Friday, September 30, 2011

Screamfest, "Success" and Vulnerability

I told myself that when I started this blog, I would write something for every month.. well August was a bit of a shitty month for several reasons. Lots of waiting. Lots of stress. It's almost as if August came and went and before I knew it.. we were in September. But here, on the last day in September, I'll blog for this month and its many ups and downs.

First off, having a blog is a pretty selfish thing-- in my opinion. It's a place where you can write down your thoughts, almost a diary if you will, and share them with the world if you choose. It's basically a place to talk about what's on your mind, but most people, like myself.. just talk about themselves. So I wanted to take a moment to shed some light on a few other people that are either friends of mine, people I admire, or just people in general that I want to see good things happen to.

First up- Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard

Director Adam Wingard and Writer/Producer Simon Barrett at TIFF
Simon and Adam are having one hell of a month in that their indie feature film, A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE came out Sept 6 on DVD/Blu from Anchor Bay and about a week later, their new film YOU'RE NEXT had its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and blew critics and audiences away. Shortly after, YOU'RE NEXT was in a bidding war in which Lionsgate won the rights and plans to release the film theatrically next year! If you haven't seen AHWTD, please go to your nearest DVD retailer and purchase the film. Don't rent it-- buy it. You'll want to watch it over and over. These guys are very passionate about what they do and it shows. I can't wait to see YOU'RE NEXT and I can't wait to see what these guys do in the future!


Next up- Bradley Scott Sullivan

Bradley is the writer/director of a little indie film called I DIDN'T COME HERE TO DIE, which I had the pleasure of seeing a while back. This film is everything you want in a directorial debut. It's fun, its gory, its got a great pair of boobs and its smart. This movie is taking over at film festivals world wide! This weekend, it's playing at the Big Bear Horror Film Festival and all over the east coast for the rest of the month. Bradley is a super great guy and talented to boot. We just worked on our first little project, which will be coming out soon ;), and I can't say enough good things about him. I'm stoked to see what he does next! Check out the official Facebook Page for I DIDN'T COME HERE TO DIE to see if it's playing in your area!

Travis Stevens and Mike Mendez

Producer Travis Stevens (Left), Adam Gierasch (Center) and Director Mike Mendez (Right)
While the rest of went about our days, Travis and Mike were in downtown LA fighting off none other than the MEGA SPIDER! These two dudes successfully wrapped production on their giant spider movie this month and I'm sure are about to be knee deep in post-production. Lots of friends helped make this movie (as well as some Madison County crew!), so its great to see close friends staying busy and making movies! Travis also has several other films in post right now, one of which is THE AGGRESSION SCALE, directed by my buddy Steven C. Miller! Can't wait to see how Mike and his crew exterminated the bug.. if they did? (MEGA SPIDER 2?!) ;)

Last, but not least, Bj McDonnell

BJ has been behind the camera on a NUMBER of high profile projects ranging from Rob Zombie's Halloween to Heroes to MacGruber to dozens of other big budget movies.. but now, he's jumping into the Director's chair! It was just announced today through Variety that BJ will be helming HATCHET 3! Being that BJ was the camera op on both HATCHET and HATCHET 2, this means that BJ is most likely the perfect man for the job! Hand picked by Adam Green, BJ will continue the legend of Victor Crowley. I personally and stoked to see such a rad guy taking the reins of the franchise. Take a look at the Behind the Scenes on HATCHET.. you'll see just what kind of energy BJ is going to bring to the movie! Rock on, dude!

To all the guys, congrats! I wish you nothing but the best! 

So, September has been a crazy month.. earlier it was announced that MADISON COUNTY will be having its WORLD PREMIERE at SCREAMFEST!! For those of you that don't know, Screamfest is the film festival responsible for discovering PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. It's a huge honor to be a part of it and I can't believe the first feature I ever make is going to be showing in the heart of Hollywood at the MANN'S CHINESE for the first time! It's insane.. I'm humbled and honored. It's amazing. 

Lately I've been thinking a lot about "Success" and what is "Success" and how does one achieve "Success"? I've had people ask me.. how does it feel? And for one, I'm not successful. No one has even really seen my films yet (more on that later) and two.. I'm not rolling in dough. But do those things really equal "Success"? I mean, I AM making movies.. that is how I make my living at the moment. It's a small living, there's no denying that.. but I could be digging ditches.. or working at a nuclear power plant ;). But this is what I've always dreamed of doing. I always said.. "It's not about the money" and for the most part, that's been true.

In the past few weeks people have requested interviews, Q&As and panels.. I'm honored and humbled to be a part of all these things, but it hits me really quickly.. I'm being asked the same questions that I hear my favorite filmmakers answer. I'm doing a panels with filmmakers that I respect and own their films in my own collection.. 

I guess what I'm getting at is its amazing, the sense of community and brotherhood that being a genre filmmaker carries. One day you're a kid walking around conventions with T-shirts, hoping to bump into your favorite filmmakers and the next, you're being asked about your own film.. (True confession-- I secretly run away from my favorite filmmakers when I see them because I fan boy out. I avoided Gregg Bishop for most of Comic Con '09 because I kept seeing him everywhere and didn't wanna look like a loser when I gushed about how much I loved DANCE OF THE DEAD).

The filmmakers of the horror genre are some of the nicest people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. You'd expect them to look like the Crypt Keeper, but for the most part, they're normal guys. They wear a lot of black and denim.. but that's about it. I'm guilt of it, too. So ego and narcissism aside, I think success can be a number of things. I think its a feeling more than anything. Ego is what involves money and material things.. but as far as feeling successful.. I'm getting there. I haven't accomplished nearly as much as I would like to, but I'm working on it. Which brings me to my next point..

On Oct 17, for roughly $11 dollars you can see my first official feature film, MADISON COUNTY. It's amazing. It's exciting. It's scary... 

...the feelings that I'm having. Showing your film, especially for the first time, is kind of like having sex for the first time. You're nervous, your heart pounds, your blood rushes and then.. before you know it, it's all over and you're left asking questions like "How was it?" and "What was your favorite part?".  Showing your movie is probably one of the most vulnerable things a filmmaker can do. It's your art. It's your heart. Your soul. It's all up there on a giant screen for people to rip open, examine and critique like fucking doctors or mechanics. They'll tell you whats wrong with it and what you should do better to avoid things in the future.

All of these things are rational fears, but they're part of the territory. The worst thing a filmmaker can do is make excuses for their movie. I know what my film is. It's a slasher film. It's slow burn. It's not as gory as you might think.. but it's got a lot of heart and a lot of tone to it that I think make for a really interesting take on the slasher sub-genre that we haven't seen in a while. The acting is great, the music is pretty rad and the killer is legit. But when all is said and done, it doesn't matter what I think.. it matters what THEY think. The critics. The audience. They're your PARTNERS in this metaphorical sexual experience. They can go to school the next day and tell everyone how small your dick is or how you came too fast or how you didn't know what you were doing. But, regardless of what they may say.. you have to walk into the school with your head held high like you just got done having sex with a porn star and she told you how amazing it was.

Oct 18 is going to be an interesting day for me.. I'm sure the first reviews of the film will be leaking on to the internet and as much as I'll want to not look, I'm going to have to. Why? Because like I said above.. I'm a fan. I read the genre sites everyday like parents read the paper with their morning coffee. Only I sit on my laptop and drink Diet Coke while plotting out my day. I'm sure this won't get any easier.. even as proud as I am of my films, I know they have flaws. Some of them people will see and rip open like exposed wounds, others people will never notice because only I know they're there. ROADSIDE will be following Madison shortly at film festivals next year and I'll have a new set of nightmares. But for now, I'm going to focus on enjoying this ride that I've been put on and savor every second like its my last.. 

In the coming weeks, I'll be releasing my latest work.. a short film. I haven't made a short film in over 2 years, since I made the promo trailer to pitch MADISON COUNTY. Before then it was film school.. so I'm excited to get this out there. Be on the look out for it. We had a bloody good time making it ;)

Til next time!


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