Green's Blog

Surviving My Own Marrow

THE MARROW has been dug up, the tour is wrapped, the press interviews are complete, the public appearances have all taken place, the traveling is over, the DVD/BLU-RAY is out in stores, and the finish line has been crossed.  It was an exhausting and bittersweet road as even though DIGGING UP THE MARROW is already one of our best reviewed and most successful endeavors in our 17 years as ArieScope Pictures (so far), the journey with this particular film saw so much “real life” happen that by the time it came out it had already become a weird time capsule of my personal life that feels like more of a surreal fantasy to me than any of the outrageous monsters depicted on the screen.  As incredibly proud as I am of the movie and of our team of artists, I’m also incredibly happy to see the journey end.  Make no mistake, this film was one of the greatest movie making experiences I’ve ever had.  From conception to the shoot to post-production, there was never a single bad day in the entire process of making the movie and I had the chance to work with some of the greatest and most inspiring individuals I’ve ever been lucky enough to work with.   But when I made the bold decision to use my real life as the grounding point for this fantasy story, I never took into consideration my real life isn’t actually the slightest bit within my screenwriting control and that no amount of rewrites, re-edits, or re-shoots could have saved me from what real life was going to throw my way.  In real life… shit happens.  And real life is completely out of your hands.  So I wound up living through some pretty serious shit over the 4 years that it took to make and properly promote DIGGING UP THE MARROW.   A movie that, while I might be insanely proud of it, also happens to be a movie that tore my heart out at every screening and during every interview, night after night after night.  But before I get into all of that (because man is it A LOT), I wanted to quickly mention our new original on-line series that many of you have already been enjoying… SCARY SLEEPOVER.

AGSS 104 6Derek Mears let me sleep in his hockey mask from FRIDAY THE 13th 2009.

SCARY SLEEPOVER is an on-line series that has various genre celebrities and artists joining me for a childlike slumber party at the ArieScope studio.  While THE MOVIE CRYPT podcast is much more serious and “technical” with it’s lengthy 2 or 3 hour-long passionately honest discussions about the struggles of the entertainment business, SCARY SLEEPOVER is a much more light hearted short form video show that is all about having fun.  The show allows fans to be a fly on the wall during an intimate social setting that pulls back the public curtain on some of their favorite artists.  More interesting than the games played, the copious amounts of junk food devoured, the funny personal stories told, the severe ball busting (usually at my expense), and the often times ridiculous pajamas put on display is that at a certain point in each episode my guest opens up and reveals what it is that they are actually scared of in their real life.  No bravado, no ego, no tough horror icon persona bullshit.  The honest answers in each episode will very likely surprise you as much as they have surprised me.

kane still 2  Kane Hodder revealed his greatest personal fear in a very rare and serious moment.

Just like the various films, TV shows, and other projects I make, I always think like a fan first in terms of “what do I want to see.”  I’m so fortunate that I’ve found myself becoming such close friends with so many artists that I admire and even more fortunate that they are so willing to come and play with me when called upon, no matter how weird the idea might be that I’m proposing to them at the time.  One of the best things about our genre is that whether you are a filmmaker or a fan, you’re an equal and integral part of the community and an accepted member of our culture.  So whenever I can, I like to do things that let the fans inside and share a little piece of what I am so lucky to have.  SCARY SLEEPOVER is shot very much off the cuff and the conversations go wherever they happen to go.  Sean Becker (SLEEPOVER’s fantastic director and editor) is the one faced with the difficult and monumental task of cutting down these slumber parties into tight 15 or 20 minute episodes (and then cutting them down even further into a 10 minute long, censored version for our Youtube channel) and to say that he’s been doing a phenomenal job would be a massive understatement.  Once we shoot each sleepover, I stay out of editing until Sean shows me a cut of the episode that he’s happiest with.  That way he decides what conversations stay in as he shapes the individual structure of each episode.  This first season will have 12 guests/episodes and potentially one or two bonus episodes of “outtakes” (stories or moments that were cut for time), but don’t hold me to that just yet.  For now the show is free to watch and made with our own money as a treat for the fans that so loyally support us and our films, so enjoy it and please continue to spread the word.   We won’t be able to do it this way forever, but for now we’re just doing our thing and seeing where it all goes.  You can watch it on our new “Original On-Line Series” page here.

danielle color option_1Danielle Harris was unimpressed with my record collection.

Alright, so back into THE MARROW.  With this film we hit the road hard with press and appearances.  In fact I did more interviews and press days for this movie than I have for any other project before.  I warmed up with a small screening of the movie at USC here in LA where Will Barratt and I took part in an extended Q&A with the audience.  The very next night I was off to San Francisco for the first night of a cross country tour where Alex Pardee and I (along with Patrick, our tour assistant and mustached guardian angel from ZERO FRIENDS) managed to hit 5 cities in all parts of the country in the span of like 6 or 7 days.  Carrying a pop-up art exhibit, the “Chicken” monster, and tons of merchandise with us… we dragged our asses from coast to coast and back again.  The tour was ambitious to say the least but despite so many things going wrong (mainly weather related as we had the unfortunate luck of going through Boston and New York right when the East coast was getting hit with yet another round of this year’s many blizzards) we made it to every city and every screening on time.  It was sorta like (cancelled) planes, (cancelled) trains, and (last minute) automobiles.  Though it may have been a grueling, sleepless journey from San Francisco to Boston to New York to Austin to Los Angeles- every audience was bigger and better than the last and every single night was a huge success.   We signed and took pictures with fans for hours after each event and every city made us feel way beyond welcomed and loved.  The very next night after the LA premiere, MARROW hit VOD and began its theatrical run in North Hollywood where we showed up at the theater for two more nights of appearances.  A few days later the film expanded to 9 more cities and I was off to Chicago for an appearance and Q&A with the audience there.  (FYI, Chicago may have actually been the loudest audience of them all.  Just sayin’.)   I flew home for about 48 hours or so before heading back to Austin for an incredible 5 hour long MOVIE CRYPT “live” event that included a special recording of the podcast with Lynch and I plus a double feature of MARROW and Joe’s new film EVERLY.  Then I went straight to New Jersey for a 3-day appearance at MonsterMania (my first actual convention appearance in almost 2 years) where the fans were absolutely incredible.  My line was so long that I didn’t sit down, eat, or even have a chance to run to the bathroom for all 3 days of the convention… and I loved every minute of it.  Best of all, while I was at MonsterMania I was able to take part in an annual charity auction that the convention does to benefit a local Yorkie rescue shelter.   Together we set a new record with over $7,000.00 donated!  I auctioned myself off for a date and also auctioned off a screen used hatchet from HATCHET 2 for a combined total donation of $2,400.00 which definitely helped the cause.  This past Tuesday I did my final appearance in support of the film when the cast and crew did an in-store signing at Dark Delicacies bookstore in Burbank, CA.  It was a perfect night and such an awesome way to cross the proverbial finish line for this film.

IMG_5803 IMG_5804 IMG_5805The tour was so much fun… when we weren’t sleeping in random airports.

Today (Friday March 27th) Moviemaker Magazine will be running excerpts from the below piece that I wrote for them about my experience making and surviving DIGGING UP THE MARROW.  Typically their “How They Did It” series focuses a bit more on the technical side of things but as the process of making MARROW was such a long and personal one… my piece wound up being, well… long and personal.  (If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, would you expect anything less?)  Though I could have written about the multitude of different cameras that we used or written about how we created the monsters, there’s a commentary track on the DVD/BLU-RAY for all of that stuff and Greg Aronowitz’s spectacular 30 minute-long “Monsters of the Marrow” documentary (included in the special features) covers the creature effects way better than mere words ever could.  The more interesting story about “how I did it” lies in the unique personal experience I went through making and promoting the film.  If you are a regular reader of my blog or if you listen to THE MOVIE CRYPT religiously some of the stuff in this piece about how MARROW originated may be information you already know inside and out.  But as this piece was written for a publication who’s audience has presumably not heard any of it before, I was extremely thorough.  Making DIGGING UP THE MARROW was an absolutely awesome experience.  The wonderful reception and response to the film has completely blown away all of us who were involved in making it.  But for me personally, that success came with a painful price tag.  This is the story of not just “How I Did It” but “How I Survived It”…

moviemakerlogo444Excerpts from the below piece will run on MovieMaker’s website today (3/27), but what follows below is the entirety of what I wrote for their “How They Did It” series.

How I turned paintings into cinema, used my real life as a story device, and survived my own true horror story making DIGGING UP THE MARROW.   By Adam Green.

For 17 years now, my production company ArieScope Pictures has created original genre films like the three HATCHET movies, SPIRAL, GRACE, and CHILLERAMA as well as a popular cult television sit-com called HOLLISTON.   These titles have been warmly embraced by a loyal and passionate worldwide culture of horror fans that have blessed us through their support with the ability to pursue every filmmaker’s dream; to do things our own way and to work almost exclusively with a tight knit family that we have held together since the very beginning.  ArieScope’s very existence is due entirely to the fans that truly go out of their way to rally behind our work, who drive hours to see our films in the select theaters that play them, who spread the good word when we don’t have the luxury of marketing or advertising to do that for us, and who pay their hard earned money to buy our DVDs or Blu-Rays as well as the various T-shirts, posters, and other merchandise that we offer on our website with all of the proceeds going right back into keeping our independent studio’s lights on.   This incredibly creative fan base often mails in everything from artwork to sculptures to deeply personal handwritten letters about what they are going through and how something I did is helping them get through it in some small way.  It’s truly amazing.

In February of 2010 we returned from the triumphant world premiere of our film FROZEN at the Sundance Film Festival to find a package at the studio from a fan claiming that “Victor Crowley” (the villain from HATCHET) was actually real and that I had not explained his mythology correctly in my film.   It included photographs of various swamps in New Orleans with areas circled that the fan was claiming to be Crowley’s actual birth place or the locations of his various killing sprees.  While some filmmakers may have found this kind of fan mail disturbing, I could see that it was merely creative fan fiction and done out of love for the character.  So I said to my business partners Will Barratt and Cory Neal, “What if we grabbed some cameras and went to New Orleans to have this guy try and prove what he’s claiming?  Even if it only wound up being a short film, it could still be funny, right?”  As fun as the idea sounded, with HATCHET 2 just seven months away from release we didn’t want to do anything involving the Crowley character or the universe of HATCHET.  Even more so, we didn’t want to find out the hard way if the guy who had mailed the package was indeed actually insane.  But the concept of using ourselves as subject matter and building a docu-style story around real life cult filmmakers who receive a package from someone with an outrageous claim was intriguing to all of us.   The concept seemed like a fresh and fun way to mix reality with fantasy and make a monster movie as realistically as possible by using our real lives and the documentary approach as our way in.  We just didn’t have the right guy or the right monsters so we went back to the drawing board with the concept.  Literally.

Two weeks later I was doing a signing at a Fangoria convention here in Los Angeles when a guy came through my line and handed me a little 14 page pamphlet on which he had inscribed, “Thanks for all of the inspiration you’ve given me.”  I thought nothing of it and added it to the pile of random gifts, short films, and other oddities that people so generously hand me at such appearances.   Later that night I opened the pamphlet, titled “Digging Up The Marrow: Excerpts From The Journals of Detective William Dekker.”  5 minutes later there were a million light bulbs going off in my head and I was texting my partners at ArieScope saying “I’ve got it.  I have the reality/fantasy movie figured out!”  Turns out that the random guy who came through my line was none other than artist Alex Pardee, someone who’s artwork I already knew and loved but someone who I had never seen in person before.  Had I known what Alex looked like I probably would have geeked out on him when I met him, but he’s such a humble and understated person that he just handed me his pamphlet of artwork and walked away.

MarrowBookletThe actual pamphlet that Alex Pardee handed me back in 2010.

Whenever Alex does an art exhibit it is way more than mere paintings on a gallery wall.  He goes far deeper than that and provides a story and a context for what you are looking at.  His 2009 exhibit “Digging Up The Marrow” was about a former police detective named “William Dekker” who had supposedly discovered a world beneath our feet where monsters live.  In the context of the art exhibit, Dekker had gone missing and Alex had found his journals and taken it upon himself to paint the crazy creatures that Dekker described in his writings.  Of course it was all made up and not an ounce of it was real, but looking through the pages of Alex’s artwork my hands began to sweat and I was wide awake and pacing my bedroom floor trying to make sense of the ideas flooding my head.  What if “Dekker” had reached out to a real cult filmmaker in the hopes that the filmmaker would tell his story to the world?  Forget the HATCHET fan letter I had received two weeks earlier, what if “Dekker” had sent me his supposed evidence instead?  What if “Dekker” actually delivered on his claims and brought me face to face with “real” monsters?  What if these creatures looked exactly like Alex Pardee’s artwork?  By using ourselves as subject matter we would ground the story in a very real world and then slowly introduce monsters as realistically as possible.  Everyone who would appear in the film would do so as themselves.  Or would they? 

The next step was to meet with Alex and see if he was into this crazy manipulated half real-half fake documentary idea.  After all, how could he not be?  The seeds for it were already all there in his art exhibit.   While I may have had a story, the characters, and an idea for a unique style of movie, Alex was the one who had the right world and the right monsters.  Thankfully it was love at first meeting and we were off and running almost immediately.  I think I had a very first draft presented to the team within 3 months of that first meeting.  We decided right from the start that because of the weird “part real/part fiction” aspect to this film that we wouldn’t let anyone in on what we were doing too early.  In fact, we knew that the less people knew about it the better that it would play.  So in order to be able to stay under the radar but not exactly have to hide the fact that we were working on something, we announced the film as “a documentary about monster art.”  Note to other filmmakers: If you ever want to stay under the radar and not have the media asking for set visits or casting news or still photos… just throw down the words “art documentary” and watch how little they pay attention to what you are doing.  Not only did we not want to frustrate our friends in the genre press by not allowing them to have any information, set visits, casting news, stills, etc… we also knew that DIGGING UP THE MARROW was going to take a very long time to complete.  To put it into perspective, during the 4 years that we made this film, ArieScope also made two HATCHET sequels, two television seasons of HOLLISTON, and an anthology movie called CHILLERAMA.  MARROW was going to be a very long production.

MARROW script pageVery little of DIGGING UP THE MARROW was improvised.  In fact, almost everything seen on screen in the finished film was meticulously scripted.

The first step was to get started on building the monsters.  By enlisting sculptor Greg Aronowitz we knew we’d be in good hands and that the creatures would look exactly like Alex’s artwork.  Too often in film you see concept art get changed around completely in the fabrication process simply because certain things don’t make sense.  The beauty of Alex’s art is that it isn’t “correct.”  Skin, bone structure, weight distribution… nothing is where it should naturally be on a living organism.  We wanted to keep Alex’s art intact and create creatures that no one had ever seen before and Greg was more than up for the task.  After each sculpture was finished, the giant clay creatures went off to FX artist Robert Pendergraft and his team at Aunt Dolly’s Garage where they faced the monumental task of bringing these things to life on screen practically.  As Robert put it, he aged about 20 years of thought upon first seeing Greg’s sculptures.  Very few of these creatures would be able to be made through typical prosthetics on actors.  There is an exceptional 30 minute documentary called “Monsters of the Marrow” on the DVD and Blu-Ray release (buy it here) that goes super in depth on the technical side of how the film’s monsters were created using puppets, tracks, garage door springs, tubes, ropes and other methods.   Suffice to say, it was a massive undertaking but in the end we successfully brought Alex’s artwork to three-dimensional life.

HarlequinDesign4SampleAlex’s concept art for “Harlequin” became…

Harlequin3Greg’s sculpture for “Harlequin”, which Robert and his crew then made into…


While all of this was taking place we faced another hurdle; who to cast as “William Dekker.”  While I may be more than capable of playing myself (I’ve had 40 years of practice) and while we knew our monsters would work on screen when called upon, what about the most important character in the story?  Who would we cast as the eccentric and mysterious enigma of a man who sends me his fantastical story?  For weeks we debated the pros and cons of casting an unknown actor versus hiring a recognizable character actor that most everyone would know upon first sight.  It was one of the most difficult choices in making the film but one that we made by carefully thinking many, many steps ahead to the eventual screenings and the release.  The problem with a concept like this is that we knew that with the documentary approach and everyone appearing as themselves that the majority of audiences would have their beliefs suspended almost too much.  We felt as if viewers may start to think that what they were watching was in fact real.  However, right at the end of the first act (the 30 minute mark of the film) when the first monster revealed itself, they would be thrown for a loop and start declaring “hoax!”  We had seen other films attempt this and suffer that unfortunate fate where the entire experience became about whether or not the film was in fact real or fake.   It would eventually become a huge pitfall for the film’s overall playability if we tried to pass “Dekker” off as real.  After all, at the end of the day we were making a monster movie and a scripted narrative feature.  It just so happens to be told in a highly unconventional way.

IMG_35272Enter Ray Wise.  Our pitch perfect “William Dekker.” 

Right around the time that we had collectively made up our minds that we would find a great, recognizable character actor to play “Dekker” I just so happened to get a phone call from Ray Wise.  Ray had acted in one of the segments of our anthology film CHILLERAMA… but not my segment.  We had never worked together before and after seeing my offering in CHILLERAMA (“The Diary Of Anne Frankenstein”) and even more recently watching a film I had co-directed with Joel David Moore called SPIRAL, Ray wanted to change that.  I have always been a huge fan of Ray’s.  He is an icon.  He’s been in some of the biggest films and television shows of all time.  I was thrilled to hear his voice on the other end of the line but even more than that, I was incredibly impressed.  Ray Wise works more consistently than most actors in Hollywood.  He doesn’t need to be pounding the pavement for jobs.  Jobs find him.   Yet there he was cold calling me?  It was fate.  Ray Wise had to be “William Dekker” and I wouldn’t accept anyone else.   We met for lunch at Mucho Mas in Burbank, I showed him Alex’s pamphlet, explained the odd reality/fantasy concept of what we were doing, and he said yes instantly.  Thankfully his excitement only deepened upon reading my script that same night.

IMG_2582The shoot itself was a director’s dream come true.

Though certain parts of the film had already been shot long before Ray came on board, it was mainly testimonial scenes from various artists discussing monsters and why they choose to believe in them or scenes of Will Barratt and I traveling to meet with “Dekker.”  The real meat of MARROW was shot over the summer of 2013, mainly in our real homes, the ArieScope studio, or out in the woods in Santa Clarita where we had created the cemetery set that would serve as the home to “Dekker’s” supposed entrance into the Marrow.  The shoot was one of the greatest times of my life.  As a director I had absolute creative control, as a producer I had the dream team of artists around me giving their crucial two cents, as an actor I was working opposite the great Ray Wise, and as a fan… I was hunting for monsters.  It’s important for any actor to believe in whatever part it is that they are playing, and man did I believe.  It was my greatest fantasy come to life, searching for monsters out in the woods late at night and actually coming face to face with a few.  Especially since our creatures were all practical and looked just as amazing up close as they did on camera.  Of course there were some visual effects added in post, but only enough to compliment what was already there in the “flesh.”   By August of that same summer we were well into editing.

JoshEditingEditor Josh Ethier hard at work.

This was where I first started to get cold feet on the entire concept of the film.  Though the “reality” aspect of MARROW was precisely what made the idea exciting to us… when it is your reality you can’t help but become overly sensitive to it.  Even though every single creative decision had been debated at length and even though we had all played devil’s advocate to every choice, I couldn’t help but begin to fear the obvious.  “They’re gonna say that the film is self indulgent.”  “It is one big advertisement for ArieScope, constantly seeing their studio, their crew T-shirts, their movie posters, etc.”  You name the possible personal attack, I was already saying it out loud in the edit bay.  Thankfully I have surrounded myself with honest people who have no fear in speaking up.  Our editor Josh Ethier was one of the most important voices in this process as he remained completely objective and constantly kept my fears in check by simply asking me “If this had been a fictional cult filmmaker, what information would need to be in the story to make that character three dimensional and believable?”  “If this story had been about a fake filmmaker who made fake movies at a fake studio with fake actors and who had fake fans who sent him fake fan mail… what would you keep in this cut?”   It not only helped, but it prevented me from potentially ruining my own movie simply to save myself from the obvious criticism that would be coming my way.  However, as with any film, you need to throw it out to the wolves and test it before you can even consider locking picture.

One by one, various filmmakers were invited to ArieScope, told absolutely nothing about what they were about to watch (remember, everyone thought we had been making an art documentary in our spare time), and we would press play.  As always, I received some fantastic opinions that helped us pick up the film’s pace and fix a few issues that we were too close to see by that point.  Note to other filmmakers: If you’re going to ask someone to give you their time and watch your film it should be because you respect their opinion, not because you’re fishing for praise.  Listen to what they say and even more importantly, try out their suggestions afterwards whether you instantly agree with them or not.  If you only want to hear how great your film is, don’t bother screening it for opinions.  Just show your mother.

JoelMARROWJoel David Moore, his girlfriend Ellen Monohan, and HOLLISTON’s Axl were among the first to screen MARROW for opinions and notes.  (NOTE: I was more terrified than they were.) 

Of course one filmmaker who’s opinion we all greatly respect had the note that we feared most.  “You’re biggest mistake was casting Ray Wise.  As brilliant as he is in this, the second I saw him I knew it wasn’t real.  You should have cast an unknown.”  I calmly replied, “So about 11 minutes later when the first monster showed up… you were still going to think this movie was actually real?”  His response?  “Oh.  Yeah.  You’re right.  Nah, Ray is perfect.  Great choice!”  But we weren’t ready to lock picture just yet.  The ultimate trial by fire isn’t showing filmmakers as even they can be too close to the process themselves to truly be objective.  We needed to show a real audience and I wanted to show the most opinionated audience that I could find.  I wanted to take the film to The Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, the home of Fantastic Fest and some of the most outspoken fans and brutally honest critics on the planet.  There simply is no audience like a Drafthouse audience.  I sent a screener to Harry Knowles of AIN’T IT COOL NEWS who’s annual 24-hour film festival Buttnumbathon was only a few short weeks away.  I trusted that if he didn’t like it that he wouldn’t go and post a negative review before the film was even finished.  I knew that he’d just tell me he didn’t like it and why.  But if he liked it enough just maybe DIGGING UP THE MARROW could test at Buttnumbathon.  Yeah, I’m kind of a masochist.  The next day Harry called.  “Can I play MAROW at Buttnumbathon, Adam?”  Masochism achievement unlocked.

bnat__span_hugeThe prestigious and world famous Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX.

Alex Pardee and I flew to Austin and settled into our seats for the long 24 hour cinematic haul.  The beauty of BNAT is not just that only Harry knows the secret line-up he’s going to play but that the unsuspecting audience is one of the most hardcore and discriminating audiences on the planet.  Like I told Alex, “If our movie survives this we can lock picture tomorrow and finish it.  If not… we’re kinda fucked.”  The films began to play.  The first ever screening of THE WOLF OF WALL STREET.  The first ever screening of THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG.  THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY (in glorious 70mm).  POPEYE.  Yeah, we were sweating pretty bad by the time 6am rolled around and our weird little movie started.  Not only was this not an audience comprised entirely of horror fans or of people who would necessarily be excited to see the latest “Adam Green joint”… they were also exhausted and falling asleep.  I feared the worst as Harry invited Alex and I up to introduce it.  We didn’t say much at all as we wanted the audience to see the film as cold as possible, but I did explain that the film was not yet finished.  That there were still no visual effects.  That the sound and score were temp.  That there was still no color correction and what they would be seeing were merely the dailies.  With that I asked for only one favor.  “Feel free to say if you liked or if you didn’t, but please don’t post anything publicly that says exactly what it is or review the film beat by beat and ruin what we’ve been keeping secret for so long.”  One thing you have to love about Texas… they take pride in sticking to their word.  Not a single person in that audience spoiled the film on-line or betrayed our trust.  Save for one exceptionally negative reaction posted on-line pretty much everything else was positive and even better, the film played like gangbusters.  Laughs, screams, jumps, and best of all… the discussions outside before the next film started were filled with people sharing their theories about the character of “Dekker” and the world of “the Marrow.”  They were creatively stimulated.  They were using their imaginations and believing in monsters again.  It was everything we could have hoped for and more.  We were picture locked.

PicturelockedAlex and I celebrate being picture locked. December 2013.

Then, about 3 months into the finishing process and right as the film was approaching absolute completion… my entire life fell apart and the very reality I used for my film became a disaster.

FullSizeRenderMarch 23, 2014

Dave Brockie passed away suddenly on March 23, 2014.  Most knew Dave as “Oderus Urungus”, the lead singer of the heavy metal band GWAR and my character’s imaginary alien friend on my TV series HOLLISTON.   But I knew Dave as one of my best friends.  I loved him dearly.  And there he is in the first five minutes of DIGGING UP THE MARROW, proudly wearing his “Oderus” get up backstage at San Diego Comic Con and declaring to the camera “I am a monster, I’ve always been a monster, and after I’m dead I’ll be a dead monster!”  I was devastated.  I wanted his scene cut out of the movie immediately.  I couldn’t look at it.  But the team around me carefully and compassionately talked me down off of the ledge.  Not because of the massive financial costs that suddenly changing the edit would hit us with but because they knew I was making the choice for my own personal comfort and not for the good of the film.  What finally made me see the light was when someone said, “I know that it’s hard for you to hear Dave say that, but why would you rob his fans of seeing the last thing he said on camera?  Especially when it was so fitting to his sense of humor that his last recorded appearance is him joking about his own demise?”  They were right.  Had I taken it out of the film it would have been completely personal and no one would have been more disappointed in me for acting so selfishly than Dave himself.  So I left the scene in, knowing all too well that it was going to be a kick in the balls at every screening I’d eventually have to endure.

3 weeks after Dave died my wife and I got divorced.  And while she may only appear in DIGGING UP THE MARROW for a total of 4 minutes or so and while the scenes were fully scripted just like the rest of the film, they are scenes that show us at home together.  Throughout the movie my “character” refers to “my wife.”  There is a shot of us kissing and a scene of us sleeping next to each other in bed.  I wanted to cut it all out of the film but once again the team around me talked me out of re-cutting the film only to address my own feelings.  “Those scenes are in there for exposition and story.  If you cut them out just because they’re painful for you to watch, then what happens to the story?  What about all of the times in the film that you mention your wife at home?  What about the final scene of the film?  Don’t ruin the movie just to make it easier for you.  It isn’t for you anymore.  It’s for the audience.”  And again… I listened and I stood down.

I don’t need to burden you with the “woe is me” details, but like any human being I took the divorce extremely hard. I was completely heart broken and it took me almost 5 months to get healthy and back on my feet and before I could begin admitting it to anyone outside of the small handful of friends who helped me through the worst of it.   At Dave’s public memorial that August I was describing what a terrible year it had been for me and I slipped and dropped the word “divorce” while delivering his eulogy to a crowd full of 4,000 GWAR and HOLLISTON fans.  Word was out and now I was going to have to deal with the court of public opinion, the gossip, and the questions or comments about it from my own fans.  I just wasn’t ready yet.  But as DIGGING UP THE MARROW was only 1 week away from world premiering at Fright Fest in London anyway, I had to get ready for what was coming.  I couldn’t hide from it forever.  I finally acknowledged the divorce on my weekly podcast THE MOVIE CRYPT that week and sincerely asked people to simply leave the subject alone.  I said that it had happened a long while back and that there was nothing to discuss or talk about.  I wore my heart on my sleeve and requested that people move on from it and refrain from tweeting me their condolences or asking me about it because I just couldn’t take it.  And with that I headed off to London for the world premiere of DIGGING UP THE MARROW.  My super personal movie that used my real life as subject matter and that just so happened to include scenes involving my now dead friend and my now ex-wife.  Put yourself in my shoes.  Yeah.

I doubt I can ever explain what the release of this film has been like for me.  A four year process that yielded both the most rewarding creative process I’ve ever experienced and one that also has become a bittersweet time capsule of my life that now feels more like a work of fiction than the actual reality it so boldly shows.  I’ve been asked about Dave or the divorce in almost every interview I have done about the movie, on several carpets that I’ve walked for it, and several times at every autograph signing or appearance I’ve done in support of the film.  These wounds took far too long to begin healing because at every step I was asked to open them up again, whether I wanted to or not.  I’ve toured with THE MARROW and relived the worst pain of my life night after night all while simultaneously being rewarded with laughs, cheers, screams, and louder applause than I’ve ever heard for one of my films before.  The response has been far beyond anything we ever could have hoped for and only one week into release the option of doing a sequel already looks like more than a sincere reality.  It’s surreal.  But this is MovieMaker Magazine and not People Magazine, so does all of this personal stuff really matter?  Do I really need to admit all of this heartache as part of “How I Did It?”  Well… yeah.  Because that’s how I did it.

TearsPress Day #2.  Though journalists had every right to ask me about my deceased friend or my ex-wife since both are featured in the film, despite my ability to sound happy to be doing the interviews… on the other end of the phone line I was miserable.  

As filmmakers and storytellers we all wear our hearts on our sleeves.  Perhaps not every filmmaker will choose to put themselves so fully out there in their work like I do, but we all put our hearts on the line with every project in one way or another.   With MARROW, my heart just happens to be sitting out there naked and shivering for the whole world to see all because I made the “exciting and bold” choice to use my real life as the basis for a fantasy story.  Fuck me.

I share all of this so honestly not to discourage anyone else from attempting to do what I did, but to instead encourage you. Try something different like this.  Take your real life heartbreak and own it.  Use it to empower you, not to disenchant you.  Because when all is said and done, if you don’t put your entire soul into every frame of every story that you tell, then you shouldn’t be making movies in the first place.  Just be prepared to bleed a little for the things you love.  Be prepared to bleed for cinema.  It’s a wonderful thing.

IMG_5288Healthy and strong again at the triumphant Los Angeles premiere. 

In the end, when I went digging up the “Marrow” I found way more than just fantastical monsters.  During this long experience I found the love again for what it is that I do with my life.  I learned to believe in the impossible again.  I learned to think outside the box again.  I learned that nothing can stop me unless I let it.  I learned that I truly do work with the greatest people on the planet.  I learned how to create, to imagine, and to love as honestly and fearlessly as a child again.  All because I allowed a pamphlet of artwork to inspire me and take me to dark and wonderful places.  All because I didn’t quit when my life went to shit and when promoting this film became unbearably hard on a personal level.  I hope that when you go digging up your own “Marrow” that you come out with the same perspective that this amazing journey has given me.  Try something different.  Make something that doesn’t make sense.  Take risks, fall down, and get hurt a bunch on the way.  You’ll heal and it will be OK.  In the end you just might find yourself holding the best thing you’ve ever created in your very hands because it is within your own pain that the stories worth telling actually exist.

Oh, and that one exceptionally negative reaction from Buttnumbathon that I mentioned earlier?  It said that my film was “criminally self indulgent” and that “Adam Green sure is in the Adam Green business.” You’re damn fucking right and there’s no business I’d rather be in.   I don’t make movies for the paychecks or for the fame or for the glory.  I don’t make them for critics.  I make them for an audience that has learned to expect nothing less than for me to always put my entire heart and soul into each and every project I commit to.  Being me is all I can be and all I ever will be.  That’s what makes my movies my movies.  My willingness to dig deep and expose my true self is exactly what makes each one of my films worth watching.

So keep digging up your own “Marrow”.  There’s nothing to be afraid of.  Trust me.  I’ve been down there and I lived to tell about it.  You will, too.

Marrow holeDown in my “Marrow” hole …and back again.

-Adam Green  (March 2015)