An Interview with Ulli Bujard

Ulli Bujard German writer and director, Ulli Bujard talks to Dale Pierce about independent filmmaking, film festivals, the difference between European and American independents and his horror film, “Night of the Vampire Hunter” – which is now out on DVD.

Dale: Tell people about yourself for those who do not know?
Ulli: I directed the independent movie “Night of the Vampire Hunter”. My wife Nicole produced it and played the leading part. We live close to Koeln (Cologne) in Germany.

Dale: When did you start Coffeebeans Entertainment and how did you select this name?
Ulli: Herwig Bartalszky (director of photography of “Night of the Vampire Hunter”) and I have made many short films when we were still in high school. In 1992 we started Coffeebeans Entertainment as a joke, because we just love coffee. We could never survive a single shooting day or production meeting without the stuff. Later, Nicole joined the company. Ironically, she hates coffee, but we didn’t change the name.

Dale: Did you study film in school someplace or learn on your own?
Ulli: Herwig and I always wanted to go to film school. But they just didn’t want us.

After high school I worked for a postproduction company. I started as a driver, which was very cool, because I went to all the local TV studios. And some of Germany’s hottest comedy shows were produced right in my very neighborhood. Later I worked as an assistant editor for the German franchise version of “Saturday Night Live” and similar programs. One time Robert Englund was on the show to promote “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare”. That was fun. In 1995 I joined an educational media program. Three years later I went to the University of Cologne to study economics.

Night of the Vampire Hunter - Poster
Dale: Dont you have a new horror film coming out?
Ulli: Right now Nicole and I focus more on writing than producing. During the production of “Night of the Vampire Hunter” we constantly had to change the script for technical, financial and scheduling reasons. We learned a lot about screen writing and liked it very much. After the movie was released we wrote a thriller script on spec and sold it to one of the largest private TV networks in Germany. It became a prime time TV movie called “Verfluchte Beute” (international title: Fateful Treasure) and premiered in 2004.

Dale: What other films have you done?
Ulli: Herwig and I made many short films in high school. In 1997 we put some of them on a little video compilation called “Baenderriss” (It means “torn ligament”, but can be translated as “ripped (video) tape” as well). “Night of the Vampire Hunter” is our only feature up to now.

Dale: What is your webpage? Do you have one?
Ulli: Sure. It’s www.coffeebeans-entertainment.de and is in both English and German. It’s all about “Night of the Vampire Hunter” and has trailers, soundtrack clips, reviews, pictures, DVD info and more.

Dale: One problem is the difference in video and DVD systems between Europe and America. This is going to be a hindrance for international distribution, will it not be?
Ulli: It’s a strange situation. Most European players can play American NTSC DVDs. So it’s easy for us to watch your films. Sadly, it doesn’t work the other way. EuroVideo and Screen Power released a very nice DVD Re-Release of “Night of the Vampire Hunter” with over 60 minutes of extras and English subtitles (!), but it’s all on the European PAL video system.

Dale: Have you thought of coming to the USA for film festivals or independent film conventions?
Ulli: “Night of the Vampire Hunter” will have its USA premier on 1st of April at the Fearless Tales Genre Fest 2005 in San Francisco. We’d love to come, but don’t know if we can make it. But festivals and conventions are huge fun. In 2003 we were invited to the Sitges Film Festival in Spain and had a great time there.

Night of the Vampire Hunter - DVD Cover
Dale: Is there a big demand for films such as those you create in Europe?
Ulli: Not really. The problem is that everybody and his brother are making movies these days and they all want distribution. Thanks to DVD there are so many films on the market, that movie fans loose track of what’s out there. As a result, distributors want more expensive movies. With stars, franchise potential and so on. But I can’t complain. “Night of the Vampire Hunter” got two wonderful DVD releases in Germany.

Dale: Have you seen many American films and if so are there any marked style differences, as a whole, with these and those made in Germany?
Ulli: I’m not too familiar with American independent genre film, but I like the work of J.R. Bookwalter, Danny Draven and Kevin Lindenmuth, to name just a few. I also enjoy some of the Troma flicks, especially the old ones. I don’t think American and German independent films are that different. Both markets have a wide variety of themes, genres and styles now. But because they are generally shot on real locations, they have a different feel to them. America simply doesn’t look like Europe.

Dale: Do you have any interesting stories to tell about incidents during your career in film so far?
Ulli: I’ll never forget our trip to Spain. Some guy from the Sitges film festival was supposed to pick us up at a bus station in Barcelona. But we didn’t see anyone and had no idea how he planed to find us in the middle of all these tourists. We already started looking for a cab, as a huge black limo pulled out of the traffic with the sign: Official vehicle of the Sitges film festival. Everybody stared at you when we got in. At this point we realised that the festival was bigger than we thought.

Dale: What actors and actresses do you think, with your company or others, might be worth watching or have a chance to one day be big stars?
Ulli: That’s hard to say. The other night I watched two short films from the 1970s by Clive Barker and his friends. They are bonus features of the “Hellraiser” box set from Anchor Bay UK. Nothing ground breaking, very art house like, but interesting. But I’m sure nobody would have thought back than that these guys will write horror film history one day. To answer you questions: Everybody has the chance to become a star or a successful director. And independent films are the best training.

Dale: Any other comments?
Ulli: Sometimes I get emails from film fans who want to make their own movies, but don’t know how. They ask all kinds of technical things like which camera is best and so on. But for some reason they never start shooting the movie. And that’s so sad, because it can be such a rewarding experience. I’m still amazed how much support we got during the making of “Night of the Vampire Hunter”. Without the help of all these people the movie would not have been completed. So, if you really want to make a movie, stop dreaming and just do it. It’ll come together somehow.

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