Interview: Jimmy Lee Combs (Director of Hans Crippleton: Talk To The Hans)

Intervews, Interview

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Don’t let the good looks fool you, folks.  Jimmy Lee Combs is one sick, twisted man, and his debut feature Hans Crippleton: Talk To The Hans proves it.  However, under his production company Heart And Fire Productions, he has unleashed a number of short films prior which have showcased an independent filmmaker with diversity, versatility, talent and passion.  From a personal standpoint, I haven’t been this excited by an indie talent since Travis Betz, and just like him, Justin is unique and difficult to pigeonhole.  With Hans Crippleton: Talk To The Hans, his first full feature length, he’s certainly made a statement and it’s sure to tickle the taste buds of those who appreciate bad taste.  Whether you love or hate Hans, I feel confident in saying there’s nothing else like it in the annals of cinema history.

Anywho, not only is Jimmy an exciting rising talent, but he’s a really cool dude as well: not only is he down-to-earth and willing to talk with fans, but he was also up for giving this one an interview.  So be sure to check it out as we discuss Hans, upcoming projects, 3 breasted alien women and more.  Enjoy.

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1) Hey Jimmy, thank you for taking the time out to do this interview with me. So, the first thing I’d like to know is how you did you and Kevon meet and start working together?

Thank you Kieran for having us, it’s an absolute pleasure! Kevon and I met on a previous short film of mine “Reign of the Vampire” in which Kevon played the villain vampire Lucian. As I got to know Kevon early on, he told me he does SFX and animatronics as well. I had seen a demo video of Kevon working on an animatronic spider prior to his casting and was like “Oh yeah, I remember seeing your demo video, it was totally awesome!”. So we got to talking and Kevon was kind enough to provide some SFX for Reign of the Vampire as well as his acting talents. I filmed some of his spider animatronic work for another project he was working on. This all lead to Hans Crippleton: Talk to the Hans.

2) As you already know I loved Hans Crippleton: Talk To The Hans, but if a 3 breasted alien woman came to Earth and asked you what it was about, how would you describe it to her?

Thank you so much, your review is insanely awesome! The Hans loves you too, he wants to shake your hand (with his little hand of course). Well, first I’m gonna wish I had three hands! Then I would describe the film as a outrageous horror zombie that could totally be from the planet she is from and ponder how the hell she hasn’t seen it yet. I would continue to describe it as a traveling horror show called Horror Hunts has picked up on the backwoods inbred Crippleton family as the subject of their next episode. Focusing on the tiny handed and hump backed haunted house connoisseur Hans Crippleton, they follow him during his rise and fall from fame, they also find themselves in for much more than they bargained for when they uncover the mystery behind the Crippleton’s zombie curse that has plagued the family farm for generations. Our film is pretty unique and disturbing like this lovely three breasted alien you speak of lol.

3) I love the movies sense of humor. It pushes the envelope in a hilarious, but harmless way. I never got the impression that you were going for shock tactics because it was handled in a way that was genuinely witty, funny and ridiculous. Hans is totally silly, outrageous and gross, but it’s also smartly satirical and unhesitant about taking a few jabs at political correctness. How have audiences responded to it so far?

Audiences have responded extremely well to our film and the Hans! We posted production stills from day 1 so our audience knew the kind of offensive content we were shooting and that we were not going to be politically correct in any sense of the word but like you said in a harmless way. We never took ourselves seriously for a moment and it always cracks Kevon and I up the handful of haters (This is where the Facebook Monster originated from in the film lol) out their who take this content so seriously and get butt hurt… uh oh, was that politically incorrect to say lol. The audience we’re reaching out to totally gets our film and appreciates the dark humor and satire. It’s not for those who are PC and being the PC world we live in today, the Hans is more relevant than ever. We love our fans and absolutely thrilled that they enjoy the politically incorrect humor of our film and have fun with it.

4) Who are some your film influences and what are some of your favorite movies?

Martian Scorsese, Brian De Palma, Oliver Stone, David Fincher, Sam Raimi, Jim Jarmusch, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento, George Romero, Nicolas Winding Refn, John Woo and Chan-wook Park to name a few. My all time favorite movies are the Rocky films with Sylvester Stallone. Also: Oldboy, Once Upon a Time in the West, Clerks, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Lucio Fulci’s Zombie, Dawn of the Dead (original), Evil Dead, Army of Darkness, Message in a Bottle (I admit, I enjoy some romance flicks), Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, Bronson, Casino and Goodfellas to name a few.

5) As independent filmmakers you must face a lot of difficult challenges, but it also means you can retain creative control and make some weird movies. Did you face any difficult challenges when making Hans? Also, how do you feel about independent film right now? Is it in a good state?

I would say one of the biggest challenges on Hans was early on dealing with the Colorado weather in winter. We were shooting some zombie scenes in Bennett, CO and it was SO fucking cold… I seriously had to keep going back to my car and warming my hands up so that I wouldn’t drop the camera from my hands freezing. Extras would take shelter in set pieces on location to keep warm and the wind made it extremely difficult for our SFX artists to apply make up to extras. We were out in the middle of nowhere. So our zombies for those scenes did not look as polished as in other scenes. But we improvised and added that into our story calling them “fresh zombies” since their make up wasn’t as elaborate like the others. Another challenge as a Cinematographer was shooting in the Crippleton home which was a small tight shed in the back yard of one of our SFX artist’s roommate’s house. It was tough getting compositions but luckily shooting documentary style and handheld helped immensely with that. The creative control like you said makes all the challenges in the world worth it as a independent filmmaker.
I think the state of Independent film is the best it’s ever been! High end cameras can be purchased on the cheap and anyone with a passion and knowledge to make films can do so with ease. And now with VOD/digital services in full effect, a filmmaker can seriously start thinking like a business person from pre-production all the way through to distribution. With iTunes store, Hulu, Vimeo and amazon to name a few, filmmakers have options like never before to choose the platforms they want to sell their film on. With the assistance of an aggregator, getting placement in the iTunes store is incredible exposure for a filmmaker. This also means that now more than ever a filmmaker has to market their own films and build their audience every step of the way (sometimes this can be more challenging than making a film) otherwise you can get lost in the noise. And sure the competition is more fierce since anybody and their brother can make a film with how easily accessible the equipment is and editing software but if you can make a good entertaining film especially one that is marketable, you’ll stand out above the rest that aren’t so good. Honestly, the thing I’m most sad about is that one day soon physical media like DVD will be obsolete with every thing going digital (I love collecting physical media) but this also works to a filmmaker’s advantage for getting your film out there.
6) I really loved the look of the creatures of the creatures and the Crippleton family. I thought Mama in particular looked sexy. Were all of the effects practical?
Thanks, Mama is blushing right now! I would say 95% of the effects were all practical. We used CGI mostly to remove sis’s leg in some scenes, to remove the actor in a green suite controlling Fondle Chomp and some CG blood. We’re pro practical all the way and tried to do as much practical as possible but we absolutely love combining both CGI and practical effects on our films, it’s a great marriage!
7) What’s the concept behind Heart & Fire Productions and how can we support it? 
Heart and Fire Productions believes in the spirit of true Independent film making. Regardless of genre, our focus is on the key ingredients of any good film: story, characters and entertainment. It’s our vision to make movies that audiences can identify with and that have an emotional impact whether it is happy, sad, scared or a combination. With our talented SFX team, we emphasize the use of practical effects but believe in the marriage of both practical and CGI with today’s technology to deliver the ultimate viewing experience to our audience.
Please visit our website www.heartandfireproductions.com and our Hans Crippleton: Talk to the Hans movie website www.hanscrippletonmovie.com feel free to subscribe to our e-newsletter for exclusive content and more. We greatly appreciate the support.
8) The Crippleton’s are a family who I believe could find mischief anywhere. Are there any sequel plans for our favorite inbred hillbillies?
You betcha man, we all had such an amazing and fun time on the first film that it would be a crime not to bring the gang back for another round of boozin’ and floozin’ not to mention a hefty dose of Cripple Pickles. This film has seriously been the best experience of my film career and I would be on board in a heart beat for a sequel. In the mean time we’re doing a web series that builds on the Hans Crippleton universe. We shot our first webisode this past Christmas called Crippleton Christmas Crashers which can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/LdehT_kjjZg and more to come will be posted on www.hanscrippletonmovie.com
9) Are there any other future projects you have planned that you can tell us about?
Absolutely! Our next feature film we’re in pre-production now and scheduled to shoot this summer. “Spirit Reckoning” will be a supernatural, action, horror, western. I’m billing it as Sergio Leone meets John Woo meets the horror genre. We have a couple name horror actors that are interested and would absolutely love to work with them! You can check out our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/spiritreckoning After Spirit Reckoning we have a psychological horror thriller planned which will be a 80’s throw back film. Here is the log line:  “An 80s video store owner escapes the wrath of a vicious serial killer. Years later, on the brink of the digital video revolution, his video store is on the verge of closing. However, he has bigger problems when the serial killer returns!”
10) Lastly, when do you expect the rest of the world can see Hans Crippleton: Talk To The Hans?
So we’re hitting the festival circuit this year and really hope to make a splash and be honored to win any awards. We’re seeking a traditional distribution deal but our plan B to self distribute will ensure that the Hans is spread world wide like a Z.T.D. So I would say end of this year if not sooner.