Foreword by Adam Brannon: We are all adapting to some serious changes post-COVID-19 and as the world tries to get back on its feet, it’s been refreshing to see people trying new, exciting and different things.
Whether it’s deciding to cycle, rather than get on public transport or create your own podcast, the number of individuals relishing trying new activities has been perhaps one of the only positives of this troubling pandemic. Over on Instagram, new accounts are popping up left, right and centre, but one that really caught my eye was tot_for_tot_remakes.
Alex and his daughter Matilda live in the US, and have taken the Insta world by storm by recreating classic scenes from movies with a little photoshop knowhow and little else. The results have been astounding. In this interview, I ask Alex about the thought process behind the account and the public reaction.
1. How did the remake project come about?
I’ll be speaking for both Matilda and myself. Matilda prefers to let the art speak for itself. Plus, she’s four and can’t read or write. This project came about because of COVID forcing me to have to work from home while attempting to also watch two toddlers. I’m a state prosecutor but the virus has left the courts closed since mid-march. Matilda is four years old. I also have a two year old son.
I’ve been attempting to fill their day with different games and activities for my kids and had brought a large plastic toy “hoopdity” car into the house so my kids could make a “car wash” in the shower. The car was sitting in our living room and Matilda started trying to balance on the top of it. Instead of being concerned about her over-all safety and instructing her to get off of the car my mind immediately went to the Michael J. Fox classic 80s film Teen Wolf and the iconic unforgettable scene where the Wolf surfs atop Stiles’ van.
Instead of yelling at Matilda to get down I yelled at her to do an air guitar. She didn’t know what an air guitar was so I had to demonstrate. I took a few photographs and have a friend Andrew Kelly [@ak.instagraphs] who is a professional photographer and immediately reached out to him and asked if he could get some hair all over my daughter’s face. Thankfully he didn’t hang up the phone, took the request seriously and put something together for me.
2. Tell us about the process in creating the photographs
We have a bit of a system in creating the photographs – first we have to think of ideas. It is tough because we are limited in the fact that our “star” is a four year old who has little patience for anything that takes over 90 seconds. If we need anything more than three quick photographs she’ll have to be bribed back onto “set.”
Thus, we are somewhat confined to movie scenes that feature a character either sleeping, dead, screaming, standing or sitting – anything aside from those actions is a bit complicated to pull off with a four year old. After that I will take a few photographs and send them to Andrew Kelly who will review them and let me know if they are decent looking and funny. If the shot is more complicated he will give me a call and walk me through setting up and taking the photograph.
It’s somewhat frustrating for him given that he is a professional photographer confined to working with the product of someone that before March didn’t even know how to zoom in on my I-Phone camera. He talks about lighting and angles and my eyes just go dead like the mole in fantastic mr. fox. Anyway, if it passes his check the photographs get sent to him and he can tinker with them by adding effects and backgrounds and things like that – he sends them back and I post them.
3. What has been your favourite film to recreate?
My favorite film to recreate with Matilda was The Shining in which she is holding a Melissa and Doug wooden toy knife as the axe comes crashing through the door – mainly because it was easy to get her into character. I just told her that the movie was about a dad who had to stay at home with his family for a really long time which caused him to slowly lose his mind – after she heard that synopsis she looked at me confused and a little scared and that got her right into character.
It was also the first time I realized how much Andrew Kelly could transform these photographs and that was exciting. Close second was the Sixteen Candles recreation – Matilda always so excited to get dressed up for a recreation. A pretty dress is a much easier sell than rubbing fake blood on your cheek to play John Mclane in Die Hard or Jordan Belfort from Wolf of Wall Street.
4. Which has been your most ambitious?
The most complicated recreation was probably Cool Hand Luke. Only because I had to fend Matilda off from actually eating 15 Cadbury Candy Eggs. Sixteen Candles was also tough in that my wife had to balance a large stuffed bear over a birthday cake while attempting to not set the entire house on fire.
5. Have there been any that haven’t worked out?
The one that has gotten away is Dirty Dancing. Matilda rehearsed and rehearsed and is able to balance pretty well on her belly across a small stand. However, we couldn’t get my two year old son to hold his arms up in the air despite dangling candy over him from a string attached to a pole. We haven’t given up though. Might just have to keep doing these recreations until he is old enough to follow instructions.
6. One we ask everyone at Movie Metropolis, what’s your favourite film?
Inglorious Bastards. For the basement bar scene alone.
7. And another, what’s your favourite cinema snack?
It’s a combination of popcorn and M&Ms – combine them and make yourself a great movie salad.
8. What has the public response been like?
The fact that this whole thing started out as a lark to pass some time and has turned into an Instagram page with over 1k followers is completely bananas and exciting. We get a ton of great, positive feedback which is great because the whole point of this was to maybe put a little positive content out there on the internet during a storm of negativity and fear. We just want to make people smile for a few seconds during their day. That has always been our goal.
9. What’s the plan once normality returns?
I think once things go back to “normal” we will continue to do this “project” but scale it back a bit to maybe once or twice a week – once work resumes full time it’d be too hard to keep doing it five times a week. Plus we need movie theaters to reopen so we can get some new ideas. We are running out of movies!
I’d like to thank Alex for taking the time to take part in this interview, and wish him and Matilda all the success in the world with their account. Be sure to check them out on Instagram, and read through all our other interviews, from directors to film stars.