First up, congrats to my buddy Steven C. Miller on the SXSW premiere of his new action/thriller THE AGGRESSION SCALE! Steve has been a friend of mine ever since my earliest days out here in LA. We started going to church a while back when I reached out to him with no friends, whatsoever, in LA. I asked if he'd be so kind as to point me in the direction of a church and he did more than that.. he opened me up to a great group of people in LA and for that, I am forever grateful.
But Steve wasn't my only bud that took part in the ass-kicking.. Travis Stevens (a superhero of a producer), Zak Zeman (also a superhero of numerous powers.. among them, producing, writing and taste in music) and Evan Katz (another talented writer friend) all supported Steve and his vision as producers on the project! Zak was also a producer on the mega-popular V/H/S.. so congrats on TWO amazing films coming out to him!
Also, tonight on SyFy, Drew Daywalt's quirky killer leprechaun movie, LEPRECHAUN'S REVENGE had its official premiere! Drew's been dabbling in the dark stuff for a while now as a master of horror in the short form.. but tonight he took his talented and stretched them out for the world to see.. bravo dude! I can't wait for the next one!
Congrats to all of these fine folks and click the links to check out trailers for the films!
Okay, so.. life has been pretty crazy lately. MADISON COUNTY, as most of you know, is coming out May 8th! Recently we recorded the commentary, which hopefully will provide some insight into the making of the film.. and a few laughs. ROADSIDE is in post sound and I can't WAIT to get our composer's music on it. We're bringing back the ultra talented Igor Nemirovsky to do the music (who also did Madison) and let's just say.. he was born to do my movies :)
Can't wait to share all the exciting updates on Roadside as they become more available.. this is one film that I couldn't be more proud of and can't wait to see if get out there!
Currently, I'm knee deep in pre-production on my next feature film.. CONTRACTED. If you haven't seen any of the announcements, check out some of the links below and they should fill you in. This is a film that I've had brewing around in my brain for quite some time and finally the opportunity arose to make it with a really great, talented and passionate group of producers. Nothing excites me more than making movies with people that WANT to make movies!
Bloody-Disgusting makes sure I'll never get laid again with this headline.
This chick thinks I'm related to Freddy.
Now they're just spreading rumors..
Love Joblo. Good people.
I'm happy that we're able to bring back some of my cast and crew from Madison and Roadside on this film. As is the nature of the beast in filmmaking, you don't always work with the same people.. but you try to as often as possible (if you enjoy working with them, of course). Luckily, I've been able to get a lot of my usual suspects on this film. We're shooting in Los Angeles -- which will be an adventure of sorts since I'm used to shooting in more "film-friendly" places -- and on a budget like ours, we're definitely going to get creative to not let LA get the best of us.
Which brings me to the title of this particular blog entry.. because at the the current stage I'm at in the pre-production process.. most of my decisions will highly affect the quality in which CONTRACTED is made. Re-writing the script and locking in some of the cast (which is one of my favorite parts of the process) are high on the list right now.. but also, working on the visuals of the film.. how it will look and feel.
Every movie I do, I have a couple of personal objectives.. I want to tell a great story and make a solid movie. "Solid" is a very broad term, and what I mean by that is a well-made movie. I don't want it to look like an indie film, or as little like an indie film as possible. I want it to be able to compete with the studio pictures and stuff that are going to be in the redbox next to us anyway. Why? The audience isn't going to care. Nor should they. A movie is a movie.
But.. when I first became interested in filmmaking, the world was a different place. See.. "back in the day" as they say, indie films were less popular/mainstream and almost a sign of a bad film. Almost like "B-Movies". People would watch an indie film and say things like "why does it look funny?".. a lot of times they were referring to the digital photography.. or the lack of stars.. or even just the poor filmmaking techniques. They couldn't really put a finger on it.. but they knew it was different.
NOW.. we're at a different place. Movies like Paranormal Activity and numerous others have accented a generation built on independent/low budget films. It's funny.. because when I would show my friends, family, etc a low budget movie.. they would ask the same things. I would have to explain to them how this movie was made and why it was "different" than the movies they were used to watching. But the funny thing is now.. low budget films have almost had a reverse effect on the viewer. Rather than thinking a low budget film looks different, they're used to it.. they're used to the digital cameras, the new techniques and the lack of stars in their films. Audiences have almost come to EXPECT lower quality in the films they watch..
Which is why one of the greatest compliments I get on Madison County is "Wow.. it looks great!" or "It looks like a real movie!". A lot of times I ask myself.. "Is that really a compliment?". I mean.. it IS a movie. I want it to look good. My DP did a good job, I want to think that I did a good job on the shots, so why wouldn't it? Then.. I remember the "reverse effect". Where people EXPECT certain things from low budget films.. now, rather than being startled by the LACK of quality in a film.. they're startled by the QUALITY in a film.. which is something I never took into account.. at least subliminally.
I mean, I've ALWAYS wanted to make "good looking" films. Films that were cinematic and easy to watch. That's part of my job as a director. But never did I think it would become a "stamp" of sorts. See, now.. when I'm in a meeting with a bigger company, or even a smaller producer.. one of the main selling points that is brought up is how I'm able to achieve a "big look" on little money. I always wanted to do that.. not because I thought it would make me stand out, but because I wanted to show audiences/people/viewers that little money didn't HAVE to mean little quality. Isn't that every filmmakers goal? Apparently not. I've begged and pleaded with companies like The Asylum, who make such gems as SNAKES ON A TRAIN and TRANSMORPHERS to let me direct a film for them.. just to see if my theory is correct. I can't even get THESE GUYS to let me do a film for them!
Some of the main films Madison County gets compared to are The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (remake), The Hills Have Eyes (remake) and Wrong Turn.. among others. While a lot of people complain about "originality" -- which when you watch the film, you'll see how it's nothing like those -- they fail to see that they're comparing it to multi-million dollar films. Now granted, there are a TON of tiny budget films out there that look like a million bucks. But rarely ever do you see them made in the under $100k range (which Madison County is). And that was one of my goals.. to make a movie for far less money than even the ORIGINAL films of the horror golden era were made and make them look like the high dollar remakes of today. So far, it's worked.
But my main point is that it startled me that people are startled by the quality of low budget films these days. This screams to me that the people cutting the checks need to really evaluate the filmmakers they're putting behind the cameras. I see studio films that look like garbage, have no substance and are just plain dull. Who am I to judge though? They're making more money than me.. as are their films.
But I want to hope and pray that the future of cinema are lurking on the internet, same as me right now.. hoping for that one shot where they get the chance to make a "big film" that can make a difference. In a day and age where this town wants to cash in on fads and recreations of popularity, we need some fresh air. We need some new voices. Someone that will do something in the right direction and the decision makers will trying to follow that example.
My next film, CONTRACTED, is hopefully a step in the right direction. It's a hot topic so to speak.. I mean, sex sells.. but it's a gruesome little movie. Intimate, dark and bleak. But I'm hoping it hits enough high notes to where someone wants to put it out there on a larger stage. Same thing with Roadside.. a very high concept film that could be a very popular film in cinemas.. asking audiences "What would you do?".
As my May start date for Contracted gets closer, I'll update with cast information and hopefully some fun behind the scenes type stuff. Maybe we'll have a big online orgy and catch whatever this nasty thing is together ;)