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An Interview with Lars Kokemüller, Director of Zeckenkommando vs. Cthulhu

by Mike Haberfelner

August 2016

Lars Kokemüller on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie Zeckenkommando vs. Cthulhu - in a few words, what is it about?

 

It's about a small town punk band, a bunch of losers who didn't make it out of their town, don't do much but hang around and make music together, and how they try to save the world from a cult that wants to summon the ancient god Cthulhu in their rehearsal room.

 

With Zeckenkommando vs. Cthulhu's main characters being punk musicians - is that at all a music and lifestyle that appeals to you? And was any of the movie taken from personal experiences/anecdotes?

 

Yes, it is. Couldn't have written and produced a whole album of that music if I didn't find it interesting. The album and the movie are, of course, to a certain degree parodies of said music and lifestyle. But I used to play in punk bands myself when I was a teenager and punk and DIY culture have always been an important part of my life.

The movie is actually inspired by the band I was playing in when I was 17, a really bad but funny punk band. The whole thing about them getting high in the forest is inspired by a similar experience me and my friends had when we were teenagers. And the town the movie takes place in, Buchholz, is where I actually lived back then. There are a few inside jokes about that town in the movie. Buchholz used to be a hot spot for a very violent neo-Nazi scene a couple of years ago and the administration did nothing against that, so the whole Nazi-Cthulhu conspiracy thing can be read as a comment on that, I guess.

 

The other main focus of your movie is of course the Cthulhu-myth - did you at all do any special research on this, and are you actually a fan of H.P. Lovecraft's work as such?

 

I did. Most of the really crazy stuff Albert Höhensteiger is explaining in his second scene is taken directly from the Cthulhu myth. Except the song, I made that up. But it makes sense in the context of the myth, if anything in that context ever made any sense.

I am a huge fan of H. P. Lovecraft's work and there are hints of that to be found in most of my movies. I think that it's a crazy, fun myth that offers a lot of freedom for storytellers, espacially filmmakers. It doesn't always need to be taken completely seriously, though. It's very, very crazy and that can be funny at times.

 

(Other) sources of inspiration when writing Zeckenkommando vs. Cthulhu?

 

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure was an inspiration. Slacker comedy mixed with crazy fantasy – I love it.

Before I began writing Zeckenkommando vs. Cthulhu, I watched a lot of slacker comedies from the nineties to get a feeling for that tone.

Also, Amblin Entertainment films from the 80's, like The Goonies, Scooby Doo and classic German audiobook franchises like TKKG and Die Drei ??? that are about gangs of nosy teenagers solving mysteries were all huge influences.

 

What made you choose the mockumentary approach for Zeckenkommando vs. Cthulhu?

 

The first idea for this movie came to me when I was watching old, embarassing YouTube videos of my former band. I kept thinking „This is kind of entertaining. You could tell a story this way. A slacker comedy about a punk band.“ So, the mockumentary approach was really the first idea to the movie.

 

Do talk about your movie's brand of comedy for a bit!

 

Well, as I said, it's inspired by 90s slacker comedies. This movie sort of has two different kinds of humour in it. On one hand, there's the dialogue which can be randomly funny at times, on the other hand, there is the whole sillyness of the Cthulhu-plot, that doesn't try to be taken seriously for one second. All that stuff is really silly, there's a lot of slapstick on the side of the bad guys. I like how these larger than life caricatures of movie villains enter the scene and the whole movie goes crazy. We did that in my first movie Warum Hans Wagner den Sternenhimmel hasst too, but in a more horror-oriented way. I just like to let the Lovecraftian elements come in, kidnap the movie and drive it insane. To me, that's what the whole Cthulhu myth is all about. Insanity.

 

What can you tell us about the music in your movie? And the titular Zeckenkommando of the movie are a real band, right? So what came first, the band or the movie?

 

The movie came first. I had written the whole script when I was still thinking about a name for the band. When the script was finished, I immediately started to write songs for the album. I wrote, recorded and produced it all by myself. Lea, who is playing Xena, came in for two days and rapped her parts. She was great. She had never been rapping before and she did an amazing job.

We cast musicians for the band who could actually play their instruments, because it was my plan from the beginning, to go on tour with this band to promote the movie.

We played a concert at the premiere and it was awesome. We've played more shows after that and we're planning to go on doing so – even a second album and maybe a second movie are possible.

 

You play the lead in Zeckenkommando vs. Cthulhu - so do talk about your character for a bit, and did you write him with yourself in mind?

 

Kalle is a loser, pretty much, a manchild, not the most likeable person alive. He's rude, sexist, lazy and an egomaniac. He's more or less good hearted, though, and I think he's pretty funny.

I did, indeed, write him with myself in mind. I need to say that he's nothing like me! It was a practical decision to play the character behind the camera myself. He's also the singer in the band, and I wanted to make that punkrock album they record in the movie and sing the songs myself.

That album is, much like the film and the character of Kalle, a loving parody of German punk clichés.

 

What can you tell us about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?

 

It wasn't easy casting this film. We needed actors who could pass as punkrockers, who had the right attitude, and who could also play the instruments of their characters. Not an easy task. Lea was the first one to join the cast. She had originally auditioned for another movie that we couldn't make, but we were blown away by her audition and as soon as the script for Zeckenkommando vs. Cthulhu was written, I asked her if she wanted to play the part of Xena. Especially her work on the album, where she's rapping, is really impressive.

I found Niklas and Philip really late in the process and they fit the parts perfectly. Many of the others are people we worked with before and will work with over and over again in the future, because they are great.

 

Do talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere!

 

It was really wild. The schedule was hectic, as always, and it was really hard being the director and lead actor in one person. During production, my phone broke, I lost my wallet during a night shoot deep in the woods, had to go look for it at three in the morning, far away from any streets or anything, sunk into quicksand and almost died, hurt my eye really bad while riding through the forest on my bike … It was fun!

 

The $64-question of course, where can the movie be seen?

 

Here: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/zeckenkommandovscthulhu

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

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Many! We finished our first movie in English – the indie/punk musical How to be a Homewrecker, made a sci-fi comedy film called Leon muss sterben (Leon Must Die) and we're going to make another movie in English this September, a romantic comedy with fantasy-elements, called Isaac the Pirate.

 

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

 

Radikal & Arrogant on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/radikalundarrogant

Me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/larskokemueller/

Me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/RadikalArrogant

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

Nope.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

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