A film festival sensation, the post-nuke kid-centric action adventure Turbo Kid is an endearing motion picture that hearkens back to the 80’s era of films like The Last Starfighter, Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, and Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn.
Fans of the apocalyptic genre are going to have a blast with this fun film, and anyone who’s new to the genre is bound to have a great time as well. In this series of short interviews conducted at the Los Angeles premier of the film, the filmmakers – directors Francois Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell and producers Shaked Berenson and Patrick Ewald – discuss the apocalyptic genre itself and where Turbo Kid finds its comfy place in that genre.
How did Turbo Kid get started as a project for you guys?
Francois: We always wanted to do this. We’re children of the 80’s, and we had a chance to do a short for ABCs of Death, and we finished first in the public vote, but we didn’t end up in the actual movie. But the producers asked us if we wanted to turn that short into a feature. We did! That’s why we’re here.
There’s a unique subgenre in the apocalyptic genre, which I call the “Roller Apocalypse” subgenre, where characters ride around the wastelands on skateboards, but this one has the characters riding around on BMX bikes. Why go that route?
Anouk: It made sense that in the future gas would be rare, so on bikes it made sense.
You got Overdog himself from Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone to play Zeus, the villain in your movie. Talk about working with Michael Ironside a little bit.
Yoann: It was fantastic! It was really great. He’s been helping us in our career. We’ve become really close friends. It’s fun to work with a legend like him. We wrote this character for him, so when he said yes, it meant the world to us. I know he doesn’t look like it, but he’s the biggest teddy bear in the world. He’s funny as hell. I love him.
Francois: Michael is a legend! We really wanted him for the bad guy role.
Anouk: We thought of him. We met him, and …
Francois: The planets aligned. When we met him it was like, “This is Michael Fucking Ironside!” We needed him on board. Our producers put us in front of him, and we pitched it to him.
The apocalyptic genre itself: Are you guys a fan of end-of-the-world movies?
Anouk: Oh, yeah! We’re big fans. Fans of Mad Max and all the Italian apocalyptic movies like 2019: After the Fall of New York, 1990: Bronx Warriors, and The New Barbarians … all of these are an inspiration for Turbo Kid.
Francois: But we don’t want you to laugh at those movies. Turbo Kid is an homage to those. It’s a love letter to those movies.
Shaked: For us, we don’t really look at any specific genre. We focus on the filmmakers and their visions. If they have passion, that’s what leads us. If you look at [Yoann, Anouk, and Francois] for thirty seconds, it’s easy to see how passionate they are. Nobody would green light this project, so we had to do it. We look at it long-term. This was a team that we knew we could trust based on their vision.
Patrick: Even though it’s a post-apocalypse story, it’s a lot more than that.
Shaked: It’s a feel-good movie.
Patrick: It’s a love story, it’s for fans of Mad Max, it’s for fans of 80’s movies like BMX Bandits. It’s a whole hodgepodge movie made from the 80’s cake that everybody is into right now. It’s not categorized by one bucket. It happens to take place in a post-apocalyptic world.
So why set the movie in 1997? I’m curious.
Anouk: Because it makes sense. If it was made in the 80’s, that’s the future. Back then, the 90’s would be “The world is fucked!”
Can you talk a little bit about the locations we see in the film? The locations look incredible. Did you have to dress the sets up much or did the locations actually look that apocalyptic?
Anouk: Most of the movie was shot on location in the middle of Montreal. We were lucky enough to find some amazing looking places that we could exploit, like an abandoned quarry. Of course, it still needed some dressing up, and some locations were pretty much empty before our awesome art director Sylvain Lemaître and his team did their magic! They basically did miracles considering the limited time they had to dress up or build the sets from scratch!
This might sound strange, but even though the movie has lots of over-the-top violence and profanity, the movie still has a great sense of innocence to it. I never felt like the movie was too ironic or overly nasty like a lot of these new movies are that are trying to be “retro” or cool. How were you able to retain the innocence that so many movies from the 1980’s had?
Anouk: For us, the “heart” of the movie was key, so it was always important that all decisions we made from the scriptwriting on to the final edit protected that feeling of innocence. Our inspirations were the movies we loved growing up, such as The Goonies, The Neverending Story and BMX Bandits. Also, we’re just a bunch of kids ourselves (at least in our hearts!)
Talk a little bit about the make-up effects and special effects in the film. Some of the stuff you guys came up with looks fantastic.
Anouk: Thanks! We’re huge fans of practical effects, and we used to make them ourselves on all the past short movies we did. For the first time, on Turbo Kid, we had a team taking care of it! But it was hard to keep away, so we did get our hands dirty! The team did an amazing job, also coming up with some pretty creative blood shooting contraptions. On top of that, we had some slick visual effects there to assist the practical effects, which are, for us, the best way to resort to CGI.
The soundtrack should be released soon on vinyl from Deathwaltz and Mondo
If the world were to end as it does in Turbo Kid and you happened to be getting around on your bikes, would you make it in that world?
Francois: I hope so!
Anouk: I hope so! I think we would.
Francois: If I had the right elbow pads with the rainbow stripes, I would be fine.
Finally, say something about the music you used in the film. It’s such a great score.
Anouk: The music was composed by an incredible band from Montreal called Le Matos. Fun fact: one of the band members also happens to be our cinematographer and our great friend for the past eight years; he’s basically the fourth member of our filmmaking group RKSS. The fact that he was involved in the project from the beginning probably helped the fact that the score is so pitch perfect! The soundtrack should be released soon on vinyl from Deathwaltz and Mondo, which is totally awesome!
Are we going to get a Turbo Kid 2, 3 …?
Patrick: Are you green-lighting?
Shaked: Come to see it in theaters so that we can work on a sequel!