A few weeks ago, we introduced you to a new web-series called "Vampire Killers" and if you want to re-live that post, here's a link. So, I'm not going to get into what the show's about and all that, as it's all covered in that last post, but I am going to continue from where that last post left off. I told you I was going to get in touch with the guy behind it and we did... and we had a chance to discuss the project with him.
First off, the guy behind the series is Doug Hutchison and he's an established actor in Hollywood, with a reoccuring role in "Lost" and a part in the recent "Punisher: War Zone", to mention just a couple of things that he's doing. He's also a forward thinking filmmaker, delving into a territory that a lot of people are afraid of, digital distribution. Now, if you're a regular reader, you'll know that I talk about new forms of distribution all the time... in fact, I usually talk about how people need to stop thinking of the movie theater as the pinnacle of this pyramid and they need to start thinking of their films as content, not 'movies'. Well, that's just what Doug's doing and I, for one, will be keeping a close eye on where this goes, as I think the whole concept and idea is fairly groundbreaking. If you're interested in the future of what entertainment could look like and you want some insight into how it might get there, this is a post that you need to read...
First off, tell us a bit about yourself. You’ve clocked a lot of hours in front of the camera, but what are your ‘behind the camera’ influences and what brought you into the world of indie horror filmmaking?
I'VE BEEN ACTING [PROFESSIONALLY] FOR 22 YEARS. SO, YEAH, I GUESS YOU COULD SAY I'VE CLOCKED A FEW HOURS IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA! MY DREAM, HOWEVER, WAS NEVER TO BE AN ACTOR, EXCLUSIVELY. I'VE ALWAYS BEEN CREATIVE; PLAYING GUITAR, IN AND OUT OF ROCK BANDS, WRITING POETRY, SCREENPLAYS, TEACHING, DIRECTING, ETC. I THINK THE CLINCHER FOR ME [RE: BEHIND THE CAMERA ASPIRATIONS] WAS SEEING "SLING BLADE" 13 YEARS AGO. BILLY BOB THORNTON HIT A GRAND SLAM. I WAS FLOORED. HERE WAS A B-LIST ACTOR WHO COULDN'T GET ARRESTED IN HOLLYWOOD AND SUDDENLY HE WAS A QUADRUPLE THREAT: ACTOR, DIRECTOR, WRITER, AND PRODUCER. HE FUCKING DID IT, MAN ... AND I RESPECT THAT. I GUESS, IN RETROSPECT, THORNTON WAS MY ULTIMATE INSPIRATION [EVEN THOUGH HE'S NOT ONE OF MY FAVORITE ACTORS]. HE DID IT HIMSELF. IT MADE AN IMPRESSION ON ME. NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION. THORNTON GOT DOWN TO IT, CREATED A PASSION PROJECT, FIGURED OUT HOW TO DO IT ON HIS OWN TERMS, AND KNOCKED IT OUT OF THE FUCKIN' BALLPARK.
Film School: Yes or No?
NO. I DID A BRIEF STINT AT THE JUILLIARD SCHOOL [FOR ACTING] BEFORE BAILING AFTER 5 MONTHS. BUT NO FILM SCHOOL.
Where did you get the idea to do “Vampire Killers”?
FROM COLLECTING "THE TOMB OF DRACULA" COMICS AS A KID, READING ANNE RICE'S NOVELS, AND DIGGING MOVIES LIKE "NOSFERATU", "THE ADDICTION", AND "THE HUNGER", I'VE ALWAYS HAD AN AFFINITY FOR THE VAMPIRE GENRE. "VAMPIRE KILLERS" WAS INITIALLY CONCEIVED AS A TV SERIES AND THEN MY GOOD FRIEND, MARCO MANNONE [CO-WRITER AND PLAYING THE ROLE OF TRAVIS IN "VK"], SUGGESTED TURNING IT INTO A WEB-SERIES. I THOUGHT IT WAS AN ENTICING IDEA AND THE PERFECT VENUE FOR SOMETHING LIKE "VAMPIRE KILLERS". I WANTED TO SHOOT IT DARK, GRITTY, SEXY, AND WITH NO HOLDS BARRED.
How did you go about securing financing and what’s the approx budget?
I WAS THE FINANCING! WE SHOT ALL 6 EPS, CREATED THE WEBSITE, AND ALL THE TRIMMINGS [PHOTOGRAPHY, GRAPHICS, INITIAL MARKETING, ETC.] FOR APPROX $30K. MY "VK" PARTNER, TIM BALDINI, AND I ARE GOING TO TAKE MEETINGS WITH POTENTIAL SPONSORS IN THE HOPES OF RAISING MORE $$$ TO KEEP THE SERIES GOING IN '09. WE'RE ALSO HOPING TO GET INTO THE ROOM WITH MICHAEL EISNER, THE PURVEYOR OF WEB-SERIES. I THINK, IF EISNER CATCHES WIND OF "VK", IT'LL TOTALLY TURN HIS CRANK. HE'S, APPARENTLY, LOOKING FOR NEW INTERNET-SERIES TO PRODUCE.
What do you shoot on… and how do you go about filming a web series? Have you shot the whole thing or are you shooting it in chunks? Is it more like shooting a feature or episodic tv?
WE SHOT THE FIRST 6 EPS ON HDV OVER THE COURSE OF TWO WEEKENDS [4 DAYS]. MY DIRECTOR, TIM [GOD BLESS HIM!], CUT IT ALL TOGETHER, ADDED SOUNDTRACK, AND DID EVERYTHING POST. I CALLED IN A LOT OF FAVORS [CAST, CREW, DESIGNERS, MARKETERS, ETC.]. THAT'S WHY MY DREAM IS TO SNAG A SPONSOR. SO WE CAN GENERATE ENOUGH $$$ SO THAT I CAN PAY MY PEEPS WHEN WE CONTINUE THE SERIES. IT WAS TOTAL GUERRILLA-STYLE NON-INSURED FILM-MAKING. WE FOUND LOCATIONS AND JUST DOVE IN [PRAYING THE COPS WOULDN'T SHUT US DOWN!]. WE WERE LUCKY. VERY LUCKY.
Talk about the decision to distribute online. When and why did you decide to take this route?
MICHAEL EISNER PREDICTED -- ABOUT 10 YEARS AGO -- THAT THE INTERNET WOULD CHANGE THE FACE OF THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY. HE WAS RIGHT. THE INTERNET IS THE WILD WILD WEST OF THE 21ST CENTURY. ANYTHING GOES. WE'RE BUILDING A GLOBAL AUDIENCE WITH "VAMPIRE KILLERS". VIRALLY. IT'S EXCITING. IT'S THE NEW FRONTIER. AND BEST OF ALL: I DON'T HAVE TO DEAL W/NETWORK STUDIO EXECS BREATHING DOWN MY NECK. I CAN MAINTAIN ABSOLUTE CREATIVE CONTROL.
Tell us a bit about the series, what’s the plot? Where is it now and where is the series going?
VAMPIRE KILLERS IS ABOUT A GANG OF FOUR 20-SOMETHINGS SOLICITED BY A FACELESS ENTITY TO HUNT A CABAL OF 13 FEMALE VAMPIRES IN AND AROUND THE L.A. AREA. IN THE FIRST 6 EPS [SEASON 1], WE FOLLOW THE VAMP KILLERS AS THEY TRACK CHARLOTTE ROSS, THE QUEEN VAMPIRE, WHO HAS MURDERED ONE OF THEIR OWN IN COLD BLOOD. SEASON 2 WILL OPEN WITH AMY MADISON [THE GIRL IN THE HOTEL BATHROOM IN EPS 1 AND 2 WHO WAS RAVAGED BY CHARLOTTE] AS SHE FINDS HERSELF LOST IN THE UNDERWORLD OF VAMPIRES.
You have a lot of good looking women in the show, most of whom are wearing next to nothing. As someone who’s been in the industry for a while, plus is a professional actor, how did you go about casting? What insight could you give to up and coming filmmakers on the casting process?
I WAS THE CASTING DIRECTOR FOR "VAMPIRE KILLERS". TOUGH JOB AUDITIONING HUNDREDS OF GORGEOUS WOMEN [BUT SOMEBODY'S GOTTA DO IT!]. FRANK DARABONT [DIRECTOR OF "THE GREEN MILE"] TOLD ME THAT 80% SUCCESS OF ANY FILM IS IN THE CASTING. I TOOK THAT TO HEART WHEN CASTING "VK". MY BEST ADVICE IS TO: KEEP AN OPEN MIND. FOR EXAMPLE, I INITIALLY CONCEIVED THE ROLE OF CHARLOTTE FOR A DARK-HAIRED, VOLUPTUOUS, CURVACEOUS ACTRESS [MONICA BELUSHI-ESQUE]. ANIA [MORE WAIF-LIKE THAN BODACIOUS] WALKED INTO THE ROOM AND BLEW ALL OF THE OTHER ACTRESSES AND MY PRE-CONCEIVED NOTIONS AWAY. SHE WAS/IS PERFECT.
Episode 2 was banned from Youtube … talk about why that happened and your thoughts on it.
HONESTLY, I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHY YOU-TUBE BANNED US BECAUSE I'VE SEEN A GAJILLION YOU-TUBE VIDS THAT APPEAR FAR MORE GRAPHIC, VIOLENT, BLOODY, AND SEXUAL IN CONTENT THAN OURS. IT WAS A TOTAL HEAD-SCRATCHER, BUT SOMETHING I DECIDED TO USE TO OUR BENEFIT. NOW, IF YOU VISIT YOU-TUBE TO WATCH EP #2 [CENSORED], YOU CAN WATCH UP TO THE POINT OF WHERE WE THINK U-TUBE BECAME UNCOMFORTABLE [AMY BOUND AND GAGGED IN THE MOTEL BATHROOM] AND THEN IT STOPS DEPICTING A DISCLAIMER AND NAVIGATING VIEWERS TO OUR WEBSITE TO ENJOY THE UNCENSORED VERSION. YOU-TUBE'S BAN ACTUALLY SPIKED OUR HITS.
A lot of Hollywood is very interested in this method of distribution and the question on everyone’s mind is … how do you make money by distributing your project online. So, how do you make money through online distribution?
SPONSORSHIP. IT ALL COMES DOWN TO ADVERTISING. ON TELEVISION, IT'S COMMERCIALS. FOR EXAMPLE, ADVERTISERS PAY NBC TO ADVERTISE DURING "LOST". THE MORE PEOPLE WHO WATCH "LOST", THE MORE ADVERTISERS WANT TO ADVERTISE TO THOSE PEOPLE. SO THE MORE POPULAR "LOST" BECOMES, THE MORE ADVERTISERS WANT TO PAY NBC BIG BUCKS TO ADVERTISE THEIR PRODUCTS. IT'S THE SAME ON THE INTERNET. IF "VAMPIRE KILLERS" ATTRACTS AN AUDIENCE, WE CAN THEN SEDUCE SPONSORSHIP/ADVERTISERS AND, ULTIMATELY, GET PAID TO SHOOT MORE "VAMPIRE KILLERS". EVERYBODY WINS. THE SPONSORS ADVERTISE [AND MAKE $$$], "VAMPIRE KILLERS" CONTINUES [AND MAKES $$$], AND THE AUDIENCE GETS ENTERTAINMENT [FOR FREE!].
If I’m a filmmaker and I’m considering creating a webbased project, such as this… what advice could you pass on? What sorts of stories work, how long should each episode be, how do you market it?
EVERYTHING COMES DOWN TO STORY AND CONTENT. IF YOU HAVE AN INTRIGUING, ALLURING, AND COMPELLING STORY TO TELL, WELL, YOU'RE GOLDEN. EVERYTHING ELSE WILL FALL INTO PLACE. AS FOR WEBISODES, THE GENERAL RULE OF THUMB IS APPROX 2 - 3 MINS PER EP [BUT RULES ARE MADE TO BE BROKEN]. MARKETING ON THE INTERNET IS A NO-BRAINER: U-TUBE, ETC. IT'S ABSOLUTELY FREE GLOBAL MARKETING. OTHERWISE, IF YOU HAVE THE MEANS TO CREATE YOUR OWN WEBSITE, DO IT. YOUR WEBSITE IS YOURS. ANYTHING GOES.
Where can people find out more about “Vampire Killers” and what can people do to help support the project?
YOU CAN VISIT OUR WEBSITE @ VAMPIREKILLERS.TV. IF IT TURNS YOUR CRANK, THE BEST WAY YOU CAN SUPPORT "VK" IS TO SPREAD THE WORD ... VIRALLY. THE MORE PEEPS WHO HIT OUR SITE, THE MORE NUMBERS WE CAN PRESENT TO POTENTIAL SPONSORS, AND THE MORE LIKELY WE CAN CONTINUE SHOOTING THE SERIES.
Talk about the indie horror scene... Where do you feel it is now and where do you see it going?
THE INDIE HORROR SCENE IS IN THE BEST POSITION EVER BECAUSE THERE'S AN ETERNAL UNQUENCHABLE DESIRE FOR HORROR AND THE ABILITY TO MAKE HORROR [GOOD HORROR] @ SUBTERRANEAN BUDGETS IS ABSOLUTELY FEASIBLE/POSSIBLE. YOU CAN LITERALLY TAKE A VIDEO CAMERA AND MAKE A MEMORABLE SUCCESSFUL HORROR FLICK ON A VERY MODEST BUDGET. IF YOU HAVE ANY DOUBTS/RESERVATIONS, REVISIT "NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD". AND THEN REMEMBER "BLAIR WITCH PROJECT" 10 YEARS AGO? BOTH WERE SHOT ON SHOESTRING BUDGETS. HORROR COMPELS ... AND IT'S A GENRE THAT CAN SUCCEED ON SUBTERRANEAN BUDGETS.
What’s next for you? Do you have any projects in the works?
I'M PLAYING A RECURRING ROLE ON "LOST" THIS SEASON. STARRING IN A MOVIE CALLED "GIVE 'EM HELL, MALONE" [WITH THOMAS JANE AND VING RHAMES] PREMIERING SOMETIME IN '09. "PUNISHER: WAR ZONE" WILL BE OUT ON DVD ON 3/17/09. HOPING TO PRODUCE/DIRECT MY ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY, "DREAMBIRDS", CONTINUE TEACHING MY ACTING WORKSHOPS/CLASSES ["THE ART OF STILLNESS"] ... AND, OF COURSE, TAKE "VAMPIRE KILLERS" TO THE NEXT LEVEL!