Wednesday, March 31, 2010

After Dark Originals... What You Need to Know and What You Think.

If you click on this link, you'll be taken to the future home page of After Dark Originals. Now, you may be asking yourself, "What, exactly, is After Dark Originals?". Well, let's take a look...

After Dark Films is an independent motion picture studio, formed in 2006, by Courtney Solomon and Hong Kong based real estate magnate, Allan Zeman. Solomon is a filmmaker, most notably having directed both "Dungeons & Dragons" and "An American Haunting". Allan Zeman lives in Hong Kong, is of Jewish decent, and is involved in everything from Wynn Resorts to fashion to film and TV. Their paths must have somehow crossed in Canada, as Solomon is from Toronto and Zeman lived in Canada for most of his life, just recently renouncing his citizenship in 2008. The first film under the After Dark banner was Solomon's "An American Haunting". Shortly after that, After Dark formed a multi-year marketing and distribution deal with Lionsgate for Horrorfest's "8 Films To Die For". After Dark would handle the theatrical marketing and releases, Lionsgate would handle the distribution of all ancillary forms, such as home video, pay TV, pay per view, VOD, etc. Building on the success of Horrorfest, After Dark and Lionsgate are going to team up with NBC Universal's SyFy channel with the new series, After Dark Originals. Basically, instead of acquiring films, they're now going to produce their own - full control from script concept through final editing. Seven of the eight films slated have been shot and they've already green lit the second set of Originals for season two.

Now, let's get to my thoughts. Well, there's a lot of good stuff going on here. I love the fact that they've tapped directors like Brett Simmons, the guy behind "Husk" - a film that took Sundance by storm and Steven C. Miller, who did the low-budget zombie masterpiece, "Automaton Transfusion". It's also great to see NBC and Lionsgate getting involved in bringing some lower-budget horror to fruition. I can only hope that the guys over at Paramount, who are heading up the new micro-budget label, Insurge, are watching closely and taking notes. All of this is great for us and it can do nothing but grow the awareness and prominence of micro-budget and low-budget horror films, but... I'm still weary about how these guys are handling it. So, here's my concerns... My main issue comes from the fact that they're continuing to tap the existing success stories, as opposed to reaching down into the indie trenches and nurturing the potential of up-and-coming talent. I understand that Lionsgate, After Dark, NBC, Paramount and Viacom are all looking for profitability over good will, but there are ways to hedge for success. They have a chance to not only expand and develop an audience for these films, but they also have the chance to introduce new distribution channels and formats that will pave the way for up-and-comers to become those success stories. I can only hope that they keep that in mind... In reality, film talent can be a renewable and growable (is that a word?) resource and if they tap the potential, they can build this small sub-sect of the industry along with building some careers. If they just try to tap the success stories and existing talent, they're treating film talent like a finite resource and, I'm sorry, it's going to dry up. How do you manage all of this successfully? Well, I've got some ideas swirling around in my head... and if anyone from Lionsgate, After Dark, NBC, Paramount or Viacom wants to hear them, just reach down into the trenches and contact me.

Those are my thoughts, what do you think?

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Weekend Box Office and The Week In Horror on DVD

So, the weekend at the box office went, sort of, as I predicted. "How to Train Your Dragon" toppled "Alice in Wonderland" and "Hot Tub Time Machine" came in third. The interesting story out of this weekend revolves around 3D films. Currently, there's three 3D films in the theaters: "How to Train Your Dragon", "Alice in Wonderland" and, of course, "Avatar". Now, a little backstory - modern 3D films use polarized 3D, which is different than, say... the 3D used in "Friday the 13th Part 3-D", which used the red/blue glasses. Polarized 3D requires digital projection that uses either two digital projectors fitted with polarizing filters OR a single digital projector used in conjunction with an adaptor in the front. IMAX, I believe, uses a slightly different and far more expensive method, but it's still based in polarized 3D. (If you're a tech guy and know this better, please elaborate) So, the interesting thing is that there's not enough screens to play all the 3D films now. So, with "Alice" being so successful and "Dragon" just opening, guess what happened to "Avatar"? Biggest drop yet, but the real reason is because it was booted off most of its 3D screens. Long and short is, it looks like 3D has hit the tipping point in a big, big way and, if that's the case, the theaters are going to need to do some serious upgrading. Now, here's where it gets interesting for us... the switch to 3D capable screens means that the theaters are going to go all digital.... which means that getting alternative content (ie. sports, indie and micro-budget film) on to the big screen will be a whole lot easier - no cost for prints, virtually zero distribution costs, blah, blah... unless, of course, there's four 3D films competing for all the spots in the megaplex. Oh, did I mention that "Clash of the Titans" opens this Friday and it's also in 3D? It's an interesting time to be in theatrical releases, for sure. Anyhow, let's get back down to earth and look at the horror that's coming out on DVD this week. As usual, head over to our Youtube Page by clicking HERE and you can see all the trailers. Otherwise, you can click on the title and be taken to the films Amazon page, where you can read more and/or buy the film.

"I Sell the Dead" is the feature film debut from Irish director, Glenn McQuaid, and it finally comes out on DVD this week. It's a great film and it had a great run at the festivals. It was picked up by IFC for domestic distribution; Anchor Bay for Canada, the UK and Australia; and Screen Media for foreign. Not only that, it was popular enough to have spawned a comic book adaptation - always a sign of acceptance in the horror world. The film stars Dominic Monaghan, Larry Fessenden, Ron Perlman and The Tall Man himself, Angus Scrimm. A month or so ago, we talked with Jeremiah Kipp, the writer/director of the short film "Contact" and he happened to be the AD on "I Sell the Dead". We talked a bit about "I Sell the Dead" in the interview and if you'd like to go back and check that out, here's the LINK.

"Smash Cut" is a Canadian indie horror from Lee Demarbre and it's produced by Robert Menzies. The film is about an "Ed Wood" sort of director who starts killing people and using their blood and guts in his films for realism. It screened at Fantasia Fest and the London FrightFest, before getting a limited theatrical run in Canada. The cast is unreal, including David Hess from "The Last House on the Left", Michael Berryman from "The Hills Have Eyes", Ray Sager from "The Wizard of Gore" and porn star, Sasha Grey, in her second non-porno role. Not only that, the Godfather of the splatter film, Herschell Gordon Lewis, is in the opening credits, advising the audience to "watch if they must". There's a lot of good things going on here and I may have to check it out.

I can't find the trailer for "Bigfoot", but I'm assuming that's because too many videos pop up on Youtube when you type in "Bigfoot". In any case, this film was actually completed back in 2005 and has been trapped in indie film purgatory due to a snafu with another distribution company. Now, it's finally getting the release it deserves from Troma, who just recently picked it up. It's a low-budget indie, but reviews are fairly good and it looks like it's worth checking out.

"Negative Happy Chainsaw Edge" is a Japanese film, based on a novel of the same name by Tatsuhiko Takimoto. There's also a manga adaptation - a sign of acceptance in the Japanese horror world. The trailer that I found has no subtitles and I know nothing of the book, so I'm not really sure what it's about. Judging from the trailer, there's a love story, some motorcycle riding and a chainsaw wielding psychopath from space.

"Girly", AKA "Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny, and Girly" is a cult horror-comedy classic that came out of the UK from British horror veteran Freddie Francis in 1969. It's been called one of the greatest lost films of British horror cinema and received great reviews at the time, although it was marketed poorly and was forgotten very quickly. The distributor gave up on the film and it all but vanished, except for an even more limited release on VHS in the early 80's. Then, during a Freddie Francis film festival in 2004, the organizers struggled to find even a VHS copy and the film was thought to have been completely lost... when copies began to surface on the web, people started talking about it, it gained some cult status and, low and behold, it's now out on DVD ready to be rediscovered.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Interview with Patrick Johnson, writer/director of "She's Crushed"

Every once in a while, I'll watch an indie horror that keeps me going, makes me search for the next one. Do you know what I mean? It's like one good shot in a shitty golf game or that one cute, flirty girl in a sea of bitches. It's like a nod from the gods, telling you... don't worry, you're on the right track. For me, that was what it felt like after watching Patrick Johnson's "She's Crushed".

First up, if you're an indie horror filmmaker or an aspiring indie horror filmmaker, you have to check this film out. It starts out, well, exactly where you'd expect it to start out and then it steadily takes you to a whole other level that is, simply, what indie horror is all about. I don't want to say much more, as I want to get to the interview. I'm thrilled to have been able to talk with Patrick and he delivered an in depth and kick-ass interview that you have to read. If you want to buy the film or read more on it, here's a LINK to it's Amazon page or... just keep reading.

Tell us about your film, “She’s Crushed”

This is going to sound like pretentious bullshit, but here it is. To me, She's Crushed is a film about the effects of violence, obsession, and the idea of commitment being skewed to the extreme.

The character Ray is a guy who has profited all his adult life from violence—first as a soldier, then as an insurance adjuster. He profits from violence but at a distance. In the military, he was a sniper killing from a safe distance; then, as an insurance adjuster, he arrives after the active violence has occurred, again seeing it from a safe distance.

Then along comes Tara. She's Ray's polar opposite. She over-commits, and as a direct victim of violence herself, she brings violence as up close and personal to Ray as it can get. Tara has no problems committing herself 100% to someone. I don't think she is an evil person. She is really just a product of a horrible upbringing in which problems were resolved with violence. She kills for a specific purpose; not because she enjoys killing, but because she knows no other way of dealing with life. She is very actively involved in violence unlike Ray. She is also good at it, so she relishes in it a bit…as a low self-esteem type of reinforcement more than actual enjoyment.

I thought it was interesting to show that even though Ray has military training and has killed before, these skills prove useless against a skinny girl—a fact that frustrates many viewers. Tara uses social conceptions against Ray which is something you hear a lot about in real life cases of girls stalking guys. Guys have a really hard time finding sympathy when they complain that a girl is hassling them. We as a society tend to underestimate women as adversaries. Which is really a big mistake. Women have an intense focus.

Some critics condemn this film for its intense brutality and graphic violence. I argue that violence is supposed to be repulsive and it's actually more irresponsible to sexualize or glorify it. You definitely feel the effects of the violence in this film. It's not sexy or cool. It's ugly and intense and makes you want no part of it. The film can be a bit emotionally exhausting for even the hardest of horror fans. I don't think it's a nihilistic film despite the ending, but it is definitely dark.

What was the budget and how did you secure the financing?

The budget was low. It was complete shit. I think we kicked ass considering the budget, but we had to make a lot of compromises, many of which were time constraints. I would have liked to have had two more weeks of shooting. We secured financing based on two previous projects "SideFx" and "Freaked".

Okay, I love the ‘woman scorned’ premise. I think it’s something that seems plausible, which makes it that much scarier. Having said that, it’s not an overly new concept, but you definitely take it to another level. Talk about where you got the idea from and how you developed it.

The idea was born out of the scene in the parking garage. That scene in real life would be hard to get out of. A guy with a violent history and a military background is going to have a hard time convincing people he is the victim of a 115-pound chick with her shirt ripped open. If you make the wrong choice it's going to end badly and there is no turning back once you do make a choice. That got me thinking about violence and how society deals with it. Then from a storytelling standpoint, I wanted to avoid making killing people cool or sexy. Death and violence is neither and tends to smell like shit. Literally.

The gore is unreal and it was done so well. Which was your favorite effect and how was it achieved?

I think a lot of the gore in the film is intense due to tone and scale rather than actual blood and guts. You see a lot sicker stuff on CSI these days. What I mean by tone and scale is that we kept the scenes very realistic and not too Hollywood. The gore was small, too. We did things that people could relate to. Simple basic stuff you could wrap your brain around. We didn't skin a person and wear their skin or lop off a head and have it still talking. Who can relate to that stuff? It's out of our scope of understanding (I hope) but small things that deal with eyes, fingers or feet…we can all sort of imagine how that might feel.

That being said, my favorite effect was the head-drilling scene. It was pretty low tech. We went to Fiesta, a Hispanic grocery store, and bought two pig heads. “Dos cabezas del cerdo" I think. We then loaded a coring drill bit with a condom filled with fake blood, brought the camera in tight, and drilled the pig head. As the drill bit went into the skull, the condom broke and spewed blood around the pig head. It was some nasty looking shit even on set. A pig's skin looks scary like human skin. It spun and wrinkled just like a human’s skin would I suppose. Oh I think we also put make-up on the pigs head so it would match Keith's skin tone. Jokes were flying that night I tell ya. We did it live on set, not as an insert later. So the entire crew got to witness the horror.

You also did a great job in casting; both Natalie Dickinson and Henrik Norlen were perfect. Talk about the casting process and how you got them involved.

I met Henrik in Sweden while working on another project. We wanted to work together again and this seemed like a great fit. He had a very innocent likable quality I knew Ray needed. Plus he's a stellar actor. I met Natalie working on Freaked. She has a go-for-it attitude in which she holds nothing back. For a girl as petite and delicate as she is when you meet her, she is willing to just let herself get raw. She does not worry about looking stupid or pretty she just gives you everything she's got. She is a stellar actor as well and never complained about anything I asked her to do. All the actors really did a great job and gave 100% to the film which was awesome.

The film had a great look and feel and never did I feel like I was watching a low-budget film. What do you think made your film stand above the rest and what advice would you give other filmmakers who are trying to avoid a low-budget look.
This is a hard question to answer since I was also the cinematographer as well as the director. I just tried to make it look as close to what I imagined in my head given the constraints we had with time and budget. I leaned to light fast with as few lights as possible. Our entire camera and lighting team/department consisted of Jay Cerra and David Taffet and me. We didn't have a lot of lights (I think a total of six) but we used the hell out of them. I really think that great acting helps a film avoid the low budget look as much as anything. I did try to achieve the look I wanted even when it seemed impractical within the time we had, and Jay was always ready to plop down dolly track at a moment’s notice. He never complained. He just got us set up. And Chad Breshears, our producer, wore several hats and was also willing to lend a hand wherever and whenever it was needed. So, I would add a great crew that knows how to work under extreme conditions without complaint as a ‘must’ to getting the look you want.

Now, tell us a bit about yourself. What are your influences and what got you in to film?

I started in fine art and slowly moved toward film. I did a lot of CD artwork with bands, and then I went on tour with a band doing a live video art-type thing, shooting projections onto a screen behind them while they performed. Combining video and music was really addictive. From that moment on I knew I had to do something with moving images and sound. My film influences tend to be from hard genre films. Everything from Sci-fi to comedy, action, and horror. I loved it. I was lucky growing up. My father controlled the TV, so I had to watch all these old interesting movies. I didn't have SpongeBob or Nickelodeon; I had Sergio Leone, John Ford, Kubrick, and Coppola on the TV. There was also a great old dollar movie theater near my house that for some reason screened all these old wonderful films every week—a really odd assortment of double features they managed to get the prints of. I saw everything from the Warriors to The Exorcist in one weekend to Mad Max and A Clockwork Orange the next, plus the full Friday the Thirteenth series as well as Halloween. It was awesome to see these films in a theatrical setting. It also gave me a great film education since I would go and watch movies every weekend no matter what was showing.

Film school: yes or no?

No, I didn't go to film school. I made the equally financially ignorant choice of getting a Fine Art degree.

When you set out to make “She’s Crushed”, what was the goal? Was it to make money, were you trying to open doors, get into festivals… and did you accomplish what you set out to do? Looking back, is there anything that you’d do differently?

I really wanted to take the carnage to a new level almost to say to people... "Okay you wanted to see it, so here it is! I'm thinking you got this movie for a reason. It's not like you picked up ‘She's Crushed’ thinking you were getting ‘Snow Falling on Cedars’!” In a couple of scenes I thought the audience would get, I was being sarcastic and having a laugh. I may have been wrong on that. I never thought the film was going to be a huge financial success. It was too niche for that. I just wanted to play with the genre and see how much fun we could have making the slasher type movie I would love to see. I was never under the illusion it would play well at festivals either. It was just too dark and intense for most festivals. We did get into a few festivals and the audiences went nuts. It's definitely a movie you need to see on the big screen. People walk out of screenings stunned and exhausted emotionally. It's like a sick roller coaster ride. You want to look away but it sucks you in. I think we accomplished what we set out to do. We wanted to push the envelope and cause a reaction in audiences. Unfortunately, that can alienate a lot of people. I mean, if I had a dime for every person that told me I was sick and need psychiatric help, I’d be rich! It's only a movie people! I didn't do anything that hasn't been done before; I just showed it in a different perspective that haunts people. But shouldn't that be the point of violence? The one thing I would do differently would be to allow more time in shooting. If we would have had at least two more weeks we could have done a much better job at defining the nuances of the characters and the story. Also it took us too long to finish the post production of the film. It should have been released two years ago.

You created a viral video of Natalie Dickinson, portraying her character “Tara”, on the YouTube channel “TaraIsCrushed”. Where did that idea come from and was it a successful in marketing the film?

The idea for the YouTube channel came about right after we shot the film. I was doing pick-up shots like the scene in the bathroom when Tara is looking for work. I thought how interesting it was to see her just being frustrated by everyday shit that didn't really have anything to do with the plot directly. I figured a modern, savvy girl like Tara would definitely make video blogs. She's got a ton of issues and seeks attention. What better place for a sociopath than a public stage like YouTube? I would say it was very successful. It created an awareness of the character and built up a pretty good audience of great fans.

Talk about the process of finding distribution. If you could pass on one piece of advice to other indie filmmakers on distribution, what would that be?

I had a relationship with the distributor of my last film, SideFx, so I went to them with the idea before we shot the film. It was just a matter of delivering what we said we would do. My advice to any filmmaker would be to talk to distributors about your idea before you start filming. It will give you a general sense of the marketplace. If your film can't find any interest at this stage chances are good it won't find much interest once it's complete. That's not to say you should not make the film anyway because you never know what the market will be like in the year it takes to complete the film, but at least you will have a general idea of what to expect. At the very least you can start thinking of alternative ways to reach your intended audience.

Talk about the indie horror scene, where do you think it is now and where do you see it going?

I think the indie horror scene is the same as it has always been. You got people who think it's a quick and dirty way to make and sell a film, and you have people who love the genre and have a vision of a film they would like to see. I've read a lot of scripts and seen films by people who don't even really like horror films. They just think it's an easy genre to break into the film business with. There are also those people who are obsessed with the gore aspects and just want to play with fake blood and latex. Then there are the filmmakers who are tormented by an idea of something that scares them, and they just have to make the movie to try and purge it from their subconscious…people who love the genre and are inspired to put their mark on it. As for where do I see it going? I think we are going to see more films about loss of control and systemic hard-to-define evil rather than serial killers or zombies.

Where can people find out more about “She’s Crushed” or get their hands on a copy?

Welcome to our website and of course YouTube channel taraiscrushed.

What’s next for you?

We just wrapped a teen comedy in the vein of Risky Business. I am also working on a horror comedy about a demon-killing alcoholic priest who is also the lead singer in a punk band. A new kind of hero!

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Weekend Box Office and The Week In Horror on DVD

The box office was, once again, dominated by Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland". It's held the top spot for three weeks in a row and has now become Burton's highest grossing film of all time, although "Batman" probably had an actual higher attendance. "Alice" has now grossed over $550Million Worldwide and doesn't really show many signs of slowing down... although, "How To Train Your Dragon" will beat it out of top spot next weekend, without question. For me, the bad news is how poorly "Repo Men" did. I wasn't really excited about it or anything, but as a so-called "near-future" thriller, it was the closest thing to a genre film that came out... and it really didn't do well at all. The film was a complete rip-off of "Repo! The Genetic Opera", but no one seemed to notice that at all. Mainly because no one seemed to notice "Repo! The Genetic Opera", either. However, it goes to show how finicky audiences can be about these so-called near-future sci-fi thriller-type films. If you're thinking of a sci-fi film, you better go action adventure, with monsters, or something. "Repo Men" came in fourth, behind "Alice", "Diary of a Wimpy kid" and "The Bounty Hunter", respectively. For me, the next big film to come out will be the re-imagining of "The Nightmare on Elm Street", which comes out at the end of April... still a ways away, but I've become quite excited about it, to be honest. As for the week in horror on DVD, it's a bit better... sort of. As usual, you can go to our Youtube Page, where you can see all the trailers and you can click on the titles to be taken to their page on Amazon.

There's really only three films coming out this week, unless you consider the first film to actually be eight films. That first one is "After Dark Horrorfest Vol. 4", an eight DVD collection of all the After Dark Horrorfest films, which includes "Dread", "The Final", "The Graves", "The Hidden", "Kill Theory", "Lake Mungo", "The Reeds" and "Zombies of Mass Destruction". We spoke with the Director of Horrorfest, Sarah Finder, before they all hit the theater and she discussed all of them, so instead of rehashing, just click HERE and you can read that interview.

"Banshee!!!" comes from director Colin Theys and it actually came out a couple years ago, but they've given it some new cover art and are rereleasing it. Maybe they fixed it up a bit, I don't know. Reviews aren't that great and when I saw it a couple years ago, it felt like it could've used a bit more time in post production. Banshee's are creatures from Irish mythology and the banshee in this film has the ability to make its prey hallucinate through sound waves... a group of college friends on a Spring Break camping trip get stalked and slashed up by one these not-so-little suckers.

"Carny" stars Lou Diamond Phillips and it came out in 2009 and premiered on the 'don't call me Sci-Fi', SyFy channel. Lou's a small town Sheriff that hunts a mysterious bat-like creature that escapes from a carnival.

Friday, March 19, 2010

RIP Blockbuster... All Hail VOD!

Is it a coincidence that in the same week that "a slew of Hollywood studios and cable companies are teaming up for a $30 million advertising campaign... to further promote awareness of movies available on cable VOD" ( - "Studios, cable companies team for VOD"), we have "Blockbuster shares tumble after bankruptcy warning"? (Associated Press) Well, actually, it is a coincidence, I guess, but there is a very specific shift in the industry that's causing both events to happen...

Truth of the matter is, the DVD is dying. I don't think it'll ever fully go away, but it's definitely being devalued. According to Redbox, the subsidiary of Coinstar that specializes in the vending of rental DVD's via self-service/interactive kiosks, the rental of a DVD is worth a couple bucks, at best. Then, you have the Hulu's and Netflix's. Hulu is streaming content for free and Netflix is mailing DVD's out using a subscription model, which pushes the value of each DVD even lower. However, even Netflix sees the downside of DVD's and they're pushing heavily into VOD and streaming, by partnering with the likes of XBox, PS3 and even TiVo. Blockbuster tried to shift with the times, concentrating their outlets on being a retail experience and getting into mailing out DVD's and creating their own VOD experience, but, hey... it's a crowded marketplace.

Now, for fun, let's go back a few years. Back to the early 90's... the Worldwide web didn't exist, Mark Wahlberg was just a rapper, email was a few years away, we were anxiously waiting for "Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday", after the disappointment that was "Jason Takes Manhatten", and computers were relegated to getting information from floppy discs. Your computer was used to play "Leisure Suit Larry" and write term papers, that was about it. However, there were a few visionaries out there that knew what was coming... This thing called the Internet was about to come along and with it would come massive changes in hardware, software and infrastructure. Fast forward to present day and we now have the ability to interact, download and stream the richest of content, instantly. We got here pretty fast, didn't we? Now, what does this all mean?

Well, really, it doesn't mean that much. Looking back, TV meant the demise of the movie theater. VHS meant the demise of TV. Cable meant the demise of the Networks. DVD meant the demise of VHS. Now, streaming and VOD mean the demise of DVD. Looking at it that way, VHS is the only thing that really got hooped... poor VHS. Well, that was bound to happen. Remember when you used to have your VHS tapes and you'd keep their boxes all clean and on display? Remember how proudly you displayed your DVD collection? I don't know about you, but I've lost most of my DVD boxes and I have scratched up, old DVD's everywhere. This is just a shift in the industry and shifts will keep happening. After streaming and VOD, my bet is that everything goes to a cloud system - pay once for the rights to view content, then you'll get it forever, on any device... but it'll only be streamed, you'll never actually hold the file itself. Imagine if there was only ONE file at the studio and everyone, from the theaters to Billy Joe Bob in Utah, all just streamed from that. That's next. Remember when you needed a hard drive? That's so early 2000's... Next up, fully ubiquitous devices that can handle all media formats, you watch.

For now, I think this shift is good for indie filmmakers, I've been saying that for a while... and I feel it's been a long time coming. We're inching forward and I like it. It lowers the barriers of entry for distribution and the barrier for content creation is already low. Now, there's no tapes, DVD's or film. No shipping, retail outlets or kiosks. You'll just have a file. Upload it to somewhere and people can get it. Now, we just have to sit back, watch this all unfold and hope that the infrastructure is put in place for us indie guys to use it and profit from it.

Have a great weekend, see you next week!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Finding An Audience and Getting Exposure Through Horror Hosts

So, you've dumped your life savings, as well as your friends and family's hard-earned money, into your indie horror film... and after your countless hours of work in pre-production, production and post-production, you're ready. Your film is complete. Now, what do you do? Well, as we know, now is when the real work begins. Do you take it to the festivals? Do you just put it out on the web? Do you self distribute? Do you look for a distributor? All good questions and the answers depend on what your film is like and what your goals for the film are. Sometimes, all you're really looking for is an audience and some exposure and, sometimes, getting that isn't as easy as it sounds.

Simply getting your film out there can be the most important thing for an indie filmmaker, especially if you're an indie filmmaker that's just starting out. In fact, a lot of filmmakers will make short films with a goal of just finding an audience to get their name out there. But, even if you are looking to sell your film, it never hurts to get more exposure. Now, we're always looking for new tools for you guys to use and have generally concentrated our efforts on web-based projects and the festival scene. However, I recently received an email from Mike Schneider, the curator of the film, "Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated". Remember him? Here's a LINK to the interview we did with him a little while back. Anyhow, he sent me an email recently and brought up a very interesting option for filmmakers - and I think this an option that's relevant to everyone, as it could work as a marketing tool as much as it could work as a way to just find an audience - get your film into the hands of horror hosts. That's right, horror hosts. There's plenty of them out there and they're starving for material... Mike will explain why. I've posted Mike's entire email below, as he explains this all better than I could. By the way, if you do decide to go this route, PLEASE email us and let us know how it goes...

"As I may have mentioned in the interview, NOTLD:R has been doing the rounds with numerous horror hosts both on TV and the net. What you might not know is, there are well over a hundred active horror hosts, some with over a hundred thousand regular viewers each week and many of these hosts are open to showing just about any short, feature and animated horror/ fantasy / sci-fi production. Since Universal stopped their hosting packages, many of these horror hosts have been land locked in the public domain and, since the Sonny Bono Act started allowing films which were once public domain to have their copyrights restored, this is a land slowly slipping away.

The hardest thing about offering productions to horror hosts is tracking them down. Many do not keep their sites up to date and many do not have websites at all. Being localized, they won't be topping any google search, and being public access they can't afford expensive ad campaigns... but they exist and they have an audience. Through research and networking, Corpse S Chris (Horror Host Graveyard) and I have come into contact with many of these active hosts (well over a hundred of them with more all the time). Working together and in conjunction with a number of horror hosts, we have created a blanket release form which would allow people to declare, 'Yes, you can host my production', to all horror hosts in one big sweep.

This release form (click HERE to find it) is a simple 2 page document which allows filmmakers to succinctly describe their productions as well as set the terms for hosting it through a series of multiple choice selections. (Every host has a different style and show format so the more the filmmaker is open to, the more hosts that might be able to show their productions.)

Once complete, the form should be sent to These completed forms will be entered into a catalog which will be kept private, but accessible to all horror hosts. If a host agrees to the terms and is interested in the production then they will contact the filmmaker for a screener. There is no submission fee, handling fee, or compensation if selected... this is exposure, pure and simple. Still, with campy but informative frames presented by a familiar face and potentially millions of homes... that is a kind of exposure you can't buy... all while keeping the horror community strong.

I remember reading in some of the interviews that the filmmakers were having trouble finding distribution/ places to show their work/ and dealing with the cost involved in submitting their works to festivals. This circumvents the whole thing and gets it right into people's homes and the hosts will even plug their next production, website or DVD release(s)... so it might be another solution for people looking to get their work out there."

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Weekend Box Office and The Week In Horror on DVD

It was a crowded weekend at the box office, with four new movies getting wide releases, vying to take over the top spot, and, in the end, none of them could topple the leader. That honor remains in the hands of Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland". By the way, "Alice" is now the highest grossing collaboration from Depp and Burton and is likely to end up being Burton's top-grossing film, ever. As for the four new films, "Green Zone", "She's Out of My League", "Remember Me" and "Our Family Wedding", they were all disappointments and the biggest disappointment of the bunch has to be "Green Zone", which starred Matt Damon and came from "Bourne" director Paul Greengrass. In my humble opinion, the war thing isn't going to sell as a big budget film anymore and it won't for a while, unless it's over the top, "Rambo" style. Audiences are obviously looking for an escape, not reality ("Alice", "Avatar") and the political, war themed movies aren't going to pull in big dough, this is something that I've been saying for a while. Think about it, even "Hurt Locker" only pulled in around $15Million at the box office and that was the most critically acclaimed film of the year. Moving on, "Remember Me" starred Robert Pattinson in his first non-vampire, non-wizard role in a nationwide release and, well... it bombed. Really, I don't even know what it's about and it looks like audiences didn't care, either. "She's Out of My League" starred Jay Baruchel, who's played supporting roles in "Knocked Up" and "Tropic Thunder", but apparently can't hold his own film and really, this film stinks of being born out of a marketing meeting. "Our Family Wedding" was the romantic comedy and I really can't even comment on that, so... yeah. Let's just get to the week in horror on DVD. You can go to our Youtube Page by clicking HERE and you can see all the trailers or you can click on the title to be taken to the Amazon page, where you can read more and/or buy the film.

I'm going to mention "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" in this post, even though it comes out on Saturday, March 20th and a lot of you don't even consider it to be a horror. I'm not sure what to say about it, except for that it's a juggernaut franchise. The first film cost $37Million to make and grossed over $380Million. This one cost $50Million to make and grossed over $700Million. The franchise put Summit Entertainment on the map, as it had released nothing but stinkers before this, including: "P2", "Penelope", "Never Back Down" and "Sex Drive". I'll admit to the fact that I've seen both films and, really, I think they're flawed, but... don't tell that to the kids. I'm just happy that vampires and werewolves are big box office draws...

The Milla Jovovich film, "The Fourth Kind", comes out this week and there's a couple lessons to be learned on this one. One... don't lie directly to your audiences face. Two... don't assume that your audience is stupid. "Blair Witch" is the only film that I can think of that lied, but lied well, AND they never really lied right to your face. "The Fourth Kind" lies to your face, right off the bat. The film opens with Jovovich walking up to the camera and telling the audience that she's Milla Jovovich, she's an actress and that she plays psychologist Dr. Abigail Tyler in a recreation of events that took place by Nome, Alaska, based on an actual taped interview from 2002 and actual footage taken by Tyler. The only problem? It's all fake. ALL of it. Not one bit of it is real AND it doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize that. It's pretty shitty filmmaking if the only way you can get your audience to suspend disbelief is by outright lying to their faces... and it doesn't work. Why didn't it work? Because the audience isn't stupid, so don't assume that they are. What sucks is, the premise is pretty good and I think there's a market for alien films... this is a great example of how to ruin a good story and create a debacle.

"Eugene" is an indie film that screened at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, the San Francisco Indie Fest and at New Filmmakers New York. It's written and directed by Jake Barsha and it's "a dark portrait of a man so lonely and miserable that it's almost hard to believe it's as watchable as it is." It's the first feature from Barsha, who's made a few short films and has spent the bulk of his career working in the camera department. I'm all about films that show the dark, gritty sides of humanity, as I think they're very relevant right now. This is the first I've heard of the film, so I, for one, am going to be sure to pick it up.

Very quickly, Vivendi Entertainment is releasing the "Vengeance Trilogy", which consists of "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance", "Oldboy" and "Lady Vengeance". All three films are from Korean director Chan-wook Park and all three kick f'ing ass. Honestly, if you haven't seen these, do yourself a favor and pick this trilogy up. You won't be disappointed.

Even quicker, I want to mention "Blurred Realities", which is a tri-pack of films, including: "American Zombie", "The Hole Story" and "American Shopper". I don't know anything about "The Hole Story" or "American Shopper", but I do know about "American Zombie". In fact, I have the poster hanging on my wall in front of me. I may like the poster more than I like the film, but I really do like the film, as well. It's a great, fresh look at the zombie genre... check it out.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Paramount's Micro-Budget Film Division Has A Name

A month or so ago, we wrote a post called "What I Would Say To Adam Goodman, Production Chief of Paramount", in response to hearing that Paramount was planning to open up a micro-budget film division. Well, I'm happy to say, there's been developments...

I would like to add that I actually did reach out to Adam Goodman. I took a wild stab at guessing his email address and I got it right... after a few tries. Then, low and behold, I got a response. It was brief, concise, but he said that, yes, there was going to be a micro-budget filmmaking division and that I should stay tuned. I was quite impressed. Now, I didn't really get the chance to mention all the things that I wanted to in that first email, so I laid them out in my second email... which I didn't get a response to. In any case, I did stay tuned. And I just found out that Paramount's micro-budget division has a name, a site and a leader.

The division is called Insurge Pictures. The tagline is, "Do you want to see more movies that don't conform to the Hollywood mold? Sweet. Us too." I heard that the website,, was actually live, but every time I try to go to the site, I'm forwarded to Paramount's main site. Do me a favor, click on that link there and let me know if you get through to it. If you do, I'd love to know what it says, as far as what they're about and all that. As mentioned before, the division does have $1million to finance its slate of films - 10 movies on tap in the first year, budgeted at approximately $100,000 each. The division hasn't been formally announced yet, but it should be soon. In fact, it may have already been announced and I just don't know it. It's going to be headed up by Amy Powell, who's currently the studio's SVP of Interactive Marketing. Interesting choice, obviously they see these micro-budgeted films closely tied to social marketing, the web, mobile, etc. The micro-budget division will also develop an online community to fuel the initiative and they're expected to support their goals with additional elements, yet to be announced. So, that's what I got, so far.

Somewhere on the Insurge site that I can't log on to, you'll find this quote, "Aren't you tired of being fed the same movies wrapped in different paper? We want to find and distribute crazy, unpredictable, and hopefully awesome movies - movies that make you want to line up to see at your local theater with all your friends (and us). Movies that a big studio would never release because they're too risky, too silly, and they don't star Sandra Bullock." Sandy, don't listen to them. "Blind Side" was good, but "Speed", "Demolition Man"? Classics. I also liked that movie where you played a drunk, "28 Days".

Anyhow, the same worries and trepidations that I illustrated in the last post persist. I hope they reach out to the right teams of filmmakers, I hope they involve the micro-budget filmmaking community and I also I hope that they make the right films. However, what I hope most is that their 'difference making' doesn't end at the conclusion of the filmmaking process. You see, they also need to come up with "crazy, unpredictable, and hopefully awesome" ways of distributing these films. Pave the way... please. The fact that they say, "movies that make you want to line up to see at your local theater", makes me weary. When's the last time you saw a micro-budget film at the theater? Okay, besides "Paranormal Activity"? We need new and revolutionary ways to get these films out there. That's the key. And I hope they put as much thought into that as they do in finding and making these films.

In any case, the whole thing can do nothing but good for the rest of us. It shines a spotlight on micro-budget filmmaking and, hopefully, a little bit of that light actually falls on to the micro-budget filmmaking community. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to try and guess Amy Powell's email address and see if she'll get back to me... I've got some things to say, but I'll save them for my second email.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Interview with Joe Douglass, writer/director of "Take Out"

We've got another short film to share with you today... and, quite frankly, I love sharing them, it's really a win/win situation. The filmmaker gets their film out there, other filmmakers can see what other people are doing and thoughts can be shared on the whole process. Win/win, you can't beat it. In fact, if you've finished a short that you've posted somewhere, shoot us an email and we can talk about it and do up a post for the site.

This film, called "Take Out", is from Joe Douglass and it's a horror/comedy. What's interesting is that he decided to use as his distribution format. You're probably aware of it, but if not, is the comedy video website founded by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's production company. Videos are voted on by users and those that are deemed funny, stay, but those that are not, 'die', and are relegated to the site's 'crypt'. What's also cool is that FunnyorDie has a partnership with HBO and will be developing at least 10 half-hour episodes for them. Regarding that agreement, Will Ferrell said, "I don't want to overstate the importance of this deal, but this is the missing link moment where TV and Internet finally merge. It will change the way we as human beings perceive and interact with reality. Okay, I overstated it. But it's an exciting deal."

"Take Out" has received close to 3,000 views and is firmly planted on the funny side. However, do remember that it is a horror comedy, so it's got everything that you'd want from a horror, as well. It opens with a young girl in skimpy clothing... who gets killed by the films antagonist - a box of left over Chinese food that's gone bad, very bad. The whole film lasts under 5 minutes and Douglass delivers a quality, entertaining short that hits every mark that it should. It's well shot, well edited and well acted and the effects are as believable as they need to be. We discussed the film with Douglass and we've embedded the film below. Definitely check it out...

First up, tell us a bit about yourself. What got you into indie film?

I'm currently a TV newswriter/producer and I've always wanted to make a short film. I've written a lot of stuff, but I finally found an idea I thought was viable, so I just put it together on my own and shot it.

Film school: Yes or No?

I took some classes at USC, but didn't go to film school really. I have a general liberal arts education.

Tell us about “Take Out” and where did the idea come from?

I wanted to do something short and hopefully funny/entertaining; not looking to change the world. I thought the idea of rotten Chinese food killing people had potential and the location was viable in terms of my budget. So it became an easy thing to do, given my resources.

What made you go out and make “Take Out”? Was it just for fun or was there a bigger goal in mind?

Mostly it was just for fun and also done with the hopes of learning as much as possible. But of course, I want to get as much out of it as I possibly can.

What’s your take on indie film and indie horror? Where is it at now and where do you see it going?

I think it's in a great place in terms of accessibility. Horror is just a fun genre and horror comedy in particular is in a great place, especially after Zombieland, which, let's face it, is an awesome movie.

You used the “Funny or Die” site to get this out there. Did you put it out anywhere else and do you see the web as a viable new distribution method?

I'm sticking with Funny or Die for now. I like the way the film looks there, it's a fun format, and it's a site that gets a lot of hits on its own, so it's viable. Plus, I like the feedback you get. It's not really a wacky sketch comedy type short, but at least I can get somewhat of a point blank response.

What’s next for you?

I'm putting together another short that's a little longer and has more to it. It's not horror comedy, but it is hopefully amusing. I also have some scripts and pitches ready to go. Looking for a financial partner who wants to put something out there that has a lot of commercial potentially hopefully. Basically, that's my nice way of saying I'm looking for money and/or a job.

Take Out - watch more funny videos

Monday, March 8, 2010

Wondering About The Oscar Broadcast and A Look at The Week in Horror DVD Releases

Okay, I'll bite... what was with that horror montage in the middle of the Oscar's ceremonies last night? Don't get me wrong, I loved it... I thought it was great, but why did they do it? It seemed so out of the blue. They should have given some horror pioneer a lifetime achievement award right after... or something like that. Didn't it seem out of place? "We know there's a lot of horror fans out there and... we never really acknowledge horror films as actual films, but here's a montage for you. Enjoy!" Roger Corman, the Godfather of low-budget filmmaking and one of the pioneers of schlock horror, received an honorary award at the Governors Awards ceremony - they easily could've tied it in with that. Corman deserves way more than just a wink and a nod, you know? Otherwise, how about acknowledging Romero or someone similar with a lifetime achievement award? I don't know, it just seemed so random. Otherwise, I'm glad that "The Hurt Locker" trumped "Avatar" when it was supposed to. That's not because I didn't like "Avatar", I loved it... it's because "The Hurt Locker" was awesome, low-budget and really deserved it. Really, a lot of low-budget films, and I say that in 'relative to Hollywood' terms, did well. "Precious" was made for around $10Million, "The Hurt Locker" was done for around $11Million and "District 9", made for around $30Million, was well talked about and was, really, an indie film. Anyhow, I'd love to hear your thoughts on how the Oscars went, just leave some comments. Otherwise, let's look at the week in horror on DVD. As usual, you can head to our Youtube Page, where you can see all the trailers and you can click on the titles to be taken to their page on Amazon, where you can read more and/or buy them.

First off, let's just say it's a slow week in horror. I think that's mainly because they're avoiding releasing films right after the Oscars. Also, two of the big Oscar films come out this week, "Up in the Air" and "Precious". "The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day" also comes out, so... it's a good week for the indies to avoid. Having said that, there are a few releases.

If you're hellbent on getting a horror film this week and it has to have some sort of budget behind it, the film for you is "Nine Dead". It has an alright cast, topped with Melissa Joan Hart - AKA Sabrina The Teenage Witch. It's basically a "Saw" rip-off, where a killer kidnaps nine people, who wake up to find themselves all handcuffed to nine separate poles and they have to figure out exactly why they're all there. The film was actually completed in the summer of 2008 and spent several months without a distributor, before being picked up by Fabrication Films. It had a limited theatrical release back in November, but is basically a straight to DVD film. The trailer looks alright, so it could be worth the rental.

I feel like I've already discussed "Demonic Toys 2", but I'm not afraid to push it again. I'll always support Full Moon and Charles Band. The original "Demonic Toys" came out in 1992 and is, obviously, from Charles Band and Full Moon Entertainment. It was basically a new franchise, building off the success of the "Puppet Master" series. Then, Charles Band start mixing all the titles up, we got "Dollman vs Demonic Toys", "Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys" and the characters from the films actually made it into other Full Moon titles, such as "Gingerdead Man" and "Doll Graveyard". This film was originally called "Demonic Toys: Personal Demons" and was released solely via VOD by Amazon last year and it completely ignored any of the afore mentioned sequels. They dropped the "Personal Demons" part of the title and are now releasing it on DVD as, simply, "Demonic Toys 2".

Tokyo Shock is releasing "God's Left Hand, Devil's Right Hand", which is a Japanese film about a kid's ability to dream about and predict the evil intentions of men. He has a dream about a guy reading a book to his bedridden daughter, but the book is a self-made book about barbarously murdered girls. The nightmare shocks the boy awake and causes blood to pour from his neck. Now, slowly dying, it's up to his sister to track down the man and solve the mystery...

Lastly, Cinema Insomnia Slime Line is rereleasing both "Carnival of Souls" and "Night of the Living Dead" and that's about all I know. Read up on them by clicking on the titles. Also, if you're into vampires, for $15, you can't go wrong with "Undead: The Vampire Collection 20 Movie Pack". For less than a dollar a movie, you get a bunch of old vampire films. To be honest, there's some decent films in the collection, such as the original "The Last Man on Earth" (remade as "I Am Legend") and "Nosferatu" (probably the most classic vampire film of all time), to name a couple.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Dead Harvey's Academy Award Preview - Who We're Rooting For and Why

Alright, well... let's acknowledge the 500 pound monkey that's sitting on my couch, drinking my beer and throwing his shit on my walls - this Sunday, March 7th, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, is the 82nd Annual Academy Awards. I know, I know... we're indie guys, and indie horror guys at that, we shouldn't care that much about all these elitists who are just stroking each other, but we do. Why? Well, I could say it's because they nominate the best of the best in the very industry that we strive to be a part of. That is true. I could also say that, at the heart, we're film fans and a lot of the films nominated are just great films and we like to see them honored. That is also true. However, one of the main reasons I like to watch the Oscars is because I think it's a gauge of what Hollywood likes and would buy into. Granted, you never see horror acknowledged, but "Inglourious Basterds" is graphically violent, "District 9" is sci-fi, "The Lovely Bones" deals with horror-like themes, "The Hurt Locker" is gory and "Avatar" is, well... you know what "Avatar" is. Point is, if you're an aspiring screenwriter, get a copy of "The Hurt Locker" or one of the other nominated screenplays and read it. If you're a filmmaker, check out some of the short films and lower budget features. Analyze them. Not like, shot for shot or anything, but why was it nominated? What did they do? Remember... yes, we are trying to blaze new trails in entertainment by creating new distribution models and all that, but this is an industry that dates back hundreds of years and doesn't exactly corner like it's on rails. Also, at the end of the day, don't we all dream of standing up there on that podium and accepting an award? Just a little bit? Whatever the reason, I want to take a bit of a look at the history of the Oscars and also let you know who we're rooting for... Also, I really want to know who you're rooting for and why.

So, what about these Oscars? Well, the first Academy Awards ceremony was held on Thursday, May 16th, 1929 at the Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood. It was hosted by actor Douglas Fairbanks and director William C. deMille. What's funny is, for 81 years, they were they only duo to host the awards. The second duo? Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, who will be hosting on Sunday. It's the oldest award ceremony in media and most other ceremonies, including The Grammy's, The Golden Globes, etc... are all basically modelled after it. It's presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which is composed of over 6,000 motion picture professionals. The Academy was originally conceived by the legendary Louis B. Mayer, head of MGM at the time, and it was created to mediate labor disputes and improve the industry's image. Really, the first Academy Awards ceremony was created just to give artistic legitimacy to a business that was really just about money... how times have changed, huh? Yeah, it's vain. Yeah, it's about self-promotion. Yeah, it's just marketing. But, come on, we love it.

Now, I'm going to go through a few of the nominated films that I give a shit about and tell you why...

The big film for me is "The Hurt Locker". I'd like to see it get Best Film, Best Director for Kathryn Bigelow and Best Actor for Jeremy Renner. The film was low-budget, by Hollywood standards, only $11Million and a lot of the budget was because it was shot in the Middle East, mostly in Jordan, just miles from the Iraq border. The film is gritty, it's authentic and, really, it kicks ass. Renner's portrayal of Sergeant First Class William James in the film was unreal and is worthy of the statue. However, I do think that the award will go to Jeff Bridges and he does deserve it, but if I could just draw your attention to the fact that Renner played Doyle in "28 Weeks Later" and Jeffrey Dahmer in "Dahmer", maybe that'll sway some of you. As for Bigelow, you probably know that she's James Cameron's ex-wife and that they're going head to head in the Best Director category. Cameron's already got one of these on his mantle and Bigelow also directed "Near Dark", "Point Break" and "Strange Days", three wicked films that received ZERO Oscars... think about that.

Quickly, I'm pulling for Woody Harrelson to get Best Supporting Actor in "The Messenger", not because of "The Messenger", but because it's Woody. He deserves it and he's played so many quirky roles that we love, from Tallahassee in "Zombieland" to Mickey Knox in "Natural Born Killers". Go Woody.

I'm also putting my weight behind "District 9" for a couple of awards. I'd like to see it get Visual Effects and Best Adapted Screenplay. Let's not kid ourselves, it's highly unlikely to get Visual Effects... "Avatar" is a lock. I just want it duly noted that I got drunk with the CEO of Image Engine, the Vancouver-based visual effects company that did the bulk of the effects for "District 9" and that should be worth something. On the other hand, however, I really do think it has a long-shot chance at adapted screenplay. It was a great script...

Also, I should mention that I am pulling for "Avatar", but I don't think it needs my support. Like I said, I'd like to see Best Picture and Best Director go to "The Hurt Locker", then "Avatar" can win everything else that it's nominated for... seems fair.

Now, who are you rooting for and why? Fill up that comments section!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Another Visit From Writer/Director/Producer, Peter Podgursky

The truth of the matter is, out of all the aspiring indie horror writers, directors and producers that read our regular musings, very few, if any, will go on to become household names. Having said that, if you do, please remember to return our calls. We'll do the same... I promise. Really, we're rooting for all of you and we do everything we can to help. I mean, do you think we get paid for this? Also, I've seen way too many quality indie films based on quality ideas to not believe that the next "Blair Witch" or "Paranormal Activity" could come from one of our readers. All I'm really saying is that it's a tough business and our little niche here at Dead Harvey is to keep you indie horror folks as informed as possible on what's going on in the industry and we're trying to help guide you to the next level... all the while, hopefully, guiding and taking ourselves to the next level, as well. Good, God, please get us to that next level soon, but... I digress. Problem is, most filmmakers will talk with us when their film comes out, we'll stay in touch for a short while, then we'll never hear from them again... which leads me to believe that they've either gone on to big things and don't care about us anymore, they're in the middle of another project and don't have anything to say OR they're done - they took a job at their Father-in-law's box factory to pay the mortgage. Who knows? That is why I like it when I get back in touch with filmmakers and see how they've progressed.

It's been almost exactly a year since we spoke with Peter Podgursky... actually, it's been EXACTLY one year since we posted our interview with him. You can find that interview by clicking HERE. At the time, his short film, "Cheerbleeders", was his USC thesis film and he was about to release some short films on Youtube under his Grumpy Panda Films moniker. Well, it's been a year, he's released those films and he's got some projects in the works. I recently checked out his short film, "Murder Baby", which I'm going to embed below and we had the chance to catch up...

You did the awesome short film “Cheerbleeders” a few years back, what have you been up to since then?

I produced a short starring Neil Patrick Harris entitled "Dracula's Daughter's vs. The Space Brains" directed by Frank Ippolito (who did the Murder Baby effects) and Ezekiel Zabrowski (the team behind the "& Tellers" and "The Growth"). We have a facebook fan page if your readers would like to keep up with it (and they should, it's awesome!) Click HERE

Other than that, I've been doing a lot of writing and making videos for the Grumpy Panda youtube channel with my pal Cindy Fang. We've had two of our video featured on the front page of Funny or Die. And I was a finalist for the ABC Television Writing Fellowship this year (I didn't get it, but I got really close), so that was encouraging.

Now that you’ve had some time to reflect on “Cheerbleeders”, is there anything that you would have done differently or is there something that you didn’t do, but wish you had?

I'm not sure I would do anything differently. I learned so much making it and showing it. Did I make any mistakes? Sure. But I'm glad that I did because I learned from them and I don't think they are the kind of mistakes anybody would ever see in the film.

Any new lessons learned out there that you can pass on to other aspiring filmmakers?

I'm not sure if I have any lessons, but I do have some tips. If you need sound effects check out The Free Sound Project . They don't have everything, but they're pretty damn good and the price is right. And I recently discovered that Art Beats gives away a free clip of stock footage every day. Your readers might find those sites useful if they don't already know about them.

Tell us about the short, “Murder Baby”

I had the theme song first and extrapolated a story out of it. My pal Charles Scott and I recorded the theme song waaaay before we shot anything. I told the story to Cindy and we sat on it for a while because we didn't know any babies. Then one day Cindy called me and told me that she found the Murder Baby. When I asked Elijah's parents why they wanted to let their pride and joy be cast as a murderer they told me that he killed the family cat by hugging it too hard. So it seemed like a good fit.

What was the reasoning behind “Murder Baby”, just for fun or was there a different reason?

Mainly for fun. It's nice to complete a small project and get it out there when you're prepping bigger projects. I'm also just curious about youtube. I'd like to figure out how to get popular on it because it's another way to get people interested in what I'm up to. Some people just make youtube videos for a living. That's fascinating.

Gotta ask, tell us how the carnage was done. Love it.

We nailed some linoleum to two shop tables. We cut a hole in the linoleum for Cindy in the gap between them. The shop tables act as a raised stage. Cindy sat on a stool while laying backwards. Frank had a torso prosthetic laying around that we shoved up her shirt and the guts are clay covered in fake blood. Pretty good for clay, right?

What are you working on, what’s next?

Right now I'm prepping three shorts with my writing/directing partner Donna Thorland and making more youtube videos with Cindy Fang. There is some other stuff that I wont jinx because I don't want this post to haunt me if it doesn't work out. If it does, I'll be sure to let you know.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Look at the Box Office and the Upcoming Week in Horror DVD's

Yeah, Scorcese and DiCaprio won the weekend again with "Shutter Island", but don't fret, horror fans... "The Crazies" didn't do too poorly. Not only did it not do poorly, it's a pretty good film and is getting decent reviews. The film is, of course, a remake of the 1973 George Romero cult classic and it revolves around a town whose water supply has been poisoned by an unknown toxin that drives people insane. What's funny is, the original didn't really do that well. In fact, outside of the hard-core horror fans, it's not really well known at all. The reason I find that funny is, why would they remake an obscure horror film that really only has a cult following? I guess they figured that the hard-core horror fans would go to it because they do know about the original and newer horror fans would go just because it's horror... either way, it's still a great title and a good premise. That and it's an existing script, God forbid a studio green lights an original horror script... In any case, this update is directed by Breck Eisner, the son of Michael Eisner - Ex Disney CEO and Hollywood uber super power. Breck got his start in commercials, then moved on to TV movies, starting with Si-Fi channel's "The Invisible Man". His first feature film was the direct to DVD crime drama, "Thoughtcrimes", which he followed up with "Sahara"... which is considered to be one of the biggest financial flops in Hollywood history. "The Crazies" was his next project, after a few things fell apart... Do realize that there was over 5 years between the two films. He won't have to wait that long for his next film, as next up for him is the remake of "Flash Gordon". Anyhow, let's look at the week in horror DVD's. As usual, you can go to our Youtube Page and check out the trailers by clicking HERE and you can click on the title to be taken to the films Amazon page, where you can read more about it and/or buy it.

It's never a good sign when the bonus feature on a DVD is another entire feature film and they still keep the total cost to under $10.... but that's what you get when you buy "Last of the Living". The bonus feature is "Play Dead", a film by Jason Wiles that stars Fred Durst, Chris Klein and Jake Busey. What blows my mind is that "Last of the Living" is an awesome indie zombedy out of Australia that came out a few years back. It was done on next to no budget and it's right up there in the same vein as "Shaun of the Dead" or "Zombieland", check out the trailer... you'll eat it up. "Play Dead" has a bunch of real names in it and just looks awful, why in God's name would you throw it out there with "Last of the Living"? Honestly, it devalues and takes away from both films. In this case, the sum of both projects is worth less than each project on their own and someone really screwed the pooch when it came to marketing and distributing these films in North America. Unbelievable... I have no clue why "Play Dead" was even made, nor do I know why it was added as a bonus feature here, but "Last of the Living" is from Logan McMillan and it's definitely worth watching. Buy the DVD for that and that alone.

I'm definitely intrigued by "ReGOREgitated Sacrifice", a film by Lucifer Valentine, starring Ameara La Vey. The description says it's about the diabolical depiction of the alternate-parallel dimension of the simultaneous suicide deaths of Kurt Cobain and bulimic porn star Angela Aberdeen, as seen through the mental activity of Angela's journey toward brain death as a result of her self-inflicted death by drowning. There's some clips online and we posted a trailer on our Youtube Page, but they're weird, in a good way... definitely intrigued and the creepy, shot on DV doc look really works... at least in the trailers.

"The Terror Factor" is a micro-budget horror being released by Brain Damage and staring John Sylvia. It won a couple of awards from indie festivals and is, what else? A slasher flick. Looks alright, should be worth checking out.

"Chasing Darkness" is another micro-budget horror, this one released by Midnight Releasing and directed by Jason Hull and starring Todd Humes, Larry Liggett, Renee Porada and Katie Russell. The film is about a hit man who wants to retire, but finds out that a rival gang is actually a bunch of vampires and they've turned his over-jealous girlfriend into one of the undead. For a no-budget film, they've got some good looking action scenes and great make-up. I'm definitely going to be checking this one out. Also, I love the title.

Otherwise, there's a pile of box sets coming out that I'm not going to mention, as they're just cash grabs on mostly shitty films. So, that's all I've got for the new DVD releases...