HITLER LIVES! Behind The Scenes ...
Hitler Lives! is a Surreal Exploitation Horror Feature Film, Independently created by Sydney based production studio, Haunebu Films, at a budget of approximately $150K. It was filmed weeknights and weekends, when time allowed, between everyone’s work commitments. The result is a crazy, warped Feature Film that blends Alternative History, Conspiracy Theory and ancient Occult wisdom with Horror Surrealism ...
After watching mega-budget Hollywood Films, few people ever sit back and think about how much work the Films took to make. They may check out how much the actors were paid or what kind of budget the Film had to work with, but it’s impossible to know what it truly takes to make a Feature length Film until you’ve been through the process yourself. Trying to make a 'Low Budget Independent' Feature length Film requires determination, stamina and will power.
'Hitler Lives!' development hell was a fuzzy, shapeless, painful period in which the film’s nightmarish birth happened over many nights of drunken Heavy Metal overdosing and Conspiracy Theory debating between a few like minded friends. It was put forward during one of these boozy sessions to create a 'WW2 Occult Conspiracy Feature Film', the likes of which, had never been done before! 'Originality' was the highest benchmark sought with this experimental concept. Initially it was going to be quickly shot over a few weeks, on simple low resolution grainy Mobile phones, in a dungeon bunker, with a Hitler zombie and a killer Metal soundtrack - but this turned out to be a pipe dream! The Feature Film evolved into a 10 year abstract concept, with about 5 years of that, being both the 15 draft Script Writing process and the practical Film Making journey.
It became obvious that trying to raise government and private financing for a Feature Film about a Hitler zombie was an impossible project... So the Film Makers had no option but to re-evaluate the Film and invent new ways to do things when the 'Film Industry method' was so often – unnecessarily complicated and too expensive. Many of the initial people involved eventually fell by the wayside, due to the time it took to start the Film, the lack of budget, meeting the demanding shooting schedule once the film was underway and the resulting personality clashes while Filming (as happens when the free alcohol stops and the work starts!). So watching the prospective Film balance on the edge of being shelved, both Paul Hovey and Stuart Rowsell reluctantly took on the leading roles of Producer and Director, respectively, to get the Feature Film back on track.
Haunebu Films was then established as the Production Company and in 2013, on a self funded Budget of $150K, the Independent Production of 'Hitler Lives!' was initiated... Deliberately designing only a selective few Bunker Sets and Locations, with a small but dedicated Cast and Crew, the Set Construction was commenced at the 600 square-foot Bloodhound FX Studio in Sydney. Over the 3 year shooting period, many other Short Films and Commercial jobs were managed around Bunker Sets and various Film Making obstacles, while the 'Hitler Lives!' Feature was still a work-in-progress. A lot of patience was required to meet the deadlines and complete the 55 Scenes before the Sets could be deconstructed, allowing then for Post-Production to begin in much smaller office space. Approximately 28 minutes of footage ended up on the 'cutting room floor' during the editing process, mostly to enhance the pace of the film.
A full length 80 minute Feature Film was always an ambitious aim for the Producer and Director, but little did they realise that they would both end up also taking over the roles of the Cameramen, Soundmen, Lighting guys, Editors, Data Wrangling, Tech solutions 'and' have to do the majority of all the other elements, like the Props, Set Construction, practical Special Effects, blue and green screen Visual FX and create the bizarre Puppet dreamscapes. On top of these roles they would have to manage the complicated layers of Post-Production which involved audio ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement), the Ambient Soundtrack and Audio Foley Effects.
Along the 5 year journey the Film Makers experienced many spectacular disasters which almost derailed the Film, such as Pre-Production meetings that had crazy drunken afterparties which resulted in a few broken relationships! One afterparty in particular led to a punch up between a Lead Actor and another Actor due to a drunken altercation with a girlfriend! On one heavy drug indulgent, binge drinking night, a Lead Actor ended up in a police cell for the weekend (the exact weekend, we had organised to shoot an expensive Burlesque scene at the Vanguard Theatre!). A few weeks later a Lead Actor spent several weeks in hospital for alcohol poisoning which stopped production... Then there was a total computer hard drive crash and simultaneous backup failure that led to an extra month of repetitive editing depression - and on top of that, there was the very sad motor bike related death of a friend and Actor within the Film.
The Film Makers went through several types of Cinema quality HD Cameras, experimenting on a 'look' to the Film, before settling on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera with a Bolex 1:1.6 F=10mm Kern Paillard Switar H16RX Camera Photo Lens and a Bolex 1:1.4 F=25mm Kern Paillard Switar H16RX Camera Photo Lens as the main component of the filming process. The 'look' that these Super 16 Lenses gave the film was that brilliant Super 16mm grain of an old Hammer Horror film - which was exactly the feel that was desired for the film. Super 16mm film can be hard to replicate digitally, however the results from the Blackmagic PCC were right on target. A few Scenes were shot on other HD formats, but they had so many Ultra High Res issues and Sound problems that the Blackmagic PCC was chosen to shoot the entire Production on and the other formats were altered and enhanced through Grading to match the vintage look of the Blackmagic PCC with the Super 16 lenses.
When deciding how to release 'Hitler Lives!' the Production Company, Haunebu Films, were faced with several options:
1/ The traditional movie Release path; run around the Film Festival planet seeking laurels and head pats from the Film Industry establishment....
2/ The traditional movie Distribution path; approach film marketeers and distributors on bended knee hoping one might deem the Film worthy of their services and offer the Film Makers a pittance for all the intellectual property rights in perpetuity....
Considering the options, Haunebu Films chose NOT to do either of them, as both the Producer and Director decided to sidestep that whole 'movie ego game' and deliver the film directly to the public, via Internet Distribution to the leading Internet Streaming Sites such as iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Xbox, Vudu and Playstation… Producer Paul Hovey made the Internet Distribution call very early on and the entire production process had been set to meet the Internet Distributor quality guidelines. Haunebu Films are very pleased to have met the goal of producing a full Feature length Film which has broken all the traditional rules and still holds up to the quality standards of the biggest companies on the planet.
As exhausting as the Feature Film was to make, there are no regrets and Haunebu Films look forward to new production challenges after the release of 'Hitler Lives!' in late 2017 and early 2018...
... a note from the Producer ...
If you’ve just watched Hitler Lives! GREAT! If you are about to - even better I'm excited for you, you won’t be the same again!
I've put 5 years of my blood, sweat and tears into this film, while holding down a day job, this film has consumed every moment of my spare time, holidays, weekends and nights, not to mention Lots and LOTS of money from myself and the director so we can make the beautiful sets, props, costumes and effects you see and record and edit it on the best quality equipment available.
Maybe this film will lead you to do some of your own research and explore some of the crazy stuff you hear about in the film. I hope it does, we want to entertain and also inspire the thirst for knowledge,
I'd like to ask you on a personal note, please don't pirate the film .... It's less than ten bucks online to rent, or buy a DVD copy from the merch page and you will have a hardcopy of this film for the rest of your life. We guarantee you will laugh, cringe and quite possibly reconsider a lot of what you are told is history!
It's been an adventure and without your $9.99 in the kitty, crazy independent films like this won’t get made and you'll be stuck with the 29th Spiderman reboot and transformers 36, revenge of the endlessly rehashed!
We hope you enjoy (or enjoyed) 'Hitler Lives!'
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Paul R. Hovey
Haunebu Films Producer