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Exclusive Interview with 'Turkey Shoot' Director Jon Hewitt

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by Haydn Radford (subscribe)
Haydn Radford -A freelance writer born in Adelaide, who loves living here. I write about movies, theatre, entertainment, literary and art events. I am happy to promote & review your events.
Published May 26th 2015
More people going to see less films in cinemas
Turkey Shoot Director looks to a bigger audience with digital sales
Released Australia-wide on DVD, Blu-Ray and select digital platforms.

With over 90% of movies made around the world no longer being released in theatres, Australian Director, Jon Hewitt (X, Acolytes,) is more optimistic about VOD, DVD and Blu-Ray sales of his latest movie, Turkey Shoot. His remake of Brian Trenchard-Smith's 1980 Turkey Shoot has been released Australia-wide on DVD, Blu-Ray and select digital platforms. The Blu-Ray release includes a brand new high definition master scanned from the complete 1980 negative of the original cult classic.

"The theatre release of Turkey Shoot in late 2014 in Australia, was very token and it was really to satisfy a few conditions of the film's financing," Hewitt tells WEN.

Turkey Shoot Director looks to a bigger audience with digital sales

Over the last 10 years theatrical space has changed dramatically, and even more so in the last couple of years with most movies that are not 'big tent pole films' or tent pole art house films, not being screened in cinemas. Hewitt explains, "The natural home for genre films like Turkey Shoot" is on VOD, DVD and Blu-Ray, and that is true around the world. There is no real desire for audiences to go the cinemas to see smaller films like Turkey Shoot."

"It is a different world now from the 90's, says Hewitt. "There are more people going to see less films in cinemas. They will go and see George Miller's Mad Max. I can understand people going to see Mad Max, but most people won't go to a theatre to see a movie like Turkey Shoot; they will wait until it is on iTunes."

"We obviously make the films to play in a theatre, and I think for me the theatrical life of all films can have a relative theatrical life, but it is in special event screenings like film festivals and Q&A's where you focus a lot of your potential audience into one or two screenings. With Turkey Shoot we had 800 people in the cinema and that was a really cool experience. That would have been the biggest audience to see Turkey Shoot."

Turkey Shoot Director looks to a bigger audience with digital sales
Tyler confronts a deadly sniper, Ramrod (Robert Taylor)

When looking at what is screening in Australian cinemas now, there are movies that 5 years ago would have played on 100 screens throughout Australia, that don't screen there anymore. It is very difficult for smaller independent films to compete with Blockbuster Hollywood action films full of stars. Hewitt said, "I think itunes is terrific for film makers like me, who are making modestly budgeted movies that don't have big budgeted stars and aren't going to have a theatrical life, to reach its potential audience."

Today in America where nearly every film isn't a Hollywood Blockbuster, it doesn't even pretend to produce films for theatrical screenings. In June 2015, Turkey Shoot is due for release in America, where it is actually going to screen in theatres in New York, Chicago and LA on 10 screens for a week, ahead of its VOD release. The international attention will elevate the profile of Turkey Shoot and that is when Hewitt is hoping people will begin talking about it, and it will reach a larger audience.

Turkey Shoot Director looks to a bigger audience with digital sales
Tyler supported by Commander Jill Wilson (Viva Bianca)

Hewitt explains, "This is really a satisfy requirement of Wallmart or a big DVD platform called RedBox, which is like coin–in-the-slot booths in supermarkets. With Turkey Shoot having a minimal theatrical release it will get more support from the big retail outlets. It is again a token thing, but it applies also to most American movies too."

"I still make a film to play on the big canvas. I like the big screen because I know films will have an international festival life around the world and hundreds of people, if you are lucky hundreds of people will gather together to watch the movie so there is nothing better than watching a film in a cinema on a big screen. That's great, but I still make my films so they can deliver the goods in that environment, but probably budgetary wise, all my films have been relatively inexpensive, some still cost an obscene amount of money, but I like to work in the low budget area where we get a lot of freedom to do what we like, to cast who you like, and do what we like. That's what I want to get out of film making. I was never in it for the money. If I wanted to make money I would have been a lawyer or a used car salesman or something. Making films is something I have to do."

The original Turkey Shoot was also released as Escape 2000 and Blood Camp Thatcher and was classified as part of the Ozploitation movement of the 80's. It went on to become one of the highest grossing Australian movies in the US Box Office.

The new Turkey Shoot written by Hewitt and his wife, Belinda McClory, is a reinvention of the original science-fiction action movie. Hewitt said it "brings other metaphors into the film. We weren't making some blockbuster. I wanted to make it more like some late 90's movie. It gave me the opportunity to create the story from scratch. We made the film in the spirit of the original film giving it a satirical edge about the contemporary world, where we are now and where we are heading, and why wars are fought."

"I watch reality television and what I see are people dying for entertainment. The news media have the franchise of life and death on television, with people watching war, watching people getting decapitated, shot, and blown-up live on live-TV. It poses the questions, what countries are benefiting from these wars, or are the wars just the façade of news media to benefit Google through YouTube and CNN?"

Turkey Shoot Director looks to a bigger audience with digital sales
Shooter:Kintay (Matial arts and ninja-smarts)

Hewitt's Turkey Shoot will appeal to fans looking for plenty of special effects, action, violence and gore, despite some of the fight scenes being poorly handled. There are moments when the world's ruthless killers who are stalking the hero, disgraced ex-Navy SEAL, Rick Tyler, (Dominc Purcell, Prison Break) lose credibility with their repeated inaccurate shooting with automatic weapons. It's amazing how many bullets from a machine gun you can fire at someone in a confine space and not hit them.

Turkey Shoot Director looks to a bigger audience with digital sales
Shooter: Haaken in action with M60 machine gun

The film provides an anti-war sentiment and centres on the global fascination with reality-television competitive game shows and highlights what is wrong with the media, violence as a form of entertainment and governmental corruption and US involvement in other countries conflicts for its own benefits.

In a near future smash hit deadly TV program, Turkey Shoot combines a stalk and chase opportunity where the turkey, Rick Tyler, is forced to avoid being assassinated by other contestants in some ruthless locations to win the game and his freedom. The TV program hosts Teena Fine (Suzannah McDonald) and Tom Faye (Juan Jackson) reflect some hosts of reality programs and cynically offer some amusing black humour.
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Why? For fans of action movies seeking remake with remastered cult classic 1980 release
When: Available from 20 May 2015
Phone: 03 9328 5000
Where: Retail outlets
Cost: DVD RRP $29.95
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