I first saw Eric Fensler's work at the Anxiety Films Mini-Shock Film Festival I was DJing that included his short film where he inserted himself into an over-enthusiastic audience of an early eighties motivational speaker video. But the show-stopper of all the films that played the festival were his "remixed" G.I. Joe PSAs. Remember how at the end of every G.I. Joe Cartoon they would have some short educational segment and it would always end with the line "And Knowing Is Half The Battle"? Well Eric took those shorts and dubbed them over with new dialogue and even went into the video and changed some of the sequencing and a couple times even the animation. The result was so hilarious that it literally brought the audience to tears with laughter. Seeing one Joe run into a burning building yelling "We're all dead!" in one short and another Joe asking a kid for help while saying "I'm a computer" and that he's got to "stop all the downloadin'" made many a person in the room almost pee his or her pants. I was able to get a copy of the shorts from my friends at Anxiety Films, but I had to know more about the person behind this stuff. The following interview was conducted by E-Mail in August of 2003.
E = Eric Fensler (director / basketball superstar)
C = Chris Beyond (interviewer / basketball avoider)
click on the `joe pics to watch the shorts (via windows media player or quicktime)
C: How did you get into your particular style of film making ?
E: What style is that?
C: Uh...um... I dunno. I've only seen those two projects and another short that you starred in (Paper Jam). Video Remixing? How many G.I. Joe spots did you end up doing?
C: Were you ever contacted by Hasbro or by anyone who worked on the original cartoon?
E: No. At least I don't think so. No one that I have spoken with has mentioned it.
C: Have you ever held a monkey?
E: Yes. All the time.
C: Which film is your life more like? American Psycho or Maniac?
E: I would have to say Maniac, definitely. Because I still live in a small room filled with mannequins, and I'm dating a photographer with a beautiful melon.
C: How did the Paper Jam short film come about?
E: That's Doug Lussenhop's short film. Him and I work on stuff together all the time. In fact if he's doing something, I help him. If I'm doing something, he helps me. We feed of each other. He helped with most of the PSAs.
C: Did you know that there was an early IBM printer that could "play" different songs by changing the print speed per line of text?
E: I had no idea. Maybe Doug does.
C: Where did you find that Infomercial tape where you inserted shots of yourself into the audience?
E: In a video library. Just sifting through tapes, looking for weird footage. Found some very enthusiastic motivational speaker, speaking to me. I just had to be in it, he lured me in.
C: Sounds sexy. What are some other films you've done and is there any way to purchase them on video or DVD or will you be making any more films available online? C'mon!!!
E: Yeah I have a VHS/DVD of shorts I have made. Random things here and there. People that come to the screenings are the ones that get them. Cause they get to see the work then and there, and want to check out some more, see what it's doing. I don't really feel like putting up some 45 minute, 15 minute film on the net, I would prefer they see it on there home entertainment system, or in a theater... gallery... whatever. The online thing for me, seems to be only good for about 30 seconds to a 2 minutes. The quality is getting better, I guess, but you always have to have the right format on your computer to watch that type of file, the sound isn't all that great, blah bluah bleh meh meh fehkna.
C: What film has inspired you the most as a filmmaker? Is it Battle Beyond The Stars?
E: Wow, what a great movie. How did you know? That and Logan's Run have driven me to move forward, everyday.
C: Both are great films. Battle Beyond The Stars had a spaceship that actually had boobs so I'm going to deem that to be the better film, but Logan's fun had that cool Ice Robot... It's a close one. Speaking of which, will you be running for governer of California anytime soon?
E: No, I'm not the right guy or gal for that. Robert Englund should do it, good timing.
C: Well, I do like the new Freddy Versus Jason movie,...but I don't know if I like his work in his version of the film Phantom Of The Opera enough to trust his views on the current budget problems in our state. Do you prefer to work out there or do you plan to set up shop in the beautiful land of Hollywood (where the streets are lined with gold and everyone is a moviestar)?
E: I love Chicago. Great city, but not my speed for film making. They don't take risks, or just are too conservative I think. I think of moving, to Italy, but ... I think I should learn Italian first. California would be kool, do some LA action. Who knows..If the opportunity presented itself.
C: I can talk to a few people (no joke). If you could design a cool toy, what would it be and/or do?
E: I think that they should bring Lazer Tag back, so maybe I would develop some type of new gear. As for something really fresh and new, a special pill you take, that expands in your mouth as flavored foam. So much flavored foam comes from this pill that you have to spit out, so it looks like you're barfing. But it tastes really good, so it becomes a novelty or an event when you pop one. It's Toy candy, I guess. Flavored Foam Pills!!! "Oh man you're going to do one?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! No way !!!!!!???!!! It's so messy, but goood. Let me try !!!"
C: Jump on it right now before "The Man" gets his teeth sunk into it. What are some of your current projects...film, acting, or anything?
E: I 'm always writing, haven't done acting for awhile. Still editing some things.
C: Do you have any closing words of wisdom for our No-Fi "Readers"?
E: It is best to remain silent and let one think you a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
You can see what Eric is working on next on the Fensler Films Website at: http://www.heavengallery.com/fenslerfilms/. (You can also find another G.I. Joe PSA there I didn't link in this story) We look forward to what he'll drop on us next...as long as it isn't a rock...or something starring "The Rock" for that matter. Thank you to Eric Fensler for the interview, the pictures, and his patience.
yo chris beyond!