a Top 10,
20 or 50. So I will just throw the first five albums I can think of:
Behemoth - The Satanist
Arcturus - Aspera Hiems Sinfonia
Mayhem - Grand Declaration Of War
Dodheimsgard - 666 International
Ulver - Themes From William Blake's 'The Marriage Of Heaven
- And I guarantee you that I could keep going, and I'm leaving
a ton out of that list that I listen on a daily basis. Sixth one and I'll stop: Fredrik Thordendal's Special Defects
- Sol Niger Within
I definitely agree with you regarding Arcturus and Mayhem, although Ulver was a bit too soft and proggy for me. What are you listening to at the moment?
Behemoth's "The Satanist" has been on repeat for a
long while. It inspires me. Gives me an energy I can't explain. That's why I
mentioned it as a classic, as I do believe it is the absolute best they've
released. Contemporary artists, to be fair, I have a hard time finding new
music that I like. I have to dig a lot, and sometimes the stuff I find that I
like is probably music that was released a long time ago but I failed to
discover then. God Is An Astronauthas an amazing sound. Some of the new DevinTownsend is good. Ne Obliviscaris, Xerath. That kinda stuff. But there are very
few bands that understand how to make music that sounds interesting and at the
same time hypnotic enough to be enjoyable. A lot of bands are on this quest to
be the most technical, the most bizarre, or the most hard hitting, and you end
up with a pig-squeal-fest with a lot of noise behind it. I can hardly mention
any guitar riff composers I like these days. That's what "Bring Back The
Glory" ( from Zardonic's Vulgar Display of Bass album ) was about. Bringing back the flavor of the 90s and early 2000s.
That, for me, was the era. But maybe I'm just getting old because that's
exactly what my old man would say about the 60s and 70s. He loved Pink Floyd
What famous artists would you like to produce?
None. I have no time to produce anyone else that is not me.
Unless they pay big money.
So I guess whoever brings a balance of excellent
music, open-mindedness and a fat wallet.
You’ve just announced that you’re headlining a Sri
Lankan metal festival – that surely must be a first – both for 21st Century
music culture and the Sri Lankans!
Tell me about it! It's going to be very interesting I think.
I did it already when playing alongside Dimmu Borgir in Caracas. At first I
thought the metalheads were gonna throw shit at me, but it was an excellent
show and everybody was cheering and heard nothing but great comments about the
set. There's always the occasional ignorant person that still thinks that being a DJ
is only pushing buttons. I'd like to see Steve Vai trying to do a DJ set the
same way Andy C does. It's another instrument man. Whoever fails to understand
that is simply being square-headed.
Who’s idea was it, and what can the fans expect?
The Sri Lankans put it together. The fans can expect a set
obviously a little more brutal and metal than usual, so I will be able to give
free rein to all my black metal remixes. It's been a while since I played any!
Zardonic seems to embody one of the possible futures of heavy metal. Talking of futurist speculation, are you a fan of science
Big time. I see Zardonic as an antihero in a post apocalyptic
future. But I think that topic has been overdone too much, so I want to be able
to portray it in a different way. Still sorting out the ideas and don't want to
give much away yet.
What books do you like to read and what movies
do you like?
Never been much of a reader. They call it ADD in the United
States. I need a movie. Most of the time I watch thought-provoking movies
whatever the genre, but I have a sweet spot for great dramas. Movies like
Dallas Buyers Club or Get Low. Robert Duvall's performance was outstanding
there. I feel every time I watch those movies I grow as a human being. They
give me perspective, inspiration. That's what I need from a movie.
Would you ever appear in a
sci-fi movie, like the guys in Die Antwoord?
Maybe. But if I do appear in a movie it has to be done
right. There's a difference between doing what Die Antwoord did with Chappie
and what Bjork did with Dancer In The Dark.
Any plans to release a CD for those of us that like to
keep music libraries and study liner notes and artwork in the booklet?!
Yes indeed. September 18th. You will be pleased!
''No matter how metal people think Zardonic is, Zardonic is an electronic music act''
Update - ZARDONIC'S SRI LANKAN GIG REPORT:
What was the Sri Lanka gig like? How responsive was the crowd?
I can't complain about this experience man! We had a fully
packed Viharamahadevi Theatre - I dare you to pronounce that! The crowd was
tough at first, but that's natural. No matter how metal people think Zardonic
is, Zardonic is an electronic music act. It's obviously going to work better at
EDC than Wacken metal festival. But I did some special tricks by the end of the set and some
live vocals on top of it, and when I least expected it I had a moshpit in front
of me! I think I was yet to play such an aggressive set.
Sri Lanka seems a long way from the busy music scenes of Europe and the Americas. What's their local scene like?
The local bands were great, a few of them need to
improve a bit perhaps, but nothing that good advice and practice can't fix. I
heard some mad potential. My favorite was Coat Of Arms from Dubai, and Seven
Thorns did a pretty interesting job. There was also Demonic Resurrection from
India, as made famous by the Global Metal documentary. Excellent stage presence
Great interview - thanks for your time, and good luck with Antihero!
Thank you for yours!
ZARDONIC'S NEW CD, ANTIHERO, IS AVAILABLE HERE AND WILL BE REVIEWED ON THIS BLOG IN THE OCT / NOV EDITION! ZARDONIC ON TWITTER
William Gibson's short story 'The Gernsback Continuum' brilliantly encapsulated what has become common currency in the realm of science fiction and the popular imagination: The idea of a 'future that didn't happen'. In that instance, it recalled the 'art deco futuroids' of a 1920s/30s-envisioned future, like the ones written about in pulp mags such as Thrilling Wonder Stories and Astounding Tales.
Gibson was again ahead of the curve, because now that we are actually living in a science fiction future, for those creatives who find their own milieu just a tad too dull, they can use their talents to evoke these more romantic 'lost' visions, either in books, films, and more recently, music. Possibly the exemplar of this would be film director Panos Cosmatos ( interviewed here in this blog a while back ), as his visually-stunning film Beyond The Black Rainbow not only looked like a straight-to-VHS sci-fi chiller, but utilized the Sinoia Caves soundtrack to force the effect of a temporal dislocation upon the bewildered viewer.
Alongside Sinoia Caves, other artists such as Pilotpriest, and even the film director and synth maestro John Carpenter himself, have released quasi-soundtrack albums of neon-soaked, rainy eighties fantasias. So, with this concept now firmly entrenched in pop culture, Future-Rocker talks to Danish newcomer, Martin Ahm Nielsen - aka CODE ELEKTRO - about his music, and the need to go 'back to the future'. We also debut Cyber Dreams, his stunning promo video, too.
So Martin, who - or what - is 'Code Elektro'..?
Code Elektro is my electronica “band” where I’m the
only member. The genre is a mix of synthwave and modern electronica. This year I've released my first album with ten tracks on vinyl, download and stream. The
title is Superstrings. And it has been really well received. I didn’t know what
to expect before the release, because I started from absolutely nothing. But the
reviews have been great – and people from all over the world tell me they like
How would you describe your music - futuristic or retro-futuristic?
I would say mainly futuristic. There’s some retro
elements, but for the main part, I try to create music that sounds like it’s new.
However, I love the synthwave scene and I think there’s a lot of talented
artists out there – and it’s great to see how it’s slowly getting more and more
Clearly, your music is very cinematic - do you have visuals
in your head when you compose?
Yes. I do that a lot. I find that having a movie or a
certain atmosphere in my head can help me create. And I think that you can hear
that in my music.
What instruments / technology do you use?
My main digital audio workstation is Cubase Pro 8 on the Mac. It’s the program you record in on your computer, similar to Garage Band and Protools. And for plugins I use U-he, Omnisphere,
Retrologue, Padshop, Kontakt, TAL-U-NO-LX and all the synths from Arturia. I
also have a few hardware synths – I used the Moog Sub Phatty the most.
What are your favourite albums, books or movies? From your music I can detect certain reference points.
If I did an all-round science
fiction Top 5 list it would be something like this:
1.The Incal (Jodorowsky/Moebius)
2.Blade Runner / Vangelis
3.The Matrix (the first one)
4.TRON: Legacy / Daft Punk
5.Neuromancer (William Gibson)
Honorary mentions would have to go to John Carpenter, Alien, Terminator
1+2, Moon, The 5th Element, Stargate, Philip K Dick, TRON, Starship
Troopers, The Cyann Saga, Trent Reznor, Jean Michel Jarre, Deus Ex and many more...
So, given all those influences, what movie would you love to do the soundtrack to?
Blade Runner and TRON: Legacy have fantastic scores –
and I would love to have worked on them. But they're awesome because of Vangelis
and Daft Punk…and I think they did a great job because they are who they are. Also the movie Beyond the Black Rainbow has an incredible synth score. And of course ( Swedish martial arts and eighties homage movie ) Kung
What do you see Code Elektro doing in the future?
Concerts, movie scores, CD releases..?
Right now there’s a lot of work in promoting the album
and the new music video…also I’m sending out vinyl all the time! Which is great
fun…but yes…there’s a few new plans taking form. Too
early to say more about it..!
Sounds interesting! Until then, check out CODE ELEKTRO's beautiful new promo video:
My personal philosophy regarding 'art' is a distinctly non-academic one. I've put in my ten thousand man-hours, and therefore, the decision is entirely mine to decide where it goes and how it gets disseminated. We're living in the future now, so as well as just looking at my work, if you can live in it, drink it, eat it, brush your teeth with it...that's fine by me.
Inspired by my love of urban futurism and electronic music, the ELECTRONIQUE is the first example of wearable Alexi K art.
[ You can buy it by clicking here. If you know any fans of futurism and electronica, send them the link! ]
It began in 2013, when I did a bunch of articles for my black & white art mag MONOBLOG, featuring sci-fi film-making gurus Anthony Scott Burns, Ash Thorp and Bradley ( GMunk ) Munkowitz.
Looking for a cool custom background for one of these editions - and inspired by the enthralling 'graphic user interfaces' that some these guys specialize in - I found a very ordinary electronic diagram, and abstractified it until it started to look interesting. It's like any other collage. You chop / rotate / mirror / cut / paste / edit , according to the configurations that suit your personal sense of balance. Like a Rorschach test, you start to think you can see shapes or figures amongst all the lines and shapes.
Below: Alternative Iteration, 2013
For example, to me, the picture above evokes an eerie A.I. version of the Turin Shroud.
( Detail below ).
Shortly afterwards, I was still in this mode when I submitted one of the many iterations to Bucketfeet...lo and behold, it's now a shoe!
The next few months is an absolutely momentous era for electronic rock n roll. As well as ZARDONIC, there are imminent albums from industrial rocker BLUE STAHLI and king of electro-metal, CELLDWELLER! To celebrate, FUTURE-ROCKER will review all of these landmarks, plus we will have an exclusive interview with Thomas 'Drop' Betrisey, guitarist and studio wizard of Swiss industrial rockers SYBREED, who will be updating us on his new band OBSYDIANS. There's all this, and more - in the next edition, which will go live in late November. See you then - but if you can't wait that long, keep scrolling and check out the fantastic brand-new release from Brazil's LURDEZ DA LUZ, below this post!
Proof that it can be done: Amsterdam production house PostPanic have landed a motion picture deal with Warner Bros, after their 15-minute movie went viral in just one week.
With many cinephiles feeling justifiably depressed at the looming era of sprawling franchise universes ( Transformers spin-offs, Marvel & DC Cinematic Universes, Star Wars sequels and spin-offs, ad nauseum ), and the relative tail-off of the Wachowskis and Blomkamp ( although this blog loved Chappie ), it seems that studios are still willing to take a chance on singular visions - such as Mischa Rozema's debut project, above.
‘As I rewatch it every few months, I get something new from
Ash Thorp, a regular in our blogs, is a pre-eminent concept artist currently working in television and feature films. Based on the West Coast, he has contributed to films such as Prometheus, Total Recall, X-Men First Class, and TV such as Person of Interest, and The Walking Dead.
Hugely inspired by his love of anime and manga, we caught up with Ash to discuss his inspirations, and his team's amazing homage to Ghost In The Shell, ( starring alt-model Christine 'IDiivil' Adams ), and ask for his thoughts on the recently green-lit live-action version, starring the distinctly un-oriental Scarlett Johansson.
- Ash, what exactly does GHOST IN THE SHELL mean to you? You seem to be obsessed with it, in the way that suggests it is a remnant from childhood
Ghost in the Shell was a breakthrough in my childhood
growing up. I was introduced to the
Anime first and it literally blew me away at a young, impressionable age. Shortly after I discovered the Manga and
became obsessed with the concepts and ideas that the property was built
upon. I think the first thing that I
connected with was the art and visual design of the world. As I grew up and my mind matured, I began to
take in all the other subtle details of the story. As I rewatch it every
few months, I get something new from the experience, and I think that is because
I am in love with the big concepts that creator Masamune Shirow and his team built, that are just
under the surface.
- At what point did it go from being a homage photoshoot ( as it was originally intended ), to an elaborate tribute and mock-title sequence?
I think the moment I came home from the photoshoot I realized the level that we had to take things. Tim ( - Tadder, the project's photographer ) had captured such powerful images that I only wanted to honor them by doing the best work we could, moving forward.
- It seems like colleagues from all over the world pitched in their talents. How long did it take to put together?
This project felt like it took many years but in fact I think from the first email Filipe ( -Carvalho, art director and designer ) and I exchanged about taking this task on until the final release was about 14 months total. It was extremely intense at times.
‘I think it has certainly made me aware how far I need to
take things and the level of work that I need to match’
- Was the plan to continue and do more Ghost clips? Or even complete a short, perhaps?
Right now the project is done. I would love to do a short or even finish the title in full motion but as of now I am focusing all my free time and energy on my own creations.
- Has this whetted your appetite to adapt another big manga property? 'Xenon Heavy Metal Warrior' perhaps?!
I learned so many lessons working on this project. I think it has certainly made me aware how far I need to take things and the level of work that I need to match.
- So now that you've had a chance to throw your hat in the ring, what is your reaction to Scarlett Johanssen's casting in a brand-new big-budget movie?
I think that Scarlett is really pushing herself as an
artist. I enjoyed her work in Under the
Skin and can see why she would be cast for the project. Making films are a HUGE task. You never know if you have a winner really up
until the last bit and since art is subjective, everyone will have their own
take away from it. I think it's a tall
task to take on this property and translate it to the medium of film. The great thing is that they will have an
amazing wealth of source material to use.
I wish them the best of luck. As
of now I think everything lives in the shadow of the original Anime, but that
is just my personal opinion.
- Finally, so what else is new?
Right now I am focusing all my energy on my project Lost Boy( - see Ash's webpage, link below ) which I intend to create in multiple mediums, one of them being film. So many things are happening these days as I am constantly pushing myself into new and unknown territories as a creative. 2015 will be a big year and that is all I can say as of now.
And here it is: Check out this amazing clip, by an international team of dedicated creatives...
Interview by Alexi K
Ash Thorp - Director / Producer / CG Artist
Anthony Scott Burns - CG Artist
Chris Ford - CG Artist / lookdev
Colin Thomas - CG Artist
Filipe Carvalho - Art Director / Designer
Franck Deron - Editor
Furio Tedeschi - 3d lead / CG Artist
Gavriil Klimov - CG Artist / Environment Design
Hanno Hagedorn - CG Artist
Kevin Kwok - Web builder
Maciej Kuciara - CG Artist
Michal Misinski - CG Artist / Compositor
Milton Fernandes - CG Artist
Simon Jones - CG Artist - Simulation Artist
Vaughan Ling - CG Artist / Environment Design
Valentin Sorokin - CG Artist / Environment Design
Wedge & Lever - Poster Designer
Adam Tunikowski - Additional Compositing Artist
Aleksandra Rafalksa - Animation
Jaroslaw Handrysik - Additional rendering artist
Kuba Pietrzak - Sound Design
Michal Misinski - Supervisior
Piotr Bialousz - Additional CG Artist
Tomasz Dyrdula - CG Artist
SAN DIEGO CREW
Tim Tadder - Photographer
Dahlia Snyder - Shoot Producer
Mark Peery - Tim Tadder Assistant
Taylor Abeel - Tim Tadder Assistant
Kevin Joelson - Behind the Scenes Cinematographer
Rebecca Joelson - Behind the Scenes Photography
Natalie Bohlin - Hair and Makeup Artist
Christine "IDiivil" Adams - Talent
Fizah Rahim - Photographer
Rezaliando - Photographer
Our Family and Friends
Bahi JD - Advisor
Kaz Oomori - Cultural Design Consultant
Ryan Hawkins - Additional 3D modeling
Tomas Dyrdula - CG Artist
Vitaly Bulgarov - 3D asset contributor
All footage and stills used with permission, property of Ash Thorp
‘the fake moon landing seemed like an excellent way in to a
story about Kubrick and his films’
In these times of media intrusion and internet paranoia, now more than ever, conspiracy theories are the modern equivalent of legends or folk-tales. A story about Stanley Kubrick making a fake moon-landing is just what writer and fan Stephany Folsom thought might have happened at the height of the Space Race, charged as it was, by the intense political atmosphere of those Cold War times. Stephany's script has won the author critical accolades since it made the 2013 Black List ( a career-boosting Hollywood survey of the 'most-liked' scripts not yet filmed ), and also given the honour of being performed in one-off Black List live special, in front of an audience. - How did you come up with the idea for 1969? There are a lot of theories about Kubrick faking a moon landing, so as a fan, the idea must have greatly appealed to you.
I'm a huge fan of Kubrick and his films. DR. STRANGELOVE is my favorite, but I also love THE SHINING and PATHS OF GLORY. I came up with the idea when I visited the Stanley Kubrick exhibit at LACMA ( - Los Angeles County Museum of Art). I left the exhibit wanting to tell a story with Stanley Kubrick as a character. As I was leaving the exhibit, I remembered there being a crazy conspiracy theory that he faked the moon landing. I thought about it a little more, and the fake moon landing seemed like an excellent way in to a story about Kubrick and his films. So that's how I came up with the idea for 1969. I'm also a huge fan of all things NASA, and I love all things related to space exploration.
- For those of us who are not Hollywood insiders, did you submit to the Black List website, or were you separately recommended to the annual Black List survey ( - and did you have an agent at that time )?
I have never submitted to the Black List website. I heard it's a great service, but I'm not sure if or how submitting to the website is connected to the annual Black List. That would be a question for Franklin Leonard ( - former Universal executive who founded the list ). As for the annual Black List, the scripts on there are nominated and voted on by executives in the industry. They are scripts that have been set-up or have gone out to the town as a spec, but haven't been produced yet. I'm pretty sure that everyone on the annual Black List has reps. So yes, I did have an agent and manager before I made the 2013 Black List.
- When it came to the table-read in front of a theatre audience, and only one day with the cast to do a read-through, were you worried when you spent the night editing it for the stage, that you could badly mess it up and not notice until it was too late?
Ha, not at all. I was worried I wouldn't get it finished in time, but I wasn't worried I would mess it up. You have to have a good internal editor if you are going to be writing for a living. You also have to be good at cranking out decent pages under pressure.
- Was a stage performance a good way of getting a 'feel' for how the screenplay could translate onto film?
A stage performance of your script is an excellent way to see if your dialogue is working. I highly recommend having actors read your dialogue. As for it giving you a feel of how your script will translate to film, not so much. There's no way to gauge the impact of the visuals in a table read. There's much more to a screenplay than just dialogue, and reading it out loud doesn't really let you know if the action is working. A staged reading is an excellent tool, but it's limited.
‘If you're in it for the money or the fame, you'll be let down’
- You say you can't talk about 1969 since the reading. Excluding that then, what would you love to work on in the future? Big blockbusters, indie films, or both?
I'm working on a studio project right now, but I'm up for telling any compelling story - big or small.
- Which authors / film-makers / screenwriters are you a fan of?
I love Kurt Vonnegut, Shane Black, Kubrick, Hitchcock...I really could go on and on.
- Most people can only dream of being a prospective writer in Hollywood, let alone being the next Ben Hecht or Joe Ezsterhas. Do you have a day-job away from the craziness of the industry, or are you managing to live off the writing?
I make my living as a writer.
- Lastly Stephany, what tips would you give to those who are inspired to have a go themselves?
Write about something you care about, and do it because you love telling stories. If you're in it for the money or the fame, you'll be let down. There are easier ways to make a living. Care about the story you are telling and do everything in your power to get your story told.
‘You have to ask yourself – Why should a backer, back this
Anyone who has loved comics or science fiction will at some point attempt to draw their own comic-book or fantasy art. Most will realise how hard it actually is, especially when they come up against the astonishing array of talent in the industry. The persistent ones will take it up as a career choice, with the ultimate aim of one day getting published. Now, with the global reach of the internet, a new breed of comic-book creator can take their destiny into their own hands, source funding, and publish it themselves - with the benefit of total creative freedom.
We talk to Jeremy Biggs, co-creator behind the hit kickstarter 'comic-novella' METAL MADE FLESH, to find out the advantages and pitfalls of doing it yourself.
- Jeremy, explain the genesis of METAL MADE FLESH.
The original creator of the world Tuaoni is Simeon Aston –
the illustrator. It's kind of a unique arrangement, in that Sim came up with the
design for the world and the character ideas and had one story fully finished
before I met him. Since we worked together I've added little touches and
characters here and there, but I always defer to him if there's somewhere we
have to make a big decision about the world.
Metal Made Flesh is three short stories set on the same
world. “Flesh” was the first published and that was based on a plot by Simeon.
I came up with the story for “Made”, based upon a character idea from Simeon
from an earlier story. “Metal” was written very collaboratively, with both of
us pitching ideas to each other.
- How did you both meet?
I met Sim at a comic convention in 2012 where I was working
with a company producing audio dramas. I had a small comic of my own that I was
really trying to gauge reaction to, also. I saw Sim's work and was blown away
and thought I just had to work with him. Prior to that I had been working in
Sound Design and had just completed a Zombies in Africa film - “The Dead.”
- For people who haven't yet seen the books, give us the basic outline.
Humanity has been brought to the brink of extinction by a
hostile force, the Veul, and they have taken refuge on a backwater “den of vice
and iniquity” - the cyberpunk city world of Tuaoni. There they must survive
against impossible odds as the lowest of the low in the crime filled streets of
the city's notorious “Strip”.
‘One big influence on the story was Bangkok in Thailand’
- It looks very cinematic. What books, movies - or other formats - have inspired
Bladerunner is a big influence – Ridley Scott and H.R.
Giger's influence is all over Simeon's artwork. Ghost in the Shell,Neuromancer, Judge Dredd, Akira, Hardware, The Fifth Element (and The Incal on
which it was, ahem, “based”), Polanski's Chinatown I guess. Oddly enough, Game
of Thrones has been an influence in that there's a series of overlapping
storylines that are focused around individual characters.
One big influence on the story from both Sim and I, was
Bangkok in Thailand, where we'd both travelled. The aesthetic of that place –
and Hong Kong definitely feeds into the feeling of “The Strip” where all the
action takes place.
- Is the story part of an
Metal Made Flesh is a series and is the introduction to the
world and the main characters. We also produced a short comic follow up -
“Infection”, which was really for the “fans” to show how the three stories link
up, and pave the way for the follow up which we're working on at the moment.
- The project looks beautiful enough
to have been picked up by a major publisher, yet you choose to go independent, and get funding through Kickstarter.
For us, the illustrations are integral to the whole story –
they give you information about the world that frees up the narrative to be
fast paced and, in places, almost impressionistic in tone – but for publishers,
they tend to view illustrated novellas as bit of a risk we found.
They're not quite novels, not quite comics, so, although we
haven't gone all out to pursue anyone yet, we thought it was wise to do this
independently at first until we've built up enough of a fan-following that
we'll be in a stronger position to knock on some doors. EL James is a great
example of that with 50 Shades of Grey, where she built up a large viral following, then
had publishers come after her.
Having said that, if any publishers come knocking on our door
we'll happily talk to them!
- What do you say to the creatives who are thinking of doing a Kickstarter, but haven't yet galvanized themselves into action?
Creative control is a big plus. We can develop the world
more and take more risks in the kinds of stories we want to tell. Monetarily, obviously, we're not sharing the proceeds with a large publisher, but truth be
told, anything we make goes back into the world at this stage.
We're actually working on a bible and have already
approached a few writers we know are up to the job, to come in and expand the
‘In the UK our main outlets have been online and at
- Getting your book on shelves is key to a publication's success. With a project such as this, how do you handle the practicalities of distribution?
We already have distribution through a niche distributor in
the States called “The Distribution Engine” which exclusively deals with UK-based publishers. In the UK our main outlets have been online and at conventions.
At some point in the near future we're going to have to bite the bullet and go
the ( UK distribution company ) Diamond route though, we think.
- Any other tips for those who are tempted to ‘kickstart’?
Number One tip: Don't underestimate postage.
Number Two tip: Whatever you do. DON'T underestimate
It's a terrifying thought if you ever complete a Kickstarter
and then realise that the bulk of your Kickstarter backers are based on the
other side of the world. Postage is a significant amount of your total...
Other than that, Kickstarters should have a clear idea of
what you're trying to achieve, then consider it from a backer's point of view.
You have to ask yourself – what makes you different from anyone else? Why
should a backer, back this project? Make it unique and don't just jump on a
bandwagon unless you can bring something which is different.
Work hard, and be prepared to contact as many blogs as you
can – not just to promote yourself – but because it's good to have feedback
from people who are actively writing around the medium. It's not all about you.
As altruistic as backers are, they also appreciate high quality rewards, and
they deserve them too. - Nicely said, thanks, Jeremy!
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