2014 was chock full of painful kicks to the nuts, extremely difficult life changes, frustration, heartbreak, grief, and more deaths than I hope to ever have to mourn in one calendar year ever again. At this point I’m just happy to see the eternal 365 days that were 2014 finally end. However, even through all of the hard times, 2014 did still manage to somehow shine an occasional bright ray of light and even the most devastating events can now be looked upon with clarity and even appreciation as odd as that may sound. Lessons were learned, strength was found, and even in the darkest hours there were positive moments that prevailed. As anyone who has spent time being put through life’s proverbial wringer can attest, it’s never easy to see a light at the end of the tunnel while you’re still careening through it. But we’re heading into a brand new year so even as I look back at such a difficult period of my life with honesty, I’m gonna try and do so with as much of a positive spin as possible and start 2015 off right by standing back up strongly on my own two feet. As always, this annual reflective purge is gonna be a long one and possibly take you until next year’s “Year End Blog” is up to get through. So make some popcorn, grab a case of Coke, and let’s begin…
The official theatrical poster for the US, released today through Entertainment Weekly.
This year DIGGING UP THE MARROW was finished, we world premiered it in London, it was wonderfully received, and it was snatched up for distribution and is due out in the US on February 20th (theatrical and VOD – details coming). Given what an experimental project MARROW was, its success to date is most certainly something to be celebrated and I’m beyond proud of all of the talented artists I was lucky enough to get to work with in all facets of the production. I especially look at what people like Alex Pardee, Greg Aronowitz, Robert Pendergraft, Sam Balcomb and their hard working and talented crews accomplished with the film’s creature work and I’m not only grateful that I personally got to live (on screen) in this fantastical world we created but humbled just to be part of the same project as the crew that I so closely collaborated with on it. A few weeks ago I finally got to show MARROW to Ray Wise (who is not only the film’s lead actor, but also the only person in the film not playing himself) and his unbridled excitement and exuberant pride over what we created had me walking on air for the rest of the month. Watching Ray smile, laugh, and jump out of his seat several times was incredibly rewarding and ranks up there with one of my favorite parts of the film’s journey so far. Seriously, watching Ray Wise get scared and jump off of my couch from a Ray Wise jump scare…? What beats that feeling?! We’re all just as anxious as you are for the film to come out for the public to see.
The incomparable and legendary Ray Wise as “William Dekker”.
For those that still don’t know much about DIGGING UP THE MARROW or what it even is, don’t feel like you’ve missed something or been left out. We purposely held back most details until now as we wanted to keep the film as ambiguous as possible until just before it was ready to be released. We even went as far as to say that we were making “a documentary about monster art” when the film was first announced just so that we could operate completely under the radar while we took our time making it. I’ve said this before, but if you want to get everyone to look the other way while you attempt something experimental and weird just say the words “art documentary” and watch how fast they turn their sights in any other direction. This was for no reason other than the fact that we didn’t want to frustrate anyone in the media by denying them production updates, casting news (especially when there wasn’t really a standard “cast” to speak of), set visits (there were very few actual “sets” and only a few fully constructed environments that production designer Travis Zariwny and his crew built), or the ability to come to any kind of preconceived notions about the film we were making. Being completely honest, even we didn’t know if what we were attempting to create was even going to work let alone how to explain it in a neat little log-line, so keeping details contained to only the small hand-picked group of artists that made up our creative collective turned out to be the best way to go about this particular production. We knew that making MARROW was potentially going to be a long process and the last thing we wanted was to put pressure on ourselves to finish and release it within a time frame that the public would deem acceptable. Consider that two full seasons of HOLLISTON, CHILLERAMA, and HATCHET 3 were all made during the same time period that we made MARROW and hopefully you understand what I mean. Cool, so what is it then, Green? I thought I’d never ask…
William Dekker’s “work” is disturbing business.
DIGGING UP THE MARROW is a pseudo documentary where we used our real lives as the foundation for a frightening fantasy. In real life I had received fan-mail back in 2010 from someone claiming that the legend of “Victor Crowley” is actually a true story and that I had messed up the “facts” in my mythology for the villainous ghost that served as the backbone for the HATCHET films. One of the more creative works of fan-fiction I’ve received to date, this package came complete with images of “the actual swamp” where “Victor Crowley” supposedly grew up and I enjoyed the hell out of it when I read it, even if I wasn’t quite sure whether or not the individual who wrote it was indeed crazy or not. Of course in real life I made up “Victor Crowley” when I was merely a child at summer camp as chronicled in the terrific special features that producer Sarah Elbert created for the DVD/BLU-RAY release of the first HATCHET film – watch her documentaries included on the disc if you never have! When that particular piece of fan-mail arrived we were just coming off of FROZEN’s world premiere at Sundance and for the past year we had been brainstorming ideas for something to make on our own. Something that only we could make using all of our assets (which potentially meant even using ourselves as subject matter) and something completely independent with no one else to answer to much like what Will Barratt and I did way back in the day when we were first starting out with COFFEE & DONUTS – our first movie and what ultimately became known as HOLLISTON. For a very brief few minutes I actually toyed with the idea of contacting the person who had sent it and heading down to Louisiana with cameras to make a documentary about their outrageous claims. ”Maybe it would make for a fun special feature or on-line companion piece when HATCHET 2 comes out later this year, guys?” But then it was pointed out that my fun little side project wouldn’t be so fun if or when this particularly delusional and possibly insane person “DELIVERANCED” my ass out in a New Orleans swamp. Not wanting to produce anything that could potentially stain the love for my “Victor Crowley” character’s mythology among fan’s of the HATCHET films or something that could result in me being forced to “squeal like a pig”, I didn’t give that idea a second thought and I tossed the package. (Side note, save for artwork or other appropriate gifts that may come in for me, I throw everything out once I’ve read it as saving it all would be weird and some of if contains very personal stuff that was intended for only I to read.) However, only a short while later I met artist Alex Pardee while doing an appearance at a horror convention and he handed me a pamphlet for one of his more recent art exhibits called DIGGING UP THE MARROW where the story-line behind it was awesomely similar in concept. Whenever Alex does an exhibit he goes much further than merely displaying his latest artwork on fancy walls for people to marvel at and instead creates a full-on storyline to go with the exhibit that you are looking at. Alex’s story behind MARROW was that a former police detective named “William Dekker” had discovered a world beneath our very feet where “monsters” indeed exist and had commissioned Alex to paint the inhabitants of “the Marrow.” And.. boom. It all clicked.
The art exhibit pamphlet Alex Pardee handed me in 2010.
To write too much about how we did it or how some of the film’s most unconventional decisions were made would be premature and very much “spoilers” at this point, so I’ll hold off on that stuff until the movie is actually released. What I can say now is that this collaboration was one for the books and the love affair between all involved with making this film is one of legend. We had such a blast while we pushed, challenged, and helped each other make this film and 4 years later Alex Pardee is one of my closest friends. Alex and his artwork have become a gigantic source of inspiration for me and in some ways just having him as part of my life has helped push me forward in my never ending quest to improve as a storyteller. And the same goes for MARROW’s creature sculptor Greg Aronowitz who was another incredible talent that I had the honor of working with for the first time on this film. While I was already more than familiar with Greg’s work (look up his credits, he’s been an integral part of many of your favorite Hollywood blockbusters, too), his friendship and experience not only as an artist but also as a director himself instantly made him a cherished part of the ArieScope family. We’ve jokingly used the term “manipumentary” when describing the sub genre that this film should be categorized within since MARROW is essentially a manipulated documentary at the heart of it. Even though it is told in the documentary format, it can’t be called a “documentary” because it is a controlled and scripted narrative that dives (or digs) into a fantasy world where monsters are indeed real. At the same time the movie can’t really be called a “mocumentary” because almost everyone in the film is truly portraying themselves and allowing the cameras into their real lives, not to mention the basic fact that MARROW isn’t a comedy and that most of the people you’ll see in the movie didn’t know what we were actually making or the bigger picture story that they were a part of telling. Most involved only knew their scenes, pages, or lines. And MARROW is certainly not a “found footage” movie either, although we sadly fear that some may try and label the film as such when trying to place it in a pre-established box. By definition a “found footage” movie leans on the concept that what you are watching is supposedly un-edited footage that is being shown to you exactly as it just so happened to be captured on camera before being found/discovered. MARROW is presented as an edited documentary complete with eerie sound design by Matt Waters and a wonderfully creepy score by Bear McCreary. Hell, even in keeping MARROW feeling “real” there are merely only a few seconds of “shaky-cam” in the entire feature film. So label the movie whatever you decide to label it but to us, DIGING UP THE MARROW is simply a narrative, scripted feature film told in an unconventional manner and one that we hope you find incredibly interesting and enjoyable. Repeat viewings should prove to be quite fun as you will likely notice new things. Or think that you did!
Bet you can’t find where Alex Pardee is hiding in this picture!
I gotta be honest, it’s unsettling to sit through screenings of MARROW and watch this surreal time capsule of my life play out. Keep in mind that MARROW’s journey started for me in January 2010 and the film was shot in intervals over the course of the next 3 years. Though we had screened a “work-in-progress” cut back in December of 2013 when Harry Knowles (excited by the unfinished version I had shown him) was kind enough to include MARROW in his annual top secret ButtNumbAThon 24-hour film marathon. Alex and I nervously showed up in Austin, TX and surprised the unsuspecting audience around 6am with the first ever glimpse at what we were actually making (and received a phenomenal response) but the film was actually only completed-completed merely 5 months ago. By the time we world premiered the finished movie to an audience this past August at FrightFest in London, so much had already changed for me in my personal life. Watching the screen and seeing Dave Brockie in his “Oderus Urungus” costume say “…and after I’m dead I’ll be a dead monster” (shot backstage before HOLLISTON’s San Diego Comic Con panel two years before his sudden death) or watching scenes play out that show me at home with my (now) ex-wife… it’s painful for me and in many ways it doesn’t even seem like it was ever my real life in the first place. But that’s the risk I took with the entire concept of MARROW and regardless of how my personal life may have taken a few sad turns since shooting it, I’m still glad I took that risk as it is that real life aspect of the story that makes MARROW so unique as a film. Like I said above, I’ll save my full analysis and “look back” on making MARROW until the film is about to come out or until it has been out for awhile and you’ve had ample opportunity to see it. Thankfully there will not be many more times when I have to personally sit through the movie while in a theater full of people that I know are all uncomfortably thinking “wow, this part must be hard for Green to watch” when certain things play out on the screen. At one point I even considered re-cutting the movie to remove such scenes since I had the luxury of doing so before world premiering it this past August. But after discussing that idea with my fellow collaborators on the film, it was decided that those moments are only in there in the first place because they are part of the story and serve an expositional purpose in the narrative. Removing them would only be a disservice to the movie even if those moments might personally make me feel uncomfortable now. After all, as real and honest as so much of MARROW might be, at the end of the day it’s still a movie. The blending of real life and fantasy is precisely what makes DIGGING UP THE MARROW what it is, so who would I have been to alter or re-cut the film just to address my own personal issues in watching it at a handful of public screenings? DIGGING UP THE MARROW isn’t for me anymore. It’s for the audience that pays to see it. Sure, some moments might hurt for me to watch, but thankfully I can distance my real life from it enough to see it for what it is. And in the end I’m really, really proud of it.
Me, Alex Pardee, and Will Barratt. DIGGING UP THE MARROW, summer 2013.
DIGGING UP THE MARROW’s theatrical, VOD, DVD/BLU-RAY, and all other release info (including the official trailer) is all coming in just a matter of days. And yes, you will be able to pre-order autographed copies of the DVD and Blu-Ray in our BUY STUFF store as soon as we are allowed to post the final artwork and DVD/BLU-RAY release date. Soon! So soon! And if you have yet to pick up any of the variant teaser posters that we have for sale in the store here on this site, I highly suggest you do so soon. When they’re gone, they’re gone…
Don’t cry, HOLLISTON fans. It ain’t over yet…
I know that it sucks for fans of HOLLISTON that it has been in “TV show purgatory” since Dave Brockie’s death and FEARnet being shut down, but that doesn’t mean the show is over. You’re probably just as sick of hearing me say that as I am of saying it, but not a day goes by that I don’t hear from someone asking me what the latest news is so I’d be remiss if I didn’t address it in this “2014″ blog. At this particular moment I may not have the good news you’ve been waiting for, but that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t possibly have that good news soon. A big reason why I hold back on sharing current details is that TWICE now we’ve been told that we were ready to go only to have the most random thing put a stop to it. At one point the arrangements for our return were so real that I even wrote the first few episodes of Season 3 “in good faith” (one of the most ironic legal terms used in the entertainment business as it almost always ends with the one being asked to have faith also being the one done wrong for daring to actually be trusting and have faith in another human being or company- but hey, “it’s just business, man”) and delivered them to the cast to start working on… only to have to sadly tell them “false alarm” merely a few weeks later. It’s just the sad nature of this slow moving and uncertain business and why you should never say anything publicly until you know without a doubt that things are for real and that there is no possible turning back. Given what we’ve been put through since our last day of shooting Season 2, for the longest time I couldn’t even think about HOLLISTON and all of us who work on the show needed to step away and focus on other things, our real lives, and new projects while we healed. Every TV show endures it’s fair share of storms, but man have we collectively weathered a shit tornado together in 2014. Since Season 2 aired in 2013 there have been births, deaths, marriages, divorces, cross country relocations, and new projects for all of us. You know the stories. In hindsight, I’m thankful that we were already on hiatus when the hits started coming our way. What would we have done if we were in the middle of making Season 3 when all of the bad stuff went down? Even if we had finished shooting Season 3 before the shit hit the fan… then what? Would Season 3 be bound in legal and financial red tape and stuck on a shelf forever had FEARnet licensed it and then been closed down? What if we had been forced to make Season 3 and make a contractual delivery date while still reeling from the tragic loss of our friend and co-star or while I was in the middle of the worst times in trying to emotionally recover from my own divorce? What if I had still been down for the count and physically unable to promote it or had to cancel all scheduled appearances and live shows? I look back now and I am so grateful that HOLLISTON was able to be put on hold for 2014 as I could barely make it through each day let alone lead a production or be on my best creative point. So yeah, even the set backs and hurdles all happened for a reason. I know that fans of the show are anxious for another season and I know how much it sucks still not having any kind of official word or time frame on when or if the show will return, but just maybe everything happened the way it did for a purpose? Maybe when I write next year’s “year end blog” there will be a whole section on what an incredible time we had making Season 3? Or maybe there will be a sad story on what crazy thing happened next that prevented the show from moving forward once again? Perhaps… and I know no one wants to hear this, but it’s a possibility… next year’s “year end blog” will have a short paragraph explaining why I chose to walk away from my own show and call it a wrap? Only time will tell but at the moment we’re all still feeling very confident that we’ll be back in the saddle before the end of 2015. The fans in the Holliston Nation have been unbelievable with their faith, determination, and support. While I’d give anything just to have Brockie back and to not have had any of the other bad circumstances happen (while FEARnet going under may not directly effect the future of HOLLISTON since we have always owned the rights to the show, let’s not forget all of the great people and all of our personal friends who worked for the network or who wrote for the FEARnet website that were suddenly left unemployed when the hammer fell)… the positive that I can choose to take out of it all personally was that I experienced a whole new side of my own fans. I saw tremendous strength, true compassion, and a wonderful side of humanity that I never would have fully realized had those events not happened. Especially the way that fans poured out their support when Brockie left us. The cards, the gifts, the letters, the on-line postings, the turn out at Dave’s memorial, and most of all the tears that were shed not only because Dave was taken from us but because the fans deeply felt for us and what we were going through. The hurt may still be there and will of course never fully go away, but I have a ton to be thankful for and my entire world got a little bit smaller and a little bit better because I went through all of it. Am I reaching here to find some positive in all of this? Yeah, probably. But I can either keep wallowing in pity and crying over how “it’s not fair“… or I can slap myself in the face, say “suck it up, asshole”, and try and find some good in all of it. We recently aired a “HOLLISTON REUNION” episode of The Movie Crypt podcast where Joe, Laura, Corri, and I spilled absolutely everything on where we’ve been and where we’re at with a future season … plus we gave the fans a fun little surprise at the end when the podcast seamlessly turns into a new, fully scripted radio play episode of HOLLISTON. It was our way of saying “we’re still alive” and the response from our fans was overwhelming and extremely touching. It was a lot of work to pull off but man was it worth it. Haven’t heard it yet? Listen to the episode for FREE on iTunes or directly on Geek Nation right here.
The empty HOLLISTON set. See you again in 2015…?
As I mentioned above, for any one professional setback (like HOLLISTON’s damnation to purgatory or my more recent exit from directing CROOKED LAKE after losing almost a full year of my life to it) I can produce more than a handful of iron clad reasons why the projects that got delayed or simply didn’t happen weren’t actually setbacks at all but were indeed blessings or (in some cases) full-on bullets that I dodged. Looking at my own personal growth as a human being, I think that prior to 2014 I’d typically look at any kind of hurdle or unwanted change in my life as “the end of the world.” Hey, I have an enormously passionate and dramatic heart, get over it. But one good thing that my own personal hardships of 2014 taught me is how to look at difficult situations objectively once I can have sincere clarity that isn’t clouded by my admittedly overpowering emotions. Once I reach the point where I can step back and see things for what they are or see where their paths were ultimately heading for me had I stayed on them… it’s possible to find gifts hidden in the rubble. Sorry to get all metaphysical on you, but for the first half of the year when I was hurting the worst (especially in the early Spring when both my marriage and one of my closest friends died within mere days of each other), I often found myself spending long hours talking to Dave. He is everywhere you look here at ArieScope as the office/studio and edit suite walls are adorned with various posters and promotional photographs from the first two seasons of HOLLISTON among all of the other films and projects that we’ve created over the past 17 years. In our “talks” I’d ask Dave for help on certain things now that he was hopefully my guardian angel for real and not just playing my guardian angel on the show. Though talking to him may have been cathartic and while it may have helped me process what I was going through simply by speaking my troubled mind out loud… I’d often wind up angry and disappointed when the very things I was asking Dave to help me with panned out the completely opposite way. (Hmmm… life imitating art?)
Dave telling me what to do with my life. (Season 2 rehearsal – August 2012.)
Here’s where I lose a bunch of you reading this blog, but I understand if I do and I don’t mind. A close friend of mine is a very respected clairvoyant and while it’s too long a story to get into here and now… if you can have faith in whatever religion or other belief system that works for you, trust that as far fetched and weird as it may sound, I’ve had enough “can’t possibly explain it any other way” experiences over the 14 years I’ve been lucky to have known Marilyn that my talks/”tune-in” sessions with her are something that I now always walk away from considering very seriously. I try to never touch on religion, politics, or other heavy stuff like that since, after all, I’m just a guy who makes movies and who cares what I think about that stuff? I have no answers to life’s bigger picture questions so you shouldn’t look to me for any. Again, I might lose a bunch of you here but in my communication with Dave I expressed how angry I was that after asking him for such very specific help, so many things didn’t turn out even remotely like I was asking and praying for them to. I’d say how let down I was that, as one of my “guides”, he didn’t help rectify things or help change their course. The response I got was always the same. “Who says I didn’t fucking help you? Just wait.” Maybe you can’t possibly subscribe to believing in the existence of “another side” or that anyone has the ability to communicate with those we love who have crossed over to it. Maybe you find your guidance and strength in something more popular like organized religion. Maybe you believe in nothing. Whatever your own thing may personally be… if it works for you I say “great!” The point in all of it is, like Mick Jagger sang: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.” Looking back at 2014 and the events and situations that I could only see as being the end of my world at the time… truer words may have never been spoken/sang. You’ll never really know until it’s all over and you’re at the end of your story. So whether or not there really is another side and whether you really had something to do with it all or not… thank you for not helping me get what I wanted, Dave. I understand now.
Sing along… “It’s the Movie Crypt!”
Still with me? Don’t think I’ve lost my mind? Really?? Well, OK then! Like I said earlier, 2014 did manage to have its share of bright moments and doing the weekly Movie Crypt podcast provided many of those for me. It’s such a joy to sit down for 2+ hours each week and discuss not only each guest’s individual career path but also the very personal stories and struggles that each artist has been through on their journey. Every guest has something to learn from and every recording leaves both Lynch and I walking away feeling just as inspired as our audience is from hearing these recorded conversations. 2014 was relentless in terms of incredible Movie Crypt guests and not a single episode recording felt like an obligation as much as it felt like a gift. (Hey, not getting to spend enough quality time with your friends? Create yet another unpaid job for yourself that forces you to sit down together with no distractions and talk for 120 minutes or more each week.) From Darren Bousman’s epic 3 hour episode filled with his own shocking tales from the trenches, to Zachary Levi’s inspirational life outlook, to Jordan Peele’s amazing and well deserved success story, to Dee Snider’s very personal and grounded guidance, to Bobcat Goldthwait’s unmatched honesty and humor, to Luke Greenfield’s unbelievable “Steven Spielberg letter”, to Seth Green’s straight shooting advice, to Rachael Leigh Cook proving just how kind and real people in Hollywood can actually be, to Slash’s humble storytelling and compliments to Joe and I about HOLLISTON, to Lexi Alexander’s extremely polarizing point of view on movie piracy, and everyone else who took the time out of their busy schedules to sit down with us and spill their guts… every week and every guest has been our favorite. We often joke that The Movie Crypt is like therapy, but it’s not “like” therapy… it is therapy. Even during the times this year when things were feeling all but hopeless in my own life, the two hours or more each week I spent in that recording studio always helped get me back on my feet and moving forward again. (Or at least crawling forward if I couldn’t exactly stand up on my own just yet.) The latest numbers that were shared with us show that we now have over 300,000 weekly listeners and that was only Geek Nation’s direct numbers. Factor in our iTunes numbers (which at the time of this blog have unfortunately not been shared with us) and our actual listenership is likely in fact even much, much higher. 2014 went out with a bang for us when this week’s issue of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY Magazine included THE MOVIE CRYPT in their “Top 20 Podcasts” list…
With over 285,000 podcasts on the internet… making EW’s “Top 20″ ain’t too shabby.
If you listen to the show regularly you’ve heard Joe and I mention a possible “end game” for the podcast in passing but rest assured that absolutely nothing has been decided and we don’t plan on going anywhere just yet. We just have a lot to consider as we rapidly approach our 100th episode and the 2 year anniversary of the podcast. With how successful our show has become we just need to figure out a scenario that makes more sense for us personally. We’ll get there, don’t worry.
Arwen may not ask a lot of questions when we interview podcast guests, but she has the answers to the hard hitting ones like “Who’s a good girl? and “Who wants a treat?”
Of course I couldn’t post a blog about 2014 without a few picture of Arwen. If you follow me on Instagram than you know more about what Arwen did this year than what I did. I bombarded my account with #DailyArwen photos and she became the unofficial third host of The Movie Crypt (she’s even featured front and center on the T-shirt) by being included in every guest photo this year. So what gives? Sure, everyone loves a cute dog picture from time to time and of course every dog owner thinks the world needs to see pictures of their dog eating, sitting, sleeping, or recording a podcast. My non-stop Arwen posts probably got to be a little much, but in a time period of my life when I was feeling at my worst nothing made me happy like Arwen did and continues to do. That’s certainly nothing against my two cats (Tyler and Perry), mind you. They just don’t mug for the camera like Arwen does and they sadly don’t enjoy going with me everywhere I go. This year I went through a long, long period of having nothing that I cared to share on social networking. Publicly I kept as stoic an on-line presence as possible and found joy in sharing whatever Arwen was doing at the time that made me smile. If you follow me on social networking sites like Twitter or Instagram or Facebook then you know that I typically don’t post anything too personal or share any kind of negativity. I have a love/hate relationship with our modern era of social networking. On the plus side, it’s a fun way to keep people connected and given what I do for a career, it’s proven to be the absolute best possible way for me to maintain a strong relationship with the wonderful people in my growing fan base who truly make my days brighter with their all too kind personal messages to me. Especially given that those sites consist of short bursts of information whether it be a 140 character tweet or a simple Instagram image. I can’t post epic blogs/novels like this more than a couple times a year. If it weren’t for social networking I never would have seen such amazing things as “Goats Yelling Like Humans” – a YouTube clip that embarrassingly still makes me laugh (hard) even after the 100th time I’ve watched it. Never seen it?? Watch it here. But for all the good that it does, social networking can also drive me crazy with the negativity, the griping, the complaining, the misinformed opinions, and the need that some people have to express their thoughts on anything and everything, 50 times a day, as loudly as they can. For every incredibly important, insightful, intelligent, and life changing posting I see (“Goats Yelling Like Humans”) there are hundreds of postings crying for attention, making everyone else’s bad day even worse, or flooding people’s feeds minute by minute with someone’s every thought. But if I can post about an ArieScope on-line sale, information about my upcoming films, or sickeningly cute pictures of my dog… then of course everyone else on-line has the right to tell the world that they are stuck in traffic, that their coffee isn’t hot enough, that they don’t like Mondays, or that some other terrible tragedy has befallen them however undeservingly so. If you’ve ever looked at my feed when I am going through the unfortunate events that always seem to plague me when undergoing air travel, then you know that I too can be guilty of the very same thing. Hey, I’m not perfect either and I’m not picking on the individual people who do any of the things listed above that bother me. That’s what the “mute” or “unfollow” buttons are for and it’s nothing personal when I take advantage of those options. I’m just saying that I personally try my best to keep anything negative to myself and I choose not to contribute to or look at anything upsetting or unnecessarily distracting being thrown my way. So while I was undergoing my own personal crisis, mourning, and grief, Arwen became my go-to for… well… for everything. She has become my bona fide living security blanket and I rarely spend a minute without her. She comes to work with me every day, she’s on set, in my dressing room, in editing, at every podcast, at meetings, at every social gathering… she even has her own “desk” at ArieScope. Yeah, somehow I became that guy. The one who walks around with a small dog under his arm wherever he goes. As a barista at a well known coffee chain once said to me, “A dog like that belongs on a women’s arm.” Well, you’re probably right but fuck you. Dunkin Donuts is better anyway.
Arwen making the sun shine again. Who knew that all I needed was a bath?
I found myself explaining Arwen’s constant presence by telling people that “she gets separation anxiety when she’s not near me” but the truth is that I am the one who gets the separation anxiety. If you had told me back when I was growing up with Dobermans and Rottweilers as my family dogs that someday I’d be this attached and in love with a Yorkie, I wouldn’t have believed you. But then again I get insanely attached to any animal I come into contact with in just seconds. I once posted a blog all about how I’m kind of like “Snow White” and how injured animals come to me because they somehow seem to know that I’ll take care of them. Over the years, sick or injured squirrels, possum, birds, ducks, cats, and even chickens have all found their way to my doorstep or literally limped their way into the ArieScope office. I can’t even drive by road kill without it ruining my entire day. True story- I once went home from school crying in 6th grade after another kid stomped on my Sea Monkeys and killed them because “Sea Monkeys are gay.” I’d say that I hope that same guy is blowing dudes for meth behind a Lynn dumpster today… but I’m not bitter. (Plus, last I heard, that asshole wound up in even worse circumstances as he grew up so karma apparently already found him and fisted him hard.) Point is, if you’re not someone who has ever understood the incredible benefits of having a pet and if you’ve never experienced the unconditional love that comes with a dog or cat’s heart… you’re missing out. Maybe your circumstances are such that you can’t personally rescue one of the zillions of dogs or cats sitting in shelters all over the world praying for a person of their own to take them in before they get euthanized. Maybe you hear through a friend that they know of a dog who had a litter of puppies in need of good homes (that’s how Arwen happened) but you can’t personally do anything to help. I get it and I’m not trying to make you feel guilty for not owning a dog or cat of your own. In fact, better to NOT take an animal in if you’re not equipped to take care of it properly and as if it were your child. But if even just one person who reads this blog takes in a homeless dog or cat or donates just a dollar to a local animal shelter, this diatribe was worth it. The below photo was taken when I was at the peak of my grieving this year and lying on the HOLLISTON apartment set couch (which at the time was located inside the ArieScope office) and feeling like I was dying. Whenever I looked up, there was Arwen. Literally watching over me 24/7 and doing her part to take care of me when I needed help. I have no idea how I would have made it without her and she continues to be my rock every day. So yeah… I posted an obscene amount of pictures of Arwen this year and that’s why. She’s not just my family, my best friend, and my companion… she’s also my hero.
Arwen keeps a watchful vigil above me. April 2014.
I’ll close by coming back around to the most positive aspect and the most powerful lesson I learned in 2014, which is the good, the support, and the strength that I found in other people. I’m incredibly fortunate to come from a wonderful family and to have an unusually tight circle of friends that not everyone else is lucky enough to have, and I never take that for granted. It’s a phrase that gets thrown around a lot in movies and in songs but this year I saw firsthand that the whole “If I got a call in the middle of the night that you needed me, I’d be there” concept is absolutely no bullshit. As the poet Jon Bon Jovi sang, “Through the years and miles between us it’s been a long and lonely ride, but if I got that call in the dead of the night I’d be right by your side… blood on blood.” Some of my closest friends are still the people I grew up with. At this point, knowing some of these people for close to 4 decades, I am confident that no amount of time and no number of miles will ever change that. When shit was at its worst this year I reached out to the lifelong friends who live nearby (how lucky am I that some of my oldest friends also happen to live in or close to LA even though almost all of them thankfully have nothing to do with Hollywood?) and said “I know we haven’t hung out in awhile but… I need you.” and they were there in an instant despite having their own busy schedules with work and children at home to take care of. Another childhood friend even flew in from Colorado just to “make sure for herself” that I was really OK upon hearing that I was going through some heavy shit. Not a lot of people are as fortunate as I am to have friends that date all the way back to 1st grade. Friends who never judge, guilt, or hold it against me for being so busy, for not being able to hang out as often as I’d like, for going long stretches of time when they barely hear from me because I’m on back to back productions, or for pursuing such a nonsensical and inherently narcissistic career. They are still right by my side if needed, as if no time has passed at all, and they continue to cheer me on as loudly and as truly as they did way back in the day when I first said “I’m gonna be a filmmaker”. Since relocating here to LA 15 years ago I’ve also been blessed to have made friends with some equally incredible people who have not only become just as important to me as my childhood friends but who can also effortlessly integrate themselves among those same lifelong friends as if they too grew up in Holliston, MA and have always been part of the family. If it’s hard to comprehend why that’s such a big deal, try leaving a small Norman Rockwell town like Holliston behind and spend 15 years living in LA because your career aspirations dictate that you have to. Don’t get me wrong, there are more good people than bad here and you don’t have to look all that hard to find incredibly nice people to spend your time with. But having an abundance of friends that are “fun friends” and having friends that are truly “take a bullet for you” family are two very different things and I’m so, so lucky to have such incredible people from the latter category as part of my life. While I’ve always been aware of my good fortune, I’ve never truly appreciated just how lucky I actually am until I was faced with this past year. I guess that’s how it is supposed to work in theory though, right? Someone goes through some seriously heartbreaking shit and their family/friends drop everything and come running? Well, it was humbling to witness firsthand just how accurate that theory actually is. The point in all of this (and I swear I’m getting to the point) is not to write an open “thank you” letter to the family that carried me through the moments this year when I needed them most. Truth be told- my immediate family, childhood friends and “childhood friend equals” rarely read these blogs, or listen to my weekly podcast, or keep tabs on my daily Twitter feed because they’re just not into all of that stuff and, well, they already know whatever personal stuff I may be going through. Although, come to think of it that actually may not be true. Sometimes my mother knows what I’ve been up to before I call to tell her because she “saw it on Twitter” and she’ll probably read this whole blog (and then let me know whatever typos and grammatical errors I made)- so if you’re reading this blog… HI, MOM and please don’t ask me to explain what “fisting” is. All of those people that have been with me through my life and who have helped make me the person that I am or helped keep me grounded as time has gone on… they know how I feel about them and how much I need them. However, this year I saw not only how incredible my family and friends actually are but also just how amazing and important my fan base truly is to my life.
I could write on and on about how much it matters when my fans support my work, wait in a long line to meet me at an appearance, buy something from the ArieScope website to help us keep going, or take the time out of their own lives to tell me how much what I do actually means to them. A lot of people who do what I do have similar sentiments for the people that make their careers possible. (At least I should hope so.) But what I can’t put into accurate words is just how much I appreciate the way my fan base rallied behind me when my chips were down this year. It’s impossible to describe just how much the sincere love they bestowed upon me actually helped get me through it so I won’t even try to or cheapen how I feel with an attempt at explaining it. Instead I’ll just say THANK YOU. I heard you, I felt you, and I love you. Even more importantly… I needed you more than I ever realized. It’s absolutely no bullshit whenever you hear me boldly declare that my fan base is superior to all others. They are. It goes so far beyond just “[Insert movie title] is my favorite movie, man!” or “I have all of your posters on my wall, dude!” or “I love you, man!” There is a collective beating heart behind it all that runs way more personal and far deeper than that. And I know I didn’t earn it because I’m some prodigal filmmaker or God’s gift to the art of storytelling in cinema and television. I know that I’m far from the most talented individual making (or making up) their way through this industry. So what did I do to deserve this? Well, if there is a secret to be shared in any of it, I think it boils down to the fact that you attract back what you put out there and… me? I have continuously put myself out there in a major way since Day 1. My very first movie, the super indie $400 budget COFFEE & DONUTS made in 1999 (which due to rights issues will never be distributed but if you’ve seen HOLLISTON, trust that you’ve already seen the gist of C&D) was incredibly personal. I used my real life, my first major heartbreak, and my struggle to “make it” as the storyline and I played myself in the movie. A few years later it was HATCHET (my love letter to the old, fun slasher films that I grew up with) that first connected me to a very specific worldwide audience who just so happened to feel the same way I did about the state of the horror genre at the time. With HATCHET I was also extremely open about my experience making the film and my crew and I chronicled every step of the journey in daily on-line journals and with extensive DVD/BLU-RAY bonus features that made that same particular audience feel like they knew all of us personally. With FROZEN I shared many of my personal fears. And I’m not just talking about the obvious ones like my fear of heights, being forgotten, claustrophobia, or death. I’m talking about the real heart of the movie where the characters share their personal stories that are all directly taken from my real life. As strange and irreverent as it may be, HOLLISTON couldn’t possibly be more personal and the show’s success can be directly correlated to how its fans emotionally connect and identify with the characters. Every movie I’ve made has my real self in it in a major way. Even the short films I’ve made for fun over the past 17 years now… like the one about my very real problem using public restrooms (STAGEFRIGHT), or Joe Lynch and I portraying slightly more idiotic versions of ourselves trying to get to a horror film festival in London (THE ROAD TO FRIGHTFEST series), or the first time I went to Mike Mendez’s annual Christmas party and was unprepared and unaware that there would be a gift exchange (WINTER TALES “GIFTS”), or The Movie Crypt podcast and everything else in between… all I’ve ever been is myself. I know, I know…”How dare I?” I don’t have an answer to that, I guess I just dare to. ”Who does this guy think he is?” Well, given that I use my weaknesses, failures, heart breaks, shortcomings and personal flaws as subject matter… I’m not exactly sure how to answer that one either. I’m not doing anything that countless other story tellers don’t do, although in some cases I may literally put myself into my work which is not something that too many others do, I guess. But I’ve always shared myself in a way that’s a lot more open and honest than some may be comfortable with or understand. And to be clear, I don’t share details from my current personal day to day life as much as I share my past experiences and feelings. There is a difference between it all and hey, I need to have a private life, too. Point is, if I had to put my finger on the reason why I am so fortunate to have the kind of fans that I have… I think it’s because I receive back the heart that I am willing to share. It’s the difference between getting letters about why someone loves something I’ve made and requesting an autograph… and having someone write to you simply to tell you that they’re thinking of you because they know you are hurting or leaving a very sincere “chin up, dude” type posting on Facebook or a 4 page handwritten letter telling you what you mean to them. And fuck, does that mean the world to hear. For instance, last week I heard from a young fan of what I do that she would be listening to The Movie Crypt podcast over Christmas while undergoing and recovering from yet another (but hopefully FINAL) cancer treatment. A girl far too young to have to be facing that kind of ordeal, but she is. Bravely and head on. The same day I heard from several different individuals that were stationed overseas as part of their military duties who were watching my films, listening to the podcast, or enjoying the Holliston Christmas Special while they spent their holidays endless miles away from home. I hear from people on an all too regular basis who are struggling with even heavier burdens than I can comprehend. Though in an ideal world my wish would be that I would never receive messages like those simply because NO ONE should ever have to live through such things as life threatening illness, death, going to war, suicidal feelings, despair, depression, deeply personal loss, heartbreak, divorce, and far more… hearing directly from real people about how something I do is helping them through terrible hardships makes every painful struggle that I myself endure completely worth it. And I don’t just mean within my career. I’m also referring to things within my own personal life that I don’t often choose to share in any detail. Especially with HOLLISTON which is the one I hear about most when it comes to someone leaning on the show to heal, find inspiration, or to be able to laugh at their own hard times in order to keep going and get through whatever it may be they are facing… it reminds me just how worth it this difficult journey has been and how fortunate I am to be in the position that I am in. The door really does swing both ways. For all of my cheerleading and “never give up” bravado that I put out to whoever might be listening… the honest truth is that I want to give up and quit at least twice every single day. Those messages, postings, letters, tweets… they keep me going and remind me not just that what I do matters, but that I matter. Can a horror film, a candid podcast, or putting my real life on display in the form of a sit-com ever matter enough to change the world? Probably not. But it absolutely can matter enough to change an individual’s world in a positive way.
So to finally pull this novel all together… it was a shit year full of trials, tribulations, and hard times. But thanks to my wonderful family, my dearest of friends, my unbelievable fans, and the unconditional love of a Yorkshire Terrier… I’m still here, I’m still going strong, and I’m going to be alright. Although I may have never been happier to see a year come to an end, at the same time I am grateful for all the good that this same terrible year succeeded in showing me. I’m grateful for all that I actually have. And I’m eternally grateful for all of you. Tomorrow is a new year, a new day, and a new story to be told. In a few weeks, 2015 will kick off with the release of DIGGING UP THE MARROW which is fittingly my most personal film to date. The achievement will come with reactions ranging from praise… to criticism… to “thank you” letters from fans… to deeply personal attacks against me. So as I strap on a helmet and brace myself for whatever is heading my way that I brought upon myself simply by being me, I ask myself… is it worth it? FUCK YES. Not just because there is nothing else I know how to be or would ever want to be, but because you make it worth it.
And with that I put 2014 to bed once and for all and dream of a 2015 filled with happiness, success, love, and dinosaurs. Because dinosaurs are awesome.
2014. Adam and Arwen out.