Press > Exclusive Interviews > Kai-Oliver Derks & Alexander Büttner (Webmasters: SnakePlissken.De/Media Consultants)

When did you see Escape From New York for the first time and why do you like it so much?

Kai: I think it was 1982, in times of the VHS. I was 15 years old and I liked that guy from the first moment. Because you just couldn't tell him a thing. Of course that fits the attitude of a teenager from a rural area. I started to look for an eye patch right away and strolled about the woods behind our house. I didn't rescue a president there, but I felt terribly mature with it.

Alex: I was 14 years old. Everywhere in Munich there were these really cool posters. Kids under the age of 16 weren't allowed to watch the movie alone, so I had to take my grandma along. I was totally flashed by the movie, I had never seen anything like it before. So I went to the theaters week after week, as long as they showed the picture and as long as my grandma was willing to join me. What I really liked was that Snake wasn't the kind of hero who just beats up other guys but that he thought very long and hard about when to use violence. And that he wouldn't listen to anybody.

How did you guys meet due to Snake and what company are you partners in?

Kai: I got a call in the mid-nineties from a woman I didn't know, who told me her boyfriend had seen Escape From New York more than a hundred times (now it's about 300 times). It turned out we knew the same people at the university. Back then, she was looking for an adequate Christmas present for her husband, and of course it had to have something to do with Snake Plissken. I owned the audio commentary of the laserdisc which I tape-recorded for him.

Alex: …and I listened to the tape parallel to the movie. We soon met (actually I was quite afraid Kai would be a terrible geek) and we became close friends. As we both were working in the media business we talked a lot about our jobs. Then, in 2000, I joined Kai's company as business executive. Since then we're a team. Teleschau is a media service provider producing entertainment-related articles with texts and photos for newspapers, magazines and online media in German-speaking areas.

Kai: And of course we make sure in a most painstaking way that we hint at every TV broadcast of Escape From New York and Escape From L.A., or at related new Blu-rays. Two missionaries at the behest of Snake Plissken – that's what we'll probably always be.

1: Teleschau Office
Cinema Display (Alex: When I was about 18, I bought the display from someone, who took it directly from the cinema.)
3: Rare German Teaser Poster in acryl
4: Video Store Display
Office Painting (Alex: A present from Kai for my first marriage (about 20 years ago), painted by a church painter.)
6: Office Painting (Alex:
From our graphic artist)

What is it about Snake that strike a nerve in you and in what ways has he inspired you?

Alex: Every boy and every man wants to be as cool as Snake. In order to live in a community, rules have to be followed, friendships have to be preserved and compromises have to be made. Snake doesn't have to do all that. He is really free, at least in spirit. That's what makes him so cool. He doesn't give a damn about what he must or should do or what others think about him. He keeps doing his own thing and with that he has some kind of moral claim as to how the world should be. That's what makes him different from any other action hero from the 80s or today. In my view, there is no other movie character with an outline like his.

Kai: He just isn't the kind of guy who saves the world for his family or prevents the doom of his country. I have always been attracted to lone wolves like Snake or also John Rambo. I think that most men would like to be like Snake Plissken once in a while – no responsibility for anybody but yourself. So you just watch the movie, dream yourself into it. And afterwards you build up a bed for your son and take out the trash.

You guys did the exclusive commentary track for the German Special Edition DVD. How did that come about and for us who don't speak German, what did you discus?

Alex: A friend of mine works for Paramount, the company that re-released the movie on DVD a couple of years ago. At that time I received a mail by that friend with several JPGs illustrating the potential covers. She wanted to hear what I thought about them, and of course I told her. But then I seized the chance and came up with the idea that Kai and me could do an audio commentary. My friend found the idea pretty odd but still presented it to the people in charge. And, lo and behold, they loved it. A few days afterwards we were sitting in the recording studio.

Kai: We sort of divided the whole thing: Alex took care of the backgrounds of the movie, spoke about shooting locations, scripts, the whole story. I more or less took the tabloid part. That Isaac Hayes, who plays The Duke, had 12 children, and how it came about that Ernest Borgnine played in a most terrible TV-slush called Veterinarian Christine II: The Temptation – stuff like that.

You're also the webmasters of What's the idea behind it?

Alex: Until a couple of years ago, somebody owned the domain and did nothing at all with it. We both found that quite inadequate and contacted the guy. He turned out a fan of Snake Plissken and thus didn't want to sell the domain. One year later the URL was still dead, so we contacted him again, this time speaking in terms of honor. We obliged him to give the domain to us if he still hadn't done anything with it after another year. Well, he stood to the agreement…

When did you (Alexander) decide to get a cobra tattoo and what reactions have you gotten from it? Also, where did you get the Snake Plissken head sculpture and where does it stand?

Alex: I always wanted that tattoo. Kai and me talked about it a lot. We thought: It's not cool if you put it on your arm, it has to be on the stomach. What can I say, I had the guts to do it. As for Kai, I think that train has left the station.

About six years ago I met my second wife, whom I love like crazy because she totally understands what Snake and Kurt mean to me. And she bears it all! If I want to have a Chevy because of Death Proof she thinks that's a cool idea. Or when I come up with the idea of a tattoo. Actually she was the one who tipped the scales on this matter.

The Snake Plissken head sculpture was a present by my first wife for my 40th birthday. She had it custom-made, that was just great. The sculpture stands in the garden now. By the way, for my 30th birthday I got a toilet lid that was designed with air-brush and is still in use today. Back then, I had a light barrier installed in my bathroom (Snake stuff everywhere) that started the EFNY soundtrack when you passed it. So I could force all my friends to listen to EFNY

What do you think about Escape From L.A.? What do you like and dislike about it?

Kai: To begin with, Snake Plissken could read from a telephone book for 90 minutes and I wouldn't say a bad word about it. John Carpenter and Kurt Russell rule over Snake Plissken. And with that they have the freedom to let him play basketball or go surfing if they want to. Of course you could argue about the visual effects of the sequel, but as I see it there's no sense in that. Snake is still Snake in the second movie. They remained faithful to the character. That's all that matters.

Alex: I entirely agree with Kai. As a matter of fact I think that EFLA portraits Snake in a more detailed manner than the first movie. Kurt and John managed to change the setting and at the same time improve the character. Unfortunately most people didn't comprehend back then that (14 years after part one) many storylines were repeated. That idea alone is wonderful. I also liked how they staged the whole movie as some kind of colorful, totally exaggerated comic. In short: I like EFLA a lot!

What's your thoughts about remaking Escape From New York?

Kai: Some time ago I saw the sci-fi-action-adventure Lockout in theatre, with Guy Pearce in the leading role. They, like so many others, employed EFNY. I don't need a remake, but honestly I neither have a problem with the idea of having one. Maybe there's some 15 year old kid who wants to see the original picture after seeing the new one. Then the remake would have done something good.

Alex: Us old guys, we're not interested in seeing new versions of our heroes, why should we? That's why most of the protest is articulated by us, the "seasoned" old men.

The young ones have no idea who Snake Plissken is (except for my kids of course, my son by the way is called Nils Kurt Büttner). Maybe a part of the character can be transferred to the new millennium if somebody manages to interpret the idea behind Snake in a way that makes it appear revolutionary for the new generation. If that works, so be it. As long as they don't do just another run-of-the-mine-action movie…

Are you frustrated over all the cancelled Snake projects in the past? Was there something particular you looked forward to or are you happy something didn't get made?

Kai: I do admit that I would have loved to see Snake as the hero of a high-class television show. But only one starring Kurt Russell! He could have played an aged hero, why not. But Kurt Russell always said that he cannot imagine an old version of Snake Plissken. And of course I think that they should have done the often discussed third part. The story has not been finished. It can only end with death, with the "final escape" so to speak. That would have met my perception of romanticism – and of redemption.

What's your favorite Snake moment?

Alex: That's a brief quiet moment before the storm. Just after the theatre, when Snake walks through the streets of NY. It's a huge moment, accompanied by rather simplistic synthesizer sounds. Why aren't there moments like this one in other movies? They are deemed unnecessary, because they don't add to the story, but as a matter of fact these very moments turn movies into masterpieces.

Kai: My scene is quite similar. After his first attempt to find the president fails, Snake grabs a chair amidst the wreckage and sits down silently. The story offers some kind of break to its hero and to the audience. That's my moment.

How was the experience meeting and interviewing Kurt Russell during his promotional tour of The Hateful Eight?

Alex: What can I say? I'll tell you a little story: On January 16th my daughter was born. During that same week we had our interview with Kurt. Shortly after I received lots of congratulations and I kept thinking they referred to the interview with Kurt. I think that explains a lot… If the seemingly impossible comes true, there's basically no way to describe it. For 35 years I've been living for and with Snake Plissken and then something like that happens. I knew there was the risk of an illusion being spoiled, but hey, Kurt Russell is Snake Plissken and Snake Plissken is Kurt Russell, and thus it all went well: Kurt is just incredibly cool! Even if we had said nothing to each other for half an hour it would have been a sensation for me.

Kai: Due to my job as a journalist I've been talking to actors for more than 20 years now. But of course Kurt Russell is something special. It was not the first interview I've had with him, and as I see it, he grew more relaxed over the years. Most actors don't want to talk about anything else besides their new movies when they do PR (Promotional Products). So I was all the more happy that there was sufficient time to talk about the great classic.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Alex: I'm father of three kids (daughter, 15 years old, soon to go to the US for a year, son, 11 old and another daughter of seven months). That alone is a big challenge. And of course Kai and me need to run the company which is a lot of work. I play tennis and I love telemark skiing in the winter. Besides that, I keep on collecting Snake stuff and try to convert people.

Kai: Obviously I love the movies. Showing the pictures of my youth to the 13 year old son of my girlfriend is a lot of fun. Although, quite honestly, most of it doesn't really appeal to him. He liked Back to the Future, and Star Wars, obviously. But First Blood or Blade Runner? No way. Furthermore, I'm a big fan of soccer. Bayern München is my team. And from my own painful experience I tell you: If you ever want to win something in this sport, get rid of Jürgen Klinsmann as head coach of the US team… just saying! 

Thank you for your time, Kai and Alexander.