Interviews

Published on September 18th, 2014 | by gareth

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Don Thacker Talks Motivational Growth

 

Video game aficionados will be familiar with both the name and skill, but it’s only recently that that film fans have caught up. Don Thacker enters Level 2 of his career game, as the captain on the madcap flick Motivational Growth.

How long of a journey has this been for you from script to screen?

The script was written over three weeks at the end of August, 2010. It premiered in February of 2013. I am super not mathy, so I’m going to say two and a half years. Also, I’m pretty mathy. I

math all the time. No joke. Gimme’ a math and I’ll math the frell out of it. It feels like the weird singularity between no time at all and a few thousand millennia depending on the specific question, though. Quite a ride.

 

When did the distributor get onboard? Was it a tough sell?

Devolver, our VOD partner, sniped MG right off the bat. They were on it. They loved it and contacted me. I’d already had a relationship with Devlover Digital for my work in the game space, and it was a nobrainer. They are amazing, and I am proud that Motivational Growth is part of their library now. I sold to them during our first screening. For IndieCan, our Canada VOD/DVD/BluRay partner, the story is something out of a storybook.

We showed to an amazing crowd at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival in Autumn of 2013 and I did this ridiculously long and totally raucous Q&A after which I flew out of the theater and was introduced to the head of IndieCan who did a handshake deal with me right there. It was one of those moments that makes you think you slipped on an ice patch somewhere outside of Detroit and are in a coma dreaming up the best way things could ever go in life. Well, maybe that’s not something you’d think up, but I sure did.

For our North American DVD/BluRay partner we went with Parade Deck, the principles I met during that same Toronto After Dark festival. We had poutine together, which is like Canadian blood brothers, even though only one of them is Canadian and the other one’s from Portland.

They rock the party that rocks the bahday.

 

Do you have to be a fan of horror to make a movie like this?

No. It’s not even a horror movie! I mean, look at the IMDB genres! There’s “dark comedy”: check. “Drama”: sure. “Fantasy”: uhhuh, totally. No horror. It’s not even there. That’s IMDB. That’s not some thing that just anyone can contribute to, you know. I mean, I’m totally the one who put those genres up there, but that’s not the point. Actually, that’s exactly the point. It’s a movie. There’s some drama. There’s some horror. There’s some blood. There’s some vomit. There’s a talking mold. That’s every movie, though. It’s basically Michael Mann’s “Heat” with Jeffrey Combs instead of Tom Sizemore, and I think that’s a film we can all get behind. Woah, what if we’d included Kevin Gage? Not as any of the current characters, but as Waingro?

Oh my god, guys. Waingro. Every movie needs more Waingro.

It’s basically “The Golden Child” with a talking fungus instead of Sardo Numspa. Like, if you took “Robocop 2” and replaced Tom Noonan with Jeffrey Combs. Woah. Tom Noonan was also in“Heat.” Oh my god, guys, he was also in Michael Mann’s “Manhunter”, which is basically the greatest movie ever. Except for Paul Verhoven’s “Robocop”. Do you like movies? Me too. I made a movie for your face.

 

Who are some of your filmmaking influences here?

I want to be super pretentious but I don’t know if it’s more pretentious to tell you a list of obscure filmmakers that you need to look up while I grin smugly and crack a PBR or if it’s super more pretentious to tell you I’m a force of effing nature and everything I do is super original. I grew up in the 80s. And the 90s. I watched 80s movies. Sometimes they were 90s movies. If you made a movie in the 80s and 90s and it was about robots or love or aliens, or Aliens, or robot love aliens, and Jeffrey Combs was in it, I watched it. MG is basically “Dr. Mordrid” where we replaced Brian Thompson with Brian Thompson and asked Dolf Lundgren a physics question over a bowl of chashu ramen while initiating the Death Blossom.

I’m sure there are influences. If you see one, it’s probably that. You got me. I’m exactly who you think I am, but we replaced Nancy Allen with Busta Rhymes.

 

The film is getting a traditional DVD release, but do you believe we’ll see

more and more films going VOD in the future?

I see what you did there. Tricky text file. You tried to imply that MG is somehow riding the dinosaur of vestigial media when in fact MG is JUMPING OFF OF THE DINOSAUR! In fact, that dinosaur is anthropomorphic. It has guns. And a saucer. A DINOSAUCER. We’re doing BOTH. We’re making discs for collecters, enthusiests and my mom. Everyone else gets hot, fresh VOD for their entire faces. We’re riding the line, man, and we ain’t gonna stop until we cross the border at sunrise with the top down and the windows up. The future is VOD. You can quote me on that, mostly because it’s an actual quote I just made just now in writing. I have a dream, and that dream is Delta City. And the citizens of Delta City only watch VOD. You have twenty seconds to comply.

 

Is there a sequel to Motivational Growth in the idea stage?

I so super wish. We’re in post right now (Sept, 2014) on a scifi horror film that’s basically

Michael Mann’s “Heat” but we’ve made all of the characters Waingro and Tom Noonan isn’t in it, but he’s totally in “Wolfen”, so it’s all good. It’s basically “Wolfen”, but it’s under water and also in space. You’ll love it.

If we did make a sequel to MG, we’d get Jeff Combs back. I can promise you that. I mean, I can’t promise you that we’d be able to get him back for it, but I can totally promise you that we’d get him back for it. It’s in the cards. I’ve tapped those cards for mana and I’m summoning Jeffrey

Combs to the battlefield.

MG is basically “Magic: The Gathering” where we replaced Island cards with that girl who played

“Lex” in “Jurassic Park” and it’s a Linux system. She knows this.

 

Many indie filmmakers have to wear other hats or work other jobs to make ends meet between films. What do you do?

I run Imagos Films, a Seattle based indie film studio. We make movies for a living. We have a

secret weapon, though: Video games. I make minimovies (some people call them “commercials”, but those people are jerks) for upcoming games. Imagos makes them for a wide variety of awesome clients, like Frictional Games, Adult Swim Games, Sony, XGen Games and a huge host of indies. We actually got the feature we’re in postproduction on right now from those gigs.

I also make video games themselves. I’m currently the lead writer on “Upsilon Circuit” for Robot

Loves Kitty, the lead writer on an as yet unannounced title from XGen Studios and am working with Rocketcat Games on an awesome game where [redacted], which is really cool if you think about it, and you can even [redacted]. Can you even imagine that? I mean, what other game lets you [redacted] with a [redacted] while your [redacted] with a [redacted]? Mind blowing. It’s basically “HalfLife 3” where we’ve replaced Morgan Freeman with Billy Zane, wrapped the whole thing in cellophane, poured Burple all over it and threw it from an ornithopter in deference to our master of the sand, Shai Hulud. Walk without rhythm, Mr. Text File. You mustn’t fear.

*Yes, I know that it’s not Morgan Freeman in HalfLife.That was a joke, and Martin Freeman is a

fine actor.


About the Author

Syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. His work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site and publication “Skewed and Reviewed”.He has three books of film, game reviews and interviews published and is a well-received and in demand speaker on the convention circuit. Gareth has appeared in movies and is a regular guest on a top-rated Seattle morning show.He has also appeared briefly in films such as “Prefountaine”, “Postal”. “Far Cry”. and others. Gareth is also an in-demand speaker at several conventions and has conducted popular panels for over two decades.



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