The Ted V. Mikels Interview
Hidden in a small industrial complex just a few miles off the Las Vegas Strip is an unassuming building that could easily house a lawn service or pest control office. Upon entering the front door though, visitors are immediately overwhelmed by over thirty years’ worth of movie posters, press books, lobby cards, and photographs lining almost every square inch of available wall space. This museum-quality display of vintage memorabilia highlights the career of legendary cult filmmaker Ted V. Mikels, a true American original who turned his varied talents and driving desire to make movies into an eclectic catalog of feature films and a motion picture career to be reckoned with. It’s hard to believe that a man best known for “blood orgies” and “corpse grinding” could be so friendly and cheerful! Ted Mikels is a walking encyclopedia of the film industry with an enthusiasm for his profession that is nothing short of infectious. I had the extreme pleasure of sampling some of this knowledge and insight when I was a guest in his Las Vegas office and studio.
ED Tucker: Ted, I would like to begin this interview by making two observations that became apparent to me as I was researching your career. The first is that it appears you have made more movies than any other cult filmmaker I have researched.
Ted Mikels: I think so. I know I can lay claim, unequivocally, that I have made more movies than any man alive who has not been financed. That’s a hundred and some odd credits. An actor can spend a half a day or a day on a movie and do three movies in a week. When you write, produce, direct, light, shoot, edit and market it takes you darn near a year on every picture. When you are doing all the key positions it takes at least ten months to complete a full-length feature.
ET: The advantage to doing everything yourself, though, is that when you are done you know you got exactly what you wanted.
TM: You never get exactly what you wanted but you get as close to it as you can get.
ET: The second observation I made was that, in your career, you appear to have worked with more of your fellow cult filmmakers than any other person.
TM: I think that comes about because writing, directing, producing, shooting, and editing leaves you open for involvement in other people’s movies. No one had heard of Ed Wood at the time I worked with him but I was asked to come in and light one of his movies. I was teaching the cameraman how to shoot so he could get his union card. Other people who did not have the money go full bore on a picture with a big crew would ask me to come in and shoot because I had the equipment and, above all, the knowledge. I was contacted by a lot of directors who had not directed before. They needed a cameraman who could come in and help them direct. I don’t mean telling the actors how to perform, I mean helping them with camera set-ups and compatible camera angles. That is where a lot of first-time directors fall down.
ET: The Ed Wood film you mentioned was “Orgy of the Dead”?
TM: I don’t think it was called that when I was involved. I do know that, when I was there, Criswell was in it.
ET: I believe the film was known by multiple titles in production including “Ghouls and Dolls”, “Nudie Ghoulies”, and “Orgy of the Damned”.
TM: They also went in and added a lot of footage of topless girls dancing in the woods. I didn’t shoot that.
ET: Did you actually work with Ed Wood or just with Stephen Apostolof?
TM: Ed Wood was there in the rooms and hanging around but nobody knew who he was back then. The first time I even heard of Ed Wood was when somebody sent me a picture around 1991 or 1992 and said here you are on a crew with Ed Wood, what was he like to work with? I said I don’t even know which one is Ed Wood, how do I know what he was like to work with? Steve was a friend of mine and I was just helping him out by teaching the cameraman. He was fast and efficient and became a big shot as a cameraman. He did “Dallas” and other big shows but I gave him his first job as a cameraman.
ET: Did you work with Stephen Apostolof on anything else?
TM: Steve and I were friends for a long time but I don’t think I worked with him on anything besides that. He came to one of my screenings in Hollywood not too long ago. Someone even said that he has moved to Vegas but he hasn’t communicated that with me. Our movies were a little different.
ET: He was more into soft-core.
TM: Yes, I try to stay with the basics – musicals, dramas, martial arts, action / adventure, horror or science fiction. I never stepped outside of those bounds.
ET: What was your involvement on “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things”?
TM: I put up a big chunk of money on that picture. I flew in to Florida and met all the people. One of the young producers came up to me and said let’s go to the set and watch them shoot. I said no, I’m going to go to the lab and see what you’ve shot. I had money at stake and I had committed to releasing the picture. I had the final say on the work print and the answer print because it was on me. The lab was on me too, which at one time was up to $16,000. I don’t even know if Alan Ormsby knows this. We got to the lab and the guy said what do you think and I said you have to throw this out. He said what do you mean, we’ve been shooting for a week. I said if I’m going to be involved as executive producer, and I never took credit for that, you’re going to have to throw out every foot of this and start over. The poor guy they had in from New York, and this is no put down, he was better equipped to shoot in a studio with cameras and good help but this was outside. When I first got there they were filming the ship and they were lighting it with a single lantern. They were also doing a scene with a girl biting someone lying by a big log. I asked them what they were doing and they said it’s a moonlight scene. I said that’s not the way you light moonlight and I made them redo it. I actually set up a drawing board and was teaching their lighting people how to light. The scenes with the hands out of the Earth – that takes special kinds of lighting.
ET: Was there a reason you didn’t take screen credit on “Children”?
TM: I have always felt that if I wasn’t the director or producer I didn’t need screen credit. I’ve done a lot of things that I didn’t receive any credit for and I didn’t care. That was my company, Geneni, that you see on the posters and that was really all I cared about at the time. If I had my company name on it, I figured that was enough credit. I had so many credits to my name by that time that I really didn’t need any more. If anyone ever questions my involvement, I have way too much to tell not to have been there. When the film was released we traveled everywhere and had openings where I secured the advertising and promotion. The uncle of one of the film’s producers, Gary Goch, had put up money for the film and he came to my office wanting to know why we couldn’t collect the money from the theaters faster. I told him when you deal with theaters you get your money when they send it to you. That really got under my skin that he wanted to know why we weren’t collecting the money faster. At that time I had a lab bill of about $65,000 that I was responsible for so I told him I would give the movie back to him if he would take over my lab obligations. I flew back to Miami to sign the paperwork, it was all very friendly, and after it was over I gave them back my full interest in the movie.
ET: Let’s jump forward now to “The Undertaker and His Pals” which you are listed as having re-edited.
TM: EOLA made the film and then they brought it to me. I had just started my distribution company in 1966 and had not chosen a movie to start with. What I had at the time I didn’t own the rights to so I was looking. I got invited to a screening of this film with other distributors and everybody walked out! They asked me what I thought and I said it may have possibilities. So I decided to have my own screening with other people and they said you’ll never get this in a theater, you’re wasting your money, if you take this on for distribution you’re going to lose! I went through the film and took out all of the footage that was shot during actual operations where they took out livers and gall bladders. It was really too gory for the average person because it was too real. You can put things in a movie if it’s fake and people know it’s fake but this was real. I took all of that out and cut it down and made some other little changes in the editing bay. It ended up only being sixty something minutes. I ended up releasing it as a second feature for “The Corpse Grinders” because, by that time, “Undertaker” had already run its gambit.
ET: So “The Undertaker and His Pals” actually did play on its own theatrically?
TM: Oh yeah, it played for three or four years. It was banned in Boston! We got big kicks out of that.
ET: You actually did leave a little of the operation footage in the picture, which is interesting because it really doesn’t fit the tone of the rest of the picture, which is almost playful.
TM: Playful and campy, the other stuff was just a little too serious. I’ve always considered myself an entertainer so if you are going to entertain people let’s keep it as campy and humorous as we can.
ET: This was 1966 when you released “Undertaker” and then in 1968 came what I consider to be one of your most accomplished pictures, “The Astro-Zombies”. You had Wendell Corey, John Carradine, and Tura Satana in that one.
TM: I had $37,000 to make that film from Wayne Rogers and his partner, Kenny Altos. I put my blood, sweat, tears, and soul and thirteen months of my life into that film. I worked hard and never got a dime out of that film even though it made hundreds of thousands of dollars for other people.
ET: How could you do that on $37,000? Most of that had to go to pay the name actors didn’t it?
TM: That was everything I had. The actors worked very reasonably. It was a budget that you couldn’t even dream of now. You have to remember, I was the writer, producer, director, and editor. I supplied all the equipment and ended up several thousand dollars in debt and I didn’t get anything. I owned a third of the movie but I got beat out of that too.
ET: How did Wayne Rogers, best known as Trapper John on the television series “M.A.S.H.”, get involved in “The Astro-Zombies”?
TM: He saw my first picture “Strike Me Deadly” and he wanted to put me under a contract. I looked at the contract and decided it was not for me but we did things together anyway, even though I had not signed the contract.
ET: How did you come to cast John Carradine?
TM: I had met him on a project I worked on for a fellow named Michael Drucksman in Washington called “Genesis”. He narrated it. That was in 1962.
ET: “Astro-Zombies” was released in 1968 and then re-released in 1971 with an entirely different ad campaign. How did that come about?
TM: Wayne and Kenny had a chance to sell it to Jack Harris for a little bit of cash. It didn’t include me. I delivered all prints and all the materials I had to Jack. I had already played “Astro-Zombies” on its own and on a few dates paired with “Corpse Grinders”. After that I did the “Final Dimension in Shock” package which was “Corpse Grinder”, “The Undertaker and his Pals”, and “The Embalmer” which I rented from Allied Artists.
ET: So “The Embalmer” was just a straight pick up? The film was black and white from 1966 and originally called “The Monster of Venice”.
TM: Yes, it was the undertaker, the embalmer, and the corpse! It made the trilogy work. I had to pay someone a lot of money to find that film and then I had to pay something like $25,000 to Allied Artists to use it and $25 every time we showed it. I also had to buy 50 to 75 additional prints of that because they only had 28 prints. I had to buy additional prints of “Undertaker” and “Corpse Grinders” too. I had to have matching numbers of prints on all the films so I could send them out as a triple bill. I spent about $150,000 to $200,000 having prints made and then that much again in shipping them all over the country. When I left the castle in Glendale, I dropped prints of these films – cans, cases, and all, into a big hole on the property and covered them with dirt!
ET: So there is buried treasure on that property.
TM: Well, those cans weren’t waterproof and a lot of water seeps into the ground out there. Those prints would be invaluable today.
ET: Was the idea to make “The Corpse Grinders” inspired by what you had the ability to do at the time?
TM: No, “Corpse Grinders” was the only script I ever purchased right on the spot. Arch Hall came to me with some scripts and I thumbed through them. I can immediately sense if a script if something I would be interested in. I saw that one and I liked the concept. It wasn’t called “The Corpse Grinders” then; it was something like “The Cat and the Cannery”.
ET: (laughs) Hey, that’s a pretty good title too!
TM: It was an intriguing title but at a later time I changed it to “The Corpse Grinders”. I don’t remember if Arch had suggested that as one of a list of alternate titles or not but I decided I wanted to call it “The Corpse Grinders”. I asked Arch how much he wanted for the script and we went across the street to my bank and I told the bank manager to pay him. I had the script for about a year or two and it evolved over time. I actually made “The Corpse Grinders” because I was one of the first people to do home video. I had engineers trying to figure out how to put my 35mm films on reel to reel black and white Sony decks. Telecine didn’t even exist then or if it did I had no knowledge of it. I got the rights to a number of things and did phenomenally well. These decks had to be threaded, so I asked Sony if they could come up with something like an audio cassette. They told me they were working on it, but it was still five or six years away. I had about 100 hours worth of material for these decks and we did so much business so fast but it just blew out of proportion. We got into so much debt that we had to close the business. I was working with two guys who just took off and left me with $475,000 in debt. I went to the lawyer that was handling all this and said I would make him a deal. If he could get all these people who were trying to sue me off my back, I would do what I do best, which is make movies, and I will pledge half of all income from this movie to clear these debts. That’s how “The Corpse Grinders” came about! I had no money, $1700 was all I could dig up but I did give half of the money from the movie to pay those debts.
ET: So that’s why the corpse grinding machine looks like it was made out of a cardboard box like refrigerators come in!
TM: It was never cardboard, it may have looked like it but it was really very sturdy. We had to dump bodies into it! It was plywood and two-by-fours and lawn mower and bicycle parts. People jokingly called it cardboard, but it wasn’t. It may have jiggled a little bit when you put people down a ramp into it but it wasn’t built to be a real cat food processor! (laughs).
ET: So how much do you think you spent building the machine?
TM: I keep thinking it was about seventeen dollars! It was odds and ends from a lumber yard. The lawn mower was two dollars from a second-hand shop and the ramp was nothing. In fact on “Corpse Grinders II”, the ramp alone cost me $200 but it was a genuine wide steel roller ramp from the Post Office.
ET: “The Corpse Grinders” was your first film with Sherri Vernon wasn’t it?
TM: Yes, she was my make-up girl.
ET: She was a beautiful woman; she reminds me a lot of Katherine Ross.
TM: We are still the best of friends and talk all the time even though she moved to Hawaii twelve years ago.
ET: So how did “The Corpse Grinders” do when it was released on its own?
TM: “Corpse Grinders” did more business than any of my other movies in my whole life. It was the only movie I have ever heard of that was contracted by movie theaters and drive-ins as many as six times on percentage. Normally a theater that rents something on percentage once would bring it back as a second feature for a flat rate of $25 per week. That just tears up your prints.
ET: How did the triple bill do?
TM: It just knocked them crazy! Everywhere we played we out-grossed everything! In Hollywood we had a 27 theater break and we out-grossed everything that was playing at any price. We out grossed “Tora, Tora, Tora”, a 26 million dollar movie. We just made them look silly. We did a quarter of a million dollars in business in 10 days and that was at 50 and 75 cent ticket prices! We had so much going for those pictures. We had certificates that people had to sign to get into the theater. We had a nurse taking blood pressure. We had a corpse grinding machine in a lot of locations. We had an ambulance out in front of the theater with flashing lights. We did everything that you could do to promote a movie.
ET: Was there a pressbook for that release?
TM: Yes there was but I don’t have one. Someone brought one to a show one time and had me sign it. I only have the 40 X 60 because someone sent it to me and said you above all people should have this.
ET: I didn’t even know the 40 X 60 existed until I saw yours. Most of the paper on your pictures is pretty hard to come by. There isn’t any of it that I would call common.
TM: The prices have just gone crazy. I only made a thousand posters for each of my films up to “10 Violent Women”. That is one thousand for the entire world and when you think about it that really isn’t very many. A poster for “The Corpse Grinders” just went for $275 in Australia! By about 1973 and “The Doll Squad”, I was sick of the National Screen Service destroying my one sheets. They would keep them for thirty-six months and then burn them, so I started holding on to more of my posters after that. I never printed more than 1000 posters for any of my films until “10 Violent Women”. I printed 2000 of that one but I lost about four cases of them in a flood along with some for “The Worm Eaters”.
ET: The poster for “The Worm Eaters” is pretty goofy but then that is a pretty goofy movie!
TM: It was a goofy movie! It’s one I didn’t direct although Herbie Robbins (the credited director – ET) has been quoted as saying I helped him direct a lot of it. I was working on editing a film I had shot at that time. I would go out to the “Worm Eaters” set each day around 3PM and half the time, after a 7AM call, they hadn’t shot one shot yet! I tried to jam it through to get all the shooting we needed to do that day done before sundown. We hustled!
ET: That film certainly seems to have a lot of the Ted Mikels’ “flavor” to it.
TM: I guess that’s why Herbie says I had more to do with it than I let on. A lot of people say it is their favorite film. That was a favorite rental of the University of Washington for a long time.
ET: Your next major film after “The Corpse Grinders” was “Blood Orgy of the She Devils” wasn’t it?
TM: Yes, I had to fight with the newspapers over that one! I had to go into San Francisco and fight with the newspapers because they would not print the title “Blood Orgy of the She Devils”! They would call it “She Devils” or anything else but “Blood Orgy of the She Devils”. I went there in person to talk to the editor and said, look, this is nothing but a campy little witchcraft picture!
ET: Do you attribute some of the reason “Blood Orgy of the She Devils” was not as successful as “Corpse Grinders” to these advertising problems?
TM: I think so. That wasn’t the only place that wouldn’t print the title plus we had put our intensities at that time into releasing “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things”. My sales manager was close personal friends with Bob Clark and he put his focus on “Children”. That kind of hurt us, I felt kind of bad about that because “Blood Orgy” should have done better. Now, at conventions, the two biggest sellers I have on DVD are “Blood Orgy” and “Corpse Grinders”. People remember “Blood Orgy” because in San Francisco they used to play it at midnight shows like “Rocky Horror”.
ET: Did “Children” do good box office?
TM: Oh yes, we did good. Once again we did great promotions. Alan Ormsby made these head masks and we had people standing out in front of the theaters wearing them and a girl leading a zombie by a chain. I have pictures where we went to a theater or drive-in and had that promo going on.
ET: Was there ever any thought to doing another double or triple bill with “Blood Orgy” and “Children”?
TM: Well I gave “Children” back to them in 1974 but I think we did release it on a few bills with “Corpse Grinders” or “Astro-Zombies”. It’s hard to remember after all these years but somewhere in storage I have boxes of theater tear sheets where it shows what we had playing. Would you believe that, at one time, I stood on Hollywood and Vine and looked down the street and I saw three of my movies playing on Hollywood Boulevard at that same time! Now you tell me, what big-time movie producer can say that?
ET: Do you recall what three movies they were?
TM: Well, I think it was “Girl in Gold Boots”, “The Corpse Grinders”, and probably “The Doll Squad”.
ET: When you made “The Doll Squad” you switched your formula back to something more similar to “The Astro-Zombies” and used name actors.
TM: On “Doll Squad” we raised a little bit of money from individual people. We put together about $100,000 in cash and the rest I did on my credit. With the lab bills and everything I think it came to about $256,000 total for the picture. That was heavy and it took all of my credit to do it. We had to use all of the foreign sales just to pay it off. It was tough because we had seven bad weather breaks. We had a terrible break in San Francisco, lightning storms, thunder storms. The streets were empty except for water!
ET: In the long run, though, wasn’t “The Doll Squad” fairly successful?
TM: Yes, it was. MGM got word from the screenings that we had finished it and they called me in four times to look at it. They were interested but I told them I would not make a deal with them unless I got a $350,000 cash advance and a worldwide distribution deal. They said hey, if we go for it, that’s no problem for us. I didn’t tell them I didn’t have the $36,000 to finish up the editing so they said let us see it when you get a little bit further. I went to my sub-distributors to raise the money to finish the editing and they got that territory to release the movie in under that contract. In effect, I gave them the rights to sell it in their territory subject to our agreement. The day that I got my first answer print, MGM must have gotten word from the lab that it was finished. I picked the print up from the lab, put it in my trunk, and was driving home when I got a call on my car phone; I was one of the first guys to have a phone in his car back then before cell phones, from my secretary saying MGM wanted to see “The Doll Squad”. I said how do they know it’s even finished, the print is still wet from the lab! I said “sure” and within an hour a driver from MGM was there to pick up the print. They called me back in about two hours and said we’re ready to make a deal. They met my terms, a $350,000 cash advance and worldwide distribution! I had to tell them that I felt bad but I had given away some of the distribution rights. There was silence and then they said they would get back to me. They called back about a half an hour later and said Ted we’ll wait for your next picture. That would have made a world of difference in my career! In retrospect, when the people I had sold the rights to found out, they said they would have been happy just to get their money back but I kept my word. We almost got an Academy Award nomination for the theme song from “The Doll Squad”.
ET: I didn’t know that.
TM: “Song for Sabrina” was just marvelous. I was told by Nicolas Carras that it was selected for top ten consideration for the Academy Awards but it was dropped when the top five were selected. I just got an E-mail from the UK yesterday asking where you could buy the soundtrack to “The Doll Squad”. I just might put it out because I still own the rights and am good friends with the composer.
ET: How long after “The Doll Squad” came out was it until it was re-released as “Seduce and Destroy”?
TM: It was actually about two or three years. My friend, Clyde Knudsen, from Dallas said that if I would give him all my prints, he would re-release it as “Seduce and Destroy”. It is the identical movie except that the new title was inserted. Do you know that, here it is some thirty years later; he just got around to sending me some trailers and pressbooks from “Seduce and Destroy”?
ET: After “The Doll Squad” you had “The Worm Eaters”, of course, but about a year later you did “10 Violent Women”.
TM: Yes, that was very successful but one of the most grievous things I have felt about the whole industry involved that film’s distributor in New York, Aquarius Releasing. They never sent me any money for the picture, nor did they return my prints. Aquarius was sending me letters, which I still have, saying how successful the picture was and that they wanted to buy the rights to six of my films for home video!
ET: What happened to the film you were working on called “The Space Angels”?
TM: We created eight spacecraft and filmed them. Rob Maine, who did a lot of work on big movies like Star Wars, did those. When it went into the trades that I was going to do a film called “Space Angels”, we had the most response ever for any film I have ever done. We had people coming in all day long wearing what they thought would be a space costume. It was really interesting because what I was looking for was women who were six foot two and over. I had created these seven and a half inch heels for these six and a half foot women and I wanted them all in one-foot tall beehive hair dos. So I wanted eight foot tall girls and I found some! We got some of this shot, not the part with the girls because we never really finished casting. It was an ambitious undertaking but we thought we had the money to do it and we didn’t. We had a company that was going to put up just under two million dollars to make the movie. Someone from that company took the script to Paramount and they said Ted Mikels is nuts he can’t do that picture for two million dollars! Two million would have made all the movies I have ever made in my life! Of course I could have made that movie for two million – I could have done it for a lot less than two million! We lost the money. It was a private corporation and they knew nothing about moviemaking. Rob Maine and I put together all those spaceships and filmed all those stop motion scenes for nothing. Not only that, I just used one of those spaceships in “The Corpse Grinders II” all these years later!
ET: That was what I was going to ask you. Could any of the footage you did be used in another film?
TM: That was the only spaceship that we had that I really liked. We shot it originally on 35mm and I had it put on ¾ inch tape. I had that transferred to Beta SP and we put it in the movie!
ET: Speaking of “Corpse Grinders II”, you’ve had a mini-resurgence recently. You have had two sequels, “The Corpse Grinders II” and “Mark of the Astro-Zombies”, come out in the past two years and you just finished a new film.
TM: Well, I finally decided that I am no longer going to look for money. I have all of the knowledge. I teach lighting, I give seminars on movie making, and I lecture to people by the hour. The places I lecture at love me because they say I am the only person they have had who does all these things and can answer all their questions. I decided no more with the money. I shoot everything now on Beta SP, which I can light very quickly. Give me a couple of tall individuals who can understand English and I can light in a fraction of the time it used to take my big crews to light. I love shooting, lighting, writing, directing, editing, and even performing. I decided a few years ago that from here on I am no longer going to wait for financing because it never comes. I’m going to buy everything I can on credit cards, don’t miss any payments, and just keep doing picture after picture after picture until good things happen! I’m on this kick now and I’m just going to keep going. I may wear out but I’ll never rust out!
ET: Tell me a little bit about your latest film, “The Cauldron: Baptism of Blood”.
TM: Jay Gowie, who did the masks for me on “Mark of the Astro-Zombies”, asked me if I wanted to hear about a story idea he had called “Baptism of Blood”. He had about a one paragraph outline along the lines of “Blood Orgy of the She Devils”. I gave him a “story inspired by” credit on the film. I started writing the script and the more I got into it, the more I decided I was going to make this film. If you watch the “making of” film on this movie, you will get an idea of how much work went into it. We made all the props for it, the sacrificial tables, and the big columns with fires on top. We shot all of the coven dancing scenes with anywhere from eighteen to twenty girls dancing. We really got into this film and I have a feeling it is going to be one of my favorites. It’s long, too. It runs about an hour and forty-three minutes so with the fifteen-minute “making of” film it’s right at two hours. It was quite an undertaking to go into without financing. That doesn’t mean it didn’t cost anything. We had five dancing scenes with the coven girls in this one where “Blood Orgy of the She Devils” only had two.
ET: So for this film you distilled all the popular elements of “Blood Orgy”?
TM: Yes, we really did. I am thinking that if we get a really good response to this film I may do another sequel called “Mara: Queen of the Black Witches”. That was my original title for “Blood Orgy of the She Devils”. That would be so easy for me to write I could start Monday!
ET: It would be the final chapter in the Ted Mikels’ witch film trilogy! Do you have a project in mind next?
TM: At the moment I am torn between a number of things. The people I am talking with now think I should do “Corpse Grinders III” and they would love it if I did another astro-zombies movie. They are also talking about a movie based on my castle life. I just wrapped “Baptism of Blood” and finished the DVD. I’ve had three days now without making a movie and it’s bugging me! I’ve told everybody that by next week I won’t be able to stand it. I’ll start another movie if I have to take my cameras into the backyard and shoot the snails and the bugs! I will start something. I have one that I want to do that I wrote years ago at the castle called “The Women of Castle Reagh”. I would also like to do “Doll Squad II” but that would take money.
ET: So you would really want that to be a proper film?
TM: I do. I really want that to be a mainstream proper film. We got away on “The Doll Squad” with the girls just doing a little martial arts. I knew a little bit and showed them but now with “Charlie’s Angles” and all the other films doing all kinds of martial arts we would have to have a lot more. If I did the castle film I am almost certain I would have to go to England. The castle that I lived at in Glendale for fourteen years has undergone a lot of new owners and renovations. I was originally going to do it there and use a matte screen painting to put it on the edge of a cliff. If I did it now, though, I would have to have financing. If you’re going to do a period piece with costuming these days you have to have financing. I would need a half a million to make the film, which is peanuts in Hollywood. The fact is you get put down in Hollywood for only wanting a half a million!
ET: You need to write up a budget for a five million dollar film and then make ten movies!
TM: I’ve had that thought many times! I think the key is to start another movie right away. I was going to drop everything and go into full distribution but I cannot compete with the big companies that are thoroughly dug in on international marketing and distribution. Hollywood has changed. The whole industry has changed. It’s a different time now and I think I would be smartest if I could make a deal with some of my movies, get some money, and start another movie right now. Yesterday was my birthday and my significant other, Dr. Wendy Altamura, told me that when people ask me my age I should tell them I’m immortal!
ET: Sitting across from you at this table right now, I would believe it! Thank you so much, Ted.
TM: You’re very welcome.