Gavin Schmitt Interviews Joe Nimziki
Joe Nimziki is a very important, influential man… despite the fact you may first be hearing about him now. He has worked as the president of Worldwide Marketing for New Line Cinema, the executive vice president of Worldwide Marketing for MGM and the vice president of Worldwide Marketing for Sony Pictures, among many other positions. Nimziki is also a highly sought “movie doctor” for the Hollywood studios and has directed dozens of successful rewrites, re-shoots, re-edits, etc. on a variety of large scale productions.
Gavin at Sony Pictures, 2018
Joe has won over one hundred awards for writing and directing including some of the most memorable movie teasers, trailers and commercials of the past 20 years — including the Lord of the Rings, James Bond, and Austin Powers franchises. And now, finally, he is given the top billing he deserves as the director of 'The Howling Reborn', (affiliate link) the relaunch of the classic werewolf franchise.
I had the pleasure to throw some questions at Joe in October 2011 and these are his responses.
GS: I mean this in the most respectful way possible: how did someone with limited film-directing experience get handed such a big franchise?
JN: Well, I always joke I’m the most experienced first time director in the world. Between directing tons of commercials, TV shows (like Outer Limits for Showtime), being a movie doctor (taking over directing/editing troubled films) and being a longtime studio executive I don’t think people in our business see me as being inexperienced. Also, being the writer of the film didn’t hurt my cause for directing either.
GS: Rob Bottin’s special effects in the original remain legendary… were you at all intimidated by that?
JN: No… only because I knew on our budget our film was going to have to succeed without groundbreaking effects… it was going to have to be more character based. My big tip of the hat to Rob was we made a commitment to do all our creatures practical (no CGI) like he did… which I think lends some authenticity to the premise of our film… which is werewolves have entered the city and the very real world (unlike the wilderness in his original).
GS: The biggest criticism the film seems to get is that it uses the “MTV style” or is “Twilight-inspired”. How do you respond to this?
JN: Not really sure what to say about the MTV style thing as the film is so character based. We did a few fun, creative sequences and the story as a whole is briskly paced but I think these are more traditional cinematic devices more than any music video inspired thing. As far as the Twilight comment, I wrote (and registered) this story before there ever was a “Twilight” (book or movie) so it certainly wasn’t influenced by it. The irony is at the time I wrote it everyone was worried that you couldn’t have a love story in a horror film (they wanted something more traditional where wolves just killed off teenagers one by one). Twilight did help us in the sense that after it came out it showed that a love story within the genre could work and probably helped the project move forward.
GS: I absolutely love the soundtrack (particularly Echo and the Bunnymen). How does music influence your creativity and what bands have inspired you?
JN: Great question. The first thing I do when I start a project is make a big playlist of all the songs I could see on the potential soundtrack… and then I write the script while listening. I also played the songs I wanted for the soundtrack on the set as we prepared to shoot each scene to give the cast and crew a sense of the mood. We were so fortunate that all of the artists liked the film so much and gave us their songs for so little since we didn’t have much money. I hope the way we use music in the film is one of the things that separate us from others in the genre and adds a nice layer to our story… a lot of time and care went into it.
GS: The idea that a wolf can kill a wolf… what is the origin of this? And what happens if only one wolf remains (insert Highlander joke here)?
JN: The idea that a wolf can kill a wolf (in addition to the traditional fire and silver) is something I added to the lore for our film. I think every twenty years or so somebody has to add something to keep things interesting and create new story possibilities… plus it just kind of intuitively makes sense to me. And if only one wolf remains… well that is an interesting future story, isn’t it?
GS: Can Landon Liboiron cry on command?
JN: I wouldn’t say on command… but by take two or three we could always get him there. I thought, especially considering how many scenes he had and how rushed we were all the time, Landon did an amazing job.
GS: Where were the bodies from?
JN: The bodies were from the party held late the night before the last day of school. Since the security guard is the only person who would have any reason to go down to that long abandoned part of the campus and he is “in on it” helping out the pack… there’s no reason anyone would know they were down there for those 6 hours the last day of school takes place.
GS: Very cool. Thanks for taking time out for us, Joe.
JN: No problem. Thank you, Gavin.