One thing I absolutely love about blogging is the ability to talk with up and coming artists. Exploring the internet I came across one of the most interesting movie ideas I have ever seen. I came across this website: http://www.chompers3d.com/#!home/mainPage, which advertises the movie Chomper’s 3-D.
This movie had me captivated before I even began watching the trailer. For one the idea of using puppets really intrigued me. When I think of puppets I think of Kermit the Frog. I relate them to happy childhood memories. Much like a little kid singing “ring around the rosie” in a horror flick inflicts a sudden uneasiness- puppets being attacked in a horror film really made me uneasy- in a good way :). I got a chance to catch up with the creator of this awesome film, Jesse Blanchard, to ask him a few questions about this awesome project:
To start off with- can you provide a brief biography of yourself?
I am a self-taught filmmaker. I started making movies about ten years ago. Just picking up a camera and a Final Cut Pro manual. Since then, I’ve made 50 shorts films which have played Cannes, been picked up by George Romero and Dimensions Films, and designed and patented my own 3D camera system.
Desperation. That’s really the answer. I realized I would never get the 10 million dollars I would need to make Chompers 3D. I also don’t like CGI so I knew that the monster would be a puppet which is standard in horror movies. From there, it wasn’t much of a leap to say that everyone would be puppets. That way, I had a decent shot of making the movie the way it was in my head. Of course, at that point I had never worked with puppets. So, it was really a leap into the dark.
Job security, to get my work seen, and fun.
What inspired this particular monster?
The very first Chompers script was called ‘Re-make: The Movie’ and it was about these guys hired to re-make a ‘classic’ horror film. I created Chompers as the mash-up of Jaws, Critters, The Thing and a bunch of other horror monster to be the fake ‘classic monster’ of that movie’s universe. But in writing the script, I realized I would rather just make the monster movie and forget all the behind-the-scenes crap.
What characters other than the monster will make an appearance in this film? How were they inspired?
Brooklyn is the main character. She’s great. She’s not your typical leading lady. She’s overweight, not particularly attractive, and very physical. She’s not even particularly smart. But she has a great heart and a wicked, black sense of humor. I just really love her character. There’s also a Land Lady who looses 15 or her seventeen cats to Chompers and an apartment super that opens his mail with a katana.
How long has this production been in the works? How many people are involved?
I first got the idea for Chompers probably four years ago. It’s been moving slowly forward ever since. At this point, I have a core crew of 4-5 people.
Any use of puppetry of this style instantly invokes the most well-known name in the genre – Jim Henson. What influences did his work have on yours?
A ton. Who doesn’t love the Dark Crystal. But beyond that, you know, Kermit the Frog is one of the simplest puppets. His eyes don’t move or blink, he’s not that much more complicated than a green sock with some buttons. And yet, it feels like I’m insulting a good friend just writing that. Jim Henson did so much to inspire me, it’s really impossible to even articulate it all. But one of the most profound impacts he had on me was setting an example for how much you can do with so little. How you can bring something to life with the simplest of forms. The puppets in Chompers are not a joke. These are real characters going through real situations, they just happen to be puppets. Just like Kermit.
One of the tag lines used on the website is “the most fun since Meet The Feebles”. That film obviously drew it’s inspiration from Jim Henson’s the Muppet Show – it was a direct parody, in fact. I believe ‘Feebles’ was the feature directorial debut of Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings). Could you see yourself making the jump from uber-crude puppet snuff flicks to sweeping big budget epics? What kind of movies would you like to make later in your career?
Absolutely. In fact, the next movie that I want to do is a hybrid of the two. It’s the tale of a group of warriors from a village who must take their beloved leader far from the tribe and execute him because he’s become infected with a deadly virus that will otherwise spread. His son is on the journey and comes of age as his father descends from leadership into madness. I would love to do this film with actors because the connection would be so immediate.
The 80’s and 90’s were rife with camp/horror films. What comedy horror films influenced Chomper? What were your first viewing experiences in this genre?
Gremlins. Alien & Aliens. Evil Dead because I just love the way that Raimi moves the camera, Peter Jackson’s early stuff like Dead Alive, and, of course Jaws and The Thing. For this film, the Descent and Slither were both strong influences, Shaun of the Dead is one of my favorite films but I’ve actually thought a lot about how Chompers will not be like Shaun of the Dead. A tough thing to do because I love that movie so much.
The comedy/horror genre seemed to fade from mainstream distribution channels, seemingly doomed to the purgatory that is “direct to DVD”. How does the ever growing trove of alternative media streams currently gaining popular acceptance and their high demand for new content impact independent filmmakers like yourself? How do you see this genre’s appeal in the new media market?
It’s the classic catch-22. Now you can get your stuff out there…but so can everybody else. For me, the biggest difference is, I’ve realized that IF I can build a fanbase of people who like my stuff (and it doesn’t have to be that large) than I can make enough money to just make movies for those fans. Digital distribution makes this intimate relationship possible. That’s an overtly sexy term for it but I really think it’s appropriate.
You developed your own camera. Do you have an engineering background? How is your camera different from others? what could it do for 3-D film making for independent directors?
I don’t have an engineering background at all. My background is making movies. I didn’t go to school for it and that has worked to my benefit because I’ve never know what I’m doing. So, that’s never been a problem. When it came to learning how to work with aluminum and make a 3D rig, it was just an extension of that same process for me.
3D is hard. You can’t wing it and you can’t fix it in post. What the Robert Rig does is gives a great tool for filmmakers to start shooting in 3D. I’m very proud of the design which delivers a superior product for a fraction of other rigs. If people start to respond and use it, I think it could be what makes great 3D possible at an indie level. We’ll see.
If a filmmaker is working in 3D they have far more options for paid work, to get their work seen, and to engage their audiences. 3D is not for everyone, but there is a great opportunity right now for filmmakers to break out from the pack by early adoption.
What role does 3-D play in Hollywood’s future? Is it a gimmick reserved for man-eating cookie jars or will it find a home in what once would have been a traditional film like the upcoming remake of The Great Gatsby?
3D is hear to stay. Period. There are some physical limitations and format limitations that 3D will never loose. However, it will be as common as HD or color film or sound. It enhances everything. Even Roger Ebert is coming around. For instance, I don’t think even the strongest 3D naysayer can imagine a future weekend without at least one 3D film in the multiplex.
How close is Chomper to being complete? What steps have been taken to find a Production Company?
Chompers is as little 20 weeks away. That’s how long I need to make the movie. It’s totally shovel-ready. For finding a production company, the Teaser is a big step towards that end, I’ve also have a very compelling business plan, basically, the ‘Pitch’ is ready. I just need to find the right person to pitch it to. Know anybody?
What can a reader do to help Chomper become a reality?
1. Spread the word- Just tell somebody else about it
2. Like Us – FB ‘likes’ are a way we can demonstrate there’s an audience for Chompers. If we have 10,000 fans on Facebook it’s much easier to get funding.
3. Rich Uncle or Famous Friend – If you know somebody, anybody that knows Heather Hensen, or Frank Oz, or is interested in spending their money in one of the coolest ways possible, let me know. It may seem strange but that’s the way these things happen. A whole lot of work and a little bit of luck.
4. Make a Donation or buy a Robert Rig – Money helps. Even a small donation will help us get Chompers into a festival or send out one extra press kit. We’ve sunk everything we’ve got into the project so additional support makes all the difference.
Check out the Trailer below:
Head on over to his site and show him some love. Leave me a comment below and let me know if you are going to contribute or at least share this awesome movie to get it closer to being a reality!