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Valkyrie Vs. The World PDF Print E-mail
Written by Written by Mike Watt   
Jan 27, 2005 at 02:00 AM
">>Project: Valkyrie is one of the latest underground masterpieces to come out of Pittsburgh - but it's not a zombie movie! It's a science-fiction action/comedy shot on digital video by Jeff Waltrowski, Steve Foland, and their producer, Nic Pesante, about a humanoid robot that was built in the '40s to be America's secret weapon against the Nazis. Flash forward over sixty years later, and the ne'er-do-well grandson of Valkyrie's creator has inherited the robot - just in time to battle a crew of mutated neo-Nazis who are threatening life, liberty and the American Way. The movie is a veritable homage-stew, paying tribute to everything from Raiders Of The Lost Ark to '40s serials to Sam Raimi's Evil Dead trilogy. NIC: The money wasn't as big of an issue as it set us behind schedule. We had to find a new crew and pay them - that was the only part of the budget that we actually went over. And that really hurt us because, not only were we paying them that much money to do the job, but the new effects guys - Steve Tolin and Greg Piotrowski - were constantly rushed. So frequently effects did not go as planned. Certain things fell by the way-side.

JEFF: When we got Steve and Greg in, we had a week before we started shooting, and they had a ton of things to come up with. They built the robot suit. They had to do all the life-casts. They redesigned all the make-up. Steve Tolin is the man.

STEVE: And then the kid fell through.

JEFF: His mother didn't want him in it because it was too violent.

STEVE: His mother gets her throat cut and he gets his neck snapped.

JEFF: "Too violent", my ass! We were shooting guerrilla style at a couple of locations. I think that really made the film what it is. Gave it that crazy edge. We got to use what we already had and play up some of the strengths.

NIC: "The cost of the equipment was a set-back as well. We had to buy the editing equipment. We were supposed to have a hook-up. Someone was going to let us use their computer and that fell through at the absolute last minute. Then we had to go out and buy an iMac. I have to give props to the computer because it was not designed to do what we did with it.

STEVE: We had two hard-drive crashes when the edit was sixty-percent done. After that happened, morale was way down and it took us a while to get back on the horse. It was kind of traumatizing to Jeff, certainly. And by proxy, it was traumatizing to us. The thing that sucked, though, was editing the film was essentially a one-man job anyway, using Final Cut Pro. So Jeff pretty much got stuck - he wanted to do the editing but there was no way for any of us to relieve him. So Jeff got stuck in front of the computer, with me going 'you sure that cut works?' and Jeff going 'Shut up!' When we were up for a really long time, we came up with some really strange things."

DG: But it wound up winning "Best Genre Film" at The Hollywood Underground Film Festival.

STEVE: That was our first festival experience. All of us went out naively hoping that we'd be distributed right from there. We pretty much knew that was unrealistic. It was pretty cool to have other filmmakers talk to us about it, and understand what we were doing, picking up some of the subtleties that the less-initiated would just think were editing gaffs. It was also just nice to watch it with an audience. I know it's a cliché but it's a world of difference watching it in a theater than it is just watching it at home. Just seeing the people during the first twenty minutes not knowing how to react to it at all, and then once the robot shows up really start to get into it was nice. Seeing which jokes got laughs and which didn't was nice. And we snagged an award! And we all got to talk to Wil Wheaton. He didn't see the movie, but he dug me thanking him for saving the Enterprise during my acceptance speech. And he dug Jeff's Britney Spears watch.

NIC: That watch was entire introduction to our film. We stood up there for about five seconds. Jeff played his watch [which beeps "Oops, I Did It Again"] into the microphone. We stood there for three more seconds, then we sat back down. Didn't say hello, didn't say anything about the film. Nothing. And I think that's what made people think 'What the hell's going on? What's this going to be?

STEVE: We just got tired. For five days, everybody had these badly-rehearsed MAD TV skits [to introduce their movies]. One guy would say something, then another guy would have a clever retort, then the other guy would say something. It would come off like a bad episode of THE MAN SHOW. We just decided to anti-introduce our film.

DG: So what's happening with VALKYRIE VS. DRAGO?

NIC: Let's sell this one first.

JEFF: That was fun. Having places like Artisan request to see it and then get absolutely no response.

NIC: We've been selling them ourselves through the site, through b-movie.com. 

DG: How has that been going?

JEFF: So I'm working on this new script called "The Host". [all laugh]

Visit the official Project: Valkyrie website: www.projectvalkyrie.com

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