Friday, October 31, 2008

An Interview With Slamdance Executive Director, Drea Clark

You're an indie filmmaker or an indie film fan, right? If you're reading this, I'd have to assume so. Then, when you think of Utah in January, what comes to mind? Drawing a blank? Okay, I'm not talking about snowboarding or anything like that. Let me narrow it down... think Park City. Think festival. Think indie film. Yeah, you got it... SLAMDANCE. The TRUE representation of independent film, not like that other festival thing that goes on at the same time in the area. I can't remember what it's called... I'm drawing an f'ing blank.

I'm not sure that there's much I can say about Slamdance that hasn't already been said. Slamdance is the festival that's by filmmakers, for filmmakers, and has the balls to do it in the industry's favorite wintery stomping grounds. Although they're not specifically horror, the festival gets a lot of horror submissions. Long and short, this is a festival that you don't want to miss and you need to know about. So, to help you along on your quest for knowledge, we had the distinct pleasure of talking with Slamdance Executive Director, Drea Clark, and she's going to tell you about all the goodness that is Slamdance...

Please tell us a bit about yourself… how’d you get into the indie horror scence?

I guess I got into the indie horror scene as a direct result of working at Slamdance and programming films for so many years, although I’m a huge fan of the genre anyway. A lot of my favorite films growing up were horror films, and they also happened to be my introduction to indie films: Evil Dead, Re-Animator, Last House on the Left, Dead Alive.

Tell us a bit about Slamdance. When was it founded and why?

Slamdance was founded in 1995 by a bunch of losers. Actually, just four losers – four guys whose films were rejected from Sundance, anyway. (Um, sorry, Co-Founders That I Just Called Losers.) They made films on their own: their money and their talent and their friends. So when they got turned down, they decided the next step in an indie revolution would be to show the films anyway – they made them on their own, so why not show them on their own? We’ve grown a lot from that, this will be our 15th anniversary year, actually, but at the heart that’s still our focus. Our feature competition films are ONLY open to first time directors working with less than $1 million, that don’t have distribution. Other would-be losers; those are our people.

From the perspective of the film, why should indie horror filmmakers try to get their films into the festival?

We’ve had great success with their films getting stellar reviews, great audience reaction (and subsequent word-of-mouth) and solid film sales with our indie horror selections. Last year alone we had Paranormal Activity, Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer and Trailer Park of Terror. Those films were some of my favorites overall – we even had to add an additional midnight screening for Trailer Park, which was batshit fun. Plus, I got to meet Robert Englund (who stars in Jack Brooks), and that’s about the only kind of celeb encounter worth blogging about, in my estimation. People that check out Slamdance films are looking for raw talent and a good ride, and I think filmmakers taking on horror independently bring both to the table.

From the perspective of the filmmaker, what can I expect to get out of having my film screen at the festival?

I might’ve answered some of this in the first question, but the other thing that comes into play is that often Slamdance will be the first stop in a whole season of touring festivals with your film. Once you’re in the circuit, interacting with other filmmakers is a great way to gain insight to other fests and Slamdance is big on camaraderie. We really encourage our filmmakers to be all BFF with each other, to check out each other’s films and take part in all our activities. Plus, you’re in Park City! With a film! That town is swarmed with industry people and other filmmakers and parties and seminars, it’s like the most fun film boot camp you’ll ever attend.

As a horror fan, what can expect to get out of attending the festival?

Programming some great horror films is just a natural part of our slate (we call it our Twilight Series, and I don’t mean teen vampires in love with mortal girls... Unless someone submits something like that; I dig vamps). Along with the films I mentioned above, we’ve also had some foreign horror pics that you might not be able to catch elsewhere, like Cold Prey. So there are a lot of options at our fest, and Sundance has had some great flicks, as well. A couple years ago I was crushed because one of the films that we offered a position in our line-up also got into Sundance and played there instead – but it’s so good I’m totally fine pimping them out here: The Signal. You broke my heart, The Signal!

When you’re accepting films, what are you looking for?

Something that keeps my attention, that makes me think that the person (or the team) behind it all is someone who is doing something great AND has it in them to make more and more great movies. I like a consistent tone, I like a recognizable voice (and I mean directorial, not stars – we don’t care much about stars). I like being taken by surprise; if you knew how many films start with a white dude in bed as his alarm goes off and then he gets up and brushes his teeth... Kill me. (Or kill him! That keeps my eyes open.)

Does budget come into play when you’re considering films?

Budgets come into play for us because they have to be under $1 million to be eligible for competition. Other than that, not so much, although I do like having at least a couple REALLY low budget bad boys in there. Two years ago we had a feature in narrative competition with a budget of $547 (tape stock). People that craft solid stories with no money are all right in my book... Biggest problem there often ends up being craptastic performances.

As a filmmaker, what can I do to make my film more festival friendly? Should I even be thinking of that?

I don’t know if that’s really anything you can do, because when you’re making a film you should primarily be thinking about the film itself. Think of how many big budget films suck ass, largely because you can just hear the executives’ notes while you’re watching it. I think what you CAN do is concentrate on making sure it’s as solid as it can be – there isn’t money for re-shoots when you’re shooting independently. Get smart people that you trust and that are blunt with you to a) read your script and tell you what doesn’t work and b) watch your edit and be brutal. I want to trim about 20 minutes out of 78% of our submissions.

At what point in the filmmaking process should I be thinking about the festivals?

I’d say when you’re in post, but I’m a purist (and down with artists) so I’m sure others would say differently.

I’d like to also mention that you have a screenplay competition. A lot of new screenwriters are weary of sending off their scripts, what can you tell them to put their mind at ease?

We actually have four writing competitions: feature screenplay, short screenplay, teleplay (comedy, drama and unscripted) and horror screenplay. We effing love writing competitions. I totally get being freaked about sending your script out, in some ways it’s kind of like a diary – like it’s more personal than sending out your film. You send the film and there’s other people to blame, but a screenplay is just all raw and you. What I can say is that we take our submissions seriously; most of the people who work at Slamdance (staff, programmers, readers, festival bitches) are filmmaker alumni – we’ve been there, many of us are still there in the off season. And we WANT your scripts to be good, we want you to have careers, we want you to win or to get good notes back and build a name for yourself and then someday thank us from some imposing podium. So we’re not reading things hoping to cut them down, we’re hoping for them to excite us – and they often do. (In a non-pervy way.)

As a screenwriter, what can I expect to get out of submitting my screenplay?

If you’re just submitting for the competition, then you’ll be in the running for a variety of prizes (money and the various option deals that we’re always developing and building on for the writing competitions). However, you can also check “Coverage” when you submit, which means you’ll get back comprehensive notes on what is working, what isn’t working, how you can improve it – we offer year round coverage outside of the competitions, as well. Either way, your script is read all the way through (I know this; I read a lot of our submissions) and given full consideration.

Are there any particular success stories from films that screened or the screenplays that were submitted to Slamdance?

We’ve had great films picked up at Slamdance, like Mad Hot Ballroom or King of Kong or Wassup Rockers. However, I think our biggest legacy has been in the directors who showed their first film at Slamdance and developed a career as a result: Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight), Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace), Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite), and Greg Mottola (Superbad) all started at Slamdance, which is kind of a mindfuck. That’s really been our niche, launching talent. Our screenplay competition’s biggest breakouts have probably been Maria Full of Grace and The Woodsman.

What advice can you give to an up and coming filmmaker or screenwriter in the indie horror genre?

Just do it! Craft a good story, flesh it out on the page (or de-flesh it if that’s part of your narrative), make it interesting and tight, where every minute is worth watching. That’s the free part, when you’re writing, so really get in there. Then find some money, drag in your most talented friends, bring it to life. Indie horror is great because it can be irreverent or scary or allegorical or hilarious, there are so many options.

Tell us about the future of indie horror, where do you see it going?

I think people always want to be scared, it’s such a pure form of escapism. Indie horror films are fun, there’s opportunities to shock and provoke thought and be a little sexy or creepy or both. Some of the best original horror films had great metaphor to them, and I think that’s easily interwoven – I would love to see more of that. I always love to see more blood, either way.

What’s next for you and Slamdance?

We are just starting our programming process now, submissions are closed and I’m watching about 15 movies a week, gearing up for the festival. We’ll be in Park City from January 15-23, 2009. We’re at the top of Main Street, if you’re going to be in town – check us out. I’ll probably be in the office, yelling at someone, but pop in and say hi.

Where can people find out more about Slamdance and how can they go about entering their film? is the way to keep up with all our happenings, activities, clam bakes, screening series, blah dee blah. And they can enter their films there next year (closed for this year) and find out more about the writing competitions and those dates, as well!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Exclusive Interview with Jason Murphy, director of "Zombies Zombies Zombies Strippers vs. Zombies

I think it's safe to say that between Brad and myself, we see more indie-horror than your average filmgoer... granted, I've talked to a few film festival directors who may have us beat, but (and I quote Nic Cage from "Leaving Las Vegas") they do it because they HAVE to, I do it because I WANT to. Nothing like comparing a raging alcoholic and indie-horror, but I digress... Either way, having watched a lot of them, plus getting to talk to a lot of the filmmakers, you start to learn what you like, what the general fan may like and how the films may do on the market. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but I find that a good amount of gore, a bunch of nudity and a sense of humor never hurts an indie-horror film.

That brings us to "Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! Strippers vs. Zombies" from Jason Murphy. Not only does it skillfully combine all the above mentioned elements that I love about indie-horror, it, plain and simple, kicked ass at it. If you're looking for a good time in an indie-horror film, it's a film for you. Brad had the chance to discuss the film with him and, as usual, you get a lot of insight into how he got the film made.

Tell us about your background and what made you decide to get into film making.

Well. I have pretty much wanted to make movies my whole life. I never wanted to be a firefighter or police officer or anything like was always something in movies. In high school, my friends and I always made little movies and were in the "video club", and all that geeky stuff. As for what made me want to get into it...I'm not really sure. I do remember watching tons of horror movies with my Dad when I was young, and I was always fascinated by the special effects. I think that may have had something to do with it.

Film school. Yes or no?

Yes, I did go to film school, right after high school. That was more than a few years ago though. I learned a lot, and had a great time.

What are the film/directors that have had the most influence on you?

As with many aspiring filmmakers in this genre, Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson were my favorite directors back in the day. I think it is funny that these 2 horror directors have now moved up to become some of the biggest directors in Hollywood. I'm a big fan of the comedy-horror genre, and those guys always did it exceptionally well.

"Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!: Strippers VS Zombies." F'ing awesome! Where did you come up with it?

My partner Tony G. had been trying to come up with a zombie movie idea for us to make, and he and our friend Zack came up with the title "Crack Whore Zombies"...about a group of crack whores who get turned into zombies by tainted crack, and attack the local strip club. I thought that the crack whore part may turn off alot of people who we needed to help us, like the city film commission, as a temporary title, we used "Zombies Zombies Zombies" while filming. Plus, we had really pushed the script to focus on the strippers more than the crack whores anyway.

After a while, it just stuck. Plus, our distributors told us that most stores wouldn't carry the movie with "crack whore" in the title.

There's a little movie coming out starring Jenna Jameson called, "Stripper Zombies". Is there any connection? connection. We actually shot our movie a few months before we found out that they started shooting. We were pretty bummed actually, because once they came along, our movie lost a lot of it's hype. We are just a couple of guys who used our credit cards to make a movie...we can't compete with them...they had about 10 times as much money, bigger stars, and a huge marketing campaign budget from Sony. We just had a myspace page and maxed out credit cards.

What elements, do you feel best combine to make a great movie?

there are no elements that are definite when trying to make a great movie..."great" is a very subjective thing. What one person may love, another will hate. In general, you need a good story and characters that people either like, or hate. I just try to make a movie that is enjoyable for me, and the fans it is made for. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. There are tons of things I want to do in future movies that I wasn't able to do in my first movie.

Describe your approach to directing.

Well, on this movie my approach was a little different than normal. We shot the entire movie in 9 days, so my approach was pretty much "what do we need tot make this work and move on to the next scene?"

In general though, I think it is very important for everyone to have a good time. Everyone on the crew is important, and everyone should be having fun...otherwise, everyone will be miserable, and I think that sometimes shows in the final product.

There are some really well done gore effects in the movie. Which are you most proud of and how were they accomplished?

Most of the fx were done practical, with dummy heads and bags of blood, etc...but due to budget, we had to do some digital fx as well. Actually, "I" had to do some digital fx is more like it. I'm not sure which I would say I am most proud of...but I can say that I enjoyed getting to remove my brothers face with a weed whacker quite a bit.

What challenges were you faced with in making the film and how did you overcome them?

We had tons of challenges, mostly due to the $30,000 budget. The biggest challenge was probably dealing with all the things that happen at the last minute. We had locations drop out the day before shooting was scheduled to begin...fx that didn't work as planned...extras who didn't show up...the power got turned off a few hours before shooting one day.

When you are making a movie for this kind of budget, and on this type of schedule, you just have to be able to roll with the punches and keep the train moving. We just had to do whatever we could to make things work...which usually involved changing the script to work with what we had.

How has the distribution been going? Any tips you can give to people looking to get their movie out there?

Distribution is HARD! When I think about it....making the movie was pretty easy compared to getting distribution. Most of the big distributors turned us down due to the low-budget and the fact that Sony had such a similar themed project. We were able to sell a lot of the foreign territories ourselves though, and got our money back pretty quickly through that. For US though, it has been a struggle to get stores to put it on the shelf. Everyone seems to think that the zombie market is too saturated, so they won't take a risk picking up a low-budget zombie movie right now. We hope that when they see how well we are doing, that they will change their mind and give us a chance...but who knows. We are doing really well with online sales, and are available online with most of the big retailers like Best Buy, Circuit City, Borders, Netflix, and

Where can people find out more about, "Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!: Strippers VS Zombies" and, better yet, buy themselves a copy?

Our website would be the best place to get the latest info, and we even have a newsletter you can sign up for. The site is To buy a copy, you can get it off our website (with some cool bonus items)...or you can get it from or other online retailers.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Exclusive Interview with "Claw", Festival Director of The Terror Film Festival

I think we can agree that horror, as a genre, kinda peaks in October... and, really, it's with good reason. We're getting into Fall, where everything dies and it's the month that's got Halloween in it... and that's a pretty scary holiday. Anyhow, on top of all that, it also has the most horror film releases and horror film festivals. So, if you're into horror, it's a pretty damned good month. Last week, alone, had at least 7 festivals and conferences going on somewhere and some of those were among the best festivals of the year. One that happened to be last week and definitely makes the cut for 'one of the best' is The Terror Film Festival in Philly.

The Terror Film Festival took place from October 21 - 25 in Philadelphia, PA this year and, really, it's one of the best, if not THE best film festival for indie horror. There's a lot that they do for you, the filmmaker, that no other festival does. However, I'm not going to tell you about it... I'm going to let "Claw", the Terror Film Festival Director tell you about it.

Please tell us a bit about yourselves… how’d you get into indie horror?

We're just indie filmmakers who love horror films (plus other genres). And we got into it by simply wanting to shoot a movie. And then another, and then another, etc. And here we are.

Tell us a bit about TFF… when and why did it get started?

It got started in 2006 because we wanted to start bringing credit and recognition to indie filmmakers in these genres. Most people don't realize it, but genre films make up most of the box office revenue in the world. They make billions of dollars.

From the perspective of the film, why should indie horror filmmakers try to get their films into festivals?

Well, I don't know much about other film festivals. We're kinda in a bubble here at TFF. We don't compete with other fests and we don't concern ourselves with how the other fests run. And we don't do it for money's sake. We're TRUE horror fans at TFF (Halloween, Candyman, Hitchcock, etc). And we run it all from our own creativity and only do what we feel is good for the filmmakers and screenwriters. I don't know what other fests offer, but I do know that our website gets a lot of traffic from them. But regardless, we bust our butts for the filmmakers and screenwriters. We honestly know every piece of their project. Plus, we've pioneered a LOT of original concepts that no other fests have ever done. Such as, we list the Submitted films and screenplays on our website with links to their websites. No one's EVER done that before. They're starting to now, but they're just copying our moves really. And we also work on getting people deals and ask for nothing in return. No percentage. No one else does that either. And then there's Princess Horror. No one else has ever had a cool, sexy spokesperson. Of course now they're springing up at other fests and horror corporations, but none of them even comes close to Princess Horror. She's one of a kind for many, many reasons. And she's not an actress trying to make it, and she's not a marketing gimmick. She's a true believer. We were the first to do all of these things, and more. So I can't really speak intelligently on why to enter other festivals. I can only tell you what we offer.

From the perspective of the filmmaker, what can I expect to get out of having my film screen at Terror Film Festival?

LOTS of exposure to the right people, unheard of and intelligent feedback on your project, a lot of caring for your project, and support in landing a deal and starting your career in the entertainment industry. We don't just screen your film, we go a lot further than that. And we do it for free.

As a horror fan, what can I expect to get out of attending Terror Film Festival?

A great time, networking and meeting industry people, a truck load of filmmaker contacts, and the best benefit of all. GREAT films to watch. We screen the best of the best. Plus, there's so many little surprises we spring on our audiences and fans. Like the whole Bruce Campbell thing this year. He doesn't do cons or fests too much anymore, but he gave us a special intro for our fest and it kicked ass at the Claw Awards! And that's another thing...the Claw Awards. No one else does that. It's truly "The Oscars of Horror". Just ask any of the people who attended this year. Some of the comments were, "You guys are completely honorable", "I was at the American Music Awards and this was BETTER", "This is the most professional event I've ever been to". And we hear it every year, all year long. People just love us because we're real. Another thing too. Alan Howarth came to our festival this year. He called me one day and insisted on coming. He's an Oscar winner, an Oscar nominee, and has scored music (and done sound) on every cool film in the last three decades. He doesn't need us. But he insisted on coming to the festival because as someone who's very cool himself, he saw the cool thing that we do. And another person came out from Bruckheimer's camp without us knowing it. Totally surprised us. That's the power of what we do.

When you’re accepting films, what are you looking for?

A great film, from every angle. It has to satisfy an intense criteria list. But that doesn't necessarily mean a huge budget or lots of celebrities. Neither of those equate to a great film. It has to be executed right. Even if it's from a famous filmmaker (which we've gotten our share of). The project has to be great or it doesn't get in. We've had many first-timers beat out seasoned pros in getting selected. And vice-versa. And it's all because of a film's true value. Plus, we have a great rating system that's unbeatable. We can actually spot a sleeper hit before anyone else does.

Does budget come into play when you’re considering films?

Not at all. It's all in the execution of the project. Some of our selections are first-time films with no budget at all. And some are big Hollywood budgets with star power. But that doesn't matter to us. Only the execution. Art for art's sake.

As a filmmaker, what can I do to make my film more festival friendly? Should I even be thinking of that?

Just make a great film. That's the only thing that matters. To Terror Film Festival, anyway. Romero even says it.

At what point in the filmmaking process should I be thinking about the festivals?

Right from the beginning. Figuring out which festivals you're wanting to submit to plays in heavy in the type of film you shoot. So does the type of distribution you're looking for. So it's never too early.

Are there any particular success stories from films that screened at TFF?

Oh, yeah. The Murder Game won Best Feature in 2006 and then got picked up by Warner Home Video. Side Sho won in 2007 and got picked up by Lionsgate. Several of our filmmakers got offers to make features. One of our screenwriters got his script optioned in Hollywood. An actress was hired to star in someone's next film. And there's a lot more successes. And we live for that.

What advice can you give to an up and coming filmmaker in the indie horror genre?

Don't let anyone interfere with your vision. Keep it pure and make the best damned movie you can. BELIEVE in your project and believe in yourself.

Tell us about the future of indie horror, where do you see it going?

Tough one. With all the digital outlets now and all the marketers out there who see a new way to make money, who knows. Only time can answer this question. I just hope it stays pure and real and doesn't get convoluted with marketing tricks and shock gimmicks. Horror and Indie Horror are my babies and I don't want to see them bastardized in any way.

What’s next for you and TFF?

The whole world is next. Everyone wants a piece of us now and we love it all. But we want to stay true and to take over the world and fill it with GREAT horror films and legends. So what's next for us? Everything!

Where can people find out more about TFF and how can they go about entering their film?

Just stop by our website,, and simply read up on the submission process. Our submissions re-open on January 01 every year.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Potential Yahoo - Lions Gate Deal? Crazy Times Ahead!

I came across this article and I was just going to include it in a post with a bunch of other links, but I have WAY to much to say here. Here's a link to the article in question, it has to do with the shitty stock market and how that effects media companies, it talks about Lions Gate - which just happens to be one of my favorite studios and, lastly, I think it also shows some insight into what the future may look like for media... Sorry for this long post, but I've got a lot of shit to say on the topic.

First off, let's take a look at this shit storm called the stock market. Chances are, you've heard that there's some pretty scary stuff going on out there. This isn't a financial site and I'm not going to bother talking economics, but let's just state a couple facts. One, panic is setting in and two, there's some crazy shit going on. Most media companies are publicly traded, whether on their own, like Lions Gate, or as a subsidiary of their media conglomerate - think Viacom owning Paramount. Media stocks, much like every other stock out there, have been hammered. Take Lions Gate, for example, which is currently trading at $6.16 as I type this... In August, it was as high as $10.50. So, if you do the math, the company lost almost half its value in 3 months. However, that's stock value. There are people out there who are way smarter than me that can take a look at the books, plus their library of films and the deals they have in place and come up with a proper valuation... which, in this case, should be higher than $6.16 per share. (According the article, it could be as high as $15 or $16 a share) So, what happens? Guys like Carl Icahn, the billionaire financier, corporate raider and private equity investor, step in and start buying shares... which is exactly what happened. Why? 'Cause he smells an opportunity.

Let's look at Lions Gate for a second... they're considered to be one of the most commercially successful independent film and television distribution companies in North America. And I think they did that on the shoulders of indie horror, which as you know... is one of the most profitable sub genre's out there. Lions Gate's first box office success was one of my personal favorite films, "American Psycho", and they went on to do stuff like "Saw", "Hostel", "House of 1,000 Corpses", not to mention distributing edgy stuff that no one else would touch, like "Fahrenheit 9/11". That's just to mention their theatrical releases, they also have an indie horror library that numbers in the thousands, which they distribute direct to DVD. Long and short, this is a company that's only been around for about a decade, but has become one of the worlds quintessential indie horror distributors. They saw this market before anyone else did and now they own it. They produce, they distribute, they acquire edgy foreign horror, they have a television production arm and they make money.

Okay, so... now we know that Lions Gate is a pretty good company AND that the stock market has hammered its price down AND Ichan smells something. So, what's he smell? According to this article, he smells it as a take over target. By who? Yahoo. Now, whether or not that would actually happen is one thing, but what's interesting to me is the fact that Lions Gate would even BE a take over target for Yahoo. Let's think about it for a second... doesn't that actually fit with what we've been saying for a while now? The future of film is not theatrical, it's through new distribution methods, such as online. A Yahoo take over of Lions Gate would give an internet company every relationship it needs, plus a huge library of films, to get into a whole new era of content distribution. Personally, I think that companies like Yahoo, Microsoft and even Sony will be the studios and media players of the future. Microsoft is prepping the Xbox to be the media portal that connects everything in your living room and Sony's trying to do the same thing with its PS3. It's no mistake that they all connect to the internet, have web browsers, plus play DVD's and Blu-Ray. Yahoo wants into that market, so this could be a good move. Anyhow, I would expect that coming soon, you'll see a LOT of companies selling off parts, plus other companies buying up those parts. There's going to be some interesting consolidation coming...

So, what's this mean for lowly indie filmmakers? Who really knows? I do have a few ideas, though. For one, all the studios, from the big guys all the way down to the more indie guys, are axing budgets. That's precisely why shitty shows like "Knight Rider" are getting a full season. No one wants to pay for making a whole new show. Risky films aren't going to get made and you're going to see a LOT of PG-13, made for the whole family, films and TV garbage. They're hedging their bets and won't take a risk. This will widen the divide between indie film and the studios, which could create opportunities for you. If anyone can take a risk, indie filmmakers can. So, my suggestion? More blood, more guts, more nudity and more f'ed up plot lines. Go f'ing crazy. People will get sick of seeing generic visual vomit and crave edgy films. So, the edgier, the better. Why do you think Asian films are so f'ed up right now? Because, years ago, the government tried to tell people what they could watch. So, what happened? The underground horror movement went ballistic over there. The other thing I sense coming will be an explosion of new distribution methods. Everyone's profit margin is so slim now, that they'll be looking for any new way to make money... and there's only one way to do that, get it out there any way possible. When the internet companies get involved, they'll get all the nerds working on ways to get content out there through your PSP's, Xbox's, smart phones and whatever new device is going to be launched in the next few years.

So, maybe it's the optimist in me, but... the next few years are going to be interesting. It could get bad, real bad. But I do think there's good times ahead, especially for those indie filmmakers that keep at it and push forward.

Monday, October 27, 2008

New Horror Out On DVD This Week, including the first must-see Troma film in years...

It's the week leading up to Halloween and, of course, there's tons of crap being rereleased this week. However, if you trim the fat, there's a bunch of wicked indie horror films coming out this week, including Troma's latest "Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead", which is an absolute must see. Anyhow, if you're looking to buy the films, please do us a favor and click on the titles and buy them off Amazon, through us. Also, as usual, you can go to our Youtube page and check out all the trailers.

So, if you're a regular reader of the site, chances are you know all about Troma and Lloyd Kaufman. Hell, if you're a regular reader, there's a distinct possibility that you've met Lloyd Kaufman. I believe the story goes something like this... The storied indie studio, Troma, was on the verge of bankruptcy and Lloyd dumped everything he had into this film, banking on it to save him. And, in fact, today's released "Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead", did just that. It's being hailed as 'the best film Troma's ever produced, and certainly Lloyd Kaufman's most accomplished'. Now, that's saying a lot... but, I gotta say, it's true! It's a musical horror-comedy and I'm not going to get into the plot, as it's classic Troma. However, I will offer up that it poses the question, "Will Arbie and his friends be able to survive the wrath of the chicken-Indian zombies?" The reviews really are good and when it made its New York City premiere on May 9th, 2008, it had the second highest per-screen average ticket sales of the week in the city, doubling the per-screen averages of competitor "Speed Racer", but coming in just short of "Iron Man". What else can I say? You gotta see it to believe it...

"13 Hours in a Warehouse", written and directed by Dav Kaufman, won the gold award for best Fantasy/Horror film at WorldFest Houston. There's a definite nod to "Reservoir Dogs", as it's about 5 criminals that are holed up in a warehouse with a hostage and there's plenty of shit-talking, back stabbing and witty banter. However, the twist here is that the warehouse is haunted. For a low-budget indie horror, Kaufman does a great job. They create some great effects, they do a decent job on the acting and it's shot really, really professionally. I just saw it over the weekend and I'm really intrigued as to the budget and how they made it, so I may be looking further into this one...

I'm not sure I should call "Zombie Strippers" a 'highly anticipated' film, but a lot of people have been waiting for it. Seriously, how can you not be interested? It stars Robert Englund, Jenna Jameson, her boyfriend, Tito Ortiz AND it's about strippers who turn into zombies. It's written and directed by Jay Lee, who also wrote and directed "The Slaughter" from a few years back... Believe it or not, "Zombie Strippers" was actually based on the French existential Theatre of the Absurd play "Rhinoceros" by Eugene Ionesco... However, the reviews have been less than positive, but that could just be what happens when mainstream critics get to watch camp films. I mean, Richard Roeper of Ebert & Roeper checked it out and said that "it doesn't work as low budget crap". My response to that would be, how much "low budget crap" has he really seen? I've seen a lot and I have to say, you don't know low-budget crap, so don't talk about low budget crap... in fact, stay out of low budget crap, 'cause you don't understand low budget crap. Anyhow, I haven't seen it yet, but how bad could a film with Jenna Jameson about strippers and zombies be? Really?

I'm a big fan of 'out of the box' projects where people try something new and different... "Slumber Party Slaughterhouse: The DVD Game" definitely fits the bill. There is a story to it, but it's basically an interactive, indie horror game. I'll save you the whole Paul Tard getting electrocuted in the bathtub while watching internet porn backstory, to get to the part where he sells his soul to a demon in exchange for the power to take revenge on his former friends. His power comes from YOU answering slasher movie trivia questions that the demon asks. It's a cool project and it comes from indie horror label, Halo-8 films. The game stars a bunch of indie horror scream queens, including: Tiffany Shepis, Joanna Angel, Melissa Bacelar, Katie Nisa and Masuimi Max and was directed by various Halo-8 films directors, including: Matt Pizzolo, Doug Sakmann, Ramzi Abed, Kurly Tlapoyawa and Joanna Angel.

"Weird Tale Collection, Vol. 1: The Yellow Sign and Others" is a bunch of adaptations of horror author, Robert W. Chambers', work, including Aaron Vanek's award winning short feature film inspired by the short story, "The Yellow Sign". I can't say I know much more than that, as I've never heard of Robert W. Chambers OR Aaron Vanek... but that doesn't mean much, there's lots of people that I've never heard of. Anyhow, it's released by Microcinema and it's very indie horror, which is enough for me to mention it.

"Bikini Bloodbath Carwash" is, obviously, the sequel to "Bikini Bloodbath", both of which were directed by Jonathan Gorman and Thomas Edward Seymour and revolve around girls in bikini's and a maniac chef. I've seen "Bikini Bloodbath" and, it's exactly what you think it is... micro-cinema horror with lots of blood, guts and girls in bikini's... and a maniac chef. I can only assume that this sequel and the upcoming 3rd installment, "Bikini Bloodbath Christmas", will be more of the same.

I'm not really a huge H.P. Lovecraft fan... and I don't mean to say that I'm anti-Lovecraft, I just really don't know that much about him. So, as there is yet another collection coming out based on his works, "The H.P. Lovecraft Collection, Vol. 5: Strange Aeons", I'll take this opportunity to find out a bit about him, for both my sake and yours. So, let's see... he was born in 1890 and died in 1937 at the ripe old age of 47. He was an author of horror, fantasy and sci-fi, which was just known as 'weird fiction', at the time. His major inspiration and invention was cosmic horror, which was basically the idea that life is incomprehensible to human minds and that the universe is fundamentally alien. His "Cthulhu Mythos", as well as his "Necronomicon" series, gained him a huge cult following. However, his readership was quite limited during his life and his reputation has grown since his death and he is now commonly regarded as one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th century, frequently being compared to Edgar Allan Poe. Most current masters of horror, including Clive Barker, Stephen King, John Carpenter, Stuart Gordon, etc consider him a major influence and his work can be found in everything from TV, to films, to video games... so, if you're into the horror history, check out this collection and other collections on him.

Unfortunately, I'm running out of time here, but I wanted to quickly touch on a couple of films that are also coming out this week. There's "Shiver", a Spanish film from Isidro Ortiz and the producers of "Pans Labyrinth"... and the indie horror, "Cannibal Taboo" from Mike Tristano. Sorry, I gotta get going and I don't have time to look into them, even though they both look pretty good!

Friday, October 24, 2008

NY City Horror Film Festival Indie-fest

Well, here we are... another Friday. Thank baby Jebus, I've actually got jack shit to do this weekend, except for watching football on Sunday. Can't get out of that. Must do. So, basically, that means that over the next 48 hours or so, I'll be doing a bunch of drinking, catching up on some horror flicks and working on the site. However, I've still gotta get through today.

I kinda blew my load talking about the festivals last Friday, when I mentioned every festival that's coming up for the rest of October. Kinda leaves me high and dry when it comes to talking about the festivals today. Lucky for me, Indieflix, a company that I just discovered and covered around a week ago, is doing something really f'ing cool over the next few weeks that starts today AND involves horror film festivals.

First off, a litte reminder about who Indieflix is... they're a forum for indie filmmakers and their audiences and they "promise to build a fair and open market to empower filmmakers to be the engine of their own achievement". You can find their site here and if you've just finished a film, there's no reason to not check them out and get involved.

Now, here's where things get pretty cool... for over half a year now, they've been running something called indie-fest, which started at The Seattle International Film Festival and now has around 40 festivals signed on. Indie-fest is sort of like American Idol for indie-film, done online. It's completely free for the audience to watch and vote, choosing the winning filmmaker to receive cash awards, theatrical screenings and preferred distribution deals. Now, I'm not asking you to watch a bunch of artsy shit... I would never do that. I promise. Today, on indie-fest, is the first day you can watch and vote on 8 short horror films from the New York City Independent Film Festival, it runs from now until November 3rd.

It's really easy to log-in and watch and vote on them for free... in fact, I'm watching "Redskins Revenge" as I type this. It took me less than a minute to set it all up. Your votes will pick the winner and the winner will get a theatrical screening at the NYCHFF and a 90/10 distribution deal with IndieFlix. So, to go to the indie-fest @ NYCHFF page and start watching and voting, click here.

Check 'em out, it don't cost nothing.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tales From the Micro-Cinema Crypt: "The Clown Incident"

Ted has been doing all the work on the site for at least the past month while I've been out drinking, chasing midgets and acting all around irresponsible. So, I figured it was time for a new post before he gets too pissed off and actually sticks the pins in that voodoo doll he made of me.

Before I go any further, I'd like to take this opportunity to invite any indie filmmakers out there to share their stories with us. In the indie/micro world all kinds of crazy shit happens and I know people have some awesome stories, so please share them with us and we'll post it on the site. Besides, the more stories Ted and I get, the more we can catch up on our dvr recordings, drinking and bootlegged donkey show porn.

I mean, the more we can pursue actual film making.

Alright, enough f'ing around. Here's a little tale of something that happened to me awhile back. I figured it was appropriate for Halloween time since it involves a clown suit.

The micro film world revolves around favors. Meaning, you have to somehow convince everyone to work for free while your already broke-ass spends money you don't even have so you can get your movie in the can. Needless to say, when someone works on your movie for free, it's more or less an unwritten rule that you return the favor. The favors can range anywhere from donating equipment to an unpaid crew position to far more bizarre territory.

In this instance, a friend of mine was making a mockumentary about a hit man's last days on the job before his retirement. The hit man was played by my friend that required the favor: a roughly 300 pound cat who's forte is frighteningly deliverence-esque redneck roles. The first scene I was in involved me playing one of the many thugs who meets their fate at the hands of said hit man's gun.

I was slain in the basement of an apartment building which we completely guerrilla-styled. Meaning, we ran around chasing each other with toy guns and air pistols that were painted to look like real firearms. My friend is a helluva guy and the shoot was a blast, but I was nervous as s because most of the neighbors had no idea what was going on. If the cops would have been called we most likely would have had a snuff film on our hands.

My friend approached me after the shoot and our conversation went something like this:

HIT MAN: Hey man, you did a great job getting shot and falling straight back into the cement. That was bad-ass!

ME: Thank's, man! It was fun.

HIT MAN: You didn't f yourself up or anything, right? We don't have insurance.

This I completely understood. We never have insurance on our movies either.

ME: No, it's cool man. The adrenaline counterbalanced any potential damage.

HIT MAN: Cool. How would you like to help me out with another scene?

ME: Sure, what you got going on?

HIT MAN: First off, let me just say there's going to be a porn chick involved.

ME (suddenly more interested): Really?

HIT MAN: Yeah, man. Are you still in possession of that clown suit?

The clown suit in question is one my low-budget ass has used for Halloween and a few micro movies for about three years in a row. It was most recently featured in, "Psycho Sleepover", which I'll add is a fantastic new micro film we'll be featuring in an upcoming article.

ME: Uh... yeah, I've still got it.

At this point things we're starting to sound a little strange. Why the f do I always get myself involved in situations like this?

HIT MAN: You're going to wear the clown suit and f the porn chick.

ME: Uh... say what?

Instantly I pictured myself home for Christmas while one of my cousins finds the tape amidst a slew of Disney classics. The entire family watches in sheer horror, having no idea four years of film school would result in a starring role in the new discovered Clown Porn genre.

HIT MAN: Let me clarify. You're going to have just gotten done f'ing the porn chick. I'll bust through the door and find you two post coituous in a seedy hotel room. She'll be topless, wearing a clown nose and rainbow colored wig. Since I've had a past relationship with this young lady, I'll naturally want to slay you.

ME: Naturally.

HIT MAN: I'll point a gun at your face and you'll say, "Be nice to Bobo!" Then, I'll shoot you in the face and you'll land on the bed where you'll pretend you're dead and watch me f the porno chick in front of you.

ME: Uh... say what?

About a week later, there I was dressed in my clown suit and my friend's creepy ass clown mask. Why the f people think clowns are funny and get paid to entertain children is besides me.

My friend and I waited on pins and needles for the porno chick to arrive. In these situations you have no idea what's going to happen once the camera rolls. My friend, however, was as cool as the high school nerd who'd just scored a date to the prom with the hottest girl in school. I'd never seen the guy so happy before.

HIT MAN: (nearly jumping up and down in excitement) Oh, man, this is gonna' be awesome! Alright, I've got about twenty minutes before she arrives. I'm going to go take a shower and prepare.

ME: Given the nature of the scene you're about to do, you should probably scrub your undercarriage.

HIT MAN: Why do you think I'm taking the shower? I even got a special soap just for the area in question. I might come out of that shower smelling like a bag of s but my crotch is going to come out like a rose garden.

ME: Good luck to you then.

My friend entered the shower and kept his word, spending a good twenty minutes on the area in question. When he exited the shower, the only thing he had on was his underwear. He held a rubber mat in front of his crotch.

ME: What the hell is that?

HIT MAN: I figured I'd be a gentleman and put it between our crotches. The inspiration comes from the groin thongs Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas wore when they boned down in, "Basic Instinct".

ME: That's not your car mat is it?

HIT MAN: Dude, have some class. This is totally different.

Next thing I knew I was pretending to act dead on the sleazy hotel bed and looking out the two eye holes of the clown mask in what can best be described as a Michael Myers POV before he kills his sister in the first ten minutes of, "Halloween".

There are many tests of a man's friendship. These can range anywhere from lending your car, to helping move, to helping bury a body in the desert. Then, there's playing dead in a clown suit and watching your friend f from a Michael Myers POV. This, I had never known existed before.

In the world of micro-cinema, all things are possible.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Daggers - The Short Festival of Short Horror

So you know, the Dead Harvey team isn't a bunch of vitamin D deficient guys that sit around in dark rooms, cruising the net all day, looking for new ideas to post on the site. We're vitamin D deficient, alright, but that's mostly from hanging out in bars... and we are on the net a lot, but mostly for porn. AND, we're also a bunch of fledgling indie-horror filmmakers, ourselves... but, really, more than that, we're indie-horror fans and we want to see other indie-horror filmmakers succeed. The idea for the site was really to just give like-minded filmmakers a place to find out what other people have gone through, as well as a place to give filmmakers some promotion for their projects. Residually, though, we meet a lot of industry people. And by that, I mean people who are fans of indie-horror and, really, just want to see the whole sub-genre do well and are making a living by being involved in it. One of those guys is Peter Gutiérrez.

Peter is an author on Firefox News, you can check his articles out
here. To quote his little bio on that page, "Over the past fifteen years, Peter's criticism, non-fiction, short fiction, poetry, and comics have appeared in numerous publications." I could list the publications, but I won't. He used to list them there, but he removed them and, at this point, I don't want to guess. Anyhow, he removed them, I'm assuming, to promote the new festival that he's putting on in New York... which is also the reason I'm doing this whole post on him.

He sent me a press release on DAGGERS, which is The Short Festival of Short Horror, and I'll cut and paste some information below. It looks like it's going to be a great time and it's got a great line up. If you're in the New York area, you should definitely check it out...


L.A.'s Screamfest, Edinburgh's Dead by Dawn, Korea's Puchon, Montreal's FanTasia—horror fans know these as world-class showcases. But now you don't have to leave New York to experience some of the best short films that such events have to offer.

On October 22 at 9:00 p.m. New York City's Pioneer Theater will present 90 minutes of eye-popping and breath-quickening international releases at DAGGERS, The Short Festival of Short Horror. Then the entire program will repeat at 9:00 p.m. on October 23. For tickets, address, and other information about The Pioneer Theater, please visit their site here.

"Every October pop culture fans and moviegoers are besieged by horror offerings from various mainstream media," points out DAGGERS founder and programmer, Peter Gutiérrez. "And while being too highbrow would work against some of the genre's pleasures, is it completely unreasonable to expect our scares to be served up with—dare I say it—art?"

"The goal of DAGGERS," continues Gutiérrez, a film critic for Firefox News among other outlets, "is to present the breadth of the genre's possibilities with a program that satisfies both hardcore fans and those who test the waters only at this time of year. In doing so, we'll feature the entire spectrum of terror, from ghostly 'quiet horror' to screaming-loud full-assault, from old-school pulp-flavored tales to cutting-edge animation."

The line-up is great and there's a few familiar titles in there. For more information on DAGGERS, please email or visit

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Linkapalooza - October 21, 2008: Horror Bucks The "Pricey" Trend

It's been a while since I did a Linkapalooza and looked at what's going on out there in the industry... so, here's a few things to take note of:

Priciest films the most profitable, says study on Now, this will show you how insane Hollywood truly is. Well, in my mind, anyhow. Long and short, this article says that "animated films have the best average profitability", by contributing "an average net profit of $230.6Million". It goes on to say, after analyzing 1,000 or so films, that "the two priciest segments surveyed showed the best profitability." What are the two priciest segments? Animated and Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Third, by the way, is Family. By any chance, could those be the most profitable segments because they reach the broadest audience? Animated, Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Family movies are films where a couple of parents take a bunch of kids... and the kids usually like to see the movie 10 times, then buy the action figure. By the way, Sci-Fi/Fantasy isn't "AVP2", it's "Star Wars" or "Transformers". Could it be that the "priciest films" are "the most profitable" because you're throwing your money at the biggest money making segments? Also, I think it's fair to say that the bulk of those profits came from a handful of films, they're definitely not ALL profitable. Anyhow, two conclusion points here, one... it just seems to me that they're justifying spending a shit-load of money and trying to prove it to their financiers with a "study". Two, they do offer this one tidbit, which is VERY interesting from the perspective of an indie-horror filmmaker. They say there's ONE exception to the "costier-is-better premise". Horror. "Horror had the best results when produced for $10Million or less". For me, that says that horror fans don't need a glossy, polished film, they just need a good film. Remember that... when you're making your film for a fraction of $10Million... or a fraction of a fraction.

Sci Fi, RHI ink pact for five telefilms
on, once again, This link is for you Sci-Fi Original fans, I know you're out there! Just for you, it's a peak into the future! RHI Entertainment produces a lot of the Sci-Fi Originals and they've just been tapped to make 5 more. The article actually goes through all five films... Personally, I'll be looking forward to "Alien Western", where monstrous buglike machines from another world attack an Old West town in the 1890's.

The American Film Market on The American Film Market, or AFM as they like to call it, is coming up this November 5 - 12 in Santa Monica and I thought I'd just tell you about it. It's an annual event that attracts over 8,000 industry people for eight days. Participants from over 70 countries converge in Santa Monica to buy and sell distribution rights for completed films or to gain financing for projects in various stages of production. It's not a festival, it's more like a massive tradeshow. If you attend, you'll be in the company of acquisition and development executives, agents, attorneys, directors, distributors, festival directors, financiers, film commissioners, producers, writers, press and an array of other people who provide services to the industry. Long and short, unbelievable networking and a wicked opportunity... however, that, of course, comes with a cost. A one day pass costs $275, a pass for the full eight days costs $895. That's a lot of money. Personally, I'd go down to Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel and/or the Le Merigot Beach Hotel, where it's all held, and hang out in nearby bars and restaurants... probably bars. You're sure to get people coming in for a beer or lunch. Save the $275 and spend it on drinking. It's a no-lose proposition.

In closing, I'll leave you with a couple of Fewdio Horror Shorts that I haven't mentioned yet...

Monday, October 20, 2008

New Horror Out On DVD This Week, Including Trailer Park of Terror!

Surprisingly, there's not a ton of new horror films coming out this week, although with "Poultrygeist" and "Zombie Strippers" coming out next week, I anticipate NEXT week to be pretty big. Either way, that's a week away... let's concentrate on this week. "The Strangers" is the biggest film of the week, but for our purposes, I'm going to declare "Trailer Park of Terror" as the pick of the week. So, here's a bit of info on what's coming out... and if you're planning on buying them, why not help us out a bit by clicking on the titles and buying them off Amazon, through us? Also, feel free to go over to our Youtube page and check out all the trailers.

Like I said, for us, the big release of the week is "Trailer Park of Terror", which was based on the Imperium Comics title and is written by Timothy Dolan and directed by Steven Goldmann. It had a wicked run at the horror festivals and has lots of good buzz around it... the story revolves around Norma, a "damned redneck reaper with a killer body who dispenses vengeance and death aided by her cursed companions, a bloodthirsty brook of Undead trailer trash". Really, I'm not sure what else I can add to that. Like, after reading that, I think you get a pretty good idea of what you're in store for. Having said that, you should know that the FX and gore are unreal and there's a lot of it to go around.

So, although a step down from "Trailer Park of Terror" in our minds, "The Strangers" would definitely be the biggest Hollywood horror release of the week. Written and directed by Bryan Bertino, is stars Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman. By Hollywood standards, it had the fairly modest budget of $9Million and since it grossed close to $21Million in its opening weekend, it would be considered a box office success. "The Strangers" continues on that whole home invasion theme that we've been seeing lately in films like "Them" and "Funny Games", although "The Strangers" probably gets the award for creepiest invaders. Apparently the film is inspired by an event from the director's childhood, where a stranger came to his home asking for someone who wasn't there... but he didn't mention if that stranger wore a bag on his head and beat the fuck out his Mom and Dad. Anyhow, as you can guess, since it was a box office success, Rogue Pictures has confirmed that there is a sequel in the works.

Tokyo Shock, the guys who distribute Japanese horror/shock films to North America are coming out with the 2-Pack, "Taxi Tonight & Diecovery". "Diecovery" is about a couple that goes on their honeymoon in a remote part of Thailand, where they encounter a restless spirit that's been unable to seek revenge from being brutally murdered 25 years before. "Taxi Tonight" is a Thai horror-comedy about a penniless, would-be taxi-driver, who purchases a used vehicle to hire out patrons... however, the cab is possessed by a host of evil spirits.

Also, low budget horror producer David S. Sterling appears to be releasing a couple of his films in 3D, namely "Blood Sisters 3d", "Camp Blood 3D" and "Apartment 51-Devil Bat 3d". Now, to be honest, I KNOW that "Blood Sisters" and "Camp Blood" are produced by David Sterling (they're a couple of low-budget classics), but I can't find ANY information on "Apartment 51 - Devil Bat". I'm just assuming it's from him... or associated with him, as there's no way that two different people are releasing 3D versions of camp films on the same week. However, I've been wrong before. If someone can (or wants to) correct me, please do.

I also want to mention the "Paul Naschy Collection", for those readers that may actually study horror or be interested in the origins of horror. Naschy is probably best known for playing the werewolf Waldemar Daninsky, having played him in 12 films. He also played a hunchback, Dracula and a mummy. He's basically the Spanish version of Lon Chaney. This collection contains "Exorcism", "Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll", "Human Beasts", "Horror Rises from the Tomb" and "Vengeance of the Zombies".

Friday, October 17, 2008

Film Fest Updates and A Call To Arms

As you can imagine, October is a big month for horror and it's when a lot of the festivals and conventions occur. So, instead of just highlighting and talking about a few of them, I'm going to go down the list of everything that's going on for the rest of the month. However, before I do, as I feel I should inject some sort of opinion or thought into every post, let me just say a little bit about the indie horror festival scene.

The way I look at it, there's two perspectives to take on the festivals... one is from the perspective of you, the individual filmmaker. The other is basically the perspective of the entire indie-horror scene. Here's what I mean... and bear with me. As you'll hear over and over again in the interviews that we do, the cost of producing a quality indie horror film is low, very low... and it's getting even lower. Now, that means that there's going to be a lot of new films coming out each year. That's not a bad thing, because I think more films does not mean more competition. Fans of the indie horror scene will watch a lot of movies. Having said that, and here's my point, how big is this whole indie horror scene? How many people know about it? Seriously, what percentage of 'filmgoers' actually know that there's an entire sub-genre made up of low to no-budget, horror films? I know about it, you know about it... but most people simply don't. So, just flooding the market with all these films isn't going to increase the demand. It'll just increase the supply. We, as indie horror filmmakers and fans, need to create the demand. How do we do that? By creating awareness. And the festivals are one of the best ways to create awareness.

This is why the festivals need to be supported heavily, by all of us. If indie horror festivals can become staples in all of our different communities, it'll draw press and interest, which will draw new fans. With new interest and new fans, comes increased awareness.... which creates more demand. More demand for YOUR indie film. See how I've come full circle here? So, long and short... aside from the fact that entering a festival can get your film more attention and that attending these festivals is a great place to network, you need to support them because you want to support the future of the indie horror scene. Make sense?

With that, here's a list of the festivals that are coming up throughout the rest of October...

The Spooky Movie Film Festival: October 16-20, 2008 in Washington, DC

Shock It to Me! Horror Film Festival: October 17-18, 2008 in San Francisco, CA.

Festival of Fantastic Films: October 17-19, 2008 in Manchester, UK

Sacramento Horror Film Festival: October 17-19, 2008 in Sacramento, CA

Freak Show Horror Film Festival: October 17-19, 2008 in Orlando, FL

Toronto After Dark Film Festival: October 17-24, 2008 in Toronto, ON

Gorezone Weekend of Horror: October 18-19, 2008 in London, UK

October Comic And Horror Festival: October 18-19, 2008 in Nashville, TN

Hollywood Horror, Sci-Fi and Fantasy Festival: October 19-21, 2008 in Hollywood, CA

Terror Film Festival: October 21-25, 2008 in Philadelphia, PA

International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival: October 23-26, 2008 in Chandler, AZ

Horrorthon Film Festival: October 23-27, 2008 in Dublin, UK

Rhode Island International Horror Film Festival: October 23-28, 2008 in Providence, RI

Atlanta HorrorFest: October 25-27, 2008 in Atlanta, GA

Ravenna Nightmare Film Festival: October 28 - November 2, 2008 in Ravenna, Italy

South African Horrorfest: October 30, 2008 in South Africa

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Indieflix - A New Way To Distribute Your Film

As you know, we're here to help you, the indie-horror filmmaker. As you also know, distribution is the number one concern and question for most of you... so, we talk about distribution a lot. We also preach a few things, such as... 99% of the time a theatrical release is just not an option, sorry. Well, not that it isn't an option, per se, but that a theatrical release shouldn't be your goal. So, take that out and there's still many, many ways to get your film out there, but it really boils down to two methods: on DVD and digitally. They both pose a few issues for filmmakers, but the issues with digital distribution are more about the fact that the industry is in its infancy. Well, now there's someone to help you navigate that world, Indieflix.

I'm very interested in the world of digital distribution, meaning: VOD, streaming online, downloading, etc. I watch it closely and I pass on most of my thoughts to you, though the site. Well, I received a press release from Indieflix not too long ago and it took me a while to finally get around to reading it. I'll admit, a lot of stuff just sits in my inbox... but I digress. After reading the press release, I read a bit about them on their site and what other people have said about them and have come to the conclusion that you should check them out.

There's a few cool things about them: They're non-exclusive, you get 70% of the royalties, they take care of the manufacturing and it's all free to you. I do plan on contacting them and finding out more, though. Whatever I do find, I'll post about later. But until then, here's some excerpts from the press release.

IndieFlix “Bridge To Everywhere” Deal Delivers Much Needed Distribution Help To Indie Filmmakers.

Seattle WA, Sept 23, 2008 - Independent filmmakers finally have a "bridge to everywhere" as the online independent film distributor now delivers content to the world's most powerful outlets to close the gap between independent filmmakers and fans.

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“I'm an independent filmmaker,” said IndieFlix CEO Scilla Andreen. “Distribution through the old Hollywood system is a maze of closed doors. We need a way to get our hard work out to the people who will love it, and with IndieFlix's new distribution deal, we've finally got it figured out. The future of independent film is not only in content aggregation, but also in audience aggregation and innovative marketing”

Company: IndieFlix is an independent film distribution and discovery site founded on the principles of community, promotion, syndication and transparency. We connect filmmakers, festivals and audience.

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Connecting supply with demand:, a trusted, multi-platform distributor of independent film founded by 2 award-winning filmmakers with the emphasis on marketing and filmmaker relations. Our growing library now stands at 1000+ film festival titles with worldwide rights.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Interview with Brian Thomson, writer/director of Bachelor Party in the Bungalow of the Damned

"Bachelor Party in the Bungalow of the Damned" is a great indie-horror flick. It knows what it is, what its limitations are and delivers. It gives you all the boobs, blood and laughs you'll need with a great cast, including Monique Dupree, Zoe Hunter and the quintessential cameo from Lloyd Kaufman. For a debut feature, it's unreal. You need to check it out.

I'm not going to say much more about the film because I want to get to the interview that we did with writer/director/editor, Brian Thomson. It's a long interview... but he had a lot to say. I know I say this a lot, but I really mean it this time. If you're setting out to make a film or are in pre-production right now, this is a must read. He really spills his guts on how he got the film made. You'll save yourself a lot of time and effort down the road if you read this now...

Tell us a bit about yourself. What are your influences, where did you get started and what brought you to filmmaking?

I turned to filmmaking because I got sick and tired of being an ‘aspiring writer’. Breaking in can be a bitch, so with Bachelor Party I decided to see if maybe I could make my own luck and hack the system. I’ll let you know if it works!

In college I had the good fortune of rooming with a guy who was in film school and he basically gave me a crash course in world cinema. Pontecorvo’s Battle of Algiers is probably my favorite movie of all time. Maybe that’s why I originally tried to get my start a few years ago by doing a short comedy about an IRA bank heist. It fell apart during production because the gardai in Dublin didn’t seem to like actors in balaclavas running around the Irish Financial Services Centre with bulging duffle bags…

So I guess you could say that I finally got my start with Bachelor Party, since it was the first time I truly tried to make a movie. I’d certainly watched a hell of a lot of them, but there wasn’t much horror in the mix until I finally caught Night of the Living Dead in Dublin. My background is Brit-lit so I was probably a bit of a snob, but NOTLD knocked me on my ass and showed me that you could do really smart things in the genre. Since I’m basically a comedy guy, I got a kick out of Evil Dead, Dead-Alive, and Shaun of the Dead once I started paying attention. BPITBOTD’s debt to all of these is huge.

Film School: Yes or No?

That would have to be a big, fat NO. As somebody who spent eight years at NYU studying English and working in the bookstore’s shipping department, I have to say that film school seems like one of the worst things that can happen to a budding filmmaker. It’s right up there with psychoanalysis. I wish that I’d had the technical skills you can pick up from film school when I started BP, but if I’d gone to film school I probably would have ended up as an insurance salesman or something. Nobody I know who went to Tisch for film ever made any movies, for one of two reasons. Either they got themselves into so much debt making their thesis films that they couldn’t afford to slog it out in the industry trenches, or else they became so infatuated with their own (often imaginary) talent and ‘vision’ that they produced projects whose pretensions stood in the way of finance.

I actually interviewed to become a secretary for the Tisch film school at NYU. All went well until I asked if many of the students were choosing to shoot their projects on DV. ‘Students come to Tisch to make films,’ the interview hissed. Served me right! That attitude is why film school has always struck me as being a system of indoctrination, convincing kids that only certain types of movies are really worth making, and that they must be made in a certain way, with certain production values—or else they aren’t worth making. The most frightening thing of all is that some of these kids are today’s so-called ‘Independent Filmmakers’! Is there a single genre that is more tired, boring and clichéd than the indie drama? Seriously: when I see a quirky family, I reach for my gun…

Spend your tuition on your movie. And try to make something that people want to see.

Where did the idea for “Bachelor Party in the Bungalow of the Damned” come
from and what made you actually get off your ass and go out and make it?

The location preceded any inspiration. I was really inclined to do something about a wedding, but even an inexperienced producer like myself could figure out that it would require a big cast—as well as a big crew to wrangle all those extras. A bachelor party seemed more manageable. I don’t know what I was thinking!

I decided early on to do a horror movie because the genre has a loyal fan base even at the no-budget end of the spectrum. That might sound mercenary, but when you’re dead broke and asking other people for money you’re kind of obliged to try and make some of it back for them. I knew that I wanted man-eating boobies, a face-melting snowball, and intestines getting sucked into a hot tub. Working out how to get from sequence to sequence gave me the structure of the second act—which I always find the most difficult. The central story of the best man, Sammy, owes a big debt to the Korean revenge movie, Oldboy. I loved the idea of a guy who is unexpectedly confronted with the ramifications of a seemingly insignificant event in the distant past. Once again, the locations I had access to really determined the way that I set up that central storyline in the first act.

I got off my ass and made it because I really despise teaching. When I finished my PhD in English I had a negative revelation: I just couldn’t imagine spending the rest of my life trying to give a bunch of snotty kids a collective hard-on for Chaucer. So I took a step back, mulled over my options (or lack thereof), and decided that I’d make a movie if it killed me.

How did you go about securing financing and what was the approx budget?

I originally budgeted BP for $150,000 but quickly discovered that this is a terrible budget. It’s far too cheap for a major financier to take an interest in (because you’re still going to be working with no-name actors and relatively low production values) and it’s far too expensive for friends and family. Unless your last name is Gates, in which case go out and do a remake of Heaven’s Gate. Maybe if I hadn’t spent so many years in Ireland I could have torn a page out of Sam Raimi’s playbook and raised the money from local dentists and lawyers, but it’s not that much of a stretch to say that I was a stranger in my own hometown when I started trying to raise money.

I thought about increasing the budget, but even I could read the writing on that wall. Assuming I could have found some name-brand actor willing to peg his fortunes to what is ultimately a vampire stripper flick, there’s no way in hell I would have been allowed to direct it. So I did the only thing I could and cut the budget to an absolute minimum. $10k: the whole she-bang earmarked for production, and not a red cent for post. The IMDb says $20k, but I have no idea where they found this figure. Brain Damage, maybe. Certainly not from me.

The first thing I did to get it was to send the script out to a few ladies with cult followings, trying to get a genre star to appear in the movie. I received a few favorable responses, so I grabbed their publicity stills, got some photos of the location, worked with a friend to produce some storyboards, and put together a prospectus. I took a job at Borders for three months to raise the money to a) buy hosting for a production company site and b) cover the fees for starting an LLC—about $500 in NY—and then I ended up raising all the money from friends and family and friends of friends and family anyway.

What did you shoot on and how long was the shoot? …and did I notice some ‘day
for night’ shooting in there?

We shot with a DVX100A and dual system sound (on DAT) for a total of twelve days and three hours. We spent about nine of those days at the titular bungalow, each one a soul-destroying exercise in sleep-deprivation. We broke up the shooting into three weeks: two three-day weekends, and one six-day slog during which I lost 16 lbs. from pacing. This wasn’t some improvised romantic comedy: as I repeatedly told the troops, this was a goddamn special effects extravaganza and we were doing it in twelve days!

The day for night was really unfortunate. The location didn’t have lights and the production didn’t have the cash for a generator. As a first-time filmmaker, I was foolish enough to think that we didn’t need a production monitor and could get away with a cheapo car seat screen. This was fine for framing shots, but was not at all up to the task of calibrating color on a D4N shoot. Things got really ugly when one of the guys kicked the DVX’s LCD off the camera during a stunt sequence: I really tied both of my fantastically talented DP’s hands behind his back.

I did everything I could on those D4N shots, including a month spent rotoscoping 3,000 frames of sky. (It didn’t work.) Eventually, I just tried to make the picture during those sequences as stylized as possible. The screen goes almost completely black at times, but most of the people who’ve seen the movie at various stages agree that it’s less distracting than the original footage. Which isn’t to say that I’m happy with it, but…

Personally, I'm a horror-comedy fan. However, I find that making something funny is almost harder than making it gory or scary. Talk about making sure the humor came through.

When I sent out screeners to all of the actors at the end of post, I received one reply that literally made me shit. This was from one of Bachelor Party’s stars. ‘I just finished watching the movie—LOVED IT—but I never realized that it was supposed to be a comedy.’ Fuck me!

In retrospect I think it’s a good thing that he/she didn’t realize that a movie called Bachelor Party in the Bungalow of the Damned was supposed to be a comedy. If you want the humor to come through, you’ve really got to play it straight: no mugging to the camera for the sake of mugging, and no winking to the audience. You might get a laugh, but it takes the audience right out of the story. They may appreciate the actor, but they’re no longer going to buy the character. BP’s got a lot of broad humor, but it comes from the awful situations these ludicrous characters get themselves into. If you’re going to get an honest laugh from the audience, it’s going to come from these characters being true to their inner assholes and digging their personal holes deeper and deeper.

There were actually a whole bunch of great effects, great monsters and some damn good gore. Talk about making the effects. What was your favorite and how was it done?

I was very lucky to hook up with Jay Alvino of WickedFX early on in preproduction. I’d talked to a few effects houses, and they’d all laughed when I told them what I wanted to do on the budget I needed to do it at. Jay didn’t laugh. I think his exact words were, ‘We gotta make this fucking movie, bro!’

Monique Dupree’s demonic boobies are the highlight, of course. When she walked into the casting call, I sort of had a hunch that we’d eventually get a distributor. Well, within a week of signing up she was in Jay’s basement with Vaseline slathered all over her chest, getting a lifecast so Wicked could get work to work on modeling the prosthetic. What they produced was just so far beyond my expectations of what was possible that I’m thinking of calling my first kid Mandible.

But for practical reasons I think that my favorite effect in the movie was the splinter. It was supposed to be a short scene, the whole point of which was to show a little blood on Chuck’s [Joe Riker’s] finger. On the day of the shoot—and bear in mind that this was the first day of shooting—I had a brain fart and asked Wicked if they thought they could do a gi-normous splinter. ‘Sure,’ they said, and half an hour later Joe was in the bathroom with the monstrosity you see in the movie stuck in his index digit. I tell him to do it slowly, and we end up rolling for a minute and a half in extreme close-up as he’s squeezing out all the blood. Then I called ‘Cut’ and the last thing you hear on the DAT is Jay’s voice: ‘Dude, that gave me a boner’ and everybody on the set explodes in laughter. When everybody on the set saw the effect work as well as it did, they started to trust their totally inexperienced first-time director. I deserve maybe 1% of the credit for the effect, but I reaped a huge reward because of it.

I’m also very proud of the skull on the fireplace, simply because I should never have been able to do it. I personally ended up shooting backplates, doing motion tracks to solve the camera moves, importing that data into a 3D program, modeling 3D shadowcatchers for the room’s architecture, rigging a dynamcs simulation on the skull so it would bounce on the mantle, rigging a particle simulation so the brains would push the eye out through the socket, and compositing the whole thing so that the final render would match the colors in the background plate. I’d never touched a 3D program before doing it. I figured out how to do it by watching the awesome documentary on Pete Jackson’s The Frighteners, and got the technical prowess by lurking around various chatrooms. Total cost for the shot was about $10 for the skull model, which I picked up from DAZ3D.

I noticed that you did the score… It was simple, yet very effective. It definitely kept the flow of the film and set the tone. Talk about the process of scoring the film.

My only prior experience as a musician was as the bassist of an awful punk band called The Snot Cowboys whose only vaguely listenable opus was a little ditty called ‘I’d Kill the Pope for a Pack of Smokes’. The big problem in terms of scoring was (and is) that I can’t play keyboard to save my life. I ended up composing the entire score with a MIDI controller that had 25 keys—out of which I used one. I would fire up my sequencer (Reason 3), then tap out the melody I had in my head along with the metronome. When I was done, I’d shift around the notes until it sounded like I wanted it to. Then I’d copy and paste for the other notes on the chord, and move on to writing another part. I chose Reason because a) it behaves like analog equipment and b) there’s a $20 plug-in that lets you synch your composition to picture.

I’m actually going to release the soundtrack through CreateSpace. Even I’m not naïve enough to think that people will put the whole thing on their iPods and relive their fond Bachelor Party memories. But since I kept the copyright to all the music, I thought it might be nice to release it as a dirt-cheap royalty-free collection. I had to use canned music for the sex scenes (which naturally won’t be on the soundtrack) and I was shocked and awed by how much this stuff costs. If anybody can use the bits I wrote for BPITBOTD on their own projects, more power to them.

You also edited it yourself… and there were some interesting transitions. What did you edit on and what was that process like?

I cut BP on an ancient G4 running Final Cut Pro. By the end, I’d filled up my hard drives and spun them down so badly that I ended up picking up a dual G5 on eBay instead of replacing them. But Apple’s customer support is so snarky and incompetent that I recently pulled up the stakes and built my own workstation. It’s faster than a quadcore Mac Pro and when it breaks at least I know how to fix it without breaking the bank.

Editing BP wasn’t a huge challenge. I’d slashed and burned about a quarter of the script during the shoot because of time constraints and since we shot the movie with one camera there wasn’t exactly a bulging bin of coverage to choose from. (We still managed a near-suicidal seven hundred set-ups in twelve days!) I finished the camera audio rough cut in about two weeks, then synchronized our DAT audio using a consumer-grade, nontimecode deck—a nightmare of tedium that sucked up more time than the cut itself. After that, I probably spent about six more weeks refining the cut.

The problem with this cut was that whole sequences were inadequate, unusable or just plain missing. Monique’s death scene consisted of her leaning against the fireplace. Useless stuff, really. That’s why I had to learn a thing about CG: without it, there wouldn’t have been a movie. It wasn’t clear that the intestine was spooling out of Zoe Hunter’s ass, so I had to animate an ass and figure out how to get intestines to spool out of it. You couldn’t see the jizz on the snowball shot—time to bone up on fluid dynamics! I had a shot with Lloyd Kaufman and the Fish [Dan Rusu] but where the hell were they and what the fuck was going on? Answer: a crane shot using stills from iStockphoto ($6) and a bit of AfterEffects pixel dust. A credit sequence? Shit—hadn’t thought of that… I’d love to say all of this went smoothly, but I had no idea what the hell I was doing when I started. Post ultimately took a year and change. On the positive side, I now know how to do every job listed in the end credits of any movie ever made!

I only made one drastic change during post-production. There was a trippy flashback shot in which Sammy [Gregg Aaron Greenberg] actually ate the heart of his nemesis, Gordon [Joe Testa]. I wanted to suggest that Sammy had turned Gordon into the vindictive little shit he is in the story. But when I previewed the movie, people didn’t get it. The shot confused them because they took it literally. I cut it half a dozen different ways and it didn’t matter. It bugged them. I was pulling my hair out, and then I had another brain fart and completely cut it out of the movie. After I did that, people not only liked the movie better: they understood the point I was trying to make. I guess it just goes to show that you don’t always have to beat people over the head!

You managed to get Lloyd Kaufman to do a cameo. How’d you get him?

He got me, actually.

I ran into a snag in the early days of pre-production. I’d gotten a genre starlet to sign on to BP only to discover that her rate card was out of date and that she’d relocated. I was going to have to fly her in from Phoenix. As a producer, I needed to decide whether the added expense would be offset by better distribution potential. I had devoured all of Lloyd’s books and figured that he might be willing to give some advice to a schmuck like me, and so I wrote to him and explained my situation. Much to my surprise I received an honest and comprehensive reply the next day. At the end of his letter he said that he’d be in the movie if I had a part for him. I finished writing his scene about four minutes later!

Tell us about some of the hurdles you overcame to get the film done. Any advice you can pass on to other indie filmmakers who might be just setting out to make a film.

I think that filmmakers—and particularly indie filmmakers—are very creative people. Which is lovely and honorable and all, but absolutely useless as preparation for making a movie. Filmmaking is a business from start to finish, and the sooner you start thinking like a producer, the better your movie will be. Work out the logistics of your shoot beforehand, and you’ll compromise fewer of your shots during principal photography. Think about everything in practical terms. It’s a hell of a lot easier to move from INT to EXT on paper than it is on a set, where it entails heavy lifting, resetting lights, laying dolly track—not to mention wagering that an act of God isn’t going to change the weather and screw up your continuity.

Unfortunately, the best piece of advice that I can offer is one that doesn’t sit well with my Trotskyite soul: don’t trust anyone you aren’t paying. I’ve read dozens of books about low-budget filmmaking, and 99% of them contain a fallacy along the lines of ‘Everybody gets very excited when you tell them that you’re making a movie’. Well, yeah...except that they also tend to get very resentful of the fact that while they’re out busting their asses doing some crap job that they despise, you—the artist—are off being artsy-fartsy with a bunch of melon-breasted actresses in various stages of undress. (Can’t say I blame them, either.) I don’t think it’s a conscious thing, really, but most people would probably prefer to see you fail because it would make them feel better about the disappointments in their own lives. It’s natural, I suppose, but when the meal somebody promised to bring never materializes, or when the van a friend was going to lend you suddenly has a flat…you’re the one who’s fucked.

After it was all said and done, what would you have done differently?

I would have hired an Assistant Director. Every moment that I spent making sure people were where they needed to be was a moment not spent making a better movie: working with an actor, choosing a better angle, tweaking the lighting, etc. If you’re not making the best movie possible, then you’re letting down not only yourself (which is almost irrelevant) but also the people who are working their asses off for you (probably for nothing) as well as the folks (probably friends and family) who trusted you with their money.

I also would have sold a kidney in order to rent a generator and not shoot day for night.

Did you enter it into any festivals? If so, how’d that go and what can you pass on to other indie filmmakers who are thinking of entering their film into festivals?

If you’re going to hit the festival circuit, you better have a strong stomach. BP premiered at the I-Con sci-fi convention in New York. Watching an audience respond to your movie is amazing—when they respond. I got lucky this time and the applause gave me a better buzz than a barrel of Murphy’s. But some of the other indies at the convention didn’t get lucky, and had to watch as row after row emptied out.

Festivals are expensive to enter (except for Tromadance, of course), expensive to attend, and of questionable benefit to your bottom line unless they’re attended by folks higher up on the industry food chain. Now that BP has a distributor, it makes a bit more sense to go to festivals because there’s at least a chance that I’ll be able to pay for the trip through DVD sales. But until you’ve got copies to sell (or an honest-to-god shot at being picked up by Lionsgate) you’re probably better off hitting cheap festivals within driving distance. BP is scheduled for the Atlanta Horrorfest on October 25th and I’m still trying to figure out if I can afford to go!

What about distribution? How’s that going? Are there any lessons that you would pass on to other indie filmmakers who’ve just finished a film?

The best time to worry about distribution is during pre-production. DO your homework and figure out the sort of deliverables you’re going to have provide. Start thinking about your Music & Effects mix before you get to the set. Even small distribution outfits license films for international sales, and most of them are going to ask you for an M&E mix (and time-coded dialogue cue sheets) for dubbing. This means that you can’t rely on sound recorded while your actors are doing their thing. When they’ve done the ‘magic take’, get your shotgun (or even a Zoom H4, which I’ve found to be very handy for impromptu foley) and have them walk it through again, miming their dialogue and performing all their actions. I didn’t do it this way, and it cost me nearly two weeks of foot-stepping, sheet-rustling, and zipper-pulling once we had a distributor.

Just remember that distributors aren’t magical. If you don’t expect anything from them, then you probably won’t be disappointed with what you get: cheap producer copies and a release notice in Fangoria (if you’re lucky).

Where can people find out more about “Bachelor Party…” or, better yet, buy a copy?

You can buy the DVD on Amazon. Just shoot over to, click on the DVD pic and it’ll take you there. On the site you’ll also find ridiculously extensive production notes that dig deep into the technical challenges of making Bachelor Party. (Along with trailers, some music, and other fun stuff.) People can watch the big fight scene between Gregg and Monique over at my other site, although I had to censor Monique’s (non-demonic) boobies to make the clip ‘SFW’. Just click on the link to Video Services.

What’s next? Do you have any projects in the works?

The next feature I hope to direct is a fabulously blasphemous, pitch-black splatter comedy called ‘Bible-Belt Vixens of the Apocalypse.’ The script’s finished and it’s a lot more ambitious than BP, but the “Second Coming Christian-Zombie Sex Comedy” angle isn’t exactly a soft sell. I’ve recently finished two mainstream scripts and am about two-thirds of the way through a guide to no-budget filmmaking based on my experiences making BP, so if I can sell and/or option at least one of them, I’ll kick-start preproduction. Believe me: it’s going to make Dogma look like The Song of Bernadette!