INTERVIEW: 15 Questions With Terminator Too: Judgment Play Producer Thomas Blake

Back in November, we brought you an interview with Thomas Blake, West Coast producer of Point Break Live! I attended the San Francisco show, and I can confirm that it was indeed awesome. Now Blake is back producing “Terminator Too: Judgement Play,” which opens its San Francisco run tonight at DNA Lounge
. Once again, my friend Brian Gavin scored an interview with Blake, who describes his shows as, “You almost get to be a kid again, but you get to be drunk while you do it.” Sounds good to me. -Vince

1. How did Terminator Too: Judgment Play come together?

After doing PB Live for so long the big question everybody asked is what we were gonna do next. I was looking to spoof a film that was a) influential for our generation, b) had character that a member of the audience could play, and c) had these really famous lines that people would be waiting to shout out. For this one, I was also trying to find a movie that people wouldn’t believe we could pull off on stage with such a low budget. Terminator 2 met all the criteria and had over-the-top action sequences and special effects that to an average person seem impossible to adapt to a stage.

How it really came together was I had about a third done with the script and was living in New York. I was shopping at Urban Outfitters with my mom around Christmas time and ran into some kid who had seen Point Break Live in LA. He had the Point Break Live T-shirt on with my face on it and asked me what I was working on now. I mentioned I was trying to adapt Terminator 2. He freaked out and was all excited about it. Two months later I got a call from Santos Party House (a performance venue) in NYC in Tribeca — they asked about my Terminator 2 script, which I wasn’t near completing, and wanted to show it there. It was March at this point and they wanted to start in June. I literally ran home, banged the script out in two weeks, finished it, did one read through, and went into casting. We put it up two or three months later or whatever it was.

I didn’t even know how where they got wind of Terminator until I learned that the kid at Urban Outfitters was friends with the booker at Santos Party House who ended up calling me. The kid’s sister ended up playing John Connor for us. She’s the star of the show and the only actor we brought West with us. We’ve been performing it in LA for 2 years now.

2. Was it an easier jumping off point for Terminator Too given your previous experience helping launch Point Break Live?

I cast a whole new cast that never saw Point Break Live before. Half the script is stage direction. These New York actors were in the same position I was when I started Point Break Live. They didn’t get what we were doing at first and it took them a while to accept that our motorcycle is a wheelchair with a big-wheel strapped on the front.

3. Why is it a different viewing experience than Point Break Live?

The San Francisco version of Terminator is a game-changer because we’re adding a bunch of elements that haven’t been in anything performances we’ve done previously. We have fly riggers so Sarah Connor can jump out into the audience. We have a spaceship on a zipline. This is a lot more interactive compared to Point Break Live. I took all the elements we liked about Point Break Live and amped those up. There’s a lot more blood – five times as much. Pulling off the special effects was really, really fun as well. Lastly, we are adapting two very different movies. For me, personally, I think this is going to be the coolest show we’ve ever done.

4. “Welcome To The Jungle” really pumps up the crowd before Point Break Live. Can we expect epic usage of the song, “You Could Be Mine?”

We have a lot of “You Could Be Mine” in there. We are also using “Thunderstruck” to get people going. Music is a big part of our shows. A lot of the songs are nostalgic for many members of the audience. In Terminator we have callbacks to other movies from that era as well, but I won’t ruin anything. When you come to our shows, you almost get to be a kid again, except you get to get really drunk while you do it.

5. What T2 cast member aside from Arnold would you most like to see show up to Judgment Play?

Definitely Edward Furlong. We met him and even gave him the information about the show, but then he got arrested so we never were able to get him to come out.

6. What’s your most favorite and least favorite Terminator movie?

Most favorite is obviously Terminator 2. My least favorite is Terminator 3.  Actually, I don’t even think any of them compare to Terminator 2.

7. Have you read any news about Terminator: Genesis?

We try to follow all the Terminator news. Arnold’s making a comeback, but (the new one) kind of sounds like a remake of the original, like they’re doing with Point Break. What’s the point? We saw some of Arnold’s recent movies like The Last Stand and it looks like it’s getting tough to pull off. At the same time, I’m sure he’ll make some decent coin off of (Terminator: Genesis), so good for him.

8. Was it more difficult mining T2 for laughs than Point Break?

The script with Terminator Too is a lot more spoofy than Point Break. Point Break was ridiculous as it was, but with Terminator we really change things up to make it funny. Instead of Miles Dyson and Skynet we have Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. The comedy is more how you pull it off as opposed to the actual script itself.”

9. What was the most original take on The Terminator for the show?

Typically, the person picked from the audience is really good with the accent or acting like a robot. You get those people with spot on accents and they just kill it. Most audience members have a deer in the headlights look that translates well. We had an 85 year old guy that looked like Geppetto from Pinocchio who won. We didn’t know if he’d be okay physically but he ended up being hilarious even without the accent. There was one guy who was super shy and bowed out during intermission. We had to go to the audience and have the runner up from the audience finish the show out.

10. Is the Terminator audience different than the Point Break audience?

The surfer people love Point Break and the sci-fi people love Terminator. There are so many more tech guys in SF that are into the sci-fi movies. I’m excited about seeing the film nerds wild out on our version of Terminator.

11. Is it a coincidence that both movies you adapted came out in 1991?

I didn’t realize it until a little bit into it, but that’s pretty cool. I guess 1991 was an very influential time in my life.

12. Can you share what movies you’re considering parodying next?

We are working on some stuff, I’ll just leave it at that. We don’t want anyone ripping off our ideas. We have one in particular we’re really stoked about – I’ll just say I’m watching the movie a whole hell of a lot. I really wanted to do Goonies, but they are already trying to make a musical. And it’s hard to spoof Goonies because it’s already a comedy. With Terminator and Point Break you can get away with them as spoofs because the originals weren’t supposed to be funny. We also really excited that both Terminator Too and Point Break Live are invited to perform at Bonnaroo this year.

13. Is Gary BusEy invited to audition for the Terminator?

He knows about the show. I haven’t invited him personally but I’d love to see him get up there and do it. He would be hilarious.

14. If you woke up naked after time travel, where and when would you most want to be

Oh lorrrrd. That’s a good question. If I woke up naked after time travel, I’d want to be at the playboy mansion in the 1980s. The early ‘80s. I think it would work out well since I’d be back from the future. I’m sure I could probably get laid pretty easy.

15. Any final comments?

The main thing is with Terminator Too: Judgment Play is it’s gonna be Point Break Live on steroids. I’m super excited for it. All the new stuff we’re doing is takes our LA show to the next level. I’m glad San Francisco gets to be the first to see it.