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An Interview with Jon Kondelik, Co-Director of Airplane vs Volcano

by Mike Haberfelner

May 2014

Films directed by Jon Kondelik on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Airplane vs Volcano - in a few words, what is it about?


It's about a commercial airliner that gets trapped within a ring of erupting volcanoes. The pilots are dead and the plane is stuck on auto-pilot in a constant loop. What do you do? 


Why an airplane? Why a volcano? And what were your inspirations when writing Airplane vs Volcano?


Haha. Well, the title didn't come from us. That came from Asylum. All of their films are pre-sold with a title and poster. This was no different. We originally passed on writing, but when we found out no one could make it work longer than a scene, haha. So we turned to each other and asked "How would we do it in our voice and still enjoy it?" The more we talked the more we had fun with it. Our main inspiration was we joked saying, "It's Speed, but in the air!" Other inspirations derived from Tony Scott films and the disaster films from the 70's. We even have some references to the original Airplane comedy.


What can you tell us about the writing process as such, and what was your collaboration with your brother James like?


The writing process from inception to shooting was 9 months. Most of it was waiting on notes, but my brother and I get along very well with each other. That's not to say we aren't honest. If something isn't working we'll let the other know. Not to mention having to write not just for ourselves, but we have to get the approvals of 5 other opinions (all of which have their own idea of what the film should be). It can be challenging at times, but we try to remain patient. We look at notes as a healthy challenge and ask ourselves, "How can I do this note, but make something that we'll like too?" A lot of those times, the film improves into a much better place than it was before.


With Airplane vs Volcano being a disaster movie, is that a genre at all dear to you?


Who isn't in love with this genre? Especially the classics like Airport '75, Earthquake, The Towering Inferno or The Poseidon Adventure. They're all crazy, but they present that "What if?" question and ask "How would people act in a situation like this?" It allows for some fun opportunities!


How would you describe your directorial approach to your subject at hand - and how do you and your brother complement one another in the director's chair?


We approached the film with one thing in mind--don't stop moving! The energy needs to be high as well as the intensity. There's always danger at every moment. Never are they out of the woods. So we wanted constant tension and suspense on both the plane and military base. My brother and I handle different areas of directing. James handles the technical side and I handle the performance, however, we do cross-over at times.


Do talk about the effects work on Airplane vs Volcano for a bit, and how much creative influence did you have on that aspect of your movie?


Biggest challenge is the VFX. On a film that's Michael Bay expectations, but we're only given 100 VFX shots that's when we start to get a little creative. What was nice was the VFX dept and our VFX supervisor Sasha Burrow were very excited to work on this. We were as specific as we could be with what we wanted and they delivered it in spades! We gotta hand it to these guys and gals, having very little time to do these shots is impressive! Many people don't know how insane The Asylum is, but the VFX dept probably has a month to complete a film (if they're lucky). So there's no one else we respect more than our VFX team.


Your movie being produced by The Asylum - what was your collaboration with the studio like, how big was their influence on the finished product?


Collaborating with a studio is very much like a marriage. Both partners have to hear each other out and in this case let's say the studio is the wife in the relationship. The saying "Happy wife, happy life" definitely comes into play. You have to pick your battles. Not insinuating that our relationship was a battlefield of course.


Your cast features two quite stellar leads, Dean Cain and Robin Givens - so why exactly them, how did you get them, and what was it like working with them?


The studio handles the star casting and we have our fingers crossed. Thankfully, we got Dean and Robin both of whom were absolutely amazing to work with. Dean is awesome, hilarious, brought his pilot's knowledge to the character and above all patient. Robin is the sweetest woman ever. You could tell she was having a blast! After a take of spouting out all this science-jargon she'll erupt into laughter. She even approached us and told us how much she loved seeing us having fun! That made our week and then some!


Do talk about the rest of your cast for a bit, and why exactly these people?


Our cast was great! Couldn't have asked for a better cast! Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs brought the intensity we wanted for Air Marshall Jim Kirkland (reference to Cpt. Jim Kirk) and a sense of cool! This man could've been (and was supposed to be) Shaft! Tamara Goodwin as Rita nailed it! She came in on her first day and blew us away crying her eyes out! Morgan West is fantastic as SPC. Tully. Just being around him prompted everyone else to bring their A-Game! Definitely leading man material! Matt Mercer as Landon is a guy who can naturally be funny (some of my favorite lines are his), be heroic and bring on the drama! Love this guy! Anthony Marks is a badass as Frank! The only guy with the balls to go out onto to a wing of a plane and unclog an engine! There are so many to point out. This film is overloaded with talent.


What can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


The on-set atmosphere was one word--fun. We always wanted to keep the set easy-going, confrontational, and above all else--creative. Studies show that being positive affects your environment. This was true for our set. Everyone saw us having fun and wanted to vdo a top-notch job just to watch us jump out of our chairs cheering! (happened on many occasions)


With the film only about to be released - anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception so far?


We, including the cast, crew, VFX dept (true critics!), are enormously proud of this BIG little film. We tried to entertain and have people hanging in suspense as well as ground this crazy film with some humanity. I think people can easily judge what we didn't do, in response I challenge them to judge us on what this film did do.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


Sure. James directed a film solo while I was getting married back in December. It's an alien film called, Age of Tomorrow, that is balls to the wall nuts! I looked at the 8 act and said, "Holy Christ, there's a major climax at the end of every act!" That comes out June 10th to DVD and VOD! Recently, we've departed from The Asylum to work on other features. We just produced our first feature under our production company, Dual Visions. The film is titled, The Divine Tragedies a.k.a. Blood Brothers. We have some great horror names in this one like: Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead, Devil's Rejects), Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, You're Next), Sean Whalen (People Under the Stairs, Twister), and Lynn Lowry (Shivers, The Crazies). I encourage everyone to look us up on Facebook for all of the film's updates. We'll be taking the film to festivals soon. Then, we have a few other projects in the works that we'll write and direct.


What got you into filmmaking in the first place?


Loving to watch movies is the main suspect. Our films are mixes of the films we loved growing up. There are still so many stories to tell.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Airplane vs Volcano?


James comes from an editing background and I come from a casting background. We've worked on nearly 20 features at the studio. We wrote our first feature A House is not a Home that was produced back in 2012. That paved the way to getting hired on Airplane vs Volcano.


How would you describe yourselves as directors?


We're fun, easy going, always laughing and smiling, but we also have that dark side no one can see. No one, but us.


Filmmakers who inspire you?


Sam Raimi # 1. Evil Dead is so damn inspiring! It has burned a permanent impression in both of our minds. We have so many inspirations. But this is the one worth mentioning.


Your favourite movies?


Evil Dead, Jaws, Indiana Jones, Halloween, The Thing, Robocop, Conan the Barbarian, Terminator, Tremors, Deep Rising, and Nightmare on Elm Street to name a few.


... and of course, films you really deplore?


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We always say you'll never know a movie's good unless you've seen the bad ones. Our new favorite bad movie is Miami Connection. Huge fans of the genius that is that film! The songs are great!


Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?


The Kondelik Brothers website

The Kondelik Brothers Facebook page

The Kondelik Brothers Twitter

The Divine Tragedies Facebook page


Anything else you are dying to tell us and I have merely forgotten to ask?


Gotta pee.


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
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Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


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Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
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Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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directed by
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written by
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