An interviews with Cory Bauer, director of the Predator fan films, Dark Jungle and Hunter's Match
SM - When did you first get into the Predator films?
CB - I couldn't have been more than seven years old when I first got into the Predator films. It was probably 1988 or '89, and my dad was watching "Predator" on one of the movie channels. Normally, I never paid much attention to the "grown up" shows on TV as a kid, but for some reason I looked up long enough from my toys to see what was happening on TV, and I asked my dad what he was watching. He of course, replied, "Predator". I sat staring at the TV for the rest of the film, and from that point on I've been fascinated with Predator.
SM - Do you have a preference of Predator over Predator 2 or vice versa?
CB - You know, Predator 2 gets some major flak for being a "bad" movie, but when I was younger Predator 2 really appealed to me more, because I got to see more of the Predator and all his gadgets & weapons. But now that I'm older (all of 21 years) It's much easier to see the story and depth that Predator has, and that many people feel Predator 2 is missing. However, I really love them both, and don't consider Predator 2 a bad movie by any means. So, I guess it's a toss up.
SM - How did the idea for Dark Jungle come about?
CB - Dark Jungle is actually a remake of a film we tried to do when we were much younger (as in pre-puberty); it was called "Predator 3", and was four kids running around in the backyard getting chased by a guy in paint-splattered sweatpants with a paper plate on his head. Ok, I exaggerate, it wasn't that bad, but it was bad.
In the spring of 1999, shortly after my High School graduation, Rothanak Chhoun, a new-found friend at the time, and I were playing around with the idea of remaking that old Predator 3 film, now that we had the technology to really make a movie (editing, special effects, etc). That evening, I did some playing around in an Adobe Photoshop 5.5 Demo to see what I could create, and a few poorly done special effects later, we had convinced ourselves that we could pull it off. I still had the original "Predator 3" script saved as a Word document, and I e-mailed it to Rothanak and asked him to make something good of it. Meanwhile, I got to work on the Predator Costume. After convincing Joe Lee and Mark Marvin to play the other two main characters, we started filming in July, started editing and creating special effects in September, filmed the last scene in November, and had the film finished on December 23, 1999.
SM - And how about Hunter's Match?
CB - In the Spring of 2001, a fellow from Wisconsin contacted me via e-mail telling me that he had seen Dark Jungle on our website (www.sboobtv.com), and was curious if I would be willing to assist him with a Predator fan film he wanted to make, assuming he covered all of the expenses. Not one to turn down the opportunity to make magic with other people's money, I said Sure! :D In August of that summer, Rothanak and I went to Wisconsin for two weeks with a Minigun and Predator costume in the back seat, and filmed our second Predator fan film.
SM - What equipment did you use during production and post production?
CB - Our equipment list for Dark Jungle was basic, to say the least. First, we built our own Predator costume. For filming we used our parents' aged 1980's VHS camcorders, all of which had very poor quality and were mostly damaged goods, but we made them do what we needed. For editing, I had a brand new (at the time) Blue & White Powermac G3, an Aurora Fuse video capture card, QuickTime 3 Pro (the most basic of editing software), and a demo version of Adobe Photoshop 5.5 was used to create our special effects. If I had known then what I know now, I would have used the money I spent on the Aurora Fuse video capture card to buy a cheap DV camera instead; it's just not worth it to invest in making ancient technology (VHS) work with today's computers and software.
The equipment used for Hunter's Match is light year's beyond Dark Jungle's, but still by no means professional. Hunter's Match was filmed entirely on DV tape, with a Sony VX-1000 that was so graciously borrowed to us by our Tech College. Audio was recorded with the Sennheiser boom mic that was included with the camera. By the time we filmed Hunter's Match, we had finally learned how to use manual focus! YAY! Lighting was left up to existent light, except for the indoor scenes. For Editing, I am using my 15" Flat Panel iMac (the 17" didn't exist yet when I bought mine, boo hoo) with Apple's Final Cut Pro 3 software (fantastic video editing software). Special Effects are still being created in Adobe Photoshop, but this time we actually OWN a version (version 7 to be exact). Key-framing effects in Final Cut Pro really makes things like muzzle flashes and the Predator's targeting system much easier. However, there's still no easy way to recreate Predator Vision and an Invisible Predator, outside of buying the expensive gear they used for the real films. I have a "Predator Vision" tutorial on the Hunter's Match website right now, detailing how we create our Predator vision, if anyone is interested. Again, we built our Predator costume from scratch, except for the Helmet, which the Wisconsin fellow purchased before he ever contacted me. The Wisconsin fellow supplied costumes and replica weapons for all the actors; we brought our Minigun (the same one used in Dark Jungle, only with more accurate barrels) along for Tom's character, Johnston. Other than that, we had a pair of headphones and a Powerbook G3 (also borrowed from the tech college) wired to the camera so the actors could see themselves as we filmed them.
We create our DVD's with Adobe Photoshop 7 and Apple's DVD Studio Pro 1.5 software, which I learned last summer for the purpose of putting Dark Jungle on DVD. The Hunter's Match DVD will be made the same way, something I'm looking forward to starting. Ah, but I have to finish the movie first!
SM - From your website the shoot for Hunter's Match doesn't seem like it was a particularly enjoyable experience. What exactly went wrong?
CB - Boy, this answer could get real long. I don't want to sound like I'm bitter about the whole thing, I look back on it now and laugh till my eyes water, but there were some serious issues that have gone along with Hunter's Match.
Like I said, a fellow in Wisconsin e-mailed me and asked if I'd be willing to help with his all expense-paid Predator fan film. His original intent was that I would film the movie, edit the film and create the special effects, and maybe chip in a little on the Predator costume here and there. What basically happened was, this guy was in way over his head. He really had no experience with making a film, and all the work and time that goes into trying to make it good. After seeing what he had in mind for the Predator costume (gold-painted shin guards for the leg armor, those cheap rubber predator gloves you can order online, 'nuff said) I took it upon myself to create the entire Predator costume. I was promised a chance to look at the script early on, and that I would have story boards to follow for filming. I never saw the script until just a few weeks before filming was to begin (and even then it wasn't complete), and there was never a single story board drawn, or even conceptualized. Having no story-boards or guidelines to follow, I was then granted the task of becoming the director, setting up the scenes, and giving everyone a place to be and a place to go. I called up Rothanak and asked if he'd like to join in on this project, and before he knew it he was making revision after revision to the script we were given, and helping me piece together our Predator costume. Rothanak helped me out a lot; without him there, we couldn't have pulled it off.
To give an idea of the problems we had to overcome: there was a scene that called for 50 skinned bodies to be hung in a bathroom; we asked him where he was going to come up with 50 bodies, and what kind of bathroom he had in mind that could hold 50 skinned bodies, comfortably (skinned bodies need comfort, too). He assured as that with 3 or so bodies and clever filming, we could pull it off, and he was going to have the bodies ready when we got there. In the actual film, there is one clothed body hanging in a doorway that he finished stuffing right before we left for the shoot. That's how a lot of things went with this film; big ideas on his part, and no effort on his part to back them up. So there were a lot of changes that we had to make, and a lot of more changes we would have made, had we been given the time to do so. Had this fellow who hired us not gotten lazy and sloppy, leaving us to fill in all the holes he left unattended, things would have gone much smoother. He just didn't know what he was getting into, and was overwhelmed with the work and time it took to accomplish what he had in mind.
So after we filmed it, brought it home, and worked on it for a few months, we were thoroughly disgusted with it's shortcomings, and stuffed it away. On top of that, the fellow who hired us seemed to lose all interest in ever seeing his film done, and in fact hasn't contacted us for over a year ago now (he didn't die, I already checked). Now, to say some good things about Hunter's Match, and there are many, let me move on to the next question...
SM - What made you pick it up again?
CB - The quality of the video, audio, and photography is outstanding compared to Dark Jungle. It's still not professional-level, but it's pretty dang good for a fan film, and shows that our skills are improving. That, and the actors that contributed their time to this film are really the reasons I picked this project back up; I didn't want to see all that hard work go to waste, and I was curious if maybe i wasn't just being too hard on Hunter's Match. After all, someone who isn't aware of it's original expectations may not see anything wrong with the film. With that, I was able to look past my original conception for the film and try to sculpt a well-made fan film out of the pieces, and I have to say I am really happy with the way it's turning out. It's really become fun and challenging. Hunter's Match isn't going to win any awards for story-line or dialog, but I find the characters fun (the actors all did a really great job), and the film exciting, especially for a Predator fan, and that's who these films are truly for; the Predator fans.
SM - You've made the short absurdist comedy film Le Roi. Will you be attempting anymore fan films, or will you be sticking to original material with the No End Of Thought series?
CB - Ooh, absurdist, I like that. Ah, I am SO glad you asked that! I am sorry to say for Predator fans that Hunter's Match is going to be our final fan film of any sorts. The more time you spend working on a fan film, the more you wish it was something you had created originally, so you could be a creator, and not a re-creator. If you're going to spend hundreds of hours pumping sweat and blood into something, it'd be nice if it was something you could sell as your own.
As much as I love Predator, SBOOB Entertainment's true soul is in comedy. I've been writing the "No End of Thought" stories for about 3 years now, and one day we decided it'd be really fun to try and make a short film of one of my stories. Le Roi was chosen because it seemed like a great concept, and required a minimum amount of resources (props, actors, etc). I feel that Le Roi is the best thing we've made, and the people who worked on it with me all did a fantastic job. I cannot wait to make more "No End of Thought" films (that's a term coined by my friend Josh Pellett), and as soon as I can get my hands on a DV camera and a light set, we're going to make a million of these things. We've got some really funny ideas just waiting in the wings. If there's someone out there who wants to donate a Canon XL1s to me, we could get started right now ;)
SM - How did you come by the name SBOOB?
CB - Ah yes, the age old question. First, let me tell everyone that it's pronounced like "Scooby-Doo" with a boob; I know a lot of you out there are saying "Ess Boob?" so stop separating your "S" and your "boob" :D
When we made Dark Jungle, we needed to have a company name to put at the front of the film. I begged for input from my crew, asking for ideas and suggestions, but none were given. Jokingly, I said that if no one made any suggestions, I was going to call it "SBOOB Television". Well, as you can tell no one gave any suggestions, and so SBOOB Entertainment we became, and remain today. And yes, I can say SBOOB with a straight face. As for the meaning of SBOOB, allow me to copy/paste from the "About" page of our website, and all will be clear:
This is an excerpt from a piece of written dialogue by co-creator, Rothanak, who shall be known as "Two" (Cory, being "One") explaining, in his own words, what Sboob means:
Sboob, to me, is like a friend.
Two goes on to say that:
Like rain falling from the sky, so too is the importance of meaning.
No one was able to decipher what Two meant by the saying. Two gave another speech to explain what Two meant, but still none was capable of understanding what Two stated. These were the words of Two, as heard by a by-stander who happened upon listening distance of Two's speech:
These are the times that blah, blah, blah...break to new mutin-blah, blah, blah...created equal... (The by-stander left the scene and missed the rest of the speech.)
Such was the mind of the creators and the essence of Sboob. May their work to create the window into the mind of Sboob be a work of ages.
- Voice in your head.SM - Finally, being a Predator fan, what thoughts or hopes do you have for the supposedly upcoming Aliens Vs. Predator film?
CB - I really hope the Aliens vs Predator film becomes a reality. I never got to see Aliens or Predators in theaters, so an AvP film would give me a chance to see both at the same time! It seems that the majority of people would bet the farm that AvP is going to redefine "bad movie", but since Event Horizon is still one of the scariest movies I have ever seen, I have great confidence that Paul Anderson would be able to make Aliens vs Predator a good film. He is still the rumored director, isn't he? Sure, Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil were loaded with swan-dive-high-five-spin-kicks and techno music, but look at the source material Paul had to work with. Given the extensive amount of already-grounded Predator and Alien worlds that exist, I think it's safer to say that Aliens vs Predator will be a good movie than it will a bad movie, so long as they stay true to the Predator and Alien ideologies, and don't let the story get carried away with any new creatures. They'll be working with two of the best movie monsters ever created, and I'm anxious to see what they come up with! If Aliens vs Predator never becomes a reality though, we'll just have to keep circulating the fan films ;)
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