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An Interview with Kevin Kopacka, Writer and Director, and H.K. DeWitt, Writer and Star of TLMEA

by Mike Haberfelner

August 2016

Kevin Kopacka on (re)Search my Trash

H.K. DeWitt on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie TLMEA - in a few words, what is it about?


H.K. DeWitt: (sighs) Kevin, you start..


Kevin Kopacka: It's about two undercover cops, caught in a dream during a drug raid, in which they descend down the 9 levels of hell - finally landing in the Ptolomea. The lake of ice on which sinners are forever frozen.


With your movies being about the Circles of Hell, how much research did go into that aspect of your movie, and to what extent is the film actually based on Dante's Inferno?


KK: How about you take this one.


H.K.: Yes, good question. I remember it from school basically. Latin.


KK: I've read Dante's Divine Comedy a long while back, so for writing this I had to fresh up on a lot of it.

I'd say the film is not literally based on Dante's Inferno, there are much better films who already did this (Jigoku for example). It's more of a structural narrative.

While I believe in a lot of things, damnation is not one of them. The hell in our films is the hell you create yourself.  


Other sources of inspiration when dreaming up TLMEA?


KK: For this film, it's honestly hard to say. Before we started shooting, the two films I urged the crew to watch were Kill List (for the atmosphere) and Tales from the Hood (especially for the end). There's also a small Mortal Kombat influence, at least for me. But in general, I couldn't really say what really inspired it. The story kind of developed in the process.


H.K.: Training Day.


What was your collaboration like when writing TLMEA?


KK: H.K. and I met through a mutual friend around 8 years ago and basically share a lot of similar tastes in music and film. He's a writer and journalist, so it was only natural that we'd collaborate on some point.


H.K: As for collaborating, a lot happens from just hanging out together, after the main structure is finished. Blablabla, put that in …. and I would say that no matter who has a certain idea, once we've settled on a basic theme for the film we work through the plot together. And since it's a trilogy, we both have the same basic frame in mind - and we basically already talk about things as if they're finished, even if we're still in development phase. Anything to add? 


KK: Lukas Dolgner (who again did the camera and lights) also helped a lot in the pre production phase. And it's just a lot of fun to work together.


TLMEA has been called a sequel/prequel to your earlier movie Hades - so how are the two movies linked?


H.K.: Well, in the end it's the sequel. It's about the same couple … (long pause)


KK: I'm going to write "long pause". You forgot the question? 


H.K. (laughs) Yes, please write that.


KK. We can make it really meta, if I write down in the interview that I'm going to write down "long pause".


H.K. Amazing!


KK: Ok, we're drifting of ... every time people ask about the plot.


H.K. Do it, it's a great idea.


KK: (laughs) Ok, so just have the answer end with "long pause".


TLMEA isn't exactly linear in its storytelling - so do talk about your movie's narrative approach, and how hard was it to not just lose your story in the process?


H.K. I think we both find it interesting that there's no pressure to tell everything in a narrative way, because the first two parts of the trilogy are a bit more dream-like than the final part. The final part will be - at least the way I see it - set in the real world. In the real here, outside of the dream world.


KK: I agree - the third one will be the most dream-like of the films. (laughs)

I think we both like experimenting with different forms of narration. There are enough movies already out there that follow the same rules of how a film should be structured. Once we started breaking those rules, we had complete freedom to do what we want - narratively as well as stylistically.

But it was actually a big challenge, especially during the edit. The whole order of the scenes is completely different in the final cut than it was in the script. I think there are 12 different edits of the film, most of them are completely different films than the end result. I think the final version is quite well balanced and finally works the way we intended it to.The film is not impossible to understand - all the pieces are there.


What can you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at hand?


KK: Since I edited the film myself, I could kind of guide the shoot in the way I would later want to edit it. But basically I'm very open when directing, everyone can feel free to give suggestions or opinions - so it was a lot of team work.

Coming from painting, of course I still have a visual fetish for a few things that I really wanted to include. On set it became a bit of running joke, that I wanted to force different colored lighting into every scene. I would go: "Hmm .. what about we add just a little bit of red?" and the whole crew would roll their eyes.


Do talk about your cast, and why exactly these people?


H.K.: Philip Grüneisen who plays the boss is an actor I studied with. We were also lucky to get UFO 361. I contacted him when his first single had just come out, we never knew that he would blow up like this afterwards.


KK: Yes, he was very cool to work with. Basically the cast of Hades reprise their roles again and we added a few new people. Anna and Cris Kotzen were as always really easy and great to work with. .

I had worked with Philipp Droste for a short I did called Nobody Can Take Your Place and I saw a stageplay with him and David Garzón Bardua and I could immediately see the two as the cops bullying Nordmann. Frederik von Lüttichau only has a small role in this film, but I will be collaborating with him more often for future projects, he's a very interesting actor. Jonas Hofrichter who plays Anat is a fellow painter and sculptor I studied together with. He's also such a nice and gentle person, a bit strange compared to his menacing looking character in the film. Basically for us it's very important to work with people we get along with on a personal level. That's why the shoots were always so relaxed.  


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


H.K. I think we really did have a "set feeling" this time. Funnily enough even here … where I live. Write in brackets "with here, I mean here*" (*With "here" H.K. is referring to his flat, which we used for the raid scenes during the shoot.) 

And you'd have people ringing, quite early at around 9am, coming up with their coffee to go, get dressed … the kitchen was full of warderobe. It had a bit of … flavor.


KK: I really enjoyed the shoot, it was all very harmonious. We never felt really stressed, everything worked out as planned. I don't know, should we mention that we were pretty stoned most of the time? 


H.K. I was quite drunk for some scenes. In the final scene with me in the back of the car with Iman, you can clearly see it. It was the last scene we shot and I was already quite intoxicated. Anything else? Oh, and it was nice to have new people in the film crew. Tim who did the special effects for instance, he was nice. And of course Philipp Droste, who played Till Hager. I'm a big fan of him.


The $64-question of course, when and where will your film be released onto the general public?


KK: It will probably be released on VOD soon - though I'm not sure where yet. With short films it's also hard to find distribution, so maybe a release when all three parts are finished.


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception yet?


H.K: For me, as someone who's not in the "scene" or that close to the genre, it's a bit harder to say. Kevin handles all of that and reads all the comments and reviews and sends out all the press materials .. so far the reception was very friendly. I'm constantly waiting for the the first negative review - because I like to rage sometimes. When YouTube came out I used to be in the comment section hating on other people who hated on the videos. So the negative reviews are a part of it.


KK: There was actually one review that came out recently. It was actually quite positive, but it did mention that he felt that Nordmann's "yo momma" joke in the kitchen kind of ruined the moment for that one scene.


H.K. The scene in the kitchen? 


KK: Yes.


H.K. Well that's also because I freestyled with the dialogue. (Note: All of Nordmann's dialogue was completely improvised.) Nordmann makes stupid Benny Hill-type jokes and says inappropriate, sexist things, so it's fitting that he would say something like that.


KK: That's true. The film hasn't had a wide audience outside of a few screenings, but generally the reception has been very positive so far. Most people say that they didn't understand the film but still kind of liked it. The film is of course very niche, so I'm sure a lot of people will have trouble with it.


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KK: I'm currently working on a pilot for a series, inspired by Tiziano Sclavi's Dylan Dog. I will be co-directing this with Alex Bakshaev [Alexander Bakshaev interview - click here]. We're currently in production phase for that and will probably shoot in October.

Afterwards we'll start working on part three of the hell trilogy - and I'm always kind of working on my first feature length film, though that might take a bit to get financed.


H.K: Yes, Kevin is doing his projects … but I also feel that before the third part of the trilogy we'll also collaborate on a short project. Maybe a 2-3 minute project?


KK: Sure.


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


For updates on Hades and TLMEA, visit

Here you can also see most of the public videos:



Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
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
screenwriter and film reviewer
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Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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