I actually had a message from a young filmmaker on my Facebook Page the other day asking if I was going to update my blog. I felt like I had recently and when I looked back.. my last post was in JULY. Crazy. That's how life is out here. In the blink of an eye, you're several months away from where you last said "I'll get to that in a bit". As a result, I have scripts sitting on my desktop that have been there for years, waiting for me to crack them open and peek inside. It's a terrible thing. Sorry to those of you that I said I would read -- I swear I will one day.
I've spoken about this in the past and I think it bares repeating.. a blog can be a very self-indulgent thing. It's a lot of "me", "I" and "check this out!", and I apologize for that. Admittedly, part of this blog is to promote what I do and give some sort of hub for any information one may want to find about my films, or I.. but it's also here to provide a peek behind the curtain. A look in the life of a filmmaker. Not a successful one.. not a failure.. just someone that is finding his path in this industry. That's what this entry is about.
I haven't updated this in quite some time because of the craziness that's been going on behind the scenes. I say craziness in a good and bad way. Good because I've been busy. My films are all actively progressing and I've got some great things happening in the very near future that I can't wait to share. But things have also been tough. Emotionally, mentally, psychologically, financially.. being a filmmaker isn't as glamorous as one may think.
Before this turns into a sob story with hurls of insults like "Cry me a river, you make movies for a living!" -- that's not it. I love what I do. I'm thankful everyday that my job is to make films. I'm humbled that people watch them.. My mind is blown by those that actually enjoy them.. but times are tough and making a "living" at this ain't easy.
There's a common misconception about filmmakers.. and it's all thanks to the internet. The misconception is most filmmakers are in some sort of exclusive club together. While that may be true on some sort of EYES WIDE SHUT kind of level, it's not true on the surface. We don't all know each other. We don't see every movie ever made and we certainly (and this is the big one).. don't all make massive amounts of money. Nor do we even know what's happening with the films we make most of the time. It's a sad truth.. but when I was in high school, if some indie filmmaker had an article on Bloody-Disgusting next to an article about Eli Roth, I figured those two dudes were in the same boat. Different movies, different stories.. but they must know each other. Must make similar amounts of money. Hell, they're at least members of the same yacht club! Not quite.
|Eli Roth (Yacht Owner) @ GQ Event|
The reality is.. a lot of us went to film school, which racked up massive amounts of debt (myself included). Those lucky enough to not have school debt, still may need a day job. Movies don't just happen when we want them to.. and if you do have control over the films you're making, you're in one of two places.. you're either extremely wealthy and have a ton of studio control, or you're dirt poor and the word "budget" doesn't apply to you.
|Eric England (Huffy Owner - 10 Speed)|
I can't speak for other filmmakers, I can only speak for myself.. (Once again, transparency). But there's a silver living (not the David O. Russell film, although that was a brilliant film) to most bad things in this business. A thing that picks you up when you're down. A light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe it's nature, or God's way of providing balance. Some call it karma. But it's there. The hard part.. is seeing it. And sometimes you have to have faith and keep pushing yourself to continue.. even when you can't see that light yet. Because you know it's going to be there. As a form of therapy, I'd like to talk about some of those things that have been weighing on me and hopefully help show you readers that silver linings are what this business is all about.
After CONTRACTED wrapped, we went into a flurry of post-production. I met a young editor by the name of Josh Ethier who ended up cutting the film for me and doing a fucking fantastic job. Josh taught me a lot about editing and really brought this film to an entirely new level. Wise beyond his years and talented as hell, Josh man-handled this movie into a lean mean, gross, weird.. movie about an STD. I owe him a lot and when you see the film.. even if you hate it, you can't hate the editing. It's impossible. I'd be honored to have Josh cut any film I'm apart of from here on out. We even did the sequel to THE TRICK OR TREATER together:
While post-production was happening, I got a call from my manager and was told there was a project sitting in my e-mail, waiting for me to lay eyes on it. I asked what it was about and he gave me a quick pitch: found footage, horror, supernatural. Yuck. I wasn't interested.. but he urged me to take a look. My girlfriend, laying on the couch across from where I type this at this very moment, also pushed me to read.. they were right. I was/still am not in any position to turn down work. I cracked open the treatment and was pleasantly surprised at what I read. It wasn't as cliche as I thought it would be and best of all.. the writer had a solid resume.. the kind with A-list talent in previous films. Apparently he was slumming it to try and get in on all the gold that Hollywood is hoarding with these micro-budget genre films. Smart.. but lighting in a bottle can't be bought. It can strike twice.. if you're James Wan ;) (Hey, James!)
So I took the meeting. I saw some potential in the material to do something kind of unique and original that would play to my strengths. Walking in I was nervous.. the deal was this: the script was being written, they needed a director ASAP to help develop and they wanted to shoot during Thanksgiving, before Christmas.. when Hollywood dies, essentially. Okay, great. I like to move fast and who doesn't like to get paid to make movies? Perhaps I'll be able to bring on my team? I owe them big for doing all these tiny movies with me. I was optimistic. I hit the meeting and I'm talking with one of the producers. They've seen MC and they dig it. They were excited to meet with me. Cool! The CEO of the company was running behind, but finally made it in. Within 10 minutes of meeting her, the meeting was out of control amazing.. We were totally on the same page with the film. They wanted to make exactly the same kind of film I wanted to make (which is rare) and they loved what I was able to do with little money. The meeting went so well that the CEO even kept pushing back other meetings to stay in the room with me (I know because her assistant kept popping in to say "Ma'am, your 1 o'clock is here".. and she'd say, "Tell them I have to push". I was like "Whaaaa?!"). She was literally turning away people (who I can only assume are more important than me because I'm at the bottom of the barrel in this industry) who are ACTUALLY sitting in the waiting room with a scheduled meeting, waiting to see her. No way. But way. It was happening. All in all, the meeting lasted TWO HOURS, filled with intense discussions about how I would make the film, what would happen with it for distribution, and all the little details. It felt like we were already making the film! It was insane. Before I left the room they asked "Keep your November open".
I was high as a kite.
There was no way that meeting just went that well.. and with my luck, on a film that I originally didn't even want to consider. "Lesson learned, asshole!", I thought. I called my manager to tell him the good news. The execs had beat me to it. He said they were raving about me. Wow. Butterflies. Let's do it.
A few weeks goes by.. No follow-up meeting (which they promised we would have because they were upset they had to cut the first one short at 2 hours). No offer. No script. No nothing. Balls. I keep hounding my manager -- "They're sitting on it. Still meeting with directors.", he tells me. "Who else could they be looking at?! They loved me?!". My girlfriend told me, "You've been through this before.. (she was right).. this is what these people do. They just wanna see some others before finalizing". I get that. Finally.. the call came from my manager!!!!!!!!!!!
....."They're going with someone else.. a TV director." Huh?
......I was devastated. I needed this. Apparently they had chosen this guy because he'd done a TV show that handled some similar subject matter. I tried to tell myself that it was out of my hands.. but I couldn't believe it. Only if Madison was better. Or if ROADSIDE was ready to show them.. There had to be something I could've done differently.
I did end up doing another project before the end of the year. That took up most of my November and December. I haven't spoken much about it and I'll continue not to. If you follow me, I'm sure it's not hard to figure out. A quick Google, or IMDB, search should do it. But my experience on that project would end up being the final rusty nail in the cramped, rotted coffin of a bittersweet year in filmmaking.
I don't want to elaborate on what happened, here. It's a terrible, awful and ugly story.. but I made some real friends during the making of that film. I just wish their hard work was realized the way I had originally intended for it to be.. But I wish the people behind that film all the best with it and I hope it turned out great.
Picking up the pieces at the beginning of this year seemed paramount. I had to get busy. Partially to wash the taste out of my mouth from the end of the year, but also.. just to turn over a new leaf. Keep the momentum going. January and February are two of the slowest months in this town (Imagine that.. Nov/Dec, this place shuts down and Jan/Feb are slow.. when does anyone get any work done around here?!). I tried to make things happen. I called producers, my manager, my lawyer, other filmmakers.. I just wanted to do something. Let's make something happen. Nothing was giving.
Finally, I got a call from another producer. One who had been looking to work with me for a while.. The phone call basically started with "What's your calendar look like for the next couple of months?". Obviously my answer was.. "What's cookin' good lookin'"? I was swept into the fancy offices and with arms spread wide open they said.. "Pitch us". So I did.. pitch after pitch.. Even past this meeting. Day after day. In total, I think roughly 6 pitches were given and 4 actual scripts were sent for consideration. When I was brought in initially they wanted to shoot ASAP. Let's get something going NOW. We wanna shoot in 8 weeks.
8 weeks later.. I'm still trying to find something they like. I'm now coming up with ideas I don't even care about. I'm looking to direct scripts that just fit a model. Not my model. Someone else's model. There was no passion in it. It wasn't me. And the worst part about it? The budget was big enough that I could potentially make it as one of my own Southern Fried Films. So why was I busting my ass just to work at the same (budget) level on a project I didn't care about? The benefit of doing films on a low budget level is to have CONTROL. I didn't have control of this. What was wrong with me? I was desperate......
Shame on me.
I picked myself up, dusted myself off and told myself I had better things to look forward to. By this point, CONTRACTED was doing amazing things (things I can't reveal yet -- but soon) and we were talking to MAJOR festivals. Festivals that wouldn't even return my calls on Madison. I was optimistic. Again.
..and just when I didn't think something would happen, something did. I found an investor. And not just an investor.. A partner. Someone who believed in me. Someone that wanted to cultivate and grow with me. Someone that said "let's make a movie" and meant it. Someone who found Madison County online, bought the film, watched it, listened the commentary and wanted to get in touch. Amazing. Thank you, internet! For privacy reasons, I'm not going to elaborate too much on who this person is or what we have in store.. but it's the beginning of a new chapter in my life and it came at a time when I needed it most. I remember looking to my girlfriend and saying, "I'm making my next film..". It's an amazing feeling to say that and know that it's true. I'm thankful for that. I hope that feeling never goes away. And I don't think it will. I can proudly say that things are moving along with this.. and this IS happening. I can't wait to say more about it soon.. but not here.. not yet.. because we're only still in February.
My birthday happened on Feb 23.. just like it does every year (Ha!). I saw faces that I love and was reminded of the amazing people in my life. People who support me, believe in me, and I in them. It's amazing, the friends I've made out here, all talented in their own right. I'm forever grateful for you all. I was even blessed with a present by several of them (Thank you, guys!).. orchestrated by the lovely Caroline Williams and Matt Mercer. A new GoPro camera.. which is motivating me to be more adventurous, so that one day I may be able to film my death while doing something stupid :)
|My beard accepting my birthday present from some pretty blonde gal.|
The meeting was one of those weird "Hollywood" meetings where you don't really know how it's going until it goes really bad, or really well. A lot of casual talk and joke cracking, trying to break the ice. One of the first questions asked to me was "How much are you looking to do it for and when would you like to shoot?". Straight forward - I like these guys. I feel them out to see if they can deliver on what they say they can. Track record looks good and they seem to know their shit. I'm in. We sit on the lot for about 4 hours talking and shooting the shit. We even had to run around and find places that weren't in the shade because it was freezing. It was a great meeting. The kind where you didn't want it to end. We were vibing so well. "I really like these guys", I thought. This could be the start of something new! But by the end of the meeting, we were shaking hands, hugging and saying "This is going to be an amazing film.. we can't wait to work together!". Holy shit. Did that just happen?
Before I get home.. an e-mail. The producers. Lots of exclamation points. They're excited. So am I. I love enthusiasm. A lot of people in this business try to hold blue steel and not show emotion. Fuck that. We're a bunch of douchey artists displaying our emotions on screen.. why can't we show them off screen? I'm a person. I get excited about things and I get down. This, I was excited for.
The next day.. a contract shows up in my e-mail. Holy Mother of God. This is legit. Happening. Not to mention.. this is a PASSION PROJECT of mine. At a budget level that's somewhat APPROPRIATE! I'm over the moon. This sounds amazing, right? Too good to be true, right? Especially since I just found a partner to do another film with! Too many good things are happening at once.. something has to go wrong..
.....within a week, that project was off the table. To be completely honest (which is why we're all here, isn't it?), I'm not sure why. Issues with legal/contracts/egos.. it all sucks and it's all muddy around where things went wrong. Where I come from, it's a handshake and you're good to go. I wish movies were made like that. But one of the producers was a true sweetheart whom I remain in contact with to this day, who still loves the project and wants to make it. Through a meeting from a mutal friend, I found another good person I'd like to work with in this town. All worth it. Perhaps there's still hope for this project yet, in the future? (Silver linings, remember!)
|Which is it?|
The night of the ROADSIDE premiere was nerve-wracking. It's funny because the week leading up to it.. I was cool as a cucumber. I had this feeling of "I've done this before.. I've shown a movie to a theater full of people before.. how hard could it be?". But I was wrong. The moment I set foot in the cinema, my stomach was in knots. It was REAL.. again. I remember recalling one of the biggest reasons why I was scared that night to Ace.. ROADSIDE wasn't MADISON COUNTY. In a good way and a bad way. Why? Well.. Madison has some amazing fans. People that really love and appreciate that film (you're awesome!). But it also has some people that hate it with a passion (you're awesome as well, I guess). So when I realized this, every fiber in my being got tense.
What if people hated the film because it wasn't enough like Madison? What if it IS like Madison County and I just can't see it? That would suck.. because I'm a different person. A different filmmaker. I want to grow and get better.. but then another thought hit me: what if I tried to grow too much? What if people thought "This kid is taking on movies that are way out of his range". I was terrified. I had to shake that.. so I did what any self-respecting, nervous filmmaker would do.. I hit the bar. Several times. Luckily by the 15th beer (kidding, it was only like 2), I heard clapping and the film was done.
I asked the group of people I was with how the audience responded. How they felt during the film? They all said it played well.. but you can never tell if people are being truthful in that moment. So I just allowed myself to believe it.. even if it was a lie.
It's always a good sign when about 90% of your audience stays for the Q&A, which they did. Very grateful for that. Lots of folks came up and gave us congratulations, which always feels nice and for the most part.. from what I could tell, people liked the film. That whole week, reviews kept pouring in saying things like:
"A creepy and intense little thriller that pays homage to Hitchcock with a slick premise and favorable performances." - MovieWeb.com
"With Roadside, England proves that you don’t have to have a big budget to make a good film." - ShockTillYouDrop.com
"Sopping wet with Hitchcockian influences, ROADSIDE stands out for its deft talent in ratcheting up the tension." - AintItCoolNews.com
"If you were just watching this one out of the blue, it would be easy to mistake Roadside as a studio film with how excellent the overall production is.. Hitchcock would be proud." - SlackJawPunks.com
"England has crafted - at this point - his professional pièce de résistance." - Best-Horror-Movies.com
I was blown away. Humbled. Honored. Ecstatic. I know not everyone will like the film.. but right out of the gate, to get amazing reviews that are all pretty in sync with each other.. We had done our job. I'm so proud of my team, especially my lead actors: Ace and Katie. They carry this film in ways that most actors really couldn't. They shine beyond their years and are in almost every single scene of this film. To sit and watch two unknown actors carry a film and still enjoy it? That says volumes about those actors. Don't sleep on these two. They're going to be huge soon. Watch.
|ROADSIDE Q&A with (starting from the left): Alan Pietruszewski, Ace Marrero, Katie Stegeman, myself, Jack E. Curenton and Lionel D. Carson|
March continued on and we were gearing up to head down to the Little Rock Film Festvial in Arkansas. I was so excited to bring the film home and show those who have been around me my entire life. The festival was amazing this year. A really talented crop of filmmakers came in and showed some amazing films. I'd like to take a minute to highlight those:
SATURDAY MORNING MASSACRE (Directed by Spencer Parsons)
MOTIVATIONAL GROWTH (Directed by Don Thacker)
JUG FACE (Directed by Chad Crawford Kinkle)
KILLER KART (Directed by James Feeney)
These films were so fun to watch and so inspiring. The filmmakers were even better. It's always great to get out and meet like-minded artists who share a common passion. No egos. No dick measuring. Just good people having a good time. Film festivals are an amazing way to get out there, meet your peers, see what they're doing and hear their influences. I personally get so inspired when I meet other filmmakers, whose work I admire. Nothing drives me more to know that someone I admire is doing it.. so can I. I highly recommend any young filmmakers out there to get in touch with the Little Rock Film Festival and the Little Rock Horror Picture Show. It's an amazing event that's just getting bigger and bigger. MOTIVATIONAL GROWTH and JUG FACE both took home awards and we ended the night with an awesome burlesque show. How many film festivals can say that?! It was the perfect way to cap things off. I can only hope that I'll be back down there for more in the future. I loved meeting all the new filmmakers and I can honestly say that they're a bunch of folks that I now consider friends and will definitely be following their success from here on out!
|The crew of the LRFF (Starting from back left): James Feeney, Spencer Parsons, Jonny Mars, myself, Don Thacker and Chad Crawford Kinkle. (Below from left): Alexis Thacker, JP, Ace Marrero and Katie Stegeman|
Right before the screening of ROADSIDE, I was a nervous wreck. Bringing a film home is always fun.. but it's always usually the most nerve-wracking. This is the audience I was influenced by. These are the people that know me best. I have roots here. I have to impress them.. but any of that was sidelined when I got a strange e-mail from a friend. This friend happened to be a writer and was writing me to tell me he had a deal on the table for one of his scripts.. GREAT! He informed me that it was a script I was interested in and that the company/producers had received it from me. Okay, even better! Glad I could help. Maybe they'll wanna do it with me? He ended up telling me that the company was the SAME company that I had sent all those scripts and pitches to just a few months ago.
Yeah. I tried to keep my cool. Maybe I'm just jumping the gun. There's no way this company would pass on a script I sent them when they "Wanted to work with me ASAP" and then go around me to option the material I sent them.. Right? Wrong. They could. I didn't own the script. But here's the catch.. they needed me to sign a release so they could option the script to the company. Talk about a pickle.
Without any hesitation, I was ready to sign. I wasn't about to hurt a friend financially and keep him from getting money. That's his rightful money. No matter how shitty the situation is for me. So I contact the company -- maybe there's one of those silver linings I keep talking about? Maybe they DO wanna do the film with me and they're just getting it going and are about to include me?
I inquire: "Hey, what's going on with __________?", I asked. "We're developing it for now.", I'm told. "Great! Well, since I sent it to you when you wanted to do something and now you're picking it up.. seems kismet that this is the project we should do together"...
"We're not looking at directors for it right now"..
If this was a cartoon, this is the part of the story where the tire sound fx come screeching to a halt, the picture freezes and Bugs Bunny walks out and gives some exposition. To sum it up.. Hollywood doesn't make sense.. and when people you know don't make sense and it affects you, walk away. Most of the decisions in this town don't make sense. "He who has the gold makes the rules" and it couldn't be more true. I'm sure there's a reason behind the actions.. but they're not always communicated. Communication is key in any relationship. Most people out here don't communicate well. It's a shame.
But there's one thing we have and need to keep close to us.. our integrity. It's hard to remember and keep intact because we all want to be accepted.. but we don't have to do shit we don't want to. Especially now, with the business in this climate. Que inspirational music with troops marching in the background!
There are so many filmmakers and movies being made now that companies are using it to create turmoil in the filmmaking communities. Pitting us against one another. Scrapping for what little money/projects are left.. and the ones that are left are the smallest they've ever been! Do you know how many meetings I've had with companies that have MILLIONS of dollars.. yet they want to make films the size of Paranormal Activity? These companies were fine before they discovered PA, but now they want to spend less and make more, regardless of who it hurts.. greed.
What a lot of filmmakers (and companies) don't realize is because of this.. we don't have to take it. They're low balling the hell out of us with their micro-budgets, but because of that.. they're coming down to OUR level. It used to be that we wanted to be on their level. With their money. We still want that.. but they're not spending that money anymore. They're keeping it for themselves. So things have to change. Why should we bust our ass to make a tiny film that's paid for by a studio when there's a pretty damn good shot that we can raise that money ourselves, or Kickstarter it?
Hollywood is Thunderdome.
The moment people realize this, it's going to be bananas. New filmmakers, and I'm not even talking about myself, or my peers, I'm talking about the kids that are growing up with YouTube, 5Ds, all these new technologies and learning how to make videos in a way we never did.. are going to come up and they're going to be scary. Because they know how to do things outside the system. Technology is breeding new artists every year. It's only a matter of time.
So I have to remind myself of that. After all the rejections (and trust me, there are plenty I'm not including in this entry) and all the hardships.. It's not going to get any easier. These companies aren't going to spend money like they used to and more and more filmmakers are coming to this town to try and get a piece of what little pie is left. It's daunting, right? But I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. It makes me want to work harder. Knowing that I have these struggles is how I know that I'm doing something right. When I was a sixteen year old kid, sitting on my couch, watching movies with my Father.. I would have given my right arm to know the troubles of being a filmmaker.. To have these exact same problems. Now I do.
That's the biggest silver lining of all.
I titled this entry March Madness because of the NCAA tournament. If you know anything about me, or if you've followed this blog.. you know that I used to play basketball. It was my life. I don't get to watch as much of it as I used to, but I wish I did. DUKE is my favorite team. I get a lot of shit for it. That's fine. I'm used to it. But I love the team because of their coach. Every year Coach K builds up his program and the odds are stacked against him. Everyone wants to see DUKE lose. Each team they play against is going to play their hardest to try and beat them.. because they know DUKE is the favorite. DUKE has the prestige. The tournament is Thunderdome. It's where the teams go to kill each other other for the National Title. If they lose, they go home. If they win, they get history. Glory. Infamy.
But what happens after that? You do it again.. You come back and try and again next year. A whole year to try and get back to where you were.. climbing that mountain. The coaches, the players, if they're not seniors. Or if they go pro.. they do the same thing. Always trying to achieve something.. over and over again. That's like the film industry. If you make a great film.. it's amazing. What do you get? Fame? Money? An Oscar? But what happens after that? You have to make another great film that lives up. You have pressure.. it never ends.
Someone asked me "When will you know you've 'made it'?".. that's a great question. I don't know if I ever will. When I was a kid, I would've said "making it" is when I'm on set calling "Action". I've done that on 3 feature films now. I would've said "When I'm holding a copy of my own movie on DVD".. There's one sitting less than fifteen feet away from me. I don't take that for granted, but "making it" is relative. It's when you're "content" and I don't think any artist ever is. I like to look at it in the form of AMERICAN IDOL.. because almost everyone knows that format:
When the person who wins IDOL first enters into the stadium for their first audition.. they may have hopes and dreams of "making it", but when does it "hit them" that they have? I'm sure so many of them just hoped to get that golden ticket.. am I right? I'm sure they all said "if I can just get that.. I'll know I have made it". But then reality hits when they get to Hollywood week. What if they get put with someone that's sick? Or someone they don't get along with? That could derail their dreams and send them packing. But then they make it past that round.. Then what? They have to make it through Judge's week. They have to impress the judges and they're terrified.. hoping the judges don't send them home. If you asked them "have you made it?", I'm sure they'd say.. I'm just hoping to make it to next week.
It's amazing, the perspective changes you have when chasing your dream. When they're standing on that IDOL stage and America has chosen them as the next American Idol.. I'm sure they've felt like "I've made it". The same way you do on the night of your first big movie premiere. But then what happens after the show is over and a you're not on TV every week anymore? You have to make your first album.. you have to top the charts. You're compared to Carrie Underwood. People have expectations. Suddenly.. they don't know if they've "made it" yet.. Being in the spotlight doesn't last forever.
So when things don't always go my way.. I remind myself.. I'm fighting. I'm in the middle of this. I know where I want to be.. but you never know when you're going to get there. You just keep going until you can't go anymore.. Don't stop to look back or down. Just keep going. A lot of times people get frustrated when they see others succeeding in areas they really want to and are not. But what you don't realize is you're seeing the highlight reel of someone else's life. You're not seeing the struggles that they're going through.. that are the same ones you're going through.
Transparency isn't given everywhere.
I've had a lot of ups and downs over the last few months. Personal and professional struggles that all kept me from being transparent. I was embarrassed. I was desperate. I was too depressed to come on here and write about what was happening. Perhaps I should have.. maybe it would have helped me get through it quicker. But lately I've been talking with friends and loved ones about being vulnerable. Being open. I have a tendency to try and be a robot with my emotions sometimes. I don't like to show when things are bothering me. I like to swallow and keep going. But eventually.. that's going to catch up. I'm not a robot. I can't be. This is my attempt at being human. Please bare with me.
I want to leave this entry with a thought on the passing of the amazing legend that is ROGER EBERT, and a send congratulations to the success of some of my friends and peers.
The passing of Roger Ebert is one that will be felt in the filmmaking community for years to come. Whether you agreed with his reviews, or not, is irrelevant. The man was an icon. A legend. Growing up, when asking what people thought of a movie, I was usually met with a thumbs up, or down. A signature move of Mr. Ebert. His name is synonymous with filmmaking among the likes of STEVEN SPIELBERG. When you think of critiquing a movie.. you think of him. I am sad that I'll never have the honor of having my work reviewed by him, but I'm thankful that his discussions and discourse have been a massive influence in opening my mind to the criticism of art. Because, as I've said in the past.. art is subjective. There is not good or bad, right or wrong. It is true that we've lost one of the most brilliant minds of our generation. I can only hope that one day I'll see Mr. Ebert sitting in that big cinema in the sky.
Rest in Peace, Roger Ebert.
To wrap this up, I want to send a big congratulations out to some friends who have had some awesome news in the past few weeks:
Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard's YOU'RE NEXT is hitting theaters this August, via Lionsgate and the first trailer for the film has been released, along with some art work. This is an amazing film (and accomplishment on a low budget) and I urge any film fans out there to seek it out! Simon plays BJ in CONTRACTED and has been a friend and inspiration to me for a few years now. I'm excited to see the world taking notice of his and Adam's obvious talent!
Evan Katz and Travis Stevens on the SXSW premiere, sale and raving reviews of their latest feature CHEAP THRILLS. This is Evan's directorial debut and although I haven't seen the film yet.. I can only imagine it's every bit as good as I've been hearing it is. I've known Evan for several years now and owe one of the worst hangovers I've ever had to him after he lent me his badge at Comic Con in '09 to hit an open bar. I can't wait to see what he and Travis have cooked up together and I urge you to check it out when it hits theaters later this year!
Chad Crawford Kinkle and Andrew van den Houten on the sale of their film, JUG FACE! I was fortunate enough to read the script for Jug Face before production after Chad and Andrew asked me to audition for it. Needless to say, I suck as an actor and didn't get the part.. but the film turned out every bit as good as I knew it would without me (probably for the better). This is a fun, twisted little backwoods film and it's coming at you on VOD in July. If you like weird things (and if you're reading this blog, I'm sure you do.. do yourself a favor and watch it).
Last, but certainly not least.. A big congrats to Spencer Parson and Jonny Mars on the sale of their film SATURDAY MORNING MASSACRE! This is a fun film inspired by SCOOBY-DOO (yes, I said SCOOBY-FUCKING-DOO) that somehow turns into a crazy, almost Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 like film.. it's insanely fun. Insanely gory and I think a lot of people are going to dig it. Jonny dishes out a really great performance in it and one of the best Scooby-Doo impressions I've ever seen. It's worth seeing for that alone.
So I guess that wraps up this entry. Apologies in advance for the length.. but when you've been silent for a while, I guess you have a lot to say. I look forward to updating you on the crazy stuff that's happening (and trust me, there's a lot of it happening soon) and I can't wait for you all to see ROADSIDE and CONTRACTED!
'Til next time,