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Clonus Interview

Clonus interview featuring Robert Fiveson and Myrl Schreibman.

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Robert Fiveson looking into the camera.

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Myrl Schreibman

As many people know, Michael Bay recently put out a film called The Island. What a lot of people are not yet aware of is that this film is a blatant rip-off of the film Clonus. For background, Bob Sullivan wrote the original story for Clonus. Ron Smith assisted Mr. Sullivan with the screenplay. Robert Fiveson and Myrl Schreibman produced and adapted the screenplay with Robert directing. The film was later re-titled Parts: The Clonus Horror. In 1997, MST3K showed the film and gave the usual roasting.

When Bay’s film first began being previewed, many MSTies, and movie buffs in general, were outraged at Bay’s poaching of Clonus. Messrs. Fiveson and Schreibman have filed suit to stop Bay and Dreamworks, who released the film, from continuing the distribution as it is without their permission. With all this happening, Mr. Fiveson joined The MST3K Discussion Board to give us an update. From there, he agreed to be interviewed, as did Mr. Schreibman. Following are the answers to questions that have plagued MSTies while watching episode 811, as well as the future of Clonus and tips on filming, and more. The questions in the interview were put up by the members of the The MST3K Discussion Board and their names given credit. So without further exposition, here it comes.

-Steve

Q: (Dave Walker): Have you seen the MST3K treatment of your film? If so, what do you think of it?

A: (R. Fiveson): I saw it the first time it aired. I was a little stung that it was considered so bad and laughable - but I was already a fan of MST3000, so I was actually more flattered than anything because I knew it meant I was part of mainstream contemporary culture and that the film had - if you will - a second life. Later I realized it was actually rated very highly as one of the favorite and funniest by the fans so I became quite proud.

A: (M. Schreibman): I was flattered and enjoyed the banter and interaction that the movie had motivated. I was glad to see that it had found another audience and in some small way has its own "Rocky Horror" phenomenon!

Q: (Dave Walker): Also, how do you feel about the reaction from those of us that know Michael Bay is ripping off your film?

A: (R. Fiveson): I think the reaction of the fans is a large part of why this thing has gotten the attention it has (and deserves) and in that regard I am forever grateful to you all.

A: (M. Schreibman): THANK YOU ...THANK YOU ...THANK YOU......I have always thought that audiences that have been attracted to Clonus have been discerning intelligent audiences who speak their mind when they see an injustice. And also as one half of me is an academic (at UCLA Film School) it confirms my belief that today's audiences will not stand for any pap that is fed to them...but stands up and speaks their mind when they see that creative injustice has been served....Please keep the reaction going....and strong!

Q: (Dr. Forrester): In an interview, Michael Bay casually compared the financial ups and downs of his films to Stanley Kubrick and Steven Speilberg. The nerve of that guy, huh? Anyway, how much money did Clonus make in its theatrical run? And how much did it make on video?

A: (M. Schreibman): That is one that I will leave to Robert to answer...as he would have the best take on that...other than to say, it was one of the most popular videos in VHS when the VHS format came out. In fact, when I was at Paramount producing The Girl, the Gold Watch and Everything, I had an opportunity to meet with the then head of ancillary and video sales for Paramount and it came right out of his mouth that at the Photomat stores a movie called The Clonus Horror was outselling their movie An Officer And a Gentleman. When he found out that I produced it (along with Robert) he was astounded and was also astounded at what the negative cost of the film was.

A: (R. Fiveson): I have no idea how much Clonus made in its theatrical run because I think the distributor robbed us blind. I will mitigate that by saying I have no way of proving that other than by my impression. But I did have an audit done once and was told quite plainly by the auditors that unless I charged the distributor with fraud or something, we would only see the books for our film and not the actual accounting. The fact that it never even made its investment back ($257k) seems a bit absurd. It was a typical first picture deal - we paid for everything for years and the distributor took his profit off the top. That left nothing after "expenses" were paid. Same thing on video. Now it’s with Mondo Macabre out of the UK (for US) and I feel we have a good shot at actually making something. They are honorable guys (and they truly love obscure and under rated films).

Q: (Dr. Forrester): The Island seems to have not made a fraction of the money the studio hoped it would. Divine intervention? Or do people now understand that Michael Bay sucks?

A: (R. Fiveson): I assume this question is to the MST fans and not me. I actually like The Island because I thought it was a great version of Clonus! The film completely fell apart for me when it stopped being Clonus and became a series of mindless (and implausible) chases. That is not bitterness - I just think any storytelling stopped and it became raw eye candy.

A: (M. Schreibman): Maybe a little bit of both but in this case and knowing intimately how the industry works, we cannot nor should not blame Michael Bay entirely for this situation.......the studio and their development/creative executives etc....must have fingers pointed in their direction as well.

Q: (Dr. Forrester): Reading reviews of The Island, all of them say it's another stupid action film, but Michael Bay's best because at least the story is good. Therefore the movie gets a higher rating than a Michael Bay film normally would... Unfair, eh? What kind of reviews did Clonus get in general?

A: (R. Fiveson): It actually got fairly decent reviews. Generally out of three stars it would get a 1.5 - 2 on average. The usual comment was something along the lines of ambitious, great story, well told, too bad they had no budget because it shows.

A: (M. Schreibman): As I recall, and recognizing that audience expectations 27 years ago (pre modern technology in filmmaking) were much different than today, the reviews were mixed but leaning towards the positive side: especially as it related to the moral question we asked in the movie. I will tell you this, and perhaps this can be considered the most cogent type of review: when we showed the movie to various companies for distribution (from Paramount to United Artist to smaller companies) they were blown away by the movie, its quality and its story content. One of their first comments to us in every case was: "it's such an unusual film we don't know how to market this movie" and many of them were afraid of it for that reason. Remember this was just before the era of the truly independent movie and the concept of niche programming and marketing teams who were sophisticated enough to tackle a picture like Clonus. Of course they were all blown away when we told them it was made for under $1,000,000, which they couldn't believe. So I guess that this reaction is truly the best form of review for this movie.

Q: (Dr. Forrester): To anybody reading this interview, how could we help your cause to ruin The Island?

A: (R. Fiveson): 1. You already have.

2. I don't want to ruin them - just stop their DVD exploitation of what we consider a blatant case of copyright infringement - which BTW is a Federal crime. We identified 90 separate points where the two films are the same. Its just like a DNA test - how many markers line up and what's the percentage of likelihood of it being accidental or a coincidence.... not.

A: (M. Schreibman): Not looking to ruin it. Bless anyone who makes a movie these days. The issue here is integrity and fairness and a big studio ripping off a "little guy" who deserves respect and dignity for a little movie that was ahead of its time. Now that the "time is here" is not a reason to rip it off. This is a case of David vs. Goliath!

Q: (vanhagar3000): What was Johnny Carson like when you directed the documentary, Johnny Goes Home to Nebraska? Did he already hate Jay Leno despite not knowing him?

A: (R. Fiveson): Jay Leno was not even on the radar at that point. Johnny was nice. We used to work in his guest house (where he had a full set of drums) and he would work in his bathrobe. He looked awful out of makeup and unshaven. He tried to screw me out of my writers credit because he thought it would look wrong if a writer was credited on a show that he was supposedly doing spontaneously. The Writers Guild looked at what I had contributed and decided I would get a shared screen credit with Carson. OK BY ME!

Q: (vanhagar3000): How was it that Parts became one of the first movies to be on VHS?

A: (R. Fiveson): Home video was in its infancy and a company called Photomat used to have these weird little telephone booth sized kiosks that people drove up to and dropped off their film (what a weird concept now) - they decided to rent films and ours was one of the first - actually out rented Coma I was told!

Q: (Mr. Atari): Did Old Milwaukee give you anything for the product placement?

A: (R. Fiveson): Yes LOTS of beer - which helped keep the crew happy because when you do a picture with a small budget and very long hours you MUST have two things to avoid a mutiny - good catering and beer at the words - "Its a wrap folks." My garage looked like a beer warehouse.

A: (M. Schreibman): You bet they did. At wrap we always kept the crew happy. And they weren't the only ones for product placement. Product placement is a producer’s best friend if he/she knows how to use it creatively and wisely. Our other product placements came with such products as Huffy bicycles, which we gave to an orphanage when the movie was over, Adidas, Lotus Automobile, Bell Bicycle Helmets (orphanage again), and other such items. Some of this is discussed in a book that I wrote that talks about Robert and the production issues in the making of Clonus: "THE INDIE PRODUCERS HANDBOOK, Creative producing from A - Z"

Q: (Phantom Engineer): Any chance of a sequel?

A: (R. Fiveson): Yes - we will call it The Island. That's exactly what the damages part of our case is about (filed for an injunction and it goes to a hearing Oct 18). There can now never be a sequel.

A: (M. Schreibman): We have (were) discussing it. But not now.

Q: (Melting Manos): In your honest opinion, who made the better film, you or Michael Bay?

A: (R. Fiveson): Michael Bay made a better film, we told a better story.

A: (M. Schreibman): I'll leave that for you folks to answer.

Q: (ChibodeeCrocket): So what was Peter Graves like during filming for Clonus?

A: (M. Schreibman): From a producer perspective he was a dream and a great joy and very professional. Robert will be able to provide info as to directing him. We made it easy for Peter also as he was a substantial star personality in those days and we wanted to make it easy for him.....so we shot some of his scenes pretty close to where he lived as he lived a distance from Los Angeles on a ranch in Simi Valley California. He was appreciative of that.

A: (R. Fiveson): Total pro. Very gracious, knew his lines, patient with a first time director. A nice man. His father even visited the set - and Peter Graves looks exactly like him nowadays.

Q: (ChibodeeCrocket): Is there any info on the guy who played Richard and how did you come across him?

A: (R. Fiveson): I would be sued big time if I told you the real story about him. Lets just say he played Chet the fireman on the old series "Emergency" - his father was some kind of mucky muck at Universal and we thought that couldn't hurt - but mostly he got the part because he and David Hooks who played his clone/counterpart looked enough like each other to make the scenes work without any optical effects or crazy makeup tricks (other than changing the color of the clones eyes with brown contacts - which years later he told me ruined his career because he went blind or something weird).

Q: (mst3ktemple): Here's sort of a wild idea:

If some sort of an MST3K convention could be scheduled would you consider participating as a guest in a panel discussion, perhaps with folks like David Giancola or Bill Rebane?

A: (R. Fiveson): Of course, I would be honored. Hopefully in Tahiti and you send me a plane ticket LOL.

A: (M. Schreibman): Sure...I would be happy to do that and knowing Robert the way I know him, I am sure he would be too.

Q: (The Gesture Professor): As good as the "name" cast for Clonus was (Peter Graves, Dick Sargent, Keenan Wynn), were they the first choices to play their respective roles? Were there any other notable actors/actresses who were offered parts (no pun intended) but turned them down? Any funny or strange stories/experiences working with the cast or crew?

A: (R. Fiveson): Not that I recall but I am sure my co-producer will.

A: (M. Schreibman): The last role we cast in the project was that of Dr. Jameson played by Dick. I vividly remember that Dick was the last actor we cast in the movie and Robert had already started shooting. We wanted a female to play the role of Dr. Jameson and we had several name actresses in mind and were going after them. Susan Arnold (Arnold Roth Production: Bennie and June, Gross Point Blank) was our casting director and she worked very hard in trying to land us a meaningful actress knowing what some of the producing demands were in terms of recognizable folks for the movie. And on the second day of shooting, she calls me on a pay phone near the set and says she had this idea of Dick Sargent from Bewitched (and he was available and wanted to do it). I ran to the set to discuss it with Robert and when he heard his name we immediately knew he would be perfect and had Susan book him without his meeting Robert. Dick proved to be a pure joy and we became friends way after we completed the movie.

Sure there were a lot of stories.....we were young and flew by the seat of our pants and many theories of producing (that I speak about in THE INDIE PRODUCERS HANDBOOK) were developed on this movie. One funny story that comes to mind, among others, is on the financial side of the post production. (There were many during production as well but you rarely hear about the post production stories so here goes!) As a producer, my job is to protect the creative integrity of the project and to allow the director to work in as creative an environment as possible throughout the entire process. I structured the post production sound deal as a deferral deal just in case we were short on funds (which of course we were not). But the deferral was an insurance policy for us. We had deferred, I think about $13,000 to the post production sound house (Gomillion Sound) for 90 days after completion of the answer print. Well, we were in the home stretch on the movie's completion and Ted (Gomillion) kept bugging us for the money. Every day I would hear something about it...I mean every day for weeks.......even though we had over 90 days to give it to him. So one day shortly after we had our answer print, I went to the bank and got him his $13,000 ..........in nickels, dimes and quarters and Robert and I walked into his office and emptied the bags of coins on his desk. He took one look at it......astounded.....and then made us sit down while he counted it.

Then there's the story of one of our lead actors and the difficult time we had in getting the ADR for a scene...ah...I'll leave that for when we are at one of your conferences!

That and other stories have gone down in low budget film history and are well known in certain quarters in Hollywood, but there is not enough space here to discuss them.

Q: (The Gesture Professor): Many film buffs, myself included, believe that the 1970's was the true "golden age" of cinema; a time when many films had near-complete creative control from the filmmakers (like you and Clonus.) Honestly, what's your opinion on the general state of cinema today? And, while "The Island" at least tried to hide its original inspiration, what's your opinion of the sudden surge of unnecessary out-and-out remakes? (Manchurian Candidate, Flight Of The Phoenix, Bad News Bears...the list goes on and on...)

A: (R. Fiveson): I spent 23 years in that hole called Hollywood. It's a sad place that eats its young. There are many, many talented people with good ideas but if you are not wired into the good old boy network - you might as well be pushing a rope uphill. That they feel it is safer to rewarm old ideas that weren't even that good to begin with is a sad commentary on the cowardice and lack of vision in that industry. They are afraid to make mistakes and by so doing create the seminal mistake.

A: (M. Schreibman): Cinema today is too much into big budget....big pictures and producers who don't know how to produce or to stay with a vision. The entire concept of producing has shifted from the 70's when people who had a passion about making movies understood and respected one another with the same passion. Even the "niche" pictures today made by filmmakers (what does that word mean, by the way?) need a producer......that's what producers should do...produce...not make deals....not represent talent.........producers need directors and directors need producers and that concept has shifted in the last twenty years....maybe one day it will come back around.......

The lack of story ideas and creative visions and the understanding of what makes a good story.....Michael Bay knew what makes a good story which is why he used Clonus....he just decided to focus on stunts and digital effects that he probably thought about when he did Pearl Harbor.

Q: (The Gesture Professor): According to your recent Agony Booth interview, you've done a helluva lot of documentaries in your career. Today's reigning documentary king is definitely Michael Moore who, in my opinion, is starting to become real annoying, real fast. What's your honest opinion of this guy and his work? Would you consider "Farenheit 9/11" a scathing no-nonsense expose of current politics...or just mean-spirited anti-American propaganda disguised as a documentary?

A: (R. Fiveson): Yes I have done a LOT of documentaries (am Exec Producing one right now for Nat Geo International and three other foreign broadcasters). I think Michael Moore is what used to be called a pamphleteer and what he does is screed. He does a form of documentary which is social/political propaganda. He does it well but is a one trick pony. I do wish he would let his work do the speaking and that now that he is a multi millionaire he will drop the "I am a working stiff from Detroit" fašade. I also wonder what he is doing with his money to help anyone else. NO I am not a conservative. Definitely NOT, in fact (if you need to know I am a staunch constitutionalist and Libertarian in my views - some things I am conservative, many things I am liberal – all things I am free thinking).

Q: (The Gesture Professor): Why all the Adidas clothing at the beginning of the movie?

A: (R. Fiveson): They provided our costumes for free for showing their logo!

A: (M. Schreibman): That's an easy one....we needed a uniform look and we did a trade off with Adidas for the uniform

Q: (Mr. Atari): I watched Clonus again last night and I was really intrigued by the discussion between the Knight brothers on the boat. I thought it was a great debate on a serious bioethical topic.

Does that scene represent your views on cloning?

A: (R. Fiveson): Not my views but the views that would be relevant to a dramatic tension for the film as well as what was at stake socially. I never looked at cloning as something that might happen. I have always looked at it as something that would happen.

A: (M. Schreibman): This scene was indeed an important scene to both Robert and myself. Although various people wanted to excise it from the film we insisted that it stay as it clearly delineated our voices about humanity and the entire notion of what humanity is all about. If you re-visit that scene again you will see that it operates on many different levels and it was the scene that attracted both actors to the movie...especially Peter.

Q: (Mr. Atari): What are your thoughts on similar issues in politics and science (like euthanasia or stem cell research) where the definition of "life" is under scrutiny?

A: (R. Fiveson): I said to someone this evening at a small dinner at a friend’s home – the Internet is touted as humanities greatest salvation (or something along those lines) – not so. It’s a great tool and convenience (and deliverer of porn) but bioscience will change what life is on this planet – especially if we use it wisely and well. We stand at the brink of a radical shift in our ability to control and influence everything from food cultivation, to designer children. We can eliminate diseases that have plagued humanity and made life hell for hundreds of millions. Whether we choose to or not will be seen as we go along. This fear of GM food and stem cell research to me is the work of science Luddittes. Why is it we seem to value life so much before it is manifest as a person but then abandon that life when it is one of us among us? I was in Ethiopia in 1981 (remember We Are The World?) and watched dead children being stacked like so much cordwood. They died from starvation and the illnesses that come with that (mostly diarrhea). Why? We have plenty of food on this planet. Do the math – follow the money.

I am very pro death with dignity. I have reason in my personal life to spend a lot of time in a place where lots of people are on machines to stay alive. Decisions are being made for many of these people who have no quality of life whatsoever. Let them make those decisions.

A: (M. Schreibman): I don't think there is enough room for me to answer this question the way I would like to....other than to say that I am a big proponent of stem cell research as I believe through this research we will find the solutions to many illnesses and diseases and allow us to live longer and more productive lives (without having to have spare parts for that purpose).

Q: (Reuisu): Was the fact that Peter Graves' character took no actual "stands" on the "problems" of America a satire of American politics?

A: (R. Fiveson): Yes. But he did take a stand – the scene on the boat shows his position. It is a selfish and corrupt one – but one we might all make if faced with an offer of immortality.

A: (M. Schreibman): ABSOLUTELY! That was intentional and lo and behold it has come to pass.....hasn't it?

Q: (Ratso): What was your inspiration for this film?

A: (R. Fiveson): A great idea in a script my film school friend Bob Sullivan showed me.

A: (M. Schreibman): For me it was meeting Robert and the passion that we shared in the story.....which he found and immediately related to. If you really know Robert, deeply know him, you will find out that these issues of the human condition continually fascinate him....and when they do...it becomes infectious to others around him.

Q: (Ratso): Would you want a clone?

A: (R. Fiveson): I’m not that in love with myself. What use would it have? If I could have a clone of Pamela Anderson well then maybe.

A: (M. Schreibman): Yes.....but not for spare parts....for a buddy!

Q: (pumafan): In the heavily cut and edited version we have all enjoyed on MST3K, Leah and Richard are 'tagged' as control clones. What did the ear tags signify anyway?

Q: (spacechief): What was so special about our two main characters that they could find something wrong with the way Clonus worked? All the other clones just seemed to believe everything but Richard was doubtful. Was he a glitch in the cloning system or was he a special type of clone?

A: (R. Fiveson): They were part of a control group allowed normal intelligence. The rest had a virus introduced in their development that made them child-like.

A: (M. Schreibman): He and Lena both were control clones of a separate batch that Jameson was experimenting with. So in reality they were different and being put under a microscope. Thus the different color ear tags and on the opposite ears of other clones.

Q: (pumafan): On the art of filmmaking, how can we get more truly original stories out there? I myself have at least 4 ideas for a screenplay (don't we all) and am so frustrated that Hollywood puts out nothing but reconstituted schlock. Best of luck in your endeavors for justice!!

A: (R. Fiveson): Thanks man. See answer above. Maybe someone should start a clearinghouse for film scripts and their ideas where film fans assign a numerical rating and through the magic of the Internet the cream rises to the top. We could then charge large amounts for the D girls in LA to be able to log on and buy those they like?

A: (M. Schreibman): Thanks for the spirit and the passion for Clonus and of course your integrity as an inspiring filmmaker (what does that word mean?).

Q: (Dark Crow): Many MST3K fans feel that "Clonus" was a very good idea for a movie, but was ruined by the low budget. If your budget had been larger would you have been happier with the finished product?

A: (R. Fiveson): Yes, I loved The Island for just that reason.

A: (M. Schreibman): This question is one that has no answer.......one things is for sure.....creativity flourishes when faced with limitations and restrictions.........(Bay never realized that).

Q: (losingmydignity): Were you happy with the cast? If you had had a larger budget what actors (seventies actors) would you have liked to have seen in the major roles?

A: (R. Fiveson): Who remembers the seventies actors!?? They all seemed so lame.

A: (M. Schreibman): This is all hindsight and something that I never do.......we work with the moment and do the best we can.

Q: (XerxesTheCat): Have you tried contacting the Brains from MST3K and asking them for help on your lawsuit against Michael Bay? How about the actors from the movie Clonus? I'm sure Peter Graves would be interested.

A: (R. Fiveson): This is strictly a copyright infringement suit. That means it hinges on 3 things.

1. Since you cannot copyright “an idea” – you can only protect “the expression” of that idea. See my genetic marker/DNA analogy earlier.
2. Was there the opportunity of access to the work (well we ALL know the answer to that one!)?
3. Would lay observers see the similarities in the expression of the idea to a degree that they would think you would prevail in your contention (and that my dear and loyal friend is where you have already chimed in and helped enormously!)?

Q: (vanhagar3000): Out of curiosity, how were you related to Walter Fiveson?

A: (R. Fiveson): He was my father and was a major investor and source of the seed money to do the film. We had 7 investors total.

Q: (Detective Mitchell): Was there anything in the script that did not get filmed? If so, then what didn't get filmed?

A: (R. Fiveson): We filmed everything that was written. There were a couple of scenes that were ruined because a certain actor was too drunk…

Q: (Detective Mitchell): Have you considered merchandising your film (i.e. shirts, signs, etc. with the America logo)?

A: (R. Fiveson): Good idea – maybe when I come to the convention…. (If we win I’ll just give them away).

A: (M. Schreibman): Never thought of that and in fact I have a couple of America signs around here I believe, and an I Like Knight Button and maybe even the dressing gown that George wore to go to America......not sure but should look for it.

Q: (Melting Manos): There was a scene...A very disturbing scene in Parts where it appeared as if Richard's crotch was on fire. How did you guys miss that one? Your movie seemed serious so I doubt you left in there for a laugh. Please explain if you remember the scene I am referring to.

A: (M. Schreibman): I don't recall this one.

A: (R. Fiveson): We didn’t miss it. His crotch was on fire. He had crabs. They went well with the Old Milwaukee beer.

Q: (Chris The Dog): I think it is remarkable to think that this film was made in 1979 and could still be straight out of today’s headlines. (Obviously why Michael Bay thought it would be a good film to, er, "borrow")

With the references to politicians already mentioned in an earlier question, and with the film's "America" portraying a sort of Utopia, what was the underlying theme at the time? Was it a post-bicentennial Americana backlash against what America was becoming? b) Have your views changed on anything in the intervening years?

A: (R. Fiveson): This is a great country. It has opportunity and generous and hard working people. It opens its arms to people from other lands and is the greatest social experiment in the history of humanity – Democracy.

It also is a country which is easily manipulated, has rampant greed and excess. The general public knows little of the rest of the world and could care less. It is given a choice of two clowns every four years who are almost without exception dumb and/or rich and privileged.

Naming the utopian lie America seemed like a snide little irony that would make the lies to the clones seem even more cynical. It also was made by a bunch of 60’s hippies.

A: (M. Schreibman): Gosh, this is a question that I never expected and I guess one that I need to have a PHD for. I usually let the critical studies folks who are getting PHD in film theory figure this stuff out as it relates to the psychological instincts of the filmmaker. I try not to go there...allow me to relay a story to you on another picture I produced to demonstrate what I am speaking about: A few years ago and about fifteen years after I produced Clonus, I made a movie (also low budget) called HUNTERS BLOOD. It was a "Deliverance" type of movie but again on a much lesser budget and it had a decent cast of such people as Sam Bottoms, Clu Gulager, and Kim Delaney. At any rate, about ten years after I had made this movie I was teaching a directing course at UCLA and one of my students who was getting a Masters Degree in Critical Film Studies was taking a course on horror film genres and he had a text titled MEN WOMEN AND CHAINSAWS: MODERN HORROR FILM GENRES written by Dr. Carol Clover of UC Berkeley and published by UC California Press. He turned to me and said, “Professor Schreibman is this your movie?” And he pointed to several chapters on HUNTERS BLOOD in which the film was used to support a variety of critical premises about horror films. In one of the chapters she said that the notion of gender confusion as in THE HILLS HAVE EYES and HUNTERS BLOOD is an indication of one of the psychological aspects of horror, pointing to the fact that the producer uses a doe rather than a buck when one of the hunters eyes a deer and yells "big Buck...big Buck" - truth be told, we used a buck but the antlers fell off two days before the scene was scheduled and I told the Cinematographer to make sure that he shot the dear in-between branches so not to point out the fact that it had no antlers........this the support of the critical theory. From the same movie, she mentioned a shot that we put in that had a snake crawling over the dead body of a poacher who had a knife stuck in his throat and her comment was that it was an image of good vs. evil and a statement that supports an underlying theme in horror films. Truth be told: our prop guy had this love for catching critters in the woods while we were shooting and he caught a snake and showed it to me. I asked David DeShay, who was the poacher with the knife in his throat, if he would let us have the snake crawl over his body as he laid dead cause I thought it would be cool. David was more afraid of the snake than he was of the knife in his throat but he did it. And this the shot of good vs. evil....so in other words....I leave the notion of whether it was a post-bicentennial Americana backlash up to the critical studies folks who will spend decades pondering over the subject as if it was the Kabala. (Sorry for such a long story)

Q: (Chris The Dog): Could you please tell us some of the things that made this relevant to the 1979 audience? (For those of us that were too young at the time to remember what the headlines were.) Where was the science of cloning at the time?

A: (R. Fiveson): Cloning had happened and that’s all. The rest was hand writing on the wall. Not an if – but a when in my book. The little documentary he watches that explains cloning – no one knew what to write – I wrote it.

A: (M. Schreibman): The film that was used in the movie to demonstrate cloning was actual footage that we acquired from a federal agency, so the experimentation was there. We got the images (of cell replication) from a source (a government source in the sciences) and along with other images that we shot; we created the dialogue that you hear. And, by the way, as I recall, the literary agent who introduced Robert and I to each other which began the journey does the narration. So you see, the entire project was an "in house" production so to speak!
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Q: (Dr. Forrester): For anybody that wants to be a movie director, what advice would you give them?

A: (R. Fiveson): Talent is something you better have when you get your break – but talent alone will not get you your break. I did Clonus and then was never offered another movie. I wrote a few scripts, that I was paid to do - or which I came up with and that were optioned…but nothing more. It’s a fickle game. Apparently you can fall upward - I didn’t.

A: (M. Schreibman): Go with your dreams and passions.

Q: (Dr. Forrester): Like Clonus there are many "socially concious" science fiction films our there like Brazil, Minority Report, A Clockwork Orange, Blade Runner - what are your favorites? Did any of them influence the way you shot Clonus?

A: (R. Fiveson): Brazil is one of my faves, funny you mention that one because I heard an interview with Terry Gilliam today and it made me realize how much I like that film. Requiem For A Dream is awesome, Cemetery Man is the weirdest ever, Raging Bull, Moulin Rouge (in the tradition of Fellinni). Ever see Sundays and Cybelle? There are a LOT of really great films, too many to list. The first Matrix - 2001 A Space Oydessy (which I saw for the first time tripping). Apocalypse Now.

A: (M. Schreibman): I cant speak for Robert, but Clockwork Orange is one of my favorites and of course my mentor in the business (the guy I worked with for ten years) is a legend in science fiction and it is from him that I learned to really love the fantasy of it and the possibility that it might happen.......His name was Jack Arnold and he did such films as INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN and CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, and IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE.....all of which Spielberg in one way or another has created an homage to in his own work.

Q: (Dr. Forrester): Who are your favorite movie directors? What are some of your all-time favorite movies?

A: (R. Fiveson): Scorcese has to be a genius.

A: (M. Schreibman): Spielberg is a great storyteller indeed.......one of the best and for me anything directed by Scorsese and Coppola is superb (well almost anything) And without a doubt Godfather, Apocalypse, It's a Wonderful Life, Singing in the Rain, and an entire slew of wonderful pictures are all my favorites.

Q: (Dr. Forrester): In the current Hollywood system, do you think that making truthful, good and interesting films is now close to impossible?

A: (R. Fiveson): Close to, but not impossible. Depends on who you are.

A: (M. Schreibman): Not at all...and they do it all the time. The key is not the making of them...the key is in the marketing of them.

Q: (Dr. Forrester): I heard that uncompromising directors who want to have final cut and full artistic control will never make as much money or get their film seen near as much as a director that works directly under a studio, is that true?

A: (R. Fiveson): NO, it just happens infrequently because to get to that point you have to have made some mega hits to earn the juice that allows it. Then again there are the flukes like Altman or Stone…

A: (M. Schreibman): Don't know...sometimes they do it for a studio.

Q: (siamesesin): Mr. Fiveson, we're all with you on this!

A: (R. Fiveson): Thanks, I feel it and am honored to be among you (even if pierced through with a million barbs from the robots).

Q: (siamesesin): As a native Nebraskan, I was interested in your documentary on Johnny Carson. How were you originally approached to do this? Any interesting memories?

A: (R. Fiveson): An ex girl friend was his development girl (D Girl in Hollywood) and she knew I had the chops.

The best part for me was when I went to his boyhood home and walked the location. I ran into a shoe store that had a fireworks museum behind a curtain in a back room. That was weird! Then there was the mother who heard we were there and came to the motel with her twin daughters who wore frilly dresses and tap danced for the Producer and me – in our room! That was even weirder (they got in the show but boy was that weird). It was one of those moments where the smile is frozen on your face so hard your face hurts.

Q: (Detective Mitchell): Were you approached about involvement in the Mondo Macabro DVD?

A: (R. Fiveson): Yes, they sought me out.

Q: (Detective Mitchell): What attracted you to Clonus?

A: (R. Fiveson): It was a great idea and unlike anything I had ever seen before and seemed within reach as a project that could be done as an indy.

Q: (M. Schreibman): I believe I answered this in a previous question

A: (Detective Mitchell): Any tips for shooting on a low budget?

Q: (R. Fiveson): Do as much as you can in pre production. Think it through and have a back up plan (or a cover set in case of bad weather). Feed the crew well and move FAST. Have people onboard who know what the hell they are doing.

A: (M. Schreibman): Sure do...I have a lot of tips: In fact I am known for spending a quarter and making it look like $2.50 on screen, I wrote a book on how to do it as well......which is already posted here. And I teach a course at UCLA (brick and mortar and on line) in how to do it. But most importantly, you need to know a couple of major factors:
1. Is being able to make the shoe fit the foot when you need to. That is to say, you have to be able to make adjustments for specific criteria that you are faced with: those adjustments can be in the script or in any phase of the pre production, production or post production process you might run into.
2. Understand the positive side of the concepts of "relationships and egos." If you understand that and know how and what they mean to the independent low budget production you can achieve many amazing things.
3. And remember there is no substitution for pre production. Narrative projects are made in the pre production phase and what you don't do in pre production will affect you in production and what you don't do in production will affect you in post production.....so do it right by preparing the project the right way. These are some basic tips for shooting any kind of project....but certainly projects made on an "efficiency" budget!
Q: (pumafan): When we discuss how much it costs to make a movie, what are the biggest expenses? Film/processing, salaries, product placements? Were you over-budget, on-target, resourceful and responsible?

A: (R. Fiveson): We were on budget and I think even slightly under (the genius of Myrl Schreibman, pure and simple). Biggest expense is down time. Whenever you are moving the crew or eating lunch you are not making your film.

A: (M. Schreibman): Clonus was on budget. And on time and in so doing we were always on target, always resourceful and above everything else, Robert and I were totally responsible and we made sure that we surrounded ourselves with people who believed in the same ethics that we had. When thinking back to our making of Clonus I am reminded of the Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney pictures when they had to put on a show and did whatever they had to do to drive forward with their passion. We were like Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland (I don’t know who was who however) and the atmosphere during the project had the same infectious atmosphere and quick thinking and problem solving while keeping the creativity (for the picture) intact that we loved in those movies. So when we finally saw the finale, we not only felt good about the show, but the heroes who made it.

Q: (The Gesture Professor): Along with the "flaming crotch" scene, one of the biggest unintentional funny moments in Parts is when Jeff Knight says "Sure!" in the dopiest voice you can imagine. In the MST3K episode, the Brains laugh quite hard at this, mock it many times afterward, and even use it as the closing "stinger". So, ummm...any thoughts on this moment?

A: (M. Schreibman): I don't remember the scene.....maybe we should put one in intentionally!

A: (R. Fiveson): Yes - stick a fork in me.