Interview René Wiesner

So, can you start with introducing yourself to us?
Hi Frank and hi to Cultzine TOTF! First of all thanks for having me.

My name is René Wiesner and I am a filmmaker, producer and film enthusiast from Germany. I love watching movies since my early childhood and since a few years I work active on movies myself.

How did you start out in the movie business?
My first contact with moviemaking was the anthology ABCs of Superheroes in 2014. It was quite a coincedence that I came into contact with the two directors Oliver Tietgen and Jens Holzheuer. I was on my way home from a film festival – I visit as much film festivals as I can and for many years by now – when I got to knew that this interesting looking indie project was looking for unpaid extras in a scene containing a man in a blue monkey suit and lots of military action. It sounded good enough for me to make a detour.

Being on set for the first time was a special experience for me because I always had in mind that I sometime somehow wanted to do anything like that without getting active into that direction before. That was the moment I became somehow infected and ABCs became my personal film school. I started out helping Oliver and Jens with the movie as much as I could and even invested some money in it. The whole movie was self funded by us. And Everything was learning by doing for me. How to arrange a shooting? How to promote the movie? How to collect money for it? How to bring it to festivals? How to talk to the press? How to convince people to be part of the movie? And so on.

But what should I say? For my opinion we were quite successful with our underground like movie. And since then I worked next to my regular job which has nothing to do with filmmaking on several movies.

Can you name a few of the people who inspired you and how they inspired you?
I was never in film school but I started very young watching a lot of movies. My big brother was a teenager when I was a child and fully into horror and genre films and thats the reason why I came in contact with it in such a young age. First I fell in love with horror and phantastic movies  but also action and later then I came to a lot of classics which started a love to cinema in general.

To name a few directors and filmmakers that inspired me or which work had an impact on me: Stanley Kubrick, Lars von Trier, Werner Herzog, Paul Verhoeven, Takashi Miike, Marian Dora, Roger Corman, Lloyd Kaufman, Oliver Tietgen, Bruno Mattei, Ed Wood, Tommy Wiseau and many more. Filmmakers with a special style in filmmaking. Stanley Kubrick taught me to have an eye for details, Werner Herzog taught me that words arent as important as pictures, Bruno Mattei taught me that boredom is what makes movies bad, Roger Corman taught me to view a movie as a business and Lloyd Kaufman taught me what its like to shoot on almost no budget. And from Ed Wood and Tommy Wiseau I learned that when you have the urge to make a movie, you have to make to a movie! It’s all about the attitude.

You’re one of the founders of Uprise Pictures, what can you tell me about your company?
Patrick Templin and I founded Uprise Pictures in 2015. At the time when I worked on ABCs of Superheroes he worked on P.U.L.S.E: Prosocial Uniting Life Stabilization Experiment –  a concept for a tv series. They made a trailer which was quite successful and was shown at many festivals and won a few prices.

When we met we both started to talk about filmmaking and our projects which was a weird coincidence. We had a similar vibe and decided to help each other and to work together and so we came to the conclusion that it would be better for both of us with a company in our backs. So we founded Uprise Pictures and while we do all kind of assignments we can do what we like to for us but also for other filmmakers too.

For the future I can already say that there will be big news.

Mostly you’ve been working as a producer, but also in other aspects of moviemaking. Which do you prefer and why?
I really like to work as a producer. To organize things, to connect, to do PR, to literally bring the movie into the world and also to work with a lot of creative people with all different kind of backgrounds. As a producer you have insight into every different department. I am also the one who maintains the social media channels and the IMDb pages for our movies and sometimes for other movies. It’s something that I like because I am not bound to any daytime because I think I couldn’t stand a 9 to 5 job.

But that doesnt mean that I only like to work from my laptop. It is always quite special to be on set and I like to make everything there of what I am capable like playing minor roles or record sound.

If I had to describe my activity as a producer it would be: Making already good movies better.

What movie that you’ve worked on was the most fun and why?
So far it was ABCs of Superheroes. It was like working on two dozen shortfilms but they still had to have a connection throughout the movie which was kinda interesting.

It was the most fun for me because from all movies I worked on I spend the most time on set. So many crazy stories to tell and so many things happened.

Lets see if Reyes can exceed that.

You’ve had the opportunity to work with many excellent people in the movie industry, can you name a few and how this collaboration came to be?
I am credited with Bai Ling, Lloyd Kaufman, Uwe Boll, Jörg Buttgereit, Fred Olen Ray, Kim Sønderholm, Dietrich Kuhlbrodt, Bianca Bradey, Michael Berryman, Marian Dora, Luigi Cozzi and many more great people.

I know this sounds very unspectacular but sometimes you just have to ask them but also its important to have something to show off. The earlier you shoot good material for a trailer the better. Something I learned  from Menahem Golan (RIP) is that celebrities are just normal people who are bored too and sometimes you might get lucky and someone is into your movie. This very important when you shoot on a small almost non existent budget.

What was one of your most interesting collaborations and why?
There were so many but if I have to name one I take Dietrich Kuhlbrodt.

He was born in 1932, charged Nazi war criminals in the 50s as state prosecutor and next to it he worked many years at the theater. As a long time friend of German director Christoph Schlingensief he had a role in almost all of his movies. In the 80s he was one of the guys who had to watch porn and to decide if its art or just porn so it had to be censored. He is a friend of Lars von Trier and he gave him even small role in his movie Europa.

Nowadays he is retired and does just whatever he wants. He plays in independent films and tours with a crazy punkband trough Germany. When he came on set of ABCs of Superheroes he had a broken rib from one of the shows because a bunch of naked people jumped on him on stage.

Man, this guy has an interesting history. Someone should make a movie of his life.

With who do you want to work together in the future?
Too many.. So here just a few without order: Lars von Trier, Werner Herzog, Kim Ki-duk, Bong Joon-ho, Park Chan-wook, Ruggero Deodato, Roger Corman, Kurando Mitsutake, Takashi Miike, Takeshi Kitano, Oliver Stone, Nicolas Winding Refn, Darren Aronofsky, Alejandro Jodorowsky, John Waters, Gaspar Noé, Mel Gibson, David Fincher, Ed Neumeier, Paul Verhoeven, Laura Gemser, Chuck Palahniuk, Andrey Iskanov, Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Sion Sono, Jan Harlan, Dieter Laser, Screaming Mad George, James Rolfe, Edward Lee, Jan Švankmajer, Erwin C. Dietrich

You are also a big promoter of the underground movie scene, why is it so important for you to give your support?
Like in every other sphere of life it is important to share experience. And I dont consider myself as a rival to any other filmmaker.

I am just at the beginning of a career as a filmmaker and I am just doing it since a few years. I know that I owe a lot to other filmmakers who shared their experiences with me. And I just want to give something back and also help other filmmakers out. Connecting, doing some pr stuff, translating, being a contact in Germany, all kind of stuff that my time allows me.

Its hard to make movies with a big budget and it is even harder with small or even no budget and I respect everyone who does it anyway. There are so many road blocks already and rivalry just doesnt make it better at all. We are all brothers and sisters in film.

What is your opinion about the genre movie scene in general?
In Germany its almost non-existent. At least in the big budgeted section. While on the other hand a lot of independent genre films are made. And many of them are good.

Germany has a special relationship to phantastic movies.  In the 1920s we had a growing genre film culture but then the Nazis came and totally cut this connection. And somehow this happening is connected to the present because most of the big budgeted genre films fail with a few exceptions.

Audiences became fucked up and distrusted genre films because a lot of them werent that good and this became a doom loop somehow. Producers wouldnt touch it because they couldnt and still cant make any money and audiences distrusted german genre films because of bad experiences with it. Thats the point where we are in Germany.

Its not because there is no talent – it is because of missing bravery. Every ambitioned project is a step in the right direction to rehabilitation.

What can you tel me about some of the projects that are in development?

There are quite a few at the moment.

First of all there is Reyes. The first shooting block was in december and the trailer was ready at the end of march. It will be the directorial debut of Patrick Templin for a feature. It will be an international co-production between Germany, Switzerland, and Mexico. The movie is about a struggling author who gets into the vortex of a death cult. One whole segment of the movie plays in Mexico and will be shot there by our friends from TimeCode Media.

So far we managed to get a few names connected to the movie like Kim Sønderholm who will take the leading role or Antonio Monroi who is a mexican actor who had a role in Apocalypto by Mel Gibson. Confirmed cameos are made by Bill Hutchens, Dietrich Kuhlbrodt and Shawn C. Philips.

The main shooting will start in the third quarter of 2017.

Also there will be Violent Starr which will be a crazy space opera. It will be directed by Oliver Tietgen and produced by Matti Schindehütte who worked together on ABCs of Superheroes before. Also Luigi Cozzi and Jesse Haaja (director of Rendel) will be on board as executive producers (like me).

Bianca Bradey who is known for her role in Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead will take the lead. Legendary actor Michael Berryman will be her main antagonist as a giant, godlike head floating in space.

Another crazy flick to come is the movie Skatecop – Rache auf Rollen (Vengeance on Wheels). Its setting is the dark dystopian future of 2007! The evil Dr. Bennet and his mutant punks are in control of the city and only two cops, Al Poporski and El Santo, are resisting while everything else is going down the drain.

There is hope when reporter Destiny Hope has information to bring Dr. Bennet to fall.  But his hencheman kidnap her and cut Al’s feet off and the only way to save his life is to sew him skates on his legs… But that just makes him more pissed and makes him hungry for vengeance…

There is a trailer already and a raw cut. The movie will be probably finished in summer. Uncle Lloyd Kaufman and Dietrich Kuhlbrodt will have cameos.

 

 

Then there are two features I am not allowed to talk about.

And at last a short film I made in Thailand. It will be called Addio UomoThe Last Road Of Man. I decided spontaneous to make an experimental short in a temple / morgue when I found it by coincidence. It will be done sometime this year.

Can you give us a slight glimpse in the future? What can we expect after the projects in production?
I have not the slightest clue yet. But with so many projects in development I am more than okay with that.

Are there any releases of movies with your involvement planned?
Yes, Root of Darkness is out on DVD and Blu-Ray in small releases.

ABCs of Superheroes will have a European DVD and Blu-Ray release soon with many subtitles on it (including Dutch). It will also contain short films by Oliver Tietgen, Jens Holzheuer and me. Other regions are in debate.

Then there is the very interesting project Revisiting Melancholie der Engel by Magnus Blomdahl. I am happy to be involved with. It is a documentary about infamous german director Marian Dora (Cannibal, Carcinoma, Debris Documentar) and the process of making the fever dream like movie The Angels’ Melancholia. Together they visit the shooting locations and Marian shares his stories and tells about his emotions while making the movie. And it truly was a roller coaster ride.

It was released a short time ago by Black Lava and a strictly limited VHS by Rotten Cat Media and we hope that there might be some festivals interested in it.

Anything else you want to add to this interview or anekdotes that you want to share?
If you want to make movies – do it. Don’t waste time. Make mistakes.

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