Friday, February 29, 2008
I'd like to give you some insight into the festival. You know, a little something from them to you, passed through me... but they never got back to me after I emailed them, three times. A fourth email will go out after I post this. I'm not going to hold a grudge or anything and I still want to pass on information, so a lot of this is just cut and pasted from their site and other sources. If they get back to me, I'll come back and update this.
Anyhow, they're currently accepting entries and they're on the look-out for features, as well as shorts. They predominantly look for fantasy/action/horror, but will also consider 'out there' films, whose sheer individuality puts them in a genre of their own. Any film that's been produced in the past 18 months is elegible for both their official jury competition and their public's prize. Also, they do not charge submission fees, so there's really no reason to not submit your film. There's an online entry form, which can be found here and you should send your screener(s) on DVD or VHS to their office. You have until May 5th, 2008 to enter.
Like I said, I wish I could give you a bit more insight, but they haven't got back to me and their about us section on their old site is all in French and for all I know it's just obscenities directed at English speaking Canadians... there is a button that is supposed to switch it to English, but it just goes back to the French - Sacre Bleu! Zut Alore! Having said all that, I can vouch for the city of Montreal, it's a great place for festivals, night life and strip-bars... you know, if that's your thing. Not to mention, I'm sure the festival is a great place to network and meet like minded individuals...
Here's a link to their site.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
In any case, let's take a look at the history of New Line... a studio that I and probably you, grew up on.
New Line was founded in 1967 and was founded by those same two executives that just stepped down, Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne. New Line was responsible for various cult hits, including: "Dark City", the "Austin Powers" trilogy and, of course, the "Nightmare on Elm Street" series, which was its first commercially successful series. They also picked up the "Friday the 13th" franchise and came out with "Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday", "Jason X", then "Freddy vs. Jason". New Line also re-released "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and was responsible for the 2003 remake, as well as the 2006 prequel. New Line grew and prospered where a lot of early indie studios did not. They grew to become a leader in the industry, culminating with the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. A successful studio for 40 years, it will be hard to imagine a film world without them. So long, 'house that Freddy built', I'll miss you.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Lionsgate came out with 22 theatrical releases in 2007 and they grossed a total of $371,804,032. Here's a link to the list. Now, gross is, of course, before everyone takes their cut. The net amount is what's left for the studio. So, what did Lionsgate net from their theatrical releases in 2007? $107.9Million. Not too bad... but, guess what? They net $528.3Million in "video", which is basically the DVD market. Further, they net $109.3Million from putting their properties on television, they net $105.2Million from all forms of international distribution and received a paltry $7.5Million from other, which I'm guessing would be the internet or what they call "electronic distribution". (that is going to change in coming years, though... believe you-me) I'm summing this up extremely briefly, as this could be broken down and analyzed and it is in the 100+ page document I took it from, but I think these general numbers speak from themselves. So, what do they say? They say the money's in DVD releases, not theatrical releases.
So, let's look at what Lionsgate released on DVD in 2007... I counted 68 horrors out of the approx. 400 titles, but that, in itself, is misleading. They come out with the "Bratz" and "Clifford" kids movies, the Katy Smith work out videos, every "Little House on the Prairie" season and piles of old John Wayne-type rereleases - there's WAY over 100 titles with those alone. Here, go to this link and tell me what you think. Either way, let's say that out a fifth of the films in their are horror? Also, out of all those horror releases, most of them are low-budget indie horror, there's titles like "Blood Trails", "Dead Clowns" and "Werewolf: The Devil's Hound" in there... and that's a pretty good judge of the quality we're talking about for most of them. So, by my math, if Lionsgate is making $528Million off of "home video", that makes indie horror a $105Million dollar business for them.... or almost the same as what they net off of their big-budget, Hollywood theatrical releases.
So, let's wrap this up... Lionsgate makes the lions share of their money off of 'home video' and a large portion of that 'home video' comes from low-budget horror. If you're going to take anything away from that knowledge, here's what you take away. 10 years ago, the numbers weren't like this... Home video was the secondary money maker after theatrical releases, now that's changed. Straight to DVD releases is a growing market and a thriving market. It also happens to be the market that you're in... like I said, a lot of the films in their library are shot on DV by indie filmmakers, then picked up and distributed by Lionsgate. So, if you're an indie-horror filmmaker, what you're making, what you're going out there and filming is a commodity, a product and it has value... remember that. Now, go get filming.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Feb 26, 2008 - New horror on DVD today - Forget "30 Days of Night", pick up the horror flicks starring porn stars...
The Rage actually ran the festival circuit in 2006 and screened at Screamfest, Fantasia Film Festival, Sitges Film Festival, Brussels Festival of Fantastic Film, Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival and, of course, the Pifan Korea Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival. It stars Andrew Divoff, who you probably remember as The Djinn from the "Wishmaster" franchise or as Mikhail Bakunin from "Lost", if you're into that little show... it also stars semi porn star Erin Brown, who's turned scream queen as of late, as she's been in tons of low-budget horror, such as "Splatter Beach" and "Shock-O-Rama", as well as semi-erotica like "Bikini Girls on Dinosaur Planet" and "The Lord of the G-Strings: The Femaleship of the String" ...and she played Dildo Saggins like Deniro played Bickle. "The Rage" was directed by Robert Kurtzman, who got his start in make-up and special effects, having worked on tons of horror classics, such as "A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child", "Bride of Re-Animator", "Army of Darkness" and piles upon piles more... until he switched to directing and made "The Demolitionist" in 1995 and "Wishmaster" in 1997. It would be ten years before he would sit in the director's chair again, when he came out with "Buried Alive" and, after that... "The Rage". "The Rage" was shot on the relatively low-budget of $2Million in and around the town of Crestlin, OH. It's about a mad scientist, disillusioned with capitalist society, who creates a virus that's designed to make people rage with anger. The experiments don't go as planned, the infected victims escape, vultures eat the remains and they, too, become out of control with rage, but gain the compulsion to eat human flesh. Reviews are good, check it out.
I'm sure you're all well aware of 30 Days of Night, the vampire film based on the graphic novel. So, what can I say that you don't know? It was released in 2,855 theaters in North America on Oct 19, 2007. It grossed $15,951,902 in its opening weekend, placing it first in the box office and went on to gross over $70Million worldwide. It was directed by David Slade, who really hadn't done much before "30 Days". He's feature length, directorial debut was "Hard Candy" in 2005, but prior to that it was music video's and "Do Geese See God?". Up next for him is "Unthinkable", a psychological thriller centred around the interrogation of a man suspected of knowing the location of three nuclear weapons set to detonate in the U.S. I had a few issues with "30 Days of Night" and it's gapping plot flaws and logistical problems, but it was still a decent flick. It's just that when you've got a budget like that and hype like that, you better deliver 100% and... it really didn't.
Them (a.k.a. Ils) is, supposedly, based on true events... but, what isn't these days? I heard "Cloverfield" and "Diary of the Dead" were based on true events. This isn't a 'found footage' film, but it is a French film, in French, with English subtitles. So, it's footage probably isn't going to be found in my DVD player. It's about a couple who have recently moved to this rural part of Romania and are awakened in the middle of the night by a series of disturbing noises. They investigate, only to find their car being stolen. Attempts to report the crime to the local police are unsuccessful and soon the couple realizes that the mysterious figures have returned... and are trying to enter their house. It's been well received internationally, has been called "77 minutes of gloriously maintained tension" and now "the film that terrified Europe has come to America". At absolute worst, it's only 77 minutes, so if it sucks... you don't have to wait long.
Nature Morte is a french artists term for still life, but it literally translates as Dead Nature. A pshycholigal thriller from writer/director Paul Burrows, "Nature Morte" was filmed on location in Thailand, France and the UK with an international cast. It's about the strange case of ten beautiful paintings, ten victims of a deranged serial killer and the suicide of a brilliant painter being investigated by an American art guru who gets drawn into a world of lust and depravity, where more paintings begin to surface and another artist begins to kill in order to create. Just becuase this one's about a French artist and the last movie was in French, don't fret... this one's in English and the reviews are fantastic... but expect an artsy horror.
The Sick & Twisted Horror Of Joanna Angel is a collaboration between Joanna Angel and horror director Doug Sakmann, who brought us "Punk Rock Holocaust". This release collects two 'absolutely disgusting horror flicks', "Re-Penetrator" and "XXXorcist" in their unrated versions. Joanna Angel is, well... a porn star. Doug Sakmann, well... came from Troma. It's brought to you by HALO-8 Entertainment, a production/distribution company specializing in 'dangerous indie films and alt-culture videos'. Troma meets porn - expect laughs, gross-outs, gore and lots of nudity and... a bit more nudity.
Dark Chamber was originally called "Under Surveillance" and did the festival circuit back in 2006. It actually won best suspense feature at the Cleveland Indie Gathering, best dramatic feature at the Long Island Film Festival, as well as a few other awards and is the only feature that director, Dave Campfield, has under his belt. It's about a guy who moves back into his Dad's apartment and finds that the victim of a cult killing turns up on his property, which gets him increasingly suspicious of his new housemates. A buddy of his talks him into using pinhole surveillance cameras on the apartment residents, but the deeper he and his friend dig, the more they put their own lives in danger.
I'm not sure I'm going to do Winterbeast as much justice as this description - "Welcome to the Wild Goose Lodge... where forest rangers battle living totem poles, tree monsters, Indian mummies, and the legendary Winterbeast! Female campers fight for their lives as the twisted lodge owner, Mr. Sheldon, carries out his bizarre rituals designed to unleash a parade of nightmare demons on an unsuspecting mountain town. Filled with stop-motion animated creatures, over-the-top performances, and a crazed fever-dream plot, this unique 1980's low budget feature is now considered a cult-classic by a whole new generation of fans. It's one movie that really must be seen to be believed!" ...and if that's your thing, have at it. Actually, I may have to check this one out.
Now, I see the link to New York City Horror Film Festival DVD on Amazon, but I can't find out what the hell it is? The New York City Horror Film Festival takes place in NYC for a week, each October. You can check out my description of it on our Horror Film Festival links... I'll put up the product link to it, but I really have no idea what this is. If you know, email me.
New on DVD today:
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Branded Entertainment is Upon Us - Link to article at VideoNuze.com. Yes, this is an article that concentrates on advertising and creating storylines that extend from TV ads, to websites and on through other advertising mediums for brands, but... could this be the start of something? Isn't The Apprentice just a big, long advertisement? How long is it before there's branded scripted shows? They already do product placements and sponsor programming, how long until brands are woven into the scripts and storylines of films? You know the studios would take the money... So, with so many filmmakers looking for funding and so many advertisers looking to reach a fragmented marketplace... it's not going to be that far into the future when you see advertisers paying filmmakers for exposure to their audience. Leatherface with a Stihl chainsaw, Freddy with Wilhsire blades, Smith and Wesson guns, people using Nokia phones... it's coming and you'll take the money, you know it.
"Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins" - link on http://www.comingsoon.net/. I found out a while ago that Patrick Bateman himself, Christian Bale, had signed on to play the role of John Connor in the next Terminator film, but I didn't know the whole project was this far along. I guess the film takes place after the events of T3 and focuses mainly on the war between humanity and Skynet. They will also expand on how Arnie's model, the T-800, was developed. Unfortunately, it's being directed by McG, who's most well known for doing the Charlie's Angels films and music video's.
Haunted Movie - Independent films - done for the sheer fun of creating something from nothing - link to Don Patterson's site. I thought I'd try and draw some attention to Don Patterson... who's an indie filmmaker based in Ohio. You should check out the trailers that he's put together, good production value and great post-production work. Check his site out and if you're in the area and looking to get involved in indie film, send him an email.
A few thoughts on screenwriting competions, as film festivals are a completely different kind of monster than screenwriting competitions. When you enter a film festival, your film is, in most cases, a finished product and you're looking to find a distributor, build up a media package for your film, find a bigger audience, or something like that... and, all the while, you either own your film OR you've been paid for your work in some way. Screenwriting competitions are a bit different. Sure, your script is a finished product, per se, but it's still just one piece of what, you hope, is a bigger puzzle. With a completed script, in most cases, all you've really done is put in lots of hours at absolutely no pay. I'm always weary of screenwriting competitions because you're putting your baby out there and you haven't been paid yet, but, having said that, the PAGE International Screenwriting Competition looks to be a straight up competition that's looking to help you out.
They were established by an alliance of Hollywood producers, agents and development executives, with a goal to discover new scripts by up-and-coming writers. According to them, they're really just looking to give new screenwriters the opportunity to get their scripts into the hands of industry professionals, while also serving as a much-needed resource for Hollywood producers, agents and studio execs who are searching for quality material. Basically, my take is, they're a middle man and they're making a few bucks on the entrance fee's, which is a great business plan as it should create a win/win scenario for everyone.
So there's a couple of really cool and important things that stand out about the PAGE International Screenwriting Competition.
- Judge's Feedback - getting coverage on your script is extremely helpful and if you've never had a script covered by a professional, it may open your eyes a bit. For an extra $65 per judge, they'll send you the coverage on your script. You'll get several pages of detailed thoughts and ideas on your script, which is worth a whole lot more than $65.
- Win, lose or draw, you retain the rights to your script - A lot of screenwriting competitions retain the rights of the script after it's declared a winner, not so here. Even if you're the grand prize winner, the script is still your property.
- Prizes - Grand prize winner gets $10,000 cash, plus a pile of promotion and other prizes. There's also Gold, Silver and Bronze prizes in each of their then categories. In all, there's over $30,000 in cash and prizes.
Deadlines: Early Entry Deadline is Jan 31st ($39), Regular Deadline is Mar 15th ($49) and Late Entry Deadline is Apr 15th ($59)
Here's a link to their website. Even if you don't want to enter, they've got a great list of "recommended resources". Also, be sure to check out the "success stories", which I thought was a pretty cool read.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Every week, I bring up something on P2P filesharing, but I do it with good reason. Following the WGA strike, there is one conclusion we can come to... and that's that the internet has value, or WILL have value, when it comes to motion picture and television content. What we don't know is where that value is going to come from. The people who made the content (the studios) aren't just going to give it away for nothing... and the consumers aren't going to pay for something that they can already get for free through P2P sites. Is the answer streaming video with banner ads? Do we do the iTunes model and charge per download? Maybe we should do membership fees with unlimited downloading like Netflix? Who knows... but I'm the type of guy that thinks if we deregulate the whole system, we'll figure it out. The more we try to regulate, the more people will try to fight it. We, as indie filmmakers and indie film distributors, will figure it out... we have to. The current system isn't getting indie filmmakers the money or recognition they deserve, but this new frontier just might. We may try a few different ways here and there, but with each failure, we'll be one step closer to the solution... and the solution to making money off of content on the internet will come out of the indie film world, I guarantee it. It will because it has to.
What worked 50 years ago, when you could just cram media down the public's throat, does not work anymore, we have to much choice now. We want to cram our own media down our own throats and we'll do it when we want to, on our own time. You only have to look as far as the music industry and iTune's success to see that a downloading system can be put in place and work, but maybe that won't work for film.... but let us figure that out on our own... and we will figure it out.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Articles/posts where Dead Harvey is mentioned
The Best "Best" Lists in Horror Movies, 2007 by Peter Gutierrez on Firefox News
Horror Films, posted by Drea Clark on the Slamdance website
A brief mention from Sinister Concepts. He linked to me, I'll link right back. He's got a pretty cool site... but I'm not local to Portland, but I do really like Portland.
General horror news and information
Horror-Movies.ca - A great site for news, information and all things horror.
About them: This site is a relaxed and friendly environment to discuss horor movies, games, books and more. We take great pride in providing a friendly and fun place to discuss our favorite genre. A key point that we want to make is that there are alot of great horror sites and we are not in competition with any of them. This site exists to serve our own purposes, talk about the genre we love with fans who love it.
Bloody-Disgusting.com - Another great site with piles of information on it. They also have an indie horror news section, which is really cool.
eSplatter - The independent source for horror. They have a great, regularily updated news section on the front page, which is what I check the most. They've also got some free movies in their esplatter TV section and some free wallpapers in their wallpaper section.
Horror.com - "The web's premiere site for horror movie reviews, discussion, culture and more." To be honest, the front page is a little bland with lots of ads, but once you start clicking through all the tabs and everything, it's a fairly in-depth and developed site.
Dread Central - These guys have a couple of great things going for the site. First off, they've got piles of information and news on the indie horror front, but they've got a lot of straight up, honest reviews and a great podcast that I recommend listening to.
Arrowinthehead.com - They're part of the Joblo.com network and there's piles of information on the site. Most importantly, they feature 'mistresses of the week' and 'kill's of the day'.
Buried.com - A great resource for reviews on horror films and horror fiction. They review everything from big-budget horror, all the way down to micro-cinema schlock.
Ain't It Cool News - I'm assuming you've heard of it? It's Harry Knowles site, which is dedicated to rumors and reviews of upcoming and currently playing Sci-Fi, fantasy, horror and action films. Great gossip site... well, one of the best gossip sites, really.
DeadLantern.com - Dead Lantern is a fairly regularily updated site with horror reviews, news and information. However, they also have a podcast called "The Splattercast", which is worth checking out.
Eat My Brains - A horror/cult/indie site that publishes the usual news, reviews and features, as well as competitions and reports from their bi-weekly 'Zombie Club Nights'.
I Can Smell Your Brains - Dedicated to horror and exploitation films, music and books, they cover news, reviews, gore girls, interviews, events, etc...
/film - is an alternative movie news and review blog... and it's insanely updated. They're a great resource for gossip, news and just cool stuff.
Shock Till You Drop - Another great site for news, reviews and all things horror. They have a really well laid out home page, so it's easy to browse and navigate.
Really Scary - It's not updated as regularily as some of the other sites, but they've got a very entertaining podcast that comes out every once in a while. A good site for news on horror movies, video games, comices, etc...
The Horror Review - A great site for horror, sci-fi and fantasy reviews.
AAAAAH-Films.com - I may have to slide this into another category, as it's really not about horror news or information. What they're doing is taking short horror films, like yours or mine, and they put them into compilations and try to get your film exposure and a bit of cash.
Crypt Club Productions - Also, this may have to go into a different category, but I'll leave it here until I fix up this page. They're an independent film production and distribution company, specializing in Horror & Dark Fantasy.
Horror Movies & Stuff - An awesome forum site, so if you want to discuss anything about horror. They're a great site to go to.
Monday, February 18, 2008
"Gabriel", an Australian supernatural action film set in purgatory (the place between heaven and hell, if you're not up on your religious stuff), had its Australian theatrical release on November 15, 2007. "Gabriel" is unconvential and worth checking out for two reasons: it was produced without government funding on an extremely low budget, even though the filmmakers wanted to create a film that could compete in international markets and become profitable AND the movie's ending is far from mainstream, leaving the audience to decide which ideology mentioned in the movie to trust. The film follows archangel Gabriel who fights to rid purgatory of the evil Fallen and save the souls of its inhabitants... it's the first feature from director Shane Abbess, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Matt Hylton Todd. Filmed for roughly $150,000, it has the look of a film made for millions. Everyone involved in the production worked on deferred payment and, in addition, the filmmakers used money from the international distribution rights to complete post-production. It was funded mostly out of pocket and with loans and Abbess worked various jobs in order to raise the money. Apparently there's a 2 hour 'making of' on the DVD, which will definitely be worth checking out...
I'm really going to have to reserve judgement on "Catacombs", even though it's 'from the producers of "Saw". I haven't seen it, but I think it's got a lot going against it. I'll be watching it soon, so I might come back with an editors note. "Catacombs" is the first original movie from FEARnet, the website that's a collaboration between Lionsgate and Sony Pictures. So, it should be no surprise that Lionsgate is releasing it and it stars Sony recording artist Pink. "Catacombs" is set in the Paris Catacombs and is about a young woman who's trying to find her way out, while being pursued by a killer. It premiered on FEARnet On Demand in October of 2007, was then released in Germany on Feb 8, 2007 and is now being released here, today. No, like I said, I haven't seen it, but... this seems WAY to corporate for me. It's just a massive package deal, as far as I can tell. It's co-directed and co-written by Tomm Coker and David Elliot. David Elliot wrote "Four Brothers", "The Watcher" and wrote and directed "Nothing Sacred". Tomm Coker is a comic book artist, turned director with his short film, "A Day Between", which premiered at the 2003 Sacramento International Film and Music Festival. "Catacombs" is his first feature.
"Black Water" is another Australian film, this one is a terryfing tale of survival, set in the crocodile inhabited mangrove swamps of Northern Australia. Don't mistake it for Tobe Hooper's "Crocodile", it's sequel "Crocodile 2: Death Swamp" or either of the "Lake Placid" movies. "Black Water" is actually award winning and was based on a real story. It won Best Cinematography and Best Director at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival, it also screened at London Fright Fest Festival, Montreal World Film Festival and Fantasy Filmfest.
If low-budget, tounge-in-cheek horror, vampire movies starring lots of people who reside in the 'where are they now' files is your thing... "Revamped" is for you. It's written, directed by and stars Jeff Rector ("Scarecrow 3", "Double Impact") and also features: Martin Kove ("Cagney & Lacey", "Karate Kid II" and lots of other low-budget stuff), Billy Drago (every low-budget film ever), Fred Williamson (wishes he could get in more low-budget films), Mickey Jones (every biker film every made), Carel Struyken (Lurch from the "Adams Family" movie), Tane McClure (every low-budget sex flick ever) and, honestly, the list goes on...
"Nightmare Detective" is a Japanese import, which was originally called "Akumu Tantei". It's about a detective that investigates two mysterious and very bloody suicides that are somehow connected as the two victims dialed "0" on their cell phones moments before their death. Then comes in the guy who has the ability to manipulate people's dreams and if the case is going to be solved, the detective comes to the realization that she must dial the mysterious "0" herself... As it is a Japanese import, expect creepy, surrealistic violence, gore and mutilations.
"Eyes Front" is two parallel stories about 'man' committing moral crimes against God. In a hallucinatory adventure of the senses, a crazed murderer wanders the streets on a remorseless hunt for victims. Meanwhile, a distraught family man (Michael Madsen, Sin City, Reservoir Dogs) who accidentally kills his wife desperately searches for redemption. Written and directed by acclaimed hardcore/punk music video director Darren Doane, "Eyes Front" breaks new ground with its cutting-edge imagery, fueled by a pulse-pounding alternative music soundtrack. ...but, just so you know, I didn't write that... that was cut and pasted, I haven't seen, nor heard of this before 2 minutes ago.
"Frankenstein's Bloody Nightmare" comes from first time director, John R. Hand, who also stars in this, plus wrote and directed it. It's a low-budget, experimental film, so if you're not into retro, art-horror, you may want to skip over it. If you find yourself listening to 70's rock, sitting on your couch that you found in an alley, baked and bored... take a look-see.
There's a few collections being released, I think each of them are 3 DVD sets with 3 movies per DVD. So, you get 9 movies total when you get "Bloody Horror Collection", "Living Dead" and "The Walking Dead". So, if you're looking for over 700 minutes of crap horror for under $10, click on the link below!
There's also a bunch of old films being rereleased, but I'm not going to bother writing about them or posting the links to them because, quite frankly, I don't think anyone cares. If you do, let me know and I'll do them next time...
New on DVD today, February 19, 2008:
Frustrated indies seek web distribution - link. This is a great article on the future of film distribution and if you're an indie filmmaker, it's a must read. There's a couple of great things to take note of... first off, I love the fact that they say "filmmakers need to get past the romance of a theatrical release" and that we're in "the transitional post-major studio pre-internet era" and distribution "models will be clear(er) in the future". The last comment is kind of stating the obvious, but the point he's making is still very valid. Basically, distribution methods are changing, we're not really sure how this is going to work out, we're trying different stuff and, eventually, we'll figure this out. The other great thing to note is that, at the very end, they basically say that indie horror is going to lead the way and I agree with that whole heartedly... I've always thought that fans of specific drama's or comedy's aren't necessarily "drama fans" or "comedy fans", however horror fans generally like all horror and we'll go everywhere and anywhere to find more of it. In any case, this is a great, informative article - give it a read.
Death of the Small Town Theatre? - link. Keep that last article in mind when you read this article... it's basically the flip side of the coin. A small town movie theater owner in Magee, Mississippi is pissed off because some substitute teacher showed pirated copies of "Alvin and the Chipmunks" and "First Sunday" to a class while the two films were still playing in his theaters. My favorite quote is when he asks, "Do you think 'digital conversion', 'e-cinema' or whatever face you put on it will solve the piracy issue? Not a chance!". Part of me feels bad for guys like this, but part of me doesn't... a large part of me. Looking back, do you think the guys who owned video stores that exclusively rented betamax said, "Do you think switching to 'VHS', 'digital video' or whatever face you put on it will solve the fact that no one's renting beta anymore? Not a chance!". Sounds stupid now, but you know they were complaining. I hate to say it, but it's straight, common business sense - adapt and change with the times or go out of business. You need to be ahead of the curve, that's just the way it is. Maybe showing "Alvin and the Chipmunks" and other big-budget Hollywood crap isn't the answer, maybe you should install a digital cinema player in the theater, so you have more choices for your audience - things they won't find online. Maybe you should show indie films and have the indie filmmakers help you promote them. Do something that gets asses in seats... Don't just sit there, do nothing and complain about how the world's changing and there's nothing you can do. That's just silly.
Friday, February 15, 2008
According to festival director, Jim Carl, this was the hardest year ever for their programming committee to select the movies because there were simply too many good movies in submission. They received 130 submissions this year and that’s great news for the fans, as it looks like every terrifying, sensational, astounding, stupefying aspect of the horror genre will be represented in this 9th edition of Nevermore. Even Bigfoot is making his festival debut.
Nevermore is a non-competition festival, whose emphasis continues to be the quality of the film selections rather than a showcase for vendors and panelists. Because of its year-round association with a variety of film distributors, Nevermore does showcase and solicit new films from distributors such as Lionsgate, Miramax, Sony, Magnolia, Universal, 20th Century Fox, etc. However, these solicitations are in addition to juried and invited independent and underground features and shorts which have yet to secure a theatrical distributor.
You can find more detail on all of the films on the Nevermore site here, but here's the list of what's screening this year: "666" (a group of horror shorts), "13 Hourse in a Warehouse", "Brain Dead", "Breathing Room", "Frayed", "Highlander", "Nobody", "Paper Dolls", "Sackcloth and Ashes", "Shrooms", "Tenebre", "Timecrimes" and "They're Coming to Get You, Barbra!" (another group of horror shorts)
How'd he do it? Well, he started out by making little clips and putting them on YouTube, Myspace and Facebook, just like every other loser with a handycam. He developed a site, then approached ABC and bought paid programming time, but convinced them not to list him as paid programming (he's paying them each somewhere between $150 - $5,000 per half hour to get his show on the air). So, to the layman viewer, he's on right after Jimmy Kimmel. Once he secured the programming time, he went out and found sponsors who are looking to target his audience demographics, so far it's Ford and Overstock.com, with, apparently, others coming soon. When it comes to getting sponsors, he's creative, too. Not only do they get to run TV ads while his program's on the air, they're all over his website, plus they get product placement during the show and clips. So, he's building awareness, while making money... and he's doing it in a way that blends the internet and traditional distribution methods. So, what can we, as indie horror filmmakers, learn from this joker?
I think there's two major things that you can take away from this. One, you can do it yourself and, two, think like a brand. Let me expand on those thoughts... It's easy to self-distribute now, I've talked with lots of indie filmmakers and many of them are taking the self-distribution route now because they've been f'ed over by their last distributor and, guess what? They're making money, the margins are a lot higher when you do it yourself. All you have to do is plot out all the distribution angles you can... Getting on Amazon, Netflix, etc... isn't that tough. After that, just work the internet and work the phone, get your film out there. Next and more importantly, think like a brand, don't think project to project. If Jake Sasseville just did clips and posted them on Youtube without a big picture, he'd still be doing just that. Instead, he had a big vision in mind, started where he could and, all the while, kept that big goal in mind. So, don't just write a script or shoot your film and throw it out there without any rhyme or reason... create a brand. Make up a site and throw all your projects under one umbrella. Shoot some shorts, post them on Youtube and push people back to your site where you can showcase your other projects. Get mentioned on blogs and horror websites, team up with other filmmakers. Don't just be "Joe Blow", be "Joe Blow Productions". Once you're a brand, it'll be easier to get financing, easier to get your ideas out there and easier to get noticed. Don't take my word for it, ask Jake Sasseville what he thinks...
The Edge with Jake Sasseville - Link
Thursday, February 14, 2008
So, in return, let's take a look at Peter Gutierrez and what he's doing over at Firefox News, because he's doing some cool stuff - here's a link to his page. So, according to his profile, he's proud to write horror film criticism for Shroud and Withersin magazines and he also contributes regularly to Find it in Film, a Web site dedicated to helping educators use visual media in the classroom. He teaches film history/appreciation and media literacy, as well as develops curricula for the same, in his hometown of Montclair, New Jersey. Over the past fifteen years, his creative work in horror—short fiction, poetry, and comics—has appeared in numerous anthologies, genre magazines, and webzines.
Most of the people that cover horror cater to the fanboys and keep it low-brow... Now, don't get me wrong, I love low-brow. I swim in low-brow. However, I appreciate the fact that Gutierrez is taking a higher approach to it and you can see that in his writing. In any case, check him out.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
A little bit about Massify (link), which only launched a few days ago... Feb 8th, 2008, to be exact. "Massify is a film production community. They help you connect, collaborate and get films made. They are a community, they have production tools, they provide grants to get you funding and distribution" ...and they offer similar services for actors, critics and the community. On paper, this is a great idea, but, to be honest, I'm always weary of sites and competitions that ask you to pitch ideas on an open forum. Your ideas are the only trump cards that you hold, you shouldn't be just flashing them out there for everyone to see. Having said that, the idea of a community like this is fantastic. So, go check them out and judge for yourself, but you have to ask yourself, what's the point of this site? As in, why are they doing it? It's not a warm and fuzzy reason like, helping out indie filmmakers out of the goodness of their hearts, I can tell you that much. However, I may contact them and see what they have to say...
A little bit about After Dark Films (link). They're a distributor, but did manage to produce the least scary horror film of 2005, "An American Haunting". I think that film was their debut, then they just went into the distribution side of things and by that I mean coming out with the "8 Films to Die For" Horrorfest. Outside of "Captivity", "The Abandoned" and possibly "Borderland", I think the rest are all from the festival... which has been a great opportunity for a lot of indie horror filmmakers whose films would be going straight-to-DVD otherwise.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
"Furnace" comes from Melee Entertainment, directed by William Butler. It stars Danny Trejo, Michael Pare, Tom Sizemore and Ja Rule. It's about a group of prisoners that are assigned to assist in the re-opening of an old prison's closed wing. While working on it, they find that the furnace room was the location of a murder and the victim's spirit is seeking the death of those who enter the room. Sounds kinda like Renny Harlin's "Prison". Interestingly, the lead role was supposed to go to Kane Hodder, who backed out due to a death in the family and Danny Trejo stepped in to replace him. The director, William Butler, is no stranger to low-budget horror, either. He directed "Madhouse"; wrote "The Gingerdead Man", "Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave" and "Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis"; did the special effects for "Village of the Damned", "Cellar Dweller", "Ghoulies II" and others; but has also acted in tons of low-budget horror, including: "Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust", "Night of the Living Dead" and "Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III". Looking through his credits, it looks like he got his start in make-up and special effects and has just stuck with horror his whole career.
Blackarro Productions brings you Frank Sudol's "City of Rott", which looks f'ing awesome. It's an extremely gory, animated zombie movie that begins after the Earth's water supply has been infected by a strange parasite knows as Rot Worms. Rot Worm egges were delivered by rain and there's no place on the planet that is free from them. Once hatched, they begin feasting on human flesh, turning their hosts into mindless zombies. The story follows Fred, an old man with a walker, trying to find himself a new pair of shoes. It's produced, directed, written by and stars Frank Sudol. Frank Sudol's only other credits are on "South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut".
"Soul's Midnight" was directed by Harry Basil, who actually cut his chops in comedy, getting his first break in film from Rodney Dangerfield when he got to write "Meet Wally Sparks". "Soul's Midnight" is his first foray into horror, which continued on in his next film, "Fingerprints". The film stars Armand Assante, who's really taken a dive since he weaseled his way into "Judge Dredd". Before "Judge Dredd" - "Hoffa", "The Mambo Kings", "Private Benjamin". After "Judge Dredd" - "Striptease", "Children of Wax", "Casanova's Last Stand". Armand plays the persuasive and diaboical Simon, head of a cult of rabid vampires living in the desolate Borgo Hotel, desperately awaiting an unspeakable human sacrifice that will resurrect their messiah.
A team of environmentalists investigating "unchartered territory" find that someone, or rather, something has already made the land its home and proceeds to take the team out, one by one in "Primal", the feature length directorial debut from Steffen Schlachtenhaufen, who also wrote it. Schlachtenhaufen toiled around as a production assistant, a storyboard artist, and an associate producer for over ten years before making a couple of shorts in 2000 and 2002, respectively, which then set him up to make "Primal".
"Doomsday: The Sinking of Japan", directed by Shinji Higuchi, was released in 2006, but is basically a remake of a 1973 version called "Nihon Chinbotsu" or, directly translated, "Japan Sinks". That version was based on a novel of the same name. For whatever that's all worth, this version is, if anything, a technological achievement. This special effects are fantastic, but that's about it... I don't want to say much more because, well, it's not really horror, so... if you like disaster movies, check it out.
"Hate 2 0" is written and directed by the Italian filmmaker, Alex Infascelli, who's actually won various awards from various film festivals. "Hate 2 0", is not one of his films that won any awards... However, if you like the artsy kind of horror, this could be for you. "Hate 2 0" is about strange events that occur when Olivia and her four friends go to a secluded cabin for a purifying water fast. Olivia is ridiculed by her malicious friends about her and her long-lost twin - an unborn child 'absorbed' by Olivia during the childbirth that killed her mother. Tormented, Olivia ferociously removes the only palpable link she has with her dead twin - a tooth lodged beneath the skin of her shoulder. But discarding it down the drain only brings the horrific past to the surface. Just as water awakens this hidden life, it is water that will gruesomely take life away...
What would a week of new horror releases be without an 'Asian extreme' film? I don't know... because "Red Room" by Daisuke Yamanouchi is being released to North American audiences today. This plot summary on IMDB sums it up fairly well - How low would you go to win a million dollars? Just how desperate are you for the cash? Desperate enough to enter the Red Room? In this latest and most vicious game show to emerge from the Japanese underground, four contestants (a husband and wife on the edge of divorce, and two sisters) are locked in the Red Room to draw cards in the "king game." Whoever draws the king selects two others to enter a cage where one performs the most outrageous acts upon his or her unlucky victim. The game is played to the death. Survivor takes all, and the losers go home in body bags!
New Horror Available on DVD today:
Monday, February 11, 2008
Rob Zombie's "Tyrannosaurus Rex" - here's a link from shocktillyoudrop, a link from bloody-disgusting and a link from /film. So, look, it's fairly unanimous, Rob Zombie's "Halloween" was God-awful. A travesty. Yet, the net is all buzzing about his next feature for the Weinstein's, "Tyrannosaurus Rex". I really liked "House of 1,000 Corpses", in fact, I loved it ...and I thought "Devil's Rejects" was okay, but... I don't know. This is supposed to be a biker film and are we just going to get a Rob Zombie version of "Death Proof"? Well, that might not be all bad. Either way, instead of getting all stupid over this like it's "Cloverfield 2", I'm going to reserve judgement until I hear/see more.
The strike's over, who wins? The web - Here's a link to a very interesting article at Forbes' site. Essentially, they're saying that this 'win' for the writers is really a win for the web, as it legitimizes the net as a medium for distributing content. The other thing that's interesting is that it goes on to say that the studios are betting that Hollywood's writing talent can make better content for the web than the guys in Silicon Valley can. Every industry projection says that there's going to be huge revenue from video downloading and streaming in the next few years, but no one's really sure how that's going to happen. Is it from downloading or streaming? Is it advertising based or pay per download? My bet, watch the focus in Hollywood turn to monetizing content on the web now. This agreement basically states that the web is a legitimate portal for distributing content... and that's a statement that can end up being self-prophesizing.
At the movies, 3D's hot all over again - here's a link to an article I came across in Media Life. There's a couple reasons that I find this interesting... one, it couldn't be further from the kinds of movies I like. "Hannah Montana 3D" or "Colonel Kill Motherfuckers"? Umm... yeah. Anyhow, I think that this is the kind of thing you're going to see more and more of in the mutli-plex's. They're spectacles that the whole family can enjoy, they're cuddly and friendly and there's a tied-in audience base, you're not offending anyone, it's backed by Disney, etc... The niche films, like low-budget horror are not going to be found in the big theaters anymore, they'll be at horror film festivals, straight-to-DVD or available through the net. Two, guess why the studios like the push to use 3D? You can't pirate it. My thoughts, watch for more unique, unpiratable things like 3D or Imax on the big screen...
Piracy vs. Hollywood - Last, but definitely not least, here's a link to an article about how 'the world' is getting behind the fight against music piracy, which should be watched closesly because whatever happens in the music industry is going to be happening to the film industry. So, now, instead of going after the P2P sites, they're blaming the ISP's themselves. "The time has come for ISPs to stop dragging their feet and start showing some responsibility, by taking reasonable steps to counter illegal music freeloading." The writer's response is, "First and foremost, the music industry must understand that it’s not the tracks that should bring in the most cash, but concerts and other merchandise. It looks like the future of music is free, online and ad supported." This is why I think that the future of film will be free, online and ad supported. Also, watch for the revenue streams to change in Hollywood, too. We've already established that the studios don't make money on the movies themselves, so maybe they'll turn to other ways they can leverage their franchises. Either way, coming soon... easier ways for low-budget indie horror filmmakers to make money, let Hollywood figure it out - stay tuned.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
The Eerie Horror Film Festival , which takes place in Erie, Pa. from October 8 - 12, has officially opened its call for entries and is looking for submissions from all over the world. (click here for information on submitting your film, video game or screenplay) There's a few announcements out of their camp, including that Kane "Jason Vorhees" Hodder & Tony "Michael Myers" Moran are the first two guests announced and that Fuji Film is going to be a sponsor, which is pretty cool because the winner of the "Best Cinematography" category will win $2,500 worth of film. Also, there lots of submission categories, so there has to be something you can enter. Categories include: Horror Feature, Horror Short, Science Fiction Feature, Science Fiction Short, Suspense Feature, Suspense Short, Student (10 - 17 yrs of age) Horror Feature; Student (10 - 17 yrs of age) Horror Short; Short Length Screenplay; Feature Length Screenplay; Student (10 - 17 yrs of age) Feature Length Screenplay; Student (10 - 17 yrs of age) Short Length Screenplay, Video Game Concept, Video Game in Production and Completed Video Game. Keep checking their website for updates...
I didn't have any information on the SXSW Film Conference and Festival (South by South West) before, so it's a new listing, as far as Dead Harvey's concerned. It's March 7 - 15 in Austin, TX and they have various film categories, including Spotlight Premieres, Documentary Features, Narrative Features, Emerging Visions, 24 Beats Per Second, Lone Star States, Special Screenings and, of course, the 'Round Midnight category... which is what I'm interested in. It's too late to submit your film, but it's not too late to attend and there's some good horror films in the 'Round Midnight category, including: Gregg Bishop's "Dance of the Dead", which is about zombies attacking a high-school prom and the only people who can stop them are the losers who couldn't get dates to the dance. It's getting a lot of buzz and it's supposed to be quite good... it's Gregg Bishop's second feature, after 2006's "The Other Side", which was great. There's Tony Krantz's "Otis", which is a satire of a 'Leave it to Beaver' world colliding with the gore-porn world of a modern day serial killer. It's actually the fourth feature under Warner Home Video's Raw Feed production banner. Then there's Edward Anderson's directorial debut, "Shuttle", which is about a late night airport shuttle ride home that decends into darkness and, finally, Mark Young's "Southern Gothic", which is a genre-blurring drama/horror film set in the South about a a self-destructive, suicidal alcoholic who chases after a psychotic preacher on a bloody crusade because he kidnapped the alcoholic's friend's daughter...
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
First, the problem... Box office returns are going up, yet profits are going down and the major studio's have produced a loss in the billions over the last couple years. Further, just until recently, studio's would fund films all on their own, but they can't anymore. It's increasingly coming from outside sources, such as hedge funds and private equity, which does protect the studio's against the downsides... but it also takes away a lot of the upside. The studios are basically putting themself into a position where it's almost impossible to make money. They're blaming everybody from the internet, to those greedy writers, but guess where the problem really lays? It's really in those A-list actors, directors and producers who are getting huge upfront checks. When your budget is $100Million+ and you then tack on marketing, distribution and your own costs, how can you possibly make money? You can't and you've got a major problem on your hands... So, how do you fix it? Well, actually, that's kind of simple, stop spending so much money on making big budget stinkers.
You see, this is why horror is such a cash-cow, they have low budgets and tend to do okay at the box office due to the fanbase. (Decent Box Office - Low-Budget = Returns) Further, this is why low-budget filmmaking is far more profitable than making big-budget films. You're dealing with smaller revenue, but at least it's a positive figure. Even the private equity guys have it figured out, check out this article in The Hollywood Reporter. The venture capital fund, Film 7, has around $350Million to spend. Are they going to finance 3 big 'blockbusters'? No, they're going to finance "25 features in the less-than-$20 million budget range". Personally, this is why I think that everyone who's cutting their chops in the micro-budget to low-budget filmmaking market is going to have an edge. You know how to make a product on next to no budget, Hollywood certainly does not.
If Hollywood is to survive, it's going to have to switch to a more cost-effective model. No more big paychecks, no more $20Million for an actor, no more paying huge dollars just to have a big named producer attached. The days of big budgets and big paychecks are coming to an end and an age of smaller, modest budget features is coming.... and all of you low-budget horror filmmakers are going to be ready. It's a simple rule of thumb - if you want to get rich, spend less than you make.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
"Storm Warning" comes out of Australia from "Urban Legend" director, Jamie Blanks and it's based on a screenplay that was written over 30 years ago, but was considered too violent for the time. Now, of course, the idea of a yuppie couple getting lost in a swamp then running into a group of deranged rednecks seems tired, but "Storm Warning" gets quite violent, especially when it comes to the female lead getting her revenge. Jamie Blanks got his start, kind of, when he filmed a short trailer for "I Know What You Did Last Summer", appealing to producer Neal Moritz for the directing job. The job had already gone to Jim Gillespie, but Moritz liked the trailer so much that he had Blanks direct his later project, "Urban Legend", which was Blanks feature length directorial debut. "Storm Warning" is his third feature after "Urban Legend" and "Valentine", his next feature is called "Long Weekend".
"Descent" comes from first time feature filmmaker Talia Lugacy, whose other credits include assistant to Mr. Weisman on "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star" and production assistant on "Man of the Century". She attended the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute with Rosario Dawson and collaborated with her on various short films, so I'm assuming that may have had something to do with landing her for the lead role... it goes to show, maintain your friendships from film school. Not necessarily for the friendship, but for the fact that they might 'make it' sooner than you. In any case, if you're a fan of the 70's grindhouse, rape/revenge type films, this one's for you and it does get quite brutal. It's rated NC-17 for brutal rape, graphic violence, profanity and drug use. In fact, some say it's hard to watch at times... and certain scenes most definitely are. Trust me.
It's with mixed emotions that I write about "Killer Pad", the second feature length film directed by Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund. His first feature was "976-Evil", which I actually didn't mind. "Killer Pad" is a horror-comedy about three friends who move into a place in the Hollywood Hills and refuse to believe that the house is actually a portal to Hell. "Killer Pad" is brought to you by the producer of "Dude, Where's My Car?". Now... please, take time to pause and digest that... Robert Englund. "Dude, Where's My Car?"
Charles Band started out as an indie filmmaker in the early 80's, then started up a company called Empire Pictures. That company collapsed due to the fallen Italian currency, which happened to be where the studio was situated. So, he then started up the legendary Full Moon Pictures, which now has several subdivisions, including: Pulsepounders, Surrender Cinema, Pulp Fantasy, Action Xtreme, Alchemy, Filmonsters, Moonbeam, Torchlight, Monster Island and Cult Video. He, personally, has produced over 230 films and occassionally gets behind the camera and directs a picture or two (32, to be exact), such as: "Trancers", "Dollman vs. Demonic Toys", "The Gingerdread Man" and now... "Dangerous Worry Dolls".
"The Orb" is a low-budget horror from Scott Lee Mason, that was originally completed in 2005. It's about a group of friends who travel to Hawaii and a meteorite crashes near their campsite. They go to inspect and find a glowing orb, which enters them, one by one, and turns the group into mindless killers.
Now, there's a string of micro-budget indie horror, which tend to be my personal favorites. I've seen some of these, not all of them, but I'll endorse each and every one. These are all true indie film and you should pick them up, just to support them. This week, you're getting "Deadhouse", "Bone Sickness", "Naked Beneath the Water", "Home Made", "Demon Seduction" and "Sabbath". Now, a little bit of info on each one...
"Deadhouse" comes from Shattered Dreams Productions, distributed by Brain Damage Films. Written, directed and produced by Pablo Macho Maysonet IV and Brian Rivera, "Deadhouse" is essentially another "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" rip-off. It was actually completed in 2004 and premiered at select theaters before being picked up by Brain Damage and now being released to a wide audience. It's their first feature, it was independently produced and financed, shot all on DV....
"Bone Sickness" is 'the story of a woman caring for her terminally ill husband, who is dying from a degenerative bone disease. With no cure available, she gets the help of a friend and turns to an alternative form of medicine, one that angers the dead.' Written and directed by Brian Paulin and completed in 2004, "Bone Sickness" will not disappoint on one level - gore. It's filled with it and the last 15 minutes are out of hand. Having said that, do know that you're getting a micro-budget horror-spoof. There's a lot of negative reviews out there, but I'm assuming that they didn't know what they were in for when they got it.
"Naked Beneath the Water" is writer/director Sean Cain's feature length directorial debut. He's worked on some other infamous micro-budget films, including editing "Zombiegeddon". After that, Cain created Velvet Hammer Films with Jim Wright and this is their first feature. They've done a great job with next to no budget and that's backed up by the fact that there's next to no bad reviews of it out there...
"Home Made" is another micro-budget horror, this one from Jason Impey, who did almost every role possible in getting this film made, including playing the lead role. Shot in the summer of 2006, "Home Made" is about a horror filmmaker who embarks on making the ultimate snuff film.
"Demon Seduction" was originally called "Demon Sex" and was released in a 50 pack of movies called, "Tomb of Terrors". It was written and directed by Greg Lewolt and stars notorious scream queen, Brinke Stevens, star of over 100 low budget horror and sci-fi movies. If there's only one reason to check this film out, it has to be for Brinke Stevens. She's open to being in almost any film and deserves a lot of credit for helping out young, up and coming filmmakers. You really need to see her list of films, check it out here at imdb. Crazy.
"Sabbath" comes from writer/director William Victor Shotten, who's first feature film, "Dead Life", was a micro-budget horror. I can't find much information on "Sabbath", but, from what I can tell, it's about the last day for humanity and zombies.
New on DVD, Feb 5, 2008: