Tuesday, February 9, 2010
BULLETFACE and director ALBERT PYUN - A BADASS INTERVIEW
BULLETFACE and director ALBERT PYUN – A BADASS INTERVIEW
I first noticed director Albert Pyun’s name back in 1989 when I watched CYBORG at an East Texas hellhole theater. The movie went on to become one of my all-time favorites. This wasn’t his first film though. His 1982 film, THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER, is the first project that put him on the map, and he has been making his mark ever since.
Pyun has racked up a formidable syllabus of films as director. Some are notorious, like CAPTAIN AMERICA (1990), and others are cult favorites like MEAN GUNS, BRAIN SMASHER, and NEMESIS. Along the way Pyun has worked with the best in the business. Currently he is gearing up for the DVD release of his latest project BULLETFACE. IMDB gives this summary of the storyline:
Bulletface is about a dirty Federal Agent (Victoria Maurette), who's busted and imprisoned in Mexico. She's given a 60 hour furlough to return to Brownsville, Texas to bust up the drug cartel who set her up and are about to bring a new, highly addictive drug to market. The drug is made from human spinal fluid...tapped from the living.
I was lucky enough to secure some of Albert’s time and ask him some questions about his experiences and his latest film.
What do you feel is, hands down, the best movie you have made in your career?
I think the film that came closest to my vision of it was MEAN GUNS. I think INVASION and LEFT FOR DEAD are interesting, but the budget restraints prevented them from really working well for a broad-based audience. I also think BRAINSMASHER. . . . A LOVE STORY, DOWN TWISTED, DECEIT, OMEGA DOOM, and POSTMORTEM are flawed, but I am more [or] less satisfied how they came out. I made some poor choices, and if I could go back and refine, I would. I loved my director's cuts of CYBORG and ADRENALIN: FEAR THE RUSH. They could have been my best films instead of the films they are now . . . or maybe not. I think my director's cuts of CAPTAIN AMERICA and TICKER are far superior to the release versions.
Is it true that you trained under Akira Kurosawa, and if it is, how would you describe your relationship with him?
Brief. Language (I spoke no Japanese) was a problem. And I was very young. Eighteen. Most of my time was spent with his brilliant DP, Takao Saito and the production staff at Mifune Productions. I worked quite a bit with Toshiro Mifune. Working in Japan certainly taught me discipline and stamina. They worked fourteen days straight, then a day off, then another fourteen days straight. Everyday was like a seventeen hour shoot day. The crew would sleep at the studio because there wasn't time to go home. Very tough. But no one complained, and everyone was highly motivated and tireless.
What is the best production you have worked on in your career?
Oh, that's hard to say. I've certainly gone through a lot of bad situations but just as many great ones. I tend to work with the same people over and over, and we're all very loyal to each other. The best situation under horrendous circumstances was probably my upcoming TALES OF AN ANCIENT EMPIRE. Where I felt everyone, including me, was in sync and doing our best work. DOWN TWISTED was great as well. We got a lot of help from the PREDATOR production which was shooting in Mexico at the same time. Thanks for those lenses!
What was the worst?
Geez. There are clearly a couple at the very tippy top of the list, but I need to be discreet. Maybe after I retire I can answer that in detail. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. But I can say I worked with three of the worst people I've ever met between 2000 and 2004. My Axis of Evil.
You have worked with just about every major action movie star; who is your favorite?
I don't know. You don't really think of it in terms of favorites but how they worked with the film in making it work. Each has a different style, from Van Damme to Sheen to Hauer and Seagal. They bring different things and have different working styles. The funniest [were] Burt Reynolds and Christopher Lambert. The most generous was Seagal. The most creatively challenging, Hauer. The most technically amazing was Charlie Sheen. But I've really enjoyed collaborating with them all. Van Damme was very hard-working. And I must say that Robert Patrick, Rob Lowe, Ice T, Snoop Dogg, [and] Tom Sizemore were all really fun to work with. I especially enjoyed watching Dennis Hopper, Teri Hatcher and Thomas Jane work. They were mesmerizing. Recently I've had the pleasure, after a few attempts, of working with Michael Pare', and he was a great gift as was his co-star Clare Kramer who is one of the very best actors I've ever had a chance to work with. She's incredible.
How long have you been in production for BULLETFACE?
Two years. It was shot in 2007 and was in heavy post until mid 2008. Then I went off to shoot ROAD TO HELL and TALES OF AN ANCIENT EMPIRE before finishing the film. I just wasn't satisfied with some of the dramatic underpinning that the story hangs on until I met producer Joe Baile in August 2009. He helped me find the solution to the problem I was having. He and Howie Askins co-directed additional sequences in September 2009, and we did the final edit and post-sound work in December. Adam Benson and Ikuo Saito, two amazing digital effects artists, added a number of enhancing effects shots in early January, and we finished everything up on Jan 30.
What was the budget for BULLETFACE?
About $120,000, more or less. It was done more like an indy art film although its probably one of my most mainstream and straightforward films. But definitely the most sexually graphic film I've ever done. Shot in five and a half days.
Every movie has a crazy production story (something strange happening behind the scenes). What is the craziest production story you have for BULLETFACE?
Well, the most frustrating was the HD camera had a bad pixel in its sensor so we had to fix over 100,000 frames. That pushed us to the brink of insanity.
We have heard that you are really pushing the boundaries with BULLETFACE. Can you give us some insight into that?
Just in the depiction of the brutality and sexual aggression towards women in some not well-supervised prisons and how that changes a woman. In this case, Victoria Maurette as the character "Dara". There are explicit sexual and bi-sexual scenes, so that was a departure for me. Most of the scenes are filtered through sexual desires, conflicts and sexual histories.
You have worked with Randall Fontana, the writer of BULLETFACE in the past, would you consider BULLETFACE a departure from both of your normal styles? If so how?
Yes, in terms of the sexual component -the amount of raw nudity and aggressive sex. That's a big change as well as the straightforward coherent storytelling. I really wanted to tell a contemporary noir story in a very creative and the most lurid way possible--to capture the jackhammer storytelling and characterizations of pulp novels and magazines. Sensationalistic and where every beat is almost melodramatically striking.
It was good to have contact with a director whose work I have been following for so long. Ever since the first hearing whispers of BULLETFACE online, I have been clicking reload looking for more information. The story sounds intriguing and from what I have been able to ascertain, promises to be something different.
Look for BULLETFACE coming to DVD this February.
READ THE BADASS BULLETFACE REVIEW HERE
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Check out BULLETFACE pics and info in our BULLETFACE thread.
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