An Interview with Killer Robots – By Kirsten Walsh

In a world of practical effects that you can see on screen, its still an awesome moment when you see those effects or characters live and in person. The “Killer Robots!” make it pretty for you to see them- on screen or playing in their kick-ass rock band! Check out this awesome interviews with the men under the helmets and learn about their sequel to the awesome The Killer Robots and the Battle for the Cosmic Potato!

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KW: What is the “Killer Robots!"?

SG:The “Killer Robots!” is a project created by myself, Samuel Williams, Mike McGowan and Charles Harris. We play four robot characters – Auto, Strobo, Max and Trog. Our project spans music, live performance, movies, and comic books.

KW: Let’s talk about the design of the suits- you guys made them ALL yourselves? As well as any and all of the robots and machines in the film?

SG: We sure did. We each made our own costume so there’s some variety. Strobo (Samuel Williams) comes from a prop and stage building background so his costume is made from a lot of strong fiberglass and flashy lights. I went for the lighter route with quite a bit of plastic bottles and corrugated plastic. Mike’s (Max) costume has a lot of repurposed toys. Charlie (Trog) likes to punch things hence the giant fiberglass fists.

SW: I thought, as I watched Sam Gaffin (Auto) construct his robot suit out of mostly recycled water bottles, “this poor guy, it won’t last one show.” You see, I have a strong back ground in welding, fabrication, fiberglass props, etc… so I was building my suit out of everything except concrete and steel to ensure optimal durability. While through the years, Sam’s suit has been the most wearer friendly as well as the most durable. My suit is the heaviest and by far the most cumbersome. I have learned a lot from him about thinking outside the box.

KW: So, the film The Killer Robots! and the Battle for the Cosmic Potato- lay it out for me.

SG: The story involves the “Killer Robots!” breaking out of prison and helping some plant people find their power source – The Cosmic Potato of Power. Everything goes wrong over the course of their adventures and they end up unleashing a giant planet-eating monster.

KW: Was this your first experience directing a film? Was the end result different than what you originally set out to do?

SG: This was my first experience directing a feature length film. I wanted to make a bubblegummy sci-fi movie and I think it turned out that way for the most part. The CGI is a bit cartoony but I think it fits the tone.

KW: The entirety of the film is done using green screen, can you tell me about your experiences working with locations/ studios to get space?

SG: We actually haven’t had the opportunity to use a real studio yet. For the first film we used a living room in a friend’s house. He probably doesn’t want us to mention his name, but it rhymes with Chris Welty.

For the new movie we’ve been shooting in multiple locations – living rooms, garages, office storage rooms. Mostly at our friend’s (Shoe and Laurel’s) secret laboratory in the wilds of Apopka, Florida.

KW: With the film being shot using green screen, I understand that you shoot one actor at a time and then in editing, composite them together using after effects? What is that experience like for the actor (you acting as well as directing) to be alone while filming when in the film, they are supposed to be in a group?

SG: For me it feels odd to be talking to the air. Then again, the other guys are more seasoned actors. Maybe they can elaborate more?

SW: This was totally natural for me. You see I had many imaginary friends when I was growing up and I still do. No one listens to me and I often find myself talking to thin air or it at least seems that way.

SG: The best part about directing the actors separately is when editing the group together, one can control the timing of the dialogue. Awkward pauses can be added and the tempo of the scene can be increased.

KW: That’s true. Now, as far as your editing process, how does that work for you?

SG: Basically I organize all of my shots so they correspond with the panels in a comic book version of the story. Each shot is then trimmed and the green screen backgrounds erased. This is done for each character, miniature set, puppet, etc… Once I have all of the elements available for one shot, I combine it all onto different layers in After Effects. That file then gets outputted to a final quicktime shot to be edited later in Adobe Premiere.

KW: Of course, I’m sure everyone wants to hear about the Lloyd Kaufmann scene, can you tell me that story?  

SG: Lloyd Kaufman has always been supportive of independent filmmakers and will sometimes volunteer to act in low budget productions. We told Mr. Kaufman about our movie and he immediately replied that he wanted to be in it. We caught up with him at Megacon where he suggested we film his scenes in a bathroom. We convinced him that the lobby would be a better place to film as there was much less reverb. A year later we gave in and filmed a DVD extra of Lloyd Kaufman signing a release in a bathroom. Lloyd was on a roll that day and put together some fun comedy bits. I’m not sure if he’s actually seen the movie but he always gets a good response when he appears.

KW: That is really awesome. You guys have so many projects wrapped into the “Killer Robots!”, can you tell me about this web-series that you are creating about the fictional and real-life personas?

SG: This was a project we started a couple of years ago on Blip.TV. We were looking to combine music videos, cartoons, documentary and live action short films into a monthly webcast. It kind of fell by the wayside as we concentrated on the movie. We might revive it in the future though. Maybe with another movie.

KW: And this sequel, The Killer Robots! Next Movie- you are doing it the same way as the first? What is the plot of that one?

SG: The pace is a bit quicker with more coverage and action. We’ve eschewed CGI in favor of physical models and backgrounds. The look of the film is a bit grittier also.

The story is set in a universe of living machines. Our characters are caught up in a mission to turn on a device that can communicate with beings from other dimensions. The antagonists are trying to destroy the machine because they’re afraid of the unknown and what it might do to their routine. The device is located on a computerized planet that has been plagued by a virus – the locals have devolved into primitive robot tribes while mechanical zombies and other assorted monsters roam the landscape.

KW: That sounds cool. With the sequel, you’ve been working on it for 2 1/2 years, when is the release date, and where would people be able to find it?

SG: Hopefully it’ll be ready to send to festivals by the end of this year. The compositing has been taking up most of the time. Sometimes our green screen doesn’t extend far enough so there’s some rotoscoping involved (tracing actors frame by frame).

KW: So tell me a secret about The Killer Robots! Next Movie.

SG: We’ve got a great cast of villains. Brian Manowitz, AKA Vegan Black Metal Chef, plays a rock star-mercenary named Desecron, Chuck “Mandaddy” Ellis of the band Gargamel plays a robotic cult leader named Mohana and Shawn C. Phillips of SyFy’s Haunted High School and Ghost Shark plays the giant Pluton – king of the underworld.

That sounds pretty epic! Best of luck with your production, and we’ll keep an eye on all of the cool things you guys are doing!

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More can be seen about the 適iller Robots!・on their official Facebook page.

As well as their website, where you can check out a trailer for The Killer Robots! Next Movie!