George Sukara is the co-director and co-editor of HELL!. He also wrote more of the script than anyone else. And will do at least a little acting in the movie, because he’s good at that too. Not to mention he’s one of the world’s most beautiful people. Some among us are just incredibly lucky and talented. Others among us are even luckier and more talented than that. George belongs in this second group. As do Jamie and Erma and Dan and everyone else I plan to interview about this motion picture.
I emailed George some questions and he emailed me back some answers. You might think based on this being an online interaction that we haven’t seen each other almost every single damn day of our entire adult lives. Anyway, here’s the interview!
You’re from Ohio, but grew up in Los Angeles?
Yep. My dad got a job as an animator, so he moved to L.A. My mom stayed behind, loaded the covered wagon, and we eventually headed West.
You were born in the same hospital as both Steph Curry and LeBron James, yeah?
Yeah. And… uh… Mark Mothersbaugh, Chrissie Hynde… Jim Jarmusch. Probably one of my family members too.
I can’t remember, are you the second or third biggest baby ever born in that hospital?
In ‘78 I was the second biggest baby born in the hospital. Last I checked I was bumped to third. Kids be getting big these days.
Do you get notified every time a bigger baby is born? Like a Guinness Book of World Records kind of thing?
No, I just knew someone who worked there. Shit, now that I don’t have a mole on the inside, I’ll never get updates on my ranking!
It's better that way. It'd be a huge blow to your ego to hear you dropped to fourth. You were an extra on several shows right after high school weren’t you?
Yes sir. Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Clueless, Crusade, America’s Funniest Home Videos (yes, the audience is made up of paid extras)… I’m blanking on some others.
For a while Land and I would book gigs together. We did the Mad About You episode with Macho Man Randy Savage. That was great. We did a show called Providence, and the call was for poor people, so my plan was to smear a little charcoal on our faces, to make us look more like street urchins. We decided to not go that far with it. We always tried to get on Power Rangers, but the call was always for people to play Putties. That would have been full costume and mask, filming way out in the Valley in 100 degree weather. Aka a death trip.
What was the biggest part you played when you were extraing?
Wow, the way these questions are posed it’s as if you’re leading me… Zoe, Duncan, Jack and Jane. Short lived WB sitcom. I was just booked as an extra and they had cast an “official” actor for the part of Norman, the Stalker. The director took one look at him (leather jacket, “cool guy” hair) and said “No, he’s not right.” Then he looks across the room, locks eyes on me, points and says “That guy!” It’s the perfect old-timey Hollywood story, except my career went nowhere.
When did you start wanting to make movies and shows of your own?
Since I was a kid. I didn’t do little league. We rented three movies a weekend ever since I was really young. The first movie I saw in the theater was Empire Strikes Back. I was 2.
Plus my dad worked in animation, and was in a short film made by the Disney animation team called Luau (co-directed by Tim Burton). So that helped.
I first tried to make short films when I was in fifth or sixth grade on a borrowed video camera. The first one (“It Bites From Below”) was a blatant rip off of TerrorVision - but the monster lived in the toilet and not the TV. The second was just my brothers chasing me through the desert, over abandoned burnt out cars and stuff. I didn’t finish either of them.
You hosted an internet TV show for a while called Toobin' with George and Land. Tell me about that.
Uh, Land came up with the idea. Basically, we presented weird videos we found online (dissimilar from the Tosh show, in that these were usually more obscure or esoteric videos). The show mutated from there. We did little sketches, filmed segments. We had an audience and a drunk Santa for our Christmas Special (Richard, Riah and Santa Oddcock). We did an after-show: Toobin Nights aka Toobin After Dark… shit what was the other one? Toobin’ High Voltage? High Octane?
We did that for three years or so. When I look back at those episodes it’s terrifying how young and full of hope we were. What happened?
Pretty sure the computer simulation we all live in is simply decaying. What other movies inspired what you’ve written and how you envision HELL!?
My initial take was a cross between Citizen Ruth and The Three Amigos. I can only hope we can make a movie as weird and ridiculous as Three Amigos. I just love John Landis’ output from the 80s.
I love a good bonehead (good bone) protagonist. It also helps that Jamie has created such an easy character to riff on.
So yeah, those two movies with a sprinkling of Medium Cool. Maybe.
That reminds me, did you know in the UK they used to call Cool Ranch Doritos, Cool American Doritos? When I first saw that, I thought, “finally, a chip named after me.”
But what have you enjoyed the most about making the movie so far?
I don’t know. Probably our writing retreats. Turns out I don’t hate collaboration and I don’t mind writing in a group setting. I’m not a big picture or storyline kind of guy. I can write episodic scenes and dialogue, but I fucking suck at plot. So it was nice to let the others hash out the structure of this fucker.
Dear god, such language.
Honestly, it’s been amazing watching the performances emerge each day of filming. I’m not just trying to kiss the collective asses of our cast, but I’ve been blown away by how talented everyone is.
Also, I love getting puppet updates (Puppdates?) from Dave.
Me too. Let’s close with that. Goodbye interview!