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Ritter, Tim with More News on The Alien Agenda PDF Print E-mail
Written by By T. Ranstill   
May 02, 2004 at 02:00 AM
Q: How did you get involved with THE ALIEN AGENDA series?
RITTER: Kevin Lindenmuth asked if I was interested in contributing a segment to the project. I was just coming off of distributing CREEP and looking into a possible next project, and his offer seemed cool. Also, lots of independent filmmakers were contributing to the series, so I figured I\'d be in good company. Also, I love science fiction stuff like THEY LIVE and ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, and I saw this as an opportunity to branch out creatively and do something a little different
Q: Your story, RANSOM, stars Joel Wynkoop, who has been featured in your other movies. Any other familiar faces?
RITTER: We tried to use some people from other projects as well as some new faces. Frank Wales, a movie and rock \'n roll journalist, plays a pretty cool little role as a victim of his own family. His kids play cannibals that eat him alive! Also, WICKED GAMES composer Richard Hoopes has a cameo appearance. He also contributed some sound effects. We shot some stuff with Dika Newlin as a \"swamp monster\" ladv -- she\'s a seventy year old punk rocker that played a baby killer in CPFEP and had a documentarv made about her called MURDER CITY. Marcus Koch, the publisher of SUB-GENRE magazine worked on some of our monster effects, particularly on a giant mutated alligator, which turned out very well, Newcomer Ken Flanck plays a sadistic interrogator with a lot of power. He\'s a tremendous actor and I think he\'ll go places with his career--we\'ll be seeing more of him in the future, I\'m sure!
Q: How difficult was it filming a post-apocalyptic tale in the middle of the summer in Florida?
RITTER: It was a tough shoot, probably the toughest I\'ve one since KILLING SPREE. The heat was incredible, over one hundred degrees every day in the swamps. Mosquitos, the humidity and storms were a big problem. I got one of the worst sunburns of my life white shooting this thing! I ended up with softball-sized blisters after one weekend of shooting outdoors. The pain was immense, but we kept on going. Joel Wynkoop had to wear a trenchcoat and long hair for the role, and he nearly passed out a couple of times from overheating during the fight scenes At one point we actually had a camera melt from the heat! I couldn\'t believe it--it was that hot! Even the \"interrogation scene\" that we shot in a warehouse had no air conditioning. It was about 120 degrees in there and we shot for twelve hours straight. We had some canoe scenes where we were surrounded by dozens of real alligators in the water which was pretty scary. We decided to shoot our \"alligator attack\" scene in salt water to avoid the problem of real gators. They look at you with \"lunch\" written in their eyes! This was a very physical movie -- lots of action Joel and I got a gOod workout with this movie! I don\'t ever recall sweating so much. The humidity down here is awful. It\'s hard to keep camera tenses from fogging up. It was a fun movie to make, though. It was cool to shoot guerilla filmmaking style again! We just showed up at a place and got it very fast and on the edge. No permits, no permission, no rules. Very apocalyptic filmmaking! Sorta getting back to the roots of filmmaking, the old days. We had quite a few confrontations with the police. Joel was almost shot in a state park... some bystander noticed a guy in a trenchcoat with a gun and reported my tripods as being machine guns! We were shooting an insert shot of Joel firing his weapon and we found ourselves surrounded by some kind of park police, all guns drawn! They screamed at Joel to \"drop the weapon!\" Joel turned at them holding his gun and dropped it just in time! It was a close call. Evidently some people had committed suicide in the park not too long ago and the cops thought this guy in a trenchcoat was forcing us to film his own death! Really bizarre.... I guess there are advantages to getting permission to shoot at certain areas.
Q: How long did it take to shoot the RANSOM segment? Was it easier to shoot a short than a feature-length story?
RTTTER: We treated this whole thing as a feature. It took eleven shooting days to wrap shooting of this segment! Compare that to KILLING SPREE -- it took twelve days to shoot that and that was a 90 minute feature. We got twenty-some hours of footage for RANSOM. We could cut this as a seventy-five minute movie, easily. It might be a little slow and drawn out but we could make it a feature I think it\'s going to be pretty intense and fast-moving at thirty minutes. Lots of nonstop action, fights and great scenery. There\'s even a scene with Joel and an eighteen foot python! We went all out on this thing... it started out small and we ended up with a caravan of cars meeting in the swamp to film this stuff. It just grew and grew and was just as hard as filming a full-length feature! The rules don\'t change for big or small projects. It\'s always tough. But you want to give it your all and we all put everything we had into this project. I hope the audience likes it.
Q: Since this is more a science fiction than horror movie is there a tot of makeup effects?
PITTER: I think we have a few that deliver. These \"hybrid worm people\" that Kevin created are pretty hideous. We have a scene where Joel stabs one of these creatures and these worms come crawling out of the hole.. .it\'s pretty bloody and grotesque! Plus, Frank Wales gets his insides eaten by cannibal kids. The alligator attack scene is intense, suspenseful and action packed. I love JAWS and tried to do a little scene that pays homage to that film. And this is a mutated alligator that is messed up from radiation! His head is over four feet long. Then you have the computerized effects like UFO\'s and aliens, so there\'s really quite a bit in just this segment. Added with the other related stories I think these movies are going to offer the viewer lots in terms of entertainment value. There\'s all kinds of special effects of all sorts in THE ALIEN AGENDA series!
Q: THE ALIEN AGENDA is a collaboration between low-budget independent filmmakers -- do you think this is the way to go in the future! Pulling your resources together?
RITTER: Absolutely. I think it\'s about time that everyone set aside any differences and ego problems and just help each other out. I\'ve always tried to help other filmmakers and I\'m glad to see Kevin Lindenmuth pulling everyone together for this and hopefully, other projects. Kevin seems to have a real knack for pulling people together I think he\'s hoping to make it big-time some day and deserves all the success he gets. He\'s a good filmmaker and businessman as well, and I think THE ALIEN AGENDA is a step in the right direction for everyone, It\'s the biggest made-for-video collaboration ever attempted and will be hard to top. Furthermore, the video marketplace for independents is shrinking even more -- so it\'s better to work together with allies than stand alone and get lost in the shuffle. I think the independent market is consolidating just like the larger studio markets. Independents are banding together and working with each other to stay in the game. Some foreign markets are getting more receptive and some of the larger video chains are finally taking lower-budgeted movies if the quality and subject matter is presented in a way that their policies accept, so that\'s good. So, by working together I think we all benefit by sharing ideas, contacts, and the glory, Obviously there will be problems but if we all stay on track and help each other out, we all have a better chance of making it to new levels!

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