Green’s Blog

PICTURE IS UP! A Decade of Slashing.

Tonight we begin filming HATCHET 3 in the swamps of Louisiana.  It’s 5:30am and I’m watching Rileah sleep soundly next to me while I pace around this hotel room and panic with the “first day” jitters.  You’d think by now I’d be over all of that, but the truth is that it never really goes away.  As any working filmmaker can tell you, the night before any major production starts is always the same: difficulty breathing, lots of sweating, panic attacks, huge highs, dire lows, and a mountain of self-doubt.  Even though I may not be in the director’s chair tonight, yes, I do indeed still feel all of those things.  While there are many instances where the original director and creator of a franchise eventually steps down and just takes a paycheck and  ”producer” credit on screen while in reality having nothing to do with the actual movie creatively… I can assure you that HATCHET 3 is anything but one of those instances.   I wrote this movie and I designed and came up with what you’re going to see happen in it.  I invented this world and created the characters and the mythology of its universe.  I’ve been the face of it all since day one and I will continue to be the face of it until the day I die.  My name and reputation will be used to promote it.  I hand picked the new person who is sitting in my director’s chair.  I’ve been involved in every decision made.  The thing about the HATCHET films is that no matter what the specifics of the scenario may be, so long as I am involved they are still my movies and my responsibility to deliver to the fans.  So no, I can’t sleep perfectly tonight and not worry because “it’s BJ’s problem now”.  I love and care way too much about this franchise.   Franchise.

I want HATCHET 3 to be the best of the three films.  We’re taking a lot of things to new levels as this installment is the action-packed third act to my story and, if we do the script justice, I know that the fans are going to dig the hell out of it. Though I may be worried sick about some of the dangerous stunts and other potential shooting hazards we are contending with, I can admit that I have been able to sleep slightly better because BJ McDonnell has done an absolutely phenomenal job so far and there is not a shred of doubt in my mind that he is going to knock HATCHET 3 way out of the park.  But we’ll get to that.

Looking back, I am blown away by how far all of this has come.  Are we really about to shoot a third Victor Crowley movie?  Nine years ago, Will Barratt, Sarah Elbert, and I flew down here with nothing but a mini DV cam and our own ambition while we set out to shoot a “mock trailer” for my screenplay, “HATCHET”.  At that point, everyone in town had passed on making the film, the most classic rejection being the one from a major studio that said “this movie will never get made because it’s not a remake, it’s not a sequel, and it’s not based on a Japanese one.”  Many of you will recognize that slogan from HATCHET 1′s film festival tour posters.  Sure, it took balls to take a major studio’s rejection and make it the tagline for my film, but back then I didn’t even think about the possible repercussions that could stem from doing that or know any better.  I did it because I thought it was not only an accurate statement about where the horror genre was at that time, but also a perfect way to show that the film had a huge sense of humor about itself.  Little did I know that so many others around the world would respond to what we were doing and that a decade later, here we would be, about to embark on the third film together.  It’s insane to think that THIRTY years ago I was dreaming up “Victor Crowley” (then, simply called “Hatchet Face” by my demented eight year old self) and to now be pacing around this hotel room nervously all night while I ring my sweaty hands out of sheer love for what I’ve worked so hard to create.

So if I still love HATCHET so much, why ever did I choose to replace myself in the director’s chair?  The answer is complicated, but in short… it was just time.  It’s important to recognize that the HATCHET films are “cult films”.  That means that they are made and held together by the love of the people who make them and then supported and celebrated by the very fans that we make them for.   Sounds simple and pure, but these films don’t have the budgets or the enormous studio marketing campaigns and releases of something like say the SAW sequels had.  Making these movies is a daunting task and releasing them takes an enormous toll.  I can honestly say that the experience of the first two likely took a few years off of my life.  From the struggles of campaigning around the world to raise awareness for HATCHET 1 (I toured with that film for 18 months before it found a decent distribution scenario in North America) to my MPAA battles and public crucifixion when HATCHET 2 was assassinated from theaters within hours of it’s release… I had hit a point where the last thing I ever wanted to talk about again was “Victor Crowley.”  I always ask people to remember that as much as HATCHET may be my first baby, it is only one of many children that I have and that I am going to have in my lifetime.  For example, though I am down here in New Orleans overseeing every frame of HATCHET 3 which in itself is a 24 hour a day job, I am simultaneously writing Season 2 of HOLLISTON (my TV show which I have gone on record again and again as saying is my most dear, favorite, and passion of passion projects) and writing and re-writing KILLER PIZZA, the MGM movie I am writing for producer Chris Columbus (my childhood screenwriting idol).   Had I directed HATCHET 3, it would have meant walking away from both of those projects in order to do it right.

Now I’ve heard bands talk about how they begin to distain playing their “hit songs” night after night in concert and I never really understood that.  I mean, don’t they understand that if it weren’t for those “hit songs”, there would be no concerts to play and no audiences to play for?  Shouldn’t they be grateful that they ever had a hit in the first place?  Believe me when I say that I am beyond grateful for the way fans have embraced HATCHET and for what my “Victor Crowley” character has done for my career.  I never take it for granted and I never will.  But having been there and having done that twice now, a third round in the exact same scenario just wasn’t the right thing for me to do both as an artist and for my own personal mental health.  Something had to change.  I was beginning to develop a love/hate relationship with HATCHET.  When SPIRAL came out (just four months after HATCHET was released) it literally got buried in the hype and excitement of “Victor Crowley”.   To this day it’s still devastating to know that SPIRAL is my least seen film.  Joel David Moore and I made that film before HATCHET was even finished with post-production but instead of coming out of the gate with a one-two punch it was more like “Wow, HATCHET!” followed by “Hey, let’s keep talking about HATCHET!”  When my film FROZEN premiered at Sundance in 2010 I was so excited because I felt like it was my best film to date and something that truly showed what I was capable of as a filmmaker.  When the movie ended and the Egyptian Theater erupted in applause I took the stage for the Q&A with tear-filled eyes, so proud to discuss how we had made such a difficult film and all we had accomplished.  What was the first question from the audience?  ”What can you tell us about HATCHET 2?”  The next question?  ”Will there be a HATCHET 3?”  Again, I’m grateful that anyone would care so much about anything that I did, but at the same time it was beginning to feel like anything else I ever created would have to live and exist in the shadow of “Victor Crowley” even if what I was doing was completely different and (just my humble opinion) a much better example of what I am capable of.

(HATCHET 3 camera slate, 2012.)

With HATCHET 3 I was able to create a very unique and wonderful scenario for myself and for the HATCHET fans.  Not a day goes by where a fan doesn’t ask me why I’m not directing it.  Even crew members ask me daily if it’s “weird” to not be the one in the pilot’s seat this time around.  Of course it’s weird.  But it’s also awesome in a whole new way that has reinvigorated my spirit and my love for the HATCHET series.  It’s like I get to play “God” with my own amusement park and pick and choose the right people to make it all happen under my careful guidance.  The greatest thing about having BJ take over my seat is that he has been with this series since day one.  He has been right beside Will Barratt and I on set for every frame we’ve shot and he loves and cares about this series just as much (if not more) than even the most diehard of HATCHET fans.  It’s not like there is some “outside director” in charge who took the job because it is a pay day, another feature credit, or an easy gig directing a film in a series with a pre-existing cult following.  In fact BJ never even asked me to be considered to take my place when I announced I would be stepping down from directing any future HATCHET films.  I asked him.  And if you knew what BJ makes to camera operate on the big studio movies he works on in relation to what he’ll be make directing HATCHET 3, you’d know that just like me, he’s here because he loves it and only because he loves it.  He is family and he is someone that all of us have collective faith in.  BJ’s even been on-screen in both of the other HATCHET films.  In HATCHET 1 he’s the guy who almost gets hit by the “Scare Bus” as it makes it’s way through the streets of New Orleans.  (Little known trivia fact, it’s actually my voice that says “Hey, what the fuck?” as BJ throws his hands up in the air.)  In HATCHET 2, BJ got his head split in half by “Victor Crowley’s” hatchet during Reverend Zombie’s flashback story.  I’ve read so many fan letters and comments questioning my decision to step down, and all I can say time and time again is “trust me.”  I’m still here and you’re not only in good hands, but two of the very same hands that brought you the first two films.   So tonight when we prepare to roll on our first shot and I pass the torch to BJ (it’s not really a “torch”, but one of our stunt hatchets for the production), I’ll be doing so with great pleasure and total glee.  Much like with 2009’s GRACE, I am so grateful that I am in a position to give someone their chance in the director’s chair that they have been aspiring and working so hard to get in.  Again, I truly believe that this stands to be the best of the three films.

(Adam Green, Will Barratt, BJ McDonnell; HATCHET 2, 2010)

When Will, Sarah, and I returned from that New Orleans “mock trailer” trip 9 years ago, our lives had changed forever, whether we could see that at the time or not.  Once combining forces with Cory Neal (and his business partner at the time)- the movie really came to life and became a reality.  Two years later, there we were on the eve of our first day of shooting- just like we are this morning.  In fact I can guarantee you that literally 7 years ago today, I was going through the same thing I am tonight.  The pacing, the nerves, the sweat, the fear, the excitement, the sadness… it’s an endless cycle.  But as the great Tony Todd (“Rev. Zombie”) said to Dave Foy (“Chad”) on the set of HATCHET 2, “That feeling in your gut?  The one that makes you feel like you’re gonna throw up?  Once you loose that it’s over.”  After everything we’ve all been through together, the highs and the lows, the amazing victories and the brutal defeats… I’m proud to say that I still feel like I’m going to throw up.  And I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything.

While so much has stayed the same over the past decade, so much has changed.  We’re no longer making a movie for ourselves.  Now there are legions of HATCHET fans around the world that we are making the movie for.

(Cory Neal, Sarah Elbert, Will Barratt, Adam Green, Scott Altomare: On the eve of shooting HATCHET 1, 2005)

And best of all for me personally?  This girl sleeping soundly next to me is the same girl who stood by me and believed in me through it all.  Who had the patience to forgive me when all I could focus on was my work instead of what really mattered most.  Who donned the hideous “Young Victor Crowley” make-up for not only the original mock trailer but also on-screen in the first two films.  Who did the key make-up on both HATCHET 1 and HATCHET 2.  Who not only held my hand as she triumphantly walked down all of those red carpets with me but who also picked me up off of the ground (literally) when I was heart broken by a major set back and felt like I couldn’t go on or take another defeat.

(Adam & Rileah, San Diego Comic-Con 2010)

That girl is now my wife.  She’s able to sleep soundly right now because she believes in me… and Will, and Sarah, and Cory, and BJ, and everyone else who is leading this juggernaut of a ship 10 years later.  She’s able to sleep soundly because she has faith that everything will be just fine when we roll cameras tonight.  So perhaps instead of watching over her and worrying, I should take a page out of her book and finally get some sleep myself.  It’s show time tonight!  And I’m surrounded by nothing but love, both from my family on set and from fans around the world who are cheering us on to another victory in this saga.

Picture is up, people!  Lights, camera… zzzzzzzzz

-AG

Life in a Norman Rockwell Painting.

OK, so I’m officially the worst blogger ever. Has it really already been half a year? Well, come on, cut me some slack! I’ve been kind of busy, you know? 2012 has been a whirlwind of absolute “awesome” so far with the ultra successful launch of HOLLISTON and the Spring promotional tour and press assault that came with it. For the sake of not giving you a lengthy blog the equivalent to your entire middle school summer reading list I promise to try and keep it brief and just hit the highlights.  Oh, who am I kidding?  This one is gonna be another novel.  I’m sorry.  Grab a drink, make some popcorn, and have a seat. By now I hope most all of you are keeping up to date with me on my twitter (here) or perhaps on my official Facebook page (here).  I swear I’m much more consistent with both of those outlets (even if they admittedly contain a ton of plugs for the TV show or a ridiculous amount of obnoxiously cute pictures of my dog “Arwen”).  This blog gets updated so rarely that when I do update it- it’s always a feat both to write it and for you to read it.  But now that we’re all here… let’s do it.

Unfortunately, the ArieScope website suffered a tragic crash in March that had us down for a solid 6 weeks.  It was awful and the timing couldn’t have possibly been worse as it happened in the six weeks directly leading up to the launch of HOLLISTON.  Though we’re almost fully back up and running again, one of the things that we couldn’t recover were all of the various photos inserted in my years of blog postings.  While it is indeed possible to go through and manually re-add each image again in the appropriate place I’m going to be totally honest and say that the chances of me ever having the time to do that are indeed none.  At least the actual text was recovered but if you’re a new fan just discovering this blog you’ll have to just imagine the pictures that once graced these lengthy postings before the now legendary crash of 2012.  Truth be told, we’re in the early stages of planning an all new website anyway so (assuming the Mayans come up short and the world doesn’t end in December) perhaps we’ll launch it in early 2013.

HOLLISTON had its world television premiere on Tuesday April 3rd, 2012 and almost instantly became a certified hit.  Thanks to the numerous and extremely passionate fans making so much noise and the extremely positive critical response that the show garnered, we found ourselves in the ultra rare position of getting a second season pick-up after airing only TWO episodes.  Wow.  To be completely candid and honest, we had braced ourselves for the show’s launch being somewhat like a tree falling in the woods with no one there to hear it.  After all, despite FEARnet pulling off an amazing promotional campaign and really getting behind the show with billboards, buses, bus shelters, numerous commercials, magazine ads, and a hugely successful (albeit brief) US Tour leading up to the premiere, the hard fact still remained that they are a brand new network that not too many households across the country get just yet.  (That is changing rapidly though.)  We hoped for the best but expected the real viewership to come with the eventual DVD and BLU-RAY release later this Fall.  Low and behold, that was not the case at all and thanks to FEARnet’s unwavering support on their linear channel and the decision to also launch each episode on On-Demand and on iTunes within 24-hours of airing… most of the audience that wanted to see the show had a way to see it and man, did they show up!  FEARnet is not yet Nielson rated so one of the outlets that we turned to in order to gauge viewership was the popular GetGlue service which has kind of become like Twitter for television.  If you’re not already familiar with GetGlue, it’s essentially a site where users can “check-in” to whatever television show or film they are watching at any given moment in time.  It’s important to note that it doesn’t mean you can only choose from what is ON television at that moment.  For instance, if you decided to watch last night’s COMMUNITY on your DVR or maybe throw in a DVD of Season 2 of FRIENDS- you can “check-in” to those, too.  So every time it aired, HOLLISTON was literally up against, well… EVERYTHING in television existence.  Realizing this cold hard fact, we hoped that perhaps we could crack the top 50 on the Tuesday nights we aired.  Well, we did slightly better than that.  We broke the TOP 10 almost every week that a new episode of HOLLISTON aired!  In fact some weeks we even hit the #6 most watched/trending show on TV!  We repeatedly placed alongside (and often BEAT) major network shows like BIG BANG THEORY, GAME OF THRONES, 90210, DANCING WITH THE STARS, NEW GIRL… you name it!  Each week various cast members took part in “live chats” with fans of the show on the Official HOLLISTON Facebook page (here) and by the season finale there were so many fans posting that even with FIVE of us trying to answer back we couldn’t possibly keep up.  Reactions from both critics and fans alike were way beyond anything we expected.

“Why didn’t you expect the reactions to be so positive, Adam?  Were you unsure of the show?”  While it may sound easy to say now that a second season has been green-lit, the truth is that I absolutely believed in the show with all of my heart and like nothing I have ever believed in before.  All of us in our “little town of HOLLISTON” did.  But that being said, HOLLISTON is a sitcom (and a very unique and weird one at that).  One minute it feels as broad as HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER and the next my character is peeling his own face off in a mirror or sitting in a bathtub filled with vomit and fake blood with his best friend.  As much as we believed in it, we couldn’t even try to predict what the audience would think or say at first.  One of the hardest things about a sitcom is that they normally take a handful of episodes before they can officially win over their respective audiences.  Speaking from experience, when I was younger I would watch my father roar with laughter at SEINFELD while I just sort of stared at the TV and didn’t know what to make of it.  I heard the laugh track loud and clear, so did that mean that I was supposed to be laughing, too?  I wasn’t.  At least not at first.  By the 5th or 6th time I watched the show it started clicking for me and these days I can safely say SEINFELD is one of my most favorite sitcoms of all time.  I own every season on DVD and have seen each episode more times than I can count.  Point being, until you really know the characters and have fallen in step with the tone, the sense of humor, and the world of a show- it’s hard to gauge.  With our first season only being six episodes, we were weary that it wouldn’t be enough episodes to win our audience over before the season ended.  A great example of what I’m talking about is that we’ve heard from quite a few HOLLISTON fans that they felt like the first few episodes were “lack luster” compared to the later episodes but in re-watching them (having now seen the whole season), they now enjoy the first few episodes just as much as the last few.  It’s the nature of the sitcom.  Even when it came to picking clips to release on line or to put in commercials, we felt like our hands were sort of tied.  I mean, how do you show just 30 or 60 seconds of a sitcom to someone who has never seen the show before and who doesn’t know the characters, their relationships, or the story line whatsoever and expect them to instantly get hooked?  One thing that I am so grateful for is that FEARnet realized this predicament, too.  When sending screeners to television critics they always included the first FOUR episodes and not just ONE.  When we held pre-screenings or test-screenings we always showed at least TWO full episodes. Judging by the success of the show so far, I think it definitely made a difference.

(Wondercon – Anaheim, CA)

The US Tour that we did to promote the show included Austin TX, Boston MA, Anaheim CA, Los Angeles CA, Chicago IL, and many promotional events at various genre conventions all across the country.  It was a lot of travel in a short amount of time (after a few dates you start to feel a little bit like a band on the road) but it was so, so, so fun.  The highlight by far was getting to bring the show home to it’s namesake and the very small town that it is set in… Holliston, Massachusetts.  This night should have really gotten it’s own blog entry as there is just so much I could say about it, but in short (well, “in short” for me) it was the most important screening I’ve ever had.  Alright, fuck it.  In full…

I’ve had films premiere at Sundance, Tribeca, FrightFest UK, Sitges in Spain, Comic-Con San Diego, Fantasy Fest in Germany, Fantasia in Montreal, and at posh, fancy, star-studded Hollywood events complete with red carpets, paparazzi, press lines (the press line for the HATCHET 2 premiere at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood took one full hour to complete from the top of the carpet to the cinema door) but I’ve never been as nervous as I was before introducing HOLLISTON in Holliston, MA!  Let me explain…

The main ensemble (myself, Lynch, Corri, and Laura) and one of the show’s producers (Sarah Elbert) went to Boston mainly to do a screening of the show at Emerson College and do a bunch of local press since, after all, the show is set in the area and was therefore a big deal for the outlets surrounding it.  At almost the last minute I suggested that we also do a special screening for the actual town of Holliston- my hometown!  We were going to be in the area so how could we not?  Now Holliston, MA doesn’t even have a McDonalds in it let alone any movie theaters, but I figured we could screen the show for the people of the town in the High School auditorium.  Unfortunately the High School auditorium was already booked for a senior class event the one night that we could be in town so we had to improvise.  We decided to hold the screening at the Town Hall and make it as “down home” and intimate as a screening could be.  In a way, it was like “putting on a show in your Grandmother’s barn” as this meant that the cast and I literally set up folding chairs, a screen, some speakers, and a projector and then just waited to see who showed up.  During the day leading up to the screening I took the cast around my hometown and showed them the sights which mainly consisted of the locations that we see in the actual show.  By noon I was starting to get a little nervous but by the time the cast and I sat down for an interview with The Boston Globe right before the screening I was literally sweating and visibly shaking.  My castmates couldn’t get over it.  They had never seen me get so nervous about anything, mainly because I just don’t GET nervous at this point in my career.  I mean, I’ve stood up and introduced my work before sold out cinemas in London and before theaters packed with studio acquisitions executives and major film critics and I had never been CLOSE to this nervous.  Trying to put it into words during the Globe interview I said that throughout the day leading up to the event it slowly dawned on me that I hadn’t been back there to visit in over a decade.  Holliston was no longer my home.  My family and the majority of my childhood friends had all moved away years ago.  Was anyone even going to show up?  And even more so, I realized just how much I play a “character” at the other events.  Normally I’m “Adam Green the filmmaker” but back in Holliston I was just the kid from 7 Francine Drive.  This wasn’t an industry crowd or an audience of “fans” who were familiar with my body of work.  At an industry premiere or festival I’m doing my job as the director of the film and while I of course always hope that the audience will respond positively to my work, I know to take it all in stride and with a grain of salt.  Being back in Holliston again I realized I was terrified because never before had I cared so much what people would think about me or my work.  There could be no false bravado.  There were no “genre fans”, no “Adam Green fans”, no “Hatchet Army”… this was the town that raised me, that knew through and through that I was just “a kid from the Queens”.  As I watched several senior citizens make their way up the steps into the Town Hall I realized this wasn’t even close to my target audience.  Why did I do this?  Why did I think this would be a good idea?  Most of all, why was I shitting in my pants with fear over their approval?  After all, Holiston was just “where I was from” at this point in my life.  My home these days is in Los Angeles, isn’t it?

That’s when Sarah stuck her head into the interview room to discretely ask Joe for help.  We needed to set up more folding chairs.  No problem as we had 150 chairs at the venue and so we were more than covered.  As Joe excused himself to lend Sarah a hand I continued the interview with Corri and Laura.  Nice!  People had shown up and it wouldn’t be completely embarrassing.  Ten minutes later, a very sweaty Joe stuck his head in the interview room.  ”We’ve run out of chairs.  They’re opening the balcony.”  What?  Really??  Corri was sitting directly to my right in the interview.  She grabbed my hand proudly as if to say “See?  People showed up!”  But despite Corri’s excitement, Laura’s beaming smile, and catching glimpses through the cracked open door of Sarah and Joe frantically trying to find seats for people … I was now more nervous than ever.  My mouth was dry.  My eyes were stinging.  The sweat dripping down the back of my old Megadeth shirt (same one I wore in High School back in the early 90′s!) was freezing cold.  In my head I’m thinking: Why did I come back here?  This is going to be terrible and awkward when they don’t “get” the show.  Trust me, having been a stand-up comic at one point in my life I know that there is nothing worse than hearing crickets after telling a joke.  We didn’t stand a chance.  Finally, just as the interview came to a close, Joe stepped back in to proudly announce that we were standing room only and many people were now seated on the floor.  It was show time!

Sarah was mobbed greeting people and trying to find places to put them.  Corri and Laura took their seats somewhere in the back of the balcony and Joe took his spot up front to introduce the night and to introduce me back to the town I had left almost two decades earlier.  I was standing alone in the back room.  As I glanced outside there were cars lining the street as far as I could see.  With St. Mary’s Church directly across from the window I stood in I couldn’t help but think…”This is like Christmas Eve!”  The last time I saw this many cars flooding downtown Holliston was when I attended Midnight Mass with my childhood sweetheart my senior year of High School.  (Being Jewish I had only been to church that one time.)  Sort of fitting as the eventual break-up with my first love and the many painful years that followed are a huge foundation of HOLLISTON’s story line and the relationship between “Adam” and “Corri” on the show.  Wait… was SHE in the crowd tonight?  Did her parents show up?  Oh God.  If they did- what if they didn’t like the show??  What if they weren’t impressed with all I’ve accomplished?  What if they think I’m a hack and hate it?!  Note to self: Never go to an event like this again without my wife there to help me through it!  What I wouldn’t have given just to have Rileah’s hand to hold while I went through this.  Another note: Neither “the childhood sweetheart” nor her parents came as far as I know.

“Please welcome home… Adam Green!”  Joe had finished his introduction and from the sound of the crowd’s applause it was time to see what was on the other side of the door.  I walked out and down to the front as fast as I could.  It was only when I turned around to take the microphone that I realized that my fears had been for nothing.  The place was full and every single person there was THRILLED to be there!  Now, a little public speaking trick (and something I always do when speaking to large crowds like this) is to never make actual eye contact.  If you look BETWEEN the audience members and never right at them it can help you from focusing on just one person and becoming psyched out or taken out of what you’re trying to say.  But as I stood there before the people of Holliston, Massachusetts…. the people who raised me and knew me way back when, the people who knew me when “Victor Crowley” was just a drawing on my eight year old self’s school books and not a worldwide beloved slasher maniac with his own cult franchise, the people who knew me before I was the guy that took on the MPAA and had his movie pulled from theaters, the people who knew me when I openly spoke of making it in Hollywood someday with nothing but stars in my eyes and an unhealthy amount of ambition and crazy dreams…. my whole introduction speech turned into one giant blank piece of paper.  I was supposed to explain what the show was and how it came to be. I was supposed to talk about FEARnet and the phone number to call to demand the channel in their area.  I was supposed to mention the premiere date.  But instead I sort of stammered out some words that didn’t even feel like real sentences.  I kept catching glimpses of familiar faces while every ounce of moisture that was supposed to be in my throat went trickling down my back.  I’m not remotely sure of what  I said but it was something like this….

“All day long I’ve been showing my castmates around this wonderful town. All the while I’ve been getting more and more nostalgic and depressed that I don’t live here any more.  I spent so long struggling and fighting to get out of here.  I spent every day I had here dreaming and plotting and scheming about how I would “make it” in the entertainment industry someday and be able to call Hollywood “home”.  And now that that has happened… all day long I’ve been wishing I could come back because it hurt so bad to think this isn’t “home” any more.  But then I walked out here tonight… and I see all of you that showed up and completely filled this place… and I realize that I am home and that no matter where I go or what I do… Holliston will always be home.”

And it may not be very “horror”, very “metal” or very “cool” of me- but I choked up big time and definitely shed some tears.  This TV show, this sitcom “HOLLISTON”, has been my passion project for longer than I can remember.  As silly and as ‘out there’ as the show might be, the show is my real life ‘s worst moments put on display for all to see.  To get to bring it HOME and unveil it for the town was a dream come true.  However, to hear the town laugh, cheer, applaude, and react the way that they did… that was beyond anything I could have dreamed of.  They genuinely loved it.  Young and old.  I may still be considered “young” in the business but I’ve traveled the world screening many different types of movies for all kinds of crowds from film festival snobs to theaters sold out with die-hard fans, and I know the difference between courtesy laughs and the real thing.  This was as real as it gets and best of all, these were real people.  They weren’t there to judge, to heap praise, or to tear all of our hard work down on a blog or in a newspaper review.  And when I tell you this was NOT the target audience for this TV show, I couldn’t be being more honest.  Did I expect senior citizens to laugh at me “scanning” Joe’s head and exploding it all over the wall?  No.  Did I expect my old school teachers to cheer when Dee Snider (as the sexually ambiguous, pathetically aging glam rocker “Lance Rockett”) would yell out “You’ve been great, we’ve been Diver Down!  Good night!”   No way.  Did I expect 15 year old boys to be emotionally effected when on-screen I confessed my love to “Corri” and got shot down so hard?  Hell no.  But that’s what happened.  The screening ended with a 45 minute-long Q&A where the cast and I candidly answered questions from the town (and laughed our asses off in the process).  I ended with a quick speech about chasing dreams and how anything is possible when you’re surrounded by people who love you.

The crowd gave us a standing ovation.

But the most amazing thing of all?  When we told them to head to Casey’s Crossing (the town’s only bar which we feature prominently in “HOLLISTON”) and that we would meet them over there once we had broken down the screening, put the chairs away, and cleaned up… THEY HELPED US!  Like something out of a live-action Norman Rockwell painting, the entire town started grabbing chairs and passing them to each other!  They formed a line and passed everything along until the Town Hall was all cleaned up!  It took the five of us about an hour to set up, but with the whole town chipping in, we broke down the screening in less than 10 minutes.  THAT’S where I grew up.  THOSE are the people I love and the people who helped shape who I am today.  I’ve been so lucky that I was born into an amazing family with two parents that were the greatest role models a kid with ridiculous dreams could ask for.  No matter how far fetched my goals were they never tried to talk me out of it or tell me the odds.  They not only let me be me but they encouraged me to be as much of ME as I could be.  My older brother was actually the one who suggested and pushed me to make COFFEE & DONUTS (my first movie and what would eventually launch my career and then morph into HOLLISTON 13 years later) and was my biggest fan growing up.  (He would laugh at my jokes at the dinner table to the point that he’d start choking and then my father would slam his fist down and yell at me to stop talking.)  Without them I can safely say NONE of this would have ever happened.  I may have grown up lower-middle class and in a suburban quiet town in the middle of nowhere with no industry connections or trust fund to get me through my struggles- but I wouldn’t trade my childhood in Holliston for anything.  It was more than a wonderful screeing, it was a pivotal moment in that it reminded me loud and clear that after all of this… I really still haven’t changed.  Hell, I was even wearing the same clothes that I was wearing when I graduated High School 19 years ago.  So with Corri, Laura, Joe, and Sarah now “honorary Hollistonians” we celebrated until closing at Casey’s Crossing and vowed to do our best to return and do it again “if there was a second season”.  Now that we know that there WILL be a second season I can only hope that we can make good on that promise.  I’d also like to note that my favorite teacher and the guy who believed in me first (Marty Perlman) even showed up.  As always with events like this, I got merely 30 seconds to catch up with him when I needed 3 hours.

(Laura and Corri with John from Fiske’s General Store.)

On our way out of town the next day we stopped at Fiske’s General Store (the heart of Holliston, MA) where they had a sign outside with our names on it wishing us luck.  The owner (John) gave each of us a care package, people stopped in to wish us luck and hug us goodbye (including folks from The Holliston Grill- also featured in the show) and we headed back to Los Angeles.  Fiske’s has been a staple in Holliston for over a century and as a kid, it was like “going to Disneyland” when your parents would take you there.  My Grandfather used to take me there after soccer practice when I was just 6 years old and give me a dollar to buy Garbage Pail Kids stickers or candy with.  Sadly, my Grandfather passed away when I was eight.  Eventually I would come to discover that he had his own love of film and shot tons of home movies and even had his own editing equipment!  He drove a soda truck for most of his life and never got to pursue film seriously, but maybe in some ways he’s getting to pursue film through me.  If only he could have lived to see all of this, but I have no doubt he’s been watching my career unfold at every high and every low.  And I have no doubt that he was there in the balcony at Town Hall that night.

It’s important to note that getting your name on the sign outside of Fiske’s was a HUGE deal growing up.  Typically reserved for birthdays, if you drove by and saw your name on the sign you were pretty much famous in Holliston for the day.  ”Did I see your name on the sign outside of Fiske’s wishing you a Happy Birthday?”  ”Why yes, yes you did.  Would you like my autograph?”  You can only imagine my glee when I saw all of our names on the coveted sign as we drove out of Holliston the next day…

HOLLISTON just finished its first season a few days ago and I am already hard at work (with the help of my cast/crew/network – my HOLLISTON family) writing and getting things into shape for production of Season Two – which begins shooting later this summer.  In the meantime, I ship off to New Orleans, Louisiana this week to oversee the production of HATCHET 3 and I’m continuing along in the long process of writing and re-writing that KILLER PIZZA script for MGM.  (FYI, it’s going great!  But it’s a big studio movie which means every step takes a million times longer than when it’s one of my own independent ArieScope productions.)  Alex Pardee and I are also continuing to work on DIGGING UP THE MARROW (our monster documentary) which we *hope* to have completed by the end of next year.  There’s a few other things in the works, too- but not stuff I should share just yet.  It’s a crazy, crazy time but also such a wonderful time to be alive and to be doing what I get to do.

(Laughing with Lynch, Corri, and Laura at the Screen Actors Guild’s “Evening with Holliston”.)

I wish I could blog more often so that when I did it didn’t always have to be so epically LONG, but it’s hard to find the time and a lot goes on in a 6 month period!  As I said at the top of this novel (3 days ago when you started reading it), you can follow me on Twitter or Facebook to keep up more regularly.  In the meantime, to my HOLLISTON family (too many to name- but especially my castmates Joe, Laura, Corri, Oderus, and Dee) thank you for making this both the most creatively rewarding and the most fun period of my life (so far)!  To every fan who has waved his/her flag of support and rallied behind HOLLISTON… YOU have given our show life!!!  Thank you!!  You mean more to us than you can possibly ever know.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some unfinished business with Victor Crowley to tend to in the swamps of Louisiana…

Love,

AG