Green’s Blog

A Blur in the Life of a Sleepless Work-a-holic

New Orleans, LA (May 2012)

My last blog entry was on the eve of shooting HATCHET 3 way back in May. While my plan was to blog again once the film was wrapped, as it goes around here I wound up heading straight from the swamps into my sit-com town of Holliston without a moment to reflect.   So let’s back up a bit and recap.  When this year began, I was in post-production on Season One of HOLLISTON. I know that post-production can be sort of a mysterious “no man’s land” and that many fans only know that it “takes awhile”.  But for those readers that haven’t made a movie or TV series before, post is where a filmmaker spends about 65% (if not more) of their time on a project and it’s where the whole thing really comes together. Whenever I do a public speaking engagement or lecture to aspiring filmmakers, I always stress to them that the “glorious” aspect of directing (standing by the camera and triumphantly calling “action” or “cut”, working with actors, and dictating camera shots on set) is really just a small portion of the process. The hours and stress of post can be brutal and often bury that of the actual shoot ten-fold.  So while I was in the thick of editing the first season of HOLLISTON around the clock with my editor (and after many years, close friend and confidant) Ed Marx, I was simultaneously at work writing both HATCHET 3 and the re-write of KILLER PIZZA. Not easy to juggle to put it mildly, but given the schedule for these projects I had no choice but to give them all my full attention at the same time.  Throw in the appearances and travel that came with promoting the launch of HOLLISTON, and there wasn’t even time to sleep.

HOLLISTON Sound Mix – Season One, Post-Production (March 2012)

The final episode of Season One aired on May 8th but there was no time to celebrate or take some time off as just a few days later I was on my way to New Orleans for principal photography on HATCHET 3. The shoot was incredibly rough, and this is coming from the guy who made FROZEN. The heat, the unpredictable rain, the treacherous conditions, the thousands of bugs (some of which were poisonous), and the fact that we were raising the bar and shooting more action and stunts than both HATCHET 1 & 2 put together made for a serious challenge. We had more trips to the emergency room than all of my other projects combined and almost nightly, crew members fell ill to poison spider bites or (even worse) horrible reactions to DEET (a highly toxic chemical found in some bug sprays).

DEET kills bugs (and people) dead.

To make matters worse, the film was shot almost entirely in New Orleans (unlike the first two) which meant a lot of new and unfamiliar faces on the crew. It was a different kind of experience from what my key crew and I have become accustomed to and not exactly the same “family” and fun environment we usually operate in.  While making the movie we encountered some people with a different work ethic and different way of handling things than the “ArieScope” way that we’ve defined and lived by for the past 14 years. Just a few small examples to give you a taste, I literally broke up a physical altercation between two grown men at one point (one of whom proceeded to physically get up in a woman’s face and continue his tirade before being unceremoniously fired), a key individual went home in the middle of the night without warning because they were “tired and had to poop”, and the notion of courtesy and professionalism was unknown by a select few who had no qualms threatening to “walk” if asked to do even the simplest task required by their job description and a select few who saw nothing wrong in referring to female crew members in the most disparaging choice of words possible if they had a life or death issue, like say perhaps the desire for something important like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In my many years working in the industry I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. We saw a nervous breakdown or two (mainly brought on by DEET poisoning) and even had to have one crew member’s parents drive in from several states over to pick up and care for them after the set medic deemed them a physical threat to themselves and those around them.  But all of these issues aside, there were also a few wonderful people we had the honor to work with down there.  Thankfully, there were others who simply amazed us and rose to the challenge in every way- and those are the people you choose to remember and plan on working with again if ever given the opportunity.   Even more importantly, with all of the obstacles we went through the footage turned out extremely well and the movie is shaping up to be terrific and that is really all that matters. We made some great new friends in our short time down there and their hard work shows on the screen in spades.  I’ve spent the last full week in editing and there are moments in this movie that I am totally twitching with excitement over.

A HATCHET 3 crew member shows off her spider bites (June 2012) 

Now, my original plan was to be on the set of HATCHET 3 as support to the project and to supervise creatively when and if needed. My intention was to be on set but give first time director BJ McDonnell some breathing room and respect as opposed to standing over his shoulder by camera and constantly butting in. Especially given all the leg work he and I did together leading up to the shoot, I figured I’d be there to watch over and advise if necessary. I honestly expected to spend a lot of time each night either in my trailer or in my hotel room a phone call away, as I was simultaneously on the most severe deadline I had ever faced with writing both Season 2 of HOLLISTON (472 pages all in) and the rewrite of KILLER PIZZA (another 120 pages). I was under tremendous pressure as HOLLISTON rehearsals began the day I got back from Louisiana and our start date was firm and unable to be postponed due to cast availability. There was no margin for personal error or leeway to have a “bad writing day” if I was to pull it all off. While I’m happy to say that things on the set itself went off without a hitch (BJ and cast/crew attacked each night’s work with confidence and vigor), back at the set’s base camp there was more drama each night than an episode of [Insert Major Television Network Drama Here] due to both the difficult conditions and the very few individuals I spoke of above.  My original plan of writing during the shoot itself went out the window immediately and save for one night where I was able to head back to the hotel early and our final night of shooting (a night with a condensed crew for some car driving / dialogue sequences) I was needed on set from call time to wrap every night/day.   I had more stress producing and problem solving on the HATCHET 3 shoot than I ever have actually directing a film. So that meant the only possible hours I had to write were in the daytime hours that the rest of the crew was sleeping. I had no choice but to go around the clock to get it all done and get it all done the right way.

HOLLISTON Season 2:  472 pages

Still going strong without a full day off from anything work related, I returned to Los Angeles and went directly into rehearsals for HOLLISTON. The rehearsal process is pivotal as performing the show is very much like performing a play. Whereas a feature film is shot in moments (sometimes just a line of dialogue per shot or even just a “look” caught on camera), a sit-com is performed like live theater. Some individual takes can be up to 10 pages long and therefore the blocking and actual performance itself needs to be all squared away long before the cameras ever role. Given the size of my role on the show, that meant mastering hundreds of pages of dialogue, blocking, slapstick comedy, and even a dance number (yes, I dance at one point this season). It was a 2 and half month intensive rehearsal process in order to be able to shoot 1,303 camera set-ups in a mere 21 days of shooting. During this time period I also had to get myself back into prime physical “shooting” shape so while we were spending countless hours rehearsing in the summer heat, I was also on a strict diet and work out regiment which (as anyone who has ever challenged themselves or gotten into shape can attest) may have actually been the hardest part of it all.  Many nights the cast (and director Sean Becker) worked out together with the help of my Season 2 personal assistant who did his best to lead the work outs and keep us motivated.  I got down to 153 lean pounds!  To put that number into perspective, I was 160 pounds when I graduated High School 20 years ago and I was 178 pounds when I filmed FROZEN in 2010.  I’m honestly in the best physical shape of my life in Season 2 of HOLLISTON.

Cast rehearsal / bowling night.  (August 2012)

But there was still a week of night shoots on HATCHET 3 that had to happen in Los Angeles, at ArieScope, and during the week right before HOLLISTON started filming. Due to the HATCHET 3′s cast availability there was just no other way to schedule it. So rather than resting up and getting focused in the days before Season 2′s production began, I was doing rehearsals and pre-production for HOLLISTON during the day and then working on HATCHET 3 over night with maybe 3 hours of sleep in between if I could sneak it in.   By August 20th, I had finished HATCHET 3, mastered my HOLLISTON lines and blocking, thoroughly organized Season 2′s pre-production, and surpassed my fitness goals… but I was also starting filming on absolutely no sleep or time off in almost 9 months.  I was a walking mess to put it bluntly.

Before I continue with this story, let me explain what my schedule is like on shooting HOLLISTON.  Being the show-runner, sole writer,  a lead actor (I use the term “lead” as ” one of four leads” since Joe, Laura, Corri, and I are a true ensemble and we carry the show together- but the show is largely told through my character’s eyes and so I therefore wind up with the most lines and scenes to learn each season), and also the director of three of this season’s episodes (thankfully, the amazing Sean Becker is fully handling directing the other 8 episodes and is an absolute God send to HOLLISTON) my typical day on set  is as follows:

12am/1am: Wake up and drive to set (Sometimes this happens at 3am, other times at 10pm the night before- it all depends.)
1am – 5am: Run through the day on set by myself. Practice the lines and blocking.  Rewrite anything that is in need of a rewrite.  Troubleshoot and think through that day’s production. Answer all emails, work on my various other projects, respond to fan mail, and do any press required at that particular time. Get focused.
5am: Hair / Make-up and Wardrobe.
6am/6:30am: First blocking and rehearsal on set for camera.
7am – 7pm: Shoot that days material (often times each day consisted of around 25 pages and 80-90 camera set-ups).
7pm – 8pm: Wrap up, talk through the next day, get out of make-up, scour off the blood (depending on the day) and drive home.
8:30pm/9:00pm: Shower and maybe eat dinner if I can stay awake enough to chew. Hug my wife and pet the cats and dog briefly.
9:30pm/10pm: Study the next day’s lines until I pass out.
12am/1am: Wake up and do it all again.

The first week, while shooting a scene with Dee Snider and Joe Lynch I actually nodded off in the middle of a take. I fell asleep standing on my feet while cameras were rolling!  Such actions are usually reserved for an actor dealing with drug addiction right before they head off to rehab, but in my case it was due to the fact that I hadn’t slept properly in so long and I was running on empty. While Desiree Falcon (HOLLISTON’s amazing make-up artist) was able to transform me from a zombie into an average looking dude for my time in front of the camera each day, health wise I was really starting to deteriorate and crash. There were times when I’d have to make several attempts just to get my house key in the lock because of how much my hands were shaking. I had more diet coke in my blood stream than blood. But you know what?  I’ve never been happier doing anything else in my life. I’ve never had more fun or been more anxious to wake up and get back to work again. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.  I have no shame in admitting that if the show were to end after this coming season I would be absolutely devastated. With TV you can never predict what will happen. The network could merge with another network or be pulled off the air by the powers that be. Executives could be switched out and new ones could step in with their own agenda and cancel the show in lieu of their own passion projects. You just never, ever know. Because of that reality, the cast and crew were extremely emotional when we wrapped and had to say “goodbye” (hopefully, only until next season).  Saying that we all love this show just isn’t enough to explain how we feel about it.

While the intention of this blog posting is truly just to give a glimpse behind the curtain of what I’ve been up to and inform those interested as to how I have been operating, I wouldn’t for a moment want anyone to get the impression that I’m not having the time of my life. I am so eternally grateful and lucky to have so many projects going on and HOLLISTON especially has been the most creatively gratifying and enjoyable experience of my career. No joke, I can only pray for ten more seasons at this point. It’s hard work. Incredibly hard work. But it feels like one long party and many of us are already having withdrawals and depression not seeing each other every day. Thankfully I still have over half a year of post-production ahead of me, so the road to Season 2 is really just getting started in some ways.

HOLLISTON placed in the “Top 10 Trending TV shows” each week on GetGlue last season. beating out major network shows like DANCING WITH THE STARS, NEW GIRL, and GAME OF THRONES. 

For those that follow me and read my non-stop updates on Twitter (thank you and I appreciate the concern over my health and well being), trust that I’m going to be fine and I’m going to find a way to slow down soon. Rileah recently showed me a statistic that said if you go for 11 days without sleep you will die which I guess means I’ve been part of the Walking Dead for a few years now and she married a zombie. As HATCHET 3 nears completion in just another few months or so I plan to settle into a slightly more normal (for me) schedule and make taking better care of myself a priority. Perhaps even a well deserved vacation somewhere tropical sometime soon?  I don’t know. But for now, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be and no other group of people I’d want to be surrounded by. I can only hope that each of you can feel like this at some point in your respective careers and lifetimes. (The feeling of “accomplishment” and happiness, that is. I wouldn’t wish the schedule, workload, or lack of sleep on anyone.)

HOLLISTON FAMILY: Adam, Corri, Laura, Joe

“You’ve been great, we’ve been Dyver Down! GOOD NIGHT! WOO!”
-AG

That’s a wrap on Season 2!  (September 2012)

PICTURE IS UP! A Decade of Slashing.

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

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

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

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

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

(HATCHET 3 camera slate, 2012.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture is up, people!  Lights, camera… zzzzzzzzz

-AG

Life in a Norman Rockwell Painting.

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

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

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

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

(Wondercon – Anaheim, CA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The crowd gave us a standing ovation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

AG

 

Farewell 2011. Bring on 2012.

As 2011 comes to a close and I start to write my annual year-end blog I am overwhelmed by how much has happened over the past year.  It seems like somehow each year tops the next and I am beyond grateful that the projects just keep coming at such a fast pace.

2011 started with the DVD/BLU RAY release of HATCHET II.  As you may recall, HATCHET II made waves at the end of 2010 by going into a mainstream theater chain unrated and ignoring the MPAA’s (sometimes) unfair ratings system for independent films.  Rather than slice and dice the film’s content like we did for HATCHET 1′s theatrical release in 2007, this time our distributor Dark Sky Films had made a partnership with AMC Theaters and their new program “AMC Independent” who agreed to release the film in major multiplexes without caving to any type of censorship and without obtaining an MPAA rating.  (Note: We had tried several times to get the film to an “R” rating but were hit back with the dreaded “NC-17″ due to the amount of fantastical and over-the-top violence depicted in the film.  An “NC17″ is considered “pornographic” by many theater chains and is not only un-playable, but un-advertiseable in mainstream outlets.)  This had not happened for a horror film in America in over a quarter of century, but what seemed like a huge victory became a nightmare and a controversial news item when HATCHET II was yanked from theaters slowly over a 3-day period and became the first movie to ever be assassinated in it’s opening weekend.  We opened on a Thursday night at midnight and by the NEXT day, many screens had mysteriously dropped the film without explanation.  By Sunday the film was gone.  AMC’s public response?  ”The film was not performing financially.”  The MPAA refused to respond.  I was instructed to shut my mouth as there was no good that could come out of fanning the flames at that point.  Journalists and bloggers were quick to point out the obvious, that HATCHET II was actually performing just fine in comparison to other genre films released that same weekend (in fact, it performed far better than another genre title that stayed in the same theaters for two full weeks after) and that there was no way to even tell how it was performing when the theater count was constantly dwindling throughout the 72 hours it was in theaters and some cinemas only showed the film once or twice a day.  The writing was on the wall that some seriously shady shit had gone down.  It was devastating.  But in February the film hit DVD and BLU RAY and literally sold out of most major retailers within the first hour.  Stores had to wait to get more shipments as Dark Sky tried to keep re-stocking as fast as they could.  A mere 4 weeks later, it was announced that a third HATCHET film would be made in 2012 as HATCHET II was yet another success for the franchise.  Long story short, in the end Victor Crowley won and it was a great start to what would become my best year yet.  HATCHET III will be directed by BJ McDonnell (the camera operator from both HATCHET films and my personal pick to take the reigns on the next installment) and is expected to start shooting in the Spring of 2012 with a hopeful release of Halloween-time later in the year if all goes as planned.  Just don’t expect to see it in your local AMC cinema.  We’ve got other plans in mind.

(Clare Grant and Rileah Vanderbilt kick monster ass in SEXY NIGHTMARE SLAYERS.)

Meanwhile, I was hard at work wrapping things up on CHILLERAMA, the horror/comedy anthology created by myself, Adam Rifkin, Joe Lynch, and Tim Sullivan and developing my first TV series HOLLISTON with FEARnet all while working on KILLER PIZZA, the big budget monster-adventure movie I am writing for Chris Columbus’ production company 1492 Films.  In addition to all of that, legendary artist Alex Pardee and I were busy conspiring on an experimental documentary about monsters and “monster art” called DIGGING UP THE MARROW, I was collaborating with HACK/SLASH creator Tim Seeley on “HATCHET/SLASH” a comic book crossover where Victor Crowley would make his first ever comic book appearance, and ArieScope Pictures launched SEXY NIGHTMARE SLAYERS (in conjunction with Comedy Central’s Atom.com) to a whopping 100,000+ views in just the first 7 days alone.  All of this while simultaneously working on a few other projects that I’ll be able to spill details on later next year.  Oh yeah, and we even pulled off another Halloween Short film for the 13th year in a row and unveiled DOWNLOADING AND YOU in October.  But I’m getting way ahead of myself.

My schedule this year prevented me from getting to do as many public appearances and conventions as I typically try to do, but in support of CHILLERAMA I was able to do San Diego Comic-Con as well as dates in London, Berlin, Hamburg, Texas, and several events in Los Angeles.  For those asking when I’ll next be in your city, 2012 is actually looking even busier than 2011 so I thank you in advance for your patience.  It’s not that I love you any less or that I don’t want to get out there to meet you face to face, but I’m here to create first and promote second.  It doesn’t help the cause that I have become very picky and (in a few cases) disenchanted with the horror convention circuit.  In general, I’m not a fan of how the fans are treated at some of these events and since I have always made it a policy to never personally charge money for fans to meet me, get pictures with me, or get autographs from me… it adds another layer of issues with doing convention appearances that often times makes them not worth the hassle.  Still, the rare moments where I get to meet the fans one on one is what fuels me to keep going and so I plan to try and get out there with you as many times as I feasibly can.  I know it’s frustrating when you request that I be added to a convention roster only to be told by the organizers that I turned it down already, but on the bright side please remember that my absence means that I am hard at work bringing you whatever is next.  Some day I will be able to clone myself and be everywhere I’d like to be at once, but until then appearances will usually be limited to only those that coincide with the press tour for an upcoming release.

At San Diego Comic-Con in July we unveiled an unfinished cut of CHILLERAMA to an overwhelmingly positive response and Alex Pardee and I went public with our plans to make DIGGING UP THE MARROW.  Exclusive posters for both projects were given out and signed.  DIGGING UP THE MARROW is a project that I plan to buckle down on over the next few months.  While we’ve already technically begun, when HOLLISTON got it’s green-light all work had to be abandoned temporarily.  It’s a documentary of sorts which means the production schedule will be very spread out.  On the safe side I wouldn’t plan on seeing anything from this film until 2013, but know that we’re all giddy about where it’s going.  One of the things I am most grateful for in my success as an independent story teller is that I get to keep doing different things and I get to experiment rather than always do the same thing or repeat myself.  I assure you that THE MARROW will be unlike anything else you’ve seen from ArieScope or myself as even WE don’t know exactly where it’s all going yet.  Plus, working with Alex Pardee has reinvigorated and re-inspired my soul in more ways than I can count.

(Arwen Green.)

On a personal note, it was around this same time that Rileah and I made another addition to our family in the form of a puppy named Arwen.  While I tried for the name “Detective McManus” I lost pretty quickly.  Arwen has added another layer of fun and joy to our already amazing lives.  Her overbearing excitement for virtually everything more than makes up for the fact that she uses the cat’s litter boxes as her own personal buffet and has only recently discovered the joy it brings us when she actually poops or pees outside in the yard rather than… most everywhere else.

(Dee Snider as “Lance Rockett” and Oderus Urungus as himself in HOLLISTON.)

HOLLISTON was announced publicly in August and we began shooting just a few weeks later.  You can read the blogs below to see just how important this project is to me and how long I worked on it to bring it to fruition (13 YEARS!) but what I can say now is that it has been and continues to be the greatest time I’ve ever had on any project I’ve ever been involved with.  We’re about halfway through editing the first season of episodes and right on track for an April launch on FEARnet’s TV channel.  I know, I know- FEARnet is a cable channel?  Do I get it?  How do I get it?  Just like every new channel (Comedy Central, Spike, G4, etc) it will be a slow build at first as FEARnet works it’s way into everyone’s cable line-up but it is already in a lot of areas and in 26 million homes in your On-Demand section.  By April they hope to be in even more homes so that you can watch the show on TV as it airs and not have to wait to catch it on the various on-line outlets or DVD/BLU-RAY afterwords.  While there are certainly challenges in being the first show on a brand new network, there is also something beyond exciting in being a network’s flagship production.  The amount of support and creative freedom FEARnet has given me is literally unheard of in television and the sheer fact that they opted to go with a traditional sit-com (well, traditional in regards to the multi-camera format, audience laugh track, look, and feel of it) rather than what you would typically expect from a new network called “FEARnet” is amazing.  For those who can’t find FEARnet in your basic cable line-up, call 877-FEAR-247 to find out how you can easily demand it.  Keep in mind that it costs the cable providers virtually nothing to add it.  They just need to know that their paying customers want it.  Over the next few months you’ll be seeing an assault of press (photos, trailers, clips, promos, billboards, posters, interviews, cast appearances, etc) while we gear up to launch the show, but just two weeks ago my co-star Joe Lynch and I gave a sneak peek of the show to an audience in Austin, Texas and it went down even better than we could have hoped.  I think it’s going to be very weird for people to see us in a sit-com and even the audience in Austin looked more confused than anything when the clip first began, but quickly they got over it and got into it.  I’ve never been more confident in anything I’ve done and if all goes as planned I hope to be standing back on our sets at Red Studios in Hollywood as soon as possible and shooting season 2.  Two of my biggest inspirations in television comedy are Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, and the sheer fact that we were shooting on the same stage where they shot the first four episodes of SEINFELD was truly an inspiration.  (Back then it was called Ren Mar Studios and before that Desilu Studios.)  Each day you’d have to pinch yourself when you’d realize that legends like Lucille Ball and Andy Griffith once performed right where you were performing and that HOLLISTON was really happening.  My crew (many of the same people who worked on the HATCHET films, FROZEN, SPIRAL, and CHILLERAMA) was amazing and my cast-mates have become part of my family.  While we only got to have our brothers Dee Snider and Oderus Urungus for a limited time during production, the core ensemble (comprised of myself, Lynch, Corri English, and Laura Ortiz) spent many, many months working together on this.  From rehearsals that started in the Spring and went rigorously through the summer and into the actual shoot, I’ve spent more time with the three of them than anyone else in my life.  Hopefully when you see it you’ll notice how tight and genuine the chemistry is between us and realize that you’re not just watching another sit-com where the actors are acting like they are a tight-knit circle of friends but a show where the characters/actors are genuinely putting themselves out on display.  Every joke, every insult, every stage kiss, every stage punch, and every hug is truly genuine.  I know that when HOLLISTON was announced there was some confusion from my fan base and some concern that they were going to lose me to TV and not see any more movies.  Not true.  But I’ve always tried to keep surprising people and doing different things.  If you look at HATCHET, SPIRAL, GRACE, FROZEN, and CHILLERAMA- none of them are even remotely the same.  HOLLISTON is just another different step, but it happens to be the one that I worked the longest on to bring to fruition and the one that has always been the closest to my heart since it is my real life (in many ways) on the pages that I wrote.  So even though my own sit-com wasn’t what anyone expected from me next, I hope you keep your minds open and are as excited as I am.  I know there are folks in the Hatchet Army who only want me to make more HATCHET films and while I appreciate your enthusiasm and the fact that HATCHET gave me life in this crazy business, you won’t see me back behind the camera in the swamp again any time soon or likely ever again.  I’ve done it already.  Twice.  I loved it and I’m proud as hell of it.  I’ll still always be involved as long as Victor Crowley keeps coming back for more.  But as much as I know the angry letters, tweets, and comments about me stepping down as the director are all coming from a place of adoration for what I started, you’ve gotta let me go on.  I assure you the franchise is in good hands as it’s in the same hands that were crucial in creating every single thing you’ve seen so far.

CHILLERAMA began it’s road tour over the summer in Europe and then continued on through various drive-ins, art-house theaters, and even cemeteries through the Fall.  The film hit DVD and BLU-RAY on November 29th and the response from both critics and fans has been amazing.  In all honesty, this was not one where we expected such a positive reaction right out of the gate.  It’s a weird movie and it’s a mixed bag.  In creating vintage B-movies you can never be so sure that the audience is going to be able to appreciate or get into what you’re doing.  Case and point, the funniest review of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANKENSTEIN consisted of the “critic” bitching that he/she actually had to READ sub-titles and how hard that was for him/her to do.  ”If I wanted to read sub-titles I’d watch a foreign film!”  (For those who haven’t seen it yet, ANNE FRANKENSTEIN is a foreign film- all shot in German and black and white.  That was the, um… point.)  The audience doesn’t always consist of the brightest bulbs or the sharpest tools.  But CHILLERAMA has been extremely well embraced and the few times I did get to see it in a theater with an audience it was a joy hearing everyone laugh and applaud the moments they liked.  We knew going into it that not every segment would be for everyone as we had four very different filmmakers creating four very different films with full creative freedom for better or for worse, but overall the audience has been able to switch gears and roll with the various styles and segments and we’re all very proud of that.  For me personally and for my core crew at ArieScope, the two years we spent on CHILLERAMA was some of the best times we’ve had and also some of the worst times we’ve had, but walking into the store last week and seeing that brilliant cover from Phil Roberts on the shelves (not to mention, it was almost sold-out in both places I went) made me proud that we pulled it off.  I hope you guys are enjoying it and if you haven’t seen it yet I hope it is in your stockings come Christmas morning.  As I’ve responded in numerous places, I can really only speak for THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANKENSTEIN as that was my contribution to the film, but I’m glad to hear you’re all giving the film a chance as a whole and hopefully getting turned on to the other filmmakers if you weren’t already.

In November it was also announced that MGM has picked up KILLER PIZZA.  Unfortunately there isn’t much more I can say at this point except that I’m working with the producing team team to re-write the script to the studio’s specifications (part of the studio process in every case) and that it has continued to be a wonderful experience.  Perhaps later in the year we’ll have more news on the project but for now it’s all about the script for me.  I know people want to know if I will indeed be directing it, but as this is a big studio film let’s just go one step at a time.  At the moment, those conversations haven’t even started yet.  Hopefully the movie gets a green-light sooner rather than later and hopefully I am behind the camera if/when that happens, but for now I’m just the writer … and I’m very, very proud to be.

To end the year with a bang, HATCHET/SLASH hit comic book stores last week.  Collaborating with series creator Tim Seeley, editor James Lowder, writer Benito Cereno, and artists Ariel Zucker-Brull, Thomas Torre, and Timothy Yates was a fantastic experience and the whole team kept me involved every step of the way while they did their thing.  HATCHET fans have been letting me know how much they have enjoyed the comic and for myself as a long-time fan of HACK/SLASH it is an honor to know that Victor Crowley has now faced off with slasher hunters Cassie and Vlad.  This HACK/SLASH annual number three is limited so hopefully you get your copy before they are all gone.

So… quite a year, right?  2012 will see the launch of HOLLISTON and the productions of HATCHET III and DIGGING UP THE MARROW as well as one more ArieScope horror movie that has yet to be announced publicly.  Hopefully there will be news about KILLER PIZZA going into production as well as news of a second season of HOLLISTON as well, but for now… it’s all about sleeping and healing my body and mind from the year of work and sleepless months I’ve put myself through.   With the holidays almost here I’m looking forward to some much needed time on the couch with family and friends and right after the New Year Rileah and I are off to a much needed and well deserved vacation in Kauai before I jump back into the homestretch on HOLLISTON and prepping HATCHET III.

To every fan who has supported my work over the years and to every newcomer who has found their way here- thank you, thank you, thank you.  I wish you and yours an amazing holiday season and a very happy, healthy, and successful New Year.  To my fans overseas who are serving your country and who can’t be home with your own families, we’re all thinking of you and grateful for what you do.  Stay safe, stay healthy… and stay out of the swamp.

See you all in Holliston in 2012.

-AG

Ultimate fans, flags, and a TV show.

Hello friends!  Just a quick blog update as I’m in my third week of production on my new sit-com HOLLISTON and with only 2-3 hours a night to try and sleep, free time is hard to come by.

First off, I wanted to mention what a huge success the CHILLERAMA Los Angeles Premiere was in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  Over 2,500 fans packed the cemetery and (literally) raised hell as they laughed, cheered, applauded, and howled at the film.  Sadly, I barely remember much of it as I came to the premiere straight from from my first day of shooting HOLLISTON.  It’s hard enough when you are the writer and director of a production- but when you’re also the lead actor and show-runner it adds a whole new level of insanity and responsibility to your life.  I arrived at the premiere to find that the red carpet was a zoo of press and celebrity friends who had all come out to support CHILLERAMA and then was whisked through the press line by the publicists.  I was in a daze by the time I hit the end of the carpet and stepped out to introduce the film with my fellow directors Adam Rifkin, Joe Lynch, and Tim Sullivan but I’m told that it went down a storm.

The movie played fantastically and the response was amazing.  But the best was yet to come.  When the final credits rolled and the night was over, someone tapped me on the shoulder to tell me “Dude, you’ve gotta see this.”  Apparently two of my biggest fans had driven 11 hours to be at the premiere… but not just to see the movie.  Right when the film ended (and apparently right next to me) HATCHET ARMY MAJOR and fan Ian Messenger actually got down on one knee and PROPOSED to his girlfriend Beth Prussman right there at the CHILLERAMA premiere in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  Now, I know of at least two HATCHET-themed weddings that fans have sent me pictures of, but an engagement at an event and in my presence… well, that is a first.  Thankfully, Beth said yes and it was a night to remember for all of us.  I wish them both a life full of happiness, love, blood, and guts… and perhaps a few kids to boot.  CONGRATULATIONS IAN AND BETH!

(The proposal.)

(She said YES!)

Speaking of fans, later that week I was sent these two photos, one from a fan who made his own Victor Crowley costume to wear to a horror convention and one from a fan promoting Jack Chop at their own Pumpkin Patch…

I’ve said it countless times, but my fans really are the greatest, and any other working filmmaker who wants to challenge that fact will have to take it up with the HATCHET ARMY and TEAM GREEN themselves.  For hundreds of more fan photos and fan art, check out my official Facebook page for the galleries.

Last week I was given the distinct honor of presenting the award for “Best Actress” at Universal Studios’ Eyegore Awards.  When the event’s host (Corey Feldman) introduced me there was a mistake on the prompter crediting me as the director of “THE HATCHET” and including HATCHET 3 as a movie I had recently made (by now everyone knows that I am not directing HATCHET 3 and that the movie won’t even be shot until next year), so after playfully busting on the mistake I went into a very heartfelt speech about my friend and the star of FROZEN & FINAL DESTINATION 5 Emma Bell.  I can’t even begin to express how excited I am for Emma and how her career is taking off and to see her recognized with an award like that was truly inspiring.  Here’s a picture of the award winners and presenters including Rob Zombie, Rainn Wilson, James Gun, Jamie Kennedy, and the adorable Bailee Madison who was perhaps one of the sweetest and most well spoken 11 year olds I have ever met.  What an honor to be included with this group of insanely talented people and after the ceremony we all had a blast with private tours of Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights which has somehow topped itself again this year.  For those who live close enough to attend, if there is ONE Halloween Haunt you attend this year- make it Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights.  It is the absolute best of the best and the amount of detail and creativity they put on display each year is astounding.  For those who keep asking- yes there has been some very light talk of a potential HATCHET maze one of these years but nothing concrete enough to get your hopes of for.  Yet.

Shooting HOLLISTON has been a dream come true and easily the best time of my life so far.  As you may have read in my previous blog, this has been the project closest to my heart and the one that I have fought the longest and hardest for to bring to fruition.  Every day I get to go to set with my friends and my ArieScope family and create some of the most gratifying and FUN stuff that we’ve ever had the chance to do.  The show doesn’t start airing on TV until March so it’ll be awhile before we get clearance to start posting photos and such- but soon enough you’ll get to see how it’s all looking.  In just the past two weeks alone I’ve gotten to act alongside some pretty iconic actors and each day I have to pinch myself that this is really happening.  I’ve never believed in anything more than this show and I’m dreading the day we wrap this production as I never, ever want it to end.  I haven’t slept in months, the diet and training regiment I’ve been on to be on-camera is killing me (I’ve lost 19 pounds in the past 4 months for those keeping track– NOT easy), and I might need to check in to a hospital when production is over… but I’ve never had a better experience in all of my years of filmmaking.  If I could do this for the rest of my life, I would.  But don’t fear film fans… there are PLENTY of more films in the works and I’m not leaving you for television permanently.  I still have many more movies to make.

(The official logo for HOLLISTON coming to FEARnet Television this Spring.)

I’ve got to get back to set, but before I go I wanted to mention just one more thing.  I get dozens and dozens of fan mail letters, autograph requests, and gifts each week.  Each one is more important to me than the last and I read and respond to every single letter that I get (so long as it isn’t something soliciting me with scripts, pitches, or pleas for work as legally I can’t look at that stuff).  For the person’s privacy I’ll just call her a HERO, but a solider from Afghanistan sent me what may be the most amazing thing I’ve ever received; an OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM MILITARY PATCH and an actual AMERICAN FLAG that was flown over Afghanistan in honor of Rileah and I.  It came with a picture of the flag flying in the air that was signed by all of the soldiers and officers in the squadron.  For those of you who have been here with me for the long haul, you know how much I deeply respect and appreciate the military- so this… this was something I will always keep close to my heart and cherish.  The men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to protect guys like me who merely make films are the true heroes of our society and without them I don’t know where we would be.  I get a lot of fan mail from soldiers over seas that are in eminent danger each day and who use my films as a means of temporary escape and enjoyment and that means more to me than anything anyone can imagine.  In a small way it makes me feel like a part of me is there with them saying “thank you” and that maybe even in a miniscule way, I am helping them and repaying them just a little bit for all that they are sacrificing for guys like me.  This sentiment isn’t about being pro war- in fact it’s not political at all.  It’s just human.  So the next time you are in an airport or even just on the street and you see a soldier… take two seconds to walk up to them and shake their hand and say thank you.

And as I hold this flag in my hands and send thoughts a million miles away to my fellow Americans doing what they have to do and finding momentary peace and escape in the films I create… I say to the ignorant people of society that have labeled me a terrible person for the fact that I create horror movies and to the folks at the MPAA who have come after me personally and even assassinated some of my work for being “offensive” and “vile”… you’re wrong.  You’re so very wrong.

Love to you all.

- AG

Coffee, donuts, blood, guts, and HOLLISTON…

This week the news dropped in the Hollywood trades that my team at ArieScope and I would be starting production on a television series called HOLLISTON.  It’s a traditional sit-com (multi-camera, on a stage, with an audience laugh track) but best of all it’s a show created for FEARnet as their “first original production”.  I know, right?  How did that happen?  FEARnet’s first original show… and it’s a sit-com??  Well, let’s back up and tell the whole story.

In 1991 I was in my junior year at Holliston High School.  (When I say “let’s back up” I’m not kidding.)  My high school was extraordinary because we were one of the few in the country that had its own radio station, WHHB.  I was never really sure what the call letters stood for.  Some said “We are Holliston High School Broadcasting” while others speculated it was “We Hamburger Herpes Boat.”  I was fortunate enough through hard work and perseverance (and a lot of begging to Mr. Curboy, the teacher in charge of the radio station) to land an evening show called METALLIFIX that I hosted with two of my friends.  We’d basically play all of the hair metal bands we were into at the time and then talk about all of the wicked important and extremely funny things that a group of teenagers would have to say when they think they have an audience.  (Note: aside from our own parents and maybe a handful of friends… no one listened to METALLIFIX.)  However, it was the fact that we only got two hours a week on the air that left me feeling like it wasn’t “real” enough of a show.  I decided that the best way to fix that would be to have a morning show before school started.  A time slot that no sane student would ever want in the first place.  It required getting up around 5am every morning and being on air from 6am – 7:30am.  I was joined by my friend Steve DeWitt who was my co-host and co-conspirator and we called the show COFFEE & DONUTS.  For junior and senior year we did COFFEE & DONUTS before school, and because it was a time of day when no one really had anything going on save for waking up and getting ready for school… we found a captive audience.  It took awhile, but eventually we had a good portion of the school setting their alarm clocks to WHHB so that they would wake up to our antics which included a lot of screaming, fake vomiting, depressing horoscopes, simulated cat skinning, and a segment we called “Stories on the Mad River with Dr. Rupert Collins” which quickly became our signature sketch.  Steve would yell irreverent stories in a bad Scottish accent that never made any sense whatsoever… and people loved it.  As far as student radio shows go, I’d go as far as to say that we had ourselves a “hit”.  For many students, COFFEE & DONUTS became a part of their daily school routine and Steve and I worked our asses off at it.  After school I had a number of responsibilities ranging from working at the town’s cable station, working my part-time job at a nearby drug store, playing in my band (VIGILANTE – we were about as good as the name sounds), partaking in the school plays, my night-time radio show, and more.  As far as sports went the closest I ever came was being the “manager” of the soccer team.  (I couldn’t catch a ball let alone kick one in a specific direction.)  Point is I roughly slept about 4 hours a night- a trait that would continue for the rest of my life as I was soon to discover.  But goddamn it I got the most a boy could get out of high school.  I loved every minute of it.  The friends I made growing up are still my best friends to this very day and are the people I’d choose to be with all of the time… if I could only bring myself to stop working for a few minutes.  The guys and girls from my graduating class specifically were all amazing people.  And while we’re at it, if you think I’m a success story from my age group in Holliston I ask that you look up athletes like Kara Wolters and Mike Grier as well as my close friend Shannon Pelkey- Sturtevant’s accomplishments with the space program.  It’s kind of amazing.

Another key component to this pivotal time in my life was my first girlfriend- who for the sake of my more stalker-like fans not trying to track her down and invade her personal life I’ll simply call “Belle”.  I couldn’t have been more in love with Belle.  Even at such a young age (our parents had to drive us to the movies for our first date since we were still way too young to even think about driver’s licenses yet) I was convinced that Belle and I were going to last forever and that we’d live our lives in Holliston and have six hundred babies that hopefully looked more like her and less like me.  COFFEE & DONUTS and Belle pretty much made up my childhood.  They were the two key ingredients that would go on to shape my creative career in many ways.

Well high school ended and I had to say goodbye to COFFEE & DONUTS.  Even though Belle and I were going to different colleges in different states, I knew we’d last.  I remember when I first got to college, most every guy living in my dorm had a girlfriend back home…and by the end of the first month of school every one of those guys had cheated on or broken up with their girls back home.  But not me.  Belle and I were the ones who were gonna break the cliche and truly last forever.  That was up until junior year of college when I got the “I think I need some space” phone call.  (Note: comically enough we had nothing BUT space as we never got to see each other anyway.)  We were growing up and things were changing and life needed to be lived.  I guess to be honest though, it was her life that was changing as breaking up was the last thing I ever wanted to do.  I took it badly.  Actually, badly isn’t really even close enough to the appropriate word.  I was devastated and spiraled into a several year depression that took a horrible toll on my body physically.  No real point in getting any further into that stuff as most everyone has been there and knows what it feels like to go through your first heart break.  But I guess when you’re a guy as passionate, loyal, and often times “dramatic” as I am (keep in mind we’re talking early 20′s here)… it was like dying.

So I get out of college and I get a job making really low budget local cable commercials at Time Warner Cable Advertising in Boston.  Now if you’re a fan and you’ve watched all of the behind the scenes on things like HATCHET and listened to the commentary tracks- you already know the stories about all of this so I’ll try and be brief with this part.  (No, really.)  At Time Warner I met Will Barratt who as everyone knows by now has been my cinematographer and creative partner in crime at ArieScope for the better part of the last 15 years.  Together we started “borrowing” the company’s equipment so that we could shoot our own short films and projects.  This was all made due to our boss (and still the best boss I ever had) Peter.  Though Peter had to wear the corporate shoes during office hours, he was a gifted filmmaker and story teller himself.  He totally ‘got it’ and supported us doing what we were doing by sort of looking the other way when he could.  Yes, at times we would push it way too far and need to have some sense slapped back into us (like when we hung the ArieScope logo on our office door… at Time Warner Cable… where we REALLY worked) but it was really because of Peter that the next few crucial steps even happened.

Will and I made a short film called COLUMBUS DAY WEEKEND (available here on this website in the “Halloween shorts” section) which though made just for fun and to show at an upcoming Halloween party wound up getting us attention in Hollywood.  Is COLUMBUS DAY WEEKEND really that good?  No.  In fact, had we known that industry people would ever even be seeing it we never even would have MADE it. But that little silly short kind of started everything and so we still keep it displayed on the website as an amateur badge of honor for how it all began.  As COLUMBUS DAY WEEKEND started getting passed around on VHS bootlegs (keep in mind, this was way before Youtube or common streaming video on-line in general) I got an email from a fellow Holliston graduate Jay Gassner who was (at the time) working as an assistant at United Talent Agency (one of the biggest and best agencies in Hollywood).  While still learning the ropes and answering other people’s phones, Jay hip-pocketed me as a client and helped advise Will and I on our next steps; a feature length film.

(Steve and I in COFFEE & DONUTS 1999.)

COFFEE & DONUTS was shot in secret overnight shoots throughout the summer of 1999 using Time Warner Cable’s Beta-Cam SP camera and their three lights from the Arri light kit.  Still really having no idea as to how to really write, the script was a whopping 160 odd pages written on a combination of both Word and scribbled hand-written note paper.  (Note: most romantic comedies are kept to a tight 90-100 pages.)  They say write what you know and that’s what I did.  The movie was about two guys (“Adam” and “Steve”) trying to get their small town radio show into the big time… but even more so it was about “Adam” trying to get over the break-up with his high school girlfriend and move on with his life.  Everything in the movie was drawn from real life experiences and Steve and I even played ourselves- along with our co-star “W. Axl Rose the cat”, my real cat who had been diagnosed by the vet as having “Feline Down’s Syndrome” (a-whole-nother story for another blog someday).  We had no idea what we were doing.  We just knew we wanted to do it.  Friends were recruited to act in the film since we didn’t know any “real” actors and our crew consisted of just Will and I and about 4 or 5 other friends who had no desire to ever work in movies but thought it might be cool to help out on.  Someone would plug in a light and literally get a “gaffer” credit.  It was that amateur.  All in, Will and I made COFFEE & DONUTS for $400.

If you search for it on Youtube you can still find the original COFFEE & DONUTS MOVIE TRAILER that we made for the film.

COFFEE & DONUTS (the little movie that could) wound up winning “best picture” in the Smoky Mountain Film Festival.  Kind of like Sundance except not as cold and no one has ever heard of it.  By 2000, the movie started to get some heat and by using it as my “writing, directing, and acting” sample, Jay (now a full-on agent) was able to sign me as an official client at UTA.  In one of the toughest decisions I ever made, I packed up my car, said goodbye to my family and friends, and drove out to Los Angeles having no idea what I was going to do next.  Steve actually made the drive out with me so that I wouldn’t have to do it alone and then he flew back to Massachusetts.  An important thing to mention about Steve is that as much as I might be the guy from Holliston who ‘made it’ and the guy who has movies in theaters and a show coming to television… Steve was the most talented guy I grew up with.  He could sing better, act better, and was overall the funniest and most fun person anyone could have the pleasure to be around.  Though I’ll never know why, he just had no desire in pursuing performing for a career and as hard as I tried to get him to move out here and go for it- this just wasn’t for him.  Ultimately he found (like anything he touched) that he had an amazing gift with photography and has been carving out a name for himself in that world.  I’m proud.

Now before you ask, no we can’t sell or distribute the original movie COFFEE & DONUTS.  Since we had no idea what we were doing we also had no regard for music or other copy-written rights.  If we were to try and pay for all of the licensed music and logos and infringements in the film- well, we couldn’t afford it, let’s put it that way.  However, I did play the movie for free in Los Angeles last Spring at the New Beverly Theater after a screening of FROZEN… so I guess you never know when I might decide to show it again… or where!

The next three years saw loads of struggle and disappointment as I did every odd job I could score in Hollywood and waited for something to pan out with C&D.  Writer’s assistant jobs, PA positions on set, extra work, producer’s assistant jobs, a few random acting gigs that never went anywhere, I danced in the crowd in a J-Lo video (yes, you read correctly), some TV pilot writing jobs, stand-up comedy, and the key job to my survival- DJ’ing at the Rainbow Bar & Grill on the Sunset Strip.  The “heavy metal hang out of Hollywood”, it was in the dark dingy DJ booth of the Rainbow where I wrote HATCHET and where I first met my beautiful wife and best friend in the entire world, Rileah.

(DJ’ing at The Rainbow – 2001)

All the while there would be various developments with COFFEE & DONUTS, but they would always wind up falling apart.  Nowadays I know to always have many different projects going because chances are good most won’t come to fruition, but back then all of my eggs were in that one basket because it was my dream and what I believed in the most.  Finally, with the help of Jay and my manager Helena Heyman who both also never gave up and were the real champions of the project, we wound up selling COFFEE & DONUTS as a TV show to UPN (remember that network?) in 2003.  Disney/Touchstone was the studio behind it and Tom Shadyac’s Shady Acres were the producers.  I was the writer and everyone was very blunt with me up front: “If this show actually gets shot, you cannot direct it and you will most definitely no longer be the star of it.”  I understood as much as I wasn’t happy about it.  But for the first time I actually got PAID!  I was a paid writer!  I was now a member of the WGA union!  I had done it!

As fate would have it UPN wound up deciding not to shoot the show.  Though at first I took it very personally, once I learned that UPN and the WB networks would be merging into the CW- I understood why.  C&D was over and even worse, Disney/Touchstone would retain the rights to the story (my life) for the next 5 years.  It was nothing personal, it’s just how this stuff works.  It was during the time of writing C&D that I wrote HATCHET.  Long story short, HATCHET got made, became a big success and my career swayed much more into the horror genre that I loved and much less with comedy.  (However, if you ask me- HATCHET was very much a comedy just as much as it was a horror movie and that is why it worked.)  Then came a string of studio writing assignments, a few more original TV pilots that I sold/wrote but never got shot, co-directing SPIRAL, producing GRACE, directing FROZEN, HATCHET 2, etc.  I was now living the dream and making movies I loved, independently, and with my ArieScope family/crew that I remained loyal to with each step.  (Note: Will has shot everything I’ve ever done to this very day.)

But in 2008, my friend Joe Lynch and I made five short films called THE ROAD TO FRIGHTFEST (available on this site in the TV & More section of SHORTS) as a gift to UK’s FrightFest festival.  Essentially the shorts became signature FrightFest promos where they would play randomly once a night for the five nights of the festival.  Joe and I acted in the shorts (as ourselves) and we parodied John Landis’ classic opening to Twilight Zone: The Movie.  After the festival the shorts were put on-line and really blew up.  It was great because they were gaining the festival huge awareness everywhere, but suddenly people were realizing that Joe and I actually could act.  Who would have thought?

The next summer (2009) we started discussing doing COFFEE & DONUTS again for a new TV network who wanted to buy it, only this time I would be directing it and (once again) playing myself.  The rights were once again mine, “Steve” had become “Joe”, the concept changed a bit, and actresses Laura Ortiz and Corri English were brought on board to play our girlfriends on the show.  It looked like a go until there was a merger between Comcast and NBC/Universal and once again… the show was snuffed out.  (Seeing a pattern here?)  The difference this time was that I didn’t need the money and therefore knew better than to sign a contract and accept any payment.  So when the show fell apart- the rights were still mine.  I learned my lesson the first time around.

Which brings us to last October (2010).  Peter Block (FROZEN’s producer) had just become the President of FEARnet.  With FEARnet about to really start taking big steps forward as a contending cable network, Peter was the perfect guy to bring in to make it happen.  His success rate back in his Lionsgate executive days was astounding (CABIN FEVER, SAW, THE DESCENT, OPEN WATER, so, so many more) and as an independent producer on his own he was also making things happen.  Peter’s instincts are exceptional because he truly loves the genre and can think like the audience and not just as someone making safe and standard business decisions.  He is innovative and thinks outside the box of what everyone else is doing.  Most of all, he’s a real guy in a very un-real industry who like myself is loyal to the core.  When we randomly sat down to catch up before the Reaper Awards at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel last Fall, I initially assumed it would just be two friends catching up as we had had a great time working together on FROZEN and had remained close ever since.  When he first brought up the idea of doing a TV series and started running some of his own thoughts by me (one of which was to do some sort of show with me IN it) we quickly started brainstorming ideas that had us excited.  I realized that night that if we re-invented COFFEE & DONUTS together and actually made it much closer to reality, lost some of what didn’t need to be there and came up with a lot of new stuff from real life, that we were on to something.  Over the next few weeks of calls and emails what used to be COFFEE & DONUTS became something else that made much more sense.  We forget all about the “two guys trying to make it in radio” angle and instead drew from my real life experiences struggling and chasing the dream to make horror movies.  We pushed ourselves to go way more out there with the show.  Should we add an imaginary friend in the closet?  Why not!  Should we make a sit-com with unpredictable gore moments and an audience laugh track?  Of course!  We wanted to make something that other networks would never make.  Now I don’t want to spoil the show in the blog, but while we kept the whole “time of your life when nothing is going right” heart of C&D… our new show was just that.  A new show.  For the remainder of the year we called it BLOOD & GUTS, but then over the past few weeks as it started to really take shape (and most of all become REAL) we settled on a title that truly had us all excited: HOLLISTON.  The name of the small town the characters are stuck in on the show.  The setting for where these stories take place.  But extra special for me… is that the title brings my personal journey full circle.  HOLLISTON brings me back home.

Creatively I’m finally getting the chance to create what I set out to do and I am being given the opportunity to do it the right way with exactly the right people involved.  Who knows what will happen?  But I’m going to love every second of this journey however long it lasts.  Right now (scattered across the country) there are a small handful of people who believed in an idea when we had nothing (our original “crew”/friends on C&D) cheering louder than anyone else.  To everyone who had a part in this story thus far- thank you.  To my cast/crew and new family at FEARnet – let’s  do this.

And to W. Axl Rose the cat… thank you.  I miss you.  And I hope I do you proud.

-AG

(W. Axl Rose the cat.  1991 – 2001.)

Updates from the Snow White of horror

It’s been a busy few months to say the least.  I know, I know.  I haven’t been a good blogger.  I don’t call, I don’t write… but that’s because I’ve been hard at work creating new stuff for you.  After all, you’re here for the movies not the blogs, right?  (Please say “right”.)   But I’ll get into all of that stuff in just a few.

My whole life I’ve had this odd gift which is both a blessing and a curse.  In addition to all of the pets I have had (cats, dogs, hamsters, parakeets, iguanas, etc.) it seems that injured animals have a way of finding me because they know that I’ll help them.  My parents have lived with the same dilemma.  When I was a little kid there was an injured  baby goose that had been attacked and was left behind by its family when they flew south for the winter.  We nursed it back to health and he lived in our garage all winter long.  When spring arrived, various families of geese would show up in the pond behind our house.  Each family passing through would take a rest stop on their way back up north.  So each day my mother and I would bring the (now healthy) goose down to the water’s edge to see if he could find his family.  It was a long shot, so you can only imagine our delight (and our tears) when one day our goose actually DID find his family.  They all started honking and bobbing their heads up and down and we watched as our pet goose swam away with his family to live happily ever after.  Then there were cats, dogs, pigeons, doves, a duck missing the top of its beak… you name it.  There was always something showing up at the door in need of assistance.

Last summer a baby squirrel walked right up to me in front of my house and literally got onto my foot.  Turned out he had fallen out of a tree and was lost and injured.  Eventually I found someone who takes care of squirrels and “Johnny Hammasticks” (that was what my wife and I called him) was nursed back to health and released again.  He’s still living in my yard and eating nuts out of my hand.  Only he’s much bigger these days.

(Rileah and I with “Johnny Hammasticks”.)

Just about two months ago we were shooting some insert shots for CHILLERAMA at the ArieScope office/studio.  Everyone was doing their thing when a baby chicken stumbled in through the front door and waddled right up to me.  Keep in mind our office is in the middle of Los Angeles!  There isn’t a farm within miles so your guess is as good as mine as far as where this chicken came from.  Long story short we gave “Nugget” (that’s what we called him) a place to live and get back on his feet and eventually my producing partner Cory Neal and his wife Annie found a “no-kill” ranch out in Malibu that “Nugget” could live happily ever after at.

(“Nugget.”)

The very next week my wife and I got a call from a close friend who told us that a litter of puppies had just been born and needed homes quickly.  ”No way.”  I told my wife.  ”We already have 3 cats and the last thing they want in this house is a dog.  Plus, look at our lifestyles!  We’re never home.  We work 24/7 and we always travel.  No way.”  I put my foot down and had to tell my wife that we were absolutely not adopting a dog.

(The puppy that I was not adopting.  No way.)

So about four hours later we adopted “Arwen”.  She is a Yorkie puppy named after the elf princess in LORD OF THE RINGS.  I fought valiantly to name her either “Spooky” or “Detective McManus” but I lost.  She’s brought us bundles of joy, loads of poop, and she’s spared no expense at destroying household items but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t completely in love with her.

(Baby “Arwen”, dressed and ready for the battle of Hoth.)

Which brings me to “Patches”.  About six months ago I found this raggedy looking cat just sitting on the hood of my car one morning.  She wouldn’t let me get too close to her, so it kind of became a morning routine where each day she would be waiting outside for me, I would try to say hello, and she would run away.  I assumed she must be a neighbor’s cat and tried my best to think nothing of it.  But she was always there.  We started calling her “Patches” because she looked like she was stitched together from many different cats.  I was pushing to call her “Frankenkitty” or (once again) “Detective McManus” but I lost.  Again.  Finally just about a month ago I put down some food for her to see what she would do.  She wouldn’t eat in front of me, but hiding inside the house I watched her devour the entire bowl of cat food in just a few minutes.  Finally, one night “Patches” gave in and walked right up to me for some much needed affection.  This elusive cat was so love-starved that she was physically shaking from being touched.  I don’t know how or why it happened, but “Patches” had lost her person.  She wasn’t feral or wild, she was lonely.  Once I began petting her more frequently I noticed a bite on her neck that didn’t look so good.  About two weeks later that bite had become abscessed and it was infected into the size of a golf ball.  I had to do something.

With the help of some tranquilizers from the Vet, I was able to capture her and get her treated.  I paid for her surgery and her vaccinations and the next day she was home safe in the backyard brandishing some nasty stitches all over her shaved neck.  And now?  Well, now we have 4 cats and a dog.  ”Patches” still lives outside, though she sits by the front door and cries all night to come in, much to the dismay of the three cats who already live here.  This is my life.  As my friends like to joke, I’m “the Snow White of Horror”.  I just wish I could save them all.

(“Patches von Frankenkitty”)

So aside from trying to save all of the animals of the world, I’ve also been insanely busy wrapping up CHILLERAMA, working on KILLER PIZZA, and getting several other projects started.  So where do these all stand?  Here are my personal updates on all…

CHILLERAMA is in the final days of technical completion, meaning color correction, sound, and visual effects.  As you may have seen it has already been announced that the film will be playing UK FrightFest in London this August and many more worldwide screening dates will be announced shortly.  And by shortly, I mean within hours of when this blog posts to the ArieScope site.  In fact… one of the screenings we’re going to announce is happening in a matter of days in the United States.  CHILLERAMA is going to come at you fast and furious which makes me so happy I can’t even express it.  Festivals and special theatrical screenings/events will be quickly followed by the On-Demand premiere and DVD, so you won’t have to wait long for it at all.  However, this movie was made to be the ultimate midnight drive-in movie.  It’s a ridiculous good time and it is meant to be seen with a rowdy crowd… so if you have the chance to see it theatrically (especially in a drive-in or other outdoor environment) – DO IT.  We’re going to try and do what we can to bring the experience we were so lucky to grow up with to a whole new generation of fans who never got to see a B-movie at the drive-in, so pay attention to your favorite genre news source (or the ArieScope website) and keep both of your eyes out for screening news.

CHILLERAMA is an anthology movie made by yours truly, Adam Rifkin (Detroit Rock City, The Dark Backward), Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2, Knights of Badassdom), and Tim Sullivan (2001 Maniacs, Driftwood) that celebrates a century of cinema.  What makes it so unique is that each segment is not only made by a different filmmaker, but made in the style of a completely different time period and sub-genre.  Even better, the whole film actually ties together as a complete story rather than just a bunch of short films thrown together.  It’s “film noir on acid” with a horror/comedy twist and it is a movie that we are all so very proud of.  What started out as a side project for all of us (“yeah, sure- sounds fun, let’s do it at some point when our schedules mesh if that ever happens”) became a two year production and an absolute labor of love.  What I think you’ll love about it is that it is everybody (not just the writer/directors but also the cast, crew, etc) having FUN and it is one of those films where you can tell that not a single person involved was in it for the paycheck.  It is pure, it is silly, and it is full of heart.  Are there sex zombies, nazi frankensteins, giant sperm monsters, leather daddy werebears, demon semen attacks, and lots of scenes depicting genital mutilation?  Yes.  But it is one giant and very innocent love letter to EVERYTHING that came before us and I can guarantee that you’ve never seen anything else quite like it.  My advice, leave your expectations at the door and go in knowing as little as possible.  Just sit in your seat and raise a toast to the history of B-movie cinema.

What else?  Oh- KILLER PIZZA.  This is a big studio movie so unfortunately it isn’t like one of my independent productions where I can decide for myself how much information to spill and when I can spill it.  Here’s what I can say without overstepping my boundaries, the producers are in the process  of closing their deal with the major studio they intend to make the movie with.  Once that happens perhaps they’ll announce the news.  My script is done but once we get things going with the studio there will inevitably be more suggestions, comments, and changes for me to address in rewrites as is the norm with these size projects.  In fact, I’ll likely be making changes and tweaks right up through the film’s eventual production, so don’t expect to hear major news anytime soon and just trust that once I’m allowed to share information… I won’t forget to share it with you.  In doing press for CHILLERAMA a big question has been “Are you directing KILLER PIZZA?”  My answer right now… “I don’t know.”  I would love to if given the chance and it has certainly been discussed- but let’s see how it all plays out.  What I can say is that so far it has been a fantastic experience and over the past year I’ve gotten to work with a team of producers that I couldn’t respect or adore more.  The process has been the kind you dream about as a writer.  Best of all, once again I’ve found myself getting to meet and work closely with someone who was a childhood idol of mine… and once again they have lived up to every expectation I could have put upon them.  Chris Columbus and his team at 1492 Films have treated me amazingly well and they are all truly class acts.  All is well.

In a few more weeks I’ll be able to spill the beans on something else I’ve been working on for years and years and years that finally started to come to fruition a few months ago.  A project I have been working on all day and all night obsessively writing since March.  For me it’s actually the most important of all of my “children” as it is the project I’ve been tied to and working on the longest and therefore the one closest to my heart.  I just need some legal i’s to be dotted and some contractual t’s to be crossed and then all will be revealed. My only hint is that it is something that is going to bring me back to my original comedy roots… but I’m also bringing the horror with me.

And what of Victor Crowley’s return?  HATCHET III will likely start production early next year- at least that is the first potential time period where it seems all of the players involved could actually be available do it.  ArieScope and Dark Sky recently had our first serious “let’s buckle down and get started ironing this out” call since the third installment was green-lit a few months ago and we’re all thrilled to be making the next chapter in the franchise.  The reactions to HATCHET II have been astounding and we’re all so blown away by how well the film did- even with the travesty of the movie being so unceremoniously assassinated by the powers that be during it’s theatrical run.  Point is, the second film was such a big success critically and financially and the Hatchet Army was so happy with it that we have a lot of pressure to deliver on Part 3 and we want to raise the bar yet again.  So this isn’t something we can rush into doing.  Also, even if I indeed choose not to be in the director’s chair this time- you can bet I’ll still be standing over it doing everything I can to help keep the ship on course.  ”What’s the plot?  Who’s in it?  If you’re not directing it- who is?”  Too soon to reveal that stuff even if I already have some of the answers.  Point is, the soonest it’s going to start shooting would be early 2012- which is actually not that far away now.  Right now the major players in the HATCHET universe are all occupied with other projects, especially myself.  There is a collective heart and tight knit family behind HATCHET and we’re not going to create the next chapter until we’re all available and ready to play.  Thankfully, our partner and distributor Dark Sky Films totally gets that and feels the same way about doing it right as opposed to just doing it fast.  For those that think it’s taking too long to get started, keep in mind that I waited 5 years between the actual making of HATCHET and the making of HATCHET II.  I need to be ready and I need time to focus on my other stories and projects.  Thankfully so many of my fans understand and appreciate that between every HATCHET film I also need something like a SPIRAL, a GRACE, and a FROZEN to feel creatively complete.

Next week at Comic-Con there’s gonna be a big announcement involving a collaboration between myself one of my favorite comic book creators/writers.  As soon as it happens I’ll post the details here in the “news” section- but you guys are gonna be psyched to hear the news, I’m sure.  And I suppose that now is as good a time as any to also drop the news that my good friend (and my favorite artist of all time) Alex Pardee and I are working together on a documentary about “monster art” that we’ve already begun production on.  We’ve been referring to the project as DIGGING UP THE MARROW- but don’t expect too many other details on it for awhile.  It’s a documentary so production is going to be spread out over a long time- but if you love genre based art and have often wondered what kind of reality an artist’s fantastical creature design comes from, I think you’ll find this project fascinating.  ArieScope also has another genre project in the works (a film like GRACE where I am personally only producing and not actually writing or directing) with a writer and a director that we couldn’t be more excited to be working with, and we hope to be spilling some serious details about it after the summer if all goes as planned.

(Alex Pardee’s limited HATCHET II poster.)

So there you have it.  A debriefing on all things Green.  I can’t wait to see some of you out there when I get back on the road for the CHILLERAMA tour (I hope) and as always, feel free to follow along and keep in touch with me on Twitter (@Adam_Fn_Green) and on my Facebook fan page (which I personally respond to fans on).  In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my last day of relaxation before I return back to LA and all hell breaks lose for the next 5 months of my life.  Wish me luck.

Peace, love, BLOOD & GUTS-

Adam

(My current view as I write this blog here on Craigville Beach – Cape Cod, Massachusetts.)

Victor Crowley crosses the finish line.

On Tuesday February 1st HATCHET II arrives on home video (DVD and BLU RAY) in stores everywhere.  In some regards it is always sad to finally be “done” with a film as the DVD release is kind of like sending your kid off to college.  No more production meetings, no more shooting every day with your friends, no more touring, no more appearances, no more premieres, no more press… just the movie directly in the hands of the fans.  However, with this particular film there is a great sense of relief in knowing that the finish line is here.  As you’ve read in the national news, on-line, in magazines, and in these blogs… this was anything but a typical rodeo for us.  Forget the trials of the shoot (which you’ll soon learn all about on the two commentary tracks and behind the scenes special features) but the epic struggle of being bullied by an archaic and tragically flawed ratings system and the fireworks that went off when we simply decided we were not gonna take it anymore and pushed back.  For a movie that was made purely out of love and fun who would have ever thought that what went down would actually have gone down.  This was one long hard road to say the least.  So as HATCHET 2 arrives on the shelves in retail stores everywhere I say… so long old friend.  I love you and I couldn’t be prouder that you stood up for yourself.  I’m proud that you had some dignity even though you were in a losing situation.

I’m thrilled that the movie will now be available for everyone, but especially thrilled that it will soon be in the hands of the “Hatchet Army” that we made it for.  All over the country Tuesday, fans will be rushing home and tearing off that plastic wrap , scraping that sticker/seal off the side so they can open it, and sitting down to see what they’ve been waiting for.  There are fans having viewing parties, fans watching the HATCHET films back to back, fans discussing the twists and turns, but more than anything- there are some HAPPY horror fans out there right now.  So to those of you who never got to see it in the theater, I hope you make it a great and rowdy experience like some of us got to have.  I hope you have fun.  I hope you laugh a lot.  And I hope you get not only what you wanted, but what you’re just not getting anywhere else any more.  We hear you, we feel you, and we’re right there with you.

A popular question in my fanmail has been about the UNRATED versus RATED versions.  After all, if an R-RATED version could be created for DVD… why not for theaters?   One particular rental outlet (that makes a very large order for films) does not carry UNRATED films.  Period.  Therefore, Dark Sky Films had no other choice but to create an MPAA approved R-rated version exclusively for them and I fully understand and support that.  It’s no different than how films have to be edited for television because of their “TV rules” or edited for airplanes because of their “standards and practices”.  OK, so why not edit it for theaters and play by the MPAA’s rules there, Green?  Why refuse to make changes, break the rules, and wind up causing such a stink?  My answer to you there is two fold.  First of all, when we were struggling to try and get an “R”, AMC theaters started “AMC Independent” and agreed to play the film Unrated in a monumental and groundbreaking event.  Were we gonna say “no” to that or think they would turn their tail when inevitably this became controversial?  And second of all, at least there is consistency with the rental outlets, TV, and airline rules.  If a movie has to be adjusted for a certain outlet- that’s fine.  But with theatrical ratings there is ANYTHING but consistency or fairness.  I urge anyone who questions our decision to check out this R-rated version after you’ve seen the UNRATED version and tell me what you would have done.  (Note: Hatchet 2 was released in theaters on October 1st but didn’t even REACH an R-rated verdict until early December as the battle was fierce and long.)

The R-Rated version is missing not just a lot of the “good stuff” but ENTIRE MOMENTS.  Without spoiling too much, how much would you have loved the seven foot long chainsaw scene if right when the chainsaw got put to use… it cut to the next scene and you never saw what happened?  How much would you have enjoyed seeing _____ get _____ in the ___ a mere 3 times instead of the full 30 times like it is in the real version?  And that’s not even half of it.   The entire tone of the film is destroyed by these imposed cuts.  But the real problem was this: HATCHET 2 for all it’s gory glory is not a disturbing film or a realistic film in any way.  There is stuff playing in theaters that is far more extreme, depraved, mean spirited, disgusting, and violent than anything you’ll see here, and that stuff all gets an R provided that it’s got some “push” behind it.  Our independent film was being held to a very different standard and we were instructed that we were going to have to completely destroy it in order to play along with the rest.   Then we were going to have to support it, endorse it, screen it for fans and critics and act like it was all OK in an effort to try and get you guys to pay for it?  Sorry, but I couldn’t have done that.  It’s an age old fight (just a few weeks after HATCHET 2 was yanked from theaters prematurely, Harvey Weinstein sued the MPAA over their unfair treatment of BLUE VALENTINE’s rating and won, but sadly I don’t have his kind of power or money), but YES a distributor creating a different version of a film to please ONE outlet is a hell of a lot different than a distributor who destroys a film for full theatrical release in order to get an imposed arbitrary rating that makes no sense.

We tried to get an R-Rating before theatrical, believe me we did.  But when you see what they were asking us to do (should you ever come across this R-rated version) you’ll see that it was a vile massacre.  I applaud Dark Sky for having the balls to stand by the movie and put it in theaters and on DVD and BLU RAY unrated and intact as no one else would have done that.

And here’s the other deal, folks… Dark Sky can do whatever they want even if I DON’T agree.  While I appreciate the perception that I have Steven Spielberg’s power over my films and their releases… please trust that if I had even a FRACTION of that kind of influence then films like FROZEN would have been on 2,000 screens and marketed in a way where everyone saw it advertised and knew that it was out.  So yeah, if Dark Sky needs to offer an R-Rated version in select rental outlets or eventually on a TV network, etc… I’m absolutely fine with that.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Dark Sky was an amazing place to work with and the most filmmaker friendly organization I’ve come across yet.  I look forward to the next project with them, I sincerely do.

With that I say- know what you’re getting and what the differences are between the Unrated version and “that other version”.  Enough said.

Enjoy, have fun, and THANK YOU for supporting original horror.  Every movie ticket, DVD, Blu Ray, rental, or PAID download is your voice telling the powers that be that there is still an audience for this stuff.  Every DVD you buy helps ensure that you just might get to see more of this kind of stuff from the filmmakers that want to make it for you.  Now enough with the reading… don’t you have a slasher movie to go watch?  Get off your computer and onto your couch!

And have a blast going back into his swamp…

-AG

2010: A Year Full Of Win

My year-end blogs have usually been summaries of what has gone on with me for the year.  Typically they are detailed recaps of the productions, the films, the big moments, and a few other comments about looking forward and what is to come.  2010 was easily the most chock full of crazy moments yet, starting with the production of HATCHET 2 and FROZEN’s world premiere at Sundance quickly followed by FROZEN’s U.S. theatrical release… and that was all just in the first 5 weeks of the year.  As the year progressed there was post-production on HATCHET 2, a worldwide tour supporting it, conventions, appearances, press junkets, the world premiere in London, the assassinated U.S. theatrical release (and the MPAA/ratings controversy that was a circus to live through), and already the film’s exclusive premiere On-Demand.  Throw in FIVE new “Road To FrightFest” shorts, the annual Halloween short film (“Just Take One”), the launch of the new website, production on CHILLERAMA, production on a new web series (news to come early next year), writing the upcoming KILLER PIZZA, all the “behind the scenes” business stuff that you don’t hear about… as well as development and pre-production on several other projects that I haven’t even spilled the news on yet… and it’s been the busiest year of my life.  Oh yeah, and I’m pretty sure I got married in there somewhere, too.  The whole thing is a bit of a blur, but here I am on the other side of it.  The triumphs, the acclaim, the love, the standing ovations, the laughs, the screams, the struggles, the battles, the wounds, the scars, the stories, and the growth… above all is still the ringing in my ears of the audiences applauding and cheering.  2010 was an epic year to say the very least.  However, as exciting as it was, I have to admit that I’m very happy to bid 2010 farewell since I’m already over my head into 2011 and beyond.  A New Year’s resolution that I’ve started on early is to try and dedicate more time to myself, my friends, and my family… and to slow down just a bit on all of the work so that just maybe I’ll live long enough to enjoy some of these accomplishments.

So along those lines I thought that a different and cool idea for a 2010 “end of the year blog” would be to highlight just some of the amazing accomplishments of some of my friends.  After all, you’ve got all of the earlier blogs to read through if you want a recap on all the stuff I mentioned above, right?  So here are just a few outstanding highlights of 2010 from friends of mine that you may already be aware of from my past projects/films… some that are just close friends… and maybe some that are involved in things on my horizon.  In an effort to keep this somewhat manageable I tried to stick to just TEN folks as there would be just way too many friends to point out otherwise.  So here goes… and pay attention as there just may be announcements down the line about a project or two of mine that may or may not involve one or two of these folks.

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1.  ZACHARY LEVI

If you don’t already know Zac from NBC’s CHUCK and from my 2008 film SPIRAL, then by now he’s hopefully a household name in your home from his stunningly perfect work in Walt Disney’s TANGLED.  While so very many of my friends have earned opportunities to take part in huge films and television shows (my frequent collaborator and favorite actor of all time Joel David Moore was just in AVATAR in 2009), there’s something that’s just so “absolute shining star moment” about not only getting to provide a voice in a Disney film, but in actually becoming a full-on Disney PRINCE.  And I’m happy to say that this is something that even Zac himself is well aware of as during his introduction to his friends and family screening at the Disney Lot last month he could barely contain himself emotionally in his opening words.  I wish I could put into words not only how proud I am of Zac’s successes but even more so how hard he has worked for and how much he deserves every one of them.  I frequently said on the set of SPIRAL that if I could buy stock in a human being I would buy it in Zac.  Maybe someday they will offer it, but lucky for all of us he is just getting started.

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2.  CORRI ENGLISH

You may know Corri from her various TV and Film work or from “The Tiffany Problem” (my personal favorite of my Halloween short films), but over the past year she and her country band BROKEDOWN CADILLAC have made huge strides for themselves.  BROKEDOWN had their on-screen debut in Disney’s RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN but has since provided songs for quite a few TV shows including nine songs on the CW’s HELLCATS and an on-screen performance on this past Fall’s cliffhanger episode.  Corri and her band have more going on for themselves then I can list, but one of the things I’m most proud of is that they just completed their THIRD tour of the Middle East performing for our troops.  All of us send thoughts and prayers to our soldiers in harm’s way, but not all of us actually go over there to play live music for them THREE times.  A true American and an extremely talented one, keep an eye out for Corri and look up BROKEDOWN CADILLAC today.

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3.  JOE LYNCH

We’ve done 15 episodes of “The Road to FrightFest” together, one of the kids in FROZEN was named after him, we make up two of the four directors involved with the recent production of CHILLERAMA, we dressed up and died together as “Ernie and Burt” (spoiler!) in this year’s Halloween short film “Just Take One”… and yes, of course there are more projects together coming down the road.  But this year Joe finished production on KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM which can best be described as a heavy metal horror comedy fantasy adventure of epicly metal proportions.  It was an intense production and something that I can personally say Joe had been waiting for and working very hard on for an insanely long time, so it has been a joy to hear the updates and watch the progress on his long awaited follow up to WRONG TURN 2.  I wish I could say more about it right now but I’ve been warned that I will lose hit-points and perhaps be forced to eat chain mail if I say much more about it.  You’re all gonna lose your heads over this one when you see it next year though.

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4.  SETH GREEN


You know him from, well, everything.  This year Seth and I shared something in common in that we both won prime time Emmy Awards.  Wait, no.  That was just him.  But we did both successfully pull off getting two insanely hot and geeky women to somehow fall in love with us enough to marry us and become “Greens”.  Seth and his hilariously talented crew DID however actually win a prime time Emmy for ROBOT CHICKEN in the category of “Outstanding Short-Format Animated Program”.  If you’re not already watching ROBOT CHICKEN then I sort of don’t like you.  It’s not easy to pull off such an original and complex animated comedy series, especially when in many cases entire bits are less than a few seconds long yet STILL make you laugh.  For those that often ask, no we are not related.  But our wives are best friends which in a way has made us one big “Green” family and we may or may not all play with our toys together on Sundays.  It made me very happy to see Seth and ROBOT CHICKEN receive such incredible recognition at the Emmy Awards this year.  It’s a great reminder that if you do what you love and put your love into what you do, that eventually even “they” will have to stand up and take notice.

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5.  CHEWBACCA


Our cat Chewbacca has had a problem with peeing on the guest bathroom floor ever since Rileah and I moved into our new house a year and a half ago.  Before that he used to pee in the guest bathroom of our old place.  It was part “hatred of guest things” and part “I’m a huge asshole” but it was something that was tearing both Chewbacca and our family apart at the seams.  Guests would come over and no matter how many Yankee Candles we would burn, within moments they would ask “Hmmm, did a cat piss in the guest bathroom?”  It was awkward.  But through hard work, perseverance, and our family’s love … I am happy to say that Chewbacca has made it a full YEAR without peeing in the guest bathroom.  He’s now a “litter box only” kind of cat and we’re all confident that his new lifestyle is here to stay.  It probably helped that last year I installed a baby gate that he’s too old to jump over and that now he just can’t get in there any more, but we’re all still proud of him anyway.

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6.  ROBERT PENDERGRAFT

You know Robert’s make-up effects work from the HATCHET films and from my last seven years of Halloween short films.  Robert has been part of the team since the first day we met to discuss my crazy idea of making a mock trailer to raise the financing for HATCHET, but he’s always been very happy to sort of lurk in the wings and doesn’t care much for getting the credit or accolades he deserves.  The best example would be the Mrs. Permatteo face rip/pez dispenser kill in HATCHET which not only stole the movie but which has become legendary in horror cinema.  (Yes, that was Robert’s handy work.)  So after all of these years of watching Robert perform under other effects masters and not get the glory, I’m thrilled to see that this year he started his OWN shop, that he keyed his first feature film (HATCHET 2), and that he and his crew trumped the practical effects of the first film.  Determined to find a way, Robert and his crew actually built all of the effects for HATCHET 2 out of his 90 year old Aunt’s garage (how’s THAT for indie filmmaking, folks?) and has thus named his new effects shop “Aunt Dolly’s Garage”.  Not much makes me prouder than seeing someone talented and loyal get their shot to take it up a notch and then to watch them knock it out of the park.

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7.  JASON MILLER

Jason started as an intern at ArieScope Pictures about 4 years ago just as we were putting the finishing touches on HATCHET’s theatrical release.  While his job was originally to sit in the front office and answer phones and do odd jobs he quickly (and I mean within weeks) kept taking on more and more responsibilities and always went above and beyond with any task.  If you can even find something that he doesn’t already know how to do he’ll learn it and then do it better than anyone else.  A jack of all trades he has since worked his way up to being a producer on FROZEN and HATCHET 2 as well as taking on 2nd Unit Director duties on both films all while juggling anything and everything thrown his way.  And while that’s all well and good, the thing I’m most proud to see is that Jason finally went all out on making his own short film (INFECTED).  While it’s not necessarily his first short film, it’s the one that he’s really putting himself out there with, taking every bit as seriously as a feature, and one of the things I hope will help him take the next step towards his own writing and directing career.   From what I’ve seen so far I expect it to be pretty f’n awesome when it’s fully done.  If all goes as planned, INFECTED will be doing festivals next year and getting the attention it needs to help Jason create a feature-length directing opportunity for himself.  Who knows?  Maybe by next year at this time he’ll have left working with ArieScope in his dust and some new future writer/director will be answering HIS phones at Rockwiler productions.  I don’t just expect great things to come from Jason, I can actually guarantee it.

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8.  A.J. BOWEN

To think that when I first called AJ Bowen into my office to discuss writing a role for him in HATCHET 2 that he was actually considering throwing in the towel on acting for awhile is equal parts hilarious and disturbing.  As time always proves, it’s always when things seem the most frustrating that another door opens and all of a sudden things turn around.  In AJ’s case, an entire building’s worth of doors have opened this past year and he’s been working non-stop and proving beyond a reasonable doubt that he’s one of the top rising talents out there.  While I sadly had to miss it at Fantastic Fest because it played opposite HATCHET 2 (we had to add a second screen due to audience demand and I had to pull double duty running back and forth between theaters to do two simultaneous Q & A’s) the best part of the festival was hearing that AJ won “Best Actor” in the Horror Features category for his work in A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE.  While festival awards may seem like a dime a dozen to some people, Fantastic Fest has a very opinionated and hardcore panel of judges each year and they don’t pay any mind to the buzz or previous accolades of other festivals.  Only at Fantastic Fest could Kane Hodder win “Best Actor” for HATCHET back in 2006, a role that most judges would not even realize the importance of.  Sure Kane was up to his usual tricks slaughtering people behind crazy make-up appliances… but the fact that he also played a very dramatic role out of that make-up and actually moved people was something that no one ever expected or thought he could do.  So to hear that Fantastic Fest had honored AJ with a “Best Actor” award means that he’s not only good at what he does but that he’s continually doing something challenging, unique, and that critical eyes aren’t expecting.  While the award is a huge win in itself, for my money I am more proud of AJ in the fact that he stuck to his guns and keeps making bold choices in doing what he FEELS LIKE doing and not just sticking to a contrived and manipulated journey that plays things safe or  appeases outside opinions.  As someone who lives and works by that same standard, I’m excited to see AJ is here to stay and that he’s taking off in whatever path he dictates for himself.

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9.  CODY BLUE SNIDER

If you’ve watched the “behind the scenes/making of” FROZEN (special features created by Adam Barnick which I still say are the best I’ve ever seen on an independent film’s DVD release ever) then you are familiar with Cody (AKA “Schneiderman”).  A family friend who half-jokingly asked to come work on one of my films if I ever needed him, I took Cody to task on FROZEN and he took on the role of Director’s Assistant.  He quickly became the shining star of the set and even more quickly ruined life for any unfortunate person who takes on that role in any of my future productions as it would be impossible to live up to his legacy.  Not only did he do an exceptional job in the role but he was the production’s jester and most popular guy on set.  He stepped up to Production Assistant on HATCHET 2 but in the meantime left college to make his own short film which was all based on a story by his beyond talented brother Jesse.  ALL THAT REMAINS is a moving and awe inspiring first effort that trumps anything in its path and is in a league all its own.  Currently wowing and sweeping film festivals everywhere it’s been nothing short of joyous to watch Cody go from the set clown to the guy running the show in such a short amount of time.  While it’s been a banner year for the entire Snider family (Dee is currently rocking Broadway in ROCK OF AGES, Jesse keeps having hit after hit with his comic books, and the entire family has entertained TV viewers with GROWING UP TWISTED) watching Cody’s success has been the most personal for me to watch and cheer on from the sidelines.  If anything it is a testament to the entire family as they approach each project as a team with everyone wearing various hats to help each other out as needed.  Hopefully you get the chance to see ALL THAT REMAINS soon as I doubt you’ll be able to stop thinking about it for days after it is over.

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10.  RILEAH VANDERBILT


Saving the best for last, nothing has been more enjoyable to watch than my own wife’s hard work and success (along with the rest of Team Unicorn: Clare Grant, Michelle Boyd, and Milynn Sarley) with various on-line projects, most notably the video for GEEK & GAMER GIRLS which became an internet sensation with over 3 million views on all of its various placements combined in just a matter of weeks.  With hundreds of thousands of original content efforts flooding the internet daily and searching for an audience, I don’t need to point out that this is in no way an easy feat to accomplish.  GEEK AND GAMER GIRLS celebrated the feminine side of Geekdom and proudly waved a flag for all things “geek” that was held by four very real and very sincere geeks themselves.  Most importantly for me is that Rileah did it on her own.  With success always comes the jealous and the haters who want to find an angle that someone else had an advantage or that “it’s not fair” and so I have purposely stayed completely out of these projects and merely watched proudly from the sidelines.  Even with the few smaller roles Rileah has played in some of my films, she auditioned and proved herself alongside everyone else as to avoid the inevitable “handout” accusations.  With a special nod to directors Dave Yarvo (GEEK & GAMER GIRLS) and Sean Becker (Team Unicorn’s latest A VERY ZOMBIE HOLIDAY) I can’t help but think that Rileah and Team Unicorn have proven not only that they’re talented but that with hard work and perseverance, “Girl Power” is no joke and no passing fad.

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So there you have it.  Just ten nods to to ten people that I’m more than proud of and grateful to see good things happen for in 2010.  Maybe you were already aware of all of them, but hopefully for some readers I’ve turned you on to some new people and projects that you may have not already been into.

And with that I will say “so long” 2010 and “bring it on” to 2011.  To every fan and friend who has been there for me over the years and to all of the new ones who climbed aboard this past year, thank you for being here.  I say it all the time, but your support means more than the world to me as without it I wouldn’t keep getting the chances to pursue all of these projects, stories, and crazy ideas.  I wish you all the very best in the upcoming New Year and hope that you also take the time to celebrate the people that you are proud of in YOUR life as you reflect back on this past year.  While it is hard not to focus on your own trials and tribulations, it has been proven time and time again that when you look at life as something we’re all doing together… it really is that much more fun.

Happy New Year!

-AG

The Wedding Blog

It’s long over due, but as promised… here it is.

On June 26, 2010 Rileah Vanderbilt and I tied the knot in a private ceremony held in Malibu California.  As this was a moment in our lives that was meant to be shared only with our family and closest of friends, we purposely did not publicly post or publish any information or pictures (though candid photos from some of our guests did manage to slip out on various social networking sites as is to be expected).  But since then I’ve had so many fans write in and ask if we were ever going to share any photos from the wedding, so not wanting to completely leave you all out, Rileah and I picked just a very small handful of images that we felt comfortable sharing with the world and that we felt encapsulated our truly magical and amazing celebration.  Picking through the hundreds and hundreds of photos and trying to pick just a few that we felt shared the essence without intruding too heavily into such a personal moment was not an easy task (which is partially why this blog is coming almost 6 months after the fact).

As one guest said “Looking at the audience it was like Fashion Week meets a Horror Convention meets a Rock Concert meets a Golden Globes party.”  We were married by our very close friend Dee Snider (if you don’t know the story of “Me & Dee” I highly suggest checking it out in the SHORTS section of this website as it is a story you will surely never forget) in a ceremony that we wrote entirely ourselves- along with Dee’s own added flavor.  When he pronounced us “husband and wife” it was not only by the power invested in him by the State of California but also by the power invested in him as a heavy metal God and by the power of Grey Skull.  It was a very funny, very personal, and very emotional ceremony as any great wedding should be and the evening as a whole was definitely the celebration of a lifetime.  The outpouring of love and happiness in the air was way more overwhelming than I ever expected or have ever seen at any wedding and we partied with our friends long into the night after the actual reception was over.

We are so very grateful to all of the fans who sent cards, gifts, and well wishes but strongly urge anyone still thinking of doing so to please not send us anything.  Believe me when I say that together we have everything that we possibly need in our lives.  If you are still so compelled to send something that you just can’t accept that, than we urge you to instead just send a letter and perhaps use the money you would have spent on a gift towards buying and supporting an independent film of your choosing… or if you really want to give us a gift in our honor… donating your money or volunteering your time at a local animal shelter this holiday season.  We’d appreciate that more than any gift you could send.

Thank you to everyone who has sent their congratulations and well wishes and we hope you enjoy these very few but very special images from our big day.

Happily ever after-

Adam