By: John M Jerva
Are you a fan of outrageous 80’s throwback style B movie goodness? Better yet, do you love to watch 70’s and 80’s action legend Fred Williamson bring back the swagger of those lost eras as he gleefully takes out the bad guys with heavy weaponry just like in the old days? Well, you’re in luck because we have the movie for you in
which also includes martial arts whiz Mike Möller doing what he does best as he defies gravity with jaw dropping fight sequences that are unequaled. Throw in the Atomic Eden himself Lorenzo Lamas and if that doesn’t sell you I don’t know what will. Renegade
The movie is currently streaming on Digital and VOD everywhere and we have an exclusive chat with director Nico Sentner himself who helmed the indie action-thriller which is an EXPENDABLES type action thrill ride that throws it back to the glorious VHS days when action cinema ruled the BLOCKBUSTER shelves. The East German born filmmaker and actor talks about putting the film together and working with action icon Fred Williamson as well as starring in the film himself. So sit back, relax and enjoy!!!
1) Hi Nico. First, I wanted to say thank you for taking the time to chat. It’s really an honor. Before we get into
, tell us about you and how you got into the film industry. Atomic Eden
I always wanted to become a filmmaker. Everything started at age 12, when I discovered my parents’ S-VHS camera and shot little shorts with my friends. At 16 I worked as a trainee in a production company and when I found out that the owner and founder of that highly successful production house was only 19 years old, I thought to myself: I´m doing something wrong! One year later, at age 17, I founded my own production company “Generation X Group®” Film- & Medienproduktion. Because I was still underage at that time my parents had to sign for me at first. My parents thought, that I may just try myself a little before I come to the conclusion to do “a real job” or go to college or something. However, that was 20 years ago now and I´m still doing movies for a living. I´m very well known in Germany as a director for commercials. And my company is very active in Production and Distribution of European Independent Films. It was a long journey of ups and downs to reach this level. My big break as producer and director came in 2005 with my first professional short film “DARK LEGACY”, a low budget horror-short, which I shot to test waters with the MDM, the public funding system for films in Central- & East Germany. The result: Nobody in Germany wanted the film or was interested in the Genre I wanted to go for!! Every German Film festival turned Dark Legacy down. And then, suddenly out of the blue a festival from Scotland contacted me and wanted to screen my film at their event. The same title everybody in Germany had turned down. It was then, when I realized, I need to submit my work internationally. It worked out well, Dark Legacy was screened in more 30 festivals around the globe (but never in Germany!) and we even won best International Horror Short at a festival in Los Angeles. Lots of news papers, website and even TV networks in Germany were reporting about the success of Dark Legacy afterwards. And this press hype really boosted my career. Suddenly doors were opened for me, which were closed before. And I learned the most valuable thing, you have to think internationally and not just on your domestic market.
2) You have acted, written, produced and directed. Which of these are the most satisfying for you and if you could only do one, what would it be?
The answer is clearly directing. Everything I did in the past, every position on movie projects I worked on, was only to gain experience to grow and to establish myself as a director. However, over the years I realized that I´m a good producer too and I don’t really mind producing films instead of directing them. But if I like a project and if I had a chance to direct, I would always prefer directing.
3) Your current film, is now on Digital and VOD here in the U.S. How did you get involved with the project and what drew you to it? Atomic Eden
That is a very long story. I created that project based on certain events, which inspired me for exactly this project: We were location scouting for another project, a post-apocalyptic action-film called “The Last Station” (a project which never happened) and while scouting, we found that really awesome place here in East Germany (coincidentally not very far away from where I was living), that inspired me and also looked a lot like Chernobyl. And while visiting this place lots of ideas hit me. That was the birth of the story behind “ATOMIC EDEN.” It was this really creepy but great place which gave me so many space and ideas to shoot a movie. That I started writing short story called “Atomic Eden.” But this was just like 25% of the cake. I had the pleasure of being involved as a producer in a WWII documentary called “PROJECT NATTER”. This documentary was about the first manned rocket plane in history developed by German Scientists as a secret weapon, also called “Wunderwaffe” during World War II. While being in the UK to meet with potential distribution partners for this doc, I heard this rumor about a Nazi Doomsday Device. The Brits actually do believe that there was such a thing. It´s almost like an Urban legend in the UK. So that was a another quarter to the cake. I had the honor of executive producing Mike Möller´s “ARENA OF THE STREET FIGHTER”, a 100% pure martial arts flick, which worked as an exibition film for the outstanding talent of German Martial Arts Sensation Mike Möller. The film worked well for us in international sales but a few territories refused to take the title because of the lack of Story and the lack of Star value. So I thought, I have to put Mike in an international action-film next to some names and icons of the Genre (If I can get those icons attached) combined with a good story, which I already had written. This was the third quarter to the cake. And the last part was falling into place, when Fred showed interest in my short story “ATOMIC EDEN”. I was already friends with Fred for a few years by that time but I never really had a project which could suit him. However “ATOMIC EDEN” made the difference. He was highly interested in the story and he agreed to play the role of “Stoker – the Leader”, if I could get the funding together. And also, Fred wanted to help me and support me doing my first feature film as a director. With Fred and Mike already attached, I presented the project to a financing source at the Cannes Film Market and what should I say, the guy behind the financing source liked the idea, the cast and the whole package. This started the financing process for the the project. The same year, only 3 month later, I was standing on set of “ATOMIC EDEN” shooting my first film as a director.
Hazuki Kato, Mike Möller, Fred Williamson and Nico Sentner on set
4) The film stars the great Fred Williamson. Tell us about how you met him and what was it like to work with an action icon?
I had met Fred at the American Film Market in 2010. He was such a great guy and we got a long very well. Afterwards, I had the pleasure of shooting a few commercials with him for German Clients and we became friends. Working with Fred is a lot of fun and also an opportunity to learn from his 50+ years of experience in the film industry. Fred knows exactly what he stands for and how to use this charisma and transport on screen. I always like to remember those 2 stories of Fred on set: We were shooting one of the last scenes in the movie with our surviving mercenaries leaving Chernobyl while walking on a dead railroad. However, we could shot only in one direction because directly behind us was a main street with cars passing by every now and then, which could ruin the sound. So the first few takes were ruined by car noise. And then we shot a take almost to the end when another car (a truck this time) crashed the sound. Fred reacted immediately and improved the line (while the truck was still passing by) “I hear traffic. Home is that way.” This take made it into the movie. Another story: Fred was almost 80 years old when we shot “ATOMIC EDEN” but he was in better shape than most of us. We had shot a scene where a masked attacker tries to hit Fred with a huge stick, Fred blocks him, hit him twice and throw him through a door. The attacker was played by 28 years old-, 2 meters tall-, highly trained-, muscular-, professional stuntman protected by protection cloth under his costume. And remember Fred on the other hand was almost 80 by that time. After only 2 takes the stuntman came to me and said: “Boy, this old man hits very hard”. Fred overheard it and responded: “Hey, I barely even touched you.” I could easily tell 20 more stories about working with Fred. It was an honor for me and a great experience.
Fred Williamson and Nico Sentner in Atomic Eden
5) The film is being described as a type of Expendables action flick with Fred starring alongside Lorenzo Lamas and Mike Möller. Was that the plan all along to make a b movie type Expendables? It has the look and feel of some of the great video action films of the 90’s.
Actually the film is my personal homage to John Carpenter´s “Assault on Precinct 13” and as well as to “The Magnificent Seven”. I grew up watching and loving Carpenter´s work. Also I wanted to do a mercenary movie, where each mercenary has their own distinct personality and character. You really didn’t want them to die because you liked the characters so much, same as in “Predator” or “The Magnificent Seven” to name a few. Everything starts as mercenary movie but it end ups in an Alamo scenario very much like “Assault on Precinct 13”. But other than “The Expendables” our heroes bleed and they can die. I was blessed with a great ensemble cast with Fred Williamson, Mike Möller, Everett Ray Aponte, Wolfgang Riehm, Hazuki Kato, Josephine Hies, Dominik Starck and the wonderful Lorenzo Lamas to bring the mercenaries to life. Besides all of that, I have shot the movie using practical effects all the way through, as I wanted to give the film a retro look and feel of the action-films from the 80´s and 90´s we all have watched and loved. Nowadays, I´m disappointed with the CGI overkill in modern action-films, I wanted to do a throwback to the good old days of action-cinema.
Mike Möller in Atomic Eden
6) You also have a role in the film as the sniper named John. Tell us about him and how is it to act in a film you are also directing?
The character of “John – the Sniper” is more like an extended Cameo of mine. It was fun playing him, I hope the audience will like the character but I killed him off first, so I could focus on my work behind the camera. Lots of great directors are doing cameos in their work, like Quentin Tarantino or M. Night Shyamalan. However, when you are doing your directional debut of a feature film, it is not a good idea to play a big part as an actor as you should better focus on your work as director (and in my case, as a producer, too). Regarding John as a character, he is a gambler, a womanizer, a joker and a highly trained sniper, always loyal to his friends. Personal note, John is recruited in the town of Sobenitz, which is were my family from my fathers side come from originally.
7) The film also stars martial arts phenom Mike Möller. How did he get involved and what does he bring to a film like this?
As I mentioned before, I’ve worked with Mike previously on “ARENA OF THE STREET FIGHTER”. Mike brings his outstanding talent in martial arts as well as his skills in fight choreography to the table. But besides this, believe it or not, he is also a decent actor for certain roles. The Character of “David – the Fighter”was designed for him, so he can do what he can do best on screen.
8) If you had to compare the film to other action genre titles. Which ones would you rank it with?
That is a question a director should never answer. I think it is up to the audience to make this comparison. If I did a good job, I hope people will compare it with “Assault on Precinct 13” or with the first half of “Predator”. Time will tell.
9) The film is loaded with action and great fight sequences. Talk about some of the challenges you faced while making these sequences.
The biggest challenge was time. Due to the budget, I had only 5 days (and nights) to shoot all action sequences, before the stunt-team and the special effect guys would leave. So, I was literally shooting day and night, as according to screenplay and original idea, there were action scenes set during day and night, too. I would like to thank my amazing stunt-team for bringing that fabulous action scenes to the screen, the way I imagined them. Without these people every action-film would look very plain. I´m very happy that everything worked out as it should.
The legend Fred Williamson in Atomic Eden
10) You were also an executive producer on The Hitman Agency How did that film come about? Tell us how it was working with the great Don” the Dragon” Wilson.
The Hitman Agency was the directional debut of my friend Dominik Starck. He was my co-writer, fellow producer and co-star on ATOMIC EDEN. And I wanted to help him out, so he could direct his first film. For THE HITMAN AGENCY, I was more a “Producer behind the desk” giving a little support here and there. Same as Fred, I had known Don already for a few years and I could convince him to be a part of Dominik´s project. If there is ever a chance to do a sequel to ATOMIC EDEN, it would be my honor to offer Don a bigger role in that franchise. I already have a character in mind for him.
11) What’s in store for you in the future? What other exciting projects can you tell us about?
I would love to do a prequel and sequel to ATOMIC EDEN. I have already written the stories. There are even 3 stories for Character spin-offs already there. But the film has to reach a certain level of success first before those ideas have a chance to get the green light. However, I currently have three new (very different) potential next projects on the table. I may know more early next year, which project will make it into the production stage. So far, it is too early to tell.
You can watch
on any of the streaming services below! Atomic Eden
Microsoft Movies & Xbox Video:
https://tubitv.com/movies/509867/atomic_eden ATOMIC EDEN is also available on COMCAST, xfinity and INDEMAND
Check out the first eight minutes of the film right now to wet your appetite before you check out the film in full. It’s a definite 80’s style B action movie good time! Just turn your brain off and enjoy the indie action mayhem reminiscent to when video stores ruled the world!