Green’s Blog

SOMETIMES IT’S ALL WORTH IT

IMG_4283

WE DID IT!

This past weekend (August 5th – 7th), Joe Lynch and I performed a 48-hour live marathon of our popular podcast “The Movie Crypt” to benefit SAVE A YORKIE RESCUE; a small, fully charity based, volunteer-run dog rescue that takes in abandoned Yorkshire Terriers (many of which have been severely abused or neglected), fosters them, provides them with direly needed medical care, and ultimately places them in permanent, loving homes with forever families.  The broadcast went for 48 hours straight and included everything from celebrity interviews, film commentaries, live script readings of never before heard/seen material, musical performances, comedy performances, and so much more.   When all was said and done we raised just about $13,480.00 for the Rescue!  (The final amount will likely be a little closer to $14,000 as donations continue to trickle in but at the time of this blog post it’s $13,480.  When we signed off it was at $13,380 – thus the photo above.  Point is – it was a major success!)  In the 14 years that SAVE A YORKIE RESCUE has existed, this is by far the most money an event has ever raised for them.  EVER.  Joe and I were secretly hoping for $10,000 to be raised – but we wound up beating that amount which was an incredible feeling.  However, before I get into the weekend re-cap… just a couple of things to address:

1.) Why do all of this for a rescue that specifically works with Yorkshire Terriers when there are thousands of other dog rescues out there that work with all breeds?  That answer is simple.   There are a zillion charities out there for every cause you can possibly think of but the reality is that we could only chose one charity to do this event for.  We chose SAVE A YORKIE RESCUE because A) I had worked with them once before and I already knew very well exactly who they are and what amazing work they do… B) Our podcast’s mascot and the face of our show for the past 3 years has been my own Yorkie Arwen… and C) SAVE A YORKIE RESCUE is a small organization that desperately needs help.    Joe, myself, and our families have always owned rescued dogs of ALL breeds and while it would have been nice to be able to help every person or animal who needs help- in the end we had to pick just one specific organization to do this for.  I had first gotten the chance to work with SAYR when I participated in an auction to benefit the Rescue that was held at the Monster Mania convention in 2015 organized by a wonderful man named David Hagan.  I auctioned myself off for a date, matched the price I went for, and also auctioned off a screen-used prop from HATCHET 2.  Together we raised about $7,000 for the Rescue which (until this past weekend’s “Movie Crypt” benefit event) was the most money a single event had ever raised for them.  Getting to meet Marilyn Faughner (who heads the rescue) and meet several other volunteers/foster parents as well as a handful of the Yorkies they were rescuing was the highlight of that convention appearance for me and I’ve kept them and what they do on my mind ever since.  When Joe and I first started talking about the idea of doing a charity marathon live podcast it was shortly after I had returned from Monster Mania – so we very quickly settled on doing this event in honor of SAYR as it was kind of a no-brainer.  Besides, Arwen’s vote count’s for 1/3rd of all decisions we make with the podcast – even though we have yet to honor her request of bringing Lassie, Benji, Snoopy, or Brian from FAMILY GUY on the show yet.  Although, we did reach out to Old Yeller around Christmas time last year.  (He was tragically unavailable.)

2.) Where did the money go and how much did you guys get from it?  Every dollar went directly to SAVE A YORKIE RESCUE and we didn’t make a penny on it.  In fact, we spent a lot of our own money putting this event on.  We used our own resources, we provided food and drinks for all of our guests, and we even made donations to the Rescue ourselves just like we were asking our listeners to do.  Sadly, even when you try and do something good there’s always some bitter person out there ready to try and accuse you of somehow profiting off of it because, after all, how could another human being possibly be that generous when they themselves are not?  That’s why we had the Rescue set up the donation site on YouCaring.com themselves.  All donations went directly to them and we never even had to touch it.  Several artists even held their own auctions where the money made off of their work was donated to the Rescue (THANK YOU, GUYS!)- but to protect ourselves from being accused of making something off of the event we had each artist hold auctions on their own and then make the donations themselves through YouCaring.com.  If you were listening to the broadcast you likely heard when Bill Moseley (bless his soul) handed me a fifty dollar bill for the organization.  I instantly made a $55 (I added $5 for the YouCaring donation site) donation live on the air and added that it was from “Bill Moseley” in the comment section next to it.  You can look through the donations there and see it.  Point is- this was all for charity and all done out of love.

3.) “The Movie Crypt” averages at least half a million listeners or more each week.  Didn’t you expect the final total raised to be even more than it was?  Here’s the reality: you can’t expect everyone to give.  You just can’t.  By comparison, millions and millions of people would watch the annual Jerry Lewis telethons every year and enjoy the wonderful entertainment that Mr. Lewis and his team would put on… but only a few thousand in that audience would actually pick up the phone and donate.  It’s charity and you can’t expect or demand your audience to give money.  They have their own reasons for how they operate and all you can do is be grateful for the ones that were able to help.  With “The Movie Crypt”, a huge portion of our audience listens to the weekly podcast on iTunes or other streaming services that (for technical reasons) the live 48-hour broadcast was not carried on.  In fact, most of our audience is not used to listening to us directly on the GeekNation website so we always knew that there was no way that our entire regular audience was going to tune in for this.  But we were overjoyed by just how many did!  When it comes to the donations, please keep in mind that while our show may have a very large weekly following only a tiny percent of our audience has ever donated to the program to help us keep it going (the “Tip Jar” or the “Feed Arwen A Treat” option here on ArieScope.com).  Most of our regular listeners do not even support our various films when they come out by paying to see them legally.  Some listeners even make it a point to let us know that they pirate/torrent/steal our work – as you’ve likely heard us get into debates about on the show in the past.  This is just the society we live in today.  So are Joe and I disappointed that only about 400 of the tens of thousands of people listening this weekend actually donated to the Rescue?  Honestly?  Kind of, yeah.  I mean, can you imagine if every regular listener had listened and donated even just $5??  But given our experiences dealing with the public when it comes to donating to our program or with our audience paying to see our films legally… our expectations were extremely realistic with this event and we had therefore set $10,000 as our personal goal for when all was said and done.  Again, it’s charity and everyone has their own reasons for whether they give or not.  Some simply can’t.  Some simply don’t want to.  Some already give all that they can to another charity that they work with.  You can’t focus on those who didn’t give, you can only be extremely grateful for those who did.  And MAN are we grateful!!!!  SO GRATEFUL!!!  This was the very first time we had attempted something like this.  For all of the hard work, technical hurdles, scheduling complexities, and other limitations… we still can’t believe how well it worked and Joe and I are just as ecstatic as the Rescue is with what we ultimately raised!  So to those fans who have posted comments aimed at those who didn’t give anything- I ask you, please don’t focus on that.  Focus on this:  Not only did we all have an incredible time (performers and listeners alike) but because of this event there are now dogs out there who were suffering in unimaginable ways just last week but who this week will be able to get the medical attention they need, medicine to relieve their pain, operations to save their eyesight, and/or procedures to save their legs.  So many dogs are now going to have good food, fresh water, warm beds, and loving foster families who will be able to take care of them and love them until they can place them with their permanent families in their forever homes.  These unfortunate dogs no longer need to suffer, to feel un-loved, or to live in fear of the “person” who was supposed to take care of them but who instead abused, neglected, or abandoned them.  TOGETHER WE MADE A LIFE-CHANGING DIFFERENCE TO SO MANY ANIMALS AND TO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE SO GENEROUSLY GIVING EVERYTHING OF THEMSELVES TO HELP THEM.  Isn’t that wonderful??  I certainly think so.

With that business out of the way, let’s re-cap and celebrate just what an incredible weekend we had!   The event began with a phone conversation with Marilyn Faughner from SAVE A YORKIE RESCUE who spoke about how the Rescue began, what they actually do, and how they’ve saved the lives over 3,000 dogs to date.  Then we kicked things off with a visit from our good friends Seth Green (FAMILY GUY, AUSTIN POWERS) and Clare Grant (WALK THE LINE, HOLIDAYS) – who are the very people that brought “Arwen” into my life in the first place.  We laughed, we talked comics, we talked geek culture, we talked about their cats, and we talked about just why having a pet in your life can change everything for the better.

IMG_4186

After that, our friend (and patron Saint) Rudy Sarzo (bass player for such acts as OZZY OSBOURNE, QUIET RIOT, WHITESNAKE, and more – plus a best-selling author with his autobiography OFF THE RAILS) came by to join and inspire us.

IMG_4190

Then we were joined by comedians Kelly Vrooman (THE CHICA SHOW) and Lauren Pritchard (MAD TV) who made us laugh with their unique brand of improv comedy and songs that they made-up and sang for us on the spot.

IMG_4193

Actor/comedian Jonah Ray (MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER, HIDDEN AMERICA) joined us as Friday night turned into Saturday morning and we even played the first of two HADDONFIELD songs that we would play over the course of the weekend.  (HADDONFIELD was my band before my movie/TV career took off and since so many fans had been asking to hear it we added an incentive where we would play a song once we hit $3,000 in donations and then another once we hit $5,000.)  The response to the first song we played (“Broken”) was far beyond what I ever would have expected and I was severely humbled by all of the kind messages and the love that the song received.  ”Among The Dogs” (the second song) received an equal amount of love and it seriously made my night!

IMG_4195

Next up was a live reading of my never before seen/heard un-produced 2004 screenplay for CABIN FEVER 2 performed by myself, Joe, Sarah Elbert, Sean Becker, Paul Romero, Lauren Lbylski, Matt Monroe, Channing McKindra, and Amelia Brantley.  This event was extremely nerve-wracking for me given the behind the scenes political producer fiasco that had happened with CABIN FEVER 2 (check out our friend Ti West’s episode of the podcast to hear the whole story for why my script was never made) and 12 years later I was nervous about how it would go over.  Furthermore, I had never even met some of the actors who performed the roles until that very moment!  I had met actress Channing McKindra and actor Paul Romero on the set of an upcoming top-secret TV project that we shot a few weeks ago and when Paul heard Joe and I discussing the Yorkie Benefit he graciously offered to ask some of his actor friends to help us with the 2am reading.  (Trust me, it’s not easy asking people to come in at 2am!)  Every single one of them rocked the reading and the response from fans was just incredible!  You can only imagine my relief when it was over (around 4am) and I started reading messages from listeners saying just how much they enjoyed it.  Best of all, we made some new (and very talented) actor friends to keep in mind down the road!  We loved them ALL.

After that, make-up FX artist Robert Pendergraft (HATCHET 1-3, DIGGING UP THE MARROW) joined us for a demonstration on how to create prosthetic molds from scratch and how to make your very own fake blood.  We also broadcast this segment on GeekNation’s Facebook video feed so that fans could watch along and learn.  There was much ball-busting and Robert even brought Joe and I some McDonald’s to help refuel us as night turned into day and the sun came up in the sky outside. (Note: big mistake eating that, but do any of us ever really learn?)

Up next we had our first of two “ArieScope Princess Story-Time Readings” as adorable ArieScope intern Casey Hempel read best-selling author Joe Hill’s short story “Last Breath” which Hill had generously allowed us to read on the air as part of the benefit.  Casey did a phenomenal job reading the story and hearing a scary story read in Casey’s “Disney Princess” voice only made it all the more fun!  Think it’s easy to read 24 pages out loud in front of thousands of people and not make a ton of mistakes?  Try it sometime!  Casey did an incredible job.

IMG_4210

When story-time was finished, musician and actor Brendon Small (METALOCALYPSE, HOME MOVIES) shared his career story with us which was fascinating to say the least.

IMG_4213

Things really turned up a notch when musician/writer/jack-of-all-trades Jesse Snider (BAPTIZED BY FIRE, solo artist) and guitarist Ira Black (METAL CHURCH, WESTFIELD MASSACRE) blew us away with musical performances of Jesse’s song “Juggernaut” (“The Movie Crypt’s” theme song) and a cover of “Rooster” by ALICE IN CHAINS that would please even Layne Staley himself.  It just may have been one of the greatest performances of the entire weekend but there’s more to it that you DIDN’T see/hear!  You may have heard Jesse mention on-air that his wife Patty was expecting to give birth to their 4th child “any minute now” and… on Sunday while we were in the middle of our commentary for THE DEVIL’S REJECTS Jesse sent me a cell phone video FROM HIS CAR where Parker Pride Snider had just been born (right there in the car while stuck in traffic in on the 405!) as they were driving Patty to the hospital to give birth!!  INCREDIBLE!!!  Yes, a baby was born during the broadcast event this weekend and Parker Pride Snider and family are all healthy and doing incredibly well!  Honestly, Jesse’s performance on the program was just SO good that Parker couldn’t wait to join us in this world.  Insane.

IMG_4219

Comedian/actor/director Dave Anthony (MARON, VEEP, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT) joined us after that and gave us an extremely funny and incredibly insightful 2 hour interview that we will very likely be releasing as its own episode down the road.  ”Argh!  I’m a pirate!”  (You had to be there.)

IMG_9407

In the most moving segment of the weekend broadcast, clairvoyant Marilyn Kapp sat down with us and an unexpected but incredibly awesome special guest (Joe’s father who passed away almost 7 years ago) joined us along with our dearly departed friend Dave Brockie (GWAR, HOLLISTON who passed away in 2014) who had a heartfelt message for the fans.  Again… you had to be there to believe it.  But tears were shed both in the ArieScope studio and in thousands of the homes around the world that were listening to this wonderful interview.  (Kicking yourself for missing it?  A) You should be and B) I told you so for weeks leading up to this!  Marilyn Kapp is legit!)

IMG_4226

After our emotional visit with “the other side”, writer/director Bernard Rose joined us for a truly awesome CANDYMAN commentary in which we were (almost) speechless as he enlightened us with all kinds of stories and information about the making of the film.  (We’ll likely release this commentary again someday – it was that good.)  When Bernard left, actor Michael Gladis (MAD MEN, FEED THE BEAST) gave us a heartfelt 2 hour interview about his career that included terrific advice on how to not only handle but use career disappointments that are beyond your control in a positive way.  (Again… you might be hearing this interview as its own episode someday down the road as we feel it’s an important one for every listener to hear and Michael had never done the program before this event.)

We billed it as our “centerpiece event” and it definitely lived up to that label in spades as our GOONIES live reading was nothing short of spectacular.  Writer Chris Columbus gave us permission to read his never-before seen/heard early (and very different) version of his iconic screenplay and we assembled an incredible cast to read the script live and let “Goonies” all over the world hear a version of the story that would eventually become one of the most beloved films of all time.  Joined by Parry Shen (HATCHET 1-3, GENERAL HOSPITAL), Felicia Day (THE GUILD, SUPERNATURAL), Jonay Ray (again!), Joel David Moore (AVATAR, HATCHET), Deon Richmond (HATCHET, NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE), Michael Gladis (again!), Felissa Rose (SLEEPAWAY CAMP), Deanna Rooney (HIDDEN AMERICA), Joe, myself, and our incredible narrator Nicholas Mennell (FRIDAY THE 13th 2009, HALLOWEEN 2007)… the reading was an insanely fun time.  Listeners were massively entertained by everyone’s wonderful performances and by just how different the early draft actually was from the final shooting script.  (No, this will not be re-broadcast.  You had to be there.)  Huge shout-out to Felissa Rose who stole the show with her interpretation of “Mama Fratelli” and had us all on the floor laughing!  Actress Anne Ramsey (may she rest in peace) would be so, so proud!

IMG_4254

Musician Jason C. Miller (GODHEAD, solo artist) played us some truly amazing songs after that and we were sad to see him go as we could have listened to him sing forever!

IMG_4252

Up next it was time for laughs (and laughs, and laughs, and laughs) as THE RESISTANCE improv group (including podcast favorite Derek Mears and the hilarious Kurt Scholler, Ryan Marsico, Justin Michael Terry, and Jason Murphy) improvised a hilarious Sci-Fi movie on the mics before our eyes and ears.  Again… you had to be there!

IMG_4257

Our good friends directors Dave Parker (THE HILLS RUN RED) and Spooky Dan (the upcoming SLAY BELLS) dropped by to discuss the horror movies that made our childhood’s awesome (and to bring us donuts and soda!) before guitarist Ace Von Johnson (FASTER PUSSYCAT) joined us for an interview and a terrific musical performance where I joined him on singing the classic PUSSYCAT ballad “House Of Pain.”

ArieScope’s own Sarah Elbert (HATCHET 1-3, HOLLISTON) helped us usher in the sunrise with super fun tarot card readings for Joe, myself, Ace, and even Arwen!  Then Hitfix editor in chief and screenwriter Drew McWeeny (MASTERS OF HORROR, FEAR ITSELF) joined Joe and I for a geek-tastic commentary to John Carpenter’s THE THING – that yes, one day we will release as its own commentary episode for sure.  Props to Drew’s girlfriend Lisa who sent us some of the best brownies that we’ve ever tasted!  The sugar rush helped us keep going and the commentary was an absolute blast.

For our second “ArieScope Princess Story-Time Reading”, Casey Hempel read Clive Barker’s SCAPE GOATS- a disturbing story made extra awesome by Casey’s innocent and chipper voice and she once again absolutely killed it!  THANK YOU to Clive Barker who so generously gave us permission to read this wonderful story from BOOKS OF BLOOD Vol 3!

Writer Todd Farmer (JASON X, DRIVE ANGRY) joined us next.  Todd’s episode of “The Movie Crypt” is still one of the audience’s favorites almost 3 years later and his interview on the live broadcast was another one for the books that received tons of incredible feedback from listeners.  His daughter Izzie even drew Joe and I an awesome picture to say “thanks” for what we were doing to save dogs:

IMG_4227

Up next was a commentary for FRIGHT NIGHT (1985) with legendary master of horror, writer/director Tom Holland.  Tom shared so many incredible stories that Joe and I had never heard before about the making of one of our favorite movies and his insight on the business (then and now) was priceless.  He was amazing!  Right as Tom left, filmmaker Darren Lynn Bousman (SAW 2-4, REPO! THE GENETIC ROCK OPERA) and writer Clint Sears (TALES OF HALLOWEEN) joined us to discuss filming in Japan and their upcoming Japanese series CROW’S BLOOD.  As always, Bousman pulled no punches and the conversation was incredibly honest, compelling, and insightful.  Darren’s episode of “The Movie Crypt” is one that we consider a turning point for the podcast and the moment where it became the show that it is today.  His interview during the live marathon was once again one of the best.

For our final commentary of the weekend, genre icons Sid Haig and Bill Moseley joined us to discuss the making of THE DEVIL’S REJECTS.  They were both incredible and full of information (Sid did a great job continuing to speak even as Arwen smothered him with dog kisses the entire time as apparently Sid Haig tastes great!) and this is yet another must-hear entry in our “Movie Crypt” commentary series thanks to the artists’ terrific insight coupled with the unbridled love of the film that Joe and I share.  Perhaps we’ll release as its own episode someday.

IMG_4263

So what do you do for a grand finale in a weekend this unreal?  I’d like to think that we found a way- and judging by the overwhelming fan response it looks like we did.  We finished with a live reading of a new episode of HOLLISTON (from the upcoming 3rd season) performed by the cast.  Joe and I were joined by our cast mates Laura Ortiz, Corri English, and Paul Solet while director Sean Becker read the narration/exposition.  (Sadly, Dee Snider was in Germany performing with TWISTED SISTER or else he would have been there with us.)  The reading was extra special as it marked the first time that our cast has performed an actual new full-episode together since the tragedies of 2014 when we lost our dear brother Dave Brockie.  As I stated in the days leading up to it, no- this reading will not be rebroadcast.  It was meant to be something special to raise money for the Yorkie Rescue (and boy, did it- as we received more donations during the HOLLISTON reading than any other event of the weekend!) and we don’t want to spoil an episode for too many fans this far in advance.  So if you were listening- you heard it.  If you missed it – you’ll just have to keep waiting until you eventually get to SEE it.  (And like I said on the broadcast- for those fans who heard it… shhh!  Don’t spoil anything on-line as the episode we chose to read revealed answers to several cliff-hangers from the end of Season 2!)

IMG_4266

We ended with a final phone call to Marilyn Faughner who expressed her deep and heartfelt appreciation to us, to our guests, and to everyone who donated and made this the biggest and greatest fundraiser that SAVE A YORKIE RESCUE has ever had.

As exhausted as we all were- in a weird way it was very emotional to stop the broadcast and acknowledge to ourselves that it was over.  A year in the making, 3 months of incredibly hard work in the planning, and 48 hours of fun, laughs, tears, and NO-SLEEP… Joe and I were simply overwhelmed by the end.  The best way I can describe it is like the end of SCHINDLER’S LIST where Oskar Schindler is sobbing and saying “I could have saved more… if I had made more money… I could have saved more.”  Yes, we were delirious from lack of sleep and all of the energy we had put out over the weekend, but no matter how much we had raised it was never going to feel like it was enough.  We were both a wreck by that point.

Now that we’ve had a chance sleep (a little) we’re both just… thankful.  Thankful of everyone who donated.  Thankful of every artist who appeared on the show.  Thankful of everyone at GeekNation who helped us pull this event off (especially our engineer Ryan Plume who was here in person almost the entire time).  Thankful of Fireback Movies who sponsored the event (and who’s ap is one that we both personally love and play often – download it today).  Thankful of ArieScope’s interns Casey Hempel and Austin Bosley who stayed with us around the clock and who helped us out so, so much.  Thankful that there are people out there like SAVE A YORKIE RESCUE who have dedicated their lives to helping these wonderful dogs in need.  Thankful for each other.  And of course… thankful for “Arwen” who is truly the one who inspired all of this.

If you listen to the podcast then you know all about “The Steven Tyler Congratulations” that we always close with each week.  If you know the story then you can only imagine what this tweet from Mr. Tyler meant to us…

FullSizeRender

I mean… wow.

To everyone who listened and donated- you have my eternal appreciation, love, and respect.  Perhaps you listened but didn’t donate for whatever reason… don’t worry, I still love you, too.  Most of all- to the dozens of artists who took the time to come and share their voices and talents with us… it’s moments like these that make all of this career’s hard times and bullshit worth it.  Together we did something really, really good.  We stayed awake all weekend and we got through it!  It was hard work- but tonight there are a whole bunch of beautiful dogs sleeping peacefully, safe, un-afraid, and dreaming of the forever family that’s just around the corner somewhere… waiting to love them.  And trust me, those dogs are going to give that love back in ways that those people can’t even imagine yet.

Let’s do it again next year, OK?  Until then, remember… sometimes it’s all truly worth it.  And to my dear Arwen… you carried me and saved me when I needed it most. This was all for you.

IMG_4204

-Adam Green

LEARNING TO FLY: The 2015 “Year End” Blog

With the tour and release of DIGGING UP THE MARROW, the long awaited announcement of Season 3 of HOLLISTON, 52 more weeks of MOVIE CRYPT podcasts, the release of our 17th annual Halloween short film MONSTER PROBLEMS, turning ArieScope.com into its own little network of sorts with the launch of three new weekly original series (SCARY SLEEPOVER, 20 SECONDS TO LIVE, and HORRIFIED), two heaping handfuls of appearances, and of course all of the upcoming projects that I’ve already been working on but can’t disclose just yet… 2015 set a new record as my busiest and most productive year yet.  Now that I’m stopping to catch my breath and reflect, I don’t even know how it all happened within a mere 365 days.  Unless you’re brand new to this corner of the internet by now you know that my annual “Year End” blogs are nothing short of novels… so pack yourself a week’s worth of lunches, get as comfortable as you can, make sure your will is up to date, and find someone to walk your dog for you over the next couple of weeks while you read this.  (And yes, believe it or not these annual “Year End” blogs are actually way longer before I edit them down and post them.)  I’ll still try my best to not keep you here reading until March.  After all, I’ve got 2016 to tackle and so much of next year already started for me months ago… so let’s get on with it, shall we?  It’s time for…

YearEndARWEN

When I first sat down to start writing this I started to read some of last year’s “Year End” blog but quit after the first two paragraphs.  2014 was filled with so much grief and heartbreak in my personal life that I just had no desire to re-live it all by reading the words I had shared.  The important thing is that I’m so very grateful to say that I survived the storm and that things indeed continue to get better every day.  (Kind of the theme of this year’s blog as you’ll see when it all wraps up.)  I learned early on in my career that one of the greatest gifts in all of this is that I can affect other people’s lives in an extremely positive way simply by sharing my own experiences openly and honestly.  Somewhere out there in the world there were many other people who were going through their own somewhat similar experiences and I was moved by just how many took the time to write to me and say “thank you” and let me know how my vulnerability helped them not feel so alone through their own dark time.  Thankfully, 2015 was night and day from 2014.  So since there is so little bad stuff to discuss, let’s get the bad news out of the way first.

I SAID GOODBYE…

While there are still the occasional bad days in the aftershocks of 2014′s more life changing events (more on that later), save for the usual amounts of Hollywood bullshit (like the massive amounts of wasted months on projects that I found out all too late in the game never actually had their funding) and the many artists that the world lost in 2015 (Wes Craven, Melissa Mathison, and most recently Lemmy just to name a few)… the only personal heartbreaking event of 2015 was the death of my cat Perry.

PerryGreenBLOGPerry Green at 4 weeks old.

Perry was the first real friend I made after moving to LA and I adopted her and her brother Tyler when they were just 4 weeks old.  Back in 2003 I was still struggling to get by from day to day and doing every odd job I could find that would make it possible to eat and stay alive.  One of those jobs was working as the DJ at the Rainbow Bar & Grill on Sunset Blvd.  I loved that job, I loved the cast of characters that I worked with there, and I had a ton of great nights hidden away in the little crawl space they call a “DJ booth” watching diehard 80′s glam rockers dance to the songs I would play while I feverishly worked on my screenplay for HATCHET.  (Side note: the Rainbow hung a HATCHET theatrical poster in the restaurant.  If you ever go there, you can find it hanging in the hallway that leads from the main restaurant bar to the outside patio and kitchen.)  One night I was telling a friend/co-worker about my cat Axl who was mentally disabled and who had passed away in 2000.  (Side note: Axl would go on to be immortalized as the beloved mechanical cat “Axl” in HOLLISTON.)  Not even a week later, that same friend told me that legendary radio DJ and Rainbow regular Art Laboe had a litter of stray cats born in his backyard and he was trying to find good homes for them.  (Yes, I somehow got Art Laboe’s cats.)  That year, Art got a star on the Hollywood “Walk of Fame” and I got Tyler and Perry.  I’d like to think that we both won.

litter boxPerry and Tyler on the day they first came home in 2003.

Named after Steven Tyler and Joe Perry (I’ve seen AEROSMITH 36 times at the time of this writing), they truly embodied the personalities of their namesakes.  Tyler has always been outspoken and wonderfully obnoxious in the best way possible while Perry was always much more reserved, shy, and carefully selective with her love.  Perry never did anything wrong.  Not once.  Never got in the way, never ate something she shouldn’t have, never tore anything up (even as a kitten), never once missed the litter box, never fought with Tyler or Arwen… she was as perfect a cat as one could ever hope for.  Sweet, loyal, and so, so caring- Perry had a way of knowing when I was feeling hopeless and knowing how to listen, how to understand, and how to make everything better simply by just being there.  To sum up Perry in one quick story… she had a little toy hamster that I would sometimes stuff with cat nip.  It was her “baby” and (especially when she was younger) she slept with it, carried it around, and loved it as if it was her own baby.  One night I got word that the very same friend who had brought Perry, Tyler, and I together in the first place had fallen into a sad Hollywood cliche.  You’ve all seen the POSION video for “Fallen Angel” – small town girl moves to LA to become an actress and winds up getting involved in a bad scene- it was basically that story in a nutshell.  When I spoke up and tried to intervene I was written off as harshly and definitively as possible.  That night I was laying on my bed, utterly devastated that I couldn’t be the hero I wanted to be and somehow “save” this friend who now hated me for trying to help. (Side note: it would be another decade or more before I learned how to shed my own terribly misguided hero complex.)  I was heartbroken and feeling like a failure on every level.  As I lay there crying my heart out, Perry climbed onto the bed and gently placed her “baby” on my chest.  Not because she wanted to play and not because she wanted more cat nip in it.  She just wanted me to have it because she thought it would comfort me like it comforted her.  That was Perry.  That was always Perry.

DSC_0005Good girl.   (6.28.03 – 11.26.15)

Perry passed away on Thanksgiving night.  Her kidneys failed and she ultimately went to sleep forever while on her 4th day of dialysis at the vet’s office.  She was only 12 years old, which for a lifelong indoor house cat who lived like a queen (seriously how many cats do you know that get their own bedroom?) was not very old at all and still just doesn’t seem fair. I wasn’t there with her when she passed away, and while I know there was no conceivable way for me to have been there given the circumstances, the fact that she died alone while in the one place she was most terrified of in life continues to haunt me.  Perhaps she spared me the pain of having to make the terrible decision to put her to sleep?  Perhaps she saved me from having to hold her while the vet gave her that final shot?  Or maybe shit just happens and that’s the way life goes?  But with the loss of Perry, my family got a little bit smaller yet again.  It sucks something awful, but looking at the positive side, Perry truly had the best life a cat could ever have and she made my life better for the 12 years that we had together, especially during the hard times when I needed her most.  She felt no pain and she passed away in her sleep naturally.  She may be gone, but she was generous enough to leave behind every ounce of her unconditional love… and of course her cherished “baby” which I now keep in my nightstand.

I DUG UP MONSTERS…

2015 started off on an extremely high note with the release and accompanying US tour for DIGGING UP THE MARROW.  In earlier blogs I’ve detailed so much about the making of the movie and the events/hurdles of that difficult tour (that just so happened to take place during the worst of 2015′s winter blizzards on the East coast) so I won’t take up too much space rehashing all of that again here.  Instead I’ll just say THANK YOU to everyone who watched and supported the movie.  The response to MARROW was overwhelming and way beyond even our loftiest of hopes for it.

Marrowpremiereclips

For a movie with such a strange concept and with such a weird presentation (documentary style using a mix of reality and fantasy with almost every single “character” in the story appearing as “themselves”) we really had no idea what audiences would think about it.  As much as I love just how warmly people embraced the movie, it’s the imaginative theories that fans continue to post and send to us regarding the world of “the Marrow” that consistently make my day.  To say too much more on that front could spoil the movie for anyone who has not yet watched it, but the fact that DIGGING UP THE MARROW has so many fans using their own creative imaginations is the most rewarding achievement any story teller could hope for.  And I mean that so very sincerely.  Thank you for always being willing to go with me on each journey, for truly supporting our work so that my crew and I can take risks and make more of the things we care so deeply about, and for being open minded enough to let me play in whatever worlds I dream up as opposed to keeping me in just one box doing the same things over and over.  MARROW was certainly a weird project, but it was one of the very best creative experiences I’ve ever had.  And you made that possible by always accepting my new offerings with open arms… even when I don’t even tell you what the project really is until right when it comes out.  (If you recall, for the 4 years we worked on making MARROW all we told the public was that we were “making a documentary exploring monster art” just to keep all eyes from looking too closely at what we were up to or prying for information.)  I especially, especially want to say thank you to those of you who saw the movie early on – whether it was the unfinished version that we screened at Buttnumbathon in Austin two Christmases ago or the world premiere at Frightfest in London a full 6 months before the first ever official public screening of the film in its proper release.  You were all kind enough to not spoil a single thing about DIGGING UP THE MARROW in your initial reactions, generous reviews, and other extremely kind on-line praise.  The fact that you showed just how considerate you are of other movie fans and that you really cared that they should get the same experience that you had in knowing as little about the movie as possible when going into it… that was just so wonderful to see.  Seriously, you guys are alright in my book so I’d like to keep you around… hmmm, maybe forever if that’s OK with you?  I say it so much that it has become passé but it is true.  My fans are the best in existence.  But more on that later…

BlossomHeadFinalSheetOriginal concept art by artist Alex Pardee- my genius partner in MARROW crime.

To say that I love Alex Pardee would be a massive understatement.  I don’t just love Alex as an artist, friend, and collaborator… he’s also one of my favorite human beings in this universe and someone who came into my life at the most perfect time.  I am a more fearless and open minded filmmaker because of Alex.  In fact, I’d say that my very soul actually expanded ten-fold over the 4 years that we worked so closely together on this project.  Creating alongside Alex was nothing short of a gift and there is absolutely nothing that would ever come in the way of us working together again some day.  He was a true partner in every aspect of MARROW and his voice is equally as prevalent on screen as my own in the finished film. The entire core group of creative minds that made MARROW has become legendary in the 17 years that ArieScope has been making movies so far.  Just focusing on the creature creation and practical FX side alone… the team of Alex (the designer), Greg Aronowitz (the sculptor), Robert Pendergraft (the fabricator) and the whole team of artists at Aunt Dolly’s Garage who worked so hard to bring the monsters of “the Marrow” to life… it was one of those perfect working experiences that you dream of getting to have when you first start making movies.  DIGGING UP THE MARROW was further proof that it’s the people that you work alongside that make all of this worth doing.  I’ve become a better storyteller just by knowing these wonderful friends and you certainly haven’t seen the last of this team’s collaboration.

MarrowAUDIENCEblog

I know that MARROW fans are anxiously waiting for word of a sequel.  We would of course love to continue our journey into this fascinating underground world like we had always hoped to.   We’ll see what the future holds for that world but in the meantime, if you enjoyed MARROW on any of the various VOD or streaming outlets that you watched it on, please consider buying it on DVD or Blu-Ray as that greatly improves the chances of us getting to make another one.  Not to mention, the special features included on the DVD and Blu-Ray are worth the price alone.  You can buy your very own autographed copy here.

I PANICKED…

There’s an earlier blog from March that recaps and features photos from the DIGGING UP THE MARROW tour appearances (San Francisco, Boston, New York, Austin, Los Angeles, New Jersey, and Chicago) but this Fall I was able to do a few additional appearances in Denver, in Worcester, and three more right here at home in LA.  However, a new hurdle that unexpectedly arrived in my life this past year was the occasional panic attack.  Mainly on airplanes.  Kind of the worst possible thing to have come into your life when you have to travel constantly for your career.  I have no idea where it came from or why it started happening though I would expect it’s just part of the aftershocks of 2014 and that it will hopefully subside with time.  (At least I seriously hope so because if not it’s kind of like one giant cruel joke.)  My first major panic attack happened on a flight back east early last Spring.  I’ve spent the past decade flying all over the world doing festivals, premieres, conventions, and other appearances in support of my various films- all without incident save for the typical things that suck about travel.  This was just another flight and something that’s become as familiar to me as driving at this point.  I mean, I’ve never enjoyed a flight in my life- but I’ve always been able to just suck it up and get through it.  However, right before take off that day I randomly started feeling claustrophobic and within 5 minutes I was covered in sweat, shaking, and struggling to swallow and breathe.  It started with a random memory of something that quickly escalated into a flood of anxiety ridden and painful memories.  Kind of like when you click on a website and suddenly find yourself pummeled with dozens of pop up ads that take over your computer screen with boxes and boxes of shit that you don’t want to look at.  And as fast as you try and click off each one of those annoying ads, ten more pop up until finally your computer just can’t handle it and shuts down. The woman sitting next to me that morning saw that something was wrong and that I was struggling to breathe.  She called for a flight attendant to help me get off the plane while there was still time before the cabin door was closed.  As my uncanny “Adam Green luck” would have it though… a young woman seated just 4 rows behind me started convulsing and having seizures because she was overdosing on some sort of drugs right at the same very moment.  (I mean… really??)   So the passengers on the plane were all put into lockdown and no one was allowed to move until medical assistance could finish removing this unfortunate woman from the plane which took about 20 minutes total.  It was horrible just sitting there trying to breathe one breath at a time, but I dry swallowed some medicine that my doctor had given me years ago for flying and by the time the flight was actually ready to leave I was out cold.  The panic attacks have unexpectedly reared their ugly head(s) a few more times since then but it’s always completely random and usually on a flight.  One time it was even on a flight to Vegas- which is a super easy and fast 45 minute flight from LA.  It made no sense.  After discussing this problem openly on the podcast I’ve heard from a TON of people who also suffer from panic attacks and who know exactly what I’m talking about and just how frightening and crippling they actually are when they happen.  I guess I had thought that I had suffered a panic attack before and that it was just feeling overwhelmed and stressed… but no.  This is something far, far different.  It honestly feels like you’re having a heart attack and as if you’re going to die.  While I’ll continue to deal with it and while I expect that eventually this bullshit will subside… to say that I now hate flying even more so than ever before doesn’t even come close to expressing just how much I truly fear getting on a plane.  Why am I admitting all of this?  I guess so that you’ll understand that when I’m asked to come speak somewhere, appear at a convention, or do a screening… it’s far more than just an inconvenience.  Just getting there can literally be torture and my own personal hell.  I wouldn’t wish this shit on anyone and my heart goes out to everyone else out there who has to deal with this on an even more frequent basis than I do.  All I ask is that you please don’t take it personally or hold it against me if I can’t make it to the convention of your choice.  There’s just a lot more to it.  All that being said, in 2015 I still managed to make it to a bunch of appearances and every single one of them was extremely memorable…

IMG_8513I ran into an old friend at Mile High Horror Fest in Colorado in October.

I REMEMBERED WHY I DO WHAT I DO…

Mile High Horror Festival marked my first ever appearance in Colorado, which after a decade of conventions, screenings, and appearances all over the world was long overdue.  The festival screened HATCHET and HATCHET 2 on 35mm and Kane Hodder and I were on hand to provide two long, incredibly in-depth, and personal Q&A’s with the audiences after each screening.  While the fans there were among some of the most passionate and gracious I’ve had the honor of meeting, the timing of those particular screenings couldn’t have been more poignant in my own life.  To back up just a little bit, the great Wes Craven had passed away only a few weeks before the festival and it was a crushing blow to all of us within the horror community, fans and filmmakers alike.  You can listen to the full Wes Craven tribute that Lynch and I did on THE MOVIE CRYPT here, but needless to say, Wes was a hero and one of the most kind and supportive idols a young filmmaker could ever hope to meet.  From always being so kind to me, to always reminding me that what I was contributing to the genre was important, to being among the very first of my friends to contact me on his own and donate personal items for my Boston Strong fundraiser where I helped raise 15K for the victims of the marathon bombing tragedy… Wes Craven was a wonderful, wonderful man.  You can hear about all of that stuff and just how Wes affected my life in our podcast’s heartfelt tribute special where about a dozen other filmmakers who knew or worked with Wes joined Joe and I in paying our deepest respects to the man, but to save you an extra 2 hours I’ll just get right to how the devastating loss of the brilliant Craven tied into my Colorado experience.

AdamWesA candid (and blurry) moment with Wes during a 2010 Masters Dinner.

When the news first broke that Wes had left us, sorrowful phone calls and incredibly sad text messages started flying back and forth between most all of us who work within the genre.  It’s just the way it goes that sometimes it takes a tragedy to motivate people to pick up the phone and come together.  For many of us “younger filmmakers” (shit, do we even still qualify as “younger” anymore?) the general feeling we were consumed by was one of… well, “What the hell have we done so far that even matters?  We’re supposed to be carrying the torch… but are we?”   Sure, the entire industry has changed since the 70′s/80′s/90′s and we’re currently emerging from a period where remakes were some of the only things that could possibly get made with any kind of real studio budget or marketing support.  You can’t even compare the way movies get made and released these days to the way things worked back then.  Still… you look at your own contributions to the genre and by comparison to someone like Wes… sometimes it all just feels like garbage even with all business and budget disclaimers put aside.  In speaking with the “older guys” that were Wes’ contemporaries (at least in age group) they sternly put that feeling into proper perspective.  Though my generation is standing in the enormous shadows of artists like Wes Craven, John Carpenter, or John Landis (just to name a few because the list of true “masters” could go on and on and on), the generation before ours was standing in the shadows of giants like Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and Orson Welles (again- just to name a few).  It’s all relative.  Still… it’s impossible to ever think of something that you created as holding a candle to the films that came before your moment in the director’s chair.  So to be blunt, while I was in the midst of feeling like I had failed Wes (my own misguided sentiments, certainly not his) the very last thing I personally felt like doing was going to a festival where I would be celebrating the first two HATCHET films.  However, much like when I screened all three HATCHET movies together for the first time at that Boston Strong fundraiser… watching those movies with an audience filled with diehard fans once again made me see what THEY see when they watch my films.  Almost every filmmaker will tell you that the very last movie they ever want to watch is one of their own, and while that is still very much the case (you won’t ever see me reaching for an “Adam Green film” to throw on and watch at home), the communal theatrical experience is a completely different event.  The applause, the cheers, the smiles, the laughter, the love, the excitement, and especially hearing fans say their favorite lines along with the films… it reminds you that something you made truly means something incredibly special to the people that you made it for in the first place.

IMG_8515With FINAL DESTINATION’s Jeffrey Reddick and HATCHET’s Kane Hodder at Mile High.  (10/3)

So I flew home from Colorado not just having had an incredible experience meeting yet another awesome chapter of the Hatchet Army but also reminded that “Victor Crowley” is loved way more than I realize a decade and two sequels later.  Almost fittingly, that same week the official “Victor Crowley Halloween Mask” hit retail outlets.  It’s no joke just how much the fans’ enthusiasm can influence your spirit and how the fans can teach you so much about yourself just by being them.  Mile High was a fantastic and much needed experience and I’m so grateful to have been invited to be part of the festival this year.  While I was there at Mile High I also hosted the Q&A for TALES OF HALLOWEEN with my good friend, director Neil Marshall…

I DID HALLOWEEN RIGHT…

Back in Los Angeles I did three more appearances in support of TALES OF HALLOWEEN, a terrific anthology film made by 11 of my filmmaker friends and including more actors and crew friends than I can begin to name.  (I play the role of “Officer Carlo” in three of the film’s segments.)  I hosted the film’s panel at SCARE LA, I hosted the LA premiere/opening night of SCREAMFEST, and I also took part in the movie’s poster signing at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, CA.

tales-of-halloween-poster  TALES OF HALLOWEEN hit theaters and VOD on 10/16.

Though I’m clearly biased seeing as how I’m friends with every artist involved with the movie both on screen and behind the scenes, I really, really love this movie and I think that you will, too.  Though I was originally asked to contribute a segment for the anthology, unfortunately I was unavailable during the time the film was in production.  Thankfully however, I did still get a chance to be involved with TALES OF HALLOWEEN when Neil Marshall cast me as a police officer in his segment.  Since the anthology is all set on one night in the same town, two other shorts requiring police officers in their segments were also kind enough to cast me, too.  I was grateful that I didn’t have to miss out on the fun entirely and it was an incredibly cool project to work on- especially when I was merely an actor and not responsible for any of the stressful aspects that go into actually making a film.

Arwen autograph signingArwen joined me for her very first autograph signing when we took part in the TALES OF HALLOWEEN poster signing at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, CA.   (10/10)

TALES OF HALLOWEEN is a blast and I’m so, so proud of my friends for what they achieved with each of their individual and unique contributions.  I expect the film to become an annual Halloween holiday go-to for many horror fans, right up there with the classics like John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN, Mike Dougherty’s TRICK R TREAT, and even IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN CHARLIE BROWN.  I’m not saying that you can possibly even compare any of those films to each other… but I truly believe that you’ll enjoy watching TALES OF HALLOWEEN every year when the holy month of October rolls around.  I know I certainly will.

I MADE PEOPLE LAUGH…

The very next week I was off to my hometown of Boston where I did my 4th appearance at my favorite US convention- Rock And Shock in Worcester, MA.  (Sure, I’m biased given that Rock And Shock takes place a mere 40 minutes from where I grew up in Holliston, MA- but it really is an amazing experience every single time.)  As I explained above, I don’t do very many conventions.  Typically I’ll only do them if/when they fall in line with the promotion of an upcoming NEW release of mine that I am supporting.  It’s not that I don’t like doing them or that I don’t cherish every single opportunity that I can get to meet fans face to face and shake their hands.  Believe me, if you think that you’re excited to meet me- I’m ten times more excited to meet you.  You’re who I work for.  You’re who I create for.  You’re who I am thinking of during every minute of every project that I do- whether I’m asleep or awake.  You’re the one who gives me life and who makes it possible for me to chase this seemingly impossible dream of being a storyteller.  All of the free stuff I do- the short films, the various original series, the podcast, responding to fan’s messages personally on social networking… I enjoy doing it because I feed off of how much I know that you appreciate it.  If you’ve ever seen one of my panels at a convention then you know I typically plan/write an entire performance so that you get the most out of my time on stage as opposed to the typical Q&A where artists just sit there answering questions just like every other panel you’ll see that weekend.

F904B4C7-E4A3-4873-9D06-85175F859D80Standing room only for “Adam & Derek’s Wicked Boss Panel Thing” at Rock And Shock. (10/17)

In my 10 years doing the convention circuit so far I’ve done everything from video presentations to spoken word sessions, to live readings, to hosting “roasts”, to stand-up comedy sets.  When the cast of HOLLISTON does appearances together we do live readings from scripts that I’ll write specifically for that particular convention and we’ll even involve the fans as our guest stars or hide celebrities within the audience who will take the stage with us at select moments.  We’ve even held “mock auditions” for our fans and given them the chance to come up on stage and play the role of their favorite character on the show while reading opposite from one of us.  This year at Rock And Shock, Derek Mears and I surprised fans with a full hour of improv comedy.  We began by doing a Q&A as each other where I answered Derek’s questions as “Derek” and Derek answered my questions as “Adam and (fake) Arwen”.

E991FFEA-C7C1-4CEE-A64C-2CA9D92184C9“Derek Mears”, “Fake Arwen” and “Adam Green.”  Worcester, MA (10/17)

After our brief “Q&A” we did a demonstration on what NOT to do as a fan at a convention and in turn, we let the fans air their grievances from any bad celebrity encounters they’ve had in the past.  Derek and I acted out the scenarios that the fans provided us with and illustrated what NOT to do as an appearing celebrity at a convention.  I’d say “you had to be there” to appreciate it, but thankfully, my friend Ron Cabucio captured the show on camera.  So set aside an hour (perhaps in late Spring when you finish reading this blog) and click the image below to watch what you missed.  It might not be nearly the same as having actually been there, but hey… it’s something.

rock_and_shock_logo PANEL blog

So why put all of that extra work into it?  Well, having been on both sides of the “table” at conventions as both a fan and as an appearing guest, I believe that fans deserve more.  After all, we’re performers.  So why not PERFORM?  Of course logistics dictate that a full-on performance is not always possible or appropriate, but you can always count on the fact that I’m gonna take the stage and try my damnedest to give you everything that I can possibly give you in the time that I have.  I take my convention panels very seriously and I try hard to make every moment of your time count.  Sometimes it isn’t about putting on a comedy show and it’s all about spilling my guts as honestly and openly as I can.  You never know what you’re gonna get, but I assure you that you’re always going to get something more than just a standard Q&A.

9B300433-B04C-4447-BCB8-A87F712B20A5Fans in Worcester, MA showered me with some amazing, creative, and personal gifts. 

I SHARED AN UNFORGETTABLE MOMENT WITH GEORGE…

But the best was still yet to come at Rock And Shock as just a few hours later I took the stage with the legendary George A. Romero to host his panel and close out Saturday’s main stage events.  With all of the smart phones in the air recording the event I’m sure that at some point the Romero panel itself (or portions of it) will be on YouTube, but for me the most memorable moment actually happened as George and I were exiting the stage.  I’ve known George for ten years but never before have I had the chance to sit and discuss filmmaking with him on a peer to peer level.  I was so honored when I was asked to host his panel, but in my mind I was merely going to moderate/interview George and then field fans’ questions for him.  You can’t imagine just how many times I pee’d a little whenever George (“the Godfather of Modern Horror”) would address me as a fellow filmmaker or include both of our bodies of work as examples to the audience.  The smile on my face was so big that it fell into the laps of the first 3 rows of the audience.  Yes, I fanboyed out with absolutely no shame.  I just couldn’t control it or keep my cool.

GeorgePaying my respects to the Master himself, George A. Romero.  (10/17) 

No matter what I may or may not have achieved in my career so far, I’m still just as awestruck with undying respect for artists like George as I was before my own career ever started to happen.  I wish I could remember that hour we shared on stage but I was freaking out inside so hard that it was all a big blur for me.  For what it’s worth though, I’m told that it was a terrific panel.  So the panel wraps up, the audience is on their feet giving George his due standing ovation, and the two of us start to make our way out of the panel hall.  We weren’t even off of the stage yet and George put his arm around me.  He leaned in and quietly said some of the nicest things you could ever dream of a guy like George Romero ever saying to you, about you, or in regards to your filmography.  I had posted the below photo on Facebook shortly after the convention but like I said then, to publicly repeat what he said to me would cheapen it.  Perhaps someday I’ll share it, but for now… I selfishly want to keep that cherished moment all to myself.   (Don’t worry, I wrote it all down the moment I got back to my hotel room.  I won’t forget what he said.)  The below photo captured the moment perfectly… right down to the tear running down my cheek.  It’s my favorite photo from 2015.  Taken by a fan in the crowd (Joao Pimentel), you can only imagine my surprise when Joao shared this image with me the next day. It was one of those moments that was so surreal that you’re not really even sure that it actually happened or if maybe it was all a dream… but then Joao was thoughtful enough to come by my booth at the convention the very next day and hand me an 8X10 print of this image- amongst several other photographs that he took during the panel.  (Are you starting to see what I mean when I say how lucky I am to have the fan base that I have?)  Of course this photo is now framed in the ArieScope office.  It was one of the most unforgettable moments in my life and THANKFULLY someone actually captured it and was awesome enough to share it with me.  Now whenever I feel like giving up I look at this photograph and remind myself that…. “DUDE.  George Romero believes in you.  Don’t let the world break you.  You can still fight one more day.”

45AA3A91-95CB-4A81-9FA4-03100985999EA moment that I will never, ever forget.

I HELPED DOGS…

The only other convention appearance I did in 2015 was at MonsterMania in Cherry Hill, NJ in March.  Though I greatly appreciated being invited to appear there, the convention took place just a few weeks after my tour for MARROW had ended and the very last thing I wanted to do was put myself through yet another flight back East for an appearance.  However, once I heard that MonsterMania also helps raise money to benefit New Jersey’s “SAVE THE YORKIES” shelter… there was absolutely no way I was missing it and I was right back on a plane again.  I wrote all about my incredible experience at MonsterMania in an earlier blog which you can read below (“SURVIVING MY OWN MARROW” from March 27, 2015), but the aspect that made it one of my favorite highlights of the year is that I helped the convention hit a new milestone and raise over $7,000.00 for the Yorkie shelter during my appearance there.   I auctioned off a screen used HATCHET 2 prop and I also auctioned off a “date” with myself to help the cause of saving these wonderful animals.  Again, I don’t want to take up too much space here rehashing events that I’ve already blogged about in depth, but after all that I went through in 2014 and how much my Yorkie (Arwen) helped me make it through my own hard times, this was something that I just had to be a part of.  There are a million worthy charities out there and every single one of them is just as important as the next.  I personally contribute to more than many of them.  Of course we can’t all afford the time or money to help every charity that asks and not everyone is in a position where they can use their own public spotlight to help out others.  But there are so many different ways that you can help a cause you believe in.  So I urge you… do it.  Be a part of something bigger than yourself and put some time into helping out with an issue greater than your own personal problems.  I promise you that what you’ll take away from the experience is something that’s just absolutely priceless.

IMG_5688“Bella” was just one of the many Yorkies we helped save at MonsterMania. (3/14)

I HELPED PEOPLE…

2015 began with Entertainment Weekly listing THE MOVIE CRYPT as one of the “20 Podcasts You Should Be Listening To” in the January issue of their magazine (Issue #1345, January 9, 2015).  The acknowledgement was just the beginning of another amazing year for the podcast that Joe Lynch and I do every week.  We had 52 more weeks of enthralling guests, hilarious laughs, sketches, and too many inspiring real-life stories to possibly keep track of.  From Hollywood’s biggest icons to the industry’s most exciting up and comers, every Monday we released 2+ hours of incredibly entertaining and invaluable personal stories.   On March 11th, Joe and I even did a “live” episode of the podcast where we recorded an episode at the Alamo Drafthouse cinema in Austin, TX during a double feature screening of our films DIGGING UP THE MARROW and EVERLY.

schibi movie crypt1Artist Cody Schibi created this incredible poster for our live event in Austin. (3/15) 

Two of the MOVIE CRYPT’s episodes that I’m personally proudest of actually came right at the end of 2015.  So many artists have come on the program and bravely included their struggles with substance abuse and addiction as part of their “tell all” life stories… and in return, we often get letters from listeners who are dealing with similar struggles themselves.  For a podcast that’s all about telling the truth about surviving the journey through Hollywood, both Joe and I felt that we would be remiss if we didn’t finally dedicate a full episode to this extremely important issue and address it head on.  This was a dark and difficult subject for us personally, especially after losing our dear friend and HOLLISTON co-star Dave Brockie in 2014 and getting the terrible news in the eventual autopsy report that drugs were indeed found in his system at the time of his death.  On a personal level, until very recently I couldn’t even admit that drugs may have possibly played a part in Dave’s tragic death and even a year after the autopsy report had been made public I was still refusing to even say the words out loud.  Denial?  You bet.  If you re-read my blog/eulogy “I Love You Too, Dave Brockie” that I posted shortly after Dave passed away you’ll see just how defiantly I protested the notion that drugs were involved in my friend’s death.  ”Rock star” or not, it just wasn’t possible.  Though I have since been trying to learn all that I can about drug abuse in my own efforts to educate myself and better understand just why my friend is gone, it was time to stop hiding from it publicly.  So in an effort to come to terms with the truth, to stop avoiding it, and to better serve our audience… Joe and I made the decision to finally tackle the subject of drug abuse on the podcast.   For a period of almost 2 months I had put out feelers to various counselors and experts in the field of addiction and recovery trying to find the right guest to have on the show.  (Neither Joe or myself are even remotely qualified to dish out facts, advice, or share personal experiences with this horrible affliction.)  Thanks to our friend and film editor Ed Marx (a survivor himself with well over 20 years of sobriety under his belt) I was put in touch with counselor Terry Kirkman.  31 years sober himself, Terry has helped thousands of addicts save their lives through his work with programs like A.I.R. Support (Artists In Recovery) and M.A.P. (Musicians Assistance Program).  Joined by his wife (and fellow counselor) Heidi Kirkman, the episode made a huge impact on so very many of our listeners when it was released.  Though we knew going into it that there was no way to possibly answer every question or cover every aspect of such a widespread and common affliction (not just in entertainment but in LIFE) we let our guards down, spoke from the heart, and tried our best.   I’m happy to say that those difficult, educational, eye-opening, and inspirational two hours reached and benefitted so, so many listeners.  At the time of this writing, over ten MOVIE CRYPT listeners have contacted us to let us know how the episode encouraged them to attend their first meeting or (in one case so far) to enter a rehabilitation program.  And those are just the few that we’ve personally heard from out of the hundreds of thousands who have listened to the episode so far.  While it’s rewarding enough to merely entertain our audience week in and week out, knowing that we did something that truly made a huge difference in so many lives is a feeling that you just can’t describe and one of the biggest highlights not just of 2015 but of THE MOVIE CRYPT’s 3 years on the air so far.

I BELIEVED…

moviecryptSANTATHE MOVIE CRYPT’s “Santa Claus” episode is deemed by many to be our “best ever.”

Just a few weeks ago we released our Santa Claus episode and within just 3 days it became far and away the new fan favorite of all 135 episodes we have done to date. In an effort to do something special for Christmas and in the wake of a year plagued with violence, war, and more depressing world news than we ourselves could handle, our goal was to put something out there that would hopefully make people believe in “good” again.  By now hopefully you’ve heard the episode and you are well aware of just how much work went into pulling it off.  Some saw that “Santa Claus” was our guest that week and assumed it would just be a silly episode that we created for a goof.  However, as soon as they heard just how seriously we took our time with “the big man” they quickly changed their tune.  The “Santa Claus” episode is funny, creative, inspiring, emotional, uplifting and at times even heartbreakingly sad… but most of all it’s filled with every ounce of sincere hope and positivity that we could put out into the world.  Who knows what the future will bring for THE MOVIE CRYPT, but if we ended the show tomorrow and never recorded another episode again I’d happily point to the “Santa” episode as the one that defines what our show stands for and who Joe and I are as people.  Though every single episode of THE MOVIE CRYPT matters, with the “Santa Claus” episode, I feel like we created something important.  Even if you somehow missed listening to the episode before Christmas, the episode’s themes and messages are applicable year round and it just might help you believe in good again… so don’t skip it.   I agree with the majority of our listeners that it’s our best episode so far.  “Santa snap!”

I LAUGHED…

MPbehindthescenesLaughing through the shoot for MONSTER PROBLEMS (8/15)

ArieScope’s 17th annual Halloween short film (MONSTER PROBLEMS) turned out to be one of my most favorite shorts that we’ve ever made and given the response that the short received it seems that many fans would agree.  I wrote a whole blog about making the short (the blog that is posted directly below this one- “17 Years of Halloween Shorts, Monster Problems, and the Greatest Fans Ever”) so I’ll keep this summary short, but making MONSTER PROBLEMS was definitely one of my favorite moments of 2015.  You’d think that by year 17 of doing these Halloween shorts that we’d be growing tired of it, that we’d have run out of ideas worth making, or that it would have become more of an “obligation” than the “just for fun” experience it was always supposed to be… but no way.  If ArieScope was your average corporate business, the tradition of making an annual Halloween short film could best be compared to an annual company retreat of sorts.  When all of this started 17 years ago, I would have thought that after 9 films, 2 seasons of a TV series, and 100+ other shorts/series that I would be taking my crew to Hawaii once a year as opposed to cramming us all into a tiny room and trying to shoot a short film with no time or money as our way of celebrating another year gone by… but come on!  Hawaii would be boring, right?  Who wants to sit on a beach and relax in paradise when you could be celebrating your anniversary every year by working for free (again)?  You learn the hard way very early on that the money your movies make goes to anyone and everyone but the people who actually make the movies… but that’s nothing new and it’s just the way it goes.  (There’s no business like show business!)   Someday that will hopefully change, but until then I’m happy with how we celebrate ArieScope’s anniversary each year.  In fact, I’m already looking forward to making next year’s Halloween short film.  Not just because it is always a good time but because I’m always impressed to see us hang in there for one more year.  Point is, and I sincerely mean this, whether I’m on a beach in Hawaii or crammed into a bathroom stall trying to get a shot for a silly little Halloween short… every year that I get to be with this group of people, every year that we all remain healthy, every year that we retain the drive and ambition to make new things, every year that we’re still finding new ways to make ourselves laugh… well, that’s the best year yet.  I love the people I get to work with.  And I never take that for granted.

KellyMPclichereComedian Kelly Vrooman joined the family this year as “Dorghast” in MONSTER PROBLEMS.

I HAD SCARY SLEEPOVERS…

In what was probably the most ambitious move of 2015, we took the ArieScope website to a whole new level and attempted to launch our own weekly original series.  In fact, at this time we’ve launched three of them.  We really had no idea what to expect or if we’d be able to pull it off, but on Friday March 6th we premiered the very first episode of “Adam Green’s SCARY SLEEPOVER” – a weekly on-line show where various genre artists/friends join me for a slumber party at the ArieScope studio.  While the pajamas can be ridiculous, the junk food consumed can be gluttonous, and the games played can be comically entertaining, the heart of the series lies in the simple premise of “find out what scares the people who scare you for a living.”  The idea for SCARY SLEEPOVER was born out of doing THE MOVIE CRYPT podcast each week.  The podcast is a long form, audio only show that is pretty damn serious save for the occasional moments of levity or the random sketch that I’ll write for us to perform.  We were receiving requests to add a video component to THE MOVIE CRYPT so that the audience could also watch it and not just listen to each episode, but we both felt that adding cameras would not only change the dynamic of the candid “artist on artist” conversation but also be extremely boring.  I mean, do people really need to see us sit around a table and talk for 2-3 hours?  My concept of a short form (15 minutes on average) web show that was lighter and focused more on specific fears as opposed to an artist’s entire life story seemed like a solid idea.  However, it was the added hook of doing it in the setting of a childlike slumber party and giving fans a “fly on the wall” experience that made it something that I felt was worth making.  By now you know that the first season was a big success as we’ve already shot the second season and it starts airing next week (January 6th – April 6th), but I’m excited to say that the heart of SCARY SLEEPOVER has evolved even if the comical and silly premise has stayed the same.  It’s the same show you enjoyed last season, only this season shit gets heavy on a lot of the episodes.  I suppose that just kind of happened on its own, but the discussions about fears have gone to a whole new level of openness.  As you’ll see in this next season, one minute we’re acting like complete idiots and laughing it up while the very next minute someone is in tears while bravely baring their soul.  I couldn’t be more excited for you to see what’s coming over these next 14 weeks.  Tony Todd kicks off season 2 next Wednesday and… you’re in for a very compelling ride.

IMG_9273Shooting Season 2 of SCARY SLEEPOVER with Slash. (12/15) 

I HAD TWENTY SECONDS TO LIVE…

SCARY SLEEPOVER was immediately followed by 20 SECONDS TO LIVE, a scripted anthology featuring various scenarios where a character within the story meets their untimely demise.  The series was brought to us by co-creators Ben Rock and Bob DeRosa and producer Cat Pasciak.  They showed us their first 5 episodes and it was love at first sight.  So we convinced them to squeeze out a few more episodes and they just knocked them out of the park.

IMG_6584I was held captive while shooting Episode 5 “Ransom” (6/15)

Just like the other two original series offered on ArieScope.com so far- there is no outside budget/funding to speak of so the 20STL team does it purely for the love of it.  It’s been great to watch more and more people discover the series and become fans every week and we’re all hoping to see another season of 20 SECONDS TO LIVE happen in 2016.

I WAS HORRIFIED…

The week after 20 SECONDS TO LIVE concluded, our third original series HORRIFIED premiered.  A highly stylized confessional style reality show where artists share their most “horrifying” real-life stories, the fun in HORRIFIED lies in the fact that you have absolutely no idea what kind of story you’re going to get each week.  (And neither did we when we shot the episodes!)  Sean Becker (who co-created the series with me) and I both enjoy giving artists who work “behind the scenes” a chance in the spotlight whenever we can and with HORRIFIED we were able to feature a wide array of artists and not just known actors.  The result was 22 weeks of hugely entertaining stories told by actors, directors, producers, musicians, sound designers, cinematographers, 1st AD’s, and more.  While most of the stories leaned on humor or embarrassing confessionals, it was the occasional disturbing and truly horrifying story that really made the series shine.  I wish I could say that we had always planned for that but the beauty in HORRIFIED is that every artist featured in that first season had no example episode to watch and in turn base their own story telling on.  Everyone who came in was just themselves.  We simply asked them to sit down and talk about a time they were “horrified.”  The results were phenomenal and so, so unique from each other as “horrified” can mean so many different things to each individual person.  Between Will Barratt’s gorgeous dueling confessional lighting rings and Corri English’s terrific performances for each episode’s introduction, HORRIFIED really turned into a series that we can be proud of.  The show was a hit for us and a second season is already in the cards for next Fall!   (Our own production schedules pending, of course.)

IMG_6828Corri not only hosted and produced HORRIFIED… she looked pretty good doing it. (7/15)

I TURNED ARIESCOPE.COM INTO ITS OWN LITTLE NETWORK…

On March 6, 2016 ArieScope.com will have gone a full YEAR with a new episode of an original series released on our site every single week.  A more reasonable group of people may have challenged themselves to maybe doing two short films a year instead of just one for Halloween, but thankfully no one in this group is reasonable or afraid of a difficult challenge.  Between having a new episode of THE MOVIE CRYPT released every single Monday and a new original series episode released every Friday… we turned this site into its own little network of sorts.  What did we gain from all of that hard work?  Well, since there is no actual money in any of it, on one hand I guess you could say nothing… but the fact that in 2015 we kept our fans entertained with new things to enjoy twice a week is kind of EVERYTHING.  A group of us have put some serious blood, sweat and tears into pulling it all off.  In fact, as I write this I can hear Sean Becker and Jen Ramirez in the edit suite pulling even more hair out of their heads as they toil over getting Wednesday’s season 2 premiere of SCARY SLEEPOVER ready to launch.   With a new feature and a new season of HOLLISTON planned for production in 2016 I highly doubt that we’ll be able to pull off another year of new weekly original shows, but only time will tell.  I really, really hope we can find a way though!  It’s been so fun to put out something new every week and hear your immediate responses.  I’m literally pacing the studio with anticipation over the launch of Season 2 of SCARY SLEEPOVER.  Next week’s season premiere can’t come fast enough as I know we have something very special for you.

I STARTED MY JOURNEY “HOME”…

On July 20th we formerly announced that “the show would go on” and HOLLISTON would indeed have a third season.  Again, there’s another massive blog below this one where I detailed the long, hard road I’ve been through with HOLLISTON (a show that I’ve literally spent just about half of my life working on at this point) so I’ll keep this entry somewhat brief as that previous blog is filled with all of the information and answers that I can share this early on.  The big question of course is WHEN?  As we said in the announcement, production is planned for 2016 and I’m happy to say that so far that plan is steering its course.  The two biggest hurdles were recovering from the devastating loss of Dave Brockie and (after the demise of the show’s original TV distributor FEARnet) finding a new home that would make the series available for everyone to watch worldwide.  Few shows would keep fighting to go on after enduring such tragedies, but we’re HOLLISTON and we’ll keep fighting until we’re the last ones standing in the ring and everyone else has gone home.  You can read all about the new plan for distributing the series on GeekNation in that July 27th blog “THE SHOW MUST GO ON” but in short, unless your country blocks your internet (sorry North Korea) you’ll be able to watch/stream HOLLISTON on-line wherever you live- which was the most important factor when it came to deciding on whether to continue the series or not.  Watch the cast announcement by clicking the image below.

HollistonBLOGannouncement

Like any production, making things happen is  a game of Tetris where the financing and the main cast’s availability all need to land and line-up at the same time.  Given that you’ve got 2 working directors and a rock star (with more projects happening at any given time than most anyone alive) comprising half of the main cast… that’s incredibly difficult to accomplish.  Also, to be clear- HOLLISTON isn’t a show that can be produced on mere favors and good will like the various web series we do here for ArieScope.com.  Though we’re going to change with the times and distribute the show on-line (where most people already watch their favorite TV shows these days), HOLLISTON is going to still be the same TV show that it was before.  That means that it costs real money to make and that real money needs to come from somewhere.  Though we might be willing and able to pull off a full 10 episode season for far less than what the average network spends on just one 22 minute episode of a sit-com, it’s still expensive to make and when the money comes is not something that I can personally control.  Thankfully there is a concrete plan in place for all of that but as we’ve learned from past experiences, until the funding is in your hands you can only do so much besides “think happy thoughts.”  While everything is progressing as planned on that front and a summer shoot is still in sight, the only part of it all that I can control is writing this next season and that has been anything but easy.  For every few good writing days I’ll have, I’ll hit a moment where my brain can’t help but think of what to write for Dave and my process comes to a screeching halt.  Sometimes for days.  Sometimes for weeks.  I’ve had several writer friends ask me why I can’t just take what was already planned (a lot of which was already written before Dave passed away) and just write “Oderus” out.  It’s unfortunately just not that easy and in the end I’d wind up shooting a show that has a gaping hole in the soul of it as opposed to shooting a new season of a show that exists on its own without “Oderus.”  Of course it can all be done and with how hard I’ve had to work at it and adapt to this unwanted change, the core characters are only becoming stronger than ever before.  I’m very happy with what has been written so far and I feel like season 3 will be our best season yet.  But that’s not to say that it hasn’t still been a massive struggle.  While I’ve been able to incorporate the tragedies of my real life into the writing and use the heartbreak I’ve endured to make the show even better than it ever was before, at the same time I don’t want to see Season 3 become a season-long tear jerker or eulogy and therefore I am being extremely careful as I create.  It has been a painstaking process and I don’t think I’ve ever been quite as brutally critical of anything that I’ve written before.  I’ve never been tasked with writing something in circumstances similar to this and I’ve probably thrown out five times as much as I’ve kept so far.  A lot is riding on the words I commit to, even if that pressure is mostly created in my own head.

HollistonscriptYes, the scripts for season 3 are coming into existence! And before you declare the reveal of this episode’s working title to be a “spoiler” (given that Season 2 ended with “Laura” leaving for art school in Germany)… did you really think that “Laura” wouldn’t return in Season 3 or that I could write a season of HOLLISTON without my favorite character and personal muse?

On a positive note however, despite sitting down in front of my computer almost every day and trying to write this next season with all of the above weighing on my mind, I’m still getting it done.  And I’m really, really excited about what exists so far!   I’m hoping to start rehearsing the cast on the first five episodes as early as March, but with both Joe and I having our next feature films coming down the pipeline… it’s impossible to plan ahead too far.  Let’s say Joe’s next movie or my next movie gets green-lit for the Spring?  Well then HOLLISTON waits for awhile again.  And I only use Joe and I as examples because while any of the actors in the main cast could book a film at any point, as directors you aren’t just working on that project for a matter of days or weeks.  It’s months if not a year or more.   Again… Tetris.  But things always have a way of working out and for now it’s just taking it one day at a time and getting back on my feet one step at a time.  Season 3 is coming together and as soon as I have production or release dates- believe me I will share them!  Which brings me to the most important highlight of 2015…

IMG_7003Shooting the Season 3 announcement on June 28th with Corri, Laura, and Joe. I cherish every moment that I get to be in the same place at the same time with these 3 incredible people.

I LEARNED TO FLY AGAIN…

Looking back… it was an absolutely incredible year and an enormous rebound after the events of 2014 knocked me off my feet.  Though the workload was huge and it was probably crazy to put so much effort into so many projects that I continue to give away for free, in hindsight I think that I needed to put my head down and work like crazy to fight through to the other side of the clouds.  Things like the podcast and the various weekly original series may all be their own separate full-time unpaid jobs, but I love doing them because I love your enthusiasm for them.  And of course there were also plenty of other projects keeping me busy (like upcoming films) that I just can’t discuss yet.  Part of that secrecy stems from the standard industry practice of not saying anything until the powers in control formally announce things, but another part of it stems from just how great our experience was with DIGGING UP THE MARROW and how much nicer it was to work off of the public’s radar and then suddenly come out with the movie when it was ready to be seen.  I’m not saying that I’m already hard at work on another movie that you don’t know about yet… or maybe that’s exactly what I’m saying?  Point is, the moment you announce a project the clock starts ticking.  ”When is it coming out?”  ”When are you having set visits?”  ”Where’s the trailer?”  ”What will the Blu-Ray special features be?”  ”Will there be a sequel??”  ”WHAT’S TAKING SO LONG???”  And sometimes that’s all within just the first 30 days of the announcement.  So maybe it’s better to just go off and make the things and THEN one day just be like “here you go.”  Obviously that can’t always be the case as more often than not the powers that be need those trade announcements to start the process of introducing the project to the world market for things like foreign sales, etc.  But when we can keep things quiet… man, is that just better for everyone.  Announcing Season 3 of HOLLISTON so early in the process was obviously a huge exception to that manner of thinking, but in that specific case it was more about confirming that a decision was made that the show would indeed go on.  After all we were hit with, fans of the show were left waiting and fearing the worst so it was important to finally say something.  Most importantly… your enthusiasm, your excitement, and your incredible support has truly been the wind beneath my wings in getting back up and learning to fly again.

Sounds cheesy, yes- but there’s really no better way to say it.  For some, recovery might mean a year filled with therapy or a year sitting on the couch and hiding behind a bottle of liquor.  For me however, it was a year filled with hard work on whatever things were going to bring me happiness again.  If that meant putting out something new twice a week then that’s what it meant.  Will I ever attempt a year full of this kind of output again?  I don’t know.  But it sure got me through and man do I feel better now.

I usually try and close these annual “Year End” blogs with some sort of message or “lesson learned” but honestly I don’t think I learned anything that I didn’t already know.  I just needed to buckle down and do the things I needed to do to be happy.  As you know, I read every single message, letter, post, etc that you send me.  Even if I can’t always possibly respond to all of them- I do still read them all.  I know that some of you are coming off of a year that was similar to or even worse than my 2014.  Some of you are facing hard times that I can’t even begin to fathom.  And though I can’t fix any of it or come up with the magic words to make it all go away, I tried my best this year to show you that I heard you and to set a positive example.  Whether it was trying to keep you laughing from week to week, trying to take your minds off the bad things for just a few moments at a time, trying to share and relate so that you would know you’re not alone, trying to use the podcast to offer legitimate help with the “addiction special” or to provide hope with the “Santa Claus” episode… I tried to give back just some of what you’ve given me.  If I have any wisdom or advice to share it’s this: It’s OK to get knocked down and to even get kicked a bunch while you’re on the ground.  Just don’t get knocked out.  Go through it, feel bad, hurt, and nurse your wounds… but then find a way to stand back up and live again even louder and more ferociously than before.  I’m not saying you have to go on some crazy mission making your own little network of weekly free shows, I’m just saying surround yourself with good people and go do something.  ANYTHING.  Make stuff.  Create.  Collaborate.  Contribute.  Try new things.  Challenge yourself.   And most of all… learn how to fly again.

And with that I say “Farewell to 2015.”  Thank you to every single one of you for being here with me on this ride, no matter where the road may be taking me.  I wish you all the very best in the new year and I sincerely love you all.  You never know, but 2016 could just be the best year ever for all of us.  So, come on.  Let’s fly…

- AG   12/31/15

ArwenLEARNtoFLY“Well some say life will beat you down.  Break your heart and steal your crown.  So I’ve started out for God knows where.  Guess I’ll know when I get there.  I’m learning to fly but I ain’t got wings.  Coming down is the hardest thing.  I’m learning to fly around the clouds.  But what goes up must come down.  I’m gonna learn to fly… fly over my troubles… fly over my worries… fly high up in the blue sky… looking down on the world below… I’m gonna learn to fly.” – Tom Petty

17 Years of Halloween, Monster Problems, and the Greatest Fans Ever…

Today we released our 17th annual ArieScope Halloween short film “MONSTER PROBLEMS”.  If you haven’t already watched it… head over to our SHORTS page here and watch it NOW before reading this blog!  There are spoilers below.

MonsterProblemsMAINimage

Did you watch it?  OK, good.  Please proceed…

It’s ArieScope’s 17th birthday!  We may not be 18 or be able to legally vote or buy porn yet… and we may still be a few years away from being able to legally purchase alcohol… but ArieScope has already lasted longer than most studios and production companies could even dream of- no matter what their size or stature within the industry may be.  And believe me when I say that no one is more surprised or impressed than us as even we never imagined this thing would last as long as it has or that we’d ever accomplish as much as we somehow have.  For a scrappy group of friends and artists finding our own way and making things up as we go, we’ve kind of done alright so far.  Some of that can be attributed to our collective naiveté, some of that can be attributed to our hard headed unwillingness to know how to give up, and a lot of it can be attributed to the fact that there are individuals in this group that would take a bullet for each other and have been there to pick each other up off the floor when others have fallen to pieces or split at the first sign of trouble.

ArieScope Halloween

Way back in 1998… long before streaming video was even a thing… long before iPhones, YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter… and long before “Victor Crowley”, the HATCHET trilogy, FROZEN, HOLLISTON, and the many other various film and TV projects that you now know ArieScope Pictures for… cinematographer Will Barratt (my cinematic life-partner in crime) and I made a short film called “COLUMBUS DAY WEEKEND” as a silly little goof to show the guests at my annual Halloween Dinner Party.  Last year’s October blog details that whole story so I’ll spare you.  But to back up just a little further, Halloween is my Christmas.  And I don’t just say that like “Yay!  I love Halloween!”  I mean that Halloween is my holiest of holidays right down to its very spiritual core.  For most people, Halloween means Trick or Treating, costumes, scary movies, haunted houses, and candy.  And while all of those things are AMAZING in their own right (think about it, we have a whole season where it’s not only socially acceptable but encouraged for people to decorate their homes with macabre imagery and display dead bodies on their front lawns- a horror fan’s dream!) for me I have always loved Halloween for its actual purpose and meaning.  Much like I would have little interest in reading a blog about your individual religious beliefs, I won’t try and sell you on the spiritual importance of Halloween.  However you personally choose to celebrate the holiday or however seriously you take it is all your own prerogative.  Whether you merely partake in the surface level aspects of the holiday or actually care to dig deeper into what the holiday is really about… I say “great!”  Point is, among the many things I adore about this wonderful holiday the thing I take most seriously is the celebration and remembrance of those who have passed on and who are no longer physically here with us.  Thus my tradition of an intimate family dinner where guests bring photos and tell fond stories of those they are remembering, complete with place settings at the table for our dearly departed.  Nothing morbid, nothing mystical, nothing scary- just a whole lot of love and respect.  Over the years, departed dinner guests have included grandparents, family members, friends, colleagues, and A LOT of deceased pets.  From my glorious Halloween tree, to the presents left beneath it on Halloween morning courtesy of “The Great Pumpkin”, to the homemade food I work so hard to cook, to never working on the 31st no matter what… All Hallow’s Eve is a special, special day for me.  So it only makes sense that ArieScope Pictures celebrates our birthday and has the yearly tradition of our annual Halloween short film every October.  It fits perfectly.

DSC_0143Sarah Elbert, “Rotty”, and Robert Pendergraft on the set of 2005′s short “TRICK OR TREAT.”

 When Will and I made our very first Halloween short “COLUMBUS DAY WEEKEND” we had no idea what we were actually doing or what we had inadvertently begun.  Even our name “ArieScope Pictures” was literally just a quick solution to needing to place a production company name in the opening credits of the short.  “Hey, you’re an Aries.  I’m an Aries.  What’s a film-sounding name with Aries?  Arieflex?  Nope, taken.  Arie..scope?  Done.  What does that even mean?  Who cares- done!”   I wish there was a more clever story behind it but that’s the truth.  Hell, we’re not even remotely into astrology to be honest.  That fateful weekend in the backyard of my friend Scott Barnes’ parents’ house in Holliston, MA (dubbed “Barnes Estates” in the end credits of the short) a handful of friends with a “borrowed” Beta camera, a few cheap masks, a bunch of spoiled meat (hey, it was free from the local butcher and we were on a budget), and lots of fake blood made a little bit of history and turned our lives into… well, this.  Every year since 1998 we’ve celebrated ArieScope’s birthday and helped ring in Halloween by going back to our roots, gathering up some of the family, and making a new Halloween-themed short film with the cardinal rule of “one night, no budget, and just for fun.”  Of course over the years the quality of the shorts has gotten better and better… but we still keep those early ones up here on the website for all to see.  Are we proud of all of those early shorts?  Not really.  Do most professional filmmakers still show off their earliest, most amateur work once they’ve made a career for themselves?  Not really.  But given that there are many young, aspiring filmmakers that look to us for inspiration we feel its important to not hide our (extremely) humble beginnings and to let others see that we had to find our way, learn a bunch, and try and get better with every step we’ve taken just like everyone else.  And we’re still trying, still learning, and still getting better.

CIMG0406Little known fact: Laura Ortiz actually played “The Tivo” in our popular 2008 short “THE TIVO.”

Thanks to our dear friends John and Nicole Anguish (who have designed and run this website since the very day it first launched in October of 1998), ArieScope.com has not only been offering free streaming on-line videos since long before anyone else was doing it but this website has also been our lifeline to our ever expanding world-wide fan base.  That mock HATCHET trailer that we made in 2004 and created a massive on-line buzz that indirectly helped get the film financed and made?  That started here.  Viral hits like “JACK CHOP” and “SABER” and “DRIVING LESSONS?”  They all started here.  (Although those shorts in particular also had the added benefit of our popular YouTube channel to really blow up on-line in ways we never could have imagined.)  Since “COLUMBUS DAY WEEKEND” we’ve consistently given our fans free content that we make purely for the fun of it and as a way to say “thank you” for supporting us when it counts.  Our 17th year has been our busiest and biggest yet as ArieScope.com now offers free weekly original series every Friday like “HORRIFIED”, “20 SECONDS TO LIVE” and the hugely popular “SCARY SLEEPOVER.” (Season 2 of SLEEPOVER is gearing up to start filming soon, so don’t fear.)  Is it easy doing all of this free work?  Of course not.  As if it isn’t hard and time consuming enough to produce a new 2+ hour episode of “THE MOVIE CRYPT” podcast to have up every Monday and a new episode of whichever original series of ours is in season every Friday… we’re of course still hard at work on the main task at hand which is bringing you new movies and (of course) the new season of HOLLISTON that the Holliston Nation has been very patiently waiting for.  But the simple reason why we do it is that YOU MAKE IT ALL WORTH IT.  And that’s why we do what we do and are glad go above and beyond in constantly bringing you new things to watch/read/listen to- all for free.  Because our fans support us when it counts.  They go out of their way to see our films when they first come out in theaters… to buy them on DVD and Blu-Ray… to throw down their hard earned money to buy the various T-shirts, posters, Halloween masks, and autographed photos we make available in our “BUY STUFF” on-line store.  The don’t steal or torrent our work.  They wait in long lines to meet me when I do convention appearances.  They take the time to leave heartfelt and passionate messages on my Facebook page and let me know that they’re out there and how much they care.  And not every filmmaker is fortunate enough to have that.

Jack-Chop_032009′s Halloween short “JACK CHOP” broke the internet. Fahkin.

The sad truth is that we’re struggling so hard to continue doing what we do during this difficult time when the entertainment industry is in transition and turmoil behind the scenes.  It has become a struggle to merely stay alive and exist given just how many in the general public unfortunately now feel that all art is worthless and that they are entitled to steal whatever they want and have it for free.  While on-line piracy is its own major dilemma, even with the perfectly legal technological advancements of streaming services and digital downloads, most people just don’t buy physical media anymore and it has become a nearly impossible feat to get a financier their investment back or any kind of return on an indie project.  That’s just the changing times and the way things have gone- like it or not.  Every day we’re watching other filmmakers we admire and respect have to pack up shop and give up their craft … all while we watch in disbelief as “YouTubers” who play video games on-line get rich.  (I know, I know… “Get off my lawn, you kids!”  I sound like an old out of touch man.  But sorry- I just don’t get it.)  It’s a very scary time to be creating art for a living.  I can’t begin to tell you how often I find myself in a conversation with a fellow artist who says “Wait… we’re all getting slaughtered and going belly up during this “wild west’ phase of the internet and yet you guys are addressing it by offering even MORE stuff for FREE?  WEEKLY?”  I’m a broken record with this but ArieScope fans are just not like any other fans.  We’ve always been an open book on our side and our fans in turn recognize that we’re not rich Hollywood douchebags who are all about the money.  We have a very real connection with our audience and the fans truly appreciate just how much time I personally give them- writing back to every message on Facebook, doing the weekly podcast, the extra work I do writing or planning out performances/shows for the convention panels, the free weekly series we create for them… it’s a special thing.  Our fans get that the only way our studio keeps the lights on and keeps creating is by them directly supporting us and therefore we see a lot of the same names go by every time we ship out new merchandise orders from our on-line store.  WE KNOW WHO YOU ARE and we love and appreciate you for the way you continually step up and support us.  Our relationship with our fans is just… different.  So in celebrating our 17th year I would be remiss if I didn’t say (yet again) just how deeply we appreciate and love you all.  Maybe you’re sick of hearing it, but I will NEVER get sick of saying it.  THANK YOU!  We don’t have studio backing or multi-million dollar marketing campaigns to make people aware of our work.  We just have YOU.  So to every fan that has supported us over the years- we’re only celebrating our 17th birthday today because of you.  And with a little (or a lot) of luck, hopefully we survive at least one more year and get to see 18.

Halloween Hugs still for websiteWe gave ourselves a good little scare in 2013′s Halloween short “HALLOWEEN HUGS.”

But enough with the mushy stuff (sorry, I get sentimental whenever we somehow reach another birthday around here because I always assume it is going to be our last)… let’s talk about this year’s Halloween short!  Last year’s short (“HAPPY HALLOWEEN”) was one of the very few serious Halloween shorts that we’ve done (could you tell I was having a rough year in 2014?) so this year it was all about going back to the fun and bringing the silly.  I was thinking about the ridiculous things we do as children to protect ourselves from the monsters lurking under our beds and in our closets… and then realized that perhaps those things aren’t actually so ridiculous after all.  I mean, we might laugh at the concept of being protected by our bed covers or joke at the philosophy that a simple nightlight can actually scare away hungry monsters looking to devour us… but at the same time, when you look at the success ratio of “nightlights vs. children eaten by monsters” you kind of have to give credit where credit is due.  If you’ve seen this year’s DIGGING UP THE MARROW (our latest feature film) than you know just how much I personally want to believe that monsters are real.  So by my calculations… if monsters are indeed real and yet no children are being eaten by them… then clearly the childhood rituals of “jumping into bed”, “hiding under the covers,” “nightlights”, and even the ultimate secret weapon of “calling for Dad” must actually work, right?  Of course it helped that I happened to have 3 extremely talented comedian friends that I knew I could call upon to portray the three monsters that I created for this year’s short.

MonitorMonsters “Vylegoth,” “Dorghast,” and “Julian” face problems in this year’s Halloween short.

Derek Mears (“Vylegoth” – the closet monster) and Colton Dunn (“Julian” – the under-the-bed monster) have become staples in ArieScope productions and fans are always happy to see them show up in our various projects.  But this year we also got to initiate a new talent into our family and introduce fans to actress/comedian Kelly Vrooman (“Dorghast” – the ghost in the room).  If you’re into the LA improv scene than perhaps you’re already familiar with Kelly.  Perhaps you have children that watch “The Chica Show” on Sprout and you’ve seen Kelly there.  But I’m guessing that for a lot of you, “MONSTER PROBLEMS” will be your introduction to Kelly Vrooman and her comedic talents.

Monsters poseMe and my monsters…

Originally I cast Derek, Colton, and Kelly because of their strong improvisational skills as I assumed that a lot of the short would be improvised.  But after the second draft of the script went around to the cast and each actor told me that they felt like the script was strong as is and should be adhered to (and no, they weren’t just sucking up as they had already secured their parts) … the idea of rolling and rolling on minutes or even hours of improv was thrown out.  Since “MONSTER PROBLEMS” is conceptually such a dialogue heavy piece (much like 2007′s Halloween short “THE TIFFANY PROBLEM”) we already knew we were risking making a slightly longer short film than usual and adding MORE dialogue to have to somehow edit in or out wouldn’t have necessarily helped the piece.  All three performers fell right into their rhythms and brought their own unique voices and brand of humor to what I had written for them so shooting was a breeze from that stand point.  Sam Barratt (Will’s son) had made his first appearance in an ArieScope production during last year’s Halloween short and proved to be a complete natural which made the dreaded “oh no, we’re gonna have to work with a child actor in this piece” a non-issue.  And then of course we had the added bonus of actor/comedian Jeff Lewis (“Dad”) coming to play with us and do a quick cameo for the short, making this his second ArieScope outing as he had already done a HILARIOUS episode of “HORRIFIED” (Episode 2) for us this past summer.  Throw in my dog Arwen for good measure (she’s kind of mastered playing “the dog” at this point in her illustrious on-screen career) and we knew we had a rock solid cast to pull off this inherently ridiculous and childlike concept.

Cast small webClockwise: Derek Mears, Colton Dunn, Sam Barratt, Kelly Vrooman

Robert Pendergraft (make-up FX) designed some really cool and unique make-ups for the three monsters and I loved how he created their looks based upon the character traits and personalities evident in their dialogue.  ”Vylegoth” being more uptight and meticulous, “Dorghast” being more ghastly and impatient, and “Julian” being more innocent and carefree.  Applying the three make-ups on such a tight schedule was no easy feat but thankfully Rob had make-up artist/jack-of-all-trades Scott Dawson come by to help us out.  (This was Scott’s very first ArieScope outing, as well!)

IMG_8183Scott Dawson broke his ArieScope cherry helping out with the make-up effects this year.

As usual, I directed and Will Barratt was behind the camera where he had to battle the limitations of having to shoot in such a tiny room with no space to shoot or place lights like we would have ideally liked to. Hey, it wouldn’t be a Halloween short if that wasn’t the case, although I know Will is always grateful every time I don’t write a scene to take place in a tiny practical bathroom.  (You’re welcome on that front, Will!)  Jen Ramirez was handed the thankless job of working the boom mic on the short.  Jen started working with us on Season 1 of “SCARY SLEEPOVER” learning, performing, and quickly mastering a variety of tasks from general PA work to sound monitoring to assistant editing.  Holding down the bigger picture at large with everything from creative input to making sure everyone was happy, well fed, taken care of, and doing what they were supposed to be doing was producer Sarah Elbert.  Sarah’s first ArieScope outing was all the way back on 2000′s short film “STAGEFRIGHT” and since then she has been a producer/actress/den mother on more projects than I can count.

IMG_8372Exhausted at the end of the long shoot.  We’re getting too old for this…

 While the actual filming of each Halloween short always takes place over just one night, the task of editing and finishing each piece is one that takes a lot more time.  Taking the reigns on editorial was Sean Becker who has been a huge part of the family since 2011 when he first joined the team as a fellow director and supervising producer on HOLLISTON and who direct/edits every episode of “SCARY SLEEPOVER” and many of the episodes of “HORRIFIED”, as well.  While the actual shoot for each Halloween short may only be one (long) night, post-production is a long and exhausting process.  This past week has seen Sean and I living at the office and going around the clock getting the short finished and ready to launch.  And I’m not kidding.  I went home just to shower real quick yesterday and my cats no longer knew who I was.

IMG_8622Sean Becker had an absolute BLAST editing “MONSTER PROBLEMS.”  No, really.

So 12 people, 1 dog, a lot of hard work, a ton of hours, and A LOT of late nights later… the 17th annual Halloween short film has crossed the finish line and “MONSTER PROBLEMS” has taken its place in the long legacy of ArieScope’s fun yearly tradition.  Hopefully our efforts made you smile and added some joy to your Halloween.  After all, that’s the entire point. It means the world when we hear from fans who not only look forward to each year’s Halloween short film but who have made it their own yearly tradition to watch ALL of them over and over again each October.  I know that I speak on behalf of everyone involved when I say that we do it all for you.   Thank you for making these past 17 years possible and for making ArieScope Pictures such an unbelievably special thing to be a part of.  Have the happiest Halloween ever and be sure to keep your covers pulled tight and your nightlight burning bright. We need you alive and can’t risk you being eaten by monsters…

IMG_8213That’s a wrap on the 17th annual ArieScope Halloween short!  Time for bed.

Stay safe, sleep tight, and happy haunting this Hallow’s Eve!

-AG

The Show Must Go On…

OderusInspiration1“Fine. Sell out. Get a job. A nice 9 to 5 one. Sit in front of the idiot box all night and watch some stupid sitcom… all the while wondering what it might have been like if you’d hung in there for just …one …more …day.”  – Oderus Urungus

Entertainment Weekly made the official announcement today that after an extremely difficult and heartbreaking 2 year hiatus… HOLLISTON will indeed live on and return for Season 3.  Whether you read about it on EW’s website… heard Corri, Laura, Joe, and I kick off today’s new episode of THE MOVIE CRYPT podcast (Ep: 113) with the good news… or saw the cast video that was posted on HOLLISTON’s Facebook page… by now hopefully you’ve heard the good news.  If for some reason you still haven’t read the full official press release with all the details… I highly recommend you read it here.  Though the press release says all of the details that we will be able to publicly reveal for awhile, I of course wanted to add a little more insight to all of this.  But first, let’s back way up so that you can hopefully comprehend just what a huge moment this actually is for us.  For all of us behind the scenes of HOLLISTON, this news is so much more than just an announcement about a sitcom coming back for a new season….

NewHfacebookSeriously.  Chills!

If you read this blog regularly and if you are a fan of HOLLISTON then you already know just what a long, trying, and personal journey this show has been for me and why it is the passion project that will always be the most near and dear to my heart.  Way back in 1991 (as I began my Junior year of High School) my friend Steve and I started doing a morning radio show called COFFEE & DONUTS on Holliston High School’s radio station WHHB 91.5 FM (now 99.9 FM), a tiny 10 watt station (now a whopping 17 watts, I’m told) used for after school student radio programs.  Though I had already been doing an evening radio show with other friends (METALLIFIX) since my Freshman year in 1989  (man, I’m getting old) it wasn’t until my Junior year that it dawned on me that doing a separate morning show would give me a shot at a fully captive audience.  After all, high school kids have stuff to do at night and it was never going to be anyone’s priority to listen to METALLIFIX where my friends and I spun heavy metal records and did hilarious little sketches.  (Note: the sketches were not hilarious. ) But the idea was that if Steve and I did a completely different morning radio program that aired before school started each day, maybe the other kids would set their alarm clock radios to wake up to us and perhaps they would even listen to us on their drive/bus ride to school.  COFFEE & DONUTS would be a morning show where kids could listen to Steve and I… spin heavy metal records and do hilarious little sketches.  (Note: the sketches were still far from hilarious but they were certainly getting better.)  Then again, my Mom tells me that such segments as “heavin’ with Steven” where Steve would (sort of) pretend to throw up in a bucket each morning, our “daily horoscopes” that were always written to be extremely depressing (for example: “Sagittarius… You’re going to die today.”), our morning “dating tips” segment on what to do on a first date, and our coup de gras which was ”Stories on The Mad River with Dr. Rupert Collins” – a segment where I would write a nonsensical story that Steve would then belt out in a bad Scottish accent … were indeed hilarious.  (And hey, my Mom wouldn’t lie to me.)  The concept of doing a morning show was so crazy that it just might work- and to our surprise… it did.  As hard as it was to get up so early and be on the air before 6am, Steve and I successfully cornered the extremely cutthroat market of Holliston High School morning radio programs by simply being the only one.  C&D was a success for us and those early morning broadcasts made for some of my favorite memories of High School.

C&DyearbookHolliston High School’s 1993 Yearbook photo.  ”Coffee & Donuts with Adam and Steve.”

Cut ahead to 1998.  I had graduated college in 1997 and I was now working at Time Warner Cable Advertising in Malden, MA (about an hour away from Holliston).  On my very first day I met Will Barratt and quickly learned that Will’s real dream was to be a cinematographer and not a low budget cable commercial producer.   I instantly laid into him with my ridiculously ambitious dream of forming an independent production company, breaking out of Massachusetts, and making our own movies in Hollywood.  We were driving in the Time Warner SUV on our way to shoot our first commercial together and I said, “You don’t want to do this forever, do you?”  I offered up a nice tall glass of my infectious Kool Aid flavored bullshit and sold Will on the fact that we could “borrow” Time Warner’s equipment at night and on weekends to make our own stuff, get noticed by “the industry”, move to Hollywood, and someday have our own successful production company that made the things we wanted to make with the people we wanted to make them with.  I had no idea what I was talking about or what kind of struggles we would actually be in for… and it could be argued that in many ways I still don’t know what I’m talking about or what kind of struggles we’re still in for… but I was wide-eyed, motivated, and ambitious enough to know that I just had to try.

No exaggeration, I had been a full-time employee of Time Warner Cable for less than one hour before I began plotting my escape.  And I certainly don’t mean that with any disrespect to Time Warner Cable.  Though producing low budget local cable commercials was never my personal dream, I couldn’t have landed at a better starting job after college nor could I have asked for better people to work with.  More than anything, our boss Peter not only taught me how to deal with clients, how to graciously take notes from people who had no idea what they were talking about (“I work at this used furniture store in Medford, let me tell you how to properly shoot a commercial”), how to create something decent with insanely low budgets, and how to pick my battles creatively and professionally.  ALL of which were important lessons that I apply to what I do today.  As a filmmaker at heart himself, Peter supported us 100%, even going as far as looking the other way when we would use Time Warner’s equipment and arrogantly enlist our fellow employees to make our own ArieScope stuff on the side.  Not many people in Peter’s position would be cool enough to allow that kind of crap to go on, but that was Peter.  He was a class act all the way and he knew how to accomplish all of his corporate duties with flying colors yet still encourage everyone who worked under him to believe in a dream and continually reach higher.  Hell, he even played a character in our first feature COFFEE & DONUTS.  What boss does that??  Only Peter.  So long as our work was getting done to the best of our abilities and so long as he “didn’t know” about our extracurricular activities… he was not only fine with it, but as supportive of it as he reasonably could be.  And then there we were… obnoxiously pushing his generosity and our good fortune of having access to free camera equipment way too far at times.  Will and I were shooting our own stuff all night long and then dragging our exhausted asses into work to shoot cable ads.  When we were casting for COFFEE & DONUTS we even had fellow employees answering certain Time Warner office phone lines as “ArieScope Pictures, how may I help you?” and posing as “casting assistants” just to give the illusion that we were indeed a professional operation.  I should have been fired about a million times for my lack of common sense, but I was on a mission from God and I was still young and inexperienced enough to not comprehend just what kind of murder I was getting away with.  (Thank you, Peter.)

OLD ArieScope LogoThe original ArieScope logo was lifted and altered from that same Dodge used car dealership commercial that Will and I first shot together in 1998.

A creative/business partnership is just like a marriage and very few stand the test of time.   It’s crazy to think that two idiots who barely knew each other hatched this grandiose plan (while driving to shoot a cable ad for a used car dealership up in Nashua, New Hampshire nonetheless) and then actually made it happen.  God knows I’ve made what I believed at the time were far better informed decisions about major life commitments and found myself disappointed, heartbroken and devastated in the end… yet almost 2 decades, 9 feature films, 100 short films, and two completed seasons of a TV series so far… ArieScope Pictures is still alive and well.  Our films have been released in theaters all over the world and I can do an appearance in another country that doesn’t even primarily speak English and yet fans come out in their Hatchet Army or Holliston Nation T-shirts and know every single word to the things we’ve made.  It’s absolutely surreal.

ariescopeLogo_bigOur 2004 Halloween short film MIDNIGHT was the debut of the logo that you have since seen on all ArieScope productions since.

The success story I depict of ArieScope Pictures is a highly romanticized tale though.  Trust me that over the past 17 years Will … and probably his very understanding wife… and probably their kids… and probably their family dog… and most definitely both of our bank accounts… have fluctuated between celebrating the day we met… to wishing they could Marty McFly back in time and prevent us from ever meeting in the first place.  Seriously, as an outsider who only sees the moments of accomplishment and the finished movies/shows/etc… try and imagine what it must be like to live with us and put up with the constant dream chasing and all of the disappointments that no one outside of “the family” has to deal with.  We’ve surely had our moments of triumph (“The financing actually came through!”, “We’re really making a movie!”, “We’re employed for at least a few months!”, “The reviews are incredible and people love what we did!”, “The movie is a financial hit!”, “We created a franchise!”) but on the flip slide, we’ve just barely survived through the much more frequent and much more severe lows (“After 10 months of working exclusively on this one project we just found out that the financing was never real and the project is never going to happen?”, “The money fell through or they cut the budget in half at the last second?”, “There’s no actual marketing budget or promotion to actually advertise what we made?”, “The network our show is on went under due to a corporate merger?”, “We’re shit broke again?”, “The MPAA is cutting everything out of our movie?”, “The movie made a ton of money… but none of it actually goes to us?”).  But that’s how it goes when pursuing art for a career and any independent minded filmmaker can relate to all of this too well.  Though I think it is very fair to say that we have undergone some seriously astonishing bouts of bad “luck”… we’ve also had our share of good “luck” and of course the grass is always greener on the other side of the set.  I don’t take for granted that we’ve also already accomplished more than most who are trying to do this ever will.   It just rarely feels like it.

WillAdamC&Dpremiere

Will and I at the premiere of COFFEE & DONUTS – 16 years ago.

The backbone in all of this has been our insane and (clinically) unhealthy determination to not give up.  There have been so many others that have helped and sacrificed to make each success possible.  People that we likely never would have accomplished a thing without.  Many have come aboard with us and become permanent family.  Some have stood the test of time and others have bailed out and swam for shore when the waters got rough… but it’s been an incredible journey to say the least.  Not a moment of which has ever been taken for granted as we know more than anyone just how fortunate we are to get to do what we do and to be where we are at…wherever that may actually be.   Are there easier ways to make a living?  Hell yes.  But fortunately (and unfortunately at times) I personally just don’t know how to do anything else.  It’s this or… this.  Period.

adamwill

Will and I at the Los Angeles premiere of DIGGING UP THE MARROW – 5 months ago.

To steer this story back to HOLLISTON… in 1999 my brother Eric suggested that I write a movie about the COFFEE & DONUTS radio show days.  You know, the whole “write what you know” thing.  Eric was the one who pushed me to write about the long standing heartbreak I was going through in getting over the break-up with my first love and the struggle to chase my dream.  In the movie for COFFEE & DONUTS “Adam” and “Steve” are trying to be radio DJ’s (not horror filmmakers like in the TV series) but other than that, so much of what was in C&D carried over to HOLLISTON.  That’s why I always tell those who are disappointed that they can’t see the movie, “If you’ve seen the TV show, you’ve essentially seen the movie and you aren’t missing anything.”  It’s true.  We made COFFEE & DONUTS for $400, learned important lessons along the way (like to NOT use music, art, and logos that we don’t have the rights to and that would prevent us from ever being able to actually distribute or publicly exhibit the movie- hey, we never thought in a million years the movie was going to go anywhere, we just wanted to see if we could do it), and well… the details are chronicled in earlier blogs.  Even though C&D was scrappily shot on BetaSP and edited tape to tape (we did not have access to computer editing back then)… the story, the writing, the performances, and the spirit of it really won people over.  We had done something right.

c&dposter_hrThe $400 budget movie that started it all. 

COFFEE & DONUTS won a fairly insignificant film festival, succeeded in landing me my first agent, gave me the push I needed to make the move to Los Angeles (Will would follow a few years later), and it put ArieScope Pictures on the entertainment industry map.  Sure, we were on the outskirts of the map but we were ON the map… even if we were located on the reverse side of the map that no one reads, listed below two print advertisements for local pawn shops or whatever. Thus began 3 years of struggling to survive and literally starving at times while doing odd jobs to stay alive in Los Angeles.  We kept making short films whenever we could.  Our second short film, 2000′s STAGEFRIGHT was producer/actress Sarah Elbert’s entry into the family – 15 years later, Sarah has produced many of our projects and is a producer and actress on HOLLISTON (fans know her as “Sarah The Waitress” on the show).  Meanwhile I kept doing assistant jobs, doing PA work, DJ’ing at night, and pounding the pavement.  There were so many “almosts” but in 2003 I finally sold C&D as a TV series (my first sale!) and I wrote the pilot script as part of a development deal with Touchstone and UPN.  It even put me in the Writer’s Guild and made me a union writer.  YAY!  Straight to the top, Ma!  But then UPN merged with the WB to become what is now known as the CW Network, my pilot script for C&D was tossed out, and my dream sat in rights purgatory for 5 years.  BOO.  But fuck it, I kept going full speed and in the meantime, I made HATCHET (this was where producer Cory Neal became a permanent part of the family, too – he’s the one with the brains and the patience to deal with stuff we don’t understand like… money), SPIRAL, GRACE, FROZEN, and HATCHET 2.  YAY!  After those 5 or 6 years were complete…C&D’s rights had finally reverted back to me.  YAY!  With the rights to my own life story back in my hands and now having at least a little bit of cache behind my name within the horror genre, I started to get interest in C&D again.  The development executives at G4 wanted to make a show starring myself and Joe Lynch after seeing our first round of ROAD TO FRIGHTFEST shorts.  (Which by the way, marked the historic first time that Lynch and I would work together if you’re keeping track here.)  You can watch all 15 of those shorts in our “Shorts” section.  I pitched C&D to G4 and they went for it!  Only now, I was actually going to get to play myself in my show like I always hoped to- something that UPN was never going to allow me to do in a million years.  Note: UPN also said “no” when I suggested that two relatively unknown actors (at the time) named Zach Galifianakas and Kevin Hart should play “Adam” and “Steve”… so you have to understand that it’s just how this goes and it was just the landscape back then.  If those dudes weren’t big enough to carry a show, then I wasn’t even big enough to carry the trash out for the port-a-john behind the sound stage of the show.  I understood and I didn’t take it to heart.  Are you kidding?  I was lucky to even have been developing a real network show back then!   But now with with the G4 version I was also able to cast Corri English, Laura Ortiz, Dee Snider, and Dave Brockie to fill out the cast around Lynch and myself.  This was huge as I had written the show specifically for those friends/actors.  C&D was a go again!!  YAY!  But then another merger happened and G4 was dissolved and overnight C&D was once again dead as a door nail.  Fuck me.  BOO!  But just a year later a start-up horror themed cable network called FEARnet hired Peter Block to run their network.  (The same Peter Block who produced our 2010 film FROZEN and who was now another friend dragged into our bullshit.)  FEARnet needed programming, liked the idea of a show starring Joe and I, believed in the cast like I did, and agreed to license C&D.  In re-developing the show it was clear that the name COFFEE & DONUTS was no longer appropriate or relevant.  For a brief period of time the show was actually called BLOOD & GUTS during development… but in the end, HOLLISTON was the name chosen.  And I couldn’t have been happier about that.  It was perfect.

B&GA never before shown excerpt from the early development materials.  ”COFFEE & DONUTS” almost became “BLOOD & GUTS” before ultimately being named “HOLLISTON”.

13 years after making our little $400 movie… the TV show I always imagined finally, really, actually happened.  I mean, we were on set!  We were filming!  it was HAPPENING!  YAY!   Despite some of the most severe budget limitations a sit-com has ever faced, we made two amazing seasons of HOLLISTON all while making CHILLERAMA, HATCHET 3, and DIGGING UP THE MARROW at the same time.  Even though HOLLISTON was on a network that most didn’t know existed and that the rest all thought was a website due to their unfortunate name being “FEARnet”… through critical love, fan word of mouth, and the cast tirelessly appearing, signing, and performing around the country at almost every horror convention (all for free)… the series slowly began to find an incredibly loyal and passionate cult audience.  My dream had become a reality and every single day of working on HOLLISTON was my favorite day ever.  YAY!  But just as plans for a third season were starting to be discussed, tragedy struck and in the span of just 4 weeks… Dave Brockie (“Oderus Urungus”) died, the FEARnet network was dissolved, everything in my professional life was turned upside down, and in my personal life I went through a divorce that crushed my soul.  In what literally seemed like a flash… my whole life came crashing to pieces and HOLLISTON was shot through a canon back into the land of TV show purgatory.  What.  The.  Fuck??  KILL ME.

Holliston_Season 2_090412_JPEGS 64Strike the lights, tear down the sets, and go home everybody… it’s over.

This is the point where sane individuals throw in the towel.  You get through the emotional devastation the best way you can, sift through the rubble of your life, put yourself back together, get back on your feet, and learn to just be grateful that any of the good times ever even happened in the first place.  After all, nothing lasts forever, right?  You struggle to put the past behind you and focus on the positive memories while you look ahead to whatever will be next in life.  Sane individuals heal and move on.  But I’m not a sane individual.  I might have gotten knocked on my ass and had my world destroyed… but I don’t give up that easy.

MovieCrypt_iTunesThe original podcast logo, taken directly from HOLLISTON. 

One of the things that helped me through those two dark years was doing the weekly MOVIE CRYPT podcast where Lynch and I would sit down with a different artist each week and just… talk.  Candid, heart to heart discussions about surviving the Hollywood trenches.  In the 2+ years we’ve been doing the podcast it has now become incredibly popular.  (There is another blog about all of that.)  While I wish I could say that Joe and I always knew the podcast would take off or that it was ever even our intention to have a successful podcast in the first place… neither are true.  We initially only planned to do the show for the 10 weeks that Season 2 of HOLLISTON was airing so that we could have a forum to discuss each week’s episode and perhaps help promote the series a little more.  But long story short, THE MOVIE CRYPT turned into something truly special.  Unfortunately named after the fictitious cable access show our characters host on HOLLISTON (I say “unfortunately named” because now we’re stuck with a podcast name that many assume is just another one of the dime a dozen “horror podcasts” until they actually listen to it… and the title THE MOVIE CRYPT is too branded to change now), in many ways the podcast kept the spirit of HOLLISTON alive… and our own spirits alive as well.   The podcast was just a hobby at first and even though it has become “a thing” now, it has continued to be a joy to do.  Of course everyone involved with HOLLISTON continued on with other projects during this period.  For myself personally, even while knocked on my ass from the events of 2014, I still managed to finish and release DIGGING UP THE MARROW, I was still writing, I was still working every day developing my next film(s), and just this past Friday ArieScope launched the original on-line series HORRIFIED- our third original series that we’ve created and launched this year.  (Watch it here!)  I might have been a living garbage dump on the inside, but outside I still never stopped working.  Life carried on and every week, Joe and I (and my dog Arwen, of course) sat down to record a new episode of the podcast.  THE MOVIE CRYPT became our own form of therapy.

The_Movie_Crypt_Shirt-LOGO2The official logo for THE MOVIE CRYPT podcast.

At several points over the last two years we had talks about continuing HOLLISTON with various companies or distribution platforms.  In some cases the timing of it all was just too soon and I wasn’t ready yet.  In other instances the scenarios just weren’t even real when push came to shove.  People love to take meetings in this town and dangle carrots or make promises.  The big thing for all of us was that IF we were to continue HOLLISTON it had to make sense, the creative control had to remain with ArieScope, and there had to be an improvement from the major accessibility hurdles we faced with the release of our first two seasons.  There were a few opportunities proposed and considered, but nothing that was going to pan out.   It’s important to mention that none of this is unusual or out of the ordinary and it’s all par for the course in doing this.  But there we were, sitting down to do the podcast each week… the podcast that was a spin-off of HOLLISTON and who’s numbers were going up and up and up… trying to make sense of the constantly changing business and the seemingly impossible financing landscape… and trying to figure out a scenario that made sense.  We’d sit in front of our microphones and muse over our predicament.  Sometimes on the air but mostly off the air before or after each recording.  How could we do HOLLISTON the way we want, have it carried somewhere where everyone can easily watch it, and still have the budget we need to keep doing it right?  And let’s be honest… one full 10 episode season of HOLLISTON costs about a fraction of one single episode of a major network sit-com so we’re not talking about millions and millions of dollars here.  How is it this hard??   Long story short… when life doesn’t make sense- listen to your dog.

Arwen4Arwen: “The answer is right in front of your microphones, Guys.”

Meetings happened, things were discussed, plans were hatched… and well, read the press release as it explains how we got here.  And here we are.  HOLLISTON will return next year and be available to watch on Geek Nation.  The same exact show you already know and love, only now everyone can watch it.  Yes, even people in other countries (so long as your local government doesn’t have a block on your internet).  Just three weeks ago, Joe, Corri, Laura, and I had our first rehearsal for Season 3.  Had Dee not been over seas performing what will be his final stretch of shows with TWISTED SISTER he most certainly would have been there with us, too.

HollistonNEWprofilepicCorri, Joe, Laura, Adam, and Lance will return.

Now we had two choices with all of this.  Do we hold back on saying what we’re doing until the new season has already been shot and we have every single answer and an exact premiere date to give?  Or do we spill the news now, let everyone know that we’re back at work, and share the good word that Season 3 is indeed a go and officially back in progress?  This business can be tumultuous and financing scenarios disappear overnight, mergers happen, executives leave companies, or full networks dissolve before your eyes… (I mean, did you read the above novel about the 15 year struggle this show has already endured?)… so typically the policy is to keep your lips sealed until the thing is DONE.  But after careful consideration the verdict was… fuck it.  This isn’t a “maybe” situation.  We’re doing it!   Let’s tell everyone the good news.  Haven’t the fans of this show waited long enough to hear something?  It’s still gonna be awhile before the show is finished with production and ready to air so let’s not leave them hanging.  Let’s shout it from the rooftops.  Let’s get the fans to shout it from their roof tops with us!  With how long it will take to write, rehearse, properly prepare, shoot, and complete post production on a season of this show… sure, “shit could happen.”  But we can’t live in fear of what could go wrong.  I mean, fuck it- what hasn’t gone wrong already?   We’ve got this.  Most importantly, staying quiet does nothing to help our cause and in the specific case of what we’re doing with various sponsorships and other financial partnerships (again, more good news will be revealed in due time), the more noise the fans make on-line the more it helps our train continue to stay on the right set of tracks.  So the big question is of course… when will you be able to see the show?  Here’s what I know right know…

HOLLISTON cast June 15Together again at our first reading of new Season 3 material.

We have a ways to go before we can start production.  First and foremost, all of us are still scattered on other projects and obligations so we’re likely looking at after the holidays before we could possibly have everyone in the same place at the same time for the duration of a full season shoot.  Nothing can change that.  Yes, we will be occasionally rehearsing and workshopping the new material before then… but only when all of us can be together in between our various other projects.  Looking at the calendar, it is very likely that January will be the earliest we can all buckle down together and focus on HOLLISTON and HOLLISTON alone.  Could schedules free up sooner?  Definitely.  But for now… this is the deal.  Secondly, this show takes a long time for me to write and a long time for the cast and I to prepare.  There is no writing staff with a dozen or so writers like what a major network show has.  It’s just me.  Once Lynch and I finishing working out the general episode story lines and each of the character’s arcs for the season, I head off on my own to churn out the 600+ pages that will eventually become each season.   When I am confident and happy with the material (sometimes 3 or 4 drafts later on each episode), the main cast gathers at ArieScope and together we spend a night reading all of the episodes out loud together.  This is the first time that the cast actually even sees any pages and it’s one of the most exciting moments of each season as I finally get to hear what I spent months writing in solitude spoken out loud by the very voices I wrote it all for.  Then, over the next few days I bring in each actor for a one on one meeting where we discuss their roles, their reactions to the material, and their own ideas.   Once rehearsals start, the cast becomes my non-traditional version of a “writer’s room.”  Through our nightly work as a cast the scripts are honed, certain jokes are punched up or killed, new jokes are created, and the episodes come to life.  It’s a long process but it’s also an incredibly fun process that we adore.  Filming, post-production, coloring, visual effects, sound design, scoring, mixing… all in all we’re planing on a Summer 2016 release.  Believe me, if I could tell you the exact day- I’d tell you. You may not be aware of this, but I’m not afraid of writing a long winded, flowery blog that takes the average person 2 days and five sittings to read.

photo-4Summer 2012: Corri holding what would become Season 2.

Season 3 had already been mapped out back in 2013 and I had already written several of the episodes… but then we lost Dave.   And if you’re a first time reader of this blog who thinks that perhaps I am being a bit matter of fact about Dave’s death in this posting… I am most certainly not.  I’ve spent the last year and a half mourning and seeking help to try and accept the losses in my life.  The memoriam blogs are all still available below if that’s what you’re looking for.  But with today’s big news, I hope to be starting the next phase of all of this.  Though my heartbreak will be a permanent part of me, I hope to keep that pain in the right place so that it no longer cripples me like it has been.   A lot of what I already had designed for Season 3 (and beyond) has to be changed and on a personal level, writing this next season is going to be very difficult for me given the absence of my character’s guardian angel and the even bigger absence of my real life friend.  I know that I’m going to hit walls from time to time.  I’m going to stumble and have emotional set backs when I least expect it.  But I’ll face it head-on and I’ll get past it.  To share an example of just how hard and how randomly Brockie’s death still hits me out of nowhere… this past week we started going through HOLLISTON’s storage to inventory what still exists, what survived, and what we’ll need to rebuild again.   At one point FX artist Robert Pendergraft (who was sifting through the piles) walked back into the studio holding “Spooky Dan Bear” (last seen in Season 2, Episode 9 when “Oderus” threatened to move out and leave “Adam” over feeling taken for granted in their friendship) and handed it to me.  At first I laughed.  I was happy to see “Spooky Dan Bear” again as the last time I saw it, Dave had said he was going to take it with him as a memento when we wrapped.  I had no idea it was even in storage.

Arwen Spooky BearArwen called “dibs” on her find.

But just a few seconds later, I turned “Spooky Dan Bear” around and… there was the greasepaint from the paint-on abs that “Oderus” wore.  Dave had (as always) sweat off all of the make-up onto the back of the bear when we were filming that scene.  It’s one thing to be reunited with an object associated with someone who’s passed on… but to see their sweat marks still on it?  It just made it seem even less real that he’s actually gone.  It wrecked me.  Once again.

OderusSpookyDanJuly 2012.   Oderus: “Spooky Dan Bear is none of your business!” 

FullSizeRenderJuly 2015.   Dave left a part of himself with “Spooky Dan Bear.”

Now, a week later, I look at “Spooky Dan Bear” (whom Arwen has now adopted as her own security blanket of sorts here at the studio), and I see the greasepaint stains, and I SMILE.  I hug that ridiculous teddy bear when I need to and I feel closer to Dave… who unlike his foul mouthed, blood spewing, profanity screaming, heavy metal rock star alter ego “Oderus Urungus”… was truly a giant teddy bear himself.  He loved HOLLISTON.  He loved me.  He loved Joe.  He loved Laura.  He loved Corri.  He loved and respected the hell out of Dee.  (Who doesn’t?)  He loved being a part of this thing and he called it “the greatest thing” that had ever happened to him.  He loved his fans.  So yeah, the show must go on.  And now it will.

531518_265550816885011_1075018353_nTwo years ago last week.  San Diego Comic Con.

No, “Oderus” will not be recast or replaced by a new “imaginary friend.”  And while his loss will be felt deeply, none of us want to see Season 3 turn into a nonstop tearjerker or a 10 episode memorial.  Our loss will be addressed but then the characters of HOLLISTON will go on living.  They’ll get into trouble, they’ll have fun, they’ll laugh, they’ll cry, they’ll love, they’ll get their hearts broken, they’ll dream, they’ll succeed, and they’ll fail… but together they will keep getting back up with hearts like middle fingers that scream “IS THAT ALL YOU’VE GOT?”   Just like this group of friends does in real life.  Dave/”Oderus” may not be standing on set with us physically anymore, but he will without a doubt still be on our set nonetheless.

Obviously as time goes on we’ll start to be able to share more and more specific details about Season 3.  What will happen to “Joe” and “Laura” after that crazy Season 2 finale?  How will “Adam” and “Corri” handle their new situation?  What will come of “Lance Rockett” now that he’s been laid off from his job?  Will the guys ever get SHINPADS made?  Who will the guest stars be this season?  Will the cast start doing convention appearances and live performances again?  For now… you’ll have to just continue to wait.  But hopefully the wait is now much easier knowing that the band is back together, things are moving forward again, and Season 3 is coming.  We made it through this storm but we still have a lot of hard work in front of us.  To every fan that stood by us, that mourned with us, that shared our collective heartbreak, and that never stopped believing in us or having faith in this show that we love so much… thank you.  We hope to deliver the best season yet.  Keep us in your thoughts and PLEASE keep making noise for HOLLISTON on-line.  Twitter, facebook, instagram… wherever you can spread your enthusiasm, please share it and don’t let up.  Say hello and introduce yourselves to the folks at Geek Nation by tweeting them @GeekNation or even better, tell them how much the return of HOLLISTON means to you by leaving them a Facebook comment at https://www.facebook.com/GeekNation.  Feeling a little more old school?  Then send them an old fashioned email at admin@geeknation.com.  Show them that the Holliston Nation is now even stronger than ever and that you’re with us.  Haven’t bought Seasons 1 and 2 on Blu-Ray yet?  What better time than now?  Still don’t have a HOLLISTON shirt or poster?   All of the official merchandise is available right here and every single bit of your support helps us more than you can possibly imagine.  Most importantly… like the inscription said on the guitar that “Adam” gave “Corri” for Christmas… BELIEVE.  Your spirit is not only felt by us… it fuels us.

BelieveGUITAR“I am barely breathing, begging please, trying to believe, oh- can you hear me?” 

I’ll close with the below picture that was taken by photographer Gretchen Ertyl shortly after the premiere we held for Season 1 in my actual hometown of Holliston, MA.  We had just wrapped the screening at Town Hall and the audience was invited to join the cast for celebratory drinks at the REAL Casey’s Crossing just a few blocks away. (On the show you see the actual exterior of Casey’s, but the interior is on a sound stage in Hollywood and looks nothing like the real establishment. Live in MA?  Go se the real Casey’s sometime!)  Gretchen had come to the event to take photos of the cast for the Boston Globe.  Before I walked into the party, she asked me to stop and look up while standing on the steps outside of Casey’s.  I distinctly remember standing there, outside in the cold, back in my hometown that I hadn’t been back to in a decade, and just thinking… Wow.  My long and crazy journey had both figuratively and literally lead me back home and I was so unbelievably happy and proud to be there again.  The people in town made us feel so welcomed and appreciated.  For Laura, Corri, Joe, and Sarah – they may as well have also grown up in Holliston with me for all anyone cared.  They were treated exactly like old neighbors, long lost friends, or extended family.  It was an incredible night that meant way more than any of the fancy Hollywood premieres I’ve had.  The events of these last two years have been about as dire as it gets for any show and for any artist.  We got hit with some bad, bad times and it constantly felt like it was all over.  Yet here we are today… picking up where we left off and continuing on with the same dream once more.  I guess you could say that I’m on my way home again.  And there’s nowhere else in the world I’d rather be heading.   We’ll be back soon, HOLLISTON.  Leave the light on for us.  Not that you ever gave up or shut the light off in the first place.  …Wow.

- Adam / “Adam”

Adam never giveup“Now I’m back- oh yes I am, I maybe fell apart at the seams. I had a nightmare- believe me when I tell you, nobody ever dies in their dreams.  Nine lives, it ain’t over, nine lives, live for ten.”                              – Steven Tyler

 

10 Years Ago Today: HATCHET BEGINS

042505 026April 25, 2005.  HATCHET begins…

10 years ago today a motley crew of filmmakers arrived and set up base camp at Sable Ranch in Santa Clarita, CA to begin the “22″ grueling days/nights of filming HATCHET.  I need to put the number 22 in quotes because in reality the shoot for HATCHET was more like half of that amount of time.  Though the film was originally intended to film earlier that year in the winter time when we would have full nights to shoot our little night-for-night production, as things tend to go in the indie world, our production pushed back and pushed back until we wound up filming in the spring and shooting at the absolute worst time of year for this particular kind of production.  To put it into perspective, 90% of HATCHET takes place outside and at night.  In the Spring in California you’re lucky to have 8 or 9 full hours of shootable darkness as opposed to the standard 12 hour film shoot that often also comes with the option of shooting even longer and into overtime if necessary.  Factor in that we couldn’t afford enough transportation vehicles and drivers to quickly travel our cast and crew from our set deep in the woods down to our base camp, and every single night our lunch break wound up taking anywhere from 90 to 120 minutes no matter how hard we tried to expedite the process.  But that wasn’t our only set-back with time.  We got pummeled with rain just 3 nights into the shoot and lost half a night of shooting when our set all but washed away.  (This would happen to us again on HATCHET 3, only even worse.)  To add one more major obstacle during production… one night we arrived to find that a major network television show had unexpectedly taken over and placed a full-size helicopter right in the middle of our set.  Even our carefully laid out electrical cables had been unceremoniously pulled up and moved aside in a pile and the entire night was chalked up as a loss for us.   How can that happen, you ask?   Well, in the indie world when you have very little money, sometimes your location can screw you over in the middle of your shoot when a bigger production suddenly shows up with a much bigger pay check to wave in front of them.  From the random set-backs… to the fact that we were shooting such an ambitious film on a meager budget that included rain towers, extremely complicated make-up effects, stunts, fire, animals, children, underwater photography, and various other things that slow a production down to a crawl… to the fact that we would show up on set each evening to find that a porno flick (that sadly probably had a bigger budget than we did) was shooting on our sets without our consent… and hopefully you can start to see why the making of HATCHET was anything but typical or easy.  By the way, I wish I was joking about the porno story, but there were many nights that we had to eat “breakfast” while watching strangers have sex on our sets and there was absolutely nothing we could do about it as it was too late to find a new ranch to shoot on or to move our entire production elsewhere.

PowertoolMassacreWatch this porn someday and you just may notice a lot of our sets from HATCHET.

I’ll save all of the untold stories for the big “10 Year Anniversary” blog (or perhaps novel with the way I tend to write) for the 10 year anniversary of the film’s theatrical release (September 7, 2007) since that is the date that “Victor Crowley” was truly born to the mass public, but I couldn’t let this pivotal day in HATCHET history go by without acknowledging and celebrating it at least a little bit.

042505 067“Victor Crowley’s” hatchet was custom made as I wanted it to have a double sided blade that is normally only found on an axe.  It’s fully made out of metal, including the hatchet handle.

Filming HATCHET may have been extremely difficult but it was also one of the greatest times of so many of our lives.  Perhaps it was due to the fact that our core crew was so fresh, young, and naive that we were just happy to be living the dream of making a movie and nothing could break our sprits.  Perhaps it was due to the fact that my intense enthusiasm and love for this project was contagious enough to make even the most jaded and skeptical crew members start drinking my “Crowley Kool Aid” and believing that the film we were making was going to actually matter and be remembered someday.   A decade later there are more interviews about the production of “Hatchet” available to read on-line than I can even begin to count and the DVD/BLU-RAY release is so jam packed with incredibly comprehensive documentaries and commentary tracks about how the film was made that it is truly the next best thing to having had been there on set with us.

Will's pics 1285“We’re making a movie!” – Sarah Elbert, Producer  (April 25, 2005… and several times every day and night of production for the next 22 grueling days after that.)

042505 047Director of Photography Will Barratt.  Hey, anyone remember FILM?

Our set photographer Christel Golden did a phenomenal job documenting every single moment of the production and there are literally thousands of photos to go through, so just choosing a few images to encapsulate what the excitement of that first day/night of production was like is extremely difficult to accomplish.  Day 1 wound up being the film’s flashback scene that accompanies “Marybeth’s” tale of the legend of “Victor Crowley.”  It was a split day that began with a day-time shoot of the scenes with “Young Victor Crowley” and finished with a night-time shoot where we shot the crucial scene of the Crowley house catching fire and “Mr. Crowley” accidentally killing “Victor” while attempting to save him.  Ambitious, sure.  But nothing could prepare us for our very first unexpected challenge.  A challenge that set the stage for the difficulties that were to come.  Let me explain…

H1 scheduleThe first page of HATCHET’s production schedule.

The Crowley house and accompanying shed was built on our main set deep in the woods at Sable Ranch many days in advance of the shoot.  It probably goes without being said, but building a house of any kind is a LOT of work.  As is protocol when dealing with fire safety, a fire marshal came out and approved the location and the fire stunt in advance of HATCHET’s Production Designer Bryan McBrien starting his build.  (We did things right and always put safety first.)  However, on the day of the actual shoot a different fire marshall came out to supervise the evening and noticed that one branch (ONE branch) of a nearby oak tree was hanging ever so slightly over the Crowley house that our crew had built.  Though the chances of the branch catching fire were extremely slim, there was still a chance.  We couldn’t simply cut the lone branch as oak trees are apparently protected in California.  So mere hours before cameras were set to roll, Bryan and his crew had to literally slice off the front of the Crowley house and somehow move it down into the ranch’s parking lot.  It was a feat to accomplish to say the least and in the end Bryan and his crew actually wound up building a new Crowley house facade in a matter of hours.  In the finished movie you would never know that half of the iconic sequence is on the real set and half of it is in a parking lot… but that is the magic of filmmaking and sometimes a crew’s most heroic efforts go completely unnoticed (at least if they did their job right).

042505 068This shot reveals just how NOT in a Louisiana swamp the set actually was.  But in the film…

042505 147

… audiences fully believed what they were seeing. When we did promotional interviews leading up to the release of HATCHET 2 we told the press that the sequel was mainly shot on a sound stage and then watched how some reviews claimed that “the sequel doesn’t feel like the original because it wasn’t shot in a real swamp like the first film was.”  The original HATCHET was shot in a combination of desert parking lot and a stretch of California desert woods with just a handful of swamp plants, trees, and Spanish moss dressed in for effect on camera.  In fact, if you watch the first film closely enough, you can actually see the pots that the swamp plants are still in.  HATCHET 2 was primarily shot on a sound stage which allowed us full shooting days and much more time to film the sequel’s extravagant (and numerous) death sequences.  For the sequel, McBrien’s crew created a completely authentic swamp inside the stage and every plant and tree seen on screen is real.  Save for the roof over our heads (which is obviously never seen in the film) HATCHET 2 was actually shot in a far more realistic swamp setting than the original film.  Lesson learned: don’t tell the press how you actually made something until after they’ve seen it.

After making it through the massive clusterfuck of having to quickly rebuild the front of the house on Day 1, I clearly remember saying that “at least we got our major set-back out of the way on the first day” but I’ve since learned the perils in saying such words and the various jinxes that speaking them out loud can bring down upon a production.  If I only knew then what the next decade had in store for the HATCHET story.  Each film in the saga came with it’s own set of difficult production obstacles and random crazy release hurdles that were almost too ridiculous to believe.  ”Ben’s” famous line in HATCHET 1 (“You gotta be fucking kidding me?!”) was a phrase uttered by many of us behind the scenes far too many times over the next decade of making the trilogy.

042505 018Inside the make-up FX trailer on Day 1.

The most important aspect of the HATCHET saga to note is that every single step of it was willed into fruition.  Not a single thing ever just “worked out” or went our way and at some point when all of the true behind the scenes stories are finally told and made public, you’ll see that the horror, comedy, and drama depicted on screen is nothing compared to what we lived through behind the scenes ourselves.  HATCHET’s eventual success and each sequel’s eventual completion had to be fought for tooth and nail at every turn.  And for that, I’m not only prouder than I ever could have imagined I’d be of this series but I’m eternally grateful for the entire experience.  All of it.  The intense highs and the devastatingly heartbreaking lows… the laughs, the tears, the cheers, the screams, the achievements and the disappointments were all one big gift.

042505 141Another little known fact, the first person to don the “Crowley” costume (or a very basic version of it) on the production was actually Kane Hodder’s right hand man and Assistant Stunt Coordinator Rick McCallum- who is the only other person to ever portray the character on film.

042505 194

For the stunt when “Mr. Crowley” (Kane Hodder) breaks through the burning door with a hatchet and accidentally hits his now fully grown son “Victor” (Rick McCallum) in the face and kills him… Kane couldn’t possibly play both parts in the same shot. 042505 202One of the most defining moments in Kane’s career, he cites this scene in his autobiography as the one that opened far more doors to on-screen acting roles out of prosthetic make-up.

Someday perhaps there will be a book or a documentary or some other piece of media that truly tells the real story of how this cult slasher franchise found it’s way, but until then all I can do is say thank you to every single person who served time and stood with me on this crazy, crazy journey.  I might be the face of HATCHET as the creator and main driving creative force behind it, but it was the cast and crew of each film who really made it all possible.  Many of whom also returned again (and again) for the sequels which is quite rare for a slasher series.  But more so than anything, it was (and continues to be) the FANS worldwide who really made it all worth it.  The fans who carried us the whole way through and who continue to make HATCHET something bigger and more important than every single one of us who stood together on set that fateful first day of production 10 years ago.  They aren’t just fans, they are an army and no truer name has ever been bestowed upon a fan base.

armylogoThe greatest fans in the world.

To my cast and crew who spent such a huge portion of their lives working on HATCHET, congratulations on our 10th year anniversary of our first day of filming.  I mean, fuck… who would have ever thought??  I don’t even think “Victor Crowley” himself could have imagined what our efforts would produce.  But then again, he would probably have been too busy tearing us limb from limb to ever stop and think about what he would go on to mean to legions of horror fans around the world.

Will's pics 1472On the eve of shooting with the original 5 who put it all together and made HATCHET actually happen: Cory Neal, Sarah Elbert, Will Barratt, Me, and Scott Altomare.

So go on… put on your favorite HATCHET T-shirt and enjoy all three films in the trilogy today while dining on a “Moons Over My Hammy, yo”, some chicken and biscuits (and gravy), some of Reverend Zombie’s fancy Chips O’hoy cookies, or be a man and have a Twinkie.  Watch the various behind the scenes documentaries.  Listen to the various commentary tracks.  Reach out to any of the various films’ cast or crew members that you follow on social networking and let them hear your appreciation for all that they did.  But most of all, remember that anything is possible if you’re willing to dream, willing to work hard, willing to keep getting back up again no matter what, and willing to suffer a bit for what you believe in along the way.  From an 8 year old kid at summer camp with nothing but a Twisted Sister tape and a dream, to a handful of friends standing in a parking lot in Santa Clarita believing they could actually make a horror movie, to audiences of fans worldwide who embraced HATCHET with open slasher loving arms… Victor Crowley lives on today and forever more.

042505 101Living the surreal dream on that first night of shooting and every day since.

So heed Jack Cracker’s warnings and stay out of the swamp because with fans like the HATCHET ARMY Victor Crowley will never really die.  In fact, if you listen closely in the dead of the night tonight, I swear you’ll still hear him.  He’s still out there.  Still roaming the swamp.  Still crying for his daddy…

“Daaaaaddy……”

-Adam Green – Hollywood, CA.  April 25th, 2015.

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…

Harlequin“Harlequin”

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)

 

FROZEN TURNS 5

 

5 years ago this weekend, FROZEN world premiered at the Sundance Film festival in Park City, UT.  It is hard to believe just how fast time has flown since then. Sundance 2010 still remains one of the best moments of my career and watching just how well FROZEN was received is still one of my greatest personal triumphs. It was such a joy to hear people in the audience (most of whom still didn’t know what I looked like back then as HOLLISTON had not yet happened) say “Three people in a chair? This will never work.” right in front of me… and then watch so many of those same people become exhausted, emotionally devastated, sweaty lumps in their seats over the next 94 minutes. And I truly owe it all to my fantastic crew and my three fearless actors who never quit on me no matter how many times I may have broken them with what I put them through. Emma Bell, Shawn Ashmore, and Kevin Zegers are still three of my biggest heroes and the movie never would have worked without them. While early reviews show signs that next month’s DIGGING UP THE MARROW is going to give FROZEN a critical run for its money, FROZEN is still my best reviewed movie to date in the mainstream press worldwide. (HATCHET 2, released only 7 months later that very same year, is a close second as far as positive mainstream reviews go.)  The more time that passes the more I hear from people who ski or snowboard how they heard complete strangers talking about the movie while waiting in line for the lift at various ski mountains. Even more specifically, the conversations often include someone fearfully saying that they don’t want anyone in their group to mention FROZEN when they are on the lift.  The MacGyver’s of the world continue to debate “what they would do” and so many interviews I do (for completely different projects) wind up with the interviewer wanting to tell me their own ‘stuck on a ski lift’ story. And let’s not forget the absolute comedy of the now infamous review that slammed the film for the “fact” that the actors were “so obviously on a green screen and not really in the elements” and because “the wolves were poorly computer generated.” My actors (both human and canine) would still beg to differ with that critic. I love all of it. In the end, this simple yet insane idea struck a big chord and five years later I can only look back and wonder what we were thinking putting ourselves through such a brutal shoot. (“It’s just three people in a chair, how hard can it be?”)

Here are some rare behind the scenes photos, many of which you have likely never seen before…

FHI_6106 FHH_4126

Emma Bell was the very first person to audition.  She set the bar so high that no one else who came in after her could even compare.

FHH_5669

Kevin Zegers almost lost this gorgeous face to “Shadow”, one of the scarier wolves used in the film.  In the scene where the wolves surround “Dan”, you’ll see a black wolf walk right up to Kevin and start to sniff his hat.  If we left even one more frame in that shot you would have seen the trainers come running in to take “Shadow” away.  Though the other wolves all ignored Kevin while we shot that scene, “Shadow” really wanted to know where Kevin got that hat and if it came in “Wolf” size.

FHH_7775

No.  They weren’t in a studio against a fucking green screen.

FHI_4046

Emma bravely makes her way down the mountain.

FHI_5987 FHH_6439 FHH_6428 CIMG0736

Production Designer Bryan McBrien created a small ski lift set in the mountain’s parking lot where we could safely wire the performers in for stunts and vertically move the chair up and down for the make-up team to apply certain make-up effects.  So why not shoot the whole movie like this?  Why make everyone go up the real mountain?  Well, had we shot the whole movie this way I would have been completely limited in my available shots and angles.  The film would have had no scope whatsoever and the camera would have seen the lodge and the parking lot had I shot any other angles than the ones that we specifically designed this set for.  You can see the amazing forced-perspective set that Bryan built in Adam Barnick’s 90 minute “making of” special features on the Blu-Ray or DVD.  Still the best bonus features I’ve ever seen on an indie release, ever.

FHI_5840FHH_6428

Some last minute direction before shooting.  You’ll notice the yellow safety harness I am wearing.  That’s because Will Barratt and I were the ones operating the two 35mm cameras for all of the scenes where the chair lift was actually moving.  (All of the scenes where the chair was stuck were shot using a 50′ Panavision techno crane that was operated safely from the ground.) The grip department built a rig that allowed Will and I to hang in front of the actor’s chair but no one in the camera department felt safe shooting that way.  I bravely said I would just shoot it myself… and then almost pee’d myself once I was up there.  When I was looking through the lens I was OK because it didn’t seem real.  But when I’d take my face away from the glass to change a lens or speak to the actors…I was terrified.  Will was way more brave than I was.

FHH_6439

The rig/bucket that Will and I hung in to shoot the scenes where the chair was moving.

FHI_0220

“Maverick” was so beautiful that it was a challenge to do as Sled Reynolds (our trainer) said and NOT try and pet him or make eye contact with him.  As an animal lover it was hell for me to follow instructions and obey the rules. But…

FHI_2093

…thankfully Sled allowed me my chance on the last day of shooting with the wolves.

FHI_3503

Even though Shawn had safety pads in his jacket and even though this was a wolf/shepherd hybrid (not one of the pure bred wolves), it was still a scary day of filming.  Especially for Ashmore.

FHI_5987

Emma Bell truly gave me everything she had.  I adore her.

FHI_6106

Shawn still has marks from the safety harness he had to wear to do these stunts.  The pain you see on his face in the movie is very, very real.  The wide shots of “Lynch’s” climb across the cables were performed up on the actual mountain by stunt man Chester Tripp, but we filmed Shawn’s close-up angles in the parking lot’s forced perspective set.

FHI_5840

The real heroes of FROZEN.  Together we conquered a mountain.

Somehow we did it.  Thankfully I have a crew/family that just hasn’t figured out how to say “no” to me yet. Without them I could never accomplish a goddamn thing. So as Sundance 2015 begins this weekend, I say “Happy birthday FROZEN!”

And stay off the slopes, you guys.  Skiing kills.

-AG
FHI_3503 FHI_2093

The 2014 “Year End” Blog

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…

DUTM_ONESHEETsmall

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.  

IMG_35272

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…

DekkerWall

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.

MarrowBooklet

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!

IMG_3957

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.

IMG_2537

 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…

corriAdamfacebook

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.

Holliston_Season 2_090412_JPEGS 64

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 Adam BW

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.

The_Movie_Crypt_Shirt-LOGO2

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…

MovieCryptEW

 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.

Arwen4

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.

ArwenMorningBath

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.

Arwen2

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.

ArieScopeTattoos

Fan art.

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.

ArwenAdam sleep

2014.  Adam and Arwen out.

-AG

16 Years of Halloween Fun

ArieScope Halloween

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…!”

Last week we launched our 16th annual ArieScope Halloween short film, “Happy Halloween”.  Starring our friends Shawn Ashmore (FROZEN, THE FOLLOWING, X-MEN) and Brea Grant (HEROES, DEXTER) and featuring the fantastic debut of Sam Barratt (Will’s youngest son), “Happy Halloween” was our biggest opening day for a Halloween short film in all 16 years of doing them.  Yes, even bigger than “Jack Chop” which took about a week to catch on and blow up into the viral hit that it eventually became- although “Happy Halloween” will never come close to “Jack Chop’s” popularity being that it’s a serious piece.  (Serious shorts aren’t exactly the “Oh my God, I need to forward this to all of my friends, family, and co-workers right away” kind of shorts.)  Moments after we launched the short our site was crashed by all of the people trying to view it.  It came back on-line just a little while later only to be crashed again.  And again.  And again.  All day long.  Even better… reactions have been phenomenally positive and we have yet to receive a single complaint over the fact that we chose to go “serious” with the concept this year instead of the usual irreverent and silly concepts that our audience has come to expect from us each year.  We try our best to never repeat ourselves with the Halloween shorts and to always surprise the fans in one way or another (down to the fact that we never reveal any information about them or say who will be in them until the moment they are released), thus no “Jack Chop 2″.  ”Jack Chop” was (to quote “Nicolo” himself) “one… and ya fahkin done, kid.”  Of course the “Nicolo” character has lived on as a re-occurring character in HOLLISTON, as a quick cameo in 2010′s Halloween short “Just Take One”, and he’ll be back again in something else one day, promise.  After “Jack Chop” became a big hit it was not easy to follow it up the next year as we knew that no matter what we did it would never stand a chance at hitting as big.  So we went for “cute” instead of “hilarity” when we did “Just Take One” in 2010.  But that’s how these shorts work.  Given how fortunate we are to always be so busy with our various “real” projects (films, the TV show, etc- not to mention our actual lives) and how hard it is to gather up so many members of our family all on the same night when they are each also incredibly busy… why do we still do it at all?  I thought you’d never hypothetically ask…

IMG_1827Brea Grant and Shawn Ashmore run lines together before filming.

In 1998, Will Barratt and I made a short film called “Columbus Day Weekend” where Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers stalked the same camp site and the two slasher icons ultimately fell in love with each other.  At the time, we were both working at Time Warner Cable in Boston, MA making low budget local commercials and therefore we had access to their production equipment, a perk we would ultimately abuse to the fullest extent just a year later when we made our first feature film COFFEE & DONUTS with the same “borrowed” BetaSP camera and basic lights.  ”Columbus Day Weekend” was something we made to show at my annual Halloween dinner party and it was never intended to be shown publicly anywhere else or become our calling card and do anything for our careers.  (We would have tried much harder if that was the case!)  We figured we’d show it at my party for a laugh and that would be it.  But it changed so many things for us, starting with the fact that in order to properly mimic the opening credits of a FRIDAY THE 13TH film we needed a production company name.  We quickly came up with the name “ArieScope” because we’re both Aries and “scope” sounded “film-ish” to us… plus we needed something on the spot right then and there if we were to screen the short at that night’s party.  (So by “quickly came up with it” I literally mean that we came up with the word in less than a minute.  After all, it was just gonna be used one time, right?)  We altered a Dodge ram logo from a commercial we were currently working on at work (Allen Mello Dodge in Nashua, NH), slapped it on the front of the short, and figured that would be the end of that.

OLD ArieScope LogoOur original logo.  Sorry Dodge!

16 years, 9 feature films (so far), 2 seasons of a TV show (so far) and 60+ short films (so far) later… the rest is history and the name “ArieScope” has not only stuck but also now means something to so many genre fans around the world.  ”Columbus Day Weekend” wound up being passed around all over and even though it was incredibly amateur and silly (really, it’s not very good at all), it eventually garnered the attention of folks at a major Hollywood talent agency and not too long after that I had packed my bags and was driving 3,000 miles away from home to chase the impossible dream of becoming a professional filmmaker… and that’s where the struggle really began.  Keep in mind that this was long before streaming video on the internet so “Columbus Day Weekend” was being dubbed over and over again on VHS and this was also at a time when not every single person and their mother was making short films with fairly decent quality equipment.  These days if “Columbus Day” was to be made and passed around it would be laughed at (for the wrong reasons) and probably would have been more of an embarrassment than an achievement.  But that’s also exactly why we don’t hide it from our fan base and why we keep EVERYTHING up on this website for all to see.

MPAA

The first official ArieScope office in Hollywood, CA – 2005.  The journey has been full of hard times and beat downs.

It would be a fair argument to say that we should only keep our best work on this website now that we have the careers we are so fortunate to have doing this stuff professionally.  A sane industry professional might say that we should hide the early amateur stuff or any of the “just for fun” projects that maybe didn’t work out all that well in the end.  But given the massive amount of aspiring and up and coming filmmakers that have begun to look to us for inspiration over the years, we think that it’s encouraging and helpful to show our scars and let everyone see just how it all started and how we’ve continued to hone our craft over the years.  Every artist has a beginning and as nice as it would be to make people believe that the very first thing you did worked out perfectly or that everything you attempt to make turns out great… well, that’s just not true for anyone.  So we keep all of it on this site for the world to see, both the successes and the failures.  With “Columbus Day Weekend” especially, it’s fun for HATCHET fans to see things like the genesis of the “belt sander kill” which we would eventually get just right about a decade later when “Victor Crowley” sanded “Jenna’s” face off in the trilogy’s first entry.  Over the year’s we’ve had plenty of hits and plenty of misses with these short film projects, so we figure why not show and celebrate all of it?  From the more popular shorts like “Fairy Tale Police”, “Saber”, “Jack Chop”, “The Tiffany Problem”, “The Tivo”, and “Driving Lessons”… to the big misses (in my opinion) like “Steven’s Room”, “Trick Or Treat”, “Sexy Nightmare Slayers”, and yes, “Columbus Day Weekend” (depending on how you look at it) they’re all here for you to see.  And we’re proud of ALL of them for the simple reason that they are all part of our journey from wide-eyed ambitious dreamers making low budget cable commercials to the guys who somehow have managed to make a living in entertainment.  This website holds our entire story and we’re proud of it.  In an age where indie filmmakers boast how they made a feature film for a micro budget, we often remind ourselves that COFFEE & DONUTS was a feature film made for a mere $400, shot on BetaSP, and edited tape to tape back in the summer of ’99 when it wasn’t so common for everyone with access to a camera to make an actual movie.  C&D launched our careers and after 13 years of “development hell” and “almost’s” eventually became what is now known as the TV show HOLLISTON.  Where there is a will there is a way and if two assholes from Boston can do it, so can you.  Don’t believe me?  Just watch this cable commercial I did for Castle Creek Miniature Golf in Salem, MA back in 1998 by clicking here.

I’d like to think I’ve come a long way.  At least I’d like to hope I’ve come a long way.

16 years later… what a long, strange trip it’s been.  Thanks for joining us and for making it all possible.  ”Happy Birthday” to us and “Happy Halloween” to you!  Here’s to whatever happens next…

sign photo

 The day we hung the sign outside of our studio.

-AG

A FAREWELL, A RISING PHOENIX, AND SOME AMERICAN MONSTERS IN LONDON

photo 4

DIGGING UP THE MARROW variant poster #1 of 4, made exclusively for the world premiere at Film 4 FrightFest in London.  

This past weekend DIGGING UP THE MARROW unearthed in London at Film 4 FrightFest, a festival that I have not only attended and premiered 8 of my films at to date but also a festival that I have declared to be my absolute favorite genre film festival on the planet again and again (and again).  It was an absolutely spectacular premiere and one of my favorite film premieres that I’ve had in my career so far, despite my decision to keep it an intimate affair- which I will explain the reasoning for in a bit.  But before I get to the triumph that was this past weekend, I want to point out just what MARROW’s premiere was coming on the heels of…

I know that so many of you who read this blog also listen to my podcast THE MOVIE CRYPT religiously, so by now you likely know just what a colossal machete in the heart and personally devastating year 2014 has been for me so far and why I have not done any appearances, conventions, or festivals.  For those still catching up or who perhaps don’t listen to every single episode of the podcast, Lynch and I opened Episode 65 (the E.T. commentary) with me spilling some of the details on just what kind of personal heartbreak this year has had in store for me so far- and I want to take a moment to say “thank you” again to everyone who heard it or who heard about it for honoring my request to not ask me about it or comment about it further as it is more appreciated than you can possibly understand.  The gist of it all is that for many months earlier this year I was reeling after being divorced by my wife and in a very bad state though I did my best to keep a brave face on publicly wherever and whenever I had to do so.  As explained in the podcast, keeping the whole thing private for so long helped make it so that there was no unnecessary outside pain and suffering added to it by strangers who can’t resist the urge to make it their business and also so that by the time it became public knowledge it would be “old news”, something not worth people taking the effort to gossip about, and something I was already emerging on the other side of.   So I hid myself away and save for a couple of wonderful friends who took care of me through the worst of it, I did everything I could to avoid facing the rest of the world.  But as life always has a cruel way of doing, I lost one of my closest friends right at the moment when it felt like things couldn’t possibly get any worse and on March 23rd Dave Brockie suddenly passed away.  While I was able to somewhat secretly go through the pain of the divorce by myself for the first half of the year, with Dave being such an iconic public figure and a main cast member of HOLLISTON, there was no way to not step up and acknowledge it, accept it, and deal with it.  As fate would have it, there was an in-store signing that the HOLLISTON cast had already committed to doing here in LA on April 8th many months prior to Dave’s passing.  The date of the event unfortunately fell mere days after we lost our friend, but as fans of the show had traveled from very far away to be there we had to “go on with the show” despite the fact that we were still mourning and in shock.  We had watched Dave go through this same kind of thing himself when GWAR lost guitarist Cory Smoot in 2011 but had to continue on with their tour anyway.  It was awful to have to watch the band carry on without being able to deal with their loss properly, but that’s show business unfortunately.  While canceling on the HOLLISTON fans who live in LA would have been completely understood and accepted by them, canceling our scheduled appearance on the ones who had already paid so much money on flights to travel from all over just to see us at a signing wasn’t an option and therefore we went through with it.  Thankfully we have the greatest and most sincere fans that exist, so we were ultimately glad that we did the appearance as the outpouring of love and support that we received that night truly helped us through it in many ways.

BoatThe “Oderus Urungus” costume at Dave Brockie’s memorial in Virginia, August 15th. 

Two weeks ago I spoke at Dave’s public memorial in Richmond, VA and delivered my eulogy before the thousands of fans who pilgrimaged from all over the world to pay their final respects.  It was a beautiful service complete with a viking-style send off where the “Oderus Urungus” costume was burned on a boat in the lake and once the weekend was over it felt like a bandage had finally been put over that massive gaping wound.  Images from the weekend are everywhere on-line and my eulogy can be seen here in this video that someone in the crowd shot on their phone.  It starts around 14:40 in the video and while the person shooting it sadly had to change their battery right at the most memorable part (where I had the entire audience turn to acknowledge their “metal family” standing beside them and a few thousand metal heads all held hands together- something I’ll never forget the sight of)- the majority of my speech is all there.  Giving that eulogy was one of the most difficult but most inspiring moments of my life so far.  If you watch the whole thing, you’ll see just what a hard time I was having getting the words out as I’m usually a bit better at public speaking.  I do this stuff quite often.  It’s part of this career and normally I actually enjoy doing it as it’s “entertainment”.  But while I was pacing the backstage area before going on, it dawned on me that this time was like no other as I was about to speak before a crowd as myself as opposed to playing the part of “Adam Green the filmmaker” or “Adam Green the actor” or “Adam Green the comedian”.  Randy Blythe (LAMB OF GOD’s singer who was speaking right before me) put me at ease when he put his arm around me and said “that’s exactly why you’re here.”  He reminded me that no one was expecting a “show” and that they were there to hear what I, the real person who knew and loved Dave, had to say.  That it was OK to fumble through the words and say “um” a thousand times or to have to keep stopping to compose myself. And when I heard him introduce me and say “Dave was on a TV show called HOLLISTON” and the entire place began cheering… I realized that I was among family and suddenly the words I had prepared weren’t all that important.   The fans gathered there didn’t care if I cried, if my voice trembled, if I got overwhelmed, if I stuttered and got confused, or if I sang out of key because I was trying so hard to not break down.  And as you’ll hear if you watch the clip… the fans carried me through the entire thing.  They cheered me on when they could see I was losing it, they let their voices be heard when they appreciated something I said, and they sang for me when it was becoming clear that I was struggling to find the notes.  I say it all the time how much I love the fans… but just in case I haven’t said it enough… I LOVE THE FANS.  I got through this difficult moment of saying goodbye to Dave publicly because I was surrounded by truly wonderful, passionate, and caring real people.  I’m so grateful for the hearts of everyone who was there at Haddad’s Lake that day and I’ll never forget that feeling as long as I live.  In fact, for the first time in so very long… I started dreaming about HOLLISTON again and contemplating another season with excitement instead of resentment, sadness, or fear of what it will be like to stand on set in front of a closet door that won’t open again.   For those still wondering and waiting… the team behind HOLLISTON is now talking much more seriously not just about how to return to HOLLISTON, but more specifically… when.  I’m writing again and, well, we’ll see what happens from here.  Hopefully 2015 sees “Adam”, “Joe”, “Laura”, “Corri”, and “Lance” back together again…

boatfire

The best image I’ve found on-line of the burning boat.  An amazing send-off.

A mere 72 hours after the memorial I was on a plane to London for the world premiere of DIGGING UP THE MARROW.  It was a bittersweet journey to London as it was hard to go celebrate the very first official screening of the film coming off of such a tragic and heartbreaking 8 or 9 months.  Of course at that point if I had the choice I would have rather stayed home with my pets/family and wallowed in depression on the couch, but as cruel as life can be at time… it also has a way of giving you what you need, whether you can clearly see it that way at the time or not.  As you’ve noticed, we’ve been handling DIGGING UP THE MARROW very delicately and quite differently than how we usually handle a film.  From calling it “an art documentary” for the 4 years that we were working on it just to stay under the radar (by now you’ve probably figured out that it’s not so much of an actual documentary as it is a fantastical story that uses the documentary format as a launching point), to not releasing a trailer publicly (yet), to not releasing stills and other images or clips from the film… we’ve kept it all very close to our vest(s).  You can read one of my previous blogs about it or hear more about all of that on various episodes of THE MOVIE CRYPT, but FrightFest felt like the perfect venue to officially unveil the finished film for the first time.

photo 3

The Vue Cinema in Leicester Square, London – home of FrightFest 2014.

In discussing the placement of the film within the festival line-up with the festival heads (Alan Jones, Ian Ratttray, Paul McEvoy, and Greg Day) we opted to only have the film play once on the “Discovery Screen” at a prime time (Saturday evening) as opposed to having it play 3 separate times on the 3 “Main Screens”.  It was a bold choice to head into a festival world premiere with only one smaller screening available for the audience to attend and without making any specific information or footage of the actual film available to anyone beforehand- but it turned out to be the absolute right decision.  The reaction was way beyond what we had hoped for and even better, we’ve managed to keep this little shroud of mystery around the film going for at least a little bit longer.  So far, fans and critics who attended have honored my request to not spoil the film itself within their glowing praise for it on-line and while I know that there are folks in the press who are frustrated by the fact that we have not created any screener copies for anyone, thankfully many turned up to watch the film properly- on the big screen and with a real audience.  Now that we’ve begun the process of closing on our distribution plans, of course there will eventually be a trailer and other materials made public as there is no getting around that.  Will seeing that stuff spoil a little of whatever magic we hopefully created?  Probably.  But you can’t release a film without those things and expect general audiences to want to see it.  As I said to the cinema on Saturday night, all of us involved with DIGGING UP THE MARROW feel like sometimes there can be too much information made available about a film before it is ever screened and we wanted to try and deliver a unique experience, free of self-imposed expectations, spoilers, and preconceived notions.  It was overwhelming to see the cinema sell-out with fans who were there not because of hype, a trailer, or clips they saw on-line beforehand… but simply because they were happy to go into a movie absolutely cold with no idea about what they were going to see and because (at this point in our track record of films) they trusted that we would deliver the goods.  I’m so incredibly grateful for that trust and while I can’t promise that every single fan will always love every single thing I create equally when I do so many different types of things… I can promise that I will never abuse that trust.  We’ve earned it over the past 16 years since Will Barratt and I first started ArieScope Pictures and all of us who work on these crazy projects cherish that trust deeply.  It was easily one of the best responses I’ve ever had to a film premiere at FrightFest and the audience response during the film and afterwords was just terrific.  So what’s the deal?  Normally isn’t the goal to try and plaster the internet with your trailer, reviews, and hype everywhere you can?  Are we crazy for purposely choosing to only screen the film once at a festival knowing that so many would not be able to get in to see it?  Are we keeping details too under wraps?  I don’t know.  Maybe?  But in full transparency and honesty, as much as we may be “making it up as we go”, it has of course been a calculated choice to handle it all this way.  This is a very different movie and one that I never would have been able to get financed or produced right out of the gate in my career for a number of reasons.   Even though the movie may feature so much “reality”, in the end it still is a “fantasy.”  We just tried something different this time and approached the project very experimentally right down to the fact that it is inspired by art.  While you may often see movies that are “based on a true story” or based on a novel, it isn’t every day you see a movie that says “inspired by the art of Alex Pardee” in the credits.  We won’t be able to keep this vagueness going forever as eventually someone who sees it will take it upon themselves to spoil that for everyone, but the fact that we’ve been able to keep MARROW somewhat of a mystery for so long is really, really great.  For now at least- what we’re doing seems to be appreciated and it’s been great fun to do it this way.

FrightFest programFrightFest program 2014.

So when can YOU see it?  Well, even though last weekend was the very first time we ever screened the film publicly and normally I’d be saying “it’s still going to be awhile before we know about any of that stuff”, I can tell you that we are in the truly rare and extremely fortunate position of having already accepted an offer for US distribution and that other countries around the world should hopefully not be too far behind in terms of figuring out who we will be going with.  I got on the plane back to Los Angeles hearing that the screening had been a huge success and landed to news that we had closed on the USA and that it was from one of the places circling the film who we knew would really, really “get it”.  More info on who will be putting our film out soon.  We can’t say anything until after they do, so for now we’re just happy to know that we’ll be working with them on this and patiently waiting to hear and share more details.

I’ve made an incredible summer for myself, despite being drowned in ashes and coming off of so much heartbreak and pain.  I found my spirit again through applying myself creatively in work, through the solace of an amazing circle of friends and family, through the love and support of my fans, and through the music that I love.  From seeing GUNS N ROSES play in Las Vegas in June, to seeing DANGEROUS TOYS play in San Antonio in July, to seeing AEROSMITH & SLASH play in Los Angeles in July and in Las Vegas in August, to the big upcoming end of summer finale of seeing my personal “holy grail band” TWISTED SISTER play in New York City next weekend… everything’s gonna be alright.  Plus, it’s impossible to forget just how loved and appreciated you actually are when you come home from a trip to this…

ArwenSuitcase

Arwen was about to ship herself off to London she missed me so much.

It’s been one hell of a difficult year so far to say the least, but I’m still here, I’m still alive, and I’m doing fine.  It sounds so cliche but it is true that it’s always darkest before the dawn and like the end of AEROSMITH’s “Get A Grip” record proclaimed… “Remember, the light at the end of the tunnel may be you.”  It really is true.  Don’t give up… go on.

Indeed.

-AG