Ten years ago this month, ArieScope Pictures was born.
I had just gotten out of college and I had taken a job working on local cable commercials in the Boston area. On my first day of work, I was paired up with Will Barratt and we were sent off to Nashua, New Hampshire to shoot a commercial for a car dealership. By the time we were driving home we had hatched plans to get us out of cable advertising, break us in to Hollywood, and have us making “real movies”.
And I had only known him for a few hours at that point.
That weekend we “borrowed” the cable company’s equipment to shoot a short film that we could entertain friends with at an upcoming Halloween party. With a Super8 film camera and Time Warner Cable’s three lights, we rounded up some friends and set out to make COLUMBUS DAY WEEKEND. The premise of the short was that Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers had stalked the same group of teenagers by mistake and the whole point of it all was really just to make our friends laugh. Little did we know how many people would actually wind up seeing that short film and what it would ultimately lead to for us.
But before I go any further, here are some funny stories from the making of COLUMBUS DAY WEEKEND while I am getting all nostalgic and thinking back to the beginning here…
We needed a location with lots and lots of woods, so I contacted a childhood friend’s parents who lived on the edge of a forest back in my hometown of Holliston. For those of you who are HATCHET fans- it was Scott Barnes’ parents. You know the line in the movie where Misty randomly checks her cell phone and says “Ew, Scott Barnes called me?” That was a shout out to this guy. Anyway, Scott’s parents were kind enough to give us full reign over their property. Their one and only request before they went out for the night?
“Whatever you do… don’t let Dusty the cat out of the house.”
“No problem, Mr. and Mrs. Barnes!”
I swear, you could still see Mr. Barnes’ break lights driving away down the street… and Dusty had already gotten out of the house. For the next 3 HOURS we tried everything possible to capture this filthy creature and get it back in the house, but we had no luck. Finally, in an act of desperation, I grabbed Dusty by the tail and pulled him out of the bush he was trying to hide in.
“Got him!” I yelled.
That’s when Dusty proceeded to try and scratch my eyes out. Literally. The first claw hooked the inside of my right eye socket and sliced my skin wide open. My eye was bleeding everywhere.
But hey… at least I got Dusty back in the house and we could start shooting.
“Dude… you need to disinfect your eye.” Will said. Not able to find ANY rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide in the Barnes household, Will pointed out that we had a bottle of cheap Tequila on set that was being used as a prop in the film. Before I could think it through, Will was pouring TEQUILLA straight into my bleeding eye.
It hurt. It hurt BAD. But finally, we were ready to begin shooting our short film. All I needed to do was find a towel to wipe the liquor out of my eyes with. So I went back into the house and when I opened the door… I let Dusty out again.
Needless to say, we didn’t get much actual shooting done that night. Other problems we had were the fact that we forgot to bring enough extension cords to get the lights in to the actual woods… so instead we had to shoot the whole movie in Mr. and Mrs. Barnes’ backyard… where we proceeded to build a campfire and burn an enormous hole in the center of their lawn.
I should also point out that for some reason we loaded our camera with the wrong kind of film and the footage was completely unusable when we got it back from the lab. Luckily, we had also been rolling with Time Warner’s Betacam next to our film camera as it was recording the audio for each scene. So we were able to salvage the short by using the Betacam tapes. Sure, every shot was off kilter and framed wrong as the Betacam was never meant to be shooting the actual scenes- but at least we still had a little movie we could show our friends.
In editing we realized that we needed a production company name. With my birthday being March 31st and Will’s being April 2nd, we somehow came up with the name “ArieScope” as it combined “something film sounding” and “something we had in common”. Yes, that’s literally how we came up with the name.
10 years later, ArieScope Pictures is a real Hollywood production company producing theatrically released feature films and our own original content. And though we’ve grown substantially and gone on to great success… two things have remained the same after all of that time. First of all, we are still laughing even though (with us) whatever can possibly go wrong WILL always go wrong. And second of all, no matter what big projects we are working on, at this time every year we still drop everything and make a new “Halloween short film”.
In honor of how we got our start, every single Halloween since 1998 we have gotten our “family” of creative artists together and made a short film in one night (OK, so we’ve started cheating and spreading them out over two nights because we’re getting old, wanna fight about it?), with absolutely no budget, and all in the name of FUN. So last week a group of us got together and we made “The TiVO” which I’m proud to unveil for you all today.
This year’s short is by far the most “out-there” one that we’ve done yet. With inspirations coming from The Thing, The Shining, Single White Female, and a few other classics… this entry into the “ArieScope Hallowen Short Film Catalogue” is as weird as they come. I don’t know how many of you have TiVO at home or how many just rough it out with DVR, but hopefully you know enough about TiVO to understand how absolutely amazing it is for your quality of life… but how entirely creepy it can be at the same time. Regardless, I can say that I’ve never laughed so hard on a set as I did when we were shooting this film’s climax. 10 years later… I still love what I do and I can still appreciate how lucky I am to be doing it.
If you are new to all of this, be sure and click over to the official ArieScope Pictures website (www.ariescope.com) and click the link that says “View The Short Films” to see what you’ve missed over the past decade. Which reminds me, some of you may have noticed that the same two people who started our website for us 10 years ago are still the same two designing and running it for us now. John and Nicole Anguish are “lifers”. I guess that most everybody who gets involved with ArieScope winds up in it for life. And that must be why 10 years later, ArieScope Pictures is still alive and growing beyond anything we ever hoped for.
To EVERYONE who is a part of ArieScope, from the other folks who work here alongside me, to the extremely talented pool of cast and crew that work with us regularly, to the friends and fans all over the world that have supported our work over the years… happy birthday, happy anniversary, and most of all… HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
If someone could have told us then- while we were sanding off a girl’s face with a power sander and throwing spoiled meat all over another- that we’d eventually make a living… sanding off a girl’s face with a power sander and throwing spoiled meat all over another…I never would have believed them.
So without any further adieu, here’s the 2008 Halloween short film…”The TiVO”.
I can’t believe it’s been this long since I’ve posted a full-on blog, but being this busy is a good thing, right? Where to begin? Where to begin?…
This is gonna be jam packed- so don’t make any plans for the next hour, folks.
In a year that almost “never was” for much of Hollywood (the strikes, the economy crashing, studios and distributors drying up) I’ve thankfully been able to keep busier than ever, so for that I am extremely lucky and grateful. The year started with a huge bang with the ArieScope Pictures production of Paul Solet’s GRACE (see previous blogs for all of those stories) which will be out later next year. During that time I wrote a brand spanking new horror script (which you’ll hear more about later on in 2009) and as most of you know by now, I wrote an animated AQUAMAN movie for D.C. Comics/Warner Brothers (which you’ll hear more about in a few months). As if that wasn’t enough, throw in the hours and hours of development on the new films, a series of 5 shorts made exclusively for UK Fright Fest, and a full-on light saber fight with gorgeous half naked chicks…
But the year is hardly over and in many ways I’m just getting started, so I’ll save the complete wrap up for a later date. As far as this mysterious “light saber fight” you’ve heard rumblings about… it’s still in post-production as there are a lot of FX that need to be done when you are using light sabers. But the gist of it is that I like to shoot my own short films and projects for fun, even around the bigger more mainstream stuff that pays the bills. Call it a hobby, but I just love working so much that when I’m not working I find more work to do while I wait to work again. Rileah came to me one day and said she and our friend Clare Grant wanted to shoot some sort of light saber battle “just for fun”. JUST FOR FUN? Because you know…there’s um, ANYTHING more complex than that?! So I did what any loving boyfriend would do and I told her that if she could arrange a threesome between me, her, and Clare that I would consider writing and directing it.
Actually, that’s just what I THOUGHT. Instead, I told her that if she and Clare could produce the whole thing, I would be in to do it. To be totally honest, I thought that would be the end of it- but low and behold these two took the bull by the horns and put the whole project together on their own. And as much as a threesome would have been awesome and I’m still holding out hope, there is no greater turn-on than watching the girl you love get ambitious, kick ass, and take names. But more on all of that when I can actually show everyone the project in a few weeks. Point is, I’m damn proud of these girls and I love my girlfriend to death.
But enough of that. Let’s get to the funny.
In an effort not to make this the “eternal blog” I’m gonna limit my stories severely and just focus on the “greatest hits” of summer. Let’s start with Comic Con.
This was my fourth year in a row at San Diego Comic Con. In previous years I was always there on some sort of panel, signing, promoting something- you name it. But this was my year off. In fact, I’ve taken great joy in NOT being at the conventions and festivals this year because I literally spent 2 straight years at ALL of them around the world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a geek at heart and I truly love getting out there to meet the fans and promote whatever project it is I’m working on… but it’s also nice to take a break from public appearances and come back swinging harder the next year. So about 6 months in advance the email went out through my group of friends saying “Who’s going to Comic Con?” EVERYONE said they were skipping it this year. The traffic, the lines, the same old crap- who needs it. Cut to July 24th- and everyone I knew was down there. Including me.
And you know? I was right. It was the same old bullshit. Hours in line to sit in the back of a room and watch actors talk about the next season of their TV show, a dealer floor that resembled the worst flea market crap and prices I’ve ever seen, over priced food, the worst B.O. you can smell on human beings, and lots and lots of dorks like me. But you know what? Despite all all of that- after awhile I found myself able to shed the “work glasses” that I have become accustomed to seeing these conventions through and I was able to blend in and be a fan again. But no sooner had I been able to forget that I am any sort of “celebrity” in that world- that it came to bite me in the ass. Cut to the WRATH OF CON party at the Hard Rock…
This was a party hosted by the various horror websites such as Bloody-Disgusting and Anchor Bay which has become like a home away from home for me in the fact that I have about 400 different projects going with them at any given time. So to say I could let my guard down here and just have fun is an understatement. I knew everyone at this party and all of my friends were there. It was an exclusive list so there were no fans, no journalists scooping for info- just good, clean, social fun. Oh, and did I mention an open bar? Cool, cause this is where it gets interesting.
I approach the open bar and order a drink. A Bud Light, to be precise. As the bartender is cracking open the delicious ice cold watery goodness, I reached into my wallet and found that I did not have any one dollar bills. Now, to any normal human being, they probably would have just said “oh well” or (sad to say it, but) not even thought to tip in the first place since it was “free”. All I had were 20′s. I looked at the tip jar and it was EMPTY. (Welcome to the cheap asses that are the horror crowd, folks. I love them all- but they are cheap as fuck.) So I couldn’t even ask the guy for change- which already would have been weird. “Here’s a $20… can I um…have $19 back?” Ugh. So I did the typical generous Adam Green thing to do, and I just tipped the guy $20. Screw it, I can afford it, right? Besides, had I actually had to pay for the drinks- it would have been far more costly, so I felt completely justified. The guy looked at me and with great appreciation gave me a “thanks man, thank you so much”. I was feeling good about myself and bad for him as this was clearly his first party serving drinks for horror ‘celebrities’ who are usually one step away from stealing the salt off the tables and using coupons for a buffet.
So I go and mingle with some friends and before I know it, it’s time for another drink. I go up to the same bartender and ask for a Bud-Light. He gives me the nod (knowing I had already tipped him $20) and quickly hands me the beer. I nod back and walk away… only to hear the woman behind me declare: “THE ASSHOLE WHO DIRECTED HATCHET DIDN’T EVEN FUCKING TIP FOR HIS BEER!” I shit you not, WHISPERS went through the line! “You’d think he could afford to tip the bartender.” “What a douchebag.” “He must have spent all his money on drugs and contracted HIV.” OK, maybe not the last accusation- but the point is, you’d think I just spit on the cross at the Christmas Day parade this line of people was so offended. So what did I do? In typical Adam Green/Larry David fashion I turned around and actually began to try and explain myself to these assholes.
“No, you don’t understand. I’m actually a very good tipper. In fact, I’m an OVER TIPPER and my friends give me shit about it all the time. I didn’t have any singles so I-”
She interrupted. “-So you should ask for change.”
“No, no- there was no change in the little jar the last time I came through the line, so I gave him a 20.”
She didn’t believe me. “Sure you did.”
“No, really! I gave him a 20. That’s why he gave me the nod. Didn’t you see him give me the nod? He gave me the nod.”
I looked back to see that the bartender was now gone and had been replaced by someone new for the remainder of the night. There was no winning this. I briefly struggled with the thought of rummaging through the tip jar and finding my 20 at the bottom… but I knew that if ‘Bartender 1′ had any brains he would have pocketed that shit as soon as I walked away the first time in an effort to not have to share it with his co-workers at the end of the night. Plus, the last thing I needed was photographs of me dipping my hand into the tip jar and the way this night was going- it would have happened.
I was defeated and could do nothing but sulk away from the line of people talking smack about me while I enjoyed my 2nd of two $20 Bud Lights. Seriously, it ain’t easy being Green. The lesson learned here? Next time you only have a $20 at the open bar? KEEP IT. And take as much free table salt as you can fit in your pockets before you leave. The horror crowd is on to something…
Before I get too far off subject, I do want to add that I am actually not exaggerating one bit about the cheapness of the horror community. It’s a proven fact. We have a whole crew of us who go out together from time to time, and I’ve actually chosen to stop going all together if it involves eating. Now I just show up for drinks wherever they are going AFTER dinner. Why? Because I’m sick of ordering a cheeseburger and a beer and then having to throw in $100 because a few assholes skipped out on their bill. (Some of which have MILLIONS of dollars to their name and some of which have no business eating anything besides Top Ramen and shouldn’t have come out to dinner in the first place.) Case and point, there was a lovely woman in our circle celebrating her birthday at a fairly nice restaurant at the end of August. I said “See ya at the after party around midnight, suckers.” Sure enough, the first few people to walk in to the after party were LIVID that the bill had come up almost $1,000.00 SHORT. So let that be a lesson to you. If you ever find yourself dining with people who make a living working in the horror business… ask for a separate check. Call me an asshole, but I tell it like it is.
And that brings us to UK Fright Fest and the A-story of this blog. Fright Fest was a good time…
But the real story starts a year earlier. After 2 years in a row appearing there (HATCHET and SPIRAL both had their UK premieres at Fright Fest) I knew that it would be a bit before I had another horror film ready to contribute to the line-up. So in a selfless act of good will, last year (on stage) I declared that not only would I come back in 2008, but that I would return with a short film made exclusively for the Fright Fest audience. And in the cheers and clapping I also enlisted Joe Lynch and Neil Marshall who had no choice at that point but to say “Alright, woo-hoo!” Cut to Neil 9 months later “Dude, I live in the UK. How the fuck am I supposed to help out on this?” Buuut… we found a way to keep Neil involved as you will soon see.
Well, Lynch and I went to work brainstorming ideas and ultimately we came up with the concept of making Fright Fest promos to randomly play throughout the 5 days of the festival. We thought that would be more special for the festival than just making a short film that could be played and appreciated anywhere. To say making these shorts together was fun would do it no justice. It was literally one of the best times I’ve had all year and watching them surprise the UK horror fans in the theater each night was more gratifying than watching an actual movie I had made play before them. Though they were literally just meant as a “fun little gift” to Fright Fest- the promos wound up becoming one of the hits of this year’s festival. Each time our “Douche Brothers” logo would randomly appear on screen, the audience would roar and Lynch and I would just say “holy shit”. No joke, we came to the festival prepared to hear that Episode 1 got a weak reaction and we were going to PULL the remaining 4 Episodes from being shown. So it was with great relief that we got to the Odeon and heard that Episode 1 had brought the house down.
(Me, Joe, and Axelle Carolyn Marshall at Fright Fest)
Just a little more info before I post these here. The way these worked is that they played once a night before what was considered that day’s “main event” film. (At Fright Fest EVERY film is a main event, but some sell more tickets than others.) These were never intended to be watched one after the other like you are about to do, so try to imagine a 24 hour break between episodes. Also, I realize I have a lot of readers on here who are NOT actually horror fans and for whom many of these jokes will fly completely over their heads. Again, understand that these were made with ONLY the Fright Fest crowd in mind. We initially weren’t even planning on ever putting them on-line, but popular demand made it so. In fact, when we first put Episode 1 up on the ArieScope site, it was watched close to 14,000 times in the first 48 hours.
For those of you who are not horror geeks… I HIGHLY suggest you take the time to watch this classic film clip before you go any further. Any horror fan worth their machete knows this famous movie intro well… but if you have never seen it or don’t remember it, re-watching this first will help you appreciate what Joe and I did:
Now sit back, clear the next 30 minutes of your schedule, and enjoy THE ROAD TO FRIGHT FEST by Adam Green and Joe Lynch…
EPISODE 1 “Horror Themes”
EPISODE 2 ” Favorite Fright Fest Moments”
EPISODE 3 “Favorite Deaths”
EPISODE 4 “Favorite Directors”
EPISODE 5 “Adam & Joe Are Dead” with LIVE audience reaction. I decided to post this one with the sound from the theater so that you could see what it was really like to be there. But I suggest checking it out without the audience track over at www.ariescope.com one of these days, so that you can actually hear all of the jokes.
Thanks Miss Sian for bootlegging it from the back of the theater, you sneaky girl.
Alright. What else do you want to know? Isn’t that enough for one blog? Alright- how about some hints of what’s to come over the next few weeks?
1. People keep writing to me asking if there is going to be a Halloween short film this year. Well, after 10 years of doing them- I decided that with the year I’ve already had and having already made the 5 Fright Fest shorts… OF COURSE I’m gonna make you all a Halloween short film this year! In fact… we start shooting in just 24 hours. It’ll be done and available in time for Halloween, as always.
2. Have you guys heard about that XBOX project going on where some masters of horror were hired to create short comedy web series’ for XBOX LIVE and MSN? James Gunn, James Wan, Marcus Nispel, David Slade, Lucky McKee, Andrew Douglas, John Clisham? Well I was recently invited to play and I can’t fucking WAIT for you to see what I have in store for you all. More details very, very, very soon and THANK YOU to my friend James Gunn for extending the warm invitation. It’s nothing less than an honor.
3. For those asking about the status of the other projects (God Only Knows and the sequel to that slasher movie I made) everything is GREAT. This year has been a bitch between my schedule and the fact that the industry was in the shitter with strikes for most of it- but I am happy to say that both projects are on track for next year. Sadly, until I know actual schedules and production details I still cannot say if I will be returning to the swamp with Victor Crowley… but I’m doing everything I can to make it possible. Regardless, in 2009 he’s going to kick your asses again- and you can count on it.
Halloween is in the air! Can you feel it? More blogs and way more news to come. I promise I won’t be a stranger for more than a few days before I’m back with more news.