11. jul. 2014

Horror-Unrated Retrospekt #7: Flænset! Et interview med den danske instruktør Heini Grünbaum.


Efter 4 år har vi valgt at lukke og slukke for Horror Unrated. Med tiden fik vi hevet en hel del spændende og dybdegående interviews i hus, fra de store kendte horror stjerner til ukendte independent filmskabere. Personligt er jeg meget stolt over den række af interviews vi endte med at få på Horror Unrated, og enkelte står stadig som nogle helt unikke. Bl.a. interviewene med instruktøren af 'Don't Go in the Woods', James Bryan og David Winters - manden bag 'The Last Horror Film', som begge velvilligt satte sig til at scanne gamle billeder filmpris-certifikater ind til os som vi kunne bruge i artiklen. Og danske Heini Grünbaum som i 1999 lavede 'Flænset', gav sig rigtig god tid til virkelig at gå i dybden med sine svar. Den dag i dag er det så vidt vi ved, stadig det eneste interview der findes med ham på internettet.
Af forskellige årsager valgte vi at lukke for Horror Unrated d. 12. november 2013, og da undertegnede tidligere har været skribent for denne fantastiske blog, Sørensen Exploitation Cinema Proudly presents, valgte jeg og bloggens ejer at flytte de mange interviews over på bloggen så de kunne få nyt liv, og forhåbentlig blive læst og nydt af nye læsere. Skrevet af Claus Reinhold.

HORROR UNRATED: Heini, welcome to Horror Unrated, it’s great to finally have you with us. How are you doing?

Heini Grünbaum: I am good. I can see you have an endless numbers of questions lined up for me. I hope I will survive this with my integrity intact.

HORROR UNRATED: The main reason for this interview is Shredded which was your debut feature film, and being released in 2000, it has had its 10 year anniversary. So I want to start off by asking you; how do you feel about the film today?

Heini Grünbaum: Most people would properly expect a simple answer to that question, but I am going to give you a very complex answers plus a whole lot more. On one side I love it because some of the scenes really worked out the way I imagine them when I wrote the script long time ago.
Some scenes just give me that good feeling you get every time you do something right in this life. I saw it again a few months ago and I thought some of the dialogues were a little bit corny, but then again, I never intended to make the film in Danish in the first place. Also I think that the pace was a little slow in some scenes and therefore it could do with some re-editing. That said I was short on materials when I had to make final cut and on purpose I made some of the scenes a little longer than necessary in order to meet the adequate running time to call it a feature film! It is a bit short if you remember? But you will find more explanations for all this as the interview progresses.
On the other hand I hate the film and all the mistakes I made with it. Numbers of times I have dreamed of remaking it with out all the mistakes and particularly I have dreamed of remaking it in English. I actually originally wrote it in English, but was then told by the executive producers that if I wanted to make the movie I should make it in Danish with Danish actors. It was really difficult for me to rewrite the film into a “Danish” film mainly because everything in the story is so un-Danish and much of the dialogue just sounded fantastic in English and really stupid in Danish, but at the end of the day despite all the problems I had making the film, the biggest fault of the film was the script and therefore entirely my mistake alone! At the beginning of the film I jump straight into a husband and his wife’s life without introducing them or telling anything about their background to the audience. Years later I realized that it was the biggest mistake I ever made with Shredded! “We don't know these people and now they are being tortured and killed? And you want us the audience to feel with these characters when we don't even know them?” Big mistake on my part. I should also have explained the background of the innocent girl that all of a sudden is mingled up in the story! Later we have this mysterious ending where we need to believe that she wasn’t just an innocent victim passing along the road! But there is no explanation what so ever - like I said a big mistake on my part and a big mistake in the script.

Heini Grünbaum: Actually just last month I wrote a whole new beginning to Shredded - kind of a therapy on my part. In the new beginning we get to know all the main characters and we get enough time to identify ourselves (we the audience) with the characters before the killing and torture begins. Even in the new beginning there is a scene where the husband meets the innocent girl for the first time so that we at the end are not left with questions to be asked! These 28 pages of script that is the story that leads up to the point where the original Shredded starts are going to be one of my future projects. I would actually like to go out and shoot the new beginning and then later release the new better version of Shredded. Since this decision is not entirely on my table and that it won’t come cheap if it should be possible for me to get the original cast back together now 10 years later, then there is only a very slim chance that I will ever get the chance to “repair” the original Shredded. However, now the complete script with the complete story without any mistakes is there if I or someone else would like to make a remake of Shredded one day. Be that in Danish, English or in any other language.

HORROR UNRATED: Okay, interesting approach. Well let’s go back in time Heini. How and when did your interest in films begin, and have you done any filming prior to Shredded?

Heini Grünbaum: My interest in films started when I was five years old and for the first time visit a cinema with my elder cuisines. It was a Swedish film with Pippi Longstocking where she flies in an airplane she build by herself. I remember I was so excited that I peed on the seat in the only cinema of the Faeroe Island! When I was about 12 years old I knew that I wanted to become a film director!
 My family was not rich so I didn't manage to get my hands on a Canon Super 8mm camera before I was 14 years old. I bought it used from one of my childhood friend’s father. I would work with newspapers and when I was 15 I got a job as a Film projectionist in a cinema Vanløse Bio and all the money I made went into my Super 8mm film productions. My first film was a 20 minutes copy of John Carpenter's Halloween where I cast my younger brother, sister and one of my childhood friends. When I was in boarding school, Bagsværd Kostskole & Gymnasium, I made a 45 minute horror film with my Canon Super 8mm camera. Oh yeah, you’d better believe it - I didn't just talk about it. I went out there and made movies. At http://www.planbparadise.com/cv.php you will find a list of my most successful short films from when I was young. I am actually planning on putting all my short films up on YouTube in the future. Only problem is that I want to re-edit some of them and change the music score. Some of my first films don't have speaking dialogue. Just action and music and some of the music is not my own and I don't have the copyright to use it. So if I put it up on YouTube the films will suddenly be there without any music (YouTube often remove music from videos if you don't have the permission to use it) and that will make my films a bit boring just watching them as silent movies.

HORROR UNRATED: You then went on to go to film school in Prague. Can you tell me more about that? And what happened when you came back to Denmark after Prague?

Heini Grünbaum: Uhhh, this can become a very long interview. Yes, it went to study at FAMU in Prague and I went there in 1987 before the walls went down all over East Europe! It was a troublesome time that I could write a book about - and who knows, maybe one day I will. I didn't learn much at FAMU in my opinion. If you have the talent for filmmaking a film school won’t teach you much I am afraid. What a school can do for you, if they want too, is to give you a playground where you can experiment, but even more importantly, it is during your time in film school you make and build all your social connections within the film industry and with The Danish Filminstitiute in particular. So that was another big fat mistake in my film career, because when I return to Denmark I had no connections what so ever and therefore I did not have a chance in hell to get any finance from The Danish Filminstitute. In those days all films here in Denmark was depending on being financed by the taxpayers’ money through The Danish Filminstitute and I guess they still are? Both before I made Shredded, and after, I have tried many times to get some financial support from The Danish Filminstitute, but without any luck what so ever. So I had to work from the bottom and upwards. I worked as a Production Coordinator on films like Pusher (Nicolas Winding Refn, 1996) and later got to the chance to make Shredded on a tight budget!

HORROR UNRATED: So when and how did the project of Shredded start, and more important; why did you want to make this film?

Heini Grünbaum: I took the script to producer Henrik Danstrup who had seen some of my previous work and he liked the Idea of making a hard core horror film surrounding the subject of infidelity. Henrik Danstrup connected me with Scanbox International who threw a cool million DKK. (about US$ 160.000) on the table and then I was in action with my tight budget film. I wanted to make a horror film – it was that simple. Most of my films (and scripts I wrote that hasn’t become films yet) have always been horror films or films that points in the direction of horror, or as minimum having a horrifying story!

HORROR UNRATED: So although it’s labeled a horror film, I suspect that really wasn’t your intention, to make just another horror film?

Heini Grünbaum: I didn't just want to make another horror film of horror films. I wanted to make a provocative film and what would be more provocative than playing with the audiences’ sexuality. I wanted to make a horror Film with a strong visual style. That was my attempt however, since you read the script, you know that I didn't manage to get everything I wanted visually into the film. I will get back to that later in the interview. I guess it is an erotic horror film, or I would describe it as an erotic horror thriller. Tough question I believe. You should have asked me 10 years ago. I am sure I had a perfect answer for that 10 years ago.

HORROR UNRATED: I have read the screenplay and I noticed that you work very detailed and meticulous when you write, like you already know how the film is going to be edited when writing. Is that your preferred method of writing?

Heini Grünbaum: No. Not anymore. Now I write my scripts in the typical classic Hollywood style that we learn in film school. Actually I haven’t written one of those detailed, cut by cut, screenplays since Shredded. I just keep my own personal notes for how I want to shoot the film visually and how I want to edit it in the end. However, there also is a “normal” script to Shredded, but it was written after and based on the original screenplay.
You see, when I was young I used to do everything myself. Writing, shooting, directing and editing, so I got the habit of writing the film the way I already saw it in my head and when I went to film it I tried my best to make the film the way I had thought it. Like I said, I don't work like this anymore, but I always have a detailed, cut by cut, movie running in my head of the film I am making. This they can not teach you at any film school. You either have it or you don't.

HORROR UNRATED: I guess that’s very true. So how long did it take to write the screenplay, did you have any specific actors in mind when writing and did you experience any negative feedback as a result of the violent nature of the story?

Heini Grünbaum: Writing a screenplay in so many details as I used to do, it took a long time. About three months I think. When I had to change the script and the dialogues into Danish it took me about ten days to make the changes. A friend of mine, Henning Riis-Rasmussen, who by the way is not in the movie industry, wrote the detailed screenplay into a more standard script.
I had no specific actors in mind. I remember that I wanted to go to the UK and cast some young undiscovered actors and bring them to Denmark for a month long holiday and we would shoot the film here in Denmark, but I was forced by the executives to make the film in Danish with Danish actors. Still today I think that was a mistake, because the film was intended for the international market, not the Danish. And the film did better international (though not very well) than it did in Denmark, and horror films are maybe the only kind of films you can make where you don't need a famous actors to get people to watch your movie. But the executives and the film distributors always want a bankable actor on their list so it is easier for them to sell it and I totally understand that!
Well, as I said, most people I have met in Denmark just hated the film. But my son, who is now 19, shows the film to his friends again and again, and they seem to love it. I think there is still a market for Shredded, especially with the younger audiences. They think it's cool and they don't care too much about the mistakes I made when I originally wrote the script and forgot to introduce the characters in a proper way to the audience.
HORROR UNRATED: Was is hard finding and attracting crew and cast for this type pf film and what obstacles did you encounter during this process, if any?

Heini Grünbaum: Well, again a question that could easily become 100 or so pages in a book. But no, it was not hard finding and attracting crew and cast. It seems like there is a billion people out there who wants to make movies. The difficult part is to find those who are not just fucking amateurs. That is the difficult part. And let me tell you, from my experience also working with full-budget films it is still very difficult to find good hard working men and women who are not just prima donnas, but they are out there and even though I have been saying a whole lot of negative things about the crew and cast on Shredded there are a few that shines bright and that I would never hesitate to recommend or to work with again and just for the hell of it I am going to list them for you: Gert Sylvest (music), Jens Simon (special-effects), Louise Davidsen (costume and make-up department), Tove Jystrup (post-production coordinator) and Martin Sputnik (consultant production design). Damn, I just went through the whole credit list and only these five popped up on my golden list. Well, there you are. If you want top professionals who are not going to eat your balls off every day at work, then there is some for your choice in my opinion! I did not list any actors though, since they have the right to be prima donnas and at the end of the day it is their asses up there on the screen. And then again, their performances always speak for themselves! However, I had a lot of actors for casting calls and it was very difficult to find good actors. But still today, when I watch the film, I think it was a good cast for this type of movie. It could have been a whole lot worse.
Since we had no money I was doing all the casting myself and this is something I will never do again and I will never recommend this for any director. Initial casting should always be done by a professional casting director. The reason for this is that I got emotionally involved with all actors who came to the casting and most of them I had to call later and tell them that I didn't give them the part and sometimes I would have to act like their psychologist and explain them why and why not and so fort. A director should only involve himself in the final casting.

HORROR UNRATED: Shredded was filmed from December 1997 to March 1998, but it wasn’t released until 2000. Why was that?

Heini Grünbaum: The short answer to that question is horror, just horror! In the beginning of the interview I said that I also hate Shredded, because I made a big mistake when I wrote the script. But the truth is that there are more reasons why I hate Shredded or rather, I hate the way “we” made the film! Making Shredded was no walk in the park. Everything that could go wrong went wrong and then some more. Making Shredded was for me personally a living hell! I had several stress attacks, one of them so severe that I still today suffer from the result of it: strong asthma! I could write pages,
I could write a book about all the things that went wrong that did not need to go wrong and what not. Problem is, if I do so I will be attacking a lot of people, some of them no-good people, but some of them also good and the latter I don't like to blame the very basic problem of the project Shredded; the script itself. But if you (the reader of this interview) are thinking of making a film one day, never make the following mistake that I made: Never ever mix amateurs with professionals! Most of the crew and some of the actors had no experience what so ever in filmmaking - none! That was okay with me, because initially I wanted to make Shredded with enthusiastic amateurs who wasn’t thinking of the money or dreaming of becoming famous filmmakers or movie stars.
I had actually found a completely unknown young actor for the leading cast when Scanbox and Henrik Danstrup, who was acting executive on the project at that time, told me that they would only give me some money for the project if I could find some bankable (read: famous) actor to play the leading part, plus I needed to make the film in Danish, not in English as I wanted to make it. And at least two of the cast had to be so called bankable actors! That is why I had to go hunting down actors like Thomas Bo Larsen if I wanted to see even one single dollar for the project!
That was all very well after some adjustment on my part, but when the production itself started all hell broke loose. I was mixing paid professionals, like Jan Weincke (the photographer), with first time amateurs whose only payment was the food they ate on the film set and then I gave them some contractual promises that if I would ever make a cent of the film myself, I would share it with everybody working on the movie - another Dumb ass mistake on my part. Initially we had scheduled three weeks of shooting, but everybody who was amateurs (about 90 % of the crew plus actors) suddenly wanted to spend their time hairsplitting their working contracts and when they were not hairsplitting their contracts they were complaining about the food, working condition etc. Hell, I remember one incident with a guy who was suppose to drive the big truck with all the lighting gear because he was the only one with a valid driver license  for a big truck! However he rater wanted to work in the production design department and after two days of driving the big truck with all our lighting gear, he left the production in protest because he didn't feel he had any say in the production design department.

Heini Grünbaum: Our production manager also wanted to be 1. AD (assistant director) even though he didn't have any experience what so ever in any of those two fields, so I had to accept that he was also the 1. AD, otherwise he and several of the important crew members threaten me that they would leave the production immediately. And this is just two of several examples. People were behaving like spoiled kids and if they didn't get what they wanted they would leave the production or set up a crisis meeting with the whole film crew plus actors and in the first three weeks of shooting (initially we had only three weeks of shooting planned) there where like five or six big crisis meetings where we didn't get any work done. I would come to work in the morning and we wouldn't be filming! I would have to sit in the corner quietly and listen to all their complains and be a good boy and say “yes” all the time and take it up the ass like a nice little rubber puppet.
Of course in a crew with about thirty people (sometimes we were less, sometimes we were more) it was always the same three morons making all the problems, but all these bunch of amateurs who were suppose to embrace their chances of making a real feature film, suddenly thought a whole lot of them self because they were in a “professional” production with “professional film gear” and a famous photographer like Jan Weincke and a very famous actor like Thomas Bo Larsen (very famous in Denmark that is). It just gave them the Idea they were somebody special and “Hey, we are fucking working for free, so don't you fuck with us!”. And the truth was that most of them had no experience what so ever in filmmaking and if I wanted this film done, I quickly realized that I had to kiss their fat asses every single day just to get some sort of film work done!
Normally a film director would focus his ass-licking on the actors and working on boosting their egos so that he can get the best performance out of them. But I had to lick ass 24/7 on an entire film crew of fucking amateurs to get the film done and all the time I also had to hold the hand of Isak Thorsen who was the producer during filming. I am sure he did his best trying to keep things together in the big chaos, but I as the director I never ever was left with the chance to just focus on my work. And when we needed money there was always an excuse from our executives to postpone payments. And then actors would threaten to leave the film because they were not paid and I could go on and on! You have no Idea how clear and fresh all these things still are in my mind even though this was more than twelve years ago. I also had big problems with Jan Weincke and all his demands on the film set. He turned into a full blown Jekyll and Hyde on me! I think in total we only shot like 10% of the film in the first planned three weeks of shooting. We then had a Christmas break and started shooting for an extra five weeks and we still hadn’t got the film done.
I could go to work in the morning with plans of 20 different camera positions for a scene and I would end up shooting two or three if I was lucky. That was very frustrating for me, because I wasn’t all the time getting the visual style of the film that I wanted. Jan Weincke could spend four to five hours just setting the light for one shot, one angle, one take, four seconds of edited film in the final movie. I hated him for that!
When I had my first meeting with him I gave him a copy of John Carpenter’s Halloween so he could see the simple lighting job done by Dean Cundey on the film. I told him that that was all I wanted and that I wanted to move fast during filming Shredded. He said “yes, yes” and when we started shooting interior scenes he was just enjoying himself making “special” Jan Weincke-lighting and every time I complained about it he just told me that he would leave the film and he knew that if he left the production most of his fans of fucking amateurs, who’s asses I was forced to lick clean every day, would also walk out on the production and leave me there with only the actors, a producer who was about to have a nervous breakdown and me with my dick in my hand - I tell you, my brain never  felt as small and claustrophobic as it did in those days of living Hell with all those fucking amateurs and Jan Weincke who just did what the fuck he wanted. Hate is not a feeling that comes easy with me and today I have no feelings for that man what so ever, but during those days I still believe I felt some sort of hate for him and the rest of the crew. I never had to work with so many “enemies” and at the same lick their asses from dusk to dawn.
Heini Grünbaum: Of course I tried a few times to get rid of the few hardcore trouble makers. And there were many chances to do so since we had so many breaks in actually shooting. But everybody else, with Jan Weincke up front as the pirate of the boat, refused to let this happen, or he would leave the film! I was fucked and had to continue licking asses!
I've got to stop now telling you about all my problems during filming of Shredded. Otherwise this will end up like a book and not an interview. But believe me when I tell you that I have so far only scratched the surface of all the problems and delays I had with making Shredded. Even in post-production it was hell. The sound recorded on the set was useless (why was I not surprised when I found out?). I had several editors working on the film with me and them and the executives, and everybody who saw the film in the editing, they all just hated it. There where no good wipes in post-production. Everybody called it “violent pornography”!
Today I wonder what the same editors and Executives called Lars von Trier's Antichrist when they walked down the hallway of the editing rooms in Zentropa where post-production work was made on Shredded? So, to sum it up, it was all just stress, stress and more stress. I have worked on several movie productions, both big professional features and my own small short films, but never in my life have I ever faced up with so much bullshit and that is one of the reasons why I hate Shredded from the bottom of my heart, and maybe even more so than I love it - hard, hard question!

Heini Grünbaum: Let me add further so you can understand why we only shot 10% of the whole film in three weeks when we were supposed to shoot the whole film in just those three weeks. Part of the film was filmed in the woods and was supposed to be taking place at night time. I wanted to shoot in the evening with some simple Dean Cundey-style lighting in the woods. Not with some high budget Oscar winning fancy pansy lighting. But Jan Weincke, the cinematographer, started demanding all kind of special lighting where we would have to rent cranes that could sky lift the biggest and finest lights 40 meters up into the air above the woods. First of all we did not have the money for that. Secondly it was quite difficult finding that kind of special Hollywood lighting here in little Denmark. So what happened was that Jan Weincke forced me to shot what we call “day for night” and I hated the Idea from the beginning! In “day for night” you shoot at day time, but then later you make it look like night in the computer during post-production. A method use since the beginning of filmmaking (no computers in those days, they just turned the Aperture down while shooting or when printing the film), but I never liked the look of it, but Jan Weincke promised me that he would make it look fantastic in post-production.
The only problem was that we could only shoot when the weather was clouded. We could not shoot in bright sunlight without any clouds in the sky. And guess what happen in those three weeks of shooting? Yes, the sun was shining every day from a bright blue sky, and it was even winter mind you. So we could only shoot one scene in the morning and one scene in the afternoon. Fucking hell! All I wanted was some simple stupid lighting. And later in post-production we did not have the money to use the big fancy pansy computer that could make Jan Weincke's “day for night” look fantastic as he had promised me. It looks like shit, and Jan Weincke demanded that he was only to be credited with small letters at the films end-credit list!

HORROR UNRATED: You said earlier that Scanbox International financed the movie, but did you get any additional financial support?

Heini Grünbaum: Well, like I said earlier, we did not get one cent from The Danish Filminstitute so in Danish filmmaking terms this is kind of special, because all Danish films ends up somehow getting some money from the Filminstitute. If they don't get it for production they usually get money for post-production or for marketing the film. We got about US$ 160.000 from Scanbox International and then of course we used all the production facilities of Zentropa which also comes at a price, but I have never seen those numbers (I don't think there are any) since Zentropa from the beginning owned 50 % of the film and therefore we could use what ever we needed from Zentropa, both in production and in post-production.
Was it hard finding the money? Hell yes! My luck was that Henrik Danstrup, one of Zentropa's executives, liked the Idea of the project, but it took years before he could convince Scanbox International to throw a little money into it. Without Henrik Danstrup's belief and support in the project, the film would never have been made, so for that alone he is one of my very few heroes in my life.

HORROR UNRATED: On IMDb.com the now disbanded company Balboa 2 ApS is listed as having something to do with the production, but they’re not listed in the end credits of the film. What’s that about?

Heini Grünbaum: I think we had an assistant from Balboa helping us with all sorts of paperwork especially during post-production. Hell, he might even be the guy who wrote all the production details into www.imdb.com for what I know. I think Balboa was owned by Zentropa - they have many film companies - I remember Balboa had an office in the Zentropa complex.

HORROR UNRATED: You had some famous Danish actors in the film like Thomas Bo Larsen and Jens Okking. How did you work with the actors concerning their characters and did you allow them to improvise during the shoot or did you strictly follow the script?

Heini Grünbaum: No, you can never in my opinion strictly follow the script. Because maybe the dialogue you wrote sounds right in your mind, but it doesn’t seem right in the actors mind. All people are different. No one is alike. So I always let the actor change the dialogue so it fits him or her.
Most mornings I would normally sit down alone with the actors and we would talk about the scenes we were going to film that day. We would go through all the dialogue and if necessary we would adjust them so they fit the actors’ own personality better. Of course, if I am working with an inexperience actor I am more strict and doesn’t allow them to much freedom. Also typically an actor gets an idea for the scene that I didn't write and then we will shoot one version the way I wrote it and one version they way the actor would like to do it. And then later in the editing room I will make the final decision. Example: The scene with Lars Mikkelsen, who played cop no. 2, sitting alone in the car and he is playing with the car key wasn’t in the script. I shot one version where he is playing with it and one scene where he was not. And I ended up using his idea for the scene, not mine! So in this way I am very open for the ideas of the actors, as long as their ideas don’t change what needs to happen later on in the story.
HORROR UNRATED: Earlier you talked a lot about your DOP, the acclaimed Danish cinematographer Jan Weincke and Gert Sylvest who composed the great score. Can you elaborate further on how you came into contact with these two and especially how you and Gert Sylvest collaborated on the score?

Heini Grünbaum: Well, let's begin with Mr. Weincke, the great pirate. I wanted to shoot the film in Super 16mm celluloid and I wanted to use a cinematographer just out of film school looking for his first gig, and I actually found one. However, my Zentropa executives said it would be too expensive shooting in Super 16mm celluloid and that I would have to shoot the film on video. Now, you have to remember that 12 years ago we did not have High Definition and video to me looked like shit in those days. Even high end professional video of that time looked like shit, and transferring the video image to 35 mm celluloid also looked like shit so that was just another pile of stress and bullshit on my shoulders. The young cinematographers just out of film school were all afraid to deal with video that was later supposed to be transferred to 35 mm celluloid so I was forced to find an old fox that wasn’t afraid of a challenge.
I remember meeting Jan Weincke when I was about 17 years old in a local film club where he was holding a seminar for some amateur 8mm movie makers.
So I called him up and he came in for a meeting. I explained to him what I needed and he said “yes, yes” and I was so happy because I found one who wasn’t afraid of working with video and not only would he make my nice simple Dean Cundey-lightning, he would also make it look fantastic on 35 mm. What more could I ask for? Of course we would have to pay him full union rates and the rest is history as they say. I later found out from other directors that I was not the only one who thought he was impossible to work with and I think he took the job, not because it was a challenge to him or because he wanted to help young filmmakers. He took the job because it was the only job for him at the time! He never respected me and he was one of the main characters who made my work with Shredded a living hell.

Heini Grünbaum: I remember the first years after going through hell of making Shredded that I would tell friends and close colleges that the only two people I really enjoyed working with on Shredded was Jens Okking who plays one of the police officers and Gert Sylvest. Working with Gert was all joy and happiness. He was so fresh and young in mind and still so brilliant and intelligent. Why other film directors have not used Gert Sylvest to score their films I do not understand!
That said I think few film directors have seen my movie and therefore they don't know about Gert Sylvest. He is so talented and at one point we were planning to do the score with a full symphony orchestra, but no money left when we went into post-production because we spend that money pissing about in the woods doing “day for night” stuff and sitting all day in a film bus drinking coffee.
Gert used to be roommate with my younger brother when he studied at the Music University. One day I told him about Shredded and I gave him a tape with some music by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth. I told him what I was looking for and he made a demo for me with his keyboard and computer. The demo was fantastic and I just fell in love with Gert Sylvest and his musical talent. His score for Shredded is one of the few things I managed to get right with that movie. Let me tell you, it's all happy hallelujah Baby.

HORROR UNRATED: Do you have any theories as to why the film didn’t find its audience when it was initially released?

Heini Grünbaum: When the film was first released in Denmark everybody just hated it. Scanbox the distributor hated it too and they could not see how in hell they could ever make any money out of it, so they used as little as possible in marketing and it was only released on VHS and DVD. We did ask the famous Danish Filminstitute for 200.000 DKK. (about US$ 30.000) that we wanted to use on marketing, but I guess they were just laughing their asses off - we got nothing from them! Also there wasn’t much interest in the press for the film and those who wrote about it said it was shit. So, there you have it.

HORROR UNRATED: Your film is quite visceral in its depiction of violence and perhaps even ahead of it’s time, at least compared to the standard of horror movies in the late 90s. Do you think it would have faired better in today’s market, especially now where we have more extreme movies and the concept of ‘torture porn’?

Heini Grünbaum: Yes, it would do much better in today’s market. No doubt about it - especially if we went out and filmed the new beginning of film that I have written - or all together made a re-make. Yeah, people hated the violent ‘torture porn’-like scenes and now it is considered “art”, ehh, I mean if it is made by guys like Lars von Trier. I think the ‘torture porn’ scenes in Antichrist are worse and the same time more boring than those ‘torture porn’ scenes in Shredded. Hell, I have always said that Lars von Trier only has made one really good film and that is The Element of Crime. I have also always said about Lars von Trier and his work that he is like the Emperor in the story “Emperor's New Clothes”, and I am sure that if a journalist one day should have the guts to ask him this question that Lars von Trier would laugh and say “Finally, finally someone has realized that I am walking around naked taking a piss on all of you!”
I mean, come on, he got Nicole Kidman to walk around on a film set made of white stripes on the floor while she was acting?! What the fuck was that about? He was taking a piss on everybody and nobody could see it, except me of course haha.

HORROR UNRATED: You open your film with a Sam Peckinpah quote, followed by a credit sequence that’s very reminiscent of that in John Carpenter’s Halloween, so I’m assuming they count as inspiration for your work as a director but what was the deeper meaning behind that particular quote – what does it mean to you personally and why did you want to start you movie off with it?

Heini Grünbaum: If you listen to the commentary track of the Danish DVD version you will hear me saying that I went to film school with Sam Peckinpah and I read somewhere that a journalist wrote that it would have been impossible for me to ever had been in film school with Sam Peckinpah! What I meant of course by saying “that I went to film school” with directors such as Sam Peckinpah, is of course that I studied most of his films and his working methods into even the little small details. I did the same with John Carpenter and other directors such as Ridley Scott, Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubrick and, believe it or not, Mike Nichols, but both John Carpenter and Sam Peckinpah has always been particular close to my heart. When I was a teenager I was a great fan of those two directors!
About the Sam Peckinpah-quote in the beginning of Shredded: “I regard all men as violent, including myself. When you see the degree of violence in men, you realize that we're still just a few steps up from apes in the evolutionary scale...”
Sam Peckinpah didn't just make movies about violence because he thought it was fun. His movies were a study of the violent nature of human beings and this quote by Sam Peckinpah does not only show that he was a believer in Darwin's theories, it also shows that he was a good atheist just like myself! I love that quote of Sam Peckinpah and even though it is not mentioned in the screenplay, I always knew that I was going to put it there right in the beginning of my first feature film Shredded. Both as a thought to the film the audience is about to see, but also as a tribute to one of my biggest film heroes of all time!
If you study how I use the slow-motion effects in my film you will realize that it is inspired by the way Sam Peckinpah used it. Most directors doesn’t have a good feel of there slow-motion sequences in my opinion. They don't understand how to create a dynamic effect by switching between slow-motion and real time in an action scene - I believe I do. And I learned this from “going to film school with Sam Peckinpah”. Let me take a second to quote Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino: “The best way to learn how to make films is by watching films!” I agree100% with that and as I mentioned earlier in this interview, no film school can teach you the talent of filmmaking. You either got it or you don't!
And yes, you are absolutely right. The long opening scene with the main credits is a tribute to John Carpenter's Halloween and John Carpenter himself. If I were to make a version 2.0 of Shredded, which I have already scripted as mentioned earlier in this interview, I will either cut it down or leave that scene for the end credits. It is just to long for the young new ADHD audience of today.

HORROR UNRATED: Shredded is so far you only feature film. I seem to remember reading that you had already written a sequel. What happened to that project and are you currently working on a new film?

Heini Grünbaum: I was at a point thinking of a making a Shredded part II, but since Shredded wasn’t a moneymaker no one in the industry wanted to have anything to do with me. I then went on writing various scripts that I tried to finance. And so far I haven't been able to finance any of them - sad, but true. I learned my lesson with Shredded and at that time I would not involve myself in a new film project unless it had a full budget so I could make the calls and not had to be killing myself from licking asses of a whole film crew from dusk to dawn! I did write some scenes for Shredded part II, but since I could see it wasn’t going any where I turned it into a horror/thriller script named Shallow-sheen which is a story like Escape from New York meets The Silence of the Lambs.
I then went on to write the script Five Numbers which I wrote together with a Czech writer named Slavek Kudlac. A big budget political action/thriller, a story about what happen to the killers who killed JFK (in our theory it wasn’t Lee Harvey Oswald who did it by himself). I was at one point trying to get Brad Pitt to sign up for the leading part, but after four years I had still not succeeded to finance the project. It is not an easy world out there trying to finance a film, trust me.
Five years ago I wrote properly the best script I have ever written; Plan B Paradise and I’m still planning on making this film in the future and it doesn’t need a big budget. It is more like a small road-movie taking place in Los Angeles. A story about a middle aged father, his love for his daughter who is caught up in a nasty divorce, a film about the American dream going wrong, very wrong, since the father ends up killing strippers and later discovers that he likes having sex with them when they are dead! I know it sounds very nasty, but if you could read the script and see the film how I see it in my mind, it is actually a very sad, but beautiful film with a horror twist you won’t forget. Do visit the projects website: www.planbparadise.com
Right this moment as we speak I am writing on a brand new horror script with the working title The White Midget of the Dragon's tale. I am not going to give you any details since the script is not done yet and it is still not registered with Writers Guild of America. But think of an old fashioned John Carpenter horror film twisted up with elements of The Shining and Natural Born Killers. I wish I got this Idea ten years ago, but now it is here and the script is going to be fabulous. Next step will be financing it! ... ehhh.... well, I won't give up my filmmaking career before I die! That's how that is baby!

HORROR UNRATED: Okay Heini, before we round this interview up, I’ll let you have the last word, so if there’s anything you would like to say to the readers out there, go ahead.

Heini Grünbaum: Okay. If you are dreaming of making a film, then just do it (like they say in the Nike advertisements). You can buy a HD camera for very little money and shoot film in a quality that can easily be transferred to 35 mm celluloid and later be shown in cinemas around the globe. If you got a good story your film will reach the audience. Forget about sending your script to the producers. They don't read it! They only read scripts written by their friends or if it is written by someone famous, a bankable name that can help them finance the movie.
But if you have made a good film they will watch it and if they believe they can make money off it, they will do everything they can to buy it from you and distribute it - but be aware of the wolves though! And again, the most important thing of a good film is a good script. Learn from my mistake. Make sure you have a good story, otherwise you won’t succeed. And did I mention it - don't ever mix amateurs with professionals.

Heini Grünbaum: And about life: Maybe you have children or one day you will have children, so try not to make the same mistakes you parents did. I know it is difficult since we human beings are copy cats, but try the best you can and remember, your child can never get too much love! Never, ever! Nothing or Nobody is perfect in this World.

HORROR UNRATED: Thank you so much for your time Heini – much appreciated.

Heini Grünbaum: Thank you. I must say now that the interview is over I really liked doing it. Let's do it again in 10 years time and we will see if I have managed to make some more horror films for you good people out there. Take care, everyone!

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