Interview with director Corey Adams about this fantastic comedy/ fable, and 100% just plain weird film.
Winners of Fuel TV's million dollar short film contest, Corey Adams and Alex Craig have created a satirical indictment of our logo-laden, consumerist culture which is equal parts comedy and fable, and 100% just plain weird.
Take the 1971 Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, set it at the enigmatic headquarters of the world's most famous skateboard conglomerate, imbue it with the off-kilter humour of Wes Anderson and the fantastical surrealism of Terry Gilliam and Michel Gondry, and you have Machotaildrop.
Walter Rhum dreams of escaping his boring, small town existence and becoming a professional skateboarder. He sends a golden highlight reel to the world-famous Machotaildrop skateboard company and is chosen to come to their headquarters, a remote country estate with a half-pipe sitting on a lake, to study under its eccentric leader, The Baron, and ride alongside his idol, Blair Stanley. At first, everything seems normal for Walter. He has his own room, is fed roast goose in bed, provided with a custom wardrobe and groomed for stardom. His bashful personality is a hit, launching his new signature skateboard to massive sales.
Matt Irving interviews director and writer Corey Adams.
Well it all started after trying to drive a cheap pick-up truck to the top of a mountain at a place called Cat Lake. We ended up with a flat tire about half way up and no tire iron. There were a few of us who had camped there the night before and I think it was as we were walking back down the mountain, two men, one Jeremy Fish and the other Mat O'Brien, started telling me about this contest that some action sports channel was having that involved them dishing out a hundred grand to make a short film, with the chance of winning a million to make a feature.
My first reaction was an informal turn of the stomach. The thought of making a fictional film about skateboarding put a real fear into me. That fear quickly diminished and I remembered that I was at the time dishwashing for a living. Not that I hated scrubbing used food from plates, but having a hundred grand to make a short was definitely a better option, no matter what the subject. I also started to like the idea of possibly making the first fictional skateboard film that didn't make the fine act itself look like a clown show. Although it's up to the viewer to decide that one I guess. So to make a long story short I teamed up with Alex Craig and we ended up winning the contest with our film "Harvey Spannos" and received a million dollar budget to make a feature that is entitled "Machotaildrop". It's amazing how a random camping trip with two strangers from SF can change your entire life.
Fantastical and farcical journey of a young boy trying to live out his dreams as a professional skateboarder.
Funny enough I never actually dreamed of making a skateboard film, or two for that matter. But the opportunity arose and I would have been a fool to deny it. The script began with me and two friends, Jeffro Halladay (who was the production designer for "Machotaildrop") and Justin Lukyn, traveling to Hope B.C. where they filmed the first Rambo movie. There we strung a long extension cord from a friends cabin into the woods, powered up a small TV and VCR, set up some tents and a hammock, hung a few inspirational paintings from the trees, and set out the beginnings of the script. We sat out there in the woods for seven days conjuring up many ideas. The last half of the script involved me and Alex, sitting at a greasy spoon in Vancouver called Reno's. I think we went there almost every day for about two months. The food was absolutely terrible but some of the characters in there were just wonderful.
Yes, but we didn't want to give the impression that all companies are bad, because there is definitely some good ones, especially in skateboarding. We just wanted to show that there are a lot of people involved in it now who's main purpose is to make some loot, and once you can no longer make them money, because your body has been abused to long, then you're out the door.
Well James Faulkner was the guy that played "the Baron", he did an amazing job. Originally we had another guy cast in the role named Brian Blessed, who in Britain is quite well known. But the day he was supposed to shoot he was flying to Budapest, where we were shooting, and on the plane decided to black out due to a heart condition he had. So as soon as he arrived he dropped out of the project and had to fly home. But as he was being driven back to the airport, in the midst of apologizing for not being able to stay, he told us that the only other man who could play the role was James Faulkner.
So we called James on the Friday and he agreed to do it, noting that if Brian said he was the only one then it was his Christian duty to play the role. He flew in on the Monday with an array of wigs and moustaches, took the character and just killed it. The other guy was named Lukas and he played the character "Perkins". He's pretty well known in Hungary and we cast him mainly on his ability to high-kick.
I think for "Harvey Spannos" it was basically written to be like a caricature of him, although in "Machotaildrop" Blair showed a darker side of himself and was quite mean at points. Rick is definitely not a mean man, he's probably one of the nicest I know, so I think for this film it wasn't so much him in the character traits, but in the things he was going through with his body it wasn't far off from what he was actually dealing with.
That poor pheasant, hmmmm, that might have been illegal. We shot the film in Budapest and so about half the crew was Hungarian. Some of them spoke great English, others not so well. The prop-guy being the one who spoke, and understood English the worst. Although he also used a skill saw while only wearing a Speedo, so there were some merits to him. But there were also many miscommunications with this man. The main one involving a giant cage with four pheasants. He some how got it onto his head that we were done shooting them, even though we had never started shooting them, and decided to go there on the banks of the River Danube, let the birds go and take the cage home. Well I guess he let them out and they just tried to fly their way across the mighty river, but that type of bird is not great at flying, so they all ended up in the middle. Turned out they weren't that great at swimming either.
We filmed in Hungary, Slovenia, Vancouver, and San Francisco. Most of the scouting was done by me and Alex before we even wrote the script. I flew over to Scotland and we drove across Eastern Europe with a few stops in France and Germany. We were trying to make it to the Black Sea to "dip our balls" in it, which is a tradition over there, I believe. But it was November and cold so we opted to head over to Croatia and get some sun and our balls never reaching the Black Sea. But we did manage to see Bosnia and Sarajevo, which was quite nice.
I'm sure everyone in the world knows who Mavie, as he has been everywhere, so I can almost guarantee that he has personally told you every "magic" story that he has, Some of them twice, so I will spare you this time with a Mavie story. But hopefully he writes a book soon so that he can pass on these tales to the generations to come that won't be so lucky as to meet the infamous Mavie "Measles" Murphy.
I sort of feel that you could place all the films together and they could be a part of the same world. The idea of creating an alternate universe always appealed to me. I was very inspired by illustrators that created a fictional world and stuck with it throughout their work, so I tried to do the same but with motion pictures. Now I'm comfortable working in that world that has been created and still feel like there are many places to explore. I actually don't think I could make realistic films, I just don't really see the world that way.
I hope it has, but I can't really say. I was a huge fan of all their work growing up, and still am. They actually have an incredible website where you can watch tons off the early films they made (www.nfb.ca). I don't have cable TV so that has been my main source of viewing pleasure for the past while. Hopefully one day I will be lucky enough to have that logo at the beginning of a film. It is one of the greatest institutions that Canada has to offer.
Yes of course. When you watch a film everything else in the world is gone and it's just you and that film. I also really like the surreal qualities of life. I think growing up near Hastings Street in Vancouver gives you an appreciation for the bizarre. It's like watching a real live Ralph Bakshi cartoon or something. So these ideas just seem to come naturally when doing this type of thing.
I think there always has to be a base of reality, otherwise most people won't be able to hold on and stay with the film. People want something to relate to when they watch films, and if they don't have that connection then your audience is going to be very small. I haven't always felt this way but I'm starting to realize more and more that it's true.
1. Werkmeister Harmonies
2. The Holy Mountain
3. A Zed and Two Naughts
4. Miami Vice
5. The Saddest Music In the World
9. Stardust Memories
10. City of Women
Watch them all.
I've been doing some ads for a friend of mine who is starting up a shoe company called Native shoes. Just helping them out in a new business adventure, which has been great seeing something just starting up from nothing. I'm also writing a new feature and doing a few music videos. There is a film I would really like to make about a man who escapes a dark past in Germany and sets out in a canoe down the Danube with his family goat. He is heading for the Black Sea to find his former lover who is living in a gypsy caravan.
I like working on all kinds of projects, be it short, small, long or tall. I think in doing small things you get a lot more opportunity to try things creatively that you wouldn't necessarily get to try on a feature. But I would really love to make another feature, nothing beats getting to go so deep inside a world that you have created. Doing a documentary would be good too. Me and Alex have been talking about making one about this transvestite soccer team that lives in a remote village in Ecuador. But so far no one wants to fund that one.
The list would be huge. My parents have helped me a lot; they have always been supportive of me not wanting to get a real job, which is great. But there have been so many others that have helped in some way or another. Definitely Alex Craig who I co-wrote and directed "Machotaildrop" with. He has been a part of many of the things I've made. And of course Fuel TV, because they paid for the whole thing.
There were so many bizarre things that happened on a daily basis, Amputees on riverbanks, pay off's to the cops, it's hard to talk about just one. I did meet a lovely French girl and moved to Paris for a year after the shooting. We had a wonderful romance, that of fairy tales.