Brett Piper should need no introduction to those who love independent films. If you like B-movies, practical effects and plain fun to watch movies you can’t go wrong with popping on a Brett Piper movie.
How did you first get into the film business?
I spent a few years trying to raise money for several cheap indie features before finally succeeding with Mysterious Planet around, I don’t know, 1980 or so. Back then it was easier to make monsters movies because you could just hire real dinosaurs. The film made a little bit of money which convinced my backers to finance another one and we were off from there.
Who or what has been your biggest influence on your career?
King Kong and Ray Harryhausen. No question. After that Hammer Films, the old Universal horrors,
Roger Corman, things like that, but those two were the big ones.
For someone who hasn’t seen any of your movies what would you recommend they see first?
I would like to recommend Shock-O-Rama which, as I made it, was my best movie, but unfortunately
the folks at EI cheaped out on the DVD mastering so the version that’s commercially available is pretty poor (although it got mostly good reviews). So I don’t know — Triclops is pretty good for what it is, The Dark Sleep I think is a better movie than it’s given credit for. Hard to say. Outpost Earth came out pretty well but you can’t see it yet!
You use a lot of special effects in your movies which unfortunately don’t get used as much
nowadays. Why do you continue to use stop motion animation? Do you feel if it wasn’t for your use of it, it would become a lost art form?
Doing stop motion animation is one of the reasons I make movies. And it still has quite a big fan base
— I don’t know any other effects technique that has books written about it and websites devoted to it
the way stop-motion does. I figure it’s one of the selling points of my movies and what I’m known for, so there’s no point in stopping now. I think I’m probably making more use of it than anyone else today, at least in terms of live action features, but I certainly don’t think it would die out without me. It is an art form, and as such there will always be people who find it fascinating. The movie industry doesn’t understand this because it doesn’t think in terms of art, only money and trends. So screw ‘em.
What has been your fondest movie of yours to work on?
You mean the one I’ve most enjoyed working on? I have to be honest, making movies is never fun. It’s one big headache start to finish.
You have worked with quite a lot of talent in front of and behind the camera but notably you got to work with Erin Brown a.k.a. Misty Mundae. How did this working relationship come about and would you work with her again?
Making movies with Misty Mundae was a condition of working at EI. One of the first things Mike
Raso asked me when we discussed my shooting a picture there was “It there a part in it for Misty?”
There was, and she’s a good actress, so it was no problem. Screaming Dead was probably my best
experience working with her because, as she put it, she was finally making a “real” movie. But then the novelty wore off and her dissatisfaction with EI grew and the chip on her shoulder got bigger. She had her good days and her bad days, depending on her moods, but by the end EI (or Pop Cinema as it
became) just didn’t want to deal with her anymore. Would I work with her again? Eeeehhhhh —
probably not. I wish her well, I’m still fond of her, but no matter how well things started off sooner or
later I’d want to strangle her.
You manage to make films in quite a short frame of time and on a tight budget. Given the chance of more money what would you make?
Actually most of my movies take quite a while to make. Because the budgets are so low I have to do
practically everything myself and there are only so many hours in a day. If I had more money I’d hire
more people to ease the work load and I’d make movies in a bigger way. I have a few scripts, a
Harryhausen style adventure, a period dinosaur movie, that I’d do if the money were available. I can do a lot with little money but I can’t create jungles where there aren’t any.
In this day of sequels and remakes you are one of the only directors out there that continue to make original material. Would you ever consider a sequel or a remake of any of your films?
I made a sequel just once (Mutant War, a sequel to Battle for the Lost Planet [Galaxy Destroyer]} and I wrote a sequel to Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell called Nymphoid 2: Return to Dinosaur Hell, which never got made. I might do another sequel if it were financially desirable. I can’t say I see that happening.
Your latest film TRICLOPS is more family friendly then your previous films, was this your intention to show that a good story doesn’t have to rely on blood spilling and nudity?
I’ve never been fond of showing a lot of gore, and nudity has become somewhat passe in these type of films. Also it’s hard enough to cast actors around here without worrying about whether they’ll do
nudity. Someone, maybe Brian DePalma, once said “Nudity is the cheapest special effect you can get.” Well, not for me it isn’t!
Do you have any future projects lined up that you can tell us about?
I’ve finished another movie called Outpost Earth, a sort of post alien invasion adventure movie, and
I’m preparing a new one (as yet untitled) about a weird mummy. It’s going to be something simple for a change, which means it won’t take a year and a half to finish the effects!
Interview by Peter ‘Witchfinder‘ Hopkins
We have reviewed plenty of Brett Piper movies and you can find the reviews by clicking the title of the movie below.