Simon-Julien Boucherie, the prop master behind Tommy Wirkola's unique take on the classic fairytale 'Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters', discusses weaponary, witch brooms and making Hansel's hand-prop look like the biggest dick in the forest.
The weapons in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters are variations on traditional themes. Where did the ideas for them come from?
The Basic Idea was that all of them should look really “handmade”. Imagine Hansel had an Idea for a foldable Long Range Rifle and went to the next Blacksmith in “Augsburg” and asked the guy to manufacture one of these. So every single weapon is a unique, a very personal piece. Costumized for the person who is using it. So Hansel`s shotgun is not only looking like the biggest dick in the forest, it`s also the most Powerful Gun with an integrated blade in it. Gretel`s Double Crossbow is a bit more elegant with all the little metal-details on it.
How important was it for you to maintain an element of believability while creating a new take on a old and well known story?
No Importance at all. For me the most important thing was to solve the problem how to kill a witch or to stop a fucking troll effectively...
Was it very different working on a film of this type than some of your more recent films?
Sure, so far we never created an entire new world in one of our movies. And the best thing is we created a world we all know from our childhood`s nightmares. I think every kid is scared of witches, so was I and so are my two little children now. So on Hansel and Gretel The Witch Hunters it was Pay Back Time!
Simon: "I think every kid is scared of witches".
You're credited as the property master. How would you describe this role?
The Property Master is responsible for all scripted and non-scripted Hand-Props in the movie. So apart from the weapons, we also designed and manufactured all the witches wands and brooms but we also took care of maps, food, animals, special Props like the record player or the boar the Troll is eating.
You've worked on some very large budget films. Apart from the obvious difference in how much you have to work with, is it sometimes more difficult as you have more to live up to? Does the bigger the budget mean the greater the pressure?
No, not necessarily. I think a bigger budget gives you a wider range of possibilities. The expectations where always the same, with a small or a big budget.
How different is it working on a fantasy film to working on one set more in reality for the props team? I presume each one brings its own challenges.
Yes sure, every movie we are doing is completely different. So everytime me and my Asistant Marc Fielk reading a new script we are looking at each other and saying, “O.K., that`s new…” But in our team it`s quite obvious who is a Fantasy lover and who`s not.
Simon: "Every movie we are doing is completely different".
What's the strangest or most interesting prop you've ever had to source to produce?
A few Props from Inglourious Basterds for example, like the Glove Gun for Omar Doom or the Basterds Knifes for scalping Nazi`s. But the Gattling Gun from Hansel and Gretel was definetely a hero-prop!
A lot of people seem to move from an effects background into directing. Is this something you'd like to do in the future?
No, definitely not my business.
Finally, what would be your favourite horror films?
Honestly, I`m not a big fan of horror films but The Fog (John Carpenter`s 1980 version) is definetely my longtime favourite.
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