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Site created 12/15/97.


page added: 11/12/98



Introduction and Interview with Filmmaker Lance Mungia

Hey there, and welcome to the newest informational (yeah, right) aspect of The Digital Bits: Doogan's Views! The first thing I'd like to do, is thank Bill for letting me be part of The Digital Bits. Many people out there rely on The Bits for honest reviews, the latest news and rumors about DVD, and a little bit of sunshine. Me, I look forward to the sunshine more than anything else, because I love Bill, his wife Sarah, and everything he's doing on all of our behalf. Bill has been a great friend and a strong ally in this world of DVD, and I consider it an honor to be working with him (even though I haven't met his punk ass yet!)

The Digital Bits is everything I want to find in a website focusing on DVD. I read it before I wrote for it, and even though I write for it now, it's the first thing I read on the Internet everyday.

Because of my dedication to this format and the people who support it, I want to make a promise right here and now to everyone who reads this site. We're here for you. We're watchdogs for this medium, and we're watching on your behalf. There are so many things going on behind the scenes, so many titles in the works, and so many titles coming out each week, that it is truly mind blowing.

I first got involved with Bill, so that I could help him beef up his review section -- make it a one-stop for fans, to see if the titles they were eyeing are worth the money. It's a slow go, but Bill and I are hard at work making that happen.

Over the next few months you will see loads of titles being reviewed, all with the same attention to detail that we have given in the past. Like I said, it's a slow go -- but you will start to see a change in the review section within a few weeks time -- with more after that, and after that.

I have to say, that I've gotten a tremendous amount of positive feedback. Not everyone agrees with some of my tastes in film, but most of you know that Bill and I know a good disc from a bad disc, despite whether we like the movie itself. I just want to tell everyone out there, that even though we may not have reviewed a particular title yet, that doesn't mean you have to wait. I've personally viewed most everything that's come out on DVD, as either a snippet or full watch through. If you EVER have a concern about a title before you buy it, drop me a line at todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com. If I have access to the disc, I will let you know in 24 business hours what the deal is. I can't stress more, that The Bits is here for you.

In Doogan's Views, you will find information about special interest discs (that we may not have time to give a full review for), interviews with industry insiders or stars, and reviews of stuff that I think is cool (but may have nothing to do with DVD, like video games, LaserDisc, or cult movies on video tape).

Heck, I might even try and turn you on to a cult film playing in theaters right now. For example, somewhere in America, on this very day, there is a movie playing that everyone should see. It's called Six String Samurai, and it rocks. Yeah, for those of you that have seen it -- it's flawed in a few ways. But based on the pure energy and love of cinema oozing out of this film, it has to be seen. The best thing to compare it to is Evil Dead. It has that sort of energy to it.

Six String Samurai follows the adventures of Buddy. In an alternate world, Buddy Holly is one of the last survivors of a nuclear war between Russia and the US which occurred in the 50s. Everything now has a 50s feel to it. Assassins gear up together like a bowling team, Elvis is the king of the remnants of the US -- which is basically Las Vegas -- and the Cleaver family took their name a little too hard-core, and became a cannibalistic family with an "oh geez" agenda.

Buddy is en-route to "Lost" Vegas to become the new king, seeing as Elvis just kicked the bucket. On the way, he meets a young boy whose mother has just been cut down by a band of crazies. Shruggingly, Buddy (with a samurai sword and six string guitar firmly strapped on) takes the kid under his wing, and they form a bond. As if life wasn't hard enough on the road for these two crazies, what with mad Russians and assorted misfits like the bowlers and Cleaver family, they also have to deal with Death himself. The movie has a strong first half, and an interesting ending. It sort of comes unglued in the third act, but it's also an over-ambitious first film, by an incredibly talented filmmaker named Lance Mungia. It looks like no first time film you have ever seen -- this film is beautiful. If you get the chance to see it in theaters, do it.

But for those of you just wondering if it'll be out on DVD -- the answer is, uh -- well, let me have Lance answer that question. I had the great pleasure of sitting down and talking with Lance, after his film screened at the Midnight Madness portion of the Toronto Film Festival.

Todd Doogan for The Digital Bits : Are you planning anything special for Six String Samurai on DVD?

Lance Mungia: I'm so glad you asked that, because Chris Blackwell (head of Palm Pictures) is really, really excited by DVD. He says it's really the wave of the future and he's very, very excited about the DVD release of Six String -- and I know I'm excited by it because I think we're gonna be able to do a widescreen release. We'll have widescreen on there and commentary.

TD: It has to be every fanboy filmmaker's dream is to do their own commentary track on their DVD.

LM: Yeah, yeah -- it's an amazing thing. You'll be able to do a lot of neat things with it. I'm really gonna kinda, like, pester them and make sure they do a really good job.

TD: Is there lost footage?

LM: Nothing that is not in the film, I think, deserves to be in the film. It's not like I'm gonna come back 10 years from now and say, "Here's the Director's Cut."

TD: So what's going out now is, in your opinion, the Director's Cut.

LM: This is the director's cut. The producers where very cool about pretty much letting me do what I wanted. There was one problem scene, that everyone knew had to be cut down, and we weren't sure how we were gonna do it, and ultimately we cut it. There are a couple of scenes that were missing that I had to cut. One in particular that I really liked, but didn't fit -- the tone just didn't quite fit, was the scene where they were in the underworld, in kinda like the Hell region, and a taxi picks them up. This taxi driver who works in the underworld and takes them to Vegas. It didn't work. There's also a scene that actually kinda explained the world I wanted to create, as seen through a child's eyes. With Six String I really wanted everything to have a child-like quality -- like being in a kid's fantasy or nightmare. One of the things we shot, was when the little kid was grabbed by the spinach monster, he gets pulled underground, and he gets thrown in a cage with a bunch of other little kids. I wanted to model the kid's costumes after pajamas in a way. They were actually men's long johns, that we destroyed. I wanted other little kids to be wearing these pajamas -- tattered pajamas, different kinds, almost like something out of Alice In Wonderland, where all these little kids have fallen asleep somewhere, and were pulled away by the spinach monster and taken here. I thought that would be a really cool thing to do, but when we did it, the execution just wasn't there -- instead of five kids, I had two. We tried to make it the way I wanted it to be, but we didn't -- so I cut it out, and I'm glad that I did. Even though the scene did have some merit.

TD: You still have it, so you could add it as a supplemental . . .

LM: Yeah, but I wouldn't though.

TD: You wouldn't?

LM: If I though it really had merit, I would have fought to have kept it in the film. So I didn't. There's another scene with the Cleaver Family -- that I would never show anyone, no one is ever going to see it -- it's going to be burned, I swear. We didn't have time to do it right, the make-up wasn't right, the lighting wasn't right -- the performances weren't right. So everything that isn't in the film, was cut out for a reason. You can never get everything exactly right the first time, film is a process of going back and rethinking and redoing things and molding and shaping and editing. I would be surprised if a film was shot, edited one time, and it was perfect, and that was the one film everyone loved and enjoyed.

--end--

Check out the official Six String site at: http://www.sixstringsamurai.com -- it'll give a great overview of the film, and show you where you can go to see it's limited (for now) release.

That'll do it for now. Look for more of the same here at Doogan's Views. Coming up, I'll be interviewing DVD wunderkind and Synapse Films head Don May, Jr., we'll be taking an exciting look inside Troma Team Video's madcap world. I'll also give you the inside skinny on an independent film, being shot specifically for DVD, entitled Save Yourself from Atom Boy Filmworks and Microsoft.

Now, go out and buy a DVD player for someone you love.

As always, I'm Doogan, and thanks for reading The Digital Bits.

Editor's Note: Write Doogan at todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com, if you have any ideas for future inside looks, interviews, or you just want to find out how great / crappy a DVD is. He'll write ya back, and if he doesn't -- he's probably dead.


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