We watched and wrote about Hitler Lives! earlier this week and were excited when the creators agreed to answer our questions about this intriguing film.
B&S About Movies: Tell us who you are, your background and why you decided to make this project.
Stuart Roswell: My name is Stuart Rowsell, I am Creative Director of Bloodhound FX, a Sydney based special effects props manufacturing studio. I am also the Director of Hitler Lives!, which I like to describe as a deranged doom metal snuff film about Hitler’s private hell with puppets!!
My background is the visual arts. After completing a Bachelor of Arts in sculpture at university, I decided to follow up my obsession with special effects and start my own business in the Sydney film industry – which led to working as a Puppet Maker on many commercials and working as a Creature Technician on many feature films. Ultimately I decided that, with my film experience and a crew of good drinking mates, that we could all make a crazy little feature film ourselves, our own Eraserhead styled horror film…
Paul Hovey: I’m Paul Hovey. I started work as a labourer when I was 12, decided IT would be an easier way to make money when I was 16 so started my first business. I have worked in IT ostensibly since then with a Hotrod Workshop thrown in the middle. I now consult on enterprise strategy but when I met Stoo I was more delivery focused, thought – yeah sure, Hitler Lives!, interesting idea, happy to provide some guidance around project management etc. to people lined up for producer and so forth roles – when it came time for the rubber to hit the road – they vanished and Stoo and I had to decide, OK, screw them. Let’s make this film ourselves. I laid out what I expected of the end product – something that would pass iTunes store QC (the highest bar of all the streaming services) and we rolled up our sleeves and got started. Many talkers have come and gone over the life of the project leaving Stoo and I to teach ourselves their roles which I think ultimately delivered something as true to Stoo’s artistic vision as was practical, which was always my goal.
B&S: Have you had any backlash in regards to it being a Hitler movie?
SR: There are always those politically correct totalitarians who think history should be forgotten and people like Hitler should never be discussed – but we live in an age where world wars are a thing of the past and researching them and all the odd anomalies and mysteries that occurred within them is a fascination. Hitler lives! has only had a few harsh judgments – most people appreciate low-budget films for what they are, the film we made was only meant as a Trash Exploitation film, a surreal insight into the demented mind of Hitler, still living as a zombie-like creature in a bunker … It was never made to offend anyone or cause controversy.
PH: Ergh, idiot comments from Millennial SJW types – Oh, I’ll read the name of the film and make a judgment – then post something trite.
Them “Why are you glorifying Hitler?”
Me – “Have you even watched the film?”
Them – Crickets – they’ve done their virtue signaling, patted themselves on the back and moved on.
Nothing serious, just annoying – but you have to have a thick skin to exist on the internet. Particularly if your movie is called Hitler Lives!
B&S: How did you compile all of the research that you had? Was there a certain book or piece of research that meant more to the project than others?
SR: Paul and I are conspiracy theorists – we are obsessed with what we are ‘not told’ in our history. Hitler’s escape from the Bunker and the hidden history of Nazi technologies, advanced 30 years ahead of any other nation at the time, was the real inspiration, especially Die Glocke…
PH: Yeah, what he said, I am fascinated by the breadcrumbs of the stories about Die Glocke and the mountain complex it was supposedly built in, Project Riese, 9km of tunnels, 20,000 strong labor force moving in and out every day – and not making munitions or planes – What were they doing?!? What was the henge for?!?
B&S: The effects are pretty amazing. Were there any challenges with them?
SR: We had no budget for high end animatronic creatures or complicated prosthetics – mostly due to the ‘theme’ of the film – so the budget was essentially zero. No one was going to help us with funding on a Hitler horror film!!! So we had to do the best we could with what we had and as with all low-budget films, the biggest challenge is making a $1 dollar prop look like $1000 dollar prop!!! If you have a collaborative process with a Producer like Paul, who helped with overall computer support, editing, and all the technical problems that come with cutting industry filmmaking corners – anyone can make their own movie.
PH: Ha, yes what he said – I took the filmmaking rulebook and in a lot of places said – well that seems unnecessarily expensive or convoluted and came up with a better way, for a “Monitor screen” which in film world costs $10,000 for a Kodak colour matched 8 inch screen that bolts onto a fancy camera rig, I replaced it with a spare 24 inch monitor I had and a wireless HDMI setup, it cost less than $100 and – same result – the monitor is for checking framing – not colour checks, to me that was just film industry wankery. Stoo knew the colour look he wanted and we knew the lenses/camera/lighting we had delivered that.
B&S: How did you find the actors for the film?
SR: I have been friends with Morte, Jay Katz and Rev Kriss Hades for many years and we had worked together on various commercials, short films and art projects. So for the feature film, I just needed to get them all in one place and make it happen – which was my Producer, Paul’s, own private hell!
PH: Yes, My patience was tested and more than once Stoo may have stopped me putting a head into a wall or going and kicking someone’s door down, throwing them in a van and delivering them to the studio…
B&S: So much of the movie is about the music that plays. How did you decide on the tone and what music would be in it?
SR: The soundtrack was a collaboration process, mostly between myself and Rev Kriss Hades. As we edited the film we discussed the various music and chose the songs that really struck a cord with the visuals.
PH: I may have blackmailed Kris into action as after 5 years of promises and no delivery I knocked out the entire soundtrack from samples in a weekend, when he saw what was done without him – Boom – He swung into action and pulled through in the end to produce something cool and creepy. Kris is a “Miracle at the last mile” kind of person though – it’s his trademark – getting him to work to a schedule is nigh on impossible though.
B&S: What movies influence you? Directors? If you had to choose a favorite film, what would it be?
SR: Personally I really enjoy the older classic movies, Universal Horror, Hammer Horror, 70’s Grindhouse Film, Exploitation Film, Extreme Trash Film, Horror and Mystery Film. Directors I admire are those who do amazing work on low-budgets; Whale, Corman, Bava, Fulci, Deodato, Argento, D’Amato, Romero, Hooper, Raimi, Carpenter, Craven, Lynch, Barker, Cronenberg, Miike etc … the megabudget films I will probably only watch once! Choosing a favorite film is virtually impossible as I have so many – if I had to choose one, it would probably be Frankenstein (1931).
PH: Carpenter is definitely my standout hero – followed by Lynch. Carpenter is a great storyteller and Lynch’s ability to create tension is unrivaled. Look out for prop choice and position in any lynch scene – they are all awkwardly mismatched or positioned – not overtly, just enough to make something in your head squirm – early Twin Peaks has some great examples. Like Stoo there is a long list and picking a favorite film is difficult but They Live is a real standout film for me.
B&S: Could you foresee a sequel to this? Or do you have a new project in mind?
SR: Making feature films with no budget is such an uphill battle, that I could never imagine revisiting this deranged bunker territory again …. a new Horror project is definitely in the works …
PH: Sequel, no. There’s definitely more meat on the bone story wise but there are other stories to tell. In the horror genre, I’d like to go back to the good old days on the 70’s and 80’s – Busty camper running through the woods, oh no, her shirt has fallen open as she trips (damned weak ankles!) now her boobs are flopping all over the place – and – Oh no, the killer is upon her! Entertainment that’s a little bit naughty, jump in your seat a few times scary but not in an over the top Saw kind of way, a lot silly but entertains you for 90 minutes. I do have a motor racing film project in mind, but the stars have to align (gap in my schedule) to focus on bringing that to life.
B&S: Thanks so much!
SR: Thank you Becca and Sam for your appreciation of our demented little film … Cheers.
PH: Ditto, really appreciate the time you took to watch, review and share your views, not many people catch the references in the film, it was so nice to see they resonated with you and you “Get it”
Don’t forget to check out the official site and get your own copy of Hitler Lives!