Conducted by Phil
November 18th, 2005
By the time you read this Ethan
Dettenmaier will be knee deep in desert filming the much hyped and
anticipated Sin-Jin Smyth.
I spoke to Ethan a couple of months ago when he was
still in prep and found him to be honest, humble and appreciative.
Read on for some confirmed news about the movie, as
well as hints to some surprises, as I chat with the most refreshing
filmmaker I have met in ages.
Who is Ethan
Just a man trying to do his best.
How did you get into film? Is
it true that you started in the mail room at Warner Bros?
Yeah, that’s true…I took the only job I could get inside the industry,
with the studio messenger service back in 2001 and was fortunate enough to
make it temporary.
Sin-Jin Smyth has set tongues
wagging amongst genre fans - ETHAN: DAMN! That’s a serious compliment - What's the big deal?
I think the fans are the only ones who can really answer that but, if I
was to kick in a theory, I’d say that this film probably gets some benefit
from being independent, outside, a studio machine that currently seems to
specialize in re-makes or sequels. So maybe because we were able to invent
a film piece---without casting, marketing or product placement formulas
mixed in to compromise the content---that may be what interests some
Is it true that the script has
been circulating with dummy pages in it?
It’s a protective measure (laughs) ---fans have always been sharp---and
they can run a script up on the internet black market over night. These
guys (the horror fans) are serious and they know as much about the film as
the production outfit that pulls the trigger on the set.
There have been many rumors
about casting. Can you confirm who has actually been cast as of yet?
RICHARD TYSON (Kindergarten Cop, Three O’clock High, Something About Mary)
and JASON HILDEBRANDT who took a combined 40,000 rounds of gunfire in
BLACK HAWK DOWN. A machine named JACQUELINE MOORE from the WWE/WWF, LEE
VING (Clue, Streets of Fire, The Decline of Western Civilization, lead
singer of the punk band FEAR), LEWIS SMITH (Southern Comfort, Wyatt Earp,
Buckaroo Banzi) GREG TRAVIS (Tool Box Murders, Starship Troopers,
Showgirls) Billy Duffy of THE CULT and a few surprises…
Any truth to the Jonathan
There is some truth to that, we just sent his contract off to Europe where
he is on tour.
The majority of the cast all
seem to be either action stars, wrestlers or musicians. Are you pulling a
'Rob Zombie' and casting your heroes?
I try to cast whoever is right! And on a picture like this, it can get
un-conventional, not just from a dramatic stand point but from a
human-character stand point. When it comes to surviving the elements on
the set---the FX, the storm FX, the gunfire, heavy weapons and what
not---during a night shoot, (and Sin-jin Smyth is shot entirely at night)
those elements require tough players and you better know who’s in your
line-up! You don’t want to be out on the High Plains in Tornado-like
conditions with some punk-bitch off of Teen Beat Magazine saying he needs
to get back to his trailer for more make-up work rather than shoot-it-out
in a rain storm!!! We don’t have the time or patience for that sort of
Can you give us an overview of
your production schedule?
We have had an extensive pre-production period due to the fact that most
of the film will be shot on location with Practical Effects and since I’m
new at this, I’m slower than most and I like to examine every detail. The
actual shoot has been extended for six weeks. Then there is an extended
post-production period due to an intense sound package we want to design.
(The Sound Design will be handled by Wade Wilson of Shrek, Elf and The
When is the expected
Any info at this point about
distribution...any interested parties?
We have been hit with a battery of offers and have also talked with Warner
Independent, New Market, Lions Gate and a few others. We think we’ve found
a deal that is best for the fans---and us---and should have the Domestic
Deal in place by the end of the month with the Foreign locked in soon
Can you list some films that
Sin-Jin Smyth will be like in terms of style and tone?
The tone of this film is DARK and the style behind our shot list and
(story) boards follows a more classic, film noir type design…I’m not sure
if it’s fit to be compared to anything yet. We should talk about that
after the film is cut.
Why is the project shrouded in
I would prefer for the surprises we have mapped out to come across on the
screen and not in print months before the release.
Can you give away any other
plot details other than those which have been released so far?
I can discuss it. The film follows two Federal Marshals who man an
isolated Federal Field Station in the Kansas Badlands, one night (over
Halloween Weekend) they get an emergency message to cross the border and
storm the tiny, quiet farm town of Shin Bone (moments after a tornado
warning) in order to move out a mysterious prisoner with no identity! This
is set against a Kansas legend that warns of a midnight appearance of the
Devil in a quiet Kansas cemetery.
What's this about the
producers threatening to publish your criminal record if you didn't supply
them with your biography? (is it all in jest?)
That’s the way it goes in this business I guess, (laughs) these people are
treacherous! And my biography would only bore you in any event!
What type of movies do you
like to watch and do you think we will see any homage’s to said movies in
I’m not boxed into one type of film, I like just about anything when it’s
done well and there have been some impressive films since this developed
into an art form…The Wild Bunch, Breaker Morant, The Longest Day, Three
Days of the Condor, The Wild Bunch, The Wild Bunch (laughs) Casablanca,
The Searchers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The work of Kurosawa,
Wells, John Ford, Walt Disney, Rod Serling, the early work of John
Carpenter, James Whale, Sydney Pollack, Lon Chaney, M Curtiz, Apocalypse
Now, Downfall, 20,000 Leagues, Once Upon A Time In The West, Psycho, Guns
Of Navarone, Jaws, The Train, Double Indemnity, Witness for the
Prosecution---just about anything from Wilder---Browning’s Dracula, Hooper’s
Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Kubrick’s Paths of Glory and his work on The
Shining, Gallipoli, Platoon, the work of Roy William Neil, Richard Lester,
Robert Wise, Coppola, Lean, the visual imagery of Ridley Scott, and
literature from Robert Louis Stevenson, Washington Irving, Richard
Matheson, Cornelius Ryan…
And to answer part two of your question: We’ve got some
surprises lined up…for the real fans who know their business.
Can you say what Sin-Jin Smyth
is or means? (i'm guessing no)
Sin-Jin Smyth will introduce himself to you once the lights go down and
the theatre gets dark!
Is it likely that we would see
sequels if the film was a huge hit? (which it's shaping up to be)
There are no designs for a sequel but, if we are fortunate enough to have
a hit and a sequel is something the fans wanted, then---we give it to
them---because we would have them to thank for any success and we can’t
turn our back on them. They are---after all---who we work for!
Finally, what else can we
expect to see from you in the near future?
I have been hit with some interesting offers, but I want to keep focused
on this film and the job at hand, that’s what the audience expects when
they buy a ticket.
"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview
And we wish you the very best of luck in the future."