Green’s Blog

DEMONS & 10 RECORDS

By now you’ve hopefully heard the news that my next film is underway and I have officially signed on to direct EXORCISM ON CROOKED LAKE for Revolver Pictures.  If you follow me on Twitter (@Adam_Fn_Green) or Instagram ( @ADAM_FN_GREEN) you likely saw the various exorcism themed hints I was dropping in the months leading up to the actual trade announcement, but now that we’re off and running I can finally talk about it.  At least a little bit.  The original script was written by John Erick Dowdle & Drew Dowdle and Stacy Chbosky (all of whom horror fans would know from QUARANTINE and THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES) and while we’re of course keeping specific details about the movie under wraps this early in the process, I can tell you that what attracted me to it was that I have always wanted to do an exorcism story (religious horror and the occult are some of the only things that actually scare me) and that the script was quite unique in that it skips over so many of the typical set-up tropes and conventions that most all of these movies contain.  Most every exorcism movie I have seen or read has a first hour that contains the following: A very normal family is introduced who happens to have a child (usually a young girl) that starts acting really weird and they just don’t know what is wrong with her.  You get 20-30 minutes of strange and scary behavior that culminates in the girl being brought to several doctors, none of whom can quite figure out the issue after multiple attempts.  After an extraordinary crazy incident takes place, eventually someone close to the family asks if they have considered consulting a priest.  Of course the family is not religious and doesn’t want to do that since they don’t believe in it.  But then things gets SO out of hand that they are willing to try anything.  So a priest shows up and winds up sitting them down to say “Have you ever heard of an exorcism?” and the family says they have not and is skeptical of the priest at best though they ultimately say, “hey, why not try it at this point?”  So by the hour mark of the film, a girl is restrained  while a priest (or priests) stands over her shouting passages from the bible while the girl does crazy things.  Look, I get it.  Those tropes are as major a part of the exorcism sub-genre as a remote location, a young cast with no cell phone reception, and graphic death scenes are to a slasher film.  And while CROOKED LAKE does indeed deliver on some of those elements (sorta), the best part of it is that it essentially cuts out that first hour and gets right to the good stuff.  Oh, and did I mention that the girl in question of being possessed is very pregnant and that there is a home invasion element as a Satanic cult is trying to stop our priests at all costs?  (That was all in the trade announcement so no, I’m not spoiling anything there.)  For me this is an exciting and different take on the exorcism sub genre.  No possession movie will ever even touch THE EXORCIST or ever be fairly compared to such a classic work of genius, so why even attempt to make another EXORCIST?  As a fan myself, I have too much reverence for Friedkin’s iconic and perfect film to commit the blasphemous act of trying to do the same exact thing so in all honesty when the producers sent me this script I initially started reading it with a very closed mind.  But within just a few pages I was SO in.  I was getting that light sweat of excitement and I was seeing scenes play out before me in my mind that I desperately wanted to see committed to the screen and I was honored and extremely lucky to be considered and ultimately given the opportunity to be the one at the helm of such a great project.  It’s important to note that (save for SPIRAL which I co-directed with Joel David Moore but which I did not write) I typically do not have any interest whatsoever in directing stories that I myself did not write.  It all boils down to the fact that as a writer myself I already have so many of my own projects that I am fully focused on and either already making or trying very hard to see get made.  But sometimes it just takes that right submission for my consideration at just the right time- and CROOKED LAKE was that movie.  And while, yes, I did do a re-write of the script to address my own concerns and add my own ideas, this will be only my second film to date that was not conceived on the page by myself alone.  I’m lucky to have been entrusted so fully with directing this movie.  We’re currently location scouting and hoping to be shooting very soon.  I’ve been having terrible nightmares and even disturbing myself with some of the things I’ve written in or scenes that I am planning… so the fun has already begun and hopefully that is a sign of good things to come and not a sign that I’ve now attracted a malicious demon into my own life that’s going to destroy me slowly.  (After the giant claw hammer to my soul that has been the first half of 2014, it wouldn’t surprise me at this point.)  We’ll see what happens.  But I absolutely adore the film’s main producers Nick Phillips and Kelly Wagner (who’s personalities made my decision to accept the offer a quick and easy one) and this is exactly the kind of horror movie I was looking to do next.

Of course when the announcement hit the trades the many congratulatory and excited comments sent to me by fans through my fan mail and various social networking outlets also contained their fair share of “What about HATCHET 4??” comments.  Really, I love the Hatchet Army and their love for HATCHET and Victor Crowley.  I’m so fortunate that HATCHET became as popular and beloved as it did and I never, ever take that for granted.  But I spent 10 years of my life on that trilogy and though I can never say never, I’m now on to new things and three HATCHET movies were more than enough for anyone behind the scenes to survive in tact.   Who knows?  Maybe Victor Crowley will return in a new story and in new hands some day down the line?  Maybe I’ll get the itch to return to Honey Island Swamp again myself some day?  But for now, that phase of my life is over and I’m proud that (at least in my opinion) all three movies delivered for the fans and never started to suck or become sheer cash-grabs which is more than most slasher franchises can say.

Last week, Alex Pardee and I also revealed the first image ever from DIGGING UP THE MARROW when we simultaneously tweeted out the below picture with only the words “The Marrow Is Real”.  A very subtle tease of course, but as we’re still a ways away from being able to share any release plans we gotta hold back for now.  In case you missed it, here’s the very vague still photo that we revealed.  What is in the photo exactly?  Guess you’ll have to wait and see!  It was announced this morning that the world premiere of the film will be happening this August in London as part of FRIGHT FEST… so UK fans, grab your shovels and get ready.  Watch the Film 4 Fright Fest website here for ticketing details.

Chicken

“The Marrow Is Real.”

Seeing as how it’s way too early to spill any more details on CROOKED LAKE’s production or on DIGGING UP THE MARROW’s release, I’ll get to the point of this blog which is actually not career related and is something I’m writing just for the fun of it for a change.  I turned in the first draft of my rewrite of EXORCISM ON CROOKED LAKE to the producers yesterday so while I now have a very rare day or two “off” while I wait for their reactions and notes I’ve gotten to spend some much needed time with my cherished record collection.  When your career is also your hobby it’s easy to lose track of the many other things in life that bring you joy.  Especially in this career that is almost always a 24/7 marathon.  Music has always been an exceptionally important component in my life.  I’ve been to anywhere between 300 and 400 concerts, followed some of my favorite bands for well over 30 shows each now, and at one point long ago I was even the singer for a serious band called HADDONFIELD.  And by “serious” I mean we played shows weekly, got paid to do so, and for a fleeting moment it even looked like it could have possibly become an actual career.  So when I get the occasional day or two off for myself like this, I tend to spend it going through my records and just being happy to do so.  I think vinyl still sounds better than any other format save for the band playing in front of you live.  I know that vinyl became kind of “hipster-esque” for a few years but for those of us who have always listened to records and will forever continue to do so, we can’t let that passing fad phase us or turn us off from it.  Much like the “it’s so cool to be a Geek” bandwagon phase that is thankfully on its last legs, you gotta let the tourists have their moment and just wait for them to move on to the next “in” thing that comes along.  It can be annoying when suddenly a whole new group of people claim to love something you’ve loved for your whole life, of course- but you have to remember that it takes nothing away from you personally.  (Well, except when Metallica’s “Black album” hit big and all of a sudden I couldn’t get good seats to shows because half the audience was there just to hear “Enter Sandman” and “Nothing Else Matters” and somehow had better seats than me, even if they were won from a radio station contest.  Those years were frustrating for sure.)  In fact, I’ve spent hours of my life trying to get people into the things I like.  So the way I see it, if someone suddenly wants to be the world’s biggest fan of something I really am the world’s biggest fan of, great.  Enjoy your brief stay and I’ll still be here to wave the flag when you’ve moved on to the next thing.

While I briefly considered writing a blog about the 10 RECORDS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE… too many of those are obvious albums that most everyone owns or at least knows extremely well, so where would the the joy be in that?  Instead I thought it would be more fun to dig just slightly deeper and share 10 of my favorite records that may not be so obvious even though many of them are from very well known bands.  Of course my hard rock and metal brethren will likely be very familiar with all of the below, but this is geared more towards those that are not necessarily diehard music fans or who are young enough to have missed these gems entirely and maybe only know these band’s bigger hits.  Who knows?  Maybe you’ll seek one or two of these records out for yourself and find a new favorite of your own?  To clarify, this is not a list of my ultimate Top 10 Favorite Records of all time… just 10 favorites from my own personal record collection that maybe aren’t all that well known but that I think are worth your time checking out.  To help make it easier to narrow down, I only picked albums from my record collection.  If I don’t have it on vinyl it couldn’t be in the running.  An honorable mention to all 25 TWISTED SISTER records in my collection including singles, bootlegs, re-issues, re-masters, etc.  By now you likely know of my serendipitous connection and life-long friendship with Dee Snider and his family and that TWISTED SISTER is far more than just a band to me, so while there were plenty of  ”lesser known” TWISTED records on that one shelf alone, I opted to just say “they win” for this blog post and leave it at that.

And this is most definitely one of those times when I’m glad that this blog doesn’t have a comments section as I’m sure there are gonna be some passionate reactions and “WTF?!” exclamations to a few of these picks, but hey… my blog, my record collection, my choices!  Enjoy!

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1.) SKID ROW “Slave To The Grind” 1991

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In 1989 SKID ROW’s debut self-titled album was an instant hit selling over 5 million records almost overnight.  Songs like “Youth Gone Wild”, “I Remember You”, and “18 & Life” monopolized MTV and were on the radio constantly.  I was 14 years old when I got that tape (I wouldn’t re-purchase it on both CD and vinyl until a few years later) and I played the shit out of it. But it was 1991′s “Slave To The Grind” where SKID ROW showed that they were so much more than just another glam rock band and let their metal side truly start to show.  While “Slave To The Grind” debuted at #1 and boasted successful singles like “Monkey Business” and “Wasted Time”, the record showcased a much heavier band than what many glam rockers probably expected.  For me personally, by the time I was 16 I was more into thrash and speed metal and slightly less into the fun glam rock I had been raised on, so this record came at the perfect time.  I wasn’t looking for another “I Remember You” by that point, so songs like “Livin’ On A Chain Gang”, “The Threat”, “Quicksand Jesus”, and the title track “Slave To The Grind” were a hugely welcome surprise.  Sebastian Bach’s voice is nothing less than godly and even tracks that could be incorrectly considered power ballads like “In A Darkened Room” and “Wasted Time” put the other bands of their era to shame.  I remember being so excited to get the version of the album that had “Get The Fuck Out” on it (the song was replaced by “Begger’s Day” after the initial run) but as nasty as the lyrics were and as much as my 16 year old self loved any song with the word “Fuck” used in it that many times… I have to admit that “Begger’s Day” is actually the better song.  I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that “Slave To The Grind” just might be one of the greatest sophomore efforts ever recorded by a band.  So if all you know of the Skids is “I Remember You” and “18 & Life”… give this record a spin and think again.  Now that I’ve actually lived through some shit, some of the songs hit unbelievably harder than they did 2 decades ago.

“You said, you’d never let me down, but the horse stampedes and rages in the name of desperation. Is it all just wasted time? Can you look at yourself when you think of what you left behind? Is it all just wasted time? Can you live with yourself when you think of what you’ve left behind?  I never thought you’d let it get this far, boy…”

2.) WHITE TRASH “White Trash” 1991

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Not just because I wanted to add a “happy” record or two to this overwhelmingly dark list but because this record truly is fucking awesome and has been in constant rotation for me since it came out.  In full disclosure, I actually like their sophomore record “Si O Si, Que?” even more but I have never been able to find it on vinyl so it couldn’t qualify for this list.  WHITE TRASH had a video for the single “Apple Pie” (Side A, Track 1) that some of you may remember MTV playing constantly for about 11 days back in ’91.  (To my younger readers, MTV actually stands for “Music Television” and they used to play nothing but music videos, I swear.) Their song “The Crawl” (Side B, Track 1) was also the theme song for MTV’s “THE JON STEWART SHOW” way back from before the world realized that Jon Stewart is actually wicked smart and stuff.  WHITE TRASH’s blend of funk, soul, and rock is an audio party for your soul and you’d have to be the biggest sour dick in the world to not smile huge while listening to it.  In fact, I almost feel like I should have listed this album last just in case any of you actually listen to all of these records in the order I’ve listed them and wind up in a week long depression because of it.  While “Apple Pie” may be the only song that these guys were barely known for, it’s the deeper cuts like “Party Line”, “Lil’ Nancy”, and “Buzz!” that best showed off this band’s unique style and it’s the (sorta) self-titled “Po’ White Trash” that is the true hit off of this record in my opinion.  Try it out some time and lighten up your day.

“Don’t you know I’m so bad right now, Po’ white trash, Motherfucka who d’ya think you are?, Po’white trash, Said I got to know, baby got to show, Po’ white trash, Mmm you smell so fuckin’ good, honey, Po’ white trash…”

3.) MEGADETH “So Far, So Good… So What!” 1988

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It always pains me when music historians or even members of MEGADETH themselves dismiss this record as one of their weaker efforts.  Is it as seminal an album to the thrash movement or for the band’s legacy as 1986′s “Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?” or 1990′s “Rust In Peace”?  No.  But goddamn do I love it so.  While songs like “Set The World Afire” and “Mary Jane” have remained two of my most favorite MEGADETH songs since I first ever heard them, it’s “In My Darkest Hour” (Side B, Track 2) that I have found myself leaning on like an old friend at several of life’s lowest moments.  This song is scarily the most angry, sad, and heart broken suicide anthem ever recorded in my opinion. In fact, the song is so powerful and directly to the point that I actually considered not even pointing it out as I fear that somewhere out there a severely depressed and unfortunately impressionable young boy or girl will discover it because of me and interpret it completely the wrong way.  There’s always that one unstable person who doesn’t understand that a song is to be taken as an outpouring of emotion and an expression to be connected with rather than literal lyrics to be used for creating bad ideas in their own heads.  Much like the warnings that come on alcohol labels, “In My Darkest Hour” is to be used and listened to responsibly.  We’ve all been there, we’ve all had love completely crush our souls, and we’ve all felt indescribable despair and anger.  Thankfully there are albums and songs like this that I have been able to bang my head to, thrash out to, and sing/scream along with until the dark clouds would pass.  Because after all… the dark clouds always do pass.  Since I was only 13 years old this record has helped me get through some pretty heartbroken times.  Maybe someday it will help you, too.

“Time has a way of taking time, loneliness is not only felt by fools.  Alone I call to ease the pain, yearning to be held by you, alone so alone I’m lost, consumed by the pain… the pain, the pain, the pain… Won’t you hold me again?  You just laughed – ha, ha, bitch.  My whole life is work built on the past, but the time has come when all things shall pass, this good thing passed away.”

4.) LOVE/HATE “Blackout In The Red Room” 1991

 

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It’s almost criminal that LOVE/HATE’s debut record “Blackout in the Red Room” didn’t come out until the Sunset Strip era’s of glam rock was already on its last legs as this band was poised to be huge and was by far one of the best of their kind.  Way more (let’s say) GUNS N ROSES than (let’s say) POSION, I don’t even feel comfortable lumping them in with glam rock and would prefer to just call them a “rock band”, but they were marketed by Columbia as a hair metal band and that’s how they’ll always be remembered, like it or not.   I was fortunate enough to see LOVE/HATE a number of times when they reunited in 2007 and did shows periodically in the LA area for 6 years before officially disbanding once again in 2013.  (Even sadder, they kinda broke up with each other publicly on Facebook which was disheartening to watch happen, but that’s the world we live in now.)  While singer Jizzy Pearl possessed an Axl Rose vocal style and elicited the stage presence and swagger of a reincarnated Jim Morrison and though guitarist Jon Love was so massively talented that he singlehandedly made the band sound as if they had 3 guitar players on the stage at all times, it was LOVE/HATE’s bass player and main song writer Skid who was always the one to watch.  Save for perhaps Flea, I’ve never seen a bass player command an audience with such unbridled energy and glorious weirdness.  In fact, every time I was fortunate enough to get the chance to see LOVE/HATE play, I always made sure to get to the venue early and stake out the area in front of the far left side of the stage just so that I could have the best possible view of Skid who was indeed “the show”.   Skid even painted the artwork for the band’s album covers.  But this isn’t a dissertation on LOVE/HATE (believe me I could write a short novel about the merits of this astoundingly amazing group who often holds the ever rotating #5 position in my top 5 of all time alongside mainstays AEROSMITH, METALLICA, TWISTED SISTER, and GUNS N ROSES), it’s just supposed to be some words about their debut album “Blackout In The Red Room.”  While I easily could have put their second record “Wasted In America” on this list instead of “Blackout” (they’re completely equal to me), I chose to go with the first record simply because I’ve owned it for 2 years longer.  I first got this album on cassette tape (as was the way back then), but upon buying my very first CD player I opted to re-purchase “Blackout In The Red Room” as my first ever CD rather than buying something new.  That’s how much I love this album.  While every song on it is a hit for me, “She’s An Angel”, “Mary Jane”, and “Straightjacket” (the first three tracks on Side B) are my go-to’s whenever introducing someone new to LOVE/HATE.  It’s raw, silly, dark, fun, dirty, dangerous and everything else you would hope for in a rock album.  Whatever you do, don’t opt for their “Greatest & Latest” compilation that’s available on iTunes if you want to seek this band out.  The songs on that release seem to have all been re-recorded many, many years later (something we’re sadly seeing many older bands do these days in order to reclaim their work back from their original record label) and they’re just not the same.  Get the original records.  I promise that if you’re a hard rock fan you’ll love it instantly.  Happy listening and …green buds inside you.

“Mommy takes the strings off your bass so you won’t hang yourself, Could things be so bad when you’re loving life with everything you have…”

5.) ALICE IN CHAINS “Jar of Flies” 1994

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ALICE IN CHAINS is a household band name to any music fan, and while I’ll never argue over the sheer greatness of records like “Dirt” or “Facelift” and the more radio friendly singles that they offered, for me this band has always been defined by their second acoustic driven EP “Jar of Flies” which is just perfect from start to finish.  I’m often surprised how many people never actually bought it as they didn’t consider it an official album being that it was only an “EP” and because it was acoustic based and therefore not really ALICE IN CHAINS in their opinion.  Sacrilege!  I remember sitting in my college dorm room and listening to it on headphones for the first time and being swept away within the first few chords of the haunting opening track “Rotten Apple”, teary eyed upon hearing the sadness of the second track “Nutshell”, soaring high over the beautiful third track “I Stay Away” and out of my own body by the time the sixth track “Don’t Follow” concluded.  (And no, I wasn’t on drugs.)  You can only imagine my excitement when I finally got my hands on the double vinyl record of “Jar of Flies” and “Sap” (their first acoustic based EP) just last year.  For me, this record is kind of like a stripped down and modernized “Dark Side Of The Moon” for ALICE IN CHAINS. If you don’t already own it, shame on you.  If you do but have just never heard it on vinyl… get it and hear it again for the first time.  There is more soul in this collection of songs than most of the 90′s alternative/grunge movement put together and this record really is ALICE IN CHAINS (and the late Layne Staley, especially) at their peak.  Pay attention to the gorgeous harmonies between Staley and guitarist Jerry Cantrell who sing together like a modern day Simon and Garfunkel.

“Yeah it’s fine, We’ll walk down the line, Leave our rain, A cold trade for warm sunshine, You my friend, I will defend, And if we change well I’ll love you anyway…”

6.) DANGEROUS TOYS “Dangerous Toys” 1989

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I originally bought this album on cassette tape simply off of the amazing artwork on the album cover created by artist Tommy Pons.  Terrifying clown?  Sign me up immediately.  My local record store (Strawberries) even had this really cool Jack-in-the-box display holding the cassette tape at the check-out counter.  I went back in numerous times to ask if they would sell it to me but they claimed that very few of them were made, that they were not for sale, and that employees at each store had already claimed them long before they were ever displayed.  I was always on the look out for that display- my own personal “holy grail of DANGEROUS TOYS stuff” – and decades went by with no luck.  Then, right after filming Season 1 of HOLLISTON, one of our camera operators on the show (Brian Sowell) emailed me an eBay link for the coveted Jack-in-the-box display!  I jumped on the very rare and very expensive item and I’m happy to say it is now proudly collecting precious dust on its very own shelf of my record collection.  I’ve had an (almost) lifelong love affair with DANGEROUS TOYS ever since I first heard their debut album.  They were my first concert (Boston’s Orpheum Theater playing with TORA TORA and LA GUNS – November 17, 1989) and in 1999 when they released the live album “Vitamins and Crash Helmets Tour” you can’t even imagine how floored I was to discover that the exact show that I saw was the one they chose to use for the album.  How cool is that??  To own your first concert experience ever on an officially released CD?!  What were the chances?  Just over a month ago TOYS’ lead singer Jason McMaster started following me on Twitter and yes, I was kinda star struck and bragging to my friends who sadly just couldn’t understand my excitement as they didn’t know the band.  (Their loss!)  I actually love this band so much that I’m flying in to San Antonio, TX for just a matter of hours in order to see an upcoming reunion show later this month.  Who knows, maybe there will be TOYS fans from even further away than Los Angeles flying to Texas just to see the show and then flying home again first thing the next morning, but I’d wage a healthy bet that I’m alone in my musical pilgrimage.  Getting to the point, DANGEROUS TOYS debut album has been a mainstay on my turn table for my entire adult life so far.  Their Texas southern flare, their often times hilarious lyrics, McMaster’s wailing and powerful voice, the shredding dueling lead guitars… hell they even have a song called “Scared” (Side A, Track 2) that’s dedicated to ALICE COOPER.  What’s for an 80′s teenage horror and metal fan not to love about this record?  They had two sorta hits with the album’s openers “Teas’n Pleas’n” and “Scared” plus a deeper cut called “Sport’n A Woody” which kicked off Side B and gained some fame among metal fans because… well because it’s a song about having an erection.  That’s “cock-rock” in its most literal sense, no?  In 8th grade some friends and I did a DANGEROUS TOYS lip sync performance to “Take Me Drunk” as part of my school’s talent show and I offended a lot of parents when I reached into my pants and gyrated a bit more sexually than a 13 year old should have been gyrating with his hand down his pants in a school talent show.  Little did I know then that this event was a sign of things to come for me and I’d eventually wind up getting crucified by a much more powerful group of parents (known as the MPAA) for the first two HATCHET films.  Hey, simulate masturbation by grabbing hold of your thirteen-year-old junk in front of the entire school or put a scene in a movie where a girl gets her face belt sanded off and all of a sudden everyone hates you.  What gives, man?  Anyway, this record is great fun and great music no matter what anyone else may try and tell you.  Horror fans probably know TOYS’ song “Demon Bell” from Wes Craven’s SHOCKER soundtrack (see my #7 record choice below).  If this record hooks you I implore you to pick up the rest of their albums, too.  There’s a song called “Angel N U” on their sophomore record “Hellacious Acres” that is this band at their musical best, but start with the original record.

“Momma’s lace and whisky on the top shelf, Somehow they got caught up in my dream, Monsters on my right and cobwebs on my left, Scary man standin’ right in front of me, Hey man I think I like being scared and I wish you all were there…”

7.) SHOCKER “The Music” 1989

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Wes Craven’s SHOCKER boasted one of the greatest heavy metal soundtracks of all time.  Here’s a “shocker” for you… I only saw the movie opening day because there was a DANGEROUS TOYS song in it.  The soundtrack had been released earlier than the movie itself and when I saw the list of bands on it (all contributing new songs) I knew this movie was destined to be one of my favorites.  I’m happy to say that it still is to this very day.  Think I’m kidding?  Throw on the movie one day and listen to the full-length fan commentary track that Joe Lynch and I did for it on The Movie Crypt podcast here.  SHOCKER’s soundtrack had songs from DANGEROUS TOYS, ALICE COOPER, MEGADETH (covering ALICE COOPER), IGGY POP, and a “created for the movie soundtrack band” called THE DUDES OF WRATH featuring Paul Stanley (KISS), Tommy Lee (MOTLEY CRUE), Rudy Sarzo (WHITESNAKE), Michael Anthony (VAN HALEN), Vivian Campbell (DEF LEPPARD) and Desmond Child (the guy that wrote every song that was ever a hit for almost every band – seriously, look him up sometime) aptly titled “Shocker”.  The soundtrack also contains great tracks from lesser known bands like BONFIRE and SARAYA who’s song “Timeless Love” is essentially the theme of the movie as Craven used the melody often throughout the film itself.  The ALICE COOPER / MITCH PILEGGI (“Horace Pinker”) rap/rock duet called “Shockdance” is simultaneously both the highlight and the lowest moment of the soundtrack, which is all the more reason to love it.  Whether you’re a fan of the movie or not, one spin of this record and hopefully you’ll see/hear what so many of us who were teenagers at the time of its release love about it.

“I was born without a soul inside so I’m gonna tear out your heart and try it on for size, You gotta have a soul to get to go to hell, that’s where I wanna go to ring the demon bell…”

8.) TOOL “Aenima” 1996

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I know, I know.  How could this album even remotely be considered for this list when it’s easily one of TOOL’s best known and most popular releases?  “Real deep cut, Green.”  But hear me out first. This list is about records and not CDs, MP3′s, or what have you… and listening to “Aenima” on vinyl is like hearing a whole different album and (screw it, I’m gonna be overdramatic and say it) an otherworldly experience of the most grandiose proportions.  I’ve always agreed with the philosophy that there are genres of music… and then there is TOOL.  More passive music fans likely know the album’s singles like “Stinkfist”, “Eulogy”, and “Forty Six & 2″ but it’s the record’s title track “Aenima” that is the most powerful and terrifying for me personally.   When I first got this record I was still living in Boston and had not yet moved to Los Angeles so Maynard’s lyrics skewering LA and a very large sector of its citizens didn’t really hit home like they so very much do today.  In the song he literally wishes for a final earthquake to flush it all away and what is so scary to me on a personal level now having lived here for 14 years is that even though I fear “the big one” ever hitting… deep down I can’t help but see Maynard’s point.  Seeing TOOL play live here in LA and singing along to “Aenima” you can’t help but be emotionally conflicted and that to me is something quite rare in music.  I could go on and on about this record but as it’s already so popular there isn’t much I can offer that you don’t already know except to say that no matter how well you may think you know this album, once you hear it on vinyl you’ll appreciate every sound on it even more.  The record itself is not all that easy to find and it can be on the expensive side if you do track it down, but if you’re a collector and a fan I’m telling you it’s worth it.  The mastering is just perfect and the fact that the two records in the set come pressed on bright orange vinyl with no track listing (in typical TOOL fashion) makes it fun to listen to as you almost have to listen to the whole thing each time since there is no simple way to find the track you’re looking for at a glance.  Oh, and if you’ve never seen the YouTube video of the young music students covering “Forty Six & 2″, well, prepare to have your minds blown here just like over 6 million others have to date.

“Fuck L Ron Hubbard and fuck all his clones, Fuck all these gun-toting hip gangster wannabes.  (Learn to swim.)  Fuck retro anything, Fuck your tattoos. Fuck all you junkies and fuck your short memories.  (Learn to swim.)  Fuck smiley glad-hands with hidden agendas,  Fuck these dysfunctional insecure actresses.  ’Cause I’m praying for rain, I’m praying for tidal waves.  I wanna see the ground give way.  I wanna watch it all go down.  Mom, please flush it all away.  I wanna watch it go right in and down.  I wanna watch it go right in.  Watch you flush it all away…”

9.) AEROSMITH “Honkin On Bobo” 2004

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Yet another household name band, but an album that sadly isn’t as popular with the masses as it deserves to be.  Containing 11 covers of mostly 1960′s blues and jazz bands and only 1 new original song (“The Grind” Side B, Track 2), “Honkin’ On Bobo” is the band’s tribute to many of the artists and styles that inspired them.  And it absolutely rules.  I’ve seen AEROSMITH 32 times (with shows #33 and #34 coming up in just a few weeks) which puts them just above METALLICA to win the title of “band I’ve seen the most”.  My cats (who turn 11 years old this month) are named “Tyler” and “Perry” and if you listen to The Movie Crypt podcast than you’ve likely heard about the life changing afternoon I spent with Steven Tyler this past April when he put things into much clearer perspective for me with the simple word “congratulations” and taught me how all levels of success contain the same exact struggles and copious amounts of bullshit… “So it’s all alright, man.  It’s aaaaall-right.” There is no greater or more unique voice in rock n roll, period.  (Think I’m exaggerating and just fan-boying out?  Watch this and then try and tell me that Steven Tyler isn’t the greatest of all time.)  ”The bad boys from Boston” seem to have made a deal with the devil himself as even pushing 200 years old (or whatever age they’re at these days) they only get better and better live, something no other band with a 40+ year career can boast with any sort of truth. To call me a “fan” would be a vast understatement and I drop everything and arrange my life around their tour schedules as I fear the day that they bid farewell to the stage for good.  ”Honkin’ On Bobo” contains the spectacles (yeah, that’s right, I just called some of these songs spectacles) “Never Loved A Girl” (Side A, Track 5) and “Eyesight To The Blind” (Side A, Track 3) that leave you feeling like nothing less than a standing ovation is in order when they are finished.  You won’t find any Top 10 hits or power ballads on this record, just a pure celebration of the rock, the blues, and the jazz that inspired “America’s Greatest Rock N Roll Band”.  Buy this record.  Buy all of them.  And do yourself a favor and see them live.  God forbid they hang up their instruments anytime soon, you’ll regret it forever if you don’t attend the Church of Tyler at least once in your lifetime.

“I was hangin’ with the Devil when we made a pact, I’m drinkin’ welfare whiskey smokin’ food stamp crack.  It was one part sour, two parts sweet, three parts strong and four parts weak.
I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than to be crowded on a velvet cushion…”

10.) GUNS N’ ROSES “Chinese Democracy” 2008

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Aaaand this is where I lose about 80% of you which is why I figured I’d put it last.  I have very few friends who I can even say the words “chinese democracy” to without them getting angry at me and going off on the usual tirade that “GUNS N ROSES is not GUNS N ROSES anymore but just Axl and a cover band”.  Well, maybe it’s the “fan for life” gene in me (when I commit to something I commit) but I like everything that each member of the original GNR has gone on to do since the original line-up so tragically imploded in the early 90′s.  I’m a huge Slash fan, a Duff fan, an Izzy fan, I saw Adler’s Appetite play many years ago and enjoyed the hell out of them, I loved Velvet Revolver, and yes… I am and always have been an Axl Rose fan, too.  I’ve read the same books, read the same interviews, and heard the same stories and rumors you have.  I’ve seen the Youtube videos of his not-so-finer moments getting pissed off on stage… but truth be told, I don’t know him personally and I’m not interested in any of that.  I’m talking about a record.  The music.  As over-produced as “Chinese Democracy” may sound at times, the songs themselves and the musicianship is incredible in my opinion.  Perhaps you never knew or cared, but one of Axl’s single biggest influences as an artist is Elton John.  Maybe I’ll lose the other 20% of you with this statement (especially in a blog hailing bands like DANGEROUS TOYS and MEGADETH), but yes, I too love Elton John’s music.  Tracks like “Street of Dreams” (my favorite song on the record, Side A, Track 4), “Madagascar” (Side D, Track 1), and “This I Love” (Side D, Track 2) exude Elton John and this record sounds and feels like the record that Axl always wanted to make.  Is “Chinese Democracy” another “Appetite For Destruction”?  Of course not.  But that kind of lightning in a bottle will never happen again and I don’t believe that Axl ever intended for this record to be the next “Appetite”.  In fact, it always struck me as his evolution into a new phase.  (Even if it took like 40 years and 15 million dollars to get there.)  This record was a whole new thing for Axl and he just so happens to control the rights to the band name, so deal with it.  If it helps, create your own album cover and call it “Axl Rose” instead and then give it another chance under new pretenses.  Some of the bands I most respect have evolved and changed up their musical direction over the years (MINISTRY, METALLICA, etc) and for me personally, I like that a lot even if at first I don’t always love the latest risk they may be taking.  I don’t need the same album over and over again.  I already have the other one, so give me something different with the next.  For me “Chinese Democracy” is a great album.  Having seen the “new” GUNS N ROSES twice now I can also say that they are phenomenal live.  The show I saw in June in Las Vegas was the best of all of the times I’ve seen “GNR” perform since 1991.  A 3 hour long set featuring everything you could possibly want to hear, old and new, played with note for note perfection.  Axl’s voice was better than I had ever heard it before and best of all… he looked happy.  Really genuinely happy.  And me?  I really like seeing Axl happy.  It can’t be easy being him or dealing with being under the microscope that comes with being a rock star of that magnitude. I applaud “Chinese Democracy” for being a new step (albeit a long step to finally take) and I listen to it often.  Of course I’d love to see a reunion with the original band as much as the next guy as that’s the GUNS N ROSES I grew up with.  But give the current line-up(s) credit where credit is due.  They had nothing to do with the break up of the original line-up and at this point some of them have actually been in “GNR” longer than the founding members were.  So like I said at the beginning, take it or leave it.  But I hope you give this record a fair chance and take it for the great album it is as opposed to the old album you hoped it would be again.

“What this means to me is more than I know you believe.  What I thought of you now has cost more than it should for me.  What I thought was true before were lies I couldn’t see.  What I thought was beautiful is only memories…”

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So there you go.  10 records from my collection to consider adding to your own.  Writing this blog entry was a fun and much needed break so I hope you enjoyed at least some of it as much as I did.  Stay tuned for news about DIGGING UP THE MARROW’s release, EXORCISM ON CROOKED LAKE’s production, and of course… the future of HOLLISTON.  The more time that goes by, the more the family begins to heal over the loss of our brother Dave Brockie.  I’ve got a movie to go make at the moment, but just know… we’re starting to pick ourselves up and we’re starting to… you know… talk.  Your patience means the world, so don’t stop believing that we will return to the stage again.  And I mean that most sincerely.

Until next time, “You’ve been great, we’ve been… a wicked long blog about the most random records ever!  GOODNIGHT!”

-AG

 

I LOVE YOU TOO, DAVE BROCKIE

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ODERUS: “Tell me something personal about me that only a true friend would know.”             ADAM: “Um.  You… you smell like a bag of dicks.” – HOLLISTON S2, EP 9.

Sunday night March 23rd, 11pm.  I was at the ArieScope office watching a movie with my friend Robert Pendergraft (make-up effects artist from just about everything I’ve ever done) when I noticed that I had several missed calls from Laura Ortiz on my phone.  I remember thinking “I’ll just call her back tomorrow morning” but there was also a part of my gut that thought “Uh-oh.”  In this day and age when someone actually calls late at night, rather than sending a text or an email, it usually tends to be bad news.  Then again, my friends all know how much trouble I have sleeping and therefore it’s not really that odd to call me at all hours of the night as chances are about 100% good that I’ll be awake and working anyway.  Then a text from Laura came through: “Is it true?”  For some reason this actually made me feel slightly better and even a bit amused.  With all of the recent rumors I’ve seen on-line about the next season of HOLLISTON (everything from fans claiming to have been told by FEARnet representatives at their local horror convention that “Season 3 is green-lit and coming soon”… to rumors that Season 3 was already filming and that I was trying to keep it a secret from the public until production was totally finished- none of which is true by the way) I figured it was something related to the show in one way or another.  Or perhaps it was some other silly gossip about my next film which I have signed onto but not yet announced publicly yet?  Maybe even a bullshit rumor that I had split up with my wife or that I was having an affair with some hot young actress?  Perhaps it was the same old fan gossip that my co-star Corri English and I were together romantically in real life?  I even thought “Ooh, maybe it’s a rumor that I’m dead!  Wouldn’t that be a funny one!”  Whatever it was, it couldn’t possibly be anything important or anything that Laura didn’t already know the real answer to.  She must have just been calling to laugh about it with me.  But after a few minutes my curiosity was just too much and I realized that I was not going to be able to concentrate on the movie until I found out what Laura was calling for.  I paused the movie and called her back.  ”Sorry, Robert.  This will only take a quick second.”

In that “quick second” life suddenly changed.  Turns out that a Virginia based website called Style Weekly had broken the news that our beloved friend and HOLLISTON co-star Dave Brockie (known to millions all over the world as “Oderus Urungus”, iconic lead singer of the pioneering heavy metal band GWAR) had passed away.  The defense mechanism known as “disbelief” kicked right in.  ”It can’t be true, Laura.  He just called me this morning.  It’s a hoax or just a stupid rumor.”  But what was most unsettling was that Dave’s life-long friend (oddly enough also named Adam Green) had posted underneath the comments on Facebook confirming the news.  ”It’s true.  He’s gone.”  This couldn’t be a hoax.  Even Dave with his incredibly morbid sense of humor wouldn’t do this as a joke.  Especially not with GWAR’s guitarist Cory Smoot (“Flattus Maximus”) passing away just 2 years ago.  Death was something to be joked about on GWAR’s stage only, not in Dave’s real life.  Something was wrong.  Something was incredibly wicked fucking wrong.

I called Joe Lynch and within 30 minutes both Joe and Laura were here with me at the ArieScope office sitting around the table (the table where the cast first reads and rehearses each new episode of HOLLISTON) frantically searching the internet for news and calling everyone we could think of that might know what was going on.  If Corri English still lived in LA you can bet that she would have been here within minutes, too.  It was close to 3am New York time so I just texted her saying “Please call me as soon as you wake up.  Don’t look at the internet.”  Denial was in full effect and we must have come up with at least 15 different scenarios for why this news was not true, why it was a mistake, or why it was a joke.  Around 1am Dave’s touring manager called me back and confirmed the worst.  Our brother Dave Brockie was gone.  ”Oderus Urungus” had left the building for the final time and returned to his home planet of Scumdoggia.  Nothing would ever be the same.

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L to R: Joe Lynch, Laura Ortiz, Me, Corri English, Dave Brockie – Entertainment Weekly 2012

It’s important to note that I don’t use the word “brother” lightly.  It’s not a term thrown around like those guys who annoyingly call everyone “bro” in conversation or who refer to you as “brother” affectionately in emails and texts.  This cast is truly a family that reaches far beyond just performing together.  Many artists (both in front of and behind the camera) form strong bonds through working together creatively, but very few carry that very same bond into their real lives when the cameras are put away and the sets are dismantled and locked away in storage.  To put it into perspective, if I ever needed an organ transplant my castmates would undoubtedly be on the front line saying “here, just take mine”.

Having confirmation of the terrible news, I shot off a few emails and texts to HOLLISTON’s producers and of course, to our other brother in the cast Dee Snider.  It was going to be a bad morning for a lot of people when they woke up.  I still can’t even imagine what Dave’s bandmates are going through.  Brad, Mike, Todd, Brent and the Slave Pit crew, some of whom have loyally been a part of GWAR for three decades now.  Not to mention the millions of Bohabs (GWAR fans) worldwide who are all hearing the news this week, the staff at Metal Blade records, GWAR’s management… all wonderful people that I have gotten to know since first officially casting Dave in HOLLISTON back in 2010.  Dave’s incredible personality, insane art, and enormous beating heart touched millions of people and I am certainly not the only one to have had such a special connection to him.  It has been incredible to watch not only the metal music world but the entire entertainment world acknowledge this enormous loss and hear so many people come forward with such respectful and sincere words about who Dave really was and what he meant for our entertainment culture as a whole.  There are many “one of a kind” people out there, but there was and only ever will be one Dave Brockie.

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 Beavis and Butthead weep.

At the time of this writing there is still no cause of death known.  Of course it only took about 48 hours before on-line reports about Dave’s death began using the phrase “possibly drug related” even though the toxicology report could take 6 weeks or more to actually come back… and I can’t tell you how much that angers me to read.  I wasn’t there with him.  I can’t tell you anything that isn’t already in the press and no, I don’t have some kind of inside information that I’m holding back.  All I can do is speak to Dave’s character.  I spent an enormous amount of time with him.  Not only working on HOLLISTON but also backstage at GWAR concerts, sitting him with him on the tour bus, in hotels where we were appearing to promote HOLLISTON… and countless hours, hours, and hours on the phone.  Dave was an early riser and he would call me extremely early in the morning on a regular basis just to talk.  He knew that chances were good that if he called me at 7am his time (4am my time)… I’d already be awake and around to talk.  He also called from the road to check in constantly, not so much to tell me about how he was doing but to see how I was doing.  Though I’ve known Dave on a fan-level for 25 years, in the 4+ years that I have been incredibly close with Dave on a personal level, never once did I see him use or even speak of hard drugs.  I encourage everyone to listen to Dave’s appearance on THE MOVIE CRYPT podcast last summer at San Diego Comic-Con where we spoke about his life and career.  You can listen to it here.  In this interview he was incredibly honest and candid about everything, including his stance on drugs.  It’s probably the most comprehensive and revealing showcase available in terms of who Dave really was and what his personal journey was like.  By the end of that two hour podcast you’ll feel like you really knew him, too.  I know that it’s difficult to believe that the lead singer of the world’s most outrageous heavy metal band was not a hardcore drug user, but he was not.  I can’t tell you what the medical examiner’s report will say, but I can tell you that my friend Dave Brockie did not live his life like some rock star cliche.  Out of all of the possible reasons for Dave’s death that have crossed my mourning mind these past few days, a drug overdose is absolutely not one of them.  That was one of the most beautiful things about Dave Brockie.  He didn’t need mind-altering substances to be crazier than you.  He just was.

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Dave Brockie / “Oderus Urungus” … 1963 – 2014

This past August Dave turned 50.  While we sat in an IHOP together eating incredibly and unhealthy greasy food he excitedly boasted about his recent comprehensive physical exam and how his health was absolutely perfect  - the irony of which is of course not lost on me.  Dave may have dressed up like a giant space alien, he may have written and performed heavy metal music, he may have sprayed down his audience with all kinds of over the top fake blood in concert, he may have had long hair (sometimes) and tattoos, he may have made incredibly funny and offensive satirical jokes when in the “Oderus Urungus” character… but beneath all of that was a brilliant mind, a true artist, a terrific musician, a walking encyclopedia of history knowledge, a die-hard Redskins fan, a novelist, a painter, a poet, a comedian, a storyteller, a lover of cinema, a business man, a generous soul, an inspiration, an entertainer to millions, a cultural icon, and a loyal friend.

GWAR-Hell-o-510920My first GWAR album.

When I was fourteen years old I got my first summer job working as a bag boy at a Cape Cod supermarket.  I was already a full-blown metal head by that point having started out on bands like Twisted Sister, KISS, Alice Cooper, Guns N Roses, and anything glam metal.  I had just started to include thrash metal like Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax in my regular listening diet.  Sometimes I’d bag groceries behind a cashier named Eric who was an older and musically wiser individual.  Upon mentioning to him how much I loved Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” record he simply replied, “No, dude.  GWAR.  Listen to GWAR.  They’ll change your life.”  He let me borrow his cassette tape of GWAR’s “Hell-o” and well… he was right.  It changed my life.  Only I couldn’t have possibly conceived then just how much GWAR would indeed change my life in the long run.  I spent my next paycheck on GWAR’s more recent record “Scumdogs Of The Universe” and I was enamored. I couldn’t believe there was a heavy metal band that dressed up like giant alien monsters and who sang the absolutely most offensive and hilarious songs I had ever heard.  (Hey, when you’re a 14 year old boy nothing impresses you more musically than a song like “The Salaminizer” where the singer says the word “fuck” about 8,000 times in just only 3 minutes and 35 seconds.)  I was obsessed with GWAR and as soon as I got back to school that Fall I introduced my friends in Vigilante (my high school band that was about as good as the name sounds) to GWAR and we quickly learned how to play “Sick Of You”.  It was the very first song we learned how to cover.  Yes, all three magical chords of it.  I tried the best any 14 year old boy could to model my singing voice after Oderus’ voice since we had a similar range and over the next two decades (starting once I was old enough to go) I made it a priority to always see GWAR perform whenever they came through whatever city I was living in or at least a city that was within a few hours drive.

I could go on and on about my experiences seeing GWAR concerts, my favorite songs from each album, and what a huge fan I have always been of Dave’s and of the band’s, but there are thousands and thousands of fans just like me saying and feeling the same way right now.  What I’d rather offer up is just how much GWAR helped shape my sense of humor and my ability to laugh at everything from popular culture figures to political leaders and just how influential Dave’s wit was to becoming an even more accepting and tolerant human being.  While an outsider who never “got” GWAR might view the band as offensive or even outright blasphemous, us Bohabs always appreciated the next level humor, the social statements, and the outrageous creativity that GWAR exuded.   One of the most genius things about Dave/”Oderus” was that he could literally say anything and get away with it.  Whether it was calling-out a public figure on their own bullshit or simply purposely saying the most ridiculous thing possible for no other reason than to push people’s buttons… what was someone going to do?  Argue with a rubber alien?  You kind of just had to laugh with him or risk looking like a complete fool.

Dave accomplished so much in his fifty years on this planet.  Forget about GWAR’s many successes as both a band and as worldwide cultural icons for 30 years (how many other bands can say that?), but Dave’s unique mind and artistic skills were truly transcendent.  Whether he was writing about football for a sports outlet, acting as an “intergalactic reporter” for FOX News (the ultimate irony if you knew him), painting some of the most unique art out there, publishing an epic horror novel steeped in historical events (WHARGOUL), or acting in a TV sitcom… he was so much more than just a guy who portrayed a foul mouth talking alien that fronted an incredible heavy metal band.  Just try and compare him to another human being, living or dead.  You can’t.  It’s also important to note that when Dave passed away he was at a point in his career where everything was firing at full blast.  GWAR had just finished touring Australia and Japan mere days before he passed away.  GWAR’s latest album “Battle Maximus” was easily one of the band’s best records ever.  HOLLISTON Season 2 was just about to come out on Blu-Ray and he was building legions of new fans every day.  He was completely happy with where he was at in life and he had so many new ideas and projects he was excited to start on.  He didn’t have to go through the painful process of becoming irrelevant, having the world stop appreciating his art, or having to get a dreaded day job working day in and day out simply to make a living but not out of passion.  We should all be so lucky.

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“Oderus” gives me life advice.  From Season 1 of HOLLISTON.

HOLLISTON was a life-long dream project of mine.  To date, I love it more than any other project I’ve ever created.  There’s enough information out there as to how the show came to fruition (and how obscenely long it took me to actually get it made) but ever since the concept of my character having an imaginary alien best friend who lived in his closet and served as a guardian angel of sorts came into the picture… Dave/”Oderus” was who I dreamed of in the role.  When I found myself backstage at House of Blues pitching him the concept of HOLLISTON it took less than 3 seconds for him to say “I’m in.”  Not “how much money are you offering?”  Not “well, you’ll have to talk to my management first.”  Not even “I’ll need to see a script first.”  Sure it helped that he had already seen my movies, but Dave (like any true artist) was about doing what he was excited about doing and what he was passionate about.  GWAR is the perfect example.  If you think the guys in GWAR spent the past 30 years rolling in money and throwing away millions on fancy cars and mansions in the Hollywood Hills… think again.  They were a working class band who always did things on their terms and because they loved doing it.  If you could only see how humble they all actually are.  Underneath those larger than life costumes are 5 regular guys who travel from city to city together cramped into one bus and playing their asses off night after night.  And this is no average traveling band, mind you.  The amount of work that goes into a GWAR concert is like nothing you can imagine.  The “slaves” who handle everything from the behind the scenes mechanics to playing characters in the show itself had me in awe the first time I watched a full concert from backstage.  Bob Gorman in particular who has been with the band for the run of their career (and who GWAR fans would know as the “skateboarder” who meets “Sleazy P. Martini” at the start of their grammy award winning movie PHALLUS IN WONDERLAND) not only works harder and faster than anything I’ve ever seen, but he even had to pick up Joe Lynch (who is easily twice his size) at the end of a show and feed him to the band’s on-stage “meat grinder” simply because Dave asked him to.  I couldn’t lift up Joe over my shoulder and carry him across the stage, and even I am a bigger guy than Bob.  These guys are simply incredible and they have never done it for any kind of fortune and glory other than having the opportunity to do their thing.  So with that mentality, of course Dave agreed to play my imaginary alien friend on HOLLISTON and thus began an amazing real-life friendship where the lines between Dave being my guardian angel on the show and my guardian angel of sorts in real life quickly became blurred.

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Backstage at House of Blues – November 5, 2011

If the 14 year old me could only have known what Eric the supermarket cashier meant when he handed me that cassette tape and said “This will change your life.”  My life has been blessed like that and I never, ever forget it or take it for granted.  And I don’t just mean that I’ve somehow found myself becoming genuine friends with many of the artists that I grew up idolizing.  It’s that people like Dave Brockie and the countless other “celebrities” that I created impossible expectations for in my childhood head have all not just lived up to those expectations but surpassed them in every way.  As Dave says on the podcast that I posted earlier in this blog, he attributes all of that to my own personality and my ability to invest in and put together such amazing groups of people that are willing to drink my creative Kool Aid and believe not only in me and my various passion projects, but also in each other.  Maybe that’s true.  Maybe I’ve just been lucky.  It’s very hard for me to tell being this close to all of it.  But Dave truly, truly loved every single person he worked with on HOLLISTON.  Not just the cast who he worked with most closely, but every crew member who was there each day working hard to make the show happen against incredibly hard odds.  He was always polite.  He was always in a good mood.  He was always gracious to be there and thankful for the opportunity.  Most of all, he never failed to let everyone know just how much he loved them and how much he enjoyed every moment he had with them.  And I think that’s one of the greatest successes of Dave Brockie’s life.  That even leaving us suddenly and without a chance to say goodbye… everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) in his life knows how much he loved and appreciated them.  We could all only be so lucky to have nothing left unsaid when it’s our time to go.  If there’s a lesson to be learned, it’s not just to remember to tell the people you care about that you love them… but to do it every moment that you get the chance.  I never got a single voice mail from Dave where he didn’t sign off with “I love you.”  For most men like myself, there’s just something uncomfortable in doing that.  You kind of feel stupid or embarrassed to say “I love you” to someone else save for your parents, your wife, or you children if you are lucky enough to have children.  Then again, Dave spent his entire life half-naked on stage’s worldwide wearing a thong with his ass hanging out.  Nothing… and I mean NOTHING… was ever going to embarrass Dave Brockie.  And he was a better man because of that.

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Rock and Shock – Worcester, MA – 2011

Lynch and I will be doing a podcast episode dedicated to Dave soon.  We’re just waiting until we are a little bit better prepared for it.  Fans who listen to THE MOVIE CRYPT religiously will notice in some of the upcoming episodes that we dance around it a bit and force ourselves to focus on the guest at hand.  I know that there are people waiting to hear words from each of us in the HOLLISTON cast and as a fan myself I understand it completely.  Whenever an artist I admired has passed on, I am always anxious to hear from the other artists around him or her.  Somehow it helps.  So I didn’t want to wait another day to post something about what Dave meant to me, and a written blog was the best way to get it out without stammering on and on through a wide array of emotions.  I am grateful to say that I’m just not very experienced with grief like this and a lot of what I am personally feeling is completely new to me.  I’ll find myself overcome with tears one minute, laughing the next, and then angry a minute later.  I have spent a lot of time these past few days talking to Dave on the various HOLLISTON posters hanging on the walls here at ArieScope, which I suppose in the grand scheme of things isn’t that much weirder than the show itself where he lives in my closet and only I can see him.  Only this is real life.  I am anxiously awaiting the point in the grieving process where I can celebrate his life rather than wallow in tears because he is gone or stand before his image and yell at him for leaving when we still had so much to do together.  Fans of the show are starting to ask what my plan is for potential future seasons of HOLLISTON and how I’ll creatively handle the situation.  All I can say is that the show’s future is the least of my priorities at this very moment.  Would Dave have wanted the show to go on?  Of course.  He’d kick my ass if I had the opportunity to make more seasons of the show and walked away because he is gone.  For now though, I can’t even think about it.  What I can say is that the fans have absolutely overwhelmed all of us with their unimaginable outpouring of support and love.  There are more letters, messages, and comments than I can possibly read.  But I am reading all of them.  I’ve found great strength in witnessing the sheer magnitude of how much Dave meant to people and I can’t stress enough just how much everyone in the world of HOLLISTON appreciates and loves you all.

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HOLLISTON fan art.

I wish I could end this eulogy blog or whatever it is with a proper goodbye to my friend Dave.  But I suppose I don’t really know how to do that just yet.  Instead I’ll offer my total and unwavering condolences, my heart, and my prayers to everyone else who is grieving right now.  To the HOLLISTON cast and crew, I hope you celebrate the times you had with Dave and all of the incredible laughter and positive energy he brought into our lives,  To my friends in GWAR, your loss is insurmountable and we all grieve with you.  I wish you all tremendous strength in the coming days, weeks, months, and years and I know without a doubt that whatever you each do next as artists will be something I love.  But to the fans of HOLLISTON, of GWAR, of everything Dave Brockie… my heart goes out to you the most.  For all of the love and admiration you had for Dave/”Oderus” so few of you actually got the chance to meet him in person or to spend the kind of precious time knowing him and creating with him that the rest of us were blessed with.  For that I am truly sorry.  But as you grieve, remember that without YOU there would have been no “Dave Brockie the entertainer”.  You gave him the opportunity to live the life he lived through your loyalty, support, and appreciation.  You weren’t just a huge part of Dave’s life… you made Dave’s life the amazing life that it was.  Never forget that.

In closing, I leave you with the last voice mail that Dave left for me.  Some might say that it’s an odd choice to share such a personal thing so publicly, but I have been listening to this voice mail over and over and over again since Sunday night and I think that it so perfectly encapsulates everything I have said above and who he really was.  A sweet, loving, wonderful, and passionate man.  He didn’t just change my life, he made my life better.

 

By the way… I love you too, Dave Brockie.

-AG

UPDATED 3/7/14: HOLLISTON Dave Brockie Tribute Video

HOLLISTON Dave Brockie Tribute from ArieScope Pictures on Vimeo.

HOLLISTON Season 2 – Special Features

On April 8th HOLLISTON Season 2 finally comes home to Blu-Ray.  Hopefully by now you’ve pre-ordered your copy from us directly but if you haven’t already done so… just click here.  While all Season 2 Blu-Rays ordered from ArieScope.com come with both my autograph and Joe Lynch’s autograph on the cover, only pre-ordered copies will come with a third surprise cast member’s autograph on the cover as well.  It likely goes without saying, but when you buy stuff from us you support all of us and our projects directly… so THANK YOU for buying your copy here.

OK, so why is Season 2 only being released on Blu-Ray and not also on DVD?  First of all, don’t shoot the messenger!  If I had $10 for every angry tweet or other social networking message I’ve gotten about this matter, Season 3 would already have been financed and shot.  Seriously, it’s not my fault nor is it the fault of anyone else associated with making HOLLISTON itself.  If it were up to us, of course DVD would also be an option for you to purchase, but unfortunately it isn’t up to us.  So that you can hopefully understand their reasoning, Image Entertainment (HOLLISTON’s distributor) made this decision based on a few key factors.  The most obvious factor being that DVD is going the way of VHS extinction now that Blu-ray players are so affordable and common (most all modern gaming systems even come with a Blu-Ray player built in) and now that so many people have big screen high definition TV’s.  If you’ve ever watched a DVD on a big screen TV and compared it to what watching a Blu-Ray looks like, then you know just how awful a DVD actually looks all blown up and stretched out since DVD resolution is so much lower than that of Blu-Ray.  According to a representative from Image, the Season 1 Blu-Ray far out sold the DVD which is another major factor in their decision making.  But most importantly is that Season 2 contains well over 340 minutes of content.  (That’s about 4 feature films for those keeping track.)  While a Blu-Ray disc is big enough to fit all of that content on one disc, a DVD release would likely take 3 if not 4 discs and therefore more extensive packaging… thus making it remarkably more expensive not only to produce but also more expensive for you to actually buy.  So as unpopular as their decision may be for those still holding on to their old DVD players, VCRs, and cassette tapes… times are changing and there’s nothing we can personally do about it.  Of course Season 2 is already available to purchase quite cheaply on Amazon streaming, on XBOX, and on iTunes (where you can get the full un-cut Christmas Special as well) for those who are still anti-Blu-Ray.  So no matter what, there is a way to buy and watch the show legally.  Still want to gripe to someone about the lack of a DVD release?  Image Entertainment has a Facebook page here.  But be nice!  Remember that without Image supporting HOLLISTON from day one, the show very well may never have been made in the first place.

But now for the fun part!  The coveted special features on the Season 2 Blu-Ray release!  Though I usually like to wait until I’ve got the disc in my own hands and after I have watched it through myself before declaring what exactly will be on it, Image has not yet sent me a check disc to view.  So if any of the below winds up not being on the Blu-Ray, don’t blame me.  However, Image assures me that the below information is accurate and that they have included everything that we created and delivered to them.  So here goes…

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Not only does the Blu-Ray include all ten episodes from Season 2 and the un-cut full version of “The Christmas Special” (it was cut down by 5 minutes for television) but also over 70 minutes of special features!  Bonus content includes: THE MAKING OF SEASON 2 (A behind the scenes piece that covers the making of Season 2 overall), BECOMING LANCE ROCKETT (A piece detailing Dee Snider’s incredible make-up and wardrobe in Season 2), THE SEASON 2 HOLLYWOOD PREMIERE (See what you missed from the red carpet and after party), THE BLOOPERS (Yeah, sometimes we fuck up and we know you love to laugh at our mistakes just as much as we do! You’ll even get to see the raunchy joke that I was supposed to perform at the end of Episode 9 “Kevin’s Wedding” where I instead completely choked by not being able to stop laughing…), ELEVEN DELETED AND ALTERNATE SCENES (See what didn’t make the final cut and find out why as I give an on-camera introduction and explanation for each set of clips before they begin), “LOVE IT DOWN YOUR THROAT” MUSIC VIDEO (See the entire music video for Lance Rockett and DYVER DOWN’s first ‘original Van Halen cover song’), “CAN YOU HEAR ME” MUSIC VIDEO (Corri English’s band BROKEDOWN CADILLAC was kind enough to give us their official music video for “Can You Hear Me” which Corri performed on stage during the ‘Farm Festival’ in the Season 2 finale), “THE ROAD BEHIND” FULL PERFORMANCE (See my entire performance from the opening of Episode 7 “Blobby” where I fully embarrassed myself in front of my dolls- I mean, action figures), HOLLISTON “LIVE AT ROCK AND SHOCK” (The very first full 30 minute live performance/table read that the cast ever did at a convention.  It’s an original script that I wrote specifically for the event and the performance includes surprise celebrity guest stars), and finally… COMMENTARY TRACKS on 10 of the 11 included episodes featuring myself, Joe Lynch, Laura Ortiz, and Sean Becker (who directed many of the episodes this past season).  The only episode we skipped doing a commentary track for was Episode 7 “Blobby” simply because we could only fit 10 commentaries on the Blu-Ray.  Since 80% of that episode is animated it was the likely choice to skip.  Don’t fear though, any good stories we had about that episode were discussed in the other commentary tracks.

It is important to point out that we personally created all of this content and gave it to Image Entertainment for free.  Why did we do that?  Because we LOVE YOU for spending your hard earned cash on supporting our show and we want to give you everything that we possibly can and make your purchase special with content that you will only be able to see if you buy the Blu-Ray.  The truth is that we know just how many fans of the show choose to watch HOLLISTON as cheaply as possible, whether that be only watching it when it airs on television, downloading it on streaming sites like Amazon, XBOX, and iTunes, or when the show eventually hits places like Hulu or Netflix (no release dates for those two outlets set yet, sorry).  Sadly, far too many “fans” also steal our show on illegal torrent sites which is a big reason why there is still no announcement of a third season.  A show like HOLLISTON is not cheap to make given its high production quality and all of those incredible guest stars that you love to see.  But unlike the major network or high-end cable network shows you watch, HOLLISTON is an independent production made on an extremely modest budget with our collective hearts, blood, sweat, and tears.  No one involved is getting rich off of this show.  In fact, many people involved (like myself) often put a lot of their salary back into the show in order to bring you more episodes and in order to keep the quality as high as possible. That’s why HOLLISTON can be so original and not quite like any other sit-com out there.  We wouldn’t be able to do half of the stuff that we do if we didn’t have such complete creative control.  By making the series independently we were able to make a sit-com that blends outrageous humor, heartfelt drama, tear-jerking emotion, gory horror, heavy metal icons, and all of those genre stars that you had never before gotten to see perform comedically in a traditional sit-com.  Until HOLLISTON, network sit-coms just didn’t seem to cater to us – the horror fans, the “outcasts”, the struggling artists, the “geeks”, or the “metal heads”.  They underestimated us and it truly seemed as though they felt that if you were in the demographic that liked horror than you wouldn’t possibly also like to laugh, to cry, or to see yourselves represented in a format that was simply never made for people like you or I.  In my opinion, we were most always shown in a condescending way by the sit-coms that would portray us through pedestrian heightened stereotypes or as minor characters and supporting sight-gags.  But if anyone out there knows what it’s like to struggle to chase a dream, to repeatedly have doors slammed in our ambition’s faces, to be broke as shit, and to suffer real relationship heartbreaks… it’s us.  That’s why more so than any other genre, we are our very own culture.  Thankfully places like FEARnet and Image rolled the dice, believed in us, believed in YOU, and pre-licensed HOLLISTON so that we could put together the budget needed to make the show correctly.   But while the show may be considered a success based on the audience reactions, critical reviews, and incredibly passionate fan base… if the series doesn’t recoup its budget or show some sort of profit for those outlets, it simply will not continue.  The cards are against us as FEARnet is still a very small network that not everyone can watch and when the show hits places like iTunes and Blu-Ray there is no marketing or advertising in place to support it.  (You’ll notice that HOLLISTON doesn’t even have the pull or financial support to be listed in “new releases” but instead just kind of shows up in the “H” section randomly one day.)  It has all been up to the cast, the crew, and the fans to let the world know about it.  And man… that ain’t easy.  But as Han Solo said, “Never tell me the odds.”  We can continue on if you help us.  Support the show and buy the Blu-Ray or buy a season pass on iTunes.  Tell everyone you know about it and make noise on-line about it.  Know someone who is illegally stealing it from us on-line?  Punch them in the dick.  Help us make a third season happen and help us get enough episodes made so that the show can finally start being distributed in other countries, too.  ”Adam”, “Joe”, “Laura”, “Corri”, “Oderus”, “Lance” and “Axl The Cat” need your help if they’re to keep the lights on in the apartment at “13 Francine Street”, if they’re to keep “Mass Cable Network” in business, and if they’re to keep that generic beer flowing at “Casey’s Crossing”.  Buy the Blu-Ray… keep HOLLISTON going.

A blog with more details on where we are at with future seasons of HOLLISTON and news about my upcoming film projects is coming when I can.  Promise.  It’s already been an amazing and crazy year so far (just wait ’til you read about my afternoon with the great Steven Tyler!) but it’s only just getting started.  In the meantime, hopefully you are listening to THE MOVIE CRYPT podcast and keeping up with all of the stories and everything that’s been happening on a weekly basis.  For HOLLISTON fans, Corri English will be our guest next week (airing on iTunes and GeekNation.com starting Monday March 17th) and we’ll be speaking at length about where we are at with a third season- so don’t miss that episode!

In the meantime, I continue to thank and love you all.  Enjoy the Season 2 Blu-Ray and for those in Los Angeles, a bunch of us from the show will be appearing at Dark Delicacies bookstore in Burbank on the night the Blu-Ray comes out (April 8th).  Check out the “NEWS” section of this website for the details.

“In Market Basket we shop.”

-AG

 

 

GOODBYE 2013

Or … THE LONGEST BLOG EVER.

Happy New Year!  Now that there exists THE MOVIE CRYPT weekly podcast, blogging has become a lot less necessary or exciting- save for the entries where I share rare set photos, storyboards, or other information that I can’t “speak” on the podcast.  Looking back at this year in blogs, the SPIRAL “Photos” blog and FROZEN “Storyboards” blog seemed to be the two most popular, but given how far and how fast the podcast has grown, that really only makes sense.  So since I really didn’t blog that much all year, this year end wrap up is going to be a big one. 2013 was an incredibly busy and difficult time but also a milestone for both myself and all at ArieScope in an enormous way.  In an effort to save your eyes and not make this entry a full-on novel (oh, who am I kidding- the end of the year blog is ALWAYS a novel and you’re gonna need 3 days, a case of 5-Hour Energy, and the skillful patience of a sea urchin to get through this blog alive), let’s get started and just “hit the highlights”, shall we?  By the way, if you scream “HIT THE HIGHLIGHTS” in James Hetfield’s high pitched 1983 KILL ‘EM ALL voice on “Hit The Lights” it makes reading the rest of this blog extremely fun.  And wicked metal.

“LARRY DAVID” GOES TO MOOREA

2013 began with a much needed vacation as Rileah and I adventured off to the island of Moorea in French Polynesia.  Moorea is a smaller, reclusive island near Bora Bora where the entire resort is essentially standing over the most beautiful natural aquarium that you’ve ever seen.  We had a private bungalow over the water where you could literally roll out of bed and step right into the ocean.  Sounds like paradise, right?  For the most part, location wise- it truly was.  But it definitely wasn’t the best vacation we’ve ever been on.  We have only been able to take a couple of vacations in our decade together due to the demanding schedules that we both keep so I don’t have that many vacations to compare it to, but this one had more than its fair share of flaws.  If I intended for this blog to be a comedy sketch I’d go into all of the things that went wrong on Moorea (starting with the fact that it POURED at least 6 and 1/2 out of the 10 days we were there or how the neighboring bungalow played “Gangnam Style” on a straight loop for 5 of those days or how I wound up having more “Larry David” moments in 10 days then most will have all year long) but I can’t explain how nice it was to be “technology-less” for ten days and how much needed the sleep and time together doing absolutely nothing were.  Looking back, those 10 days probably got me through 2013 given the production marathon that I was coming off of and the crazy year I was about to embark on.  I was literally in production from the start of 2012 through the day we left for Moorea on January 4, 2013.  2012 was ridiculous with finishing and releasing Season 1 of HOLLISTON, writing and living through the difficult production of HATCHET 3, writing and shooting Season 2 of HOLLISTON, writing a new draft of KILLER PIZZA yet again, post-production on Season 2- including the completion and launch of the Hour-Long HOLLISTON CHRISTMAS SPECIAL, shooting pieces for 2014′s DIGGING UP THE MARROW, and the appearances, tours, and promotion that go along with what I do for a living.  Keep in mind that while the phrase “writing season 2 of HOLLISTON” may be merely five short words- that alone actually translates to writing 11 different screenplays (close to 600 pages of material) while being on location in a New Orleans swamp for the shooting of HATCHET 3.  So by the time we sat down on the plane to Moorea… Rileah and I were both in need of time away in the most desperate way.  Perhaps on one of the podcasts next year, Joe Lynch and I can both go into our various “vacation nightmares” (he has had plenty of his own disasters, too) and I can explain how I became “the Larry David of Moorea”, but for now I’ll just say that the island was gorgeous and the vacation was a great way to start 2013.   I’m just saying that had I known that I would come home from the coast of Tahiti having watched it rain for a week, being extremely disappointed by the expensive resort’s service, and knowing all of the words to “Gangnam Style” – I would have stayed here in LA and gone to the movies instead.  Much cheaper.

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Moorea – January 2013.

POST-PRODUCTION ON HOLLISTON SEASON 2

Once I returned, the next five months were all about post-production on HOLLISTON.  I was locked away with my fellow HOLLISTON director Sean Becker and editors Ed Marx and Josh Ethier as we edited and posted what is essentially 3 feature films worth of material in less time that you typically get to edit, score, sound design, and color time 1 feature film.  (If you count the Christmas Special – 4 feature films.)  It’s very hard, but it is also so incredibly fun and every day is a joy as we laugh our asses off while facing the difficult challenges that come with cutting hours and hours of footage together in the best way we can figure out how.  I’ve said it many times, but the production of HOLLISTON (every single step of it- from writing through delivery of the final episodes) is such a wonderful experience in every way that I only wish every filmmaker could experience something like it over the course of their careers.  There is literally never a bad day and I go home (briefly) each night excited to get right back into it as soon as possible the next morning.  The show is a blessing and one that I will gravely miss should it not continue on for a third season.  As you know, at this time we still don’t know what the future holds for HOLLISTON, but more on that coming up…

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Sound mixing HOLLISTON Season 2 at Todd AO Sound Stage, Burbank – April 2013.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

In March, the most extensive tour I’ve done since first promoting HATCHET in 2006 began as I hit the road on and off for 9 straight months promoting both HOLLISTON Season 2 and HATCHET 3.  It sounds fun, doesn’t it?  Well, in a lot ways it is very fun.  Getting out there face to face and not just meeting the fans who make this all possible but also PERFORMING live shows for them (shows that I write from scratch and tailor to each city we perform them in) is an honor and the only reason my HOLLISTON cast mates and I are willing to do what we do.  But if you think the endless trips to the airport, waiting in security lines, countless hours of uncomfortable plane trips, sleepless nights in hotel bed after hotel bed, not seeing your family or friends for weeks on end, and the debt (yes DEBT) that we go into by doing these tours is all “fun” you’d be very wrong.  It’s a lot like being in a band where you deal with life on the road because those few hours that you get performing for and meeting the fans make every bit of hassle worth it.  But unlike a band and unlike the other celebrity guests who appear at the conventions, screenings, and other events that we appear at… we don’t get paid a dime and go out of our own pockets for a lot of the expenses.  Believe me, it’s our choice to do it that way so we have no right to complain.  We’re lucky to even be wanted at these things and grateful for every fan that we have or that we win over by doing these free appearances.  We could easily charge each fan for our time, our autographs, our pictures, or our performances… but we don’t.  And we are the only ones who don’t charge.  It’s just the way I do things right now because it’s what I personally believe.  Trust me- I GET IT and those who charge have every right to do so.  Some would say (and have said) that I’m an idiot for NOT charging (and if you could see what it ultimately winds up costing me by doing these tours you would likely say the same thing)- but it is my choice.  I’m a story teller and all I want to do is both spread the word about the stories I have to tell and give back and thank the fans who support those stories.  That’s why you only see me doing appearances when leading up to a release of one of my projects.  I don’t do them unless I am actively promoting something new because I can’t afford to do them nor do I have the time to do them as I’m (thankfully) always working on the next thing.  But the honest truth is that I’m at “this” level- whatever that level may be considered to each individual.  While all of my films have had theatrical runs in the same theaters as the major studio pictures and while my TV show is available in all the same outlets and formats that any major network show is… what I don’t have (at this level) is real marketing dollars, serious publicity campaigns, or costly advertisements pushing and letting people know about my work or where to see it in the widest way possible.  So I can either shrug my shoulders and say “not fair” as the efforts of my crew and I fizzle and die… or I can do something about it.  To let down my guard and be completely honest, do I like having to be both the filmmaker and the salesman?  Hell no.  I would much rather watch millions get paid by a network or studio distributor to spread the word about my work, turn on the TV and see commercials for it on major network channels, drive down the street and see billboards on every corner, turn on the radio and hear the commercials every break, show up at the handful of junkets that a publicist arranged, do a few interviews, and keep working on the next project.  But until that happens, this is my life and this is how I need to do things.  And like it or not, this lifestyle is also exactly why my work has succeeded so far.  It’s a tricky line being both the filmmaker and the “accessible guy who is always out there promoting” and one that I struggle to try and balance daily.   And I don’t just mean the appearances or interviews.  Chances are about 100% that if you’ve ever written to me (whether it be through fan mail or social networking) you’ve gotten a personal response.  It has certainly taken its toll and I’m not quite sure just how many more of these tours I have left in me or how long I’ll be able to stay so completely accessible, but I’ve always done whatever I can do to support my own work if no one else is going to do it for me or help me with that crucial and pivotal aspect of it all.  Had I not given all of myself to these various appearances, promotional campaigns, and tours… there would be no success in ArieScope Pictures, there would be no “franchise” in “the HATCHET franchise” and there may never have even been the 7 feature films and 2 seasons of a TV show that followed in “Victor Crowley’s” wake.  If that’s what it takes to retain my independence and keep making the projects that I actually care about and that I actually want to make, than that’s what I’ll do as long as I can hold out.  Here’s what can be heartbreaking about these tours though…  Think about what you just read and now imagine what it feels like to be in whatever city I’m in that weekend, to give away a free poster or fancy 8X10 photograph (that I paid for), to spend however much time a fan wants with me, to sign for them and take a picture with them, to give them personal advice about navigating the industry or film school if that’s what they are asking of me… and then have them (with absolutely NO shame) tell me how they pirated all of my films on-line or how they stole HOLLISTON off of a bit torrent site because they didn’t want to pay $1.99 an episode (or $12.99 for the entire season) on iTunes or even $15 for an autographed DVD through this website.  It’s like saying “my way of thanking you for all of this is to do my part to try and make sure that you never get to make another project again”.  It’s infuriating, it’s crushing, it happens way more often than you would hope, and to be honest, it fucking hurts.  Deeply and badly.  Remember, the movie business is a business.  If these projects don’t at least recoup their budgets or turn some kind of small profit for the powers that be that finance them- we don’t work again.  However, the major silver lining in all of this is the enormous amounts of fans that will stand in line for hours of their lives just to get 30 seconds of one-on-one time to say “thank you” as they plunk down their theater ticket stub, DVD or BLU-RAY that they bought and ask me to autograph it.  The countless letters and stories of how what I do helped someone through a hard time in either a very small or very big way.  Whether it be your average fan, a physically handicapped person,  a mentally challenged individual, an abused woman or man, the local “outcast” who is made to feel like a “loser” by their peers at school, the military service men and women… words can’t express what it feels like to meet these amazing people and hear what they have to say about my work or about me personally.  Believe me, the honor is all mine.   And those moments are what keep me going and the memories that I hold so dearly.  To my fellow filmmaking peers who read this blog, the next time some executive makes your life hell, you hit a “wait, I’m broke again?!” dry spell, or some blogger or “critic” goes after you personally… think about that letter you have likely gotten from that stranger out there on the other side of the world who’s life you touched in a positive way and I can all but guarantee that things will come racing back into very sharp focus and perspective.  The fans have given me more support and strength than anyone else has in this industry.  Lest ye forget… fans make the industry go around and are as every bit as crucial a component of filmmaking as the original draft of your script itself.

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Standing ovation in Cincinnati – March 23, 2013.

THE MOVIE CRYPT OPENED ITS DOORS

On Monday May 6th, THE MOVIE CRYPT podcast creaked open its doors and launched on Geek Nation and (save for holidays like July 4th or Thanksgiving) we haven’t missed a week since.  Though Joe Lynch and I originally started the podcast with the intention of doing it for only the 10 weeks that HOLLISTON Season 2 would be airing and using it as a forum to discuss each episode and promote the series, the podcast quickly found a life far beyond what we ever expected and has since amassed an enormous and loyal following of listeners with its candid “Inside the Actor’s Studio” style filmmaker on filmmaker discussions covering all aspects of the movie making industry.  Whether it be a director, writer, producer, actor, composer, cinematographer, costume designer, editor, agent, or even a rock star, THE MOVIE CRYPT is so honest and informative that by the 6th episode we started hearing from college students that their film school professors had recommended that they listen to the podcast each week.  Given the terrific listenership we’ve acquired we now take the podcast very seriously, securing fantastic guests (both famous and soon to be famous as well as people who are so far behind the scenes that they don’t typically get the chance to be front and center discussing their craft for 2 full hours).  Rather than use THE MOVIE CRYPT as a source of promotion of any kind we instead look to it as a “service” to those looking for advice, inspiration, or merely information about how the industry really works.  Or at least… as much as we (and our guests) know about it.  We’ve turned down guests asking to come on as publicity for an upcoming project’s release and we’ve found ourselves telling publicists that contact us looking to book their client that we simply don’t operate that way.  We choose the subject matter, we invite the guests on, and we pick the topics based on what we think would be interesting or helpful to our audience and, of course, we also have fun doing an occasional “fan commentary track” to movies we love or by doing amusing bits like Bruce Fuery’s “Fists Of Fuery” where we poke fun at ourselves and keep it real the best way we know how.  To quote both of our wives (who comically enough are the only two guests so far to cancel on appearing and need to reschedule on us) “did we really need another obligation added onto our schedules?”  Most definitely not.  I can’t tell you how hard it was to keep the podcast going on schedule while Lynch was away in Serbia shooting EVERLY for 3 months and while I was filming DIGGING UP THE MARROW at the very same time.  But for both Lynch and myself, THE MOVIE CRYPT isn’t so much of an obligation as it is a hobby and something fun to do.  And having a hobby is sadly a thing that went out the window for both of us many years ago and it is a welcome thing to invite back into our lives.  At this point, Geek Nation still doesn’t pay us anything for our time or services and we’re free to end it all and hang up our microphones whenever we feel like it has become an obligation.  We do it because we want to do it.  So who knows just how long THE MOVIE CRYPT will last but for now it has been great fun and in some ways even a saving grace as these amazing public conversations with individuals we respect and admire helps remind both of us that we do still kinda love doing this for a living.  For me personally, I actually take great joy in helping, advising, and teaching others trying to get their start and this is the best way I can do that on a larger level.  It’s often said that “those who teach are those who failed” but I can say with full conviction that I actually look forward to one day teaching when I’ve lost my luster for this business.  In fact, Will Barratt and I have been starting to talk very seriously about possibly opening ArieScope’s doors next year for classes on production, writing, directing, acting, producing, film financing, distribution, and cinematography.  I was always disenchanted with professors I had who dished out “advice” and “critiques” but who had never actually made a movie, had never sold a script, had never been part of the actual industry, or had never even been on a real set in their lives.  Wouldn’t it be great to take a class or workshop with people that have done it and are still doing it now?  Someday when it all slows down and I’ve swallowed all of Hollywood that I can take, I look forward to settling down into teaching more permanently and changing the same kind of “teacher/student” situation I lived through (and paid top dollar for) for someone else.  Not listening to THE MOVIE CRYPT yet?  What’s wrong with you?!  Listen on iTunes or right here.

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Fan submitted drawing of Lynch and his Carebear.

BOSTON WAS STRONG

Back on April 15th at 2:49pm EST my hometown of Boston was rocked with tragedy when bombs went off at the finish line for the Boston Marathon senselessly killing 3 people and physically injuring at least 264 others.  You know the story.  I’ve already posted an entire blog dedicated only to this tragedy and the efforts I made in the wake of the marathon bombings to help my hometown, so I’d rather not get into all of the minutia of it again here as the details aren’t what matters for this year end wrap up.  This 30 second TV commercial that ran on cable channels throughout New England explains what the actual events were, so just click here.  Long story short, with the help of two incredible friends of mine on the ground in Boston (Gina Migliozzi and Stacy Buchanan) who deserve all of the credit in the world for the fundraiser’s success (along with the dozen or so horror fans that selflessly volunteered to help make sure things ran smoothly), I headed a 3-day event to raise money for the Governor’s ONE FUND dedicated to helping those most affected by the tragedy.  It took place May 28th – May 30th starting out in my hometown of Holliston, MA (almost exactly where the starting line of the marathon has always been located on the Holliston/Hopkington line), moving on to Worcester, MA, and ending in Boston, MA (less than 2 miles away from the finish line and the spot of the tragedy itself).  You can read the blog entry itself here to get all of the details of what the exact events were, but most importantly is that I appealed to my friends within the genre industry to help out in any way they could by donating items to be auctioned off at a “Boston Strong” rally/party that we held at the Worcester Palladium.  Instantly I heard back and received amazing one-of-a-kind items from wonderful people like John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Chris Columbus, Eli Roth, Rob Zombie, Sid Haig, Dee Snider, Dave Brockie, Tyler Mane, Sid Haig, Alex Pardee, Joe Hill, Zakk Wylde, Marcus Dunstan, Patrick Melton, Anchor Bay, Dark Sky, Metal Blade, Darren Lynn Bousman, Joe Knetter and many more.  Genre websites like Dread Central, Shock ‘Til You Drop, Bloody-Disgusting, and so very many more all donated advertising space or posted articles to promote the event.  Local businesses made donations, gave us space to hold these events, and helped promote the 3-day event.  My friends Joe Lynch, Laura Ortiz, Kane Hodder, Mick Garris, Joel David Moore, Derek Mears, Zach Galligan, and Kip Weeks even went as far as to show up in person (many on their own dime), spending time with fans who turned out, generously signing autographs and taking photos for free, and helping me host the 3 nights of events.  Fans turned out in droves and dug deep into their pockets to donate and help the cause in any way they possibly could.  As crazy as it sounds, out of this horrific tragedy came the most memorable, touching, and wonderful experiences I’ve had not just this year but in my entire life.  While we had ambitiously hoped to raise $10,000.00 after all of the expenses were paid out (locations, permits, security, shipping, etc) we wound up writing a check for $15,000.00 to the One Fund… all in the name of the horror community.  Proving yet again that there is no community more caring, more generous, and more sincere than us horror fans.  While our hearts may be bloody and a little twisted, they’re also enormous.  It’s important to point out something about the fans that donated by attending the various events (all of which were priced to be as affordable as possible so that everyone could attend who wanted to), by bidding on items, or simply by dropping what they could in the various collection buckets we carried with us from each event to the next.  These are not people that are wealthy by any stretch of the imagination and I can’t even tell you what it felt like to watch someone who is unemployed and in dire financial straits of their own drop their last $5 on something like the HOLLISTON Season 2 preview screening or $25 on something like the HATCHET series marathon.  Together we helped those who needed help and stood united in the face of senseless hate and violence.  I don’t remember much about my closing remarks on the final night except that they involved a lot of emotion.  The attached video that was created by the volunteers who helped organize and run the event says it all.  There are a lot of links included within this blog, but if you only click on ONE of them, click here.  It’s only 4 minutes or so- but worth watching every second of.

Adam in Holliston, MA

Getting ready for Night 1 in Holliston, MA May 28, 2013

HOLLISTON SEASON 2 PREMIERED

On June 4th HOLLISTON Season 2 started airing on FEARnet.  What followed were ten amazing weeks as each new episode aired and the cast and I conducted weekly “live chats” with the show’s rabid fan base and rejoiced in the incredible feedback we’d get on-line, in our fan mail addresses, and at the appearances that we continued to do across the country (and even across the Atlantic in the UK) all summer long.  Season 2 is my absolute most favorite thing I’ve done yet and (in my opinion) the best work I’ve done so far.  Despite the severely limited ways that there were available to actually watch it, the series continued to snowball and win over more and more people as it went along.  On the convention circuit we consistently had some of the biggest turn outs and held our own against juggernauts like THE WALKING DEAD (the #1 show on television) that also tore through the convention circuit this past year with it’s undead version of Beatle-Mania.  These days Season 2 is available on both Amazon streaming and iTunes where you can also watch the un-cut version of The Christmas Special- our best and most important episode yet in my opinion as it was the point in the series when HOLLISTON truly came into its own and abandoned all fears or cares for expectations as it moved into Season 2.  We’re told that the DVD and BLU-RAY will be out in April of 2014 with Hulu and Netflix to follow.  We also hope to soon hear word about when other countries worldwide will start getting the series.

The big, hard question that has made the last round of appearances we’ve done together as a cast quite difficult to get through is “Will there be a Season 3?”  The only answer I have for you is that “talks have begun” and “I don’t know” …but if I had to be completely honest- I’d have to say that it is anything but a sure thing.  It has nothing to do with the show itself.  Even severely limited in ways to watch the show, our Season 2 finale placed #7 on GetGlue’s top trending shows on television when it aired on August 6th- beating out major network show’s like SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, THE VOICE, and BIG BANG THEORY and HOLLISTON is now far and away the most popular thing we’ve ever created at ArieScope not to mention that it remains to be FEARnet’s only original show.  Just imagine how much higher the Season 2 finale may have placed had the show been available to everyone on all platforms at the same time.  Now that’s just GetGlue which is far from an industry standard rating system, but when you’re on a network that is not yet part of the Nielson ratings system, you go off of whatever you can to gage viewership and GetGlue has been a terrific resource.  The show’s fate depends entirely on budget decisions that are dictated by people that have never even seen HOLLISTON but whom decide what dollar amount they are willing to give places like FEARnet for a budget to work and remain operational with.  Remember that FEARnet was not created to provide original content.  The network was originally conceived to show old movies and re-runs of old, cancelled shows or foreign TV shows that they could acquire the rights to air for a low price.  The only reason that HOLLISTON happened was because the network president (Peter Block) personally had a vision to do more with FEARnet than just show old movies and recycled TV programming.  He believed and supported us all the way by being as creative as he could be with scraping together the budget we needed.  FEARnet would of course love to be able to do more seasons (what good comes out of losing their only original show and going back to having no original shows?) so it’s nothing personal and not their decision should they be told they can’t continue doing it.  As much as we ALL appreciate the letters and postings “demanding” a third season, I always ask that fans keep in mind that the desire for a third season is already there on all parts and that hassling or blasting the network does no one any good whereas simply THANKING them and showing your support could potentially (in some universe) go a lot further in providing them with ammo to prove why they need to continue their only show. But the grim reality is that SONY (their parent company) announced their plans for a 100 million dollar budget cut earlier this year and you can bet Lance Rockett’s pleather pants that FEARnet will be feeling the wraths of those budget cuts down there at the bottom of SONY’s priority totem pole.  This is all just my personal perspective as there still is no ultimate answer and obviously I hope more than anyone that the powers that be find a way to continue on with HOLLISTON.  It would be a crying shame to see it end so prematurely over their parent corporation’s inflicted budget cuts (especially when the budget for a full SEASON of HOLLISTON is less than half of what most other networks pay for just 1 episode of one of their own 1/2 hour comedy series)… but life isn’t fair and these business decisions are purely financial and not based upon the creative merits or the reception of the series so far.  (Remember what I wrote earlier about internet piracy and how it destroys independent projects?  You’re looking at a prime example right here.  The sad truth is that FAR more people watch HOLLISTON illegally than do legally and if that were different… Season 3 would have already been shot by now.)  Who knows what will happen?

Truth be told, if HOLLISTON should go away it will be like watching my dog get run over by a car in front of me and I’ll likely never fully recover from the heartbreak or be the same again.  (Dramatic?  Yes.  But spend 13 years doing whatever you can to get a show made the right way and with the right people and then work as hard as I did pouring your entire heart and soul into something before you judge my sentiments.)  For now, all any of us can do is wait and see.  I’m constantly fielding questions about why we don’t just go to a different network or why we don’t “Kickstart” the next season so that everyone can get the show at the same exact time on all platforms- but the honest truth is that A) it’s not that easy, B) while we’re not yet completely counting it out- none of us involved particularly believe that in an age where so many fans steal and torrent their entertainment content that they’d ever step up and “Kickstart” enough for us to possibly continue the series at the same high quality and standard (even though if “Kickstarter” DID work- the idea of being able to release the show everywhere at the same time is very appealing to both us and to the fans of the show who struggle to find ways to see it), and C) while we are of course exploring other options “just in case”, we all still believe in and are loyal to FEARnet and would love to see the show continue airing there.  It is an honor to be a network’s first original show and we all want to see FEARnet… a horror network thrive and continue to grow.  In a perfect world HOLLISTON would only be the first of many original shows on FEARnet and 3 years from now FEARnet would be available in every home that wants it.  No one is giving up yet and we are trying every way we can to keep the lights on at “7 Francine Street, Apartment 13″.  So keep your support coming, keep the letters going to FEARnet (1601 Cloverfield Blvd, Santa Monica CA 90404), and like the underlying message of the entire series says… don’t stop believing.  We’re not.  More on all of that when I know more, but there are some potentially exciting scenarios being discussed and no one is giving up hope or passively just waiting to see what may happen.

If all goes well we’ll soon be back together again on our sound stage in Hollywood shooting Season 3.  I have literally gotten down on my knees nightly and prayed for that to happen- and I am not really a “praying” type of guy.  Should the day come next year when I am standing on that set alongside Joe, Corri, Laura, Dee, Oderus, and Axl… when the lights come up on Travis Zariwny’s amazing sets… when producers Sarah Elbert and Cory Neal have done all of the hard work to get things ready to go and actually shoot… when Will Barratt is standing behind his wall of monitors looking at the camera shots about to happen…and when Sean Becker shouts out “Roll sound!”… and I hear the stage bell “RIIIIIING“, commanding silence from all present… I will cry my eyes out and force us all into a 30 minute delay in schedule while poor Desiree Falcon has to re-do my make-up all over again from scratch.  It’s OK though as everyone else on that set will most certainly be crying with me.

Photo #6 Holliston group couch

The Holliston Christmas Special.

VICTOR CROWLEY FOUND HIS DADDY

Just 10 days after HOLLISTON Season 2 launched, HATCHET 3 opened on June 14th in a handful of US theaters and everywhere on VOD, eventually hitting DVD and BLU-RAY on August 13th and bringing my story of a misunderstood and tragically cursed ghost named “Victor” and a strong willed and ass kicking girl named “Marybeth” to an epic finale conclusion.   I already posted a blog saying goodbye to HATCHET and all about the bittersweet 10+ year experience that living through the trilogy was for me.  The extreme highs, the equally extreme lows, the triumphs, the regrets, the amazing people who held me up through it all and gave back everything I tried to give them and then some, the people (both Hollywood institutions and individuals who should be institutionalized) who tried to stop me or who took advantage of me, the people who betrayed and hurt me, and the fans that literally gave me everything I ever could have hoped for with their undying support and love along the way.  Making a movie (let alone a trilogy) is a lot like living through a boxing match and when the final bell rings you feel like Rocky Balboa’s face on the inside and the last thing you want to do is throw out or take in all of those punches again.  It’ll take many more years before I can really see the HATCHET experience through clearer, wiser eyes and properly reflect on the many great victories and the many great mistakes I may have made artistically and professionally in both business and in judgement.  But now that at least a little more time has gone by and I’ve gotten to hear from so many fans just how pleased they were with the finale (though some are still in denial that it’s really over) I couldn’t be happier with how well HATCHET III was received around the world.   So why end it now?  Why not keep it going when the fans want more?  Well, these three movies were always my plan.  And I’m proud of all three of them.  I don’t want to see the series continue on just because it could.  Who knows?  Maybe someday I’ll feel the need to resurrect “Victor Crowley” and bring him back.  But for now, if more HATCHET films happen any time soon it won’t be my personal choice nor will I be so heavily involved creatively.  I’d like to go out on a high note and 20 years from now have HATCHET be considered a franchise that only got better with each film and that never overstayed its welcome or became a soulless cash grab.  Ultimately, I’m just so grateful for everything that the series did for starting my career, the many other careers it helped play a hand in getting started on all levels both in front of and behind the cameras, the fans (Hatchet Army!) worldwide that embraced and loved “Victor Crowley”, and the place that HATCHET has secured in the horror history book’s chapter on slasher cinema… wherever the series may happen to fall in each individual’s own personal history book.   I may always have “Victor Crowley’s” shadow cast over me in some way, but I’m OK with that.  And I don’t just mean literally (there is a life-size “Victor Crowley” in my office and I’m writing this in his shadow right now), I’m talking about the perception that he continues to cast over me as well.  But the point is, my story for HATCHET may have ended this past summer but “Victor Crowley” will always be a part of me.  While I obviously wrote the movies and while I was standing there on set when he found his father, accepted his fate, and was finally set free from his curse- it was not until I watched the movie with an audience for the first time (May 30th in Boston, MA) that “Victor Crowley” was really dead and gone for me.  Hearing that audience audibly gasp when he spoke on camera for the first time and the standing ovation that erupted at the end are certainly two highlights from the HATCHET experience that I’ll choose to hold on to.  So long, “Victor Crowley”.  May you rest in piece even though you’ll always be looking over my shoulder in one way or another.  You’re always welcome there.

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“A Boy And His Monster” – Photo taken during production of HOLLISTON Season 1

I FOUND MONSTERS 

The process of making DIGGING UP THE MARROW first began back in January 2010 and we’ve been slowly chipping away at it since, but this past July and August we were finally able to buckle down and fully focus on finishing the bulk of the shooting.  As you know by now, we’ve purposely been keeping this project as far under the radar as possible and we haven’t spilled too many details about it save for two different teaser posters and other little hints here or there.  There were several reasons for that, the biggest one being that MARROW is a very unique film that’s stylistically unlike anything we’ve attempted before and even we weren’t entirely sure where exactly it was going to go before it ultimately reached its finish line.  Therefore, everyone involved just felt much more free creatively if we kept details to ourselves rather than make announcements or commitments of any kind prematurely.  We didn’t want to potentially find ourselves hit up by press looking for information, updates, casting info, stills, clips, or set visits.  Seriously- want autonomy with a project?  Throw out the term “documentary” and watch how much more freedom you get from prying eyes.  Even our friends and colleagues knew next to nothing about it and assumed that we were just making a “documentary about monsters”- which is true.  Sort of.  There are even people who appear in the movie that didn’t know exactly what it was.  They only knew the scenes they were in or the questions they were being asked on camera.  For the longest time we were not even referring to this as a “movie” internally but instead as an “experimental art project”, mainly because the whole concept was inspired by art.  Alex Pardee is my favorite living artist and being able to combine creative forces and share our mutual childlike love of monsters together was an absolute dream come true.

MARROW has been one of the most creatively liberating experiences I’ve had to date.  It is pure wish fulfillment and I got to play “make believe” in a way I never have before.  Just like the amazing experience that is making HOLLISTON, there was never a single bad day or bad experience in the entire making of this film no matter how challenging it was at times.  Now that the movie has screened publicly (albeit an unfinished “work in progress” version) information is out there if you dig for it (pun intended) but more on that later when this obscenely long year-end recap winds down.  What I can now tell you about DIGGING UP THE MARROW is that it’s a weird hybrid style of film that we’ve been jokingly referring to as a “manipumentary” – meaning a manipulated documentary.  It’s a very unique style that merges a huge portion of reality and real life with a large portion of fantasy.  So the term “mocumentary” doesn’t quite fit as a lot of what you’ll see in MARROW is actually real and while it is certainly funny at times, it’s not a straight-comedy like most “mocumentary” films are.  While there are moments where we present “evidence” and therefore do not cut away or cut at all- it’s also not a “found footage” movie either.  ”Found footage” inherently means that “what you are viewing is supposedly footage that was found and presented untouched” and normally consists of a lot of handheld shaky camera work that purposely looks and sounds amateur to help convince you it’s “real”.  This movie is neither full mocumentary or found footage- so it’s been a head scratcher for those who have seen it as they can’t put it in an already established box or categorize it in an existing sub-genre.  Now, I have not seen every single movie ever made so I don’t want to be so bold as to say “you’ve never seen anything else like it” as for all I know, maybe you and everyone else you know has seen ten films constructed in this very manner before.  Therefore I prefer to just call it a “real life monster fantasy movie” and let you decide what category you’d personally put it in.  In my opinion the category someone puts it in is irrelevant.  In fact, seeing as how we won’t even be finished with post-production until February and likely won’t have any kind of information on where and when it will first premiere publicly or what the release plan is until much later on next year… let’s not worry about the details in this blog.

All that matters right now is that I spent my summer getting to work very closely with a very tight group of extremely talented people on a movie that we are all very proud of and extremely excited about.  I spent many a night over July and August out in the woods looking for monsters and I had an absolute blast.  I can safely say that I believe monsters are real, even more so now than when I first saw Alex Pardee’s artwork and when I first  presented the screenplay to those hand picked to be involved with this special project.  It’s a bold movie in that we used ourselves as central subject matter and as the entire conceit for the story’s jumping off point.  Therefore, MARROW gives a very honest and open look into our real lives, mine above all.  But once you see the movie you’ll understand why as the whole concept is built around a reality based core in an effort to make the audience truly let down their guarded suspension of disbelief and (hopefully) let a little bit of fantasy into their reality- just like we did in making this movie and telling this particular story.  I’m so anxious for the world to see it so that I can talk about why we did things the way we did them and how exactly we did it, but to get too deep into the “making of” details this early would majorly spoil the magic that I hope we created for your entertainment.

Maybe you’ll love it, maybe you’ll hate it.  We expect to get a variety of reactions.  As I do with any film I make, I guide the editorial process along by showing various versions of the edit to filmmakers (other directors and producers mainly) that I respect and gaging their reactions and comments as I consider my next move in the mental game of chess known as “picture locking”.  Watching those reactions was so much fun.  The beauty of this particular film is that most everyone I screened it for knew absolutely NOTHING about it going into it so our “test’ screenings were way different than they were on any other project.  On a creative level, this past summer and fall were some of the most exciting months I’ve had in my filmmaking career and it was both challenging and rewarding to push ourselves and take a risk making something as unique and personal as this movie.  Oh, and as an actor- getting to act opposite the great Ray Wise in a leading role was as insanely fun as it was intimidating.  More on all of this coming when the time is right and more about how our first public screening of the movie went towards the end of this blog.

Marrow art

The Marrow is real…

WONDER WOMAN

On September 30th, a WONDER WOMAN concept piece that Rileah starred in directed by Sam Balcomb (who is handling Visual Effects on DIGGING UP THE MARROW) hit the internet and absolutely blew up, raking in well over 4 million views in just a matter of 4 or 5 days.  It was even featured on GOOD MORNING AMERICA as it truly was a phenomenon and proved that there is indeed a desire from comic and super hero fans to see “Wonder Woman” brought to the big screen if handled properly.  Now obviously I knew all about this project for many months before it was unveiled.  I watched Rileah work her ass off and adhere to one of the strictest and most hardcore diets ever while she worked out like crazy and bulked up pure muscle over a 10 week period to prepare for the role.  One of the many things I find inspirational about Rileah is that she never, ever quits or backs down from a goal that she sets for herself to accomplish.  I  do some pretty hard core dieting and working out to get in shape before each season of HOLLISTON, but nothing even close to what she committed to and accomplished with this project.  In July when she cos-played at San Diego Comic Con in the actual “Wonder Woman” costume that she wore for the shoot, she was literally mobbed by people trying to get pictures with her in the outfit.  We all knew then that the finished piece would get some traction, but no one expected the immediate and insane response that it inevitably got.  I’m incredibly proud of Rileah, Sam and all of the other talented people who contributed to making “Wonder Woman” look like a movie worth making.  Watching this project tear up the internet was most definitely a highlight of my year even though I personally had nothing whatsoever to do with the making of it.  Haven’t seen it yet?  Watch it here.

Rileah WONDER WOMAN

My Wonder Woman.

FEAR AND LOATHING

In September I went on my annual writing retreat to Las Vegas where I locked myself in a suite for 5 days and did nothing but write.  I actually debated including this in my highlights only because without discussing what I was actually writing I know that even bringing this up may seem like a tease to some, but I assure you that there is really no need to get into the specifics.  This script could wind up being a movie I make in the next few years, it could wind up being a movie someone else makes, or it could wind up on the shelf collecting dust for all I know.  Hopefully I’ll finish it soon, but it’s an idea that first came to me back in 2004 (while at a Type O Negative show in San Diego, of all places) and that I had attempted to write that same year after doing a shit ton of research and preparation.  However, the process wound up causing me to have such bad night terrors that I filed it away deep in my closet for almost a decade.  As with anything anyone writes, you never know if it’s going to be any good until you’ve finished a draft worth sharing so for all I know this could turn out to be complete garbage.  But it was the first time in 4 years that I had the opportunity to go write something new that I was writing “just to write” as opposed to something with a deadline or pending production timeline attached to it.  In 2010 I wrote DIGGING UP THE MARROW but since then it’s been countless drafts of KILLER PIZZA (more on that in a bit), over 1,000 pages of HOLLISTON, 3 Halloween shorts, and HATCHET 3.  This new script has no expectations looming over it yet and so the process of just seeing where it goes and what happens with it has been extremely welcome.  So why Las Vegas?  For some reason Vegas has just always worked for me as a writing oasis.  To many writers it would seem like the absolute worst decision to go on a writing retreat in a place where you have every distraction in the known world surrounding you, but what I find helpful is that there is no sense of time in Las Vegas.  If it is 3am and I’m hitting a wall, I can go for a walk and clear my head for a bit.  Play a slot machine for 15 minutes.  Get something to eat.  However if I was in a remote cabin somewhere and I hit a writing wall at 3am, I’d panic and likely pace the floor all night long feeling desperate that nothing is happening and that the pages aren’t spilling out of me.  To each their own, but for me Las Vegas has always brought me good writing luck and this trip was no exception.

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My hotel room desk in Las Vegas – September 2013.

THIS IS HALLOWEEN

If you know enough about me to actually read my blog (especially this obscenely long entry that has likely seen you age ten years and possibly seen your kids head off to college in the time that has transpired since you first began reading it) than you likely know that I live for Halloween all year long.  Whether I’m counting down the days on Twitter or posting pictures of our decorations (always up by Labor Day), Halloween is my Christmas.  This year was definitely one for the books as I did every single “haunted” event that LA had to offer from “Halloween Time At Disneyland” to “Knott’s Scary Farm” to “Universal Halloween Horror Nights” to “The Griffith Park Haunted Hayride” to “Delusion” to “Blumhouse’s The Purge: Fear The Night”.  I even made it to Syracuse, NY to screen my movie FROZEN, to Boston for a HOLLISTON cast appearance/performance at “Rock And Shock”, to Atlanta for a HOLLISTON cast appearance/performance at “Walker Stalker Con” and I also took in a Megadeth show the week of Halloween itself.  But the biggest festivity of all was making the 15th annual ArieScope Halloween Short Film (“Halloween Hugs”) which was some of the most fun I had all year.  If you missed it, you can watch it here.

halloween short shoot

Shooting “Halloween Hugs” – October 2013.

DELIVERY TIME?

It’s been awhile since I’ve had any sort of update on KILLER PIZZA, a project that began for me 4 years ago this February and that has run the gamut of development, to excitement, back into development, to being picked up by a major studio (MGM), back into re-development with countless new drafts, taken away from the studio again and put into turn around, back into development, to “about to happen”, and then back into development again.  Through all of this, I have stayed on as the sole writer and the script has only gotten stronger and stronger with each step.  As I’ve said before, KILLER PIZZA is not an ArieScope project but one that I am writing and (it seems very much like, at this point) directing for producer Chris Columbus’ 1492 Films, producer Raffaella DeLaurenttis, and CJ Entertainment- so it is not my place to say much at all about it until they do.  But I know that many of you have been waiting for an update on this for a long time now and that it has been frustrating wondering whatever happened to 16 year old Toby Magill and the monsters he was supposed to spend the summer fighting.  Just a few weeks ago I was called in for a meeting with all involved and it appears as though this project is not only still very much alive, but that it could even start rolling cameras next year.  I saw the first pass at a shooting schedule, some of my key crew members were contacted for rates and availability, and the monsters have started to be designed.  You could almost call it “pre-production” but not quite.  Is it really going to happen in 2014?  God, I hope so.  Though you’d think that by now I’d be over it and disenchanted with the whole thing, if you could only meet the people I am so fortunate to be working with on this project you’d know why I’ll continue to believe in this movie and remain excited about it no matter how long it takes to actually get started.  I am getting to work with the best of the best and this process (though long) has been fantastic.  I have great faith that 2014 will be the year of my monsters.  Not just the ones (hopefully) being brought to life on screen in KILLER PIZZA but the ones I already captured on screen from deep within THE MARROW… which brings me to my final highlight of the year…

Killer Pizza box

KILLER PIZZA is… coming?

I BROUGHT MONSTERS TO TEXAS

To end the year with a bang, I tested my luck and sent an unfinished version of DIGGING UP THE MARROW (again, the film won’t likely be 100% finished with post-production until February) to critic Harry Knowles of Ain’t It Cool News fame and wanted to know if he thought it might make a worthy addition to his 15th annual 24-hour film fest birthday bash known to die-hard cinema geeks as “Butt-Numb-A-Thon”.  It all happened very fast.  I was contemplating just how to best first unveil this film to the public after keeping it quiet for so long and all of us involved were just itching to find a cool way to bring the movie out of the ArieScope edit suite and show a real audience what we had up our sleeves even though the film was not yet color-timed, sound designed, scored, or containing the final visual effects.  I wish I could say it was my great idea to slip the film to Harry but it was really Joe Lynch’s idea.  ”You want a cool way to unveil the movie for the first time?  How about Butt-Numb-A-Thon?”  If you’ve never been to Butt-Numb-A-Thon or never heard of it, Lynch was so completely right.  There really is no cooler event to first show your film at.  BNAT is a 24+ hour festival of films that Harry personally programs each December at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX with the whole fun of it being that the audience attending has NO idea which films the line-up will actually contain or what they will be seeing at any point in the marathon.  The films programmed range from silent black and white classics to brand new never-before-seen Hollywood blockbusters.  Over the past 15 years many films have played there before playing publicly anywhere else.  Films like AVATAR, THE HOBBIT, THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, KING KONG, KNOCKED UP, and even my movie FROZEN secretly all played at BNAT first.  Simply google “Butt-Numb-A-Thon” if you want to see the whole history of it and the lists of incredible films that have played there, but the point is that it is truly, truly an honor to have your film in BNAT.  This year DIGGING UP THE MARROW played alongside premiere screenings of Scorsese’s THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, Miyazaki’s THE WIND RISES, and Jackson’s THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG as well as classics like a 70mm print of THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY and Robert Altman’s POPEYE just to name a few.

Now I used the term “tested my luck” because to most any filmmaker it could be considered suicidal to send an unfinished version of your movie to a guy who is considered by most to be the biggest and most influential critic on the internet.  But even given everything I have said about how unusual of a movie THE MARROW is, I was confident enough that a guy like Harry who has seen it all would very likely appreciate this picture, especially given that if you’re well read in his reviews, interviews, and articles- he’s basically a giant 5-year old at heart and loves monsters as much as the late, great Forry Ackerman did.  (Shame on you if you don’t know who Uncle Forry was and what he meant for fantasy, sci-fi, and horror culture.  Look him up!)  I obviously can only speak from my own experiences with critics but for the most part whether they have loved or hated my work I feel like they’ve almost always been fair in their personal opinions on me and on my work.  (I’m only talking about those that I consider to be actual professional critics – not just anyone with a website.  I’m sure you can tell the difference between the two.)  And yes, though I have usually lucked out and gotten very positive reviews for my work, I am also referring to some of the bad reviews I have gotten, too.  They were usually fair opinions.  If you’re going to be a filmmaker for a career, especially if you’re going to work in genre films, you HAVE to be prepared for a wide range of reactions to your work and know how to take it with a grain of salt- even if deep down that salt sometimes feels like it was harshly rubbed into a freshly open wound and stings so wicked bad that you want to curl into a ball and pout about it for a few days.  That’s life.  For every competent voice who loves your movie there will be someone out there with an equally competent voice that absolutely hates it.  And let’s not even get started on the countless more who can’t even spell or form a proper sentence who will hate on you and your work, too.  For instance, at the time of this posting- 3,760 intellectuals have rated Spielberg’s RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK a “1″ or “Worst.  Movie.  Ever.” on the popular film database website IMDB which many within the industry refer to as “the place where intelligent conversation goes to die.”  (Note to first time filmmakers, don’t be tempted by curiosity and just avoid places like IMDB like the plague.)  That’s cinema, folks- and every opinion is a valid one so long as they are fair, they state their opinion soundly, and they don’t take cheap shots or make it either a personal attack or a fanboy celebration- whichever reaction it may be.  They’re just opinions.  But critics come with the territory, like it or not.  Is it fair that you can spend years of your life trying so hard to create something new against impossible odds only to have someone shit all over it publicly because they didn’t personally like it?  Yup.  Is it fair that they can say whatever they feel like but that you cannot defend yourself, respond, retort, or even correct incorrect details in their review?  You know what?  YES.  I’m not saying you have to like it, but you do have to accept it and learn how to deal with it if you’re going to do this.  The dart board can’t throw darts back and defend itself.  It’s just the rules of the game, so grab a helmet, identify the few voices you respect enough to read, and tune all of the rest of it out.  Way easier said than done, mind you.  While I would hope that most critics will appreciate the stylistic or personal risks I have taken with DIGGING UP THE MARROW, I can tell you right now that not everyone is going to.  Some are going to see that I used my real life as the core device to mix a very honest reality with a fantasy world and only dwell on that aspect.  Spoiler: there are exactly three minutes of setting-up my actual real life at the beginning of the movie.  Who I am, what I do for a living, how passionate the genre fans are -it’s all part of the story and the same exact details you’d need to establish even if it was a fictional filmmaker/protagonist and not a real one.  But there will inevitably be some bitterness over that when the movie starts screening because, well… how dare I?  You’ll see what I mean.  But I came to terms with all of that when I committed to this idea and typed the first word of the script and all of us who worked on this film are ready for it.

The point in all of this is is that when I mentioned to a few close filmmaker friends that I had mailed DIGGING UP THE MARROW to Harry Knowles unfinished, they were very, very worried for me.  What if he hated it and killed it before it was even completed by trashing it to other influential people he associates with?  I mean, we already knew going into this movie what we’d be up against- so why invite it to potentially happen so prematurely?  But the thing is, and again- this is all just from my personal experiences with Harry and most every other professional critic like him, he takes absolutely no joy in trashing someone’s work and I trusted that even if he did absolutely abhor my film, he would wait until he saw a finished version to cast his final judgement or at the very least hold back his review until the movie was being released.  But thankfully, he didn’t hate it.  In fact, he liked DIGGING UP THE MARROW enough to program it in BNAT which says a lot.  It was an honor to be there in Austin not only sitting among so many incredible fellow film geeks but also having contributed a movie to the line-up itself.  Because the version of MARROW that we showed was still unfinished, I asked the audience to hold back on actually reviewing it publicly, though I added that people were welcome to say whatever they wanted to say about what they personally thought of the film- if they enjoyed it or not.  Thankfully everyone who was there has honored that request so far, giving me faith that if it’s the right audience, maybe it is actually OK to share my work early again some day.  The BNAT audience is possibly the most hard-core and film savvy audience out there as it takes serious commitment to sit your ass down in a theater for 24 or 25 hours straight and watch whatever movies you’re going to see, so again I felt confident sharing the film early with that specific crowd, as discriminating as their tastes may be.  So when can YOU see it?  That is a question I cannot yet answer but my very strong advice would be to stay far away from any information about THE MARROW until the time comes for you to see it yourself.   Don’t let anything spoil it save for the posters or trailers that WE create for you and that we WANT you to see before seeing the actual movie.  You’ll thank me later, promise.

Point is, this BNAT screening was absolutely unforgettable for Alex Pardee and I and we had a blast watching and listening to people respond the way that they did.  With a movie as weird as this one is, you just never know how people will react.  I mentioned earlier in this blog (maybe 4 or 5 days ago back when you first started reading it) that DIGGING UP THE MARROW is a personal movie in the fact that we used ourselves (myself and cinematographer Will Barratt especially) as protagonists in the film in an effort to mix the very reality that we had full access to with the fantasy world that we created.  The entire conceit of the film and the story itself rely on this choice and it would not have been the movie it is any other way.  So we had no idea… Will they accept what we’re attempting to do?  Will they enjoy it?  Will it resonate with them?  Will they understand why we made the choices we made and appreciate those choices?  Most importantly… will they believe?  I’m proud to say that we flew home from Austin absolutely overjoyed with the response that we got from that first ever surprise preview screening.  It played amazingly well- and how your film PLAYS is more important than anything else.  You can feel if a movie is working or not simply by sitting in and watching the audience very carefully.     But truth be told, BNAT was merely one successful screening and therefore we can’t let ourselves start feeling too confident just yet.  Believe me, some very sour and personal trashings from the on-line critic community are coming my way next year with this movie- you’ll see.  But we ended 2013 on an extremely high and triumphant note.  We’re all even more fired up to attack the finishing process and we’re all incredibly excited to screen the movie again as soon as the opportunity arises.  I can’t wait to be able to discuss it with audiences (which is a big reason why Alex Pardee and I are considering touring with it – so that we can bring not only the movie but also perhaps the original art exhibit and ourselves to each city that we can get to) but as of this time I have no clue what our release plans will be exactly for this film or how those  plans will coincide with our schedules on other projects.

alamo

The Alamo Drafthouse Ritz in Austin, TX – December 7, 2013.

LESSONS LEARNED

2013 wasn’t all creative accomplishments and hard work that paid off nor was it all triumphs and victories.  This year also held the culmination of some harsh life lessons and realizations ripe with moments of painful clarity that sucked to live through but that I’m grateful to have experienced and to be rapidly approaching the other side of.  Especially through doing THE MOVIE CRYPT, which has become almost a weekly classroom “therapy” session of sorts, I feel like I learned more about myself and the movie business in this past year than I learned in the previous 5 years combined.  Looking forward to 2014 and beyond I can only hope to better myself both as a human being and as a professional, to create an even better and healthier environment for myself to live and work in, to learn better ways to make my decisions, to better handle the choices I’ve made for myself, to learn better ways to time manage it all, to continue to eliminate negativity from my life, and to continue to learn how to avoid a continued cycle of bad decision making- mainly, to start leading with both my heart and my head … not only my heart.

Many who read this blog are aspiring filmmakers or working (perhaps even struggling) filmmakers, so I’ll offer the following for your consideration… Not happy in your current situation?  Change something.  Not later… now.   Do you feel abused, unappreciated, or taken advantage of by someone, some thing, or by the environment your living, working, or merely existing in?  Stand up for yourself and sweep your life’s deck of the problems and negative people if it is an option for you to do so.   If it is not an option… just walk the fuck away and move on to greener pastures.   Wouldn’t it be great if everyone were always happy with you?  Sure.  But it’s OK if everyone isn’t always happy with you, too.   You’re only cheating yourself when you do things to make other people happy.  Especially if those things are costing you grief in the long run.  I write all of this in vague generalities because I’m not talking about my own painful lessons as a means for airing grievances (of which I am happy to say I no longer have any of, not to mention that if airing grievances was my intention I would name names or specific projects- all of which I’ll save for the inevitable book one day) but because I believe sharing my experiences may indeed help a few (if not a lot) of people who are living through very similar situations.  Hey, if I’m not going to use this blog as an open and honest diary of shared personal experiences or if I’m only going to talk about how great things are, what’s the point?

I was the recipient of many long overdue gut punch lessons this year and I want to share the perspective that I gained in actual day-to-day career situations, both personal and professional.  Most importantly, as you’ll see, is that I’m talking about the things that I did wrong.  A much older, wiser, more experienced filmmaker than I proposed the following question to me earlier this year when he observed me being treated in an offensively unfair way by underserving people whom I had empowered by giving away far too much of my good nature to: “Who’s wrong in the situation… the shark who bit the guy or the guy who swam with the shark?”  It’s an obvious and common anecdote but one I feel is worth sharing and contemplating as it sums up my own bad choices and my own mistake ridden patterns perfectly.  The shark is doing what is in its nature to do.  It can’t help itself.  Even if it tried as hard as it could not to bite the guy, even if it promises that it has changed and it won’t bite the guy again, whether it feels justification or horrible regret for biting the guy… at the end of the day… it is still a shark.  However, it’s the guy who thought he could change the shark’s behavior, who thought that he could be the one guy that could swim with the shark and not get bit, who had the audacity to invest his time and effort in either the shark or the shark-like environment that he willingly put himself in… he’s the one who fucked up and deserves the blame.  After all… (wait for it… wait for it)… he knew it was a shark.

Painfully obvious, right?  And by “sharks” I most certainly do not only mean people but also situations.  When I applied this message to some of the bites, back stabs, abuse, or bruises I’ve received from various people, endeavors, and situations over the past few years- the truth is that they all came from situations that I willingly put myself in, from people I willingly worked with, helped, or gave too much of myself to because- even though I knew the potential pitfalls I thought that the pitfalls wouldn’t happen to me and I felt as though I could navigate them.  I felt invincible.  They were all situations that I created myself because… well, honestly (and sadly) because I wanted to be nice and because I wanted to be liked.  My fault- 100%.  Now, sometimes in life you won’t have a choice but to live through a difficult process.  The waters you’re swimming in have sharks everywhere you look or you’re living/working in a place built by and controlled by sharks and you legitimately don’t have another choice.  Perhaps the shark infested stretch of water you’re swimming in is literally the only path to get to that next body of water you’re trying to get to or perhaps it is just a necessary step that you simply can’t avoid in “paying your dues” on your way up.  Fair enough.   But at the very least, know how to identify the sharks and know how to identity a shark-like situation and the bites will in fact hurt far less.  Keep your eye on the sharks so that you’re ready for the attack when it inevitably comes your way and so that you’re not shocked that it even happened to you in the first place.  If you can possibly swim away first…if it’s an option to get away from or to completely avoid a potentially painful situation… do it.  And when the day comes that it is your own body of water that you control and that you created for yourself to exist in, be vigilant at keeping the sharks out and don’t allow anything or anyone in that isn’t making your environment a better, happier, and more productive place.   This is your life, your space, your work, and most of all your heart.  Defend it- vehemently.  Learn from your past mistakes in judgement and how to identify a shark, a parasite, or other negative person/thing when you see one coming and eliminate it out of your life immediately.

It isn’t easy and I’m still learning how to better handle it myself.  I’d be lying to you if I tried to tell you that I haven’t made the same mistakes again and again and again.  I’ve had negative experiences and then gone right back to working within those very same circumstances again for the next project and the one after that and the one after that.  I was too weak and insecure to believe it could get better or that I even deserved any better.  I was grateful for whatever I got because this industry constantly reminds you that “you’re lucky to even be here or to have this opportunity in the first place”.  Sure, it’s true that it is nearly impossible to actually get a project off the ground and of course it is true that you’re fortunate each time a project actually comes to fruition at all.  But until you learn how to stand up for yourself, the situations won’t get better.  Sometimes “standing up for yourself” may mean walking away from a project that you really want to do.  Lesson learned, better to hold your project back and wait for a healthier and safer scenario than to willingly step into a bad situation that you already know better than to step in to.

I’ve made the same mistakes with people, too.  I once had several different financing entities (all places or resources that I had worked with famously before) say that they would only finance and distribute a project if a certain player on the proposed team was not going to be involved. Better yet, the individual in question told me horror stories about every single person they had ever worked with.  All of their past experiences had ended in fire and brimstone.   Now a healthier, more confident, clearer thinking professional would realize that if the very people that they enjoyed working with are all refusing to get involved with someone… and that this same someone has had a bad experience on every project they’ve ever worked on- maybe there is an obvious common denominator at play.  How many more red lights or signs from God did I need to realize what I was potentially getting myself into?  But no, because of my own insecurity and desire to be liked by everyone, those warnings only made me feel pity for that individual and made me want to help them finally have a good experience rather than slapping me in the face and convincing me to not just walk… but RUN away before it was too late.  I learned the lesson the hardest way possible, took years off my life, and subjected my crew- my family- to an absolutely torturous experience that some of them have still not forgiven me for.  ArieScope is my home.  A home that I built from the ground up.  The various projects and the people I work with- they are my life.  Yet I invited in a shark that almost (almost) destroyed it all for good.  But I can only blame myself.  I knew it was a shark.  I took for granted that it is my key responsibility as a leader to protect my family and I lead us into a bad situation all because I wanted to be nice to someone that had more warning signs attached to them than a pack of cigarettes.

Another example of foolish mistakes I’ve made that I could have avoided… years ago there was someone in my fold (who for the purposes of this story will actually represent elements of several different people) whom I always found myself having to fight for to work on a project because the powers that be simply didn’t trust, like, or want them there.  I bent over backwards even though this person consistently let me down, took me for granted, did their work at the last minute, and even bad mouthed me behind my back.  I would go as far as to make excuses for this person even though they literally only had work at all because I created it for them.  Why did I do it?  Because I felt bad for them, I pitied them, I wanted to help them change, and because I didn’t want to be the bad guy.  But I mainly did it because I felt like I owed them something for having worked on earlier projects for little to no pay.  These were all self-created obligations that I imposed on myself and these were continued mistakes that I made because I didn’t want to face the confrontation of saying “no”.  In the end I wasn’t helping anyone.  I wasn’t helping this person, I wasn’t helping the projects, I wasn’t helping my career, I wasn’t helping anyone else’s professional opinion of me, and I was certainly only hurting myself as it added loads of grief to each already difficult situation I was facing.  But even after all of that- it literally took this individual trying to extort money out of me for me to finally snap and see the light that everyone else around me could see coming since Day 1.  I felt obligated to this person (and several toxic others just like them) because I looked at it as though they were helping me when in fact they were only helping themselves.

Aspiring filmmakers- take note.  There is a feeling you will inevitably acquire on your first few endeavors that you owe the world and your life to everyone on your first few projects because they are working for little or no pay.  Wrong.  They wouldn’t have worked on those projects unless they were also getting something out of them- even if it’s just a credit, the experience, the pay that they need at the time (however high or low that pay may be), or the opportunity to “network” and prove themselves for the bigger projects hopefully coming your way in the future.  If they had a better option- believe me they would take it and just wish you all the best.  If you think they’re choosing to work on your project because they are some kind of “saint”- ask yourself what else they would be doing if not working on your project.  Look at their other credits and their other available opportunities besides the ones you are creating and providing for them.  There is a reason they are sticking around and it’s not because they just want to help you.  They are either gaining or expecting to gain something.  This was a lesson that it took me far longer to learn than it ever should have and I continued to keep people along for this difficult ride because I felt obligated to do so, even though I knew there were better, healthier options available to me.  But again, it was my fault and I only did it because I was afraid they wouldn’t like me if I said “no”.  I had a hero complex born out of vulnerability and insecurity.  I wasn’t a “hero” at all.  I was a fool.

Even more unforgivable were the times that I handed somebody something that they had not worked for in the same ways that I had worked for those opportunities myself.  In my situation, I did things like that simply out of the joy I got from doing them.  It feels amazing to do someone you like a favor, but even though your intentions are good, they can also prove selfish on your behalf if not as equally sound as they are in business as they are in heart.  Each person’s journey is going to be different, that’s a given.  But when you give someone an opportunity (whether it be as seemingly insignificant as a PA job or as significant as reaching out your hand to help them skip over some very important steps that they would have normally had to take), give that opportunity to someone who has done exactly what you’ve done to get to where you’re currently at and the chances are much stronger that it will be a positive experience for all involved.  You’re not doing anyone any favors if you do it any other way.  It’s unfair to both of you as you’re setting that individual up to let you down no matter what.  Inevitably you’ll become disenchanted with them if they don’t exude the same work ethic that you display and even worse, you’ll eventually resent them because you’ll start feeling like they didn’t earn what you gave them the same way you had to earn it.  And on the independent filmmaking scale, these will most likely be friends that you’re trying to help meaning that now you’re risking destroying that friendship or scarring it permanently.  It’s not about who is right or wrong.  Everyone is different and everyone is right in their own mind.  It’s about finding the right matches.  For instance, if your personal path to success materialized before you rather quickly, chances are good that you’ll have a positive experience with most anyone you help as your expectations won’t be so unrealistically high.  But if you’re someone who it didn’t come easy to, who suffered and scratched and clawed to get to where you’re at… don’t help anyone with grand gestures who didn’t share your exact same path or you’ll only both regret it in the end.  It’s not their fault that they didn’t go through the same experiences that you had to go through and you can’t be shocked when at some point in the process they actually begin to feel entitled to what you gave them or take it (and you) for granted.

Think about it in more basic terms.  The kid who’s parents bought him an Xbox One this Christmas won’t ever feel the same way about the gaming system as the one who will be shoveling driveways and mowing lawns all year long in order to get an Xbox One next Christmas.  Neither kid’s path to their Xbox One was right or wrong and I’m not saying either is to blame for the way they got their Xbox One systems.   I can personally like the kid who gets handed whatever he wants just as much as the kid who has to work longer and harder to get the same exact thing (or opportunity)… but what I’ve learned about myself is that I can identify and co-exist on a more productive and healthy level with the kid who put his time in shoveling the driveways and mowing lawns because that’s what I did, too.  People’s circumstances and journeys to get what they want are massively different- and therein lies the ultimate disconnect.  Going back full circle to the whole swimming with sharks analogy… swim with people who shared your same journey, help those who swam where you swam, and you will find that you’ll have a much better swimming experience together.

I’m proud to say that as painful as it was, I eventually learned to start identifying and stop repeating my bad habits as often as I was repeating them.  I’m getting better at it and I hope to make those mistakes far less in the future.  Invest in the right people and invest your time, your effort, and your talent in the right situations, projects, and environments.  There are way, way more good people and healthy situations out there, way more “good fits”, than there are bad ones.  If you keep finding yourself hurt in situations, feeling badly, feeling used- be willing to figure out and adjust what you’re personally doing wrong and don’t blame anyone else for what they did to hurt you if you created the opportunity for them to hurt you in the first place.  You’ll find that more often than not- bad experiences do not just come out of nowhere.  They were there waiting all along in a scenario that you provided and made possible.  Blaming the “sharks” and crying that it’s unfair or that you didn’t deserve to get bit by one of them will get you nowhere.  Create a good place to exist and learn how to discover safe people to swim with and watch how much better and productive your life starts to become.  It may be as huge as a career-defining adjustment (walking away from a project or choosing to work with different people) or as small and simple as opting out of a specific evening’s social setting, but whatever it is- if it hurts you, if it annoys you, if it fucks with your flow, if it takes excessive time away from being creative, if there is a place you’d rather be or people you’d rather be with… admit what you’re doing wrong and do something about it.  Life is too short to share with the wrong people and everyone isn’t always going to like you or appreciate you.  Throw a shark or parasite out of your personal space or simply stop working in a situation filled with sharks or parasites… and they will undoubtedly hate you for it.  It will certainly hurt.  I’ve literally moved mountains for people or handed them everything I could only to have them literally HATE me when the day came that I stood up for myself or stopped.  It sucks, but in the end you’ll be OK, I promise.  Don’t waste your hate on anyone and remember that forgiveness is more productive than grudges.  Don’t do anything out of self-imposed obligations or because you like being the good guy and want to be someone’s hero.  You’re not actually helping them and you’re most certainly not helping yourself.   So don’t wait to cut out the bad.  Make changes today.

Happiness starts with you alone.  

LOOKING FORWARD 

Other than finishing DIGGING UP THE MARROW, so much of what I’ll be doing in 2014 is still up in the air and can’t be confirmed or announced publicly just yet.  But things are looking really good and I have my hopes up uncontrollably high.  This coming year could very well be the biggest and best year for me yet, but you never really know until it’s over.  For all I know, it could wind up being the worst year ever but I have faith.  For me, this holiday break will be spent recovering, resting up, reconnecting with friends, getting healthy, and getting ready for all that is hopefully to come next year.  I’ll be logging in many mindless hours on CALL OF DUTY, reading books, watching movies, and spending time at home with my family, where I belong and where I very much need to be right now.  I know 2013 was a difficult year for so many people but tomorrow is always a new day and tomorrow always has the potential to change everything and be better.  I wish you all the most Merry Christmas ever and a wonderful New Year.  Thank you for being here, for being a part of my life, for all you’ve done to support my work, and for being the absolute greatest, most loyal, most passionate, and most generous friends and fan base anyone could ever hope for.  If I could give each one of you a big wet sloppy kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve, I would.  But since I can’t, I’ll instead leave you with a heart warming and deeply touching song that I wrote this year… just for you.  Click here.

Love

- AG

Hugo and The Christmas Round Roast

This is unusual for a blog posting, but after sharing the below email with a few close friends and family I was encouraged to publish it for others to read.  So why not?  What follows below is an email that I sent Rileah earlier this morning.  Enjoy….

My Dear Wife-  

As you requested of me, I got up at 4am and called Ralph’s on Ventura and asked for Hugo in the meat department (like you asked me to do) in an effort to order the 8-10 pound “Round Roast” that you are serving for our family and friends on Christmas Day. 

As it turns out, Hugo actually doesn’t get in to work each day until after 5am.  But hey, no problem. I was up anyway and the dishes in the dishwasher weren’t gonna put themselves away, am I right?  I had great fun staying awake for that extra hour that I didn’t need to be awake.

I finally reached Hugo around 5:15am after several failed attempts. I told him that I wanted to order an 8-10 pound “Round Roast” (just like your text asked me to) and he responded by telling me “No man, you mean Rib Roast.”  

I insisted that “No, I do indeed mean Round Roast and that is why I am asking for Round Roast and not Rib Roast- since Rib Roast is in fact NOT what I would like to order.”  Hugo kept saying that “You don’t need to order Rib Roast- we have tons of it and its on sale.”  

Though I appreciated the money saving inside tip about the sale on “Rib Roast”, I reminded Hugo again that “It is not Rib Roast that I am interested in purchasing and dining on this Christmas- but actually Round Roast.”  He retorted again with-  ”You don’t mean Round Roast.  You mean RIB Roast.”

I confided in Hugo that I would never even consider giving him inaccurate information as to the type of roast that I was looking to purchase.  I was calling at this ungodly hour because I was told that he was the “Roast Ninja” of Los Angeles and “the guy who can make a roast happen.”   I told him that I very much meant “ROUND” Roast and that I was not lying to him about it nor was I playing a “roast joke” on him as I would never do that to anyone, friend or stranger.  Roasts are not something to be fucked about with.  ”I very much only want ROUND Roast.”  

Hugo got kinda huffy and said that they don’t carry “RUMP” Roast at Ralph’s this time of year.  Woah!  Hold the phone!  ”RUMP Roast?”  The mere introduction of “Rump Roast” to this meat equation threw me off guard in a number of ways as that specific selection of beef had not been brought up at any point in our transaction thus far… and to be completely honest, the word “Rump Roast” makes me giggle.  Hugo even gave me another free and unsolicited little bonus tip when he informed me that “RUMP Roast” is in fact what most restaurants use for “Roast Beef” during this time of the year.  Though I appreciated being let in on this industry meat secret and promised to keep it on the down low, as you know, I have never ordered the “Roast Beef” at a restaurant in my life and therefore this information was of little to no interest of mine.  I always opt for a “New York Steak” or “Filet Mignon” unless said restaurant has a children’s menu that I can order Chicken Parm, Chicken Fingers, or a Grilled Cheese sandwich from.  Which oddly reminds me, we need eggs if you go shopping today.

Did I mention that I put away all of the dishes at 4am?

Anyway, I corrected Hugo yet again.  ”Oh Hugo, my friend. It appears that you may not be hearing me correctly. I asked for neither a “Rib” nor a “Rump Roast” but in fact a “Round Roast.” I spelled the word “R-O-U-N-D” to him. “Round roast. Round Roast. ROUND ROAST.” 

He informed me again that what I really wanted to order was in fact “Rib Roast”. 

I asked Hugo if he is married. He didn’t actually answer the question either way but he at least alluded to the fact that he understands what marriage means. I told him that my wife VERY specifically instructed me to wake up at 4am and order an 8-10 pound “Round Roast” from him personally.  I asked him if he understood the repercussions of me not pulling through with my end of this given assignment. He answered that he did indeed understand.  I thought that we were on the same page, but then he proceeded to ask me if I would like for him to set aside a “Rib Roast” for you to come in and look at when you wake up later today. 

I told him that I was saddened by this.  Whereas it seemed as though Hugo and I were making progress with this beef transaction and even sharing personal information about our lives and the meat business, we now seemed to be digressing once again. We had come all that way but just like *that* – Hugo was back on the “Rib Roast” and essentially back at square one yet again.  He was once again suggesting that I wanted a roast that I did not wish to order.  It had already been established throughout perpetuity that I was not interested in “Rib Roast” whatsoever. I told Hugo that I actually hate “Rib Roast” and that I would fight one and punch it in the dick if I saw one. I told him that I am allergic to Ribs.  I told him to not even bring up the words “Rib Roast” again as I had been molested by a “Rib Roast” when I was 6 and the memories are still just too painful to handle. “But you know what, Hugo?  I sure really would love a “ROUND Roast” if you could help me out this Christmas.  Please?”

Hugo put me on hold for 5 minutes.  There wasn’t even music to enjoy in the silence.  I would have used this time to put away the dishes but I had already done that at 4am.  Did I mention that?  I can’t remember.

When Hugo came back on the line he said that a shipment of “Top Round” is coming in today and that YOU should call him or come in around 11 to figure it out so that he can get it ready for you by Tuesday.  I was overjoyed!  Not only had he shared another meat secret (dishing out when exactly the new meat would be arriving at Ralph’s) but he had finally heard me and understood what it was that I was trying to acquire.  I thanked him profusely for his hard work, his dedication to beef, and his amazing deductive skills.  I even awarded him the “Christmas Grand Prize.”  I was too exhausted to come up with an actual name for said prize however, so instead I just told Hugo that he had indeed “won Christmas.”   He was very pleased.

I thought we had finally completed our transaction but then he added that he wants you to call him when you awaken because he is convinced that you want a “RIB Roast” and that you told me the wrong thing. “She didn’t mean Round Roast.  She meant Rib Roast.”  

Apparently Hugo knows you better than I do. Are you sleeping with him?! What does Hugo have that I don’t have??  I can’t believe I lost my wife to the meat guy.  Although then again… he IS the meat guy, so perhaps I should have seen this coming.  I would bet they call it “Alice & Sam Syndrome” in the business but I didn’t want to press my luck by inquiring about even more of the meat trade secrets.  But this begs the more important question… what does Hugo have that I don’t have?  Where did I go wrong?  I confronted him straight up and demanded to know how long this extramarital relationship had been going on between the two of you.

Hugo hung up on me.

ROUND – RIB – RUMP – ROAST – Fuck this shit.  We’re having turkey.

Love,

Your Husband

Bottom round roast[5]

 

FROZEN – The Storyboards

Back in September I posted a blog that contained 20 “behind the scenes” photos from the making of SPIRAL which quickly became one of the most popular blogs I’ve posted this year.  In keeping with the idea of sharing exclusive behind the scenes images from my own personal collection that you can’t see anywhere other then here (and with winter almost upon us)… below are some of the storyboards from my 2010 survival thriller FROZEN, a film which is not only my favorite of all of the feature films I have made so far but also my most personal.  From the characters being named after my actual friends to the stories from my real life being told on screen like “how Lynch met Dan in the first grade” or “the douchebag named Dean in the college cafeteria”… my own life is poured into every frame of FROZEN.  Even Parker’s show stopping monologue about her fear of her dog at home starving to death after she is dead (one of the scenes fans write about most in their letters to me and one of several moments in the film that caused some audience members to have to take a break in the lobby during screenings)… that’s my own worst nightmare committed to film and something I’ve thought about on every publicity tour when my plane inevitably hits turbulence and I start to worry about what would become of my pets/children at home.  (Since getting married in 2010 it is something I have had to worry about less now that I know Rileah would be there to take care of everything at home if the unthinkable ever happened.)  The extraordinary challenge of telling a compelling and frightening story with such a minimal number of characters and in such a contained and simplistic yet complex scenario was one that my crew and I accepted whole heartedly.  Not only were the conditions grueling for everyone due to my psychotic insistence that we shoot the entire movie practically with the cast suspended 50 feet above ground on the side of a mountain in Utah in the dead of winter (no sound stage, no green screen, no comfort), but the limitations set forth by the story itself were massive.  There were no costume changes, no location changes, no new characters coming and going, no crazy action sequences, and no giant explosions to rely on to help propel the story forward or keep the audience riveted in suspense or excitement.  The tension and emotional levity was all going to live or die based on everyone’s commitment and talent and there were very few violent or gory moments to fall back on.  There wasn’t a single moment of FROZEN that could be phoned in without risking unraveling the entire film.  Even the most gruesome moments (like Dan’s demise at the hungry mouths of the wolves) were designed in the script to show as little as possible and let the performances, sound design, score, camera work, and the audience’s own imaginations shoulder the weight of the experience.  On the DVD / BLU-RAY deleted scenes you can watch an extremely gory version of Dan’s death scene that I shot “just to have it”… and included as a special bonus feature to illustrate exactly why I didn’t include those gory images in the film and why the scene is so much more effective without them.  I personally took great pride when a critic would blast the scene for being “ultra graphic” as it meant that we had succeeded in ways very few films can.  Like the editor of Creative Screenwriting Magazine who was so offended by what HE IMAGINED he saw that he wrote an entire editorial spoiling the film beat for beat in the hopes that he could persuade some from seeing it and even went as far as calling FROZEN “Hollywood torture porn”.  All because of what he imagined in his own head.  Creative screenwriting, indeed.

61996_144233308951928_116306188411307_193733_6450867_nFROZEN’s UK Theatrical Poster.

While HATCHET may have spawned a franchise, FROZEN is still what many (including myself) consider to be my most successful film to date.  Worldwide the film was a financial hit and it continues to sell and to play on cable in regular rotation even four years after it’s limited 100 screen theatrical release.  Here in America, FROZEN even dethroned HATCHET as Anchor Bay’s most successful original genre film in their extensive catalogue.  Legendary critic Rex Reed of the NY Observer was quoted as “chewing his own pencil in half while watching it because he was so paralyzed with fear” while other notable critics compared the film to Spielberg’s JAWS and to Hitchcock’s LIFEBOAT.  The moments I’ll remember the most, however, are when grown men feinted and/or threw up in the theater during FROZEN’s Sundance premiere screenings.  For a film to elicit that kind of reaction with only a few drops of blood and extremely restrained scenes of violence or gore… well, we were all very proud.  (As sick as that may sound.)  However, for all of the film’s success I have to hand it to my cast and crew who matched my passion and who so fearlessly put themselves in extremely uncomfortable and dangerous situations all for the desire of entertaining someone for 90 minutes.  I’m blessed to have gotten to work with such dedicated and talented people as without them, FROZEN would still merely be just an idea in my head. Sometimes people forget that a film’s director is merely the leader of the vision, but it’s the crew that actually makes the movie you watch.

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Fearless: Shawn Ashmore, Emma Bell, and Kevin Zegers.

Perhaps you saw the film in theaters when it was released in February 2010 or perhaps you have since caught it on cable, Netflix, iTunes, VOD or other streaming platform… but for those who own the Blu-Ray or DVD, FROZEN comes packed with one of the most compelling and informative behind the scenes set of documentaries and commentary tracks that I have ever seen packaged with a film, whether it be a giant studio film or an independent film.  Filmmaker Adam Barnick approached  the task of documenting the making of FROZEN as if he were making his own feature-length documentary film rather than going through the motions of simply securing typical “behind the scenes” sound bytes and interviews.  He was literally a fly on the snowy wall, capturing every moment and every story in a way that lets you feel exactly what it was like to be part of the film.  In an age where special bonus features are scaling back further and further due to the decline of DVD and BLU-RAY sales, I can’t recommend watching the special features for FROZEN enough.  And while you’re at it, you should also check out Adam Barnick’s amazing behind the scenes documentaries for our 2009 disturbing thriller GRACE (written and directed by Paul Solet) as they are also exceptionally informative and extremely well crafted.  But since every story of the making of FROZEN is so vividly detailed on the DVD and BLU-RAY features, I’ll refrain from delving into them here.  Typed words in a blog could never match the justice that Barnick did.

Also, for those who really want to know more about the film, for those who are also interested in screenwriting, or for those who are merely fans/collectors… ArieScope has recently made my screenplay for FROZEN available for purchase in the “BUY STUFF” section of this website. Just click here.

The storyboards you’ll see below were drawn during pre-production in 2009 by Zoe Frasure, an extremely talented artist that I had the good fortune of first working with back in 2004 while prepping the production of HATCHET.  Normally I only storyboard a film’s action moments or extravagant effects sequences in order to help get all of the various individuals who bring those memorable cinematic moments to life on the same page and knowing exactly how I plan to shoot an especially challenging sequence.  Stunt coordinators, animal trainers, and make-up effects artists in particular can do their jobs so much more effectively if they can already see exactly what the individual camera shots, camera moves, and angles are intended to be in the final edited sequence.  While some filmmakers literally storyboard their entire films from beginning to end, I personally have never felt the need to storyboard anything beyond action, stunts, animals, or effects.  Part of that comes from my 15 year working relationship with cinematographer Will Barratt whom, at this point, I have such a comprehensive shorthand and visual connection with that there is no need to have illustrations to explain my plan and our pre-production discussions are always enough.  With experience also comes the confidence in being able to explain exactly what I want clearly and without guess work on the day of production.  However, another reason I purposely didn’t storyboard more scenes with FROZEN was because one of the films that I studied the most in preparation for filming was Spielberg’s JAWS, a production that purposely didn’t meticulously plan out every single shot of the character’s dialogue in an effort to discover and film the performances in the most organic way possible.  When you’re talking about a film where so much of it comes down to three actors sitting in a chair and carrying the film on their performances (or in the case of JAWS, three actors stuck on an extremely contained boat) I wanted the camera to capture the moments as they happened and commit them to film as honestly as possible.  It was crucial to pick my moments selectively, not only when the camera would do those enormous sweeping shots showcasing the height and claustrophobia, but also when the camera would go in tight on an actor’s face and when it would remain at a more comfortable distance- thus making the audience feel like they were also on the freezing and isolated chair lift with the characters.  For instance, when Lynch and Parker have their big blow-out fight after Dan’s death, I always knew that I would be shooting the scene in French Overs- a style that keeps the camera behind the shoulders of each character in a scene rather than in front of or directly beside them.  It provided a more voyeuristic point of view which (in the case of FROZEN) subliminally made the audience feel even more uncomfortable watching actors Shawn Ashmore and Emma Bell share such an emotionally heightened and tragic moment.

FROZEN was an incredible opportunity for me as a filmmaker.  The production was so rich with stories and contained such a wonderful cast of fearless characters behind the scenes who each brought everything they had to the table.  I’ll never be able to put into words just how indebted I am to my cast and crew, though my closing remarks on set before calling “wrap” on the last night of shooting (documented fully in Barnick’s behind the scenes documentary on the DVD and BLU-RAY release) come as close as I will ever come since they were impromptu and caught in the actual moment.  I’ll always remember staring back at that mountain before climbing into the van back to my condo on that sub-zero winter morning and that feeling of “We beat you.”  It is truly a joy to share some of Zoe Frasure’s storyboards with you all for the first time anywhere and give just a little more insight into just how much work went into the pre-production of this film.  I hope you enjoy looking through them.  Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who will be celebrating the holiday this month.  Be thankful that you’ve never found yourself stranded on a chair lift in the dead of winter… at least not yet.

-AG

Dan’s jump…

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Lynch’s first climb and the first wolf…

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Lynch’s second climb and the wolves circling Dan

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Parker wakes up to find her hand stuck…

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Lynch’s final climb and fight…

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15 Years of Halloween Shorts

Today our 15th annual Halloween Short Film launched here on ArieScope.com.  ”HALLOWEEN HUGS” may just be the most ridiculous Halloween short that we’ve done in the decade and a half that we’ve been making these shorts but it certainly was the most fun we’ve had shooting one yet.  With the self-imposed rule of “one night, no budget, and just for fun”, these annual Halloween short films have become not only a pivotal fan-favorite aspect of ArieScope but also a key component to our longevity and success as a feature film and television production company.  A common question I get in interviews and at appearances is “Why do you still make short films now that you have a career making feature films and television shows?”  To be honest there certainly have been years where I’ve asked myself that same question.  Like when we’ve been in the middle of a “real” production and taken our one day off to shoot the annual Halloween short film or dedicated the 3 or 4 hours a night that we’re allotted for sleep during a shoot to use editing and finishing post-production on one of these shorts each night around our shooting schedule.  No one is getting paid to work on them, they aren’t used for financial gain of any kind, and everyone is already run ragged working on whatever the “real” project is that we are in production on.  So why still do it?  Why not skip a year every now and then?

Happy Halloween

The obvious answer is that there is now an expectation from our fans where, come October each year, they look forward to seeing what kind of Halloween treat we’ll cook up.  The Halloween shorts have been a great way to give something back to those that support our film and television work and a very fun way to stay connected with fans while they’re patiently waiting for the next movie or season of a show to come out.  But as easy as it would be to say “we do it for the fans” and leave it at that, the truth is that we do these shorts for ourselves just as much as we do them for the fans.  There is no obligation behind doing these annual short films.  In fact, in many ways we kind of NEED to do these Halloween shorts because they serve as a reset button for us each year.  The toll that working in this industry takes on you is massive.  The highs may be really high, but the lows are far more abundant and really, really low.  For every major success, every victory, and every premiere night spent celebrating an achievement, there are years of extremely hard work that go into making each project a reality, loads of dreams that don’t come true, plus countless amounts of hurdles, set-backs, disappointments, politics, and struggles that are collectively known as “the bullshit” in Hollywood.  But when you get to gather up your friends, go back in time to when you didn’t have any kind of budget or executives to answer to, and make something that has absolutely no consequences whatsoever… you remember exactly why you fell in love with doing this in the first place.  More importantly, you re-ignite that fire inside to want to keep doing it no matter what it takes.  To anyone out there finding themselves disenchanted or beaten down by the machine, I highly recommend you take a page out of our book and do something that’s just for you.  Give yourself major limitations, make something just like you would have made when you were first starting out- warts and all.    Re-live the beginning again once a year and don’t care what anyone else thinks.  I promise that you will be happy you did it.

ArieScope Halloween

A great example of just what lengths we’ve gone to keep these Halloween shorts our own and to protect the sanctity of what they mean for us is 2010′s “JUST TAKE ONE”.  We were coming off of ”JACK CHOP” the year before.  A short that, like always, we made just for us because WE thought it was funny.  Little did we know that “JACK CHOP” would become an internet phenomenon and explode on Youtube, be used as sound bytes on major Boston radio stations for years to come, spawn parodies galore on-line, and have people dressing up as the short’s main character “Nicolo” for Halloween that year.  Our friend Joe Lynch recently shot his new film EVERLY in Belgrade, Serbia and discovered that one of the local crew members on his set was a “JACK CHOP” fan.  I’ve done appearances in London and Munich and had fans wait in line for an autograph wearing a “JACK CHOP” T-shirt.  Originally “JACK CHOP” had a fake phone number at the end of the short that had too many digits to possibly be a real phone number.  But by the end of the short film’s first week on-line and after 900,000+ hits in just 6 days, people were actually calling the first 10 digits of the number, reaching a small family owned window treatment company in Minnesota, and literally shutting down their business as they could no longer use their phone for anything other than taking calls demanding the “free fahkin’ glow stick, kid”.  Needless to say we were contacted by the FCC with a demand to take the short down immediately.  So the short was removed from the internet, the fake phone number was changed, and we had to put it back up and start over again back at zero hits.  ”JACK CHOP” was so popular that there were people on Youtube that would flag ours as “inappropriate” (making it so that unless a user is logged in to an account proving they are over 18 years old, the short won’t even come up in searches), copy and paste it on to their own page (even going so far as to CHANGE THE END CREDITS to add their own names as the people who made it) and then re-post it as their own just to steal hits and make a few bucks by adding advertisements to their page.  Yes, that really happened.  A few people actually did that and are totally OK with it, going to sleep each night with no remorse whatsoever.  Our legal team has been mostly successful in getting those taken down as soon as they pop up, but the point is, “JACK CHOP” was huge.  So when the following year rolled around, the obvious thing to do would have been a sequel to “JACK CHOP”.  Fans were demanding it and if we even remotely cared about hits/views whatsoever, making another “JACK CHOP” would have been a no-brainer.  So what did we do?  We made a short that (while it may have had a nod to “JACK CHOP” with a cameo of “Nicolo” in the end) was completely different and all but guaranteed to NOT become a huge hit.  ”JUST TAKE ONE” was a short exploring the concept of the “honor bowl” – a Trick Or Treating faux-paus where a household not wanting to actually participate in the time honored tradition of tricks or treats places a bowl of candy on their doorstep as a way of saying “we don’t care”.  The only thing worse than “honor bowl” houses are the houses that simply shut off all of their lights in the hopes that kids won’t even approach them.  For someone who loves Halloween more than anything (Rileah and I always give out full-size candy bars to our Trick Or Treaters and had a record 127 children come to our doorstep last year alone), I find the “honor bowl” to be completely un-American and a Halloween crime.  But at the end of the day, “JUST TAKE ONE” was “cute” at best.  It was never going to blow up and become an internet phenomenon.  But it set us free from “JACK CHOP”.  It set us free of having to cave to pressure or having to start caring about competing with hits/views each year.  Had we let ourselves get caught up in all of that we not only would have betrayed the idea that each year’s short needs to be completely unique, but we would have turned our sacred yearly event into an obligation and a production that was no longer for us.  In reality, whether a Halloween short gets 7 million hits or 700 hits, we don’t care.  It’s just not about that.  So while we got plenty of feedback from people that were angry that they didn’t get another “JACK CHOP”, we couldn’t have been happier.  The Halloween Shorts were still ours and we retained our freedom to do whatever we felt like doing each year.

So how did this tradition get started?  The short story is that way back in 1998, Will Barratt and I made a short film called “COLUMBUS DAY WEEKEND” for an upcoming Hallloween party.  It was never meant to be seen professionally anywhere (if you’ve ever watched it, that much is obvious) and it was just something we were going to show a small group of friends.  Keep in mind this was before streaming video on-line or sites like Youtube even existed. The short could only be passed around and shared on VHS tapes.  The opening credits of “COLUMBUS DAY WEEKEND” were spoofing a FRIDAY THE 13TH movie so we needed a production company name to stick in.  Somehow we came up with the word “ArieScope” because both Will and I are Aries (Adam- March 31st, Will – April 2nd) and the word “scope” sounded “film-y”.  I wish there was a better story but that was it.  Perhaps if we had known that it would stick as the name of our company and maybe if we known what was to eventually come we would have toiled over a name for a few more minutes, but in a matter of seconds we came up with a word that would forever be synonymous with what we do professionally.  If you’ve watched the early shorts, you may have noticed that our original logo was incredibly similar to the Dodge logo… because it was the Dodge logo.  Classy, right?  But here we are, 15 years later, and wow- what a trip it has been.  Even better… today (October 14, 2013) is Columbus Day.  ”HALLOWEEN HUGS” is launching exactly 15 years after we started all of this.  I wish I could say I planned that, but it’s just coincidence.  How long will we continue this tradition?  We’ve discussed ending the Halloween shorts when we hit #20 and we’ve talked about going all the way to #31 in honor of Hallloween, but the truth is… we don’t know.  Just like the short films themselves, we’ll keep making it up as we go.  The only thing we know for sure is that as long as they don’t feel like an obligation, we’ll keep enjoying making them.

productionWill Barratt, “Punim”, Laura Ortiz, Sarah Elbert, & Adam Green on “HALLOWEEN HUGS”.

In closing, to answer the original question of “why make short films with no budget even though we’re already established and working on bigger things?”  ”Why take the risk of putting something out each year that could be perceived as amateur due to the self-imposed budget and time restrictions we put on ourselves?”  Because we love it, that’s why.  To quote Will Barratt who shot all night long this year only to go directly to a “real” gig (i.e. a paid, professional shoot) and work another 12 hour day on a television show on absolutely no sleep; “I needed that.”  Doing these shorts re-infuses all of us with that original spark that started it all off.  It doesn’t matter how many hits/views they get or if everyone who watches them thinks that each year is “our best one yet”.  All that matters is that we’re having fun, we’re enjoying what we do, and after all of these years working together, we still haven’t had to grow up.  And at the end of the day, isn’t that exactly why we chose this profession in the first place?  To quote Linus in IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN, “Look around.  Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see!”

We hope you enjoy “HALLOWEEN HUGS” and on behalf of all of us who have been part of this family and who have ever worked on something brandishing the ArieScope logo… have a safe and happy Halloween!  Let’s hug!

- AG

Punim

 

 

“20 Behind The Scenes Photos” – SPIRAL

As you’ve probably noticed with the amount of vintage posters we’ve recently added to the “BUY STUFF” section of this website, we’ve been re-organizing and sifting through the many storage units and production vaults here at ArieScope.  It’s been a great walk down memory lane as we uncover boxes and boxes of wardrobe, props, shot-lists, storyboards and drives full of set photography from the various features, TV shows, and short films that we’ve made over the past 15 years.  Whenever I can, I hope to try and share “20 Behind The Scenes Photos” that you’ve likely never seen from some of our past projects.  (Some of these photos even I had never seen until uncovering these drives!)  Each of the below photos tells a bit of the story of the production of SPIRAL, which we shot in November and December of 2005 in dreary Portland, OR.  I was still in post-production on HATCHET when we shot this film, though the story of SPIRAL really begins about two weeks into principal photography of HATCHET.

After shooting the scene in HATCHET where Joel David Moore throws up on-camera, he approached me about potentially co-directing a film that he and Jeremy Danial Boring wrote together called SPIRAL.  (I guess you just can’t abuse some actors enough on some sets as they keep coming back for more!)  Though I was flattered to be asked, my initial plan was to give the script a courtesy read and then politely decline as “co-directing” is a sure fire recipe for disaster.  As exciting as the prospect was of making another film so quickly with essentially the same crew from HATCHET and keeping the party going (not to mention having another opportunity to work with Joel whom I absolutely adore), there was just no way in hell I was going to “co-direct” anything.  Ever.

Then I read their script.

What was that I said about “co-directing”?  It’s not such a bad idea, right?  I love “co-directing”!   Point is, I just couldn’t say no even though I so badly wanted to.  Only a fool wouldn’t jump at the chance to make a movie like this as movies like this just don’t get made often enough and scripts this great don’t fall into your lap too many times in your lifetime.  SPIRAL was completely different from HATCHET in every single possible way and I felt like it was a great opportunity career-wise to come out of the gate swinging with two completely different sides of myself artistically.  With the hype and excitement that HATCHET already had going behind it, I didn’t want to be pigeonholed as the “comedic gore-fest guy” and SPIRAL was the script that could help me accomplish that.  Joel and Jeremy had crafted a fantastically understated psychological thriller built on a deeply emotional core filled with incredibly interesting characters and the style of the film was just dripping off the pages in my mind.  I just had to say yes.

So, how did I survive co-directing?  Two ways.  First was that Joel and I did our homework and took every precaution we could to not hit the typical pitfalls that come from having two captains on a set.  Every shot, every nuance, every character beat, and every step of our battle plan was tirelessly plotted out months before we ever got up to Portland.  This way Joel could remain completely part of the vision of the film and have every bit of artistic say as I would have, and most importantly, we wouldn’t have to lose precious time battling it out on set while everyone stood around and waited for the directors to actually, you know…direct.  Secondly, since Joel was almost in every shot of the movie, he could trust that the plan was being executed as discussed and immerse himself in his acting duties without having to constantly watch playback to make sure that the movie was coming together the right way.  Of course we still had our moments on set, though the only “show stopping” debate came from a difference of opinion between co-writer Jeremy Boring and myself when it came time to shoot the final scene between “Mason” and “Amber”.  The “you can’t leave now” scene.  I won’t get in to the particulars here since chances are strong many of you have not yet seen the film, but we wound up having to shoot the scene on another day so that we had time to properly flush out our debate and discuss how the beats would play out at length.  In the end, the scene turned out brilliantly (and not just because I got my way, I swear) and there was no love lost.  In fact, our heated debate only made the scene better,  The fact that Joel and I have continued to work together on a regular basis (we’ve worked together in one way or another on 9 projects over the past 8 years and I think that some of my best work comes from the projects I do with Joel) proves that we indeed survived the dreaded “co-directing” curse, and the finished movie speaks for itself.  If you haven’t seen SPIRAL yet I implore you- no, fuck that, I BEG you to check it out as soon as humanly possible.  ”Proud” isn’t a strong enough word and I will always look back at the making of this film as one of the biggest honors of my career. I’m so lucky that Joel and his producing partners invited me and my family at ArieScope (which has since grown to include everyone that was part of SPIRAL) to take part in this extremely special movie- as it’s not every day that you get to try and channel Hitchcock and make an art-house film exactly how you want to make it… and with an analog live jazz score to boot.

SPIRAL premiered at the 2007 Santa Barbara Film Festival (where we took home Kodak’s coveted “Gold Vision Award”) and then opened in US theaters (to great critical reception but no advertising or fanfare) in February of 2008, just 5 months after HATCHET opened in US theaters.  Though many critics and fans cite SPIRAL as one of our best made films, sadly it is probably the least known out of all of our work.  Though largely due to the fact that SPIRAL is a slow burn art-house psychodrama (audiences today would rather watch a flashy remake or a giant tentpole blockbuster with fighting toys as the box office proves again and again), part of the reason I think SPIRAL didn’t break out was that it was released so closely behind HATCHET.  At some festivals, both films would play on separate nights and the moment the Q&A for SPIRAL would begin or the moment I would sit down with a journalist to discuss the film, all anyone wanted to talk about was “Victor Crowley”.   A high-class problem to have, of course, but at the end of the day SPIRAL and HATCHET are not just worlds but full-on universes apart and there is just no comparing the two films on any level.  With an incredible cast including Joel David Moore (HATCHET, AVATAR), Amber Tamblyn (SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS, THE RING), Zachary Levi (CHUCK, THOR 2), and Tricia Helfer (BATTLESTAR GALLACTICA), as well as stunning cinematography by Will Barratt, brilliant camera work by BJ McDonnell (who would go on to be promoted as director of HATCHET III), and a GORGEOUS all-jazz score by Todd Caldwell and Michael Herring… it has been such a joy to watch this film be discovered by more and more fans over the past few years.

Here are 20 behind the scenes stills that you’ve likely never seen before.  I only included descriptions where I felt I had to explain as the point of this is to let the pictures tell the story.  For one reason or another, these were the 20 images that jumped out at me as I sifted through folders and folders of set photography by David Muller.  Enjoy, and remember… “it’s all about contrast.”

F5DT3026 F5DT3130Zachary Levi remains the best Executive Producer I’ve ever worked with.  Not only did he do an exceptional job acting in SPIRAL (“Berkeley” is my favorite character of his to date), but he also worked tirelessly to keep the crew happy (keeping spirits up), well fed (driving around Portland at all hours of the night to get specific food requests whenever called upon), and extremely entertained (he became somewhat of a karaoke legend at the bar across from our hotel).  He has since gone on to sing in Disney’s TANGLED, to perform at the Oscars, and is currently starring in FIRST DATE on Broadway.  I like to think that it all started here.  This cat nap that David Muller’s camera caught him taking was so well deserved.

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DSC_0045 DSC_0097 DSC_0145 DSC_0204Originally, I had a scene with Joel (“Mason”) right after his first “freak out” in the office bathroom.  We ultimately cut the scene from the film for timing/pacing purposes.

F5DT1128 F5DT1664 F5DT1703 F5DT1850 F5DT1880 F5DT1921 F5DT2044Celebrating the 100th roll of film used on the production with champagne.  

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More Behind The Scenes Photos from other films coming to this blog soon!  In the meantime, buy SPIRAL here if you don’t already own it!

-AG

2007 Fantastic Fest Laurels Fantasia 07 Laurels Fright Fest 07 Laurels Hollywood07Laurels Santa Barbara 07 Laurels

“THAT’S ANOTHER WRAP!” Wait…what?!

I just wrapped production on my next movie.  No, seriously.  Seems like 24 hours ago I was on the promotional tour campaign for HOLLISTON and HATCHET 3 and somehow photography is already wrapped on DIGGING UP THE MARROW.  Don’t worry, I’m just as confused as you are.  This is where it gets frustrating as I know people want to know details.  What is it?  What is it about?  Who’s in it?  When will it be ready?  We’re not revealing much about DIGGING UP THE MARROW yet, mainly because it’s constantly still unfolding and we’re still constantly creating.  The project started “officially” almost 3 years ago and a very small group of us have been chipping away at this very unique movie ever since.   In fact, right after CHILLERAMA was finished shooting in 2010 we were going to drop everything and dive head first into THE MARROW, but then HOLLISTON was green-lit and we had to put off the “main shoot” while we went into production on our TV show.  (We were still shooting and working on some stuff for THE MARROW even back then.)  When Season 1 was finished it was right into the swamp again for HATCHET III and then right back to HOLLISTON for Season 2.  (Again, we were still working on THE MARROW all the while and I was on draft number “I lost count” of KILLER PIZZA – which there is still no start date I have heard of yet, sorry.)  However, this past July we really buckled down and spent almost the entire month getting all of the big stuff shot and now I’m already about a week deep into post-production with a long way still to go.  Here’s what I CAN say… it’s completely different from any other feature I’ve done.  It all started with a crazy package of fan mail I was sent by a fan who was creatively/crazily claiming that “Victor Crowley” was actually indeed real, that I had messed up Crowley’s true story in the HATCHET series, and that he/she could prove his existence.   (Reminder, I invented “Victor Crowley” when I was 8 years old and before you ask, no, THE MARROW has nothing to do with “Victor Crowley” or HATCHET.)   While those in the office on the day that the package arrived joked around about calling the fan out and showing up with our cameras to follow him/her around and have them “prove it”, obviously we were never about to actually waste our time doing that and chances were good enough that this person may have killed all of us if we actually took the bait.  However, the general notion really started to turn into a viable story idea when I met and joined forces with artist Alex Pardee and saw his paintings for an exhibit he did called “Digging Up The Marrow” where the whole concept behind it was that he had painted “real monsters” as discovered by a former police detective.  You take those general ideas, stick two creative people together, add in an unhealthy amount of mutual respect and fandom for each other, mix in an even more unhealthy amount of love for all things “monsters” and you wind up on a very long and creatively stimulating ride.  We began interviewing artists: painters, filmmakers, actors, you name it… and we started seeking out the magic behind where “monsters” come from.  And by “monsters” I don’t mean real life dictators, serial killers, child abusers, etc.  I’m talking about the things that go bump in the night, that lurk in the woods, that have slimy tentacles, horns, tails, lots of eyes… you know, the kind of “monsters” that people like me (and so very many of you) have always wished were real.  Then our imaginations really took over and the project itself started leading the way.  Close friends and family would ask what my next movie was exactly, what I was doing in the woods with a shovel and a camera all night long, or what I was smiling about…and I would answer in all honesty, “I don’t know”.  So is it a documentary?  Sorta kinda I guess but not entirely.  Is it a found-footage movie?  No, but there is “footage” presented within it, I guess.  Is it 100% real or is it 100% fictional narrative?  Well.. that’s up to the viewer.  I can’t define the line anymore.  DIGGING UP THE MARROW is imagination running wild.  It’s us doing something that WE felt like doing which was taking art and bringing it to life.   When it’s ready to be shown I’ll have so much more to say, but for now just don’t think too much about it or read too far into any of it and wait and see for yourself.  We’re just having fun and we’ll share it with you (for better or worse) when it’s ready. Promise.

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The Marrow is real…

In the meantime, it’s been a huge last two weeks.  HOLLISTON’s Season 2 finale aired and the response was just astounding.  Not just the response to the actual season finale episode but to the entire second season and the full series so far.  Some of the letters and postings we’ve received are so passionate that they’re actually downright moving.  (Those who joined in on our final “live cast chat” of the season on the Holliston Nation U-Stream Channel witnessed me get so emotional that I had to abruptly sign off at the end because I was so overwhelmed.) FEARnet and HOLLISTON’s Facebook pages have essentially become “shrines” for a Season 3.  The show has touched more people than anything else I’ve ever created and the reactions are so far beyond what I ever expected or hoped for.  I guess I still don’t want to put it all into mere words in a blog because it’s more special to keep it all inside for now.  But to answer the common questions… the second season is going to be on iTunes and Amazon streaming literally any day now.  As soon as it is up we’ll obviously announce that it is there, but just know it’s coming very, very soon.  We have not heard the DVD/BLU-RAY release date yet but if I had to guess I’d say Thanksgiving/Christmas.  It’s probably a safe bet that the second season will hit Hulu right around or soon after the DVD/BLU-RAY is released, but again I haven’t heard any details just yet.  As far as a Season 3 goes, don’t expect to hear anything until much closer to the end of the year.  Maybe even early next year.  I know that sucks (believe me, if ANYONE is anxious to hear the plan it is US) but that’s just the way the TV business works.  It all comes down to budgets and internal business affairs that have nothing to do with us or the show itself and those meetings and decisions won’t happen or have concrete outcomes until the end of the fiscal year.  However, the fans rallying behind the show and making so much noise on-line, posting non-stop on FEARnet’s Facebook page, tweeting about “#Holliston”, checking in to the show on GetGlue (our season finale hit the #7 Top Trending show on TV the night that it aired!), buying the series on iTunes and Amazon, pre-ordering the DVD/BLU-RAY when it becomes available… IT ALL MAKES A DIFFERENCE.  No network wants to not bring back a show that their audience won’t shut up about and the more noise you make the more it pushes the people behind the-behind the scenes to make something work no matter what. Will we return?  What will happen of Adam, Corri, Joe, Laura, Lance, Oderus, and Axl?  We shall see.  I have faith that the show will go on.  And that’s because I have faith in all of you.

Anthony Rubio

“HOLLISTON” fan tattoo sent in by Anthony Rubio.

HATCHET III hits DVD/BLU-RAY this week!  It’s incredibly exciting as these next few weeks will be when the film really hits its audience.  Some got to see it in theaters and many saw it on Video On-Demand, but it is always the DVD/BLU-RAY release when the majority of fans see a movie.  I’ve already posted my look back on the decade I put into HATCHET and what a long, hard, but insanely amazing journey it has been (see the blog a few below this one) but HATCHET III’s director BJ McDonnell (who doesn’t have his own blog going at this time) wanted to share a message to you all and asked that I post it here.  As I’ve said countless times, we’re all incredibly proud of the movie and when all is said and done, BJ proved that we chose wisely in giving him this opportunity as HATCHET III finished up my story in a huge, epic way and the HATCHET ARMY is thrilled with it.  I hope that the HATCHET fans debate which of the three films is their favorite of the series for years to come and we’re all so proud of what we accomplished together with this slasher trilogy.  Here’s what BJ wrote in:

—- Well wrapping up everything HATCHET III with the release of Blu Ray and DVD August 13th, I have to say what a ride it has been. Was it a blast at times, Yes, and was it painful at times, most certainly yes. I want to thank Adam again for the 3 films not only 1&2 as the operator, but the chance to direct part 3 and collaborate on everything that this movie became. I want to clear up any misconceptions of involvement in the process of Adam during filming that may have come across in interviews. Was he there every day in New Orleans at the location, yes he was. Was he on set behind the monitor watching every single shot we did, no. The fact that Adam trusted me and did not have to watch over every single frame was actually a great thing. It was great to know that Adam trusted me with the third installment and did not feel as though he had to hold my hand through the process of filming. Of course he did have producer duties and dealt with a lot of behind the scenes things, as well as writing the second season of Holliston while we were there. So thank you again Adam for this great opportunity and I’m proud of what we created together as the final product. 

Will Barratt I thank you . Will, you really were under the gun with this one and I’m proud of what we got in such a insane schedule. Short nights and short shooting schedule along with elements and heat. The film came out looking dark and gritty as well as bigger than it really was. Thank you Adrienne Lynn for helping me with all support and locations, etc…. The list is too huge to even ramble on. You went above and beyond.  Dark Sky films thank you 1 million times over. Without your support and love of the HATCHET films none of this could have happened so thank you everyone from Dark Sky. Greg Newman thank you and Todd Wieneke, and Malik Ali thank you too!!! Ed Marx you are a editing genius.  Also a huge thank you to the producers and the whole cast and crew of H3. It was honestly a insane brutal shoot and you guys coulda bailed on it but you didn’t. Thank you!!!!! I know I’m forgetting a ton of people but to all who were involved with this picture- thank you. And lastly, thank you Hatchet Army and the fans of these films. Horror would never be the same without all of you keeping it alive. 

Where to go from here? Well the sky is the limit. I hope I  get to direct more films in the near future and I hope everyone liked how HATCHET III came out. All in all at the end of the day I am happy to have been a part of this ride with the HATCHET series. Thank you everyone for the warm open arms and acceptance of me taking on the responsibility of directing part 3. Is Victor Crowley dead? Who knows.  My advice …….Stay out of the swamp. – BJ MCDonnell ——

Crowley by Chuck Ramos

“Victor Crowley” fan art by Chuck Ramos.

Now, what are you waiting for?  Go pick up HATCHET III on DVD or BLU-RAY today and watch the whole trilogy back to back with your friends, loved ones, and gas powered belt sanders.  Every victory we’ve experienced is sweeter and every hard time we have struggled through is worth it for all of us each time you enjoy these three truly special films that we’ve created.  Thank you for all that YOU have given back to all of us.

OK, back to editing!  Enjoy HATCHET III, Season 2 of HOLLISTON, THE MOVIE CRYPT PODCAST, and everything else I’ve put out there so far this year.  More is on the way…

-AG

LOOKING BACK ON MY 3-DAY BOSTON STRONG FUNDRAISER…

On May 28th-30th 2013, I held a 3-Day fundraiser to help raise money for the One Fund to benefit the victims of the tragic April 15th Boston Marathon bombing.  Events included:

A free HOLLISTON poster signing at Fiske’s General Store in Holliston, MA.

The “HOLLISTON Comes Home to Holliston” 3-episode preview screening at the Holliston High School with myself, Joe Lynch, Laura Ortiz, and Derek Mears – hosted by Kevin Barbare and including an after-party at Casey’s Public House (known as “Casey’s Crossing” on HOLLISTON).

The “Boston Strong” celebrity auction and fundraiser in Worcester with special guests including myself, Joe Lynch, Laura Ortiz, Joel David Moore, Kane Hodder, Zach Galligan, Derek Mears, Kip Weeks, and Mick Garris.

A HATCHET MARATHON of all three HATCHET films (including the first ever public screening of HATCHET III) at the Revere Hotel’s Theater One in Boston with myself, Joel David Moore, Kane Hodder, Zach Galligan, and Derek Mears.

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Joking around between photos: Mears, Galligan, Lynch, Moore, Weeks, Ortiz, Green, Hodder

The outpouring of love and support (from both fans and Hollywood alike) was absolutely astounding.   I was so grateful to have friends donate rare one-of-a-kind items for the auction including Chris Columbus, Wes Craven, John Carpenter, Eli Roth, Rob Zombie, Dee Snider, Sid Haig, Oderus Urungus, Alex Pardee, Dark Sky Films, Anchor Bay Entertainment, Tyler Mane, Joe Knetter, Marcus Dunstan, Patrick Melton, Zakk Wylde, Darren Lynn Bousman, Joe Hill, Metal Blade Records, and many, many, many more.  Too many to possibly name them all.  Together we raised $15,000.00 for the victims of the tragedy (after all expenses for holding the event were paid out).  It was nothing short of amazing.

I’ve put off writing a full on blog about this event for a variety of reasons.  For starters, I did this for charity and to help my hometown simply because I believe that anyone in my position would do the same.  Therefore, I tried as hard as I could to promote the event but not to let the event itself become a publicity event for the opening of HATCHET III, the season premiere of HOLLISTON, or for myself.  So I wanted to wait to fully comment on the event until long after those release dates had passed.  But most of all, there were moments throughout the three days that were so touching that I could never put them into cohesive words.  From the “thank you’s”, to the sincere hugs and hand shakes, to watching my fellow Bostonians dig deep and give money to help, to witnessing fans travel in for this from far and wide, to the two minute standing ovation that the crowd gave me at the end of the final night… this just isn’t the type of thing I can easily “recap”.

Thankfully, others did that for me.

So rather than write all about what happened I thought it would be more fitting to present you with a video and an article that sum it all up from the perspectives of the volunteers who generously donated their time to help pull all of this off and from a fan who traveled in from Texas just to be there.  It’s so important to note that Gina Migliozzi from ROCK N SHOCK and Stacy Buchanan from WICKED BIRD MEDIA worked tirelessly on this event for a solid month, helping organize everything and giving their all to promote the events and get the word out.  I am so proud and so lucky to be able to call these two amazing women my friends.

First up is a video that was created as a gift to me by the volunteers who worked their asses off for these three days (and more).  For all of the charity work I have done throughout the course of my career so far, no one has ever done something like this to thank me and these four and a half minutes truly mean the world to me.  You can watch it here.

Secondly is an article written by Amanda Rebholz, a fan who took it upon herself to share her experience at this three day event with the rest of the world.  You can read Amanda’s article here.  It’s beautifully written and I urge you all to take the time to read the whole piece.

To everyone who donated their time, their money, and their spirit- thank you.  As I said on stage each night, the one upside to every tragedy like this is that it results in people coming together to show what they are actually made of and who they really are.  The individuals who plotted and performed this attack (sorry, but I just can’t refer to them as “men”) FAILED.  They took lives and injured many… but they did not accomplish their mission to change us, to scare us, or to prove whatever point they thought they were making in their twisted, evil minds.  We rallied and came together not just to mourn the tragedy or to make donations, but to show that we are untouchable as both a society and as a culture.  As human beings we are resilient in our kindness.  As souls our spirits are unbreakable.  As the horror genre community we are more caring and generous than any other.  And as Boston… we are truly strong.

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Standing strong with Mick Garris.

To the families that this money is going towards helping, I know the support that we raised is but a mere dent in the help that you need and that the biggest losses are things that no amount of money can ever fix.  But I also know how much this meant to you and I know how much this meant to the rest of the people of Boston touched by this tragedy.

Some may not be able to ever look back on this tragedy and see more than the terror, the tears, and the loss.  But I choose to look back on this and see the helping hands, the smiles, the cheers, the laughter, and the applause that were louder and more meaningful than any amount of hatred could ever amount to.

Most sincerely,

AG