Here We Are Again


It’s been an awfully long time since I used this blog. It’s not because I was deliberately neglecting it. There have been many reasons. First of which was all the things I have been doing. Back in November I embarked on directing my second short film, Terrestrial, starring Bill Oberst Jr. and a few faces from Lepus. The shoot was quite an ordeal. I had such a bad migraine on day one that I began vomiting that morning. The next few days were smooth. Since we shot it there have been some stumbling blocks. The editor’s mom fell ill causing the first pause in completion. Then we started shooting an ill conceived improv web series and put Terrestrial on the back burner yet again. I stepped away from the series after two very stressful shoots. By that time I had accepted the position of Film Festival Coordinator for Phoenix Comicon and it consumed a lot of my time. In what little downtime I had between work and an con duties I was the subject of a short documentary about fathers and sons. It was a very cathartic thing for my father and me. All the while I have been working on writing scripts for a sitcom based loosely on my family and a horror film about demons. The latter is going to be a big collaborative effort between myself and some old and new friends. I’m very excited about it.

So let’s get to talking about each thing individually. First Terrestrial. I have talked about the movie briefly on here before. Bill was fantastic. The rest of the cast was amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys to make this with. Everyone was awesome. Bill’s performance was at times childlike, murderous and evil, funny and creepy. It’s got sides of his talent rarely seen on screen. We will be getting back to finishing this up very soon. I’m excited to get people to see it. As for the rest of the cast what can I say? Willman Vergara Jr. was someone I wanted to work with on Lepus but couldn’t find a good spot for. I’m so glad we found a place for him on this one. Randy Robinson and RJ Markham, who were both in Lepus, came back for more twisted fun and did a wonderful job. Everyone was very well prepared and kept us moving ahead of schedule. They were on point with their characters and delightfully funny.

As for the next bit. It’s a sore subject and I really don’t want to step on anyone’s toes or offend when I speak of it. It was a web series about ghost hunting called Specter Quest. The reason I say it was ill conceived is because we all seemed to have different ideas of what it should be and how to get there we didn’t stick to the plan I laid out. They have decided to continue on without me. And I wish them the best of luck with it.

Phoenix Comicon was a great experience this year. It was my first year as Film Festival Coordinator and it couldn’t have gone better if I actually knew what I was doing. The film selections were better than ever this year. We even had the chance to screen a little seen movie called Moontrap from the 80’s starring Bruce Campbell and Walter Koenig. Campbell was kind enough to come up to the film festival unannounced and do a little introduction to the film, much to the delight of the audience…and the staff. We had some standout movies and shorts this year. Jessica Cameron sent me her directorial debut, Truth Or Dare, to screen at the con. It’s a shame she and the cast and crew couldn’t be there. We had something happen I had never seen with my own eyes before. Two grown men came out of the screening room looking weak and pale. Both nearly threw up at what they had seen. It was incredible. I met some very talented and great people this year working at the con. I have been volunteering for years but this is the first time having this level of responsibility. I can’t wait for next year.

I was anxious to work on another movie. I have wanted to experience what it’s like to work on a documentary so I responded to an ad. I met the director for dinner. We got to talking and he wanted to make something about fathers and sons and estrangement. My father and I have had some serious ups and downs over the years. There were years at a time I refused to talk to him. Other times he was so messed up on drugs he was stealing my belongings and selling them for drug money. He even tried to convince a Mexican former boxer that I was calling him “spick” and “wetback” behind his back just to get this boxer to beat me up. My dad has been sober for more than four years now and was recently married to a great woman. I was his best man. We’ve worked out most of our issues. I asked my dad if he’d be a part of this documentary and he immediately agreed. In fact, he almost started crying before I could even tell him fully what it was all about. He hasn’t seen it yet but I am very proud of it. It was not my project. It belongs to a new friend. I am excited to continue it on. He wants to stretch it into a feature at some point and add in new subjects.

Finally, without giving too much away, I want to talk about a new movie I’m working on right now. We have a title. We have the story. We all just need to sit down and put it into proper screenplay format. I will say this – it’s about demons. It’s technically an anthology film but more in the vein of Pulp Fiction or The Signal. Each story carries over characters from previous shorts and they are all connected into one large story. I will only be directing one or two parts. The others are being done by some other new friends, one I met through Phoenix Comicon. He had a great eye when it came to making something visually striking with very little. The short I want him to do may actually be a silent film with a healthy dose of violence, kidnapping and maybe a little sex. Each story deals with a different kind of demon. We have stories ranging from half demon babies to a man everyone believes to be schizophrenic to a crossroads demon story. We’re really looking forward to our first script meeting in a few short days.

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll be back soon. I kinda promise.

 

Advertisements

Lepus And Terrestrial Updates


ImageI know, I know. I spend a lot of time on here talking about Lepus. Cut me some slack. This is the first time I have officially directed something. It’s like when someone has a baby. Even if the baby is a hideous chud they still want to share pictures on Facebook all the time. Now, I’m not calling Lepus hideous. I’m simply stating that, for all intents and purposes, this is my baby and I want to share it with the world. Is that so wrong? I’m proud of what I created. 

Image

Last night Brian and I met with David Sabal for a few mintues before he was a guest on The Gorram Nerd Hour. During that time he filled us in on what was happening with distribution. It’s been decided that we are going to be distributed by Worldwide MultiMedia. The other five distributors that were looking to pick us up wanted to wait too long to release the DVD. Worldwide can have it out by June (more details on the exact release date as they come in). They will also have copies available before hand for us to autograph and sell at Phoenix Comicon in May. If you’re gonna be there then come get your copy. You won’t be disappointed…well, I can vouch for Lepus at least, not the other shorts in the Scream Machine DVD. Maybe I should “You hopefully won’t be disappointed as I haven’t seen the other shorts”. Anyway, we will also be selling copies through our Facebook page.

Image

Last night we did a little foley work on the project and then talked about our next short film, Terrestrial, that we will hopefully be shooting next month. We just have to wait and see when our lead actor is available. He is going to be busy shooting a movie through part of February. Our second largest role, the character of Travis, has a similar issue with the actor. We wanted to shoot a certain week in February and he will be out of town. These are the people we absolutely want for the short and we will wait if that is what it takes. We loved these actors and really want to see what they do with the roles. You can hear the official casting announcements on The Gorram Nerd Hour later tonight when it goes up. Otherwise you can wait a week for us to post it on our Facebook page and Twitter.

Lepus Is Part Of Scream Machine!


Alrighty folks, from the start it has been talked about that we would be a part of something once Lepus was finished shooting. Well, as it turns out that something is a feature called Scream Machine. The other shorts were all done by former horror host Scarlet Fry. He and our DP David Sabal had worked together on all the other shorts. They were looking to add another one to the line-up before they put this baby to bed. Because Brian Smith and I are friends with David and happened to show him a script right around the same time he jumped at it and off we went. 

I don’t know how we got so lucky to be able to get distribution on our first short film but it happened. We also got incredibly lucky with our cast. It’s been amazing how things went for us. Just a few months ago Brian and I were feeling dejected because nobody even wanted to read our feature script, “Welcome To Deadsville”. Now, Tyler Gallant wants to star as the lead in it. He wants to make the proposed sequels to “Lepus” and he wants Brian and me to collaborate on a feature he and Kat Garcia came up with. And, about a month ago, I was talking to Bill Oberst Jr. about “Welcome To Deadsville” and he wants us to keep him in mind when we are ready to shoot. I would love for him to play the Phil character. Things are looking good. 

We still have a couple pick up shots to do. The biggest thing is just making sure my sister’s death scene is sufficiently gory. Unfortunately we have to wait about a week or so for David to get back from Boston to shoot it. There are a bunch of photos from the last night of shooting up at our Facebook page. There are a lot of great shots of Victoria Paege dressed like a sexy nurse before, during and after she gets all bloodied up and bruised. Also, you can check out the iMDb page. It’s still not complete yet. There are a few fixes to be made. First, I am listed as an actor in it but when you click on my name it goes to some kid in Texas. Not me. Second, Brian’s credit somehow got attached to a different Brian E. Smith. Third, my director credit isn’t up yet. Otherwise everything else is there. Go check it out, “like” it, and come to Phoenix Comicon for the premiere!

The Bloody Hero Film Festival


I know I had mentioned it before but the Bloody Hero film festival is coming February 8th, 9th, and 10th. It will be held at the Phoenix Center For The Arts. We are looking forward to it. We would have liked to have something in competition but we promised to premiere our short film at Phoenix Comicon. What we will be doing is our podcast, The Gorram Nerd Hour, from the festival. We will also be doing at least one panel or more and we were just asked to sit on the jury form the film festival. It is certainly an exciting time for us.

We don’t have all the details yet on how everything will be set up at the film fest but anyone who is local should try and come out for it. It’s really exciting to see more stuff like this popping up. I can’t wait to go check it out. 

 

My Thoughts On Rapture Horror Expo


This weekend was a long one. But it was great. The Expo hit a few snags along the way. KB, the director of the Expo, put the whole thing together in record time. Normally when putting together a convention of any sort you want to have roughly nine months. This affords you time to get all your ducks in a row. You can schedule guests, make sure the panels are secured, and you have to get the word out. From what I understand they put this all together in under four months. That is amazing.

Sadly, this means there are going to be parts that are going to be a little disorganized. Even working at Phoenix Comicon where people never stop organizing and prepping all year long there seems to be snags and disorganization every year. It’s unavoidable. The important thing is to keep your head up and power through to make the experience as enjoyable as possible for your guests. And Rapture accomplished that.

There was another uphill battle they had to fight. I will not name names but I will say that there were people out there spreading fear about coming to the Expo, claiming it may be cancelled. It was all over Facebook. Some folks that I talked to said that they were going to buy the full event pass for $35 and didn’t because of what they read. This cut the profits of the Expo down considerably. It’s a shame this talk got started because the people who came to the Expo really seemed to enjoy it.

There were events at the convention center that ran through the evening including the screening of The Black Dahlia Haunting. There was also a lot to do at Monsterland in downtown Mesa. I was lucky enough to see the band First Jason perform a few tracks before having to leave on Friday. I was too tired, unfortunately, to see the burlesque show performed last night.

As far as guests I have to say that the highlights for me were Bill Oberst Jr., Jake Busey, Jessica Cameron and Devanny Pinn. They were all so nice. I was able to talk for a few minutes to Betsy Rue, star of My Bloody Valentine. You will want to see that interview. I was not about to ask any of these women about their nude scenes but she brought it up and talked in detail about her scenes in My Bloody Valentine. She was really open and fun about it. Brooke Lewis was a great deal of fun to talk to. Her work as an actress is fascinating but she doesn’t want to limit herself. She has also become a motivational speaker and a life coach. She talked to me about that for a while. Everyone was so nice and willing to talk. There was a wonderfully open atmosphere on the floor that was given off by all of the guests.

I want to make sure I give a quick thank you to everyone that helped put this together – KB, you were awesome. Thank you for the opportunity. Kara, without you we would have been lost. Thank you. Chadington, what you did for Rob Edwards was amazing. You rock. Thank you. Bill Oberst Jr., you gave us our best show yet. We love you and will watch even the most terrible movies if you’re in them. Thank you. Jake Busey, you gave me a great 15 minutes and you were just plain cool. Thank you. Devanny Pinn, keep doing what you do. Making movies on the cheap and making them look pretty is a hard thing to do but you’re doing it. And I love your enthusiasm. Thank you. Jessica Cameron, you gave us not one but two interviews now. You are so sweet and we really want to see Shadow. We love your work. Keep it coming. Thank you. Ari Lehman, from acting to music to your love of the craft you’re just an all around cool guy. And thanks for the bumper. Brooke Lewis, even if you never act again what you’re doing is amazing. We love you for it. Thank you. Tommy Piech, watching you work crafting a zombie was amazing. You have something for sure. I can’t wait to see where you go from here. Thank you. I know I have probably left people out and I’m sorry. My brain is fried right now from the weekend. But I have to thank a couple more people. Tony and David, if it hadn’t been for you this would not have gone as smoothly. Plus we got free sandwiches at Denny’s. Thank you both. This leaves Brian. I’m not gonna sing Wind Beneath My Wings but we make a damn good team. I had a lot of fun this weekend. I don’t know that I would have wanted to do this if it hadn’t been for you.

Project Updates And News


It’s getting closer and closer to the start of Lepus. I contacted everyone about sitting down next week to do a table read of the script together. I can’t wait to see everyone playing off each other in the same room…especially since many of them are already friends.

But before the table read we have the Rapture Horror Expo all weekend long. It’s the first chance Brian and I have had to record from anyone but a house. I can’t wait to get up in front of a crowd, do our podcast, and grow our listening audience. Plus, we have a great list of people stopping by our show to chat with us. Some I can mention, some I want to surprise you with. But either way it’s going to be a great time. We are bringing cameras too, so there will be video up on http://abnormalentertainment.blogspot.com within a few days after the show.

Brian expressed to me he is creaking out a little about doing the podcast live in front of a crowd. I don’t know why. He and I did three panels at Phoenix Comicon last May and the audience loved it. This time it will be recorded for posterity. We are even bringing Tony and David Sabal along with us. They host a show with Brian about all things comic book related called The Atomic Fallout Society. They’re hoping to score some interviews at the Expo with the comic people there, like Brian Pulido, creator of Lady Death and Evil Ernie.

Once the Expo is done it is back to work on the short film. It’s been nice to have a small reprieve from thinking about it non stop and focus on something else. I have been watching movies to prep for the Expo like Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies and Paranormal Entity. I know who most of the actors are that will be there but I wanted to refresh myself on their bodies of work before going. And some of the Lepus cast will be there so we will try and get them to sit down and talk to us a bit about their projects as well plug ours a little.

Here’s the line up of people we will be talking to (as far as I can tell you so far) – some of the cast and crew of The Fallen One, an upcoming grindhouse style film starring Jake The Snake Roberts and Fred Williamson, directed by Rick Vasquez and produced by Michael Rodriguez. We will also talk in more detail to Jessica Cameron and Dave Reda. I also got in touch with the star of one of the movies being showcased at the Expo and he has agreed to sit down with us for at least 5 minutes to discuss his projects. I can’t say who it is yet but we are excited about it.

Brian and I have been doing a lot of work to make The Gorram Nerd Hour a lot of fun to listen to and make sure you enjoy it. We would love to hear your feedback. Stop by http://gorramnerdhour.blogspot.com or http://facebook.com/TheGorramNerdHour and let is know what you think. Also, don’t forget to check out http://facebook.com/TheCristosSaga to find out what is happening with Lepus. Or go to http://facebook.com/RobotVampireProductions to read about everything we are doing.

A Quick Update On Lepus


It seems that we will he shooting Lepus, our first short film, in the third week of October. As we are shooting this with little to no money we wanted to take advantage of the Halloween season and shoot when people have already decorated for it.

So far I have been able to secure actors for many of the major roles. I have already shown the picture of Brian Smith to you all. He is playing the Lepus in our film. The rest of the cast is listed below with question marks next to the open roles –

Sheriff Cristos (aka Jesus) – ?
Lepus – Brian Smith
Jamie – Kelsee Benson
Victim #1 – Tracie Knittel
Mary – ?
Zelda – Cherith Pruitt
Ruth – ?
Farmer – ?
Deputy Beckett – ?
Coroner – ?
Tommy – Brennen Benson
Kid On Tricycle – Sierra Benson
Two Dead Boys – Kyle Benson, Corbin Benson
Sexy Nurse – ?

You may have noticed several names in the cast are Benson. They are family, all nieces and nephews. Strangely, I didn’t write it for them but happened to notice that it just worked out that way. Kelsee is the perfect age for Jamie. The other kids are more featured extras than anything else. The boys get killed without ever speaking. Sierra just rides around on a tricycle singing a weird nursery rhyme about the Lepus. And Brennen plays a 10 year old who is throwing a party for high schoolers while sneaking into the bedroom with a sexy nurse old enough to be his mom.

We have a few people who are local that we want to fill the roles of Sheriff Cristos, Deputy Beckett, the coroner, and the sexy nurse. I hope we are able to get them to agree to make the short.

We are trying to sweeten the pot to get our Sheriff Cristos by offering the role of three short films. We already have Ded Moroz planned out. There will be a third story, one that ends the madness once and for all. Once all is said and done we should have about an hour long trilogy.

In other Lepus related news – we have been guaranteed a spot on the DVD that is being planned to showcase local shorts. It will have worldwide distribution and a huge push at Phoenix Comicon. We here at Robot Vampire Productions are very excited. The man putting the DVD together has read the script and really liked it. Now we just need to make sure that he likes the finished product just as much.