Push The Axcellorator: Q&A With David Giancola

Other Worlds Film Festival is excited to announce the first feature for its Orbiter Year-Round Series in 2019: the Texas premiere of the SciFi action comedy AXCELLERATOR.

“Axcellerator conjures up the pure joy of the action cinema of the 80s,” says Bears Rebecca Fonté, OW Founder and Artistic Director, “like the unsuspected gem you discovered on the shelves of the video store. Sam J. Jones is no longer out to “save everyone of us,” and instead takes on all comers as a ruthless gun-for-hire. Plus, this probably has the most explosions of any film we’ve ever shown.”

The special screening of AXCELLERATOR takes place on Wednesday, June 26 (7:30pm) at Galaxy Highland 10 Theatre, the new (and old) home of Other Worlds Film Festival. Director David Giancola will be in attendance and will do a Q&A after the film. Get your tickets here.

Bears was able to talk with David about AXCELLERATOR and also got some great stories from David’s… well… storied career:

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One of the great things about our Orbiter Series is that we get to spend a little more time with a film, and a filmmaker, than we might at the festival. For AXCELLERATOR, I was so excited to pick the mind of director David Giancola about all the crazy stuff he has been through as he has surfed the wave of indie film since he was 19 years old.

After meeting David at Sci-Fi London, and laughing through most of his Q&A, I knew he would be up for not-the-normal interview.

BEARS: Your first film TIME CHASERS ended up being the first film from the 90’s to be featured on MST3K – how do you feel about that honor?

DAVID GIANCOLA: I’m not so sure I would call it an honor! But seriously, it was a film made on a shoestring budget, with a lot of love when I was 18 and the MST3K connection was what brought it to a large audience that I still hear from on a daily basis. TIME CHASERS is still getting theatrical bookings and we even just re-licensed the soundtrack music for a digital and CD re-release and even a retro-cassette tape release (which I didn’t even know was a ‘thing’ until we heard it from the record company). None of the film’s success would have happened without MST3K and RiffTrax so I am grateful to them, I know a ton of indy films from the 90’s that have completely dropped off the planet forever. Our little film hasn’t. However, my worst nightmare is that my tombstone will read: David “TIME CHASERS” Giancola, so that’s why I keep making films.


BEARS: You cast Jessie Eisenberg, Chris Evans, Kate Bosworth, and Paul Dano in their first starring roles. What did you teach them to make them so famous? 

DG: I taught them nothing other than maybe some movie set etiquette tips when we worked together. They all walked into their respective auditions with a ton of talent and charisma. I can only take credit for being at the right place in my career to be able to recognize it. And the cool thing about meeting someone genuinely talented at the audition stage and then working with them on a film is that it makes it even easier the next time someone really talented auditions for you to be able to recognize it. Then like a thief in the night you lock onto it, cast them and take credit for your excellent directing skills.


BEARS: Sam J. Jones played the iconic hero Flash Gordon — what made you think he would be a good villain?


DG: I was a fan of FLASH GORDON, of course, but he really was in the back of my mind since 1988 when I did my first short film based on Will Eisner’s ’The Spirit’. We got the rights from Will and when we met him he handed me a VHS tape of a failed Spirit TV Series which starred Sam. Will said, “Just make it nothing like this thing, and that guy…” The show did suck but Sammy was not the problem.

Also, later I knew a lot of Sam’s backstory, the rough patches he had after FLASH GORDON through some mutual friends, so I thought those might be interesting depths to plumb as Brink. The problem became clear when Sam arrived in that he wasn’t wearing any anger over his past. He is a man very at peace and happy so we went in a completely different direction which was much better and much more deranged and funnier than the really dark humor I had planned. Again, casting is everything. 

BEARS: What’s the most heroic thing he did on set?

DG: Sam was heroic every time someone called the police on us while we were filming (which was often for some reason). He could diffuse the local police in 30 seconds flat! There is, in fact a shot in AXCELLERATOR where after Sam walked out of the shot he walked directly over to some police who had arrived just behind the camera, and by the time we finished the shot he was signing autographs.


BEARS: ILLEGAL ALIENS is not only the last film role of Anna Nicole Smith, it also owns a 16% on Rotten Tomatoes and 3.3 out of 10 stars on IMDb. You revisited the experience in your doc ADDICTED TO FAME, which apparently was once titled CRAPTASTIC. What did you learn most from that experience?

DG: Rotten Tomatoes can go f*ck themselves, but I am actually surprised it did THAT WELL on IMDb. What I learned from ILLEGAL ALIENS was, when you have a flop, let it flop and move on. We wasted a lot of time trying to save that movie when it was D.O.A. I also learned a LOT about what happens when you get too rich or famous and the vices creep in – you get used.

This happened to Prince, Heath Ledger, and Whitney Houston also (and don’t tell me that their deaths were different because they were so ‘talented' – they all were junkies and it’s a shame –they just had legacy music and/or movies that could still be mined for big dollars so the industry P.R. flacks kicked in) and the people around them let it happen. I probably should have not bothered to make ADDICTED TO FAME because it stuck me marinating in all that misery for a few more years. But it’s a good film with truth. If you want to know more about what happened go watch ADDICTED TO FAME because I am soooo tired of discussing it. And “Craptastic,” yeah, that’s what I should have called the doc, which was what TMZ called ILLEGAL ALIENS. True fact: you now have TMZ on TV to watch because of Anna Nicole Smiths’ death. Look it up.


BEARS: So, you have Sean Young in this film – I have to ask, is Deckard an android?

DG: OF COURSE his IS! What was the ‘miracle’ in “BR 2049” about if not? Just a test tube baby? Think about it. Sean filmed her mo-cap stuff and never told us until after the film was released, she just said she was off filming some bad indy movie in Eastern Europe. What a great liar that girl. BTW, I just got an e-mail from her this morning that she may be in Austin for the screening, not confirmed yet but, fingers crossed! 


Ready to see Flash Gordon and Sean Young in David Giancola’s latest SciFi romp? Then get your tickets for the Texas premiere of AXCELLERATOR!