EIN interviews Tracy Wuischpard (Director) and George Thomas (Star) of ELVIS FROM OUTER SPACE
The new sci-fi, comedy film, ELVIS FROM OUTER SPACE was released on July 7, 2020.
Corresponding with the film’s release, EIN was lucky enough to obtain the following interviews with the film’s director, Tracy Wuischpard, and its star, George Thomas. George is a well known Elvis tribute artist. Among other things, Tracy and George discuss how the film came about, the challenges they faced in making it, and what viewers can expect from it.
ELVIS FROM OUTER SPACE
Directed and Written by: MZ Silverman, Tracy Wuischpard
Starring: George Thomas, David Heavener, Diane Yang with Martin Kove, Robert Miano, Alexander Butterfield and Sonny West.
Synopsis: Ladies and Gentlemen, the King of Rock N' Roll From Outer Space has blasted into Vegas from the far side of the Universe to compete in an Elvis impersonation contest with the best in town!!! But just as he is on the verge of victory, he mysteriously vanishes. Who’s behind the disappearance? The mafia? The CIA? Or the aliens he left behind?
Distributor: Giant Pictures
TRACY WUISCHPARD, DIRECTOR
EIN: Tracy, thank you for taking time to speak to EIN today. A science fiction film around Elvis is a novel concept. How did the idea for ELVIS FROM OUTER SPACE come about?
TW: We made this film with bits and pieces from another movie à la Roger Corman. We enjoyed emphasizing the alien aspect of the film. We were inspired by all of the grocery store papers’ headlines about sightings of Elvis and the possibility that he had been taken by aliens and hadn't actually died. I’ve always found it touching that people loved him so much they couldn’t stop hoping he was still alive somehow.
EIN: What genre do you ascribe to ELVIS FROM OUTER SPACE?
TW: We tried to up the ante by making this film more psychedelic. It’s got aliens so that makes it Sci-Fi. It’s got the CIA, the Vegas mafia and a murder mystery. It’s got comic Elvis tribute artists and lots of great music so all in all I would say it’s a trippy sci-fi musical dramedy.
EIN: Without giving too much away, what can fans expect from the film?
TW: It’s a light, fun film with heart and a lot of great music. There are some interesting Elvis loving aliens, there is a rag-tag band of Elvis impersonators that do some wonderful comic performances. There’s also a dark conspiratorial piece that features the CIA and the Vegas mafia.
EIN: You have chosen the term “Elvis impersonator” in the film rather than more commonly used (some would say, politically correct), “Elvis Tribute Artist”. Was there a deliberate strategy behind this?
TW: I didn’t really make a choice to do that. The film came to me with “impersonator” in the dialogue and description, and I took my lead from that. There are MANY Elvis performers here. Some would rise to the “tribute artist” level and others are more in the “impersonator” zone. Much of it is comedy.
EIN: What were the biggest challenges you faced in making Elvis from Outer Space?
TW: There were many challenges in this project. We had to film our main character years after the first footage was shot. As a result, George looked older and didn’t match in. We had to de-age him with software called “Beauty Studio” by Boris Effects. We wanted our aliens to be very sensitive. There is a scene where they cry. Making the tears was really difficult, but ultimately we did it! Building virtual sets for the character “Barry” was a huge undertaking. We shot him remotely in a green screen studio and then composited those shots with a virtual studio we built for him in Cinema 4D. I could go on all day. There were MANY challenges.
EIN: You have one of Hollywood’s busiest actors, Martin Kove, as the main star of the film, playing the State Trooper. Many people will remember Martin from his key role in The Karate Kid films and earlier in the hit TV series, Cagney and Lacey. Securing Martin must have been a real coup for the film?
TW: Martin plays a cameo role as the state trooper and he was excellent. I did not cast him but did choose to keep his scene in the film. He was both threatening and funny- a complicated mix to pull off!
EIN: How did you decide on who to engage for the role of John Burrows (Elvis)?
TW: I didn’t do that casting but I hear he really bested the other contenders. He was very enthusiastic about the whole idea and now he IS ELVIS FROM OUTER SPACE!
EIN: One of Elvis’ closest friends, and core member of his Memphis Mafia, the late Sonny West, was also involved in the film. What was Sonny’s role?
TW: Sonny actually played himself. He got to say he was sorry he didn’t get to say goodbye to Elvis and I think that meant something to him. He was moved to tears in one of his scenes.
EIN: Also involved is Alexander Butterfield of Watergate fame. Can we assume a conspiratorial aspect to his appearance?
TW: Yes! Alexander Butterfield plays “The Chairman” a shadowy character whose allegiances are hazy.
EIN: How extensive is the music content in the film?
TW: There was quite a bit of original music made for this film. Much of it written by the brother of the original writer/director, Neil Silverman. Neil had written a pile of songs he’d hoped to get to Elvis, but it was not to be. His brother, Marv, ended up writing a film to utilize these great songs and they are performed by the Elvises in a contest that is a centerpiece of our movie. In addition, Bruce Tovsky and I made the opening music which underscores the alien approach to Earth with a lap steel, an EBow and a variety of foot pedals (in addition to some other themes).
EIN: When will ELVIS FROM OUTER SPACE be released?
TW: It’s out July 7th.
EIN: What are the distribution and screening arrangements/how can Elvis fans see the film?
TW: It can be pre-ordered on Apple TV right now and will also be on Amazon Prime as well as a variety of digital platforms.
EIN: Will ELVIS FROM OUTER SPACE be available to stream and/or on DVD?
TW: Yes, it will be streaming on Apple TV, Amazon Prime and a variety of digital outlets and DVD’s will also be available, all on the 7th.
EIN: Tracy, is there anything else you would like to say to EIN readers?
TW: We made a real effort to show our love and respect for Elvis in the making of this film. There is a true reverence for his talent and the people who love him here. We hope Elvis fans will feel that.
GEORGE THOMAS (ETA and Star of ELVIS FROM OUTER SPACE)
EIN: George, thank you for talking to EIN today. Firstly, please tell us about the George Thomas story.
GT: I was coaxed into entering an Elvis tribute artist contest and unexpectedly won it plus another one a month later. Next thing I knew I was contacted to be on the Joan Rivers Show in New York at their CBS studios.
EIN: How long have you been performing as Elvis?
GT: It is going on 32 years now.
EIN: What have been some of your highlights as an ETA?
GT: There have been a lot of highlights.
Performing for Mikael Gorbachev, Robert Kennedy Jr. & his family was a great thrill. I have also been flown overseas five times to perform for the U.S. Troops. Other highlights include appearing on the NBC Show "Las Vegas" with James Caan & the Shining Time Station with George Carlin. I also appeared in Cher's music video "Walking in Memphis" and Katy Perry's video, "That's What You Get for Waking up in Vegas". Most recently, I appeared on ABC TV’s Jimmy Kimmel Show.
I was blessed to work twice with Roman Coppola (the son of Francis Ford Coppola) on two of his national commercials portraying The King. And, definitely working with Martin Kove & Robert Miano in ELVIS FROM OUTER SPACE has been a major highlight.
EIN: How did you get involved in ELVIS FROM OUTER SPACE?
GT: I received a lead that co-director and writer, Marv Silverman, was looking to cast Elvis and fortunately I got the lead, after 3 or 4 callbacks working closely with his vision.
EIN: For those unfamiliar with the film, what is your role?
GT: I play John Burrows aka "ELVIS".
EIN: Elvis loved making films (at least for the first few years). How did you find the experience?
GT: I have always had a passion and intrigue for the filmmaking process. I have been pursuing it for my entire career.
EIN: What was the most challenging thing?
The sometimes painstaking process of capturing the magic in a creative moment when the environment isn't always conducive.
EIN: Do you have any plans for making more movies?
GT: Yes of course, ALWAYS. Creating my own as well as investing creatively in others' projects.
EIN: We have watched some of your videos and you seem to have a lot of fun on stage as Elvis. How do your audiences react?
GT: The reaction is generally VERY positive because the more you Give, the more you receive back from that audience.
EIN: What do you do when not on-stage as Elvis?
GT: Just keep Experiencing Life & Learning.
EIN: George, is there anything else you would like to say to EIN readers?
GT: Keep the Faith through all challenges and "TCB" (Takin' Care of Business in a Flash), and thanks very much for watching our film, ELVIS FROM OUTER SPACE. I hope people enjoy it!
EIN thanks both Tracy and George for taking time out of their busy schedules to talk to EIN about ELVIS FROM OUTER SPACE.
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Interview by Nigel Patterson.
-Copyright EIN July 2020
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George Thomas as Elvis from Outer Space performs for alien audience