Thursday, November 3, 2011

First Impressions

As the dust settles from Halloween and we get ready for the coming fall and turkey season, I find myself at a weird "calm before the storm" place in my life. For starters, I'm going home for Christmas and leaving town for Thanksgiving, which is something I haven't really had the luxury of doing a lot over the last couple of years. In 2009, I was shooting the final day of HOSTILE ENCOUNTER around Thanksgiving in California. In 2010, I was in post on MADISON COUNTY -- so for 2011 -- I'm trying to get away for a bit, even though I'm in post on ROADSIDE.

Shooting HOSTILE ENCOUNTER
Shooting MADISON COUNTY
I'm really excited to be getting out of LA and back to the South.. there's just something about the laid back nature of the South that really puts me at ease. Granted, it does slow me down and make me want to get back to LA as soon as possible, but it's nice to get away every once in a while and just clear your head. Especially with the year that I have coming up.. as of right now, Madison County is looking like it's going to be released in the first quarter of next year (don't quote me on that) and Roadside will be hitting festivals around the same time.. I also have a couple of films in the works that may or may not happen at the beginning of the year, so I have to be ready for anything (the unpredictable life of an indie filmmaker).

This calm feeling I have comes from the whirlwind of a life that has been the last few weeks. It was capped off with the release of our new poster (Below) made by the grossly talented Tom "The Dude" Hodge. With the release of this new poster, it seemed like a lot of new news sites caught wind of the film that hadn't before.. which is great! But it also brings along a new "audience" of people to cast judgment on the film.. and the filmmaker.


The title of this blog entry is "First Impressions" because I read a comment (yes, I read the comments posted about my film-- I know it's "taboo" or a "no-no", but it's 2011 and I'm a young filmmaker that wants to learn and plus.. I'm a glutton for punishment) from a user that absolutely trashed the poster, the trailer and myself as a filmmaker saying firmly that "Eric England only gets one chance as a filmmaker and he just killed it with me. I won't be seeing anything else from him in the future".. and while I fully understand that I'm not going to please everyone, nor do I intend to, I had to stop and wonder.. how true is this throughout the rest of the world?

My manager and I have had extensive talks about "how to introduce" myself and my work into the marketplace.. how to make the best splash. I think everyone wants that RESERVOIR DOGS style first impression, right? Or more recently, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY or SAW.. They want you to be a hit.. so that you can be successful, right? I've heard a million times.. do you want Madison County to be the first film that people know you for? Do you feel comfortable saying "This is me"? The answer is YES. Without a doubt.. yes. Madison County IS me. I wouldn't have made it if it wasn't. Every flaw. Every problem.. all me. And I'm proud of it.


The user that posted the comment hurled negative comments at the film and myself, among other internet trolls.. I'm used to this as its a common thing in the horror genre over the last decade or so. I used to be one of those kids posting on forums and reading message boards.. I'm a product of the internet. I was one of James Wan's first Myspace friends. I asked obnoxious questions to filmmakers that I looked up to.. but NEVER did I trash someone else's film, especially before I've seen it. But-- everyone is entitled to their opinion.. but before they cement their opinion, I think they should first look at why they're trashing my film and why NO film, whether made by me or not, will probably live up to their fantasy idea of "the next great horror film".

First off, MADISON COUNTY is NOT a true slasher film. I never set out for it to be one and I've said that numerous times. Is it a slasher film? Yes... among many things. It's also a dramatic thriller. It also has some comedy. It also has some satire. I set out to make a genre bending film on the inside with a very generic shell that is great for marketing on the outside. Why? Because I needed a film that would get my name out there.. people don't watch movies that look like they might be different. It's just the truth. I've gotten more comments on the Pig Head in the film than the characters, the story, etc.. because people like simple, exploitable elements.. only WE as filmmakers and fans, appreciate the little details of the story, characters, plot, twists, etc.

Along with this user's comments, I saw another user comment -- who had actually SEEN the film -- and began ripping Madison apart because Damien WASN'T LIKE Freddy, Jason, Michael or Leatherface.. saying that he had no "back story" -- (which he does), no "iconic" weapon and that they didn't see enough of him and questions were left unanswered, etc, etc...


Well, let me dissect all of this for those that are looking for the "holy grail of original horror films". First off, you WANT ORIGINAL films, right? Then why are you upset that my killer isn't LIKE the other killers you've seen in films? I did something DIFFERENT.. right? I didn't want him to have a chainsaw, a machete, or knives for fingers because that's BEEN DONE. Damien's backstory is clearly explained in the middle of the movie and the REASON you don't see him very much in the film is because.. (get ready for this shocker) IT'S NOT HIS MOVIE. Madison County is not a movie about a SERIAL KILLER. It's a movie that has a SERIAL KILLER in it. The same way Hannibal Lecter isn't the main character of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.. it's not HIS movie, it's about the people AROUND him. The parts of the movie that don't involve killing or "horror" are meant to be that way.. separate from the rest of the film.. to get to know these characters, understand who they are.. to (hopefully) care about them.


These moments have often been described as drama/comedy because they're real.. they're just natural.. which is what I wanted. Just like leaving some things left than explained.. I have sequels in mind. If I wanted to wrap those things up, I would have. Just accept it. I don't like films that wrap up in a little bow.. so I don't plan on making films that do that. And if you didn't understand something in the film.. watch it again. It's explained. It may be in tiny details.. but its explained. There are people out there that get it, trust me. They've gone into explicit detail about the details they caught and didn't like.. and I welcome those opinions because they got the full picture and made a very educated decision rather than just saying "its a pig headed killer with little gore?.. pass".

A slow burn, dramatic horror/slasher film.. I haven't seen many.. have you? No. So while Madison County is not the most original horror film in the world, or reinventing the wheel.. it does do things a little differently than what people are used to.. but people don't like DIFFERENT things, even though they bitch about wanting something NEW. They want it to be NEW.. but FAMILIAR.. THE SAME. But at the end of the day, I'm a fan far before I'm a filmmaker.. so I make films that I, as a fan, want to see. I HATED CABIN FEVER the first time I saw it.. then I grew to love it. Is it the most original film ever? Not by a long shot. But it did things a little differently. I didn't love HOUSE OF THE DEVIL the first time I saw it.. but it grew on me. It's the little details from these unique and talented filmmakers that suck me into a movie and make me appreciate it more and more as a fan.


So when I think of the first impressions made by my favorite filmmakers (whether it was their actual first impression, or just the first film of theirs that I had seen), you can rest assured that they're proud of their work or it wouldn't be out in the world for people to see. Madison County may be my first official feature film, but it won't be the first film of mine that people see in the future. Some people may see Roadside first, or whatever I do after Roadside.. and then work their way back to Madison County. But I'm a young filmmaker, I'm growing.. to sum up a filmmakers' entire body of work from their first film is a little premature and closed minded. I wouldn't do that to someone, so I would hope that no one would do that to anyone else.

With all of that said, I'm proud of the first impression I've made so far. Even if I'm not a millionaire, or my film isn't going to break box office records, its still a film that WE made together and I couldn't be more proud to use it as a way to introduce myself, and my team to the world. Be on the look out for announcements on where to see Madison County around the world, thanks to Raven Banner Entertainment! :) Rant/OFF.

'Til Next Time,

EE