Additional reporting by K.F. Cumberbatch.
Ed Neumeier is the co-writer and co-producer of the 1987 film RoboCop, which will be screened as part of the Barbados Independent Film Festival on Saturday, January 13th at Olympus Theatres. He is also the writer of Starship Troopers and three of its sequels as well as Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid.
Neumeier will also participate in a filmmaker’s workshop about screenwriting and science fiction. We spoke to him during the Meet the Filmmaker’s media event on Monday, January 8th.
Ed Neumeier: There’s a whole young group of people out here – all over the world – who think they can make movies. And you know what? They can. The equipment is there. You can make a little movie if you have friends, if you have an idea and what I’m going to try to tell everybody is the most important thing is your idea. And if you have a good idea, no matter where you live you can make a movie. And with things like Barbados [Independent] Film Festival you can get it out and the world will see it. So that’s pretty cool.
Zeigeist: RoboCop is very much what you would call a cult classic.
EN: Thank you. I think so.
Z: What was this history behind RoboCop? What conceptualised it in the first place?
EN: I think it was my sense of humour. It was sort of how I look at things and way, way back in the 1980’s when I was writing this, you were supposed to write action movies that were exciting, but you weren’t really supposed to write action movies that were funny or satirical and I always thought you could do that. In the 80’s that was kind of a satire about corporate America and a little bit about what was going in law enforcement and policing and stuff like that. Those were topics that I thought I could write about in a fun way and luckily I hooked up with a bunch of talented people and the movie turned out really well.
I was very lucky to have a producer named John Davidson who produced the movie Airplane, which you might have heard of also, so he was a guy who encouraged you to do things that were funny. Then we got Paul Verhoeven – who is just a world class filmmaker – and he really bought into the whole idea lock, stock and barrel. So it worked out really well that way.
Z: At the time of filming RoboCop did you expect to have the cult following it has now?
EN: No. I don’t think you really. I had seen early screenings and people laughed at it so I thought: “Oh it might be successful” and it was more successful than anybody really knew it would be. I didn’t expect to be talking about it thirty years later. It was kind of the start of my career and later we did Starship Troopers – which was an enormous movie that took forever. I think all of that came out of that and it’s nice that people are still interested in RoboCop and they have me working on a new one at MGM right now so maybe we’ll get another one out of it.
Z: Could you give readers some sort of teaser as to what it’s going to be about?
EN: Well, here’s what I’ll say. We’re not supposed to say too much. There’s been a bunch of other RoboCop movies and there was recently a remake and I would say this would be kind of going back to the old RoboCop we all love and starting there and going forward. So it’s a continuation really of the first movie. In my mind. So it’s a little bit more of the old school thing.
Z: Is this your first time here in Barbados?
EN: It is. Yea, it is.
Z: How has it been so far?
EN: Well I’ve only been here for a few hours but, it’s beautiful what I’ve seen of it. It looks lovely. We all know Rihanna so we think of that, but this is my first time in the Caribbean. Maybe you should ask me in two more days.