Interview: Jenz K. Lund & D.H. Shultis (Blood & Gourd)

Interview

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Blood & Gourd is a must read for those who like their horror injected with a large dosage of fun.  Want to know why?  Check out my review or head over to the opening link. order a copy and see for yourself.  For a comic book, it possesses a rare cinematic quality that feels like a lost classic from the 80’s; the days when horror was at its most vibrant and imaginative, in this reviewers humble opinion.  While retaining the spirit of that era and openly acknowledging its inspirations, Blood & Gourd is a high caliber of original storytelling that works as both a throwback to horrors heyday, and as something fresh for modern times.  Recently I had the opportunity to interview its creators, D.H. and Jenz, to discuss their work, influences and future plans for the series and other projects.  Enjoy.

1) Hello guys, how are you?

Jenz: We’re doing great! We’re a little road weary but energized after a successful weekend at Crypticon: Seattle. The reception’s been awesome.

2) To those who aren’t in the know yet (even though they damn well should be), how would you describe Blood & Gourd in a brief summary?

Jenz: Well, it’s the day before Halloween, and Seminal Chemical’s recently bought up the Henderson family pumpkin farm. There isn’t much time for the locals to grieve, though. Through a bizarre fusion of super science and Satanism, the sinister Mr. Pleasant has unleashed this massive, otherworldly demon; and with it, murderous hordes of gourds and goblins.

DH: We’ve tried to make the comic book fun, twisted, weird, and a fast ride. A glance at the cover and you’ll know that it is bright, horrific, & action-packed with a slice of drama and some nods to the horror legends of the past.

3) Originally, Blood & Gourd was intended to be a movie; which I could see happening because it has a great cinematic quality to it even though it’s a comic.  Do you still have aspirations to bring it to our screens?  

Jenz: Absolutely! Almost everybody who has read the first issue asks us about it. Blood & Gourd needs to be a film. Particularly, one with minimal CGI, Rick Baker style makeup, lots of practical effects and puppets! Everything’s better with a puppet in it!

4) There’s nods to Fred Dekker and Dan O’Bannon in the story, who are 2 of the most underrated talents to ever make movies if you ask me.  The spirit of their work is evident in Blood & Gourd; it’s like a lost horror comedy from the 80’s in the form of a comic book.  Who are your influences and what are some of the movies that inspired you to create Blood & Gourd?

Jenz: I have a million influences, we both do. ReAnimator, The Thing, Halloween 3, Fright Night; but certainly Night of the Creeps and The Return of the Living Dead were, for me anyway, two of the definitive influences behind making the series an amusement park ride. Both films are also very funny. Humor’s important to horror. People do hilarious things when they’re scared!

DH: I like the idea of Blood & Gourd being some time-capsule of lost ideas that have risen to the surface in 2015.  My top film influences for this project are the epic gross weirdness of Troma Films, late night USA network movies and shows of all kinds, John Waters’ movies, and pretty much any movie your mom told you not to watch. Other movies that came up a lot were Hard Boiled, Gremlins, Robocop, and Twin Peaks.

5) Evil corporate cultists.  Evil pumpkins on a bloody rampage.  Killer plant people.  These are just a few of the delights to be found in Blood & Gourd.  Although primarily all about the fun and entertainment, I picked up on some underlying themes in regards to the power of corporations and their destruction of nature.  Was that intentional?  If so, is preserving nature something you feel strongly about?

Jenz: Definitely. I think the best horror and science fiction stories have always done this. In many ways, we’ve all voted unanimously to ignore a myriad of pressing environmental/socio-economic issues that have already ensured a bleaker future for all of us. I think Blood & Gourd playfully nudges the reader to think about a few of these things, while reminding them that idle hands and apathy are just as dangerous as any diabolical demon or heartless corporation. Regardless of whether or not we decide to act, nature is indifferent. it can take us or leave us.

DH: In the words of John Trudell: “if we use our minds in a clear and coherent manner we will not accept the unacceptable.”  Blood & Gourd is my attempt to use my mind in a clear and coherent manner- to create something fun, engaging and it is my way of refusing to accept the unacceptable.

6) Blood & Gourd has drawn comparisons to EC comics; from myself included.  Are there any comics in particular you’re fans of?

Jenz: After watching Creepshow at a very young age, I quickly found myself picking up all the reprinted copies of Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror, Eerie, Creepy, etc. I could get my hands on. I’d also add Silver Age Marvel titles to the mix. There was such an acceptable goofiness that allowed for the most irreverent stories, heroes, and villains to be formed. I remember a villain that was a toe, for god sake! I miss that insanity. People play it way too cool these days.

DH: The Batman Knightfall series was my first serious foray into reading comic books.  I really dig Promethea by Allan Moore and a lot of Frank Miller’s works. I’d also like to give a nod to the Akira comics and the Lone Wolf and Cub series.

7) One thing I loved about Blood & Gourd was how the characters played it straight.  Despite the hilarious insanity going on around them, they keep the story grounded and give the reader people they can engage with.  Was it difficult to balance the wacky horror with everyday characters the reader can engage with.

Jenz: I think the laughs that came naturally while we were writing the story are the best. The rest of it takes some fine tuning, for sure. We generally go with a less is more attitude, and if it’s too forced we cut it out. I think you can throw any ridiculous thing at your characters, and as long as they’re convinced it can kill them, you’ve got something there. We’re not big fans of the self-aware horror- comedy (we’re all in on the joke) stuff.

8) From a storytelling perspective, Blood & Gourd is stellar.  But I’d also like to point out how it looks; the artists involved did a great job of bringing the story to life.  Was it difficult to acquire such a talented bunch?

Jenz: Yes and no. It took a few years to find the right artist, but once Dave Acosta agreed to draw the book, he opened a lot of doors for us.Through Acosta we met Juan Albarran, and through Juan we met Fran Gamboa, JC Ruiz, Rocio Canteros and Juan Antonio Ramirez. We all had a great experience and most of us will be coming back for issue #2!  I’d also like to add that most people don’t realize how small the comic book industry really is. I strongly encourage anyone planning on becoming a part of it to be friendly and respectful. Word travels fast!

9) What’s next for you guys?  What are your future plans?

Jenz: We’re in the preliminary stages of issue #2, Acosta will begin drawing it up in June. If B&G continues to be successful, we plan to branch out with a horror anthology and a secret sci-fi project we can’t wait to start talking about.

10) Any final words before we wrap up?

DH: Buy Blood & Gourd!

Jenz: What he said. It’s available for order now at bloodandgourd.com and deadpeasant.net

Blood & Gourd - Page 16

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Interview: Uwe Boll

Interview

uwe

In 2009 something funny happened; Uwe Boll made a movie people really enjoyed.  Of course, this was not the first great movie by Boll and certainly not the last; but most of his detractors swallowed their bias and everybody was pretty much in agreement that Rampage was a good movie.  Last year, the sequel – Capital Punishment – was released to positive reviews once again.  It took the form of a heist movie and expanded on the motivations of Bill Williamson, the trigger happy anti-hero raging against the machine.  So far, the Rampage series has been a mean spirited, fun-filled thrill ride, with a main character who represents a cynical perception of our society.  With a part 3 in the works that promises to be an explosive finale to a great series, I had an opportunity to interview Uwe about the series so far, what inspires it and how we can contribute.

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1) Hi Uwe, thank you for the interviewer. I’m a big fan of your work, especially the Rampage movies, which I feel are very bold and brilliant, yet super fun. The prospect of a third instalment is exciting to me personally, as I’m sure it is for many others. What can we expect from Rampage 3: No Mercy?

He will go to Washington and rip it apart.

2) When it comes to politically driven movies, few are as bold and radical as Rampage & Capital Punishment. But you have other movies that deal with similar subject matter – like Auschwitz, Heart of America, Darfur, Assault On Wall Street and Stoic. What is it about these types of uncompromising movies that appeals to you?

I love movies like Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Salvador, Wall Street and that kind of movies are not getting made anymore …..gritty , realistic , reflecting the world we are living in. I try my best to make movies in that tradition

3) In the Rampage series, the audience is forced to buckle up and go along for the ride in a situation they might not be comfortable with, but at the same time, it’s a fun ride. Bill Williamson is such a conflicting character; on one hand he kills a lot of innocent people, but he has a lot of viewpoints we can agree with. Was it your intention to create a homicidal maniac the viewer could root for?

You nailed it ….. ….

4) With this series, as well as the movies I previously mentioned, do you hope to inspire radical change or just give audiences an alternative to the standard cookie cutter they’re used to seeing?

Yes….the problem is that we have art movies I dont care about and we have big blockbusters I dont care about ….my movies are radical about very important subject matters — and I try to make the movies to change people opinions about situations they are going on —— as an example the president of Sudan, the mass murderer Bashir …is still in power , even if there is an arrest warrant on his head … I show the massacres in Attack on Darfur — and WHY we dont take this asshole out with a drone ?

5) No Mercy is being funded through a crowd funding Kickstarter campaign. Just how difficult is it in this day and age to get financing for a movie?

It is very hard …if you dont have a tv show or a 200 millon franchise nobody cares about you if you don’t have oscar winning actors attached

6) Lastly, do you have any upcoming or future projects in the pipeline you’d like to tell us about?

Maybe a western in August: Stagecoach with Luke Perry and Jason Priestly

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If you’d like to find out more information about Rampage 3: No Mercy or make a donation, head on over to the Kickstarter page and find out how you can be a part of it.  The perks are very enticing.

Interview: Carl Smith & Jeffrey McLaurin (Tales of a 5th Grade Zombie Slayer)

Interview

carl

As a blogger who does this solely because I find it fun, it’s a real treat for me when talented filmmakers whose work I enjoy not only share their work with me, but also allow me to pick their brains.  Carl Smith and Jeffrey McLaurin are 2 such filmmakers; after falling in love with their shorts for their web series Tales of a 5th Grade Zombie Slayer (reviewed here), I got the opportunity to sit down with both of them via email to discuss their projects, influences and how a mutual love of film brought 2 people together and inspired them to make their own.  It’s an insightful interview and I’m sure you’ll all enjoy it as much as I did.  Carl and Jeffrey aren’t just incredible filmmakers, they’re incredible guys too, and that really shines through in the interview.  Enjoy.

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1) Hey guys.  Tell us about yourselves and how you hooked up.

CARL SMITH: Oddly enough we initially met on a social media site. I was reading some blogs Jeffrey had written about wanting to make the move to California to work in the film industry.

JEFFREY MCLAURIN: Yeah, I was writing a lot of blog posts about my life at college, my plans for after graduation, and my plans for getting started in a film career. I guess Carl stumbled across my profile, read all my blog posts, and decided to contact me to talk film.

CS: I decided to email him really just for encouragement.

JM: We discussed our favorite films, my moving plans, and just became online friends with no intention of meeting or working together. It was literally just two guys that met online to discuss their love of film.  After I moved to L.A. the person I was supposed to room with bailed, so I was staying in a hotel blowing through all my cash. As my luck would have it, the writers strike also hit and the film industry tanked. I wasn’t sure what to do and I was running out of money quickly.

CS: I have a production designer friend who lives in L.A. and set it up for Jeffrey to stay with him until he could get on his feet.

JM: With no productions happening I wasn’t really getting work, so I contacted a guy I knew in San Diego and he got me some gigs operating the RED camera. This was particularly exciting because this was back when the RED One was all the rage and no one really had access to them. I was able to travel the world sort of operating/babysitting this magical machine.

CS: It would still be some time later before we actually met in person.

JM: Yeah, we still hadn’t met. Then I was talking about how I needed to go to the dentist, but I had no insurance. Carl told me that he had a friend of the family that would see me where I could make cash payments, which was perfect!  So we actually met in person so he could take me to a dentist.

CS: Yeah, kind of funny looking back on it now.

JM: The possibility of us making a film was still low on the radar. I kept being sent out of country to help others make their films, but it wasn’t really as satisfying as making my own.

CS: Yeah, and here I had dabbled in some film productions off and on over the years, but mainly helping out others as well.

JM: It was while I was on a three month job in Kazakhstan in 2008 that Carl and I started really discussing getting serious, about making a film of our own.

2) For those who haven’t seen Tales of a 5th Grade Zombie yet, how would you describe it to them and what makes it different to other zombie projects?

CS: Hmmm, I’m not the greatest when it comes to pitching, but it’s simply a series of different zombie short films that were created for a web series.

JM: To take a quote directly from your review “It’s The Sandlot meets Dawn of the Dead.”

CS: Yes, that was great! I think what makes ours different to other zombie projects though, is that it’s set in a world of children only.

JM: We’ve all seen how adults handle this situation, we wanted to throw all that out the window.

CS: Yeah, all the adults are completely wiped out by the virus, they just die and do not resurrect.

JM: We wanted it to be the kids that are alone, which is horrifying in and of itself to both parents and kids. We’re talking about kids that are approximately 9-11 years in age. Not having an adult present in a scary situation amplifies the intensity for the kid.

CS: For some of the children the virus has no affect on them at all, and than those that are infected, they become zombies. Then you have those that also become zombies after being attacked by infected children. With adults out of the equation, this leaves you with kids vs. kid zombies.

JM: Yeah, so its how would they handle these situations where it’s literally kill, or be killed?  How will they find food and protection at this age when it’s always been provided to them? Those were the questions we wanted to explore with this series.

3) Watching it, I thought it had the spirit of what I like to call ”treehouse movies”, which is a phrase I stole from Jason Eisener.  But it was like watching kid adventure movies like Monster Squad and The Goonies with some much darker elements.  What were some of your main inspirations behind Tales of a 5th Grade Zombie?

CS: Jason Eisener’s ‘Treevenge,’ I loved his short! I hadn’t heard his phrase “treehouse movies” before? I like the sound of it though. But wow, to even be mentioned with the likes of Monster Squad and The Goonies, what a compliment that is, seeing as those are two of our favorite movies.

JM: Growing up I was Mikey from The Goonies, or Gordie Lachance from Stand By Me. Those kind of outsider kids, yet bad ass in our own way, off on awesome adventures with their friends.

CS: Yeah unlike kids these days, where it seems for the most part many are indoors, missing out on that outdoor adventure of growing up.

JM: We had initially wanted to make a drama, something a little more serious with some depth, to say something to the world. But as we talked we kept circling back to horror and how much it means to the two of us. I think part of that is because often this love of the horror movie community consists of us outcasts. We sort of form our own family and cover each others backs no matter what. So we gave in and decided to shoot a horror film, but not zombies.

CS: We felt zombies had already kind of run their course.

JM: Once we started discussing all of the sub-genres of horror, and based on our minimal budget we were going to have to go with slasher, haunting, or zombies.

CS: Hah, in the end zombies won.

JM: We laugh about it now, but we actually made the film we didn’t want to make. We both love horror though, and it’s really a go to genre for indie filmmakers because it’s easier.

CS: Yeah, in the sense of getting recognition.

JM: But yeah, subconsciously I would say that you’re spot on with the mention of The Goonies, Monster Squad, even a Stand By Me. But we never decided those were the films we wanted to emulate, although we’re extremely pleased that it happened that way.  Our main source of inspiration was really trying to do something different. We knew we were living in the world of zombies, a world that had been inhabited by filmmakers a thousand times before. We wanted to make sure we did something that people hadn’t really seen before.

CS: Yeah, you could say zombies have been done to death, but then think about the opening to the 2004 Dawn of the Dead reboot, with the opening where that little zombie girl is coming into the bedroom that early morning. That was some scary shit, and it was different!

JM: Obviously there are elements that every zombie movie ever made will show, but we felt if we weren’t able to think of a new way to show it to the audience, then it was tabled. We felt that would be disrespectful to an audience that’s giving us their limited time.

4) Speaking of inspirations, who are some of your favourite filmmakers and what are some of your favourite movies?

CS: Oh this is always one of the toughest questions, ha ha.

JM: Yeah this is a really tough question for me too because I never know what the asker really wants to know.

CS: For me I’ve always found it so hard to pinpoint favorites. If I was to go off the top of my head, first would be Steven Spielberg. He has done such a broad range of filmmaking from terrifying like Jaws, to adventures like Indiana Jones, and just amazing dramas like Empire of the Sun.

JM: Yeah, when I look at the landscape of filmmakers obviously I’d love to have the respect and ability to call the shots that Steven Spielberg, or Christopher Nolan has. If I were not me, and I had to live the life of another filmmaker and die with their catalogue representing my life’s work, I’d always choose John Hughes every time.

CS: Yeah John Hughes is another director I admire dearly, and it was such a shame the day he walked away from the business. I don’t feel another director has yet to capture the world of teenagers like he did.

JM: Although Hughes only directed 8 films, they were the soundtrack of a generation and will continue to be relevant to kids long after his passing. That’s the kind of legacy I would want to leave the world.

CS: I agree. But if were talking the horror side of movies, I’d say director’s like Alfred Hitchcock, John Carpenter, George Romero, and Sam Raimi are just a few of my favorite directors. For movies, oh gosh, that’s endless! Carpenter’s Halloween, Creature From the Black Lagoon, Fulci’s Zombie, An American Werewolf in London, Cronenberg’s The Fly, The Devil’s Backbone… I could just go on and on.

5) A web series is a great approach for a story like Tales of a 5th Grade Zombie Slayer.  What’s the likelihood of it becoming a full series in future and how can we support it?

JM: Currently we have 8 episodes filmed. You actually got a preview of quite a bit with Day 1 and Day 57, which will both be broken down into two parts when we release them online.

CS: We initially started Tales of a 5th Grade Zombie Slayer as just a single short film. We had a moderate film festival experience, but the discouraging part I found with those was that you’re really reaching a small audience, and most of that audience is other filmmakers pushing their own films. A friend of mine asked why didn’t we take it to the internet, rather than film festivals. That’s when we were like, duh, why didn’t we? So we regrouped, and that’s when we decided to expand on it and make it into a web series.

JM: Both of us are really passionate about 5th Grade Zombie Slayer and want to expand the world much larger than it is.  We have additional episodes written, feature film script outlines, comic books and possible novellas.

CS: Since this was all self financed, the funding limitations on this project have challenged us with hurdles to say the least. It has taken us much longer than we had anticipated.

JM: We both understand the power of crowd funding, but we’re both really uncomfortable with the idea of asking people for their money on a project they know so little about.

CS: Yeah and now we’re in the final stages of editing the remaining episodes, and we decided we’re just going to throw it out there to see what kind of response we get.

JM: Once the web series goes live, we’ll encourage people to share it with their friends and let us know what they think about the episodes.

CS: Yeah, we already have the other completed scripts that were never produced.

JM: First we want to make sure people have the opportunity to really see who we are as filmmakers. What stories we’re trying to tell with the web series before asking for any sort of funding, which would allow for better production value.

CS: If people want more, I’m pretty certain will be back.

6) What has the reaction been like so far?

JM: So far the reaction has been really positive which has been a sigh of relief.

CS: We had one of our best experiences at our last festival, the Horrible Imaginings Film Fest in San Diego. It was actually a diverse audience of regular attendees and filmmakers. That was our most positive festival, and we premiered Day 57 to a sold out audience. We were a bit shocked when we walked away with Second Place as voted by the audience in our category; Short Film: Zombie & Creature Feature. It’s a tight festival unlike others we participated in, and the festival director Miguel Rodriguez was on point. I believe he’s begun accepting submissions for this years festival, I highly recommend this fest to other filmmakers.

JM: Yeah, it’s tough when you make a project that you really believe in and then send it out to the world to be judged. I know it sounds completely cliché and I feel terrible for saying it, but it really is like sending your kid to school on the first day.  You worry that the shots aren’t just right, or that the acting is a bit stiff, or any of the other million small details that go into a completed film.

CS: Really our best reaction has been from reaching out to the online audience like the Scream Factory and Horror Block contests. Both of those experiences have been great.

JM: We also had the additional fear of the internet reacting negatively to our young actors. We went back and forth about disabling all comments on the episodes when they’re all released online.  It might sting, but we can both take criticism of our work, and we can use that criticism to make us better filmmakers. But the internet can be a nasty mean place, and we want to protect all the kids who busted their asses helping make this web series.

CS: Yeah, we just don’t want their experience ruined by some anonymous internet jerk saying things that no one should say to any human being.

7) The young actors were all fantastic.  Where did you find them?

CS: Oh I can’t speak highly enough about our talented cast from both DAY 1 and DAY 57, and the ones you haven’t seen yet.

JM: We got extremely lucky with our cast. All of them were relatively new to filmmaking. Some had been extras or had done some stage work, but most were pretty green.

CS: As you’ve seen two of the episodes, you know that the cast varies with each one. No cast will be the same for it’s selected DAY. For DAY 1 our cast was comprised solely from auditions that we held with postings on craigslist.

JM: Yeah, we really laid it out that this was a casting call for kids only, however the content could be considered objectional for some. We were honest with the parents up front that some scenes could be brutal at times, and that the kids would have to be comfortable with it themselves. We weren’t looking to cause any nightmares just to get the episodes made.

CS: If you’re unaware, talent agents look at craigslist too, and they will forward you more talent than you can handle. It was tough to narrow it down, but boy did we make the right choices. With DAY 57, we again went to Craigslist, had a couple former zombie cast members from DAY 1, and then also cast some of our friends children as well.

JM: Fortunately we had a huge response.

8) What have been your biggest challenges when filming Tales so far?

CS: Money!

JM: Money has always been our biggest challenge. We love the web series, and we’re proud that it turned out to be what it is.  But we both know that it could have been better had we been able to have a larger budget.

CS: Our biggest expense has always been food to feed the cast and crew, followed by make-up and blood, plus plenty of other expenses along the way as well. Because we were a very indie production with a limited budget, the best deal we could work with most all of our talent and crew was well stocked craft services and a credit. This truly has been a labor of love by everyone who has worked on this production.

9) Tell us about the comic book companion to the story.  Is it available for purchase yet?

JM: Issue 1 of the comic book is nearly the same story as the DAY 1 episode. It is unfortunately not for sale yet though.

CS: Yeah, we had the story and hired an outside artist to bring the comic to life. We were pleased with the first issue, but again budget came into consideration.

JM: Issue 1 has some slight variations, but it follows DAY 1 pretty closely.

CS: The comic book artwork is completed, but finances for physically printing our comic have been the current obstacle. I actually held a couple of yard sales last year to help raise some money, but we’re still short the printing costs. We had our fingers crossed for winning some of the cash prize money from the Horror Block Monstrous Movie Contest, but unfortunately that didn’t happen.

JM: Once the web series is out there for all to see, if the response continues to be positive, we’re considering a crowdfunding campaign for the remaining printing costs.

CS: Yeah, we have a completed product, now we just need the rest of the finances to bring it to life in print. If that’s well received we would love to expand on the comic book as well.

JM: We’ve started looking at new artists who will work at a reasonable price. If you know of anyone, please feel free to give them our contact info.

CS: Or any artists reading this looking to do a comic, contact us!

10) What do you guys have in store for the future in terms of projects?

CS: Of course we would love to have the opportunity to come back to Tales of a 5th Grade Zombie Slayer, but right now we’re looking to do our first feature come this summer.

JM: Assuming everything goes as planned that is.

CS: Hah, yeah.

JM: We have some of the roles for that already cast. It’ll be a coming of age drama about high school aged kids this time.

CS: Even more exciting is we’ll be working with some of our same Zombie Slayer cast of kids, so we look forward to teaming up with them again. This story is set in the summer time and will also have some superheros. It’s a bit of a change from zombies, but again we think we have something a little different to offer with this script.

11) Thank you for the interview.  Any final words before we wrap up?

JM: First we’d like to thank you for the interview, and for giving us this platform to share a bit about us in your space. This has been really awesome and something we greatly appreciate.

CS: Yeah, I’d like to say thank you Kieran for taking the time to sit down with us, you brought some great questions to the table. For your readers, we hope we were interesting enough for you to want to come give us a look.

JM: Other than that we would love for people to go follow our Twitter and Facebook accounts, give us some of your feedback on the webseries.

CS: I’d like to give a shout out to our makeup supervisor Yoni Baker! This guy has been with this production since its early phases and we appreciate him immensely. Plus all of our talented kids need a holler too, we love you all!

JM: We’re both very passionate about film, especially the indie community, and we always look for opportunities to help out other filmmakers.

CS: Oh! And all those parents who came with us on this journey too! And the comic book artist Dustin Parr!

JM: Anyone else?

CS: Actually yes, a remembrance to Ryan Carter and Micki Forsyth Phillips who worked with us on this project.

JM: Yeah… Okay here are the plugs.

Follow us on twitter @5thGradeZombies

Like us on Facebook at Tales of a 5th Grade Zombie Slayer

Watch us on Vimeo at Zombie Slayer Films

CS: Hah, THANKS EVERYONE!

Interview: Steve Kasan (Actor & Producer, Wasted)

Interview

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Steve Kasan, star and producer of the stonerzomcom Wasted (reviewed here) is an up and coming Canadian talent, who along with his buddies at Retro Grave Productions, are about to unleash their awesome short film on the world.  Anyway, with Steve being the cool, awesome fella that he is, I was lucky enough to be able to sit down with him to discuss Wasted, future projects and Canada.  I urge you all to keep an eye out for Steve showing up on your screens in the future, because judging from what I’ve seen of him so far, he’s definitely a talent worth watching.

OOT-SteveKasan

1) Hi Steve, how are you today?

Doing well. This Cine Coup challenge its going to be hectic. What we are doing in 12 weeks it’s pretty much what a major studio does for 5 months. Making sure we establish our brand and get the word out. Quick decisions which we think will stick. It’s all in part of making a kick ass ride of a film.

2) For those who don’t know about Wasted yet, how would you describe it?

Wasted is a Zombie Stoner Geek Comedy. It is a fun, adrenaline filled ride where you see a group of friends have high adventures in the zombie apocalypse. Unlike most characters in all zombie films, our characters WANT the zombie apocalypse to happen. They are a reflection of today’s world. We acknowledge everything in the zombie genre in order to survive, and like most people I am sure who have got together with their friends and ask “What would we do in an outbreak?” This is for you!

3) Due to the abundance of zombie projects out there, many horror fans are quick to dismiss new ones.  What makes Wasted different from the rest?

First is our characters. You can relate to them because we are just like you and your readers. We have all thought about what we would do if an outbreak were to happen. Well, now we know. Most zombie films & tv, the characters dread the apocalypse. The Walking Dead, it’s a fine show but is it ever depressing. We want to show that you can have fun in this world. Everything is reset and can be who we want to be exploring our truer selves which we cannot do now.

4)  Wasted was hilarious.  I mean, it had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion.  However, you guys had great chemistry together.  How did you all start working together?

The best part about putting Wasted together is that the characters are a reflection of us. And, we all work in the industry in front and behind the camera. Acting, production, writing so it is a collaborative effort. I relate our characters, and us, to TMNT. Yes, they are all ninjas and turtles, duh, but each one of them are so different. Sid is totally different from me even though we both enjoy the same music. You can see that with the way we look, dress and our personal influence. It helps all of us knows each other and came together as a unit.

5) Were there any particular movies that influenced you guys during the making of Wasted?

There are tons. We are lovers of all types of film genres, but, also anime, TV, cartoons, video games. It’s a long list but I can say The Simpsons/Family Guy/Titus/Arrested Development cut away gags really helped a lot with our presentation.

6) I’d love to see Wasted as a full feature, so if the Cinecoup contest doesn’t work out, would you guys consider crowd funding? 

That is a possibility, yes. We also have our short film which we still are showcasing around for reviews and festival submissions. We saw Cinecoup as a really good shot at jump starting a feature.
We might also go the series route as well.  And, if there are any wonderful producers reading this interview who would like to help out well come on board the Killer Couch Potato/Wasted express!

7) Outside of Wasted, you’ve acted in a number of movies and TV shows.  What have been your favourite roles so far?

I like to apply and take different types of roles. Leads, supporting, etc. I can say this I didn’t attend my high school graduation but I did get the opportunity to experience that in a commercial. Yeah, its not real. Yeah, its fake, but, as an actor I have to make sure what the viewer is seeing is real. So even it was for a commercial, it was real to me and I got to experience it. Now I can say I know what a graduation ceremony feels like. Kinda boring to be honest.

8) Canada has been producing some excellent independent films these past few years.  What are some of your favourites?  Also, how do you feel about the state of Canadian film?

It’s the independent Horror films that is thriving in Canada. Raven Banner distributes some really awesome films. Black Fawn out of Guelph, Ontario makes some fantastic horror. And, how can we forget Wolf Cop. It is a fun movie to watch.

I feel that more and more Canadian film is getting exposed and with the talent depth found here. There are a lot of gems which are being made and with VOD releases everyone can easily experience. The internet, not just for porn its also discovery. Who knew huh?

9) What do you have in store for the future? 

Two awesome time travel based projects, but, both are different.
Out of Time, it is time travel, action, drama web series where I play one of the main leads. You can find that here: http://www.outoftimeseries.com/

Past Tense. It is 1990, a crazy professor has built a time machine with money from a loan shark who wants his money back. The Professor does not have the money and it is Sunday. Banks are closed on sunday.
It’s a fun throwback adventure comedy like Bill & Ted. You can see the trailer here and subscribe to that channel for more updates: https://youtu.be/4QOHAdgN274

10) Thank you for taking the time to speak to me.  Any final words before we wrap it up?

Yes, first THANK YOU for allowing me to talk about Wasted. To everyone reading this, Cine Coup gives filmmakers the opportunity, but, it is up to YOU who decides to move on. That comes by signing up to the Cinecoup site http://www.cinecoup.com/wasted/trailer Following our project.

Sharing it on social media, emails, to your friends & family. Give us a rating, leave comments and most of all Vote. When you sign up, it is free, you verify your account through your email. You will be notified when it is time to vote and there are different periods. First is the Top 60, Top 30, 15, finally, the Top 5. We want to make it all the way but it is only through your support.

We do not want Wasted to be just another generic zombie film. We want it to be unique. We want our Zombies to be different! We want to give you a fun and enjoyable time. We want to make something which you say, “Guys, have you seen Wasted? You got to check it out!”   Will it be the best ever, who knows, but, I can guarantee it will be the most outrageous, high octane film to come out smokin’!   Only you can get us there.

Interview: Tyler Hosley

Interview

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Tyler Hosley might be a name you’re unfamiliar with just now, but I have a feeling he’s going to scar our minds forever in the near future.  Tyler might have the face of an angel, but his mind is a strange, demented and hilarious place even Satan himself is afraid visit.  Him and I have shot the poop for about 3 years now; whether it’s discussing our love of movies or ideas for our own, we always have fun conversations and I feel it’s about time I more people get to know this guy.  Unlike me, Tyler actually has the technical know-how when it comes to making films, and throughout the years I’ve had the luxury of watching him grow as a filmmaker.  Up until now he’s just made some zero budget shorts starring his friends, family and himself – all of which have been a lot of fun to watch.  Earlier today I got the chance to turn our conversations into a well constructed interview, and I’m sure when you read it you’ll agree that he’s a very cool dude with a love and passion for movies we can all appreciate.  Enjoy.

Oh!!!  He also just happens to be the world’s biggest fan of Rob Zombie and The Spice Girls.  True story.

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Now, before we get started on the interview I’d like to give you a taste of what Tyler’s work is like.  This film in particular never fails to absolutely floor me.  It captures his sense of humour and style perfectly – white trash, cocaine, serial killers, necrophilia and 80’s music.  I swear you’ll never listen to Tony Orlando the same way again in your life!

1) Hi Tyler. How are you today, my friend?

I’m doing awesome, brotha! Enjoying the heat, it got a little too cold in Florida for the past couple months, I mean, really, there is a reason why I live in Florida, goddammit! Haha

2) When did you decide that you wanted to become a filmmaker and how did you go about making it a reality?

I was always making movies as a kid, me and some buddies used to take VHS cameras and make these grainy, cheap-ass slasher flicks with ketchup blood & these goofy-looking cheap masks from the dollar store, but I can actually tell you that the moment I realized I wanted to make movies was hearing Rob Zombie talk about him directing one of his music videos back in the 90’s, how he loved the creative process of it all and such, and how it was like creating little short films for his music, I’ll never forget that little moment in my life, dude! That’s also around the time I became the uber Rob Zombie fanatic that you know right now!

3) Your shorts thus far have varied between horror, comedy and crime; and they’ve often incorporated all 3 to make dark, hilarious and gruesome stories. To those who haven’t seen your work yet, how would you sum up a typical Tyler Hosley film?

Awful people, doing awful, horrible things….BUT, making you laugh, and feeling like shit because you laughed! haha! Which means having ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree’ blasting in the background, while a neo-nazi rapes a dead woman!

4) You live in Florida: Has growing up there influenced your work any?

Kinda, I always have my work set in the south, in some way shape or form. Not Florida in-particular, I love this state dearly, but I love pretty much like anything set in the south.

5) Your films definitely aren’t for everyone due to their dark subject matter; which is often portrayed in a humorous way with uplifting songs to accompany it. Have you ever offended anybody with your work?

Oh yes, I’ve offended many people, I can’t remember exactly what was said, but I think the guy called one of my short films “Misogynistic, juvenile smut, with nothing but disgusting, grammar school dialogue” or something along those lines! haha! Seriously though, I consider that the highest of compliment, because, really? Is the dude wrong?

6) What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?

Sooooo many, bro. The films of Rob Zombie, Harmony Korine, Larry Clark, those three guys inspire me in so many ways, those are my 3 filmmaking heroes! It’s like when I watch The Devil’s Rejects, or Gummo, or Another Day In Paradise, after the movies are over, I just wanna pick up a camera and make something! It’s such an amazing feeling, man!

7) What makes a film great for you? Are there certain qualities that make a film better for you?

For me, a movie that makes you feel like complete shit, makes you feel you dirty, etc! Just depressing, bleak, brutal cinema, with terrible people as the lead characters! Those are the qualities that I look for when watching a film, and what I personally always connected & gravitated towards. I just recently re-watched Larry Clark’s Bully again for about the 100th time, and everybody in the movie is just awful, sweaty, disgusting human beings, and I love every second of it!

8) Tell us about your creative process when you sit down to make a short.

It’s funny, dude, my mind is always thinking of different movie ideas, doesn’t matter what the hell I’m doing, I can guarantee there’s a short film idea running through my head at that very moment, but when I actually sit down to write the script, my ideas always completely change! Even when shooting the scripts, I always change shit up. My short film ‘Immoral’ which is actually playing at The Mad Monster Party Film Fest in a couple weeks, that short has a couple drastic tonal changes I changed during filming, and when you see it, you can see those tonal changes as clear as day, but I think it totally worked, especially for that particular short! But yeah, my process is just rollin’ with what comes to warped brain at that very second! haha

9) Since knowing you I’ve witnessed your progress as a filmmaker from the very beginning until now, and you’ve came on leaps and bounds since the beginning. I honestly think you’re ready to make a full feature. So can we expect a Kickstarter or Indiegogo any time soon?

I think that’s a very, very strong possibility, sir! Even if I didn’t start up a Kickstarter, I might just make a feature length with a micro-budget, I make short films for practically nothing, so I think even 500 bucks could go a long way, considering how I shoot and stuff.

10) What are you currently working on? Furthermore what do you have coming up in future and what is your dream project you have cooked up in your twisted mind?

My next short film is called ‘Steps’ about a heroin addict who’s obsessed with fucking his staircase, because honestly, who hasn’t thought about humping a staircase when walking up’em, at least once, everybody has! As for dream projects, I have a script written called ‘Crack Head Holocaust.’ It’s basically a character study of 5 different people living in a 5 story crackhouse, and in-between all those stories, there’s a slasher film thrown in involving a woman-hating serial killer wearing an S&M gimp mask. I will get that fucking movie made one day, that’s a goddamn guarantee!

11) Just how much do you love The Spice Girls?

No words, bro, no words to describe my love for those ladies! Definitely the best band of all time, lyrical genius, amazing stage presence, seriously, no other girl band will EVER come close!

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If you want to more shorts then check out his channel on that Youtube.  If you want to get in contact with Tyler then you can follow him on Twitter here; and if you like to discuss movies with a group of fun, friendly people then you can find Tyler and myself over at this FB Group discussing movies daily with like-minded nerds.  Hope to see you there.

Interview: Jimmy Lee Combs (Director of Hans Crippleton: Talk To The Hans)

Intervews, Interview

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Don’t let the good looks fool you, folks.  Jimmy Lee Combs is one sick, twisted man, and his debut feature Hans Crippleton: Talk To The Hans proves it.  However, under his production company Heart And Fire Productions, he has unleashed a number of short films prior which have showcased an independent filmmaker with diversity, versatility, talent and passion.  From a personal standpoint, I haven’t been this excited by an indie talent since Travis Betz, and just like him, Justin is unique and difficult to pigeonhole.  With Hans Crippleton: Talk To The Hans, his first full feature length, he’s certainly made a statement and it’s sure to tickle the taste buds of those who appreciate bad taste.  Whether you love or hate Hans, I feel confident in saying there’s nothing else like it in the annals of cinema history.

Anywho, not only is Jimmy an exciting rising talent, but he’s a really cool dude as well: not only is he down-to-earth and willing to talk with fans, but he was also up for giving this one an interview.  So be sure to check it out as we discuss Hans, upcoming projects, 3 breasted alien women and more.  Enjoy.

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1) Hey Jimmy, thank you for taking the time out to do this interview with me. So, the first thing I’d like to know is how you did you and Kevon meet and start working together?

Thank you Kieran for having us, it’s an absolute pleasure! Kevon and I met on a previous short film of mine “Reign of the Vampire” in which Kevon played the villain vampire Lucian. As I got to know Kevon early on, he told me he does SFX and animatronics as well. I had seen a demo video of Kevon working on an animatronic spider prior to his casting and was like “Oh yeah, I remember seeing your demo video, it was totally awesome!”. So we got to talking and Kevon was kind enough to provide some SFX for Reign of the Vampire as well as his acting talents. I filmed some of his spider animatronic work for another project he was working on. This all lead to Hans Crippleton: Talk to the Hans.

2) As you already know I loved Hans Crippleton: Talk To The Hans, but if a 3 breasted alien woman came to Earth and asked you what it was about, how would you describe it to her?

Thank you so much, your review is insanely awesome! The Hans loves you too, he wants to shake your hand (with his little hand of course). Well, first I’m gonna wish I had three hands! Then I would describe the film as a outrageous horror zombie that could totally be from the planet she is from and ponder how the hell she hasn’t seen it yet. I would continue to describe it as a traveling horror show called Horror Hunts has picked up on the backwoods inbred Crippleton family as the subject of their next episode. Focusing on the tiny handed and hump backed haunted house connoisseur Hans Crippleton, they follow him during his rise and fall from fame, they also find themselves in for much more than they bargained for when they uncover the mystery behind the Crippleton’s zombie curse that has plagued the family farm for generations. Our film is pretty unique and disturbing like this lovely three breasted alien you speak of lol.

3) I love the movies sense of humor. It pushes the envelope in a hilarious, but harmless way. I never got the impression that you were going for shock tactics because it was handled in a way that was genuinely witty, funny and ridiculous. Hans is totally silly, outrageous and gross, but it’s also smartly satirical and unhesitant about taking a few jabs at political correctness. How have audiences responded to it so far?

Audiences have responded extremely well to our film and the Hans! We posted production stills from day 1 so our audience knew the kind of offensive content we were shooting and that we were not going to be politically correct in any sense of the word but like you said in a harmless way. We never took ourselves seriously for a moment and it always cracks Kevon and I up the handful of haters (This is where the Facebook Monster originated from in the film lol) out their who take this content so seriously and get butt hurt… uh oh, was that politically incorrect to say lol. The audience we’re reaching out to totally gets our film and appreciates the dark humor and satire. It’s not for those who are PC and being the PC world we live in today, the Hans is more relevant than ever. We love our fans and absolutely thrilled that they enjoy the politically incorrect humor of our film and have fun with it.

4) Who are some your film influences and what are some of your favorite movies?

Martian Scorsese, Brian De Palma, Oliver Stone, David Fincher, Sam Raimi, Jim Jarmusch, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento, George Romero, Nicolas Winding Refn, John Woo and Chan-wook Park to name a few. My all time favorite movies are the Rocky films with Sylvester Stallone. Also: Oldboy, Once Upon a Time in the West, Clerks, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Lucio Fulci’s Zombie, Dawn of the Dead (original), Evil Dead, Army of Darkness, Message in a Bottle (I admit, I enjoy some romance flicks), Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, Bronson, Casino and Goodfellas to name a few.

5) As independent filmmakers you must face a lot of difficult challenges, but it also means you can retain creative control and make some weird movies. Did you face any difficult challenges when making Hans? Also, how do you feel about independent film right now? Is it in a good state?

I would say one of the biggest challenges on Hans was early on dealing with the Colorado weather in winter. We were shooting some zombie scenes in Bennett, CO and it was SO fucking cold… I seriously had to keep going back to my car and warming my hands up so that I wouldn’t drop the camera from my hands freezing. Extras would take shelter in set pieces on location to keep warm and the wind made it extremely difficult for our SFX artists to apply make up to extras. We were out in the middle of nowhere. So our zombies for those scenes did not look as polished as in other scenes. But we improvised and added that into our story calling them “fresh zombies” since their make up wasn’t as elaborate like the others. Another challenge as a Cinematographer was shooting in the Crippleton home which was a small tight shed in the back yard of one of our SFX artist’s roommate’s house. It was tough getting compositions but luckily shooting documentary style and handheld helped immensely with that. The creative control like you said makes all the challenges in the world worth it as a independent filmmaker.
I think the state of Independent film is the best it’s ever been! High end cameras can be purchased on the cheap and anyone with a passion and knowledge to make films can do so with ease. And now with VOD/digital services in full effect, a filmmaker can seriously start thinking like a business person from pre-production all the way through to distribution. With iTunes store, Hulu, Vimeo and amazon to name a few, filmmakers have options like never before to choose the platforms they want to sell their film on. With the assistance of an aggregator, getting placement in the iTunes store is incredible exposure for a filmmaker. This also means that now more than ever a filmmaker has to market their own films and build their audience every step of the way (sometimes this can be more challenging than making a film) otherwise you can get lost in the noise. And sure the competition is more fierce since anybody and their brother can make a film with how easily accessible the equipment is and editing software but if you can make a good entertaining film especially one that is marketable, you’ll stand out above the rest that aren’t so good. Honestly, the thing I’m most sad about is that one day soon physical media like DVD will be obsolete with every thing going digital (I love collecting physical media) but this also works to a filmmaker’s advantage for getting your film out there.
6) I really loved the look of the creatures of the creatures and the Crippleton family. I thought Mama in particular looked sexy. Were all of the effects practical?
Thanks, Mama is blushing right now! I would say 95% of the effects were all practical. We used CGI mostly to remove sis’s leg in some scenes, to remove the actor in a green suite controlling Fondle Chomp and some CG blood. We’re pro practical all the way and tried to do as much practical as possible but we absolutely love combining both CGI and practical effects on our films, it’s a great marriage!
7) What’s the concept behind Heart & Fire Productions and how can we support it? 
Heart and Fire Productions believes in the spirit of true Independent film making. Regardless of genre, our focus is on the key ingredients of any good film: story, characters and entertainment. It’s our vision to make movies that audiences can identify with and that have an emotional impact whether it is happy, sad, scared or a combination. With our talented SFX team, we emphasize the use of practical effects but believe in the marriage of both practical and CGI with today’s technology to deliver the ultimate viewing experience to our audience.
Please visit our website www.heartandfireproductions.com and our Hans Crippleton: Talk to the Hans movie website www.hanscrippletonmovie.com feel free to subscribe to our e-newsletter for exclusive content and more. We greatly appreciate the support.
8) The Crippleton’s are a family who I believe could find mischief anywhere. Are there any sequel plans for our favorite inbred hillbillies?
You betcha man, we all had such an amazing and fun time on the first film that it would be a crime not to bring the gang back for another round of boozin’ and floozin’ not to mention a hefty dose of Cripple Pickles. This film has seriously been the best experience of my film career and I would be on board in a heart beat for a sequel. In the mean time we’re doing a web series that builds on the Hans Crippleton universe. We shot our first webisode this past Christmas called Crippleton Christmas Crashers which can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/LdehT_kjjZg and more to come will be posted on www.hanscrippletonmovie.com
9) Are there any other future projects you have planned that you can tell us about?
Absolutely! Our next feature film we’re in pre-production now and scheduled to shoot this summer. “Spirit Reckoning” will be a supernatural, action, horror, western. I’m billing it as Sergio Leone meets John Woo meets the horror genre. We have a couple name horror actors that are interested and would absolutely love to work with them! You can check out our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/spiritreckoning After Spirit Reckoning we have a psychological horror thriller planned which will be a 80’s throw back film. Here is the log line:  “An 80s video store owner escapes the wrath of a vicious serial killer. Years later, on the brink of the digital video revolution, his video store is on the verge of closing. However, he has bigger problems when the serial killer returns!”
10) Lastly, when do you expect the rest of the world can see Hans Crippleton: Talk To The Hans?
So we’re hitting the festival circuit this year and really hope to make a splash and be honored to win any awards. We’re seeking a traditional distribution deal but our plan B to self distribute will ensure that the Hans is spread world wide like a Z.T.D. So I would say end of this year if not sooner.