Thomm Quackenbush, author

Interview with Alan DeHerrera

by Stevehen J. Warren

Welcome to Poked With a Stick. The premise is simple enough, I ask the questions, the creative forces behind movies reviewed provide the answers, and somewhere in this process, I learn how to read.

Who remembers the little gem of a film called Revenge Quest? Drop that snicker, its old news. Alan DeHerrera, who directed the film, has gone on to accomplish quite a bit in his career. Now he scoffs at his past while turning a new eye to the future. He's not big enough not to do the occasional interview, and he's agreed to be the next Director poked with a stick.

  1. You started your career with the science fiction film Revenge Quest, which with all do respect, was not widely accepted as a strong work by critics. Despite its visual shortcomings, the characterization of the cast remains strong. Looking back, is the film hindered by its futuristic setting?
  2. Yes, the film was hindered by the futuristic setting. We did the film for Vista Street productions which is a very cheesy B-Movie distributor and they asked us to do something in this genre. This was our first attempt to make a film and it was definitely a learning experience. We had no idea what we got ourselves into and the budget was only a couple thousand dollars with no computer editing equipment.
  3. After your first film Revenge Quest, released in 1995, you took some time off before establishing Rio Films in 2000. Five years is a long time out of any business. What made you branch away from fictional movies and turn towards the environmental topic?
  4. I actually wrote a film called The Black Hand at www.romafilms.com (includes an awesome trailer for the film). I traveled throughout New York interviewing mobsters for this dark drama. We never raised the money for the film and it got shelved. A year later, I got the itch to do a nature film which had always been an interest of mine after seeing so many documentaries and IMAX films growing up. I started scuba diving and fell in love with the underwater environment. After a unique encounter with a sea lion underwater, I decided to try my luck at a nature film about sea lions. Now I'm convinced this is my genre and I've decided to make natural history films exclusively. Info about "Sea Lions" and my up and coming films can be found at www.riofilms.com including a "Sea Lions" trailer.
  5. In 2000, you started Rio Films, which is a company that produces environmental movies. Tell me about the early days of Rio Films and how you went about building the financial support to create your films under this label.
    We applied for quite a few grants and raised additional funds through donations and fundraising events. We built all of our own underwater housings, aerial mounts, cranes, dollies etc. I basically had to teach myself how to film underwater and how to write narrative. We spent a lot of time out in the Channel Islands on a boat or on a vacant island filming the animals day after day. Sean Astin from Lord of the Rings has agreed to narrate this underwater epic. The completed film should be completed by February 2005.
  6. Right now, you're touring the country showing off your first film under the banner of Rio Films. Share with us the importance of this ground roots effort to gain exposure for the piece.
    This is the first film about sea lions and right now they are under a lot of pressure. The are the most abused marine mammal in the ocean constantly being shot by fisherman, having seal bombs lobbed at them to try and scare them off, drowning in fish netting, having the highest level of DDT and PCBs in their blubber contributing to the highest rate of cancer of any other marine mammal. People are finding out how intelligent, inquisitive and playful sea lions really are and at the same time changing their perception towards sea lions of trained entertainer to that of an awe-inspiring animal. We also help other organizations raise funds by partnering up to screen the film and sell tickets.
  7. Films has a project slated for a 2005 release. Tell us about it.
    The final film with narrative and a 5.1 surround mix will be done in February 2005. Right now, we are screening the Dolby mix with temp. narrative. The film recently won the Audience Choice Award for Best Film at the Channel Islands film festival and has been featured at a few others.
  8. Is there any desire to take another stab at a fictional movie, or are you contempt with the documentary setting for now?
    My plan is to stay in this genre and eventually go into doing IMAX films.
  9. What's easier to work with, an animal or an actor who has no idea of what you want him to portray?
    I like working with animals because they don't have to act! You also don't have to pay them or put up with any attitudes!
  10. What's the worst movie pitch you've ever heard?
    A 2-hour film about a guy who turns into a dog during the day and a lady killer at night. That's as far as I let the person go before cutting them off and changing the subject.
  11. What's worse, a poorly planned sequel or a bad remake?
    I hate remakes! Why remake someone else's art? No one better even think about remaking "Sea Lions" one day!
  12. What's the worst movie ever conceived by the human mind? ?
    Pluto Nash!


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Works by Thomm Quackenbush

The Night's Dream Series

We Shadows by Thomm Quackenbush

Danse Macabre by Thomm Quackenbush

Artificial Gods by Thomm Quackenbush