Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Today I restarted up my MMA training. I'm trying to ease back into it, starting with the Thai boxing first to get my stamina back, and then gradually stepping up to the Jiu-Jitsu again. It felt great..due to some other factors (the diet I'm on, and generally working out more), I actually didn't throw up or pass out. The guy that runs the gym is Saul Soliz, trainer of Tito Ortiz and Ricco Rodriguez (he was also on Season 3 of "The Ultimate Fighter" as the boxing coach). He's also a pretty good friend of mine...but man...he's a serious hardass when it comes to the training. Which is exactly what I need right now, and also the reason that I would never go anywhere else to train. I was pretty proud of the fact that he only said "Mel, that looked like shit" once tonight, especially since that was my first time in the place in a couple years.

I feel like I'm gradually getting back on the life has been pretty crazy ever since that witch movie and the wedding, up through Closet Space and Flesh Keeper, so I haven't really been able to take care of myself and keep on the training. Like I said, tonight I realized that I hadn't been in the
boxing gym to train in roughly 2 and a half years. Hell, the last time I was there was to shoot a death scene for that fucking witch movie. Couple that with the inherently crappy diet that comes along with working on a bunch of movies around the clock, and BAM...I found myself in the worst shape I had ever been in my life. Blood pressure was up, asthma was kicking my it was time to make a change.

I also started a diet a couple weeks back, and so far I've lost about 30 pounds and closed my belt up two loops. This weekend I'm also planning on restarting the yoga thing that I got into before the movies cropped up.

Now, the trick is to keep myself on a regimented workout schedule and diet when we prepare for Closet Space 2 and 3 in the fall/winter. Since I plan on putting Melanie through the Saul Soliz Training Program From Hell for the movies, I guess it won't be too hard. Plus, with all the pent-up movie related frustration from the last couple years, I could stand to hit stuff for a long time coming.

Speaking of movie...segue segue...Closet Space was officially FedEx'ed to the
composer today so that he can get started. Getting close now. I can see the light.

Also, if you haven't seen it yet, we are doing a
Houston-area screening of Barricade in a couple of weeks. Make sure you come out and support if you can. The turnout at this screening will directly affect our ability to do future screenings at the Studio Movie Grill.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Here's the link to the aforementioned podcast.

Melanie's interview comes up about 1 hour into it, and I pop up at about 1 hour 8 minutes in (right before Roddy Piper). But we highly suggest you listen to the whole thing - they also rap with Tony Todd, James Duval, and Ryan Nicholson, among others.

Be warned, we and others drop the F-bomb and dirty innuendo quite a bit. This is NOT WORK SAFE.

Thanks to the mofo's at
The Pickled Embryo for doing it.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Back tracking to Wednesday, the Necrophobia premiere finally went down. It was fun, albeit kinda rowdy and uncomfortable at times (and not in a good way...people need to learn to respect the fact that they aren't the only ones watching the movie. Assholes). Anyway, the whole thing was kinda ruined for me because, due to technical difficulties, the new Closet Space trailer didn't play prior to the show. It sucked even more that people asked about it afterward....people that were actually looking forward to seeing it. Well, it didn't suck that they wanted to see it, but you know what I mean. Anyway, it kind of set me up in a sour mood for the rest of the week - probably because I worked a sleepless night to cut it, but more likely because I deliberately cut the new trailer with a lot of dialogue at the beginning so that I could listen to my audio engineering work in a large room to see how it sounded. So, for those of you that might think the new trailer is long-ish, there's an actual reason for it...but fuck you anyway for not having an attention span. If you want to see a music video, go watch MTV. Wait, they don't play music videos anymore...

Anyway, so then I had to prepare for Fear Fest this past weekend. Dwayne and I drove up on Friday to set up our table, and after a little bit of craziness and disorganization we got things figured out and got our spot. Friday night started out slow, but the Closet Space trailer was working its magic. First of all, we were right across from a "Smokeless Tobacco" booth manned by young, cowboy types. Nice guys, but not really horror fans (their words). Still, they could not take their eyes off of the trailer, even after about the 100th time it played. And, each time when the gory stuff would kick in (especially Evan's neck-bubbling), they would all cringe, gasp, or look away, only to quickly look back. One of the dudes said that I fucked him up for life. Mission accomplished. Okay, so I've got Joe Public...what about the horror fans?

Friday night was actually pretty damn productive for us in that regard. Several people stopped to watch the trailer and were visibly blown away. I like to sit back and watch their faces as things happen on screen...I can usually tell exactly what part they have just seen even if I can't hear the soundtrack. Most everyone had the desired reactions...a few of them even shaking their heads in disgust and walking away...which is ALSO a desired reaction. We had a couple of Ain't It Cool News guys watching the trailer and loving it, as well as fellow filmmakers, but my favorite quote came from a 20-something female horror fan. After standing transfixed for both trailers (I had the 2nd and 3rd cut playing on a loop), she turned to me and said:

"I want to see this movie. RIGHT NOW."

That was awesome, and made everything worth it for me. I high-fived her and gave her my assurance that we'd screen it in Dallas sometime soon after it's done. Then after that, Joe (Wrong Turn 2) Lynch talked us into attending the screening of The Funhouse. That was pretty fun, even though guest of honor Tobe Hooper had cancelled. The fact that Lynch, Ryan (Abominable) Schifrin, Adam (Hatchet) Green, and John (Feast) Gulager were there pretty much made up for it. I don't even necessarily like all of these guys movies (haven't even seen some of them yet), but the solidarity and support is awesome, and everyone seemed to be having a blast.

Here's the table (with Melanie):

The good vibes continued throughout the weekend, and many more people were turned on to the tentacley madness that is Closet Space. I got lots of positive comments on the acting, cinematography, music, and subject matter...lots of "I'm glad it's not a slasher film", "It looks awesomely disturbing", and "Thank god you did lots of practical FX". Melanie and I also lucked into doing a couple of podcast radio interviews with the guys from Pop Syndicate:

The interviews were extremely fun, and they want to have us back around when the movie actually is released, so we look forward to it.

Saturday and Sunday, Melanie signed and posed for a bunch of photos....I signed a few autographs, we raffled off another signed CS poster, and lots and lots of people asked me about
100 Tears, which is also awesome. People apparently love them some killer clowns. Next show, we'll have a trailer for that one as well.

At the convention I met quite a few people who don't seem to be drinking the same cinematic Kool-Aid that both horror fans and the general public seem to be imbibing lately (well, for a long while in some cases). It was refreshing to talk to folks that thought 300 was just "eh...", that were worried/depressed about Rob Zombie's Halloween, that see Grindhouse as not necessarily a watershed cinema moment, but a fun experiment for a specific niche audience, and that weren't really fans of Italian horror. Yeah, I said it. I hate Italian horror movies (with the notable exceptions of Bird With The Crystal Plumage and Deep Red). So fucking sue me. If anyone replies to this with that "look at the colors and mood in Suspiria" bullshit, I will personally come to your house and put a steel-toed Dr. Marten in your crotch. know, that's what's beautiful about the best films of the horror genre. You have lots of disparate viewpoints and tastes, with (hopefully) no one trying to parrot or rip off anyone else. Anyway, it was fun to rant and argue with people who knew their shit. I'm back at home doing the movie edit thing again, and laying plans for a few different things to come in the few months, so stay tuned. Closet Space goes off to the composer very soon (like today or tomorrow), so that process will be started shortly.

Back to the edit...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Just returned from this year's SXSW trip with Jonah Matranga. Once again it was a whirlwind of craziness, stressful situations, bad parking jobs, running around, and douchebags. Lots and lots of douchebags. SXSW is but a shadow of it's former self. Soon it will be entirely comprised of industry vultures and yes-men.

With that all said, Jonah's shows went pretty well - mainly because they were a bit outside the "mainstream" SXSW program - while still being in the thick of the activity downtown. I also greatly enjoyed the sets of Jonah's tourmates
Frank Turner and Joshua English, and they were nice guys to boot (actually, Frank would be a "lad", or "chap", I guess...).

Anyway, Jonah and I spent most of the time on the road discussing and listening to his new album (due out this summer), and we talked quite a bit about the related plans that have been brewing for a while.

First off, I had to give the album a listen with an ear toward song placement for Closet Space. There are actually two cues in the movie where actual "pop" songs need to go. The first cue had to be pretty loud and uptempo...and lo and behold there was a song on the album that fit the bill perfectly. Not only sonically, but lyrically as well - the theme of the song actually hints at one of the through-lines that propels the movie. I can't really discuss it in too much detail without ruining some of the surprises I guess, but to drop something of a hint (and another bit of weirdness)...the song also is a remarkably accurate description of my feelings on the debacle surrounding the
last movie that I directed, and all of the bullshit I had to deal with as a result. It's actually eerily on the mark as far as that stuff goes (albeit a little less violent and angry that yours truly tended to get). Anyway, it made choosing the song painfully obvious. Look/listen for it when the movie and album come out.

The second song is more incidental (issuing from a radio in the background of a scene), but we actually turned that into a big deal as well. Earlier this year, Jonah expressed interest in doing a video for one of the songs from the new album. A horror video. A gory horror video. With zombies. I figured we'd kill two birds with one stone and make it a semi-official Closet Space video in the tradition of "Dream Warriors". So...later this spring, we are going to be shooting a super-gory zombie video for one of indie rock's most favored sons, and Closet Space's Melanie Donihoo (and maybe even some others) will be playing pretty important roles. Can you say "DVD Extra"? The most interesting and challenging part of the whole deal will be the incongruity of the whole thing - the song is not your standard zombie killing soundtrack. It's kinda airy, midtempo, and pretty upbeat. I'm sure some people will be put off by the juxtaposition. Personally, that makes me want to do it even more.

So yeah, Closet Space haunts my days even when I'm at a huge music festival with one of my favorite artists.

Friday, March 09, 2007

I am nearing completion of Closet Space (except for the scoring part - it's going out for that very soon). Actually, I guess I should say that I'm nearing completion on all the stuff I personally have to do to the movie - in addition to the score, I'm still waiting on a few FX shots, both digital and practical. That stuff can be dropped in pretty simply, though.

Over the last week or so (pretty much right before and right after the Chicago Fango show) I proceeded to get each of the lead actors in for their ADR work. For those that don't know...ADR stands for "automated dialogue replacement" or "additional dialogue recording" (whichever you prefer) and it involves the actors coming in to re-dub or loop lines for various reasons. Cleaner audio, better delivery, even adding lines that weren't there the first time around.

Anyway, that process naturally requires the talent to pretty much see the movie in it's near-final form. I have reservations about that for various reasons...not the least of which is that most people cannot extrapolate what a "finished" movie is going to look like from any stage other than the actual finished version - even those "in the know". I had some pretty bad experience with this on my last project, which turned me off the idea even more. Plus, I hate the whole "another set of eyes" theory...but more on that later.

Anyway, the stuff had to be done, regardless of my personal feelings in the matter. And oddly enough, most everyone seemed to be excited about the way the movie was turning out. A few were super-stoked at the sight of some of the more...intense sequences, which was awesome. Others were a bit put off or taken aback by things...a few times I could tell that the actor/actress in the hot seat was actually disgusted by the images on the screen. I heard "I'm not going to be able to bring my parents/grandparents/family/minister to see this" quite a lot over the last few weeks.

Well...that's fucking awesome, and here's why.

When I decided to make Closet Space, I wanted to make a REAL horror movie...something like I saw back when I was a kid. I wanted it to push buttons, to disturb, and to maybe even make some people question my sanity. That's what a real horror movie should do. All the soulless crap that's been passing for horror lately is sterile and nutless, mainly because the filmmakers want the broadest audience possible (which of course means more money). God forbid they ostracize the 14-year old giggly girls out there who are just waiting to plunk their (conservative) parents hard-earned dough down to see the latest TV heartthrob making his debut in a "supernatural thriller in the vein of PSYCHO or THE EXORCIST". They don't even call them horror movies anymore, yet they name drop horror movies left and right in the promotional push!

In my eyes, horror is supposed to be disturbing. It is not meant to be easily palatable. That defeats the purpose.
With that said, I can assure you that Closet Space is pretty disturbing in parts. You may even have to avert your eyes or leave the theatre. That's fine. If people do that, then we have done our jobs. In addition to that...there's no "comedic relief" in the form of "wacky stoners" or "sexed-up teenagers". We do have an African-American in the cast, but guess what - he doesn't talk jive or wear a bunch of bling. He actually has some of the most intelligent lines in the movie. And sure, there's some sexual innuendo and nudity in the movie...but not at all what you might think. Trust me.

If any of that puts you off of seeing Closet Space, then I'm sorry...but it's probably for the best. I never intended this to be a movie for everyone, and hopefully that turns out to be a good thing. You'll understand when you see it.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

So...we're back from the Chicago Fangoria show in one piece. Things went really really well (for once) and interest in the movie and our efficacy in getting the word out really surpassed my expectations. Definitely a fruitful trip with many highlights...but the best part was being able to hang with my fellow indie-horror brethren from Barricade, 100 Tears, and Necrophobia. We should all collaborate on an independent, low-budget Grind House/4 Rooms-type project. The Grind Shack. Yeah. I like that.

Anyway, yeah, it was very successsful, and I'm looking forward to Fear Fest in a couple of weeks, followed by Fangoria Burbank in May, and then Texas Frightmare in the summer. The Closet Space express keeps trucking along.

As for the movie edit status - most of the ADR work is done (only 2 actors remain, and one of them is my wife), and I'm also getting into the home stretch with color correction and FX shot placement. A rough cut will be going out to our composer very very soon - so hopefully we'll have a finished version by the time the Burbank show rolls around. Definitely for Texas Frightmare though.

Meanwhile, Jason and I are steadily hashing out Closet Space 2 and 3. My current plan is to go into production on these later this year (late fall/winter), and as usual, I'll be doing another crew jettison/replacement sweep. One of these days, I'm sure I'll be able to secure a group of people that can work together effectively without personal baggage getting in the way, but that day has yet to arrive. So, if you have movie experience, and you're interested on working on a crazy back-to-back horror film shoot in Texas near the holidays, feel free to drop me a line. Dipshits, drama queens, reprobates, backseat directors, and lazy asses need not apply.