Stephen, Charles & Edward Chiodo make up the The Chiodo Bros., they are most known for their work on “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” but have also worked on many other projects that you have seen like “Elf” and “Team America: World Police”. Movie Mikes spoke to the brothers about their career and of course the long awaited sequel to “Killer Klowns”.
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Mike Gencarelli: How did you guys end up starting working together and starting Chiodo Bros. Productions? Have you always wanted to do it?
Charlie Chiodo: Before we had a movie camera, we used to watch monster movies from the 50’s. As brothers we always played together. We used to play with our toy dinosaurs, and spent all of our time playing with puppets, doing puppet shows and planning monster movies. There were no production manuals on how to do it. We read through Famous Monsters magazine and found out about people like Ray Harryhausen and Willis O’Brien and how they did animation. We figured out they filmed it one frame at a time but the 8mm camera our parents bought us didn’t have a one frame adjustment. We used that to make our first movies. We were basically self taught and learned through trial and error. When we moved to Los Angeles we built our facility and had a real shop to work in. Our passion was to build things, create characters and tell new and exciting stories. That’s what we’ve been doing for nearly 30 years.
Mike Gencarelli: Where did you guys get the idea for “Killer Klowns from Outer Space”?
Stephen Chiodo: We were driving the car at night down a long dark road and I was trying to come up with the scariest thing I could imagine. I thought about looking out the window and seeing a car pull up along side us with a smiling clown leering at me. I thought that was the most terrifying image. Then we thought, what if the clown wasn’t in a car? If it was floating along with us and wasn’t in a car, then the clown must be from outer space.
Mike Gencarelli: I recently spoke with Grant Cramer and he discussed “Killer Klowns 2” with me, what can you tell us about it?
Edward Chiodo: They let him out of prison? [Laughs]
Stephen Chiodo: What he said is true. We have all put together a screenplay and we are out there shopping it right now. After all these years we have been trying to decide whether to make a sequel or a remake. We settled on a combination of both.
Edward Chiodo: It is a “re-quel”.
MG: How do you feel about the fans devotion to the “Killer Klowns” after over 20 years?
Charlie: I didn’t know that there was such a large a fan base out there and that the film would have the effect that it has had. We had no idea that little film we made would reach such a large audience.
Stephen: I am really surprised. I think we tapped in to some kind of nerve within the audience. I am really pleased that we created a new monster icon. You have Frankenstein, Wolf Man and the classic monsters. We forever have changed the image of clowns. We made them scary and from out of this world.
MG: Stephen, after “Killer Klowns” what was the reason why you haven’t directed another feature film?
Stephen: Yeah, my career really went into the toilet after that movie. [Laughs] We had a couple of projects in the works after Klowns but none of them took off. Since then I have directed some pilots for Showtime, CNN and a lot of television. I directed some episodes for “Land of the Lost” and produced and directed our “Sea Monkeys” TV show. I am afraid most of the feature films concepts we came up with haven’t been able to get off the ground.
Charlie: That is really what is interesting about the industry it doesn’t matter how large your fan base is. What matters is how well it did at the box office and how well the merchandising did. Financing the next project is based on how much money was generated by the last project.
Stephen: I think if Transworld was behind the property and marketed it better we would have seen a “Killer Klowns 2” and a much more vibrant producing/directing career from the Chiodo Bros. We gave them a great franchise and they blew it.
Edward: We were still happy we were able to make our first movie. It put us on the map and helped start our own production company.
MG: Tell me about some of the other projects you have worked on?
Edward: One my favorites was “Team America: World Police,” working with Matt and Trey was a great experience. It was a great film.
Stephen: We also really enjoyed our experience with Jon Favreau on “Elf.” It was fun creating the stop-motion characters and being part of a “classic” holiday feature.
MG: Out of all the areas you focus? on, stop-motion, puppetry and props & miniatures, do each of you guys have a favorite role?
Stephen: We don’t really focus on one technique in particular. We create characters bring them to life with whatever means are best. Sometimes we use stop-motion, sometimes masks, make-up, puppets or animatronic costumes. Sometimes it might even be CGI. We chose the best technique to make a character come alive.
MG: How do you feel about how CGI has taken over in films?
Charlie: We work with it. We take our traditional techniques, add the digital to it and have the best of both worlds.
Stephen: The computer is a great tool. We shoot our animation digitally now and use computers to put it all together in post. For us it’s all about traditional stop motion done with some of the new tools. I think audiences are now leaning toward the more tangible look and feel of traditional puppet and classic rubber effects.
Edward: If you really embrace the technology, it is a good way to bring characters to life. We still prefer something tangible on set, which the actors can interact with.
MG: Tell me about your work on the upcoming film “Dinner with Schmucks”?
Stephen: Yep, we worked with Jay Roach on “Dinner with Schmucks” which comes out in July. We are doing specialty props, dioramas and set pieces.
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