All Hail the Popcorn King, a “five-star” documentary on award-winning author and screenwriter Joe R. Lansdale (BUBBA HO-TEP), is gearing up for a release later this year. Director Hansi Oppenheimer spoke about the film ahead of the anticipated release.
Where do you call home?
Born and bred NYer although I did live in LA for a few years. Never lost my accent.
Is that where your directing career started?
I wouldn’t say I have a directing career, I just make films.
What spurred the decision to move into filmmaking?
I’ve been making films since the 80’s. I’ve always made art and started adding film, slides and video to my sculptures around ‘81 and it led to attending film school. I worked as a TA for some of the documentary filmmakers and I learned about making films outside the system. I worked in Post Production in the industry for many years while making my own indie docs. Then I started working in events so I learned how to create my own film festivals and four-wall. Everything I’ve done has served my filmmaking and helped me create my own production company. Sometimes you need a day job.
And you’re an out-and-out film fan- so the perfect person to be involved in films. What was your first feature?
It was a disaster. I made a bad deal and the film wasn’t what it should have been but I learned.
How different an experience has “All Hail the Popcorn King” been?
It’s been the most rewarding film I’ve made because we had the cooperation of Joe Lansdale and his family. They were incredibly generous with their time and suggestions. My shorts on women and fandom were really fun to make but that was supposed to be a feature, too. Dr. Lynn Zubernis (FangasmSPN) and I wrote a script but the editor blew us off after a year and I had to hustle for another one at the last minute. I was able to work bring in the fabulous Chinisha Scott on the first short and I cut the second one but it was painful to have so much footage we didn’t get to use. On Popcorn King I had the help of Brian Harrison Mack and he really listened and worked hard to understand my vision. We worked closely together to create this slightly weird and fun portrait of Joe and his work.
How long did it take to put together?
From start to finish it’s been about a year and a half. We’ve had some delays on the DVD the last few months with all the health crises but we should be back up and running in a week or so. We’ve gotten some offers for distribution but I’m learning to be patient and find the right outlet.
Anyone you wanted to get for the documentary that you couldn’t?
I think we got almost everyone we could. I would have liked to talk with Jim Mickle. I did talk with his partner Nick Damici. They did the wonderful adaptations of Cold in July & Hap & Leonard. I’d hoped to talk with Andrew Vachss but he never does interviews so that’s just me dreaming because I love his work so much.
Tell us your dream project? Or is this it, perhaps?
This was pretty high on the list and it’s a beautiful film that I’m super proud of but I always have a few ideas percolating in my brain for the next one. I shot a short horror film that hasn’t been edited yet and John Skipp and I are planning a documentary on Splatterpunk once the world is open again.
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