After establishing himself in the special effects arena (working on such films as “Cabin Fever”, “Vampires” and “Body Bags”), Robert Kurtzman turned to directing and producing. His first project was ”From Dusk till Dawn”, for which he wrote the original story, served as co-producer, and created the special effects. His directorial debut was “The Demolitionist” and he followed that up with the popular horror flick, “Wishmaster”. Now the head of Precinct 13 Entertainment, Kurtzman’s producing and directing original fare like “The Dead Matter” and his latest, the thriller “Deadly Impact”. CLINT MORRIS caught up with the multi-skilled film vet.
When did you decide to make the transition from effects to directing? Or was it always the goal?
After years of doing fx I caught the bug after doing second unit work and supervising big fx sequences where I had to storyboard and plan out shots. I started working on my own story ideas. I always wanted to explore directing but it really took years of being on a movie set for me to get a handle on how it all worked.
Looking at your filmography, I see you worked on one of my favourite films, “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare”. How was that?
It was a great experience as always working with Wes and crew. The film had a different twist than the other nightmare films with the movie within a movie approach which I thought he had pulled off very successfully.
My good friend Patrick Lussier cut the flick, and talks highly of that shoot.
Patrick and I also worked on Vampire in Brooklyn together. I remember shooting on the Paramount lot and walking over to the edit room to check out the cut on our lunch breaks.
How did you get involved in “Deadly Impact”?
Producer David Greathouse approached me with the script which he had set up at MGM. We had worked together on several films including Buried Alive and he felt that this would be a great opportunity to collaborate again.
I imagine, having worked in the industry all these years, you had no trouble securing financing and your cast?
Not true….I think it’s hard to put money together even for the heavy hitters in the industry. Finding money is the hardest thing to do and most of the time you can’t get cast onboard until you can make pay or play offers.
How did you decide on Joey Pants and Sean Patrick Flannery for the leads?
Joey and Producer David Greathouse had known each other through a mutual friend and Dave approached him with the script. Sean was someone I’d suggested for the role of Tom Armstrong, in fact he was the first person I wanted to approach and luckily for us they both had open schedules and we were able to get the studio to sign off on them.
Is it true you were the first person to pay Quentin Tarantino to write a screenplay?
Yes….From Dusk Till Dawn.
Which had some great effects in it too! What’s your proudest achievement in effects?
When Howard / KNB won the Oscar. Even though it was just after I had left the company it was very emotional for me as I felt it was a long time coming and all the hard work KNB had done over the years had finally paid off. As far as FX work I’m fond of Army of Darkness and From Dusk Till Dawn. There are just so many…Its hard to choose any one thing.
I see you’re jumping on the 3D bandwagon. What’s ”Digger 3D?”
It’s a project we have been attached to for some time but I have no idea of the status and if they are going anytime soon.
You’re doing another flick with Sean Patrick Flannery soon I believe?
That would be Bump but we are still putting financing together so I’m not sure when it will roll. The Independent financing outlets for films have really taken a beating over the past few years and even big studios are struggling in the current economy. It’s really hard to secure money for projects in 5-10 million budget ranges without a theatrical guarantee and most of the big studios are concentrating on tent pole event films so it’s a long process for independent filmmakers.
DEADLY IMPACT is on DVD April 20