Friday, May 11, 2012

Damn You Invisible Chicken! - Talking w/Rikk Wolf

Hey Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans, what riffing show do you plan on spending your excess disposable income this week? No, there isn't a new Shout! Factory release this week that you forgot about (that's in July). I'm talking about a brand new release of Incognito Cinema Warriors XP; it's the modern riffing show that you've been missing in your fragile little life. I'll have a review of the episode next week. Today I've got a special treat for you ICWXP fans: an interview with the man behind the metal magic, Rikk Wolf!

Q: How did you decide to make the leap from riff show fans to professional riffers extraordinaire?

I’ll let you know when and if we do, ha ha!

We got our start pretty simply. After binging on every MST3k episode I could get my mitts on, I started checking out the fan content floating around online. There were actually a few fan-made episodes I discovered which were produced ages ago under the MST3k name with Tom & Crow replicas and someone playing Mike. I was surprised to find that kinda thing has been going on since before MST3k went off the air!

I had a video camera, studio space, a green screen and some hilarious friends and thought it’d be a blast to get in on the fun, but to put my own spin on it - just for one episode. I love zombies, Mega Man, MST3k and heavy music. So there you have ICWXP.

It was done just for fun thinking virtually no one would see it, but after putting it online and getting a massive response, it was clear a fan base could be built if we really put our backs into it and honed our craft.

Before our second episode even dropped, we’d heard from hundreds of people and even Rifftrax. A few years later and thanks to incredible fan support, the show’s being seen in theaters after screenings of MST3k episodes. It’s overwhelming.

Q: You've got a popular show, you're part of a band; what do you do for an encore? And what does a member of CORPS do for a real life living?

Freelance graphic design, mostly! It’s definitely a battle to make ends meet with the financial burden of producing an online television show, but I manage. I make flyers for bands and promoters and the occasional album cover. I only occasionally get my legs broken by loan sharks.

Q: What's your favorite host segment from MST3K? (or perhaps, which ones have been most influential on ICWXP's sensibilities?)

That’s a tough one. My favorite episode is “The Final Sacrifice”, so probably one of its segments. If I had to choose one as inspiration for ICWXP, probably the one in which Tom Servo delivers his Canadian Pride song from the same episode. No, we don’t hate Canada (though we’re no fans of Nickelback) but the vibe there is something I’d hoped to capture - puppets being inappropriate.

Q: I've described ICWXP to people as a "Heavy Metal, Zombie Apocalypse MST3K", most for ease of analogy. How would you better describe it in just one sentence?

Grown men playing with puppets in a barn? Some of our fans have taken to saying “It’s MST3k for Metal Heads” or “Resident-Mega-MST”. The show’s definitely a tossed salad mash up. I’d say either works well.

Q: What is the real life theater you're using for the exterior shots of the Cine-A-Sorrow?

That’s a real-deal abandoned Dickinson theater in North Kansas City that’s been collecting dust for over a decade now. I actually saw movies there when I was a kid. I never thought of it until recently, but there really is an abandoned theater just a few minutes from where I live. Seems it was meant to be.

It’s a rather mysterious building, tucked away behind a closed down Best Buy, tucked away behind a dying mall with a closed down theater inside and flanked by yet another defunct theater across the road. Abandoned theater alley, that part of the city.

The owners are impossible to reach, probably because it’s slated for demolition. If I had the money I’d buy the place, set up ICWXP shop there and show cult films while producing the show.

Q: You seemed to have switched up formats from season one to season two, with one being a more traditional riffing show (short, full length film with wrap around host segments) to a more live action comedy show with a short film being riffed in the middle. What prompted this shift?

Many factors. Mostly, it’s a time & budget thing. Producing a quality riff of a 20 minute short film is much less time consuming than an hour and a half movie. The show was struggling greatly financially between releases because of the long production times that were a result of being understaffed and overworked. With the shorter format, we can get new episodes out faster and manage to not go broke between them, though we still do rely greatly on fan donations. Some of our core cast was uncertain if they would be able to continue devoting the time it took to work on a full length when the decision was made, as well. There was concern about the show having to take a dirt nap for awhile unless we shortened it down or recast people. We chose to shorten. We hate recasting.

Q: What's the fan reaction been like to that shift and do you plan to keep the new format or move back to something akin to season one?

It went over much better than I personally thought it would, but I can be a worrier. I was up at night thinking there’d be riots in the streets and ICWXP DVDs burning on front lawns. Turns out a few of ourloyal fans politely suggested we offer a little more theater time in the new formula, and starting with Episode 203 that’s exactly what we’ve done. That said, people generally seem to smile a little more now that we have something new to digest out faster.

Season 2 will wrap up with at least one full length episode. Budget allowing, the live action segments will be pretty epic, but of course imbued with sarcastic silliness and goofy characters at every turn.

Q: If you could riff any one film without worrying about rights issues, what would that film be?

Easy! Zardoz. Sean Connery in thigh highs? The riffs will write themselves.

Q: I'll admit that I've only recently come into the ICWXP fold. So tell me: what's the deal with Topsy's ever changing voice (or instead my "perception" of his voice)?

The show’s always been charity work, and with that
sometimes comes great uncertainty. No one has network contracts forcing them to appear for a number of episodes, so people are free to come and go as they please, or if we so chose to stop asking them back for one reason or another. Nick Evans (the new voice of Topsy) has bent over backwards for the show time and time again and I’m happy to finally have someone we can absolutely trust at the helm with that character who loves the show and is a pleasure to work with.

Q: I've seen Mike Nelson's quote about ICWXP already; have you gotten any other feedback from former MST3K alum?

We have, actually. They had very nice things to say as well as some constructive criticisms. I’m not at liberty to reveal whom, however (sorry!). The MST cast alumni are some truly unique and amazing people. I’d like to one day meet them all, shake their hands and thank them for changing my life (thusly causing a pitying stare and vigorous hand washing after I leave).

Q: What are you most proud of in Episode 202?

Probably the segment involving Soapy after the short film. That was a real collaborative effort and everyone’s ideas came together to produce a scene that seems to both disturb and cause laughter. I really love the current team we have on the show now.

Thanks again to Rikk Wolf from ICWXP for taking the time answering my questions. Take a long, loving gander at the clip below for a taste of the madness and if you're interested in getting you mitts on an episode head here.


1 comment:

  1. Holy shit! This is MST3k on steroids!! Why haven't I heard of these guys before!?!