ENTER THE WARRIOR'S DENTIST: A Word With Filmmaker Matthias Hoene

The weekend following May 5 is poised to be another busy period at the movies with several going up against one another. Director Matthias Hoene's own contribution comes as well with Enter The Warrior's Gate from EuropaCorp US and for this, we're proud to present our latest inteview in lieu of the film's release.

The following questions come courtesy of myself and fellow contributor James Couche who himself enjoyed the film in some ways and found co-star Dave Bautista to be an outstanding figure in the film. One of the answers are also an indicator why I chose the title I did for this interview as I thought it would be quite witty in its execution in context to the discussion.

Read on, and be sure to check your local theatrical and VoD listings!


Film Combat Syndicate: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us this week ahead of your new movie, Enter The Warrior's Gate. How has the year been for you thus far?
Matthias Hoene: I had a very relaxing start into the year and am excited to share the movie with the world.
FCSyndicate: To start, what inspired you to become a filmmaker?
MH: I was inspired by my bi-weekly trips to my local VHS rental store the ‘Videodrome’ in Berlin. There I got into obscure Eastern European stop motion by Jan Svankmayer, discovered Japanese Anime, French arthouse like ‘Delicatessen’, New Zealand arthouse like ‘Braindead’ and Hong Kong action cinema like Tsui Hark’s ‘A Chinese Ghost Story’, Zhang Yimou’s ‘Hero’ and ‘The 36th Chambre of Shaolin’. 
I was also into fantasy role playing games and started illustrating covers for local fanzines and games, before getting curious about how to make those images move. When I started making films in college in London I realized that I had found my vocation: I loved making people feel things about the characters and worlds I conjured up.
FCSyndicate: What are some favorite titles that you hold near and dear to this day?
MH: Amelie, Terminator, Aliens, Evil Dead 2, The Insider, Indiana Jones, Karate Kid, Pirates of the Caribbean, Iron Man, the latest Ip Man film.
FCSyndicate: Tell us how did you become involved with Enter The Warrior's Gate.

MH: I was in the middle of developing Sci-Fi project called ‘Capsule’ with Fox when Luc Besson was looking for a European filmmaker who could do action, comedy and visual effects. My first movie is an action adventure with zombies and my commercial have often been CGI heavy. I put together a really elaborate pitch and when Luc saw it he invited me to the Cite Du Cinema in Paris and had only one question for me: He was worried that my humour was too British. I laughed and said that I was actually German...and if a German can fool someone with his British sense of humour I think anything is possible.
FCSyndicate: How did the making of this project differ from your previous film Cockneys vs Zombies?
MH: Enter The Warriors Gate is a family movie so even though I pitched a Disney movie with teeth I had to dial back the language and violence. Working with a cast and crew from Europe, America and China was much more complicated in terms of communication, which matters when you are trying to put together a period fantasy action adventure and every piece of direction needs to be spot on. Luckily our jolly team of French/Chinese artisans got used to the little sketches and annotated photos I would do on my phone to make sure everything I said, even when translated twice, was straightforward and unambiguous. 
Then of course there was the scale: ETWG was a much bigger budget, which afforded me a lot more freedom in terms of design, shooting time and scope. But at the end of the day it’s always about the two or three people who are leading the scene and as the director you have to focus on that and not on whether you have three background extras or three hundred. In that respect the film was actually a little easier than CVSZ, which had a large ensemble cast and many scenes with 5 or more lead actors in every shot.
FCSyndicate: Dave Bautista managed to be both intimidating AND hilarious. How much of that was on the page compared to what Bautista brought to the set?

MH: Physically, Dave is a 7ft monster with a voice so deep that there is no subwoover on the planet that can replicate it. But as a person he’s the loveliest, most easy-going man you can imagine. 
I skyped with Dave a few weeks before the release of Guardians of the Galaxy and he was joking that until then he was only asked to roar and growl in auditions but that in reality he’s a funny guy. He told me that wanted to show that side of himself and that’s why he wanted to play ‘Arun’ in ETWG. Talking to him I immediately sensed that he was the right guy: He’s got a cheeky glint in his eyes and great sense of comic timing and I think we’ll see a lot more great work from Dave in the future.
FCSyndicate: What was it like making an epic martial arts fantasy? And how did your previous work prepare you for it?
MH: Everything I have done has always had action in it and I tried to sneak some swordfights in wherever I could. So to work with some of the great Hong Kong action legends on this was an amazing privilege. 
Our scriptwriter Robert Kamen said to me, I don’t give a f**k what you do with the action sequences as long as they have a beginning, middle and end. That’s great advice and I tried to structure each scene from the perspective of its protagonist and to make sure that we always know what they’re up against, how they feel about it, and feel the anticipation of what the f**k are they going to do about it. Along with knowing the geography of the scene that’s to me the hallmark of a good action sequence, more so than the editing style or amount of cuts.
FCSyndicate: How involved did you get with the film's action setpieces?
MH: We shot everything first unit, so I was working very closely with my action director Tony Ling on every scene. It’s a great joy to be able to walk around a set in prep and figure out what cool props we can use for the actors to pummel each other, what stuff we can break and what and who we can put in their way. Tony’s team was amazing in taking all my ideas to the next level.
FCSyndicate: What, if any, was your biggest challenge during this production?
MH: It’s really really difficult to make a film in a country where you don’t speak the language of the crew.
FCSyndicate: Are there any specifically hilarious or fun moments you can recall from the process of making this film?

MH: For all of us this was like a big spiritual journey to the East. Uriah Shelton and me had a lot of fun because he was particularly excited about the fact that he could drink anywhere he wanted, even though he’s not 21 years old. He was partying hard, but was never late on set and always gave 110% to the film. I think he has a great career ahead of him.
FCSyndicate: After this, what kind of film would you want to make next?
MH: I am working on an R-rated car chase movie, a smaller character driven horror film and a couple of TV projects.
FCSyndicate: Do you have any last words for our readers?
MH: ‘Enter The Warriors Gate’ is a fun 90ties throwback family film and I hope you like it. I’m on Twitter and Instagram and I’d love to hear/see your thoughts, rants or cat pictures.
FCSyndicate: Do you have any last words for our readers?
MH: ‘Enter The Warriors Gate’ is a fun 90ties throwback family film and I hope you like it. I’m on Twitter and Instagram and I’d love to hear/see your thoughts, rants or cat pictures.

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