Saturday, March 26, 2011

Madison County: Mixed Feelings

It's funny.. by my "title" I'm a writer, director and a producer. But everyday when I wake up, I'm just me. But I can't help but get a nerd-boner when I see a blank space in front of me just waiting to be filled with words (hence where the writer part of me comes in).

I can only imagine that it's what a painter feels like when standing in front of a blank canvas. Freedom. Freedom of expression. Freedom to do what they want. Freedom to create. That's why I wanted to take up this blog. To express. To say what I want. To create a place for me to do it.. and I'm glad I did.

Today we finished mixing MADISON COUNTY.. and I had mixed feelings about it. For those of you who aren't familiar, when you're mixing a movie you're basically putting all the music and sound design that you've been building for your movie on top of the picture and it's essentially a finished film. Sitting back and watching Madison for the first time as a finished film was amazing. It was everything I could have ever wanted. Everything I could have ever hoped for. It was my first "official" feature film.

Daniel, Ace, and I all kind of felt like proud fathers. We watched our film and all gave our thoughts and shared stories and opinions. I couldn't stop thinking about what everyone would think of it. How it would be received. I mean, this is the final film. This is the MADISON COUNTY that everyone is going to see. Everyone that wants the poster or saw the trailer is going to end up watching THIS movie that I WROTE and WE MADE. It's kind of surreal. There's no magic behind it. You don't close your eyes and suddenly a movie appears. It takes a lot of work and you have to pray that it's good enough and people like it. But I'm not worried about that because I'm proud of myself, and my team. We did it.

However, along with all that pride did come some disappointment. Not with the film itself, or anyone involved, but the end of the process. This film has been consuming my immediate life for the last 10 months, and it's been living in my head for the last several years. To see it finally all come together as one was bittersweet to say the least. It's now "finished". As finished as my time and our money can allow it to be. Is it perfect? No. There are tons of things I would love to change about the movie, but that's why I love it. Making a movie isn't about perfection. It's about getting as close to perfection as you can with what you have at that particular moment in time.

There are tons of great films that are coming out this year. Several of them were at SXSW just a few days ago. Films like INSIDIOUS and THE INNKEEPERS. Films from filmmakers that I admire and I respect and films that I WANT to support! And then there's my film.. It's coming out this year too. It will be seen with films like these at festivals and theaters and on DVD shelves. I'm honored. I'm humbled. And I'm excited!

By the way.. let's talk about THE INNKEEPERS for a second. Not only does this look to be another great classic from TI WEST, but the posters are AMAZING! I'm glad someone is bringing back the old school/classic style. I'd kill to have a poster like this for my flicks! Keep an eye out on this artist and his work-- I have a feeling you're going to be seeing A LOT of it in the coming years!


Ti West has been a huge inspiration for me and getting these films made. In fact, if you're a Ti West fan-- you'll probably be a MADISON COUNTY fan. I bring this up because a lot of people on the internet are saying things like "Will Madison County deliver the gore?" and "It's all about the kills". And I feel the need to say-- if that's what you're looking for in this movie, you're going to be sadly mistaken. Madison is not a SPLATTER slasher film. It's a character/story driven film that happens to involve murders. That's not to say that the film doesn't have violence and gore-- but that's not the point of the story.

I don't like my horror like porn. The kill is not the money shot. The kill is the punctuation at the end of the sentence.. which is the story. Like Ti, I'm a huge fan of contrast in my films. You're not going to be shocked or scared until you feel safe and care about the people you're watching in a film. I have a feeling that MC is going to divide it's audience. Some will love it and some will hate it. But at the end of the day.. you can't say it's not a damn good movie.

So-- as I was saying (I'm a tangent guy if you haven't noticed), my producers and I are looking to do great things with Madison. We've already been making a lot of noise and we plan to make even more. We've been contacted by distributors and several theater chains about putting the movie in cinemas-- and that's what we intend to do! We want to bring the movie to a theater near you as soon as possible! But we have to know where to send it. So please, continue to make noise and demand to see the movie! Tell everyone you can to DEMAND to see this movie and all the movies I've mentioned. We need more films like these in theaters if we want to continue to get GOOD QUALITY movies at the theater!

As for what's next? Well.. a lot, actually. I've been blessed enough lately to meet some amazing producers, managers, agents, etc and have got some really exciting things in the works. If you didn't already know, I'm leaving next week to shoot my next film ROADSIDE. After that, it'll be full steam ahead on post-production for that, getting Madison out to festivals and theaters and working on a super secret project that I can't talk about just yet. But let's just say it will be a love letter to one of my favorite eras of cinema. I'm working with a really talented and productive producer and I'm stoked to get to work on the script!

Hopefully I'll have time to update this while in Virginia shooting. If not, make sure to keep up with me on FACEBOOK or follow me on TWITTER!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Done to Death: Madison County

So the trailer to MADISON COUNTY made its official debut online yesterday first at one of my favorite horror sites.. Bloody-Disgusting and then around the world. In case you missed it:

Compare that to the PROMO TRAILER we shot to secure the financing to make Madison County that was shot in 4 hours for less than $100.. and I'm pretty proud of what we have!

The promo trailer got us a lot of buzz. It was picked up by several websites that I've talked about in my first blog and it really gave us the media push that we needed to get a solid fan base. The Official trailer opened up to mostly positive reviews.. but a couple of people online said some things that I wanted to address in this blog.

Now, I'm not one to sit and sulk over bad comments. I have a very thick skin when it comes to my art. Why? Because it's just that-- ART. There is not right or wrong in art. There is only "yes" or "no". Do you like this movie? Yes, or, No? Some of the worst films in the world have made TONS of money at the Box Office. But just because I say they're the worst.. does that make it so? No.

So I learned very early on to take criticism on my films. One thing I'm not good at, and my producers can attest to this, is that I do have trouble with criticism during the process of making a film. I'm an artist.. and until my art is complete, I don't want it to be judged. So during the writing process, the filming process, and even the post-production process I have trouble taking certain critiques because I want people to see MY version of what I see before they criticize it and say it's not good. But filmmaking is a collaborative process, so most of the time-- I'm all ears. 

A lot of the greatest moments in Madison County have come from suggestions from my producers, or someone else involved in the process. Ace had a lot of suggestions when it came to the cast, and their wardrobe, and the choices they made in the script-- a lot of those made it into the film. Daniel had a lot of suggestions on the script and the visuals.. a lot of those made it into the film. But whatever the case with suggestions, I'm the director and my name goes on the movie as "responsible". So any criticism comes toward me. And I want that responsibility. 

So.. when we finally released the trailer, I was like a kid on Christmas morning. I couldn't sleep. We were FINALLY able to show the world what we had been working so hard on for so long. I was so thankful to have people from all over the world messaging me and asking me when they would get a glimpse of Madison. A film I had been thinking about since I was a kid.. it was a great feeling!

The first thing I did was checked Bloody-Disgusting and a few comments were already rolling in.. and then some more.. and then some more.. I began checking my Facebook and saw more comments coming in. They were all really positive! In fact, I'm extremely happy with the way people have been responding to the trailer. But one theme kept popping up.. "We've seen this before". 

Have you seen a killer wearing a severed pig on his face? Yeah, sure. Motel Hell. Saw. Leatherface (Human Skin-- similar enough). Nothing new. Have you seen a group of kids in the woods? Yeah.. you have. Friday the 13th. Wrong Turn. Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The list is endless. 

I didn't pitch this film as "the most original slasher film ever made" when I tried to get it made. In fact, slasher films themselves have been done to death. But that's exactly why I wanted to make Madison County. I LOVE Slasher films. Love them. And I want to see them live on. When's the last time we saw Jason? Leatherface? Freddy? Jason's latest romp in the woods was lackluster (depending on your taste) and a sequel, as of right now, is nowhere in sight. Leatherface is supposedly being brought back to life by Twisted Pictures (in 3D-- judge that as you wish), and Freddy-- well, I'd liked to pretend the last Nightmare on Elm Street doesn't exist.

I LOVE Horror movies. All kinds of horror. But we can keep remaking our favorites over and over and over. When HATCHET came out, I didn't get pissed and say-- another slasher?! A campy one?! I embraced it. Had I seen a killer in the swamp before? Yes. Wearing overalls? Yes. Killing kids in HORRIBLE ways? Yes. But it was someone NEW! A new face to look at! A new name.. a breath of fresh air!

I want to make movies.. original movies.. but movies are nothing more than stories and stories have been around since the beginning of time. We're just re-telling them in different ways. I'm not going to get into the history books.. but scary stories existed way before movies. Vampires. Werewolves. Murderers. They were all there. Even the original LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT was technically a "re-telling" of The Virgin Spring.. which was an adaptation of a 13th century Swedish ballad!

What can you expect from Madison County? Well.. a lot of things. And that's what this blog is about. We made a movie for less than $75,000 and we did it WELL. The movie looks like a major motion picture straight out of a Hollywood studio. The acting is great. The cinematography is amazing and gritty. The sound and music are spectacular. And the story is pretty unique for the most part. I'm not going to spoil anything.. but I promise you, this is not your typical kids-in-the-woods-having-sex-and-getting-murdered type of film. There isn't a kill every 5 minutes. In fact.. the tone/vibe is much more of the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre. It's slower. It tells a story. It has characters. You get to know these people.. 

I wanted to tell a very classic story and take it back to the roots. The same way Ti West did with House of the Devil. I wanted to make a movie that I would like to see. Is there a place for big tits and tons of over the top gore? Yeah.. but not in Madison County. This is a raw, gritty, very real type of film. And it's done exceptionally well. We very easily could have made your typical straight to DVD type of film with a title like "Bacon Beast" or "Serial Sausage Killer".. but we didn't. This is a theatrical film. We're pushing for a THEATRICAL RELEASE. The characters in this film have a voice, and a purpose, and just when you think they're cliched.. they're not. 

I'm glad to see that even people who are saying Madison County looks "cliched".. are still interested in giving it a chance. I can't thank you enough.. and that's all I ask. GIVE IT A CHANCE! GO SEE IT! These are the types of films people need to be supporting so we don't get more remakes and horrible films at the box office! There's a reason the original Nightmare on Elm Street was made for $1.4 Mill and spawned a franchise that we all love.. PASSION. The people making these remakes are working professionals. They're not suffering for their art. They're not striving for perfection. They're getting paid regardless of how the film performs. That is not the case with us.

If you want to see Madison County in a movie theater near you.. PLEASE, PLEASE, spread the word! Send out e-mails to your friends and family. Post the trailer/poster/website on your facebook page. If we make noise.. people will hear us. And I promise you that we will do EVERYTHING in our power to get it as close to you as possible. Little films like us have nothing going for us except for passion, people, and product. And when the world sees that we have it too-- great things can happen!

Thanks for all the great comments, e-mails, messages, etc! Please-- feel free to contact me and let me know your thoughts! I promise, I read everything and I never get tired of hearing it!