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They have been quiet on the film-front recently, but this is all set to change with the upcoming release of their latest movie, Deus Ex Machina. With that in mind, this might be a good time to go back to the beginning - the year 2000, to be precise.
"We both live in Stillwater, Minnesota," recounts Sam. "Niko had forgotten a video camera he needed for a Star Wars movie he was doing one weekend, and I had a camera, so I went out there in the middle of the winter. Unfortunately, the two other kids making it with him quit, so a new script was made, calling for a whole new movie." Sam and Niko persevered with the project and Fool Skool was born.
The first in a series of wacky shorts, Fool Skool illustrates some of the core aspects of a Twisted Studios movie - innovative effects, a large dose of irreverent humour and extended action sequences. The formula was, of course, still in its infancy - "Our early films were mostly excuses to create special effects," says Niko. "As special effects became less of a novelty, and more of a tool, we tried to create movies that had a stronger impact, involving a plot, and planned cinematography."
Following the Robert Rodriguez school of thought, Sam explains that "I could point out only one thing that really decides what our next movie is about - which is what we have to use. For instance, Shogun Showdown was inspired by two katanas we bought for dirt cheap on eBay. 'Hey, why don't we make a movie with ninjas in it!?'"
This use of "what we have" extends to post-production, with Sam and Niko using both their skills to employ a range of different Mac-based programs in order to achieve the end result. "Our movies have become quests to match what the professionals do, but on a home computer," explains Niko. Hopefully the upcoming release of the new range of CSB products, AlamDV2.5, Chromanator and DigiGrade will increase their creative arsenal and result in even more elaborate movies.
Deus Ex Machina looks set to propel them quite some way further on their quest, with the glimpses seen in the teaser trailer really showing some promise. If all goes to plan, it could raise the bar for effects in the The Cinema. "We are creating this movie to be the showcase of all our special effects skills," says Niko, "with it all taking place in a futuristic 3D city, much like how most of the movie 'Duality' took place on a CG backdrop."
And what of the plot? "Well, to put the plot in real-life terms," explains Sam, "this dude has this wife, and she gets kidnapped, and he just totally flips out and kills everyone, including the punk who ordered her kidnapping." Sounds like true Twisted Studios material. "If you've seen the trailer for the movie Equilibrium, it is eerily similar in plot and feeling," elaborates Niko. "There is no dialogue in Deus Ex Machina."
"Other then that," according to Sam, "it's just what you can do with a crapload of greenscreen and a good comp, not to mention some pretty tight guns."
Matching the progression of the Twisted Studios' productions has been Niko's celebrated hair - "I started growing out my hair when creating the Star Wars movie, and I haven't cut it back too much since then. You can tell the chronological order of the movies we create by looking at the length of my hair." Or, as Sam rather cryptically explains the hair factor, "a bird cannot learn to fly without his wings. With your wings, you can accomplish your dreams."
So what's coming up next for the Twisted Studios duo?
"We will hopefully be creating an action film over spring break using many real effects and stunts, instead of all the CG stuff we usually use," says Niko. Hopefully there will still be room for a muzzle flash or two! Sam elaborates with his usual enthusiasm - "we will be constructing our own Earth Displacing Stunt Facilitators, commonly known as explosives, for many scenes. After that movie, hopefully a totally 3D cel-shaded anime movie." First things first, however, with a new trailer for Deus Ex Machina starting the influx of new Twisted material. Their new website is also online, featuring all their past movies and information on their various projects.
With the promise they have shown in their work so far, still both less than 20 years old, Niko and Sam should both go far, especially if their current rate of progress per project continues. "Even farther into the future we, want to pursure careers in film, or effects," says Sam. "I plan on becoming a technical director or animator at ILM. I also plan to drive flying cars."
Click here to check out their website for more DXM info!