What a year! As promised, here is a look back and full-on wrap up of what was quite possibly the best year of my life so far. Of course, all of the blogs are still listed below this one, so for those of you who may have missed the specifics of such highlights as “AIDS guy”, “the dead children in Regina”, or “the $20 Comic-Con tip”…feel free to scroll down through the year and find the stories in their entirety. In an effort to keep this as short as possible, I’m gonna try and limit it to just a few of the Greatest Hits.
2008 started with a huge bang and the theatrical release of SPIRAL. This meant doing loads and loads of press with my buddies Joel David Moore, Zachary Levi, Amber Tamblyn, and Jeremy Boring. As repetitive and tiresome as promoting a film can be (you literally sit in a room and answer the same questions to different people for hours and hours and hours) when you enjoy the company you are with it can be one of the highlights of the movie making process. Below is an appearance that Joel and I did on FOX NEWS just before the film’s DVD release…
I think my favorite part of doing that interview was the amount of shit I took from friends and fans for attempting to dress “nicely”. My lack of giving a shit when it comes to dressing up for premieres and appearances is more appreciated than I thought, and the sheer fact that (for this FOX interview) I threw on a dress shirt (i.e., a shirt that DIDN’T have a band/movie logo and/or tour dates on the back of it) earned me a ton of letters and phone calls from people making sure I knew how awkward I looked in “my Dad’s clothes”. FYI, I am not man enough to fit in my Dad’s clothes. This was an old shirt with a huge pen stain on the sleeve that an ex-roommate of mine had left behind 8 years ago. So suck it, you dicks!
Anyway, the release of SPIRAL was a huge way to begin 2008. While the film is considered an “arthouse drama” and lots of my fans who were expecting another HATCHET were confused by it’s nature- the film succeeded in breaking me out of the ‘splatter film’ pigeon-hole I was facing with the enormous success of HATCHET in 2007. In fact, most of the new projects that I set up this year were based on the incredible reactions to SPIRAL. So while certain fans were let down to see me do something dramatic and completely different from HATCHET… I’m getting to spread my wings in all of the directions I want to go in now as opposed to some of my peers who are “lifers” in the horror genre against their true wishes. Keep in mind, SPIRAL was pretty much made simultaneously with HATCHET. I sort of ran myself into the ground trying to focus on both at the same time, but it was well worth the pain. For the moment at least, I can continue to do my work in horror, but I have proven that I can also do more outside of the genre. Funny thing is though, all of the stores carrying SPIRAL put it in the “Horror” section- so go figure. If you haven’t seen it yet, you are pretty much a rotten person. I suggest going to your local Best Buy or logging on to Amazon.com and picking it up right now. I’m damn proud of that film.
In March I turned 33 years old, saw Ministry for what I hope to be the last time (every time I go, I come home with injuries that take weeks to heal) and then I headed North up to Regina Canada for the production of GRACE. If you have yet to read any of the blogs about my travels up to Regina- please, please do. I think that Regina made for some of my best stories of the year. My part on GRACE was that of Producer. Paul Solet (a name you are all about to become very familiar with) wrote and directed the film which my company (ArieScope Pictures) produced. After doing what it took to get the film financed and moving forward, my job on set was essentially just overseeing the process, problem solving, and being creative support to Paul when he asked for it. Of course my ass was on the line that the movie came in on budget and that it actually turned out good… but we pulled it off. Here’s an example of me working hard on set…
Not directing left me with time to think around the hours I spent on set. See, when you are directing- it is all consuming. For months leading up to a project and especially when you are on set, you can barely remember to feed yourself. But as a Producer, I actually found myself able to go home at night and get more work done on my other projects. GRACE took us into May and when I returned I not only had a great film in the can, but a new screenplay called FROZEN. More on that later.
Here’s a picture of Zoran Popovic (GRACE’s D.P.), Paul Solet, and myself on the last night of GRACE. I’m not sure exactly how cold it was, but I am pretty sure that it was the coldest I had ever been up until that point. Thankfully, wardrobe had these giant moo-moos to throw on us. And even more thankfully, they were stylish. We kind of finished the shoot dressed as transexual homeless elderly women… but the film was in the can and we were on our way home to Hollywood.
I came home right in time for summer movie season to kick off. While those who read my blog know that I do not like to review or critique other people’s films, I will say that this was one of the best summers for movies that I can remember since the 80′s. Sure, there were a few objectionable and debatable films, but overall- wow. The highlight for me actually wasn’t even one of the new releases, but a re-release one-night-only screening of E.T.
Oddly enough, this was actually the SECOND time I saw E.T. in the theater in 2008. I had been invited to a screening at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences early on in February. The Academy screening was a pristine print from the original release and the summer screening was one of the 20th Anniversary prints. Now I know there are folks out there who are all up in arms about the CG changes that Spielberg made to the 20th anniversary version and they like to be overdramatic and say the changes RUINED the movie. Really? So you’re saying that all that was good about the original film was the fact that a few of the police officers held guns in their hands- but now with the officers holding walkie talkies that the film no longer works? Shut up and eat a dick you whiny bitches. E.T. is so flawless that even if Spielberg edited clown porn into the third reel- it would still hold up. If you don’t like the additions put in for the 20th anniversary release, then throw in your copy of the original version and shut-up. Don’t own a copy of the original version, you say? Hmm. Well then you aren’t a fan of the film anyway and should go back to eating that dick I told you about earlier.
Anyway- seeing E.T. in the theater is sort of like my reset button and I never miss a chance to have that experience. It is heads and tails my favorite film of all time and watching that in a theater filled with other E.T. believers and children who are experiencing the magic in reverence for the first time… there’s just nothing like it. Rileah laughs at me through the whole thing as I literally cry from frame one until the end of the credits… but I don’t care. There’s so few things that can bring you back to your childhood innocence and for me, E.T. is that one thing. Anyway, enough about E.T. It was a major highlight of my summer. And yes, I wore my red “Elliot” sweatshirt to the screening. Want to fight about it?
2008 also found me in a meeting with D.C. Films / Warner Brothers where we discussed a slate of animated Justice League style films that they are doing for 2011. I pitched them a take that I had on AQUAMAN and low and behold, they bought it in the room. So throughout the summer I was hard at work writing AQUAMAN: KING OF ATLANTIS. Who even knows what the story will be like by the time the movie is finished (animation takes forever and these types of films are notorious for bringing on writer after writer to do polishes and re-drafts) but my take on AQUAMAN re-introduces him as a bad-ass and my story-line is something along the lines of CLASH OF THE TITANS and CLOVERFIELD. The process has been long and hard and I just turned in a second draft last week. My fingers are crossed and I am hoping for the best with the project as I think AQUAMAN is a very misunderstood and underused character in the D.C. Universe. If I could be the guy that helped bring him back to the forefront- awesome. But only time will tell where this all goes.
In early summer, I also wrote and directed a project that centers around two very beautiful and scantily clothed girls having a lightsaber battle. I’ve posted pictures and written about this project in various blogs, however the visual effects have taken about half a year longer than we anticipated. The good news is that I am told that the FX are just about ready and it looks good that the project will be ready to show early next year.
For quite some time, you’ve all been hearing about my romantic comedy GOD ONLY KNOWS. I’ve had no shame in saying that it is my most favorite of all of my projects and that I truly think it is the best script that I have ever written. GOK has been responsible for getting me a lot of the TV work and comedy projects I have done over the years as it has always been the writing sample that my reps show to studios and networks. The curse of the movie has been that it is literally taking forever to get started. There have been instances where the film was set-up, cast, and in pre-production… only to have some unforeseen crazy thing happen that puts it on hold. But you know how they say “everything happens for a reason”? Well- this year the project was taken under the wing of Chris Columbus’ 1492 Films who are now producing it with my company, ArieScope Pictures. While I never publicly announce cast until contracts are signed in blood… the cast we already have attached is absolutely amazing and A-list. However, this year has seen such financial hardships for the industry between the strikes, threats of strikes, and crumbling economy that the movie is once again on pause. But looking at where it has come over the past ten years (yes, you read correctly, it’s been TEN YEARS that I have been working on this one) the project is on the cusp of becoming something even more powerful than Darth Vader and the Emperor ever imagined. All signs point to a 2009 production and my contract is said and done… but once I’m on set shooting, I’ll believe it. Fingers and toes are crossed to see that script finally come to fruition.
July brought a trip back to Cape Cod to see my family and rejuvenate a bit, a trip to Vegas to be alone with Rileah in style, and then the production of THE ROAD TO FRIGHTFEST…
UK FRIGHT FEST is my favorite of all of the genre film festivals in the world. As someone who has been to all of them, I can say that with conviction. So when Joe Lynch and I were invited back this year (even though we had no films ready to screen there) we decided to return to London baring gifts. Over the summer we shot 5 promos to be played nightly during the run of the festival. You can read the detailed blogs to watch them all and learn all about it, but they were a hit. Below is my favorite of the bunch. It is the one that screened on the final night of the festival. It plays better and makes more sense if you’ve seen the previous four promos, but I like this one the best because we were able to capture the live sound of the Fright Fest audience watching the promo as it played.
London was a TERRIFIC time as always, and both Joe and I are eagerly awaiting 2009′s TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY of Fright Fest. While we hope to once again return with surprises… looking at both of our slates for the upcoming year, it is going to be a challenge finding the time. We’ll see. I returned from London just in time to see John Williams conduct at the Hollywood Bowl. The symphony played “Flying” from E.T. I cried.
The summer ended with a huge surprise for me. FOX was preparing the Blu-Ray release of the PLANET OF THE APES films for the 40th anniversary and they needed high resolution images of the original apes for their packaging. My friends at MAKE-UP & MONSTERS STUDIOS were on the job of pulling the original molds and wardrobe out of storage and finding new folks to dress up for the photo shoot. Knowing that I was a fan and roughly the same size as Maurice Evans (Dr. Zaius) I was asked to step into the costume and last month, the box set hit shelves everywhere with ME as Dr. Zaius.
It’s tough to contain my geek-excitement over something like this, but to forever be a part of Ape history is really mind blowing. Standing there that day dressed in the same costume that Mr. Evans wore long before I was born… I was floored. I mean, what is cooler than that? It was yet another moment this year when I was fully aware of just how lucky I am to get to do what I do.
Halloween season was kicked off with the release of the HORROR BOOK OF LISTS in which my list of the “The Top 10 Horror Actresses Who Should Have Gotten Naked But Didn’t” was published. The signing in Burbank was a huge success and the book has been the source of much laughter for horror fans on their toilets across the world.
That very same weekend, I was driving to a Love/Hate concert and found myself behind a car with a “Humpty Dumpty Was Pushed” bumper sticker. After verbally tearing the driver to shreds in my own car (I mean, who would actually ruin their car with THAT stupid bumper sticker?) I found myself wondering just how one might be able to prove that Humpty Dumpty was indeed pushed. Seriously though, all we know from the story is that all of the kings horses and all of the kings men couldn’t put him back together again. While that is unfortunate, there is nothing in there that even alludes to foul play. It was at that point in my internal conversation that I realized that I was a bigger dork than the driver in front of me. And FAIRY TALE POLICE was born…
XBOX LIVE was putting together a project called “Horror Meets Comedy” in which they were reaching out to notable genre directors to come up with original short web-pilots for the XBOX gaming consoles. It was literally the SAME weekend that I came up with this concept, that James Gunn asked me if I’d like to participate. So my usual group of friends and conspirators got together over the Fall and shot the pilot for FAIRY TALE POLICE. Though you need to have an XBOX to watch the actual show, below is the trailer for it.
I am told that in the coming weeks, the pilot will be made available everywhere on-line. There are also rumors of more episodes of FAIRY TALE POLICE being ordered for 2009, but we’ll worry about that when it happens. Here’s a candid photo of everyone looking at the wrong camera…
Halloween 2008 was one of the best in my 33 years of Halloween. The decorations around the house were exceptionally cool this year and the month of screenings, parties, theme parks, dinners, parades, and events were a whirlwind of ‘awesome’.
Of course, no Halloween would be complete without my annual Halloween short film. This year’s short (THE TiVO) broke all kinds of records and was downloaded 100,000 times in it’s first week of release. It was even honored as the Number 1 video on Youtube at one point during that first week of release. For those that haven’t seen it yet…
November brought loads of good news. It started with the announcement of my next film FROZEN (remember that script I wrote during production of GRACE?) which pre-sold like gangbusters at AFM without even having shot a frame yet. I’m making the film with Peter Block’s new company “A Bigger Boat” and it starts shooting in just a few weeks up in the snowy mountains of Utah. Most of you probably know that Peter Block is the producer who made Lionsgate what it used to be for the genre. Peter is the guy that brought you movies like SAW and THE DESCENT and he not only has an eye for what the fans want, but he knows how to properly release and distribute the stuff. So for FROZEN to be his flagship production… it’s really an amazing opportunity.
November also brought the good news that GRACE had been officially selected to world premiere at Sundance in January. We honestly could not ask for a better or more prestigious launching pad for the birth of GRACE. The Sundance guide describes the film as:
“Eight months pregnant, and preoccupied with both a natural childbirth and a pure-body lifestyle, Madeline Matheson, played with merciless compassion by Jordan Ladd, deflects her demanding mother-in-law’s insistent pressure for standard hospital treatment, instead opting for the peaceful companionship of a trusted midwife. Though reluctantly compliant, her husband remains supportive of her choices until a sudden tragic accident leaves her unborn baby lifeless inside of her. Madeline remains determined to carry the stillborn baby to term, where she miraculously wills the delivered corpse into life. But it is not too long before the increasingly isolated mother realizes that something is not right with baby Grace, and she must make horrible sacrifices to keep her living.In his feature debut, writer/director Paul Solet assuredly approaches the medium, displaying a cocksure confidence in his construction of this modern horror fable. He relies upon a precise and slow-building technical elegance, supplemented by fearless performances and the ever-elusive gift of a genuinely frightening story, to violate the sanctity of a mother’s love and create true horror. Seething with a kind of sophisticated terror uncommon for its genre, Grace effortlessly uncoils an atmosphere of immense discomfort and subtle intensity, while quietly creeping into the spine and slicing into our most primal fears.”
We’re all honored and THRILLED to be premiering GRACE at the world’s greatest film festival on Friday January 16th. Kind of weird that FROZEN was written during GRACE, and that GRACE is premiering 100 feet away from where FROZEN is shooting…so I get to actually be at the premiere. I wish I had poster art or a trailer to share with you for GRACE, but that is all still a few weeks away. You may have seen some amateur looking poster art or trailers floating around the internet curtsey of the film’s foreign sales company and foreign financiers but none of that stuff is real, official, or endorsed by us so pay it no mind. The real stuff is on it’s way.
November finished with a huge bang when Nickelodeon bought a new live action kid’s show that I developed with Jack Black’s company (“Electric Dynamite”) about a boy and his talking alien dog called THE ADVENTURES OF FINN & WOOF. I can’t spill any details on that one yet as the contracts were literally just signed hours ago… but I’ll be hard at work writing that project as the New Year rings in. To say that I’m excited to be working on a children’s show with Jack Black- especially when it is a subject matter that I so deeply believe in and love- would be a massive understatement. TV is a tricky medium because it is very rare that you get to work on projects that you truly, truly love. Many writers wind up working on projects that fit what the network’s needs are or staff writing on shows that they would never personally even watch. So FINN & WOOF is a huge opportunity for me. I’m surrounded by awesome people (Jack’s producing partner Ben Cooley is as cool as his name sounds) and I’m FIRED UP to give this one my all.
An amazing year, huh? But the best was still yet to come.
December began with a little trip to the East Coast where I brought Rileah to see New York City at Christmas time. (She had never been to the city during the holidays and in fact, had only been there once before for HATCHET’s Tribeca premiere back in ’06.) While we were there, we planned on seeing both nights of Twisted Sister’s Christmas show on Broadway as well as taking in all of the amazingness that NYC has to offer around the holidays.
But the trip started with what can only be described as the most perfect marriage proposal a guy and a girl could ask for. I’ve been getting TONS of “congratulations” emails and comments from all of you and I can’t even tell you how much I appreciate all of it. However, I hope that you can all understand that there are certain aspects to my personal life that are just for me and that I simply don’t want to share. So forgive me for not wanting to spill all of the details of the proposal on MySpace, but it happened in Central Park, it was perfect, and she said “yes”. We first met almost 8 years ago when I was working as the DJ and Rileah was the hostess at the heavy metal club “The Rainbow” on the Sunset Strip. Neither of us had a dime to our names, I was struggling to make ends meet to the point that I was stealing leftover food off of plates on the kitchen. In 2004 I made the mock trailer for HATCHET and Rileah stepped in to be the ‘test make-up subject’ for Young Victor Crowley. Through that whole process we became good friends- and now, after almost 5 years dating / living together and all of the trials and tribulations that come with the industry we work in and the insanity of dealing with a guy like me…it is clear above all that she is my BEST friend and this next step could not feel more right. I thank you all for respecting our privacy in all of this, and don’t fret- I will certainly share any details, pictures, and stories from the process that we are comfortable sharing. In addition to our friends and family – the outpouring of well wishes and love my fan base has showered us with is overwhelming. Thank you, thank you, thank you. The whole engagement process was perfect and it was of course very cool to use Twisted Sister shows as the guise to justify the NYC trip and keep it all a surprise for Rileah. Once again, a life changing event where my friend Dee Snider was around for it. (For those that don’t already know the whole “Me and Dee” saga of the past 25 years…check out the special features on your HATCHET dvd.)
Here are just a few pictures from the NYC trip…
From NYC I went straight to the mountains and ski slopes of Utah to start location scouting for FROZEN. In 48 hours we visited at least 9 different mountains, rode various chair lifts, hiked around in the snow, and met with lots of wonderful people. The oddest part of this scout for me was realizing not only how difficult this film is going to be to shoot, but just how fucking SCARY it actually is. Being up there on the chairlift feeling the heights, feeling the chill, living in the elements… the story and the events that happen are realistic and scary as hell. And my crew and I are in for some “March of the Penguins” style shit in dealing with the elements. Note to self: Set next film in Maui.
Here’s a picture of Will and I at 11,000 feet…
We may not look as high up as we were, but just to give you an idea… we could see for several STATES from where we were.
My favorite part of the entire scout, however, was when we visited a ranch to view some “trained” wildlife that we may be using in the film. This ranch is owned and operated by the same trainers who handled Bart The Bear who you have seen in countless films such as THE EDGE, THE BEAR, or virtually any other film that a giant Grizzly Bear acted in. (No, there is no bear in FROZEN for those of you trying to figure it out.) Bart is sadly no longer with us, but his next of kin (Bart Junior) is quickly taking Bart’s place on the silver screen. At one point, the trainers invited me to meet Bart Junior and I eagerly accepted the chance. I mean, how often do you get to be THAT close to a Grizzly Bear in your life? This photo doesn’t do it much justice, but it was the only photo that got snapped during the Green / Bart Junior ‘Meet and Greet’.
But 2008 still wasn’t entirely over yet! The year was rounded out with not one…but THREE Metallica shows in the week leading up to Christmas. These shows were quite significant for me. The first show was great because it was almost 17 years to the day that I first saw Metallica play live… and I was with two of my childhood friends that were with me at that very first show. Call me a sentimental dork, but I pay close attention to things like that. To be seeing one of my favorite bands- 17 years later and with the same guys I grew up with who were with me the first time…it’s pretty cool. These shows put me over the 30 SHOW mark for the amount of times I have seen Metallica in the 20 plus years I have been listening to them. And they sound better than they ever did. I know a lot of people started to doubt them during the “St. Anger” period…but this year they put out what is clearly one of their best albums ever. Of course these shows come with a story…
Night 2: I am standing by the side of the stage with Joe Lynch waiting for the band to come on. We started talking about Christmas plans. Somehow, the fact that Rileah would have me watching LOVE ACTUALLY came up. What followed was two metal head, horror directors professing their undying love for that film. I’m not joking, Joe and I must have gone on for at least 10 minutes talking about why LOVE ACTUALLY is such a great movie and we discussed all of our favorite parts. It was around the point of Joe declaring how he gets choked up when the guy holds up the note cards in the film…when I realized that everyone around us could not only HEAR us, but that they were LISTENING…and that several of them knew who we were.
“JOE! STOP. STOP. STOP-STOP-STOP!”
But he was on a roll. I’m giving him every signal to stop, but he was on to the “boy running to tell the girl he loved her at the airport” and there was no stopping him. Finally, he realized what I realized and the two of us quickly tried to change the subject to sports, fighting dudes, and banging chicks. But it was too late. We had been outted for liking LOVE ACTUALLY…at a Metallica concert. Somewhere there is a message board on-line where a disgruntled metal head/horror fan is re-telling the story of our lameness and how let down he was to overhear what he heard. And somewhere in Los Angeles there is a group of horror fans burning their HATCHET and WRONG TURN 2 dvds. If the story wasn’t so funny, I’d feel bad. But I love LOVE ACTUALLY goddamnit. There, I said it. It’s a good movie and Bill Nighy owns!
And thus ends 2008. I know I left out a ton, but you have all of the previous blogs to look at if you want to catch up on what I may have missed. 2008 truly was one of the greatest years of my life, and my hopes are already soaring that 2009 will blow it away. I wrote this in a previous blog, but in a year plagued by strikes, lay offs, financial troubles, and struggle for most of the world…I am truly blessed that I not only have mustered through it all, but that I’ve been able to entertain and help so many people laugh off and forget about the stress. So my wish for all of you as the New Year quickly approaches in a few hours… is that you all remain healthy and that you all find happiness in the coming year. I’ve got so much coming your way over the next 12 months, and though I’ll be busy as all hell, you will all be in my thoughts and I will do my best to deliver for you all. I may be harder to reach than usual and I may not be checking in here as often as I would like, but I’ll be thinking of all of you on my adventures and endeavors.
2009 will kick off with the production of FROZEN and the festival tour for GRACE. In the coming months you’ll hear all kinds of news about the other projects (FAIRY TALE POLICE, AQUAMAN, FINN & WOOF, release dates for GRACE, the release of the secret lightsaber project, etc.) so stay tuned and get excited. I leave you now with an image to address what so many of you are asking about…
Yes, it is happening. I just can’t say for sure what my involvement will be yet. As you just read, I have way more than I can possibly handle on my plate. So if the powers that be can be patient, I will return at the helm. But if the ship has to set sail sooner rather than later, I may have to pass the torch. Think good thoughts, dream gory dreams, and just maybe I’ll be the one behind the camera when Victor Crowley returns to kick your fucking asses.
Happy New Year! I love you all!