Mark Hartley makes his second appearance in Midnight Madness with Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films. Hot of a triumphant World Premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival, Hartley was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us.

Midnight Madness: Every Cannon Film probably could have a feature length doc made about it. How difficult was it to tell the whole Cannon story in just one film?

Mark Hartley: There are soooooooo many Cannon Films (for starters just try counting the America Ninja sequels!) but obviously we had to be a little bit selective. If you want to see an in-depth discussion of HOT CHILI or DETECTIVE SCHOOL DROPOUTS, you will be sadly disappointed – but I think we’ve covered most of the fan favorites as well as a few jaw-dropping curios.

MM: This is your 2nd Midnight Madness entry and 3rd TIFF Film. Are you really going to stop making docs? Do you think you have any more docs in you?

MH: I keep telling people that this is my final doc – and no one believes me, but it is the truth. I’m an accidental, wildly undisciplined documentary filmmaker – and it’s now time to leave this caper to the professionals. I had the opportunity to finally make a narrative feature in 2013 with PATRICK – and I had such a wonderful and thrilling experience during that production that I really want to invest all my energies into narrative filmmaking. The incredible thing about having made these three genre docs is that I often meet movie lovers that tell me that these films have encouraged them to explore their own National cinema. Job done.

MM: While many of the Cannon films are so bad they're good, there are many that are borderline unwatchable. How often during pre-production did you find yourself saying: I can't watch another minute of these films!

MH: It wasn’t the quality that was daunting--it was the quantity! I’m not sure how healthy a steady diet of Golan & Globus productions was on my sanity--but they made them, so I felt I should watch them. To be honest, I did draw the line at the Lou Ferrigno star-vehicle, Sinbad of the Seven Seas – and the last six Lemon Popsicle sequels.

MM: Was it difficult getting people to talk about parts of their career that they'd rather forget?

MH: I’ve been lucky with my docs that they’ve covered subjects that haven’t been overly explored--and so telling these stories is a novelty (and sometimes therapy) for many of the interviewees. I’m not sure how many dinner party conversations have started with, “So tell me about working on Bolero…”

Certainly with Not Quite Hollywood and Electric Boogaloo, the subject matter covered was a training ground for many. Generally, people are fond and nostalgic about their introduction to the business--no matter how badly treated they were… and if they’re still scarred, well, it makes for even better drama. 

MM: Having spent so much time exploring the seedy underbelly of cinema, are you ready to run screaming from the business and never look back?

MH: Not at all. I’m ready to launch myself from a cannon, slam into the evil heart of this business and hopefully start filling up my IMDb page.

MM: After Not Quite Hollywood, you decided that Patrick was ripe for a remake. Any particular Cannon film you'd like to reboot?

MH: More important is the fact that there are certain Cannon films that should be left untouched by the reboot machine. Can you imagine anyone topping the scope, scale and lunacy of Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce? If there’s one film that we should get on our knees and thank Golan & Globus for, it’s that visionary masterwork. Another jewel in the Cannon crown is Boaz Davidson’s The Last American Virgin--which I do believe Millennium are planning to remake. I’ll have to ask our co-producer, Brett Ratner, if he was inspired by Cannon’s Hercules. I have my doubts.

Mon., Sept. 8th, 11:59 PM, RYERSON
Wed., Sept. 10th, 9:00 AM, BLOOR HOT DOCS CINEMA
Sun., Sept. 14th, 12:45 PM, SCOTIABANK 11

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