INTERVIEWS

INTERVIEW WITH KEVIN VANHOOK, DIRECTOR OF "SLAYER"

He begun his career right after graduation with DC Comics, then he got fully envolved into film business and became not only as writer and producer but also as actor and director. He's KEVIN VANHOOK, the multitalented director of "SLAYER", Lynda's latest movie. Here he shares his experience working with Lynda, and details of the movie exclusively for WONDERLAND.

Lynda Carter, Casper Van Dien and director Kevin VanHook.

You started out as a comic penciller right after graduation with DC Comics, how did you got involved into film business and film-making?

I worked in comic books for several years, then began to study film on my own. Initially, I planned to work as a screen-writer. But I realized quickly that I would want to be more actively involved in telling the story. That meant directing. As I studied and practiced, I taught myself visual effects and changed the direction of my company (VanHook Studios) away from print and more toward film and television.

Obviously you've been always involved in the genre, what's the appeal of it in general? And in particular about vampires, considering your first feature was also about vampires.

My first feature, "Frost: Portrait of a Vampire" was based on a comic book I wrote and drew years ago. I've always had an attraction to vampire stories. There's something infinitely fascinating about how primal the creatures are. They feed off of the living, they sleep during the day...my kind of people.

Recently you used the title "Whirlwind Film-making and the Art of Making Friends For a Living" in a written feature on your site. You also mention in an interview the influence of your mother in you when you were young. For you is it important to work with friends and in a friendly and familiar environment? And when you work with someone is that what you're heading to?

I would say that I am very drawn toward keeping myself surrounded by friends and family. My mother was a great influence, reinforcing the fact that I could do anything I set my mind to. It's a simple thing, but it's true. I'm a firm believer that people can achieve their goals regardless of what they are, if they work hard and ask themselves the right questions. More "What can I do today to make progress toward the goal" and less "Why can't I ever get a break?" As for friendships, I would love to consider my collaborators in film as friends. Many have become close friends.

What was the genesis of "Slayer"? How did it begin and evolve?

I was asked by producers for the Sci-Fi Channel to give them a film about vampires in the jungle. My deal with them allows us to create films that are designed with a theatrical release in mind and whether we succeed or not, they have television rights. I had initially pitched a story that my partner Karen Bailey and I were working on that was set in a mental institution with a wing dedicated to people who thought they were vampires. The hook was that they really ARE vampires. They use the facility as a cover. Ironically, the producers kept pushing the story more toward one that is very similar in tone to FROST. Two men who were best friends until one of them died. Now they're enemies. I wanted to use this film as an example of my doing BIG action. There are 3 to 4 times as many fight scenes in this film than any of my others. And they involve a lot more people.

Why did you choose PR to shoot the film?

Karen and I had scouted PR in advance. We had ideas for certain stories and we wanted to see what all was available. When SLAYER became real, I knew exactly where I could set the story. I was able to write around locations.

What can you tell us of the plot in general lines? What are the highlights?

A group of U.S. soldiers are attacked by vampires in the South American jungle. The deforestation of the rainforest has destroyed the habitat of the vampires' only natural predators. With nothing to stand in their way, the vampires are spreading out to the surrounding villages and beyond...and their hunger is unstoppable.
   Now, Captain "Hawk" Hawkins (Van Dien) has to hunt down and stop his best friend, a highly trained special forces soldier who has become a deadly vampire.
   Starring Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers, Sleepy Hollow), Jennifer O'Dell (The Lost World), Kevin Grievoux (Underworld, Planet of the Apes), Tony Plana (24, Resurrection Blvd.) and Ray Park (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, X-Men)

We know that Lynda Carter wasn't the first choice to play Colonel Weaver, Lee Majors was... How did you come to chose Lynda?

We were discussing other highly iconic actors from the 70's. Lynda was an obvious choice. If I couldn't work with the man I wanted to be when I was a boy, I'd see if I could work with the lady I wanted to meet!

Considering the character was originally written for a man, there was any drastic re-writing on the script?

Surprisingly few.

Did the role of Colonel Weaver require a lot of stunts?

No.

Did Lynda make any contributions for the character, suggestions, etc?

Of course. She brought a level of humanity to the role and the concept of her being Laurie's God-Mother was something that came out of our early conversations.

Have you personally met Lynda before it or was it your first time? And what was your impression of her as a person and as a professional?

I spoke to her by phone when we were casting. I thought she was wonderful.

What can you tell us about Colonel Weaver, the character Lynda plays?

Colonel Weaver is the God-Mother of Hawk's ex-wife Laurie and Hawk's Commanding Officer. She's also a mentor and friend.
Based on your experience working with Lynda, will you keep her in mind for future projects?
Yes.
Originally the film was supposed to be a feature film to be released in theatres but it ended up on television for the Sci-Fi channel. What about internationally?
Yes, there are foreign sales in place.
You're writer, director, co-producer and editor of the film. You also oftenly act in some of the films. It seems you're really involved in all of your projects. What do you like the most?
The synthesis of all of them. I am a storyteller. Writing is the most free. Directing is a joy and a compromise. Editing is a chance to make things clearer, improve performances and fix plot holes.
Director Kevin VanHook and her producing partner Karen Bailey.
Are there already plans for a future DVD release or it depends on audience response? And also regarding this do you have extra material to include on it?
Anchor Bay Entertainment will release the DVD of Slayer. There will be extras!
What's the status of the film right now? Have you finished with post-production?
I deliver at the end of May. I am in a sound-mixing studio as I tell you this now... ?
Being yourself a comic artist, you must have been familiar with Wonder Woman. Being the title into development for a big-budget film, what would you expect from it? If you were up to it, what would be your approach?
I haven't given it much thought, to be honest.
Lynda Carter's role as Wonder Woman has been a landmark on classic television and her portrayal has been world-wide recognized and people is very fond it. Did you watch the series when it originally aired?
Yep, I was a kid fanboy. She had a big place in my heart.
Fans have made a campaign asking Joss Whedon to consider Lynda for a role in the movie, not just a cameo, but a  role. How do you see this? Considering the place that Lynda has in the hearts of people in general, and if it were you, would you do it?
Like any other actor, I would carefully consider the role and what actor's appropriate for it, but I'd work with Lynda again. She's a solid professional and a heck of a nice lady.
Obviously you commit to every project as the best one. But what do you imagine in your heart as the ultimate project in the future?
I would love to tell The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazney.
THANKS KEVIN!!!!

Sawnie Burgos O'Brien

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Interview 2006 by WONDERLAND The Ultimate Wonder Woman Site. All rights reserved.

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