I came across an amazing remake of the 1987 classic film, Robocop. I absolutely loved it and I wanted to do more than share the film. So I did a quick interview with one of the makers of the movie. Check it out below.
From the film’s website (ourrobocopremake.com):
Our RoboCop Remake is a crowd-sourced film project based on the 1987 Paul Verhoeven classic. Connected through various filmmaking channels (including Channel 101) we’re 50 filmmakers (amateur and professional) from Los Angeles and New York who have split the original RoboCop into individual pieces and have remade the movie ourselves. Not necessarily a shot-for-shot remake, but a scene-for-scene retelling. As big fans of the original RoboCop, and as filmmakers and film fans admittedly rolling our eyes at the Hollywood remake machine, we’ve elected to do this remake thing our own way.
Our RoboCop Remake premiered in Los Angeles on January 26th and New York on February 5th. On February 6th, it was released online.
Because if anyone is going to ruin RoboCop, it’s us.
Nerdgasms: The timing of your Robocop remake ended up being released at the same time as the big hollywood remake. I’m taking that wasn’t coincidental. Would I be correct?
Our Robocop Remake: Yes, absolutely. We used the February RoboCop remake as a deadline to get our butts in gear and get our remake made. We sent out e-mails around mid-October and that got the ball rolling and by late-January we had a finished thing. It’s really fun to release ours at the same time, stepping on their toes a little bit. It is way more fun to do a project like this when we get to posture with it, and act like it’s some sort of statement about remakes in general.
NG: Do you think releasing yours at the same time helped re-ignite a Robocop fandom that may have been dormant in a lot of people and helped spur interest in your film?
ORR: Hmm, I don’t think anyone’s RoboCop fandom stays too dormant, those feelings were already getting stirred up by the Hollywood remake coming out. We gave them an alternative, or just another thing to watch that celebrates RoboCop more than it hurts it. I mean, the best way to celebrate the original RoboCop is to re-watch the original RoboCop. This just plays as a bit of a companion piece.
NG: There are several clips from the 1987 original film in your remake. I would guess that falls into fair use and parody. Has there been any legal pushback from the studio that made the original?
ORR: Nah. I’m not a lawyer, and I’ve never talked to a lawyer, but I don’t have any real worries of any lawsuits or legal action. I think it would be really funny if we got issued a real Cease and Desist from MGM or something. I’d find it pretty funny and I’d obviously take the video offline and laugh some more about how it’s already been downloaded 10,000 times and there’s a torrent for it and someone uploaded it to YouTube and it will exist forever. You can’t stop the internet. I didn’t make the movie under any license. There is not a single piece of paperwork in my hands about the movie at all. Each individual filmmaker retains the rights to their original scenes and can do whatever they want with them. I simply created and posted the compilation of scenes, and I think that helps protect things. We haven’t made any money off ot it at all.
NG: Did the quite successful kickstarter campaign to build a Robocop statue in Detroit (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/imaginationstation/detroit-needs-a-statue-of-robocop/posts) play any part in the decision to make this film or at least realize that Robocop was a fundable property?
ORR: No, not really. I think that RoboCop statue thing is really silly. There are things Detroit needs way more than a RoboCop statue. I guess it’s kind of neat, but feels very weird to me. The decision to make our own RoboCop remake had everything to do with our own love of the original RoboCop. It was a good excuse to make something fun and blow off steam. We weren’t thinking about it being a fundable property or anything like that.
NG: What was the inspiration to do your Robocop remake?
ORR: I’ve been involved in different kinds of low budget filmmaking communities for awhile now. I did it in college and became a fan of the thing called Filmfights, where we submitted films online in 2004 and 2005, and the internet audience would vote on which film they liked best. There was an active message board and community of like-minded filmmakers. We would always joke about projects we should do together. We started up a ROUND ROBIN film, with interconnecting pieces. I tried to do a similar project like that, just taking advantage of these different filmmakers I knew. We always jokes about doing a whole movie. “We should all remake Back To The Future!” … stuff like that. Tim Marklevitz and myself finally got our act together in 2009 to make OUR FOOTLOOSE REMAKE and we learned a lot from that project. We knew we eventually had to do another one, and the big-budget RoboCop remake helped us get our butts in gear.
NG: How many different filmmakers were involved?
ORR: 60 scenes total, produced by 60 different teams of filmmakers. I think there are like 68 people credited as creators on this project.
NG: Clearly based on the number of different sizes, shapes, colors, etc versions of Robocop in the film, there was not many rules each director had to follow. Was there any criteria?
ORR: The only rules were to follow certain wardrobe requirements for the characters, include the same characters in your scene as the original, and hit the same general plot point of the scene. I broke down the plot points and told people what beats to hit. Another rule was to try to keep your scene the same length or shorter than the original scene, but not everyone followed that.
NG: Did you have to reject or reshoot any directors segments?
ORR: Unfortunately, yes, a couple. I’m such a fan of everyone who took part in this project, but sometimes when you’re doing things without a budget the resources don’t come together and we did have to cut a couple scenes and scramble to recreate them. We also made little trims to most of the scenes, to keep things a manageable length and keep things moving.
NG: The film was crowdsource funded, correct?. Was each scene allotted a certain budget for filming?
ORR: It was not crowdsource funded. There was no budget for the film. I think the term “crowd-sourced” is confusing you. We crowd-sourced the film, meaning a bunch of us worked together to make it happen. But yeah, there was no money and no budgets given out. There’s a lot of borrowing resources and stealing shots going on. I put some of my own money into it, to buy RoboCop costumes and a bunch of various wardrobe pieces that filmmakers shared for the different characters. But the individual filmmakers used their own money and resources for the budgets of their scenes. Some people spent nothing, and some spent more than nothing. The Fatal Farm guys did an amazing job with the resources they had available to them, borrowing and collecting favors to create what is probably the high point of the movie.
NG: What is the ultimate goal for this film?
ORR: The idea makes me laugh. The idea is really silly and funny and impossible to profit from, so I think the goal was to find out if we could do it, and see what it would look like. And to blow off steam and watch everyone’s efforts together in a crowded theater. And I think I’ve realized a bit of a retroactive goal of this kind of thing is to let people know that stuff like this is possible and worthwhile. I think it’s probably important to send the message that you can make videos simply for the love of it, and it’s a blast. You don’t have to be afraid of making something. You don’t have to worry about making money off of it or making it perfect all the time. I like to hope this kind of thing inspires people to pick up a camera and fuck around with someone else’s intellectual property if they feel so inclined.
NG: I’ve read a few reviews of your Robocop remake where the person clearly didn’t understand the point and wanted to watch it with the same eye as they would citizen kane. Does that frustrate you or make you chuckle because there’s always somebody that isn’t in on it?
ORR: It’s kind of a bummer, but it’s fine. I’m honestly surprised it’s gotten such a positive reaction. I thought the online world was gonna HATE it, because it’s so disjointed and bizarre. I was worried if this was the kind of thing that only the people who work on it can enjoy. But I was wrong, and the voices of the people who enjoy it totally overwhelms the voices of the people who didn’t.
NG: How were the different scenes divided up? Was there any difficulties in finding people to direct each segment?
ORR: I split them up by logical changes and beats. There were some difficulties, but not too many. There were a lot of eager people ready to take on scenes, even when they only had two days to put one together at the very last minute.
NG: After you make this film, what comes next?
ORR: I’m always working on stuff. I have a show I’m doing for Channel101.com called CAR-JUMPER and I’m hoping to get some other short film projects off the ground this year. Our next remake project I probably won’t even think about until the end of the year. We need a break before the next one.
NG: What was the greatest joy in making your Robocop remake? The biggest headache?
ORR: The greatest joy was seeing the reactions online and hearing the audience reactions in person. That’s the best. When people respond to something, it’s a very satisfying feeling. The biggest headache, or I guess the hardest part of the whole process was cutting scenes or cutting down scenes. I respect other people’s styles and jokes, but had to keep the thing moving and was worrying about the reaction and length, so it was very stressful making any creative changes to other people’s scenes.
NG: With making a film like this, there has to be a running inside joke with the people involved. Anything you want to share?
ORR: Robert Copperfield is a pseudonym. That scene was made by a guy named Paul Bartunek, but he didn’t want to take any energy or anticipation away from his beautifully animated scene later in the movie, so he had me list his name as Robert Copperfield. Get it? Robert… Cop… perfield? Haha. I just outed him on that I don’t think many people know that this scene was his. THIS IS SOME EXCLUSIVE INFORMATION FOR YOU.
NG: Any other news, notes, tidbits I didn’t ask about but you want to share?
ORR: A big part of what made this film project possible is a filmmaking community called Channel 101. Channel101.com. It’s the best, and almost half of the filmmakers who made scenes for this project are active Channel 101 filmmakers. It’s free to attend and free to submit, to have your own show screened. We love it, and I’d love for more people to know about it and submit to it. If you’re a filmmaker who wants to get a scene into the next remake project, the best way is to make a killer pilot for Channel 101 – that’s where I’m going to be looking first when I decide on people to bring on to the next remake.
NG: For like-minded people that really enjoyed the movie, what can we do to support and encourage future endeavors?
ORR: Share it with people!