About thomasedwardseymour

Considered one of the "Top 20 Contemporary Underground Filmmakers in the U.S." according to the "History of Independent Cinema" published in 2009. Has won 14 indie festival awards, has directed seven features that have been covered and reviewed everywhere from the NY Times to NPR. Thomas's online content created for Black20 studios has reached over 25,000,000 views. The video "PG 300" (Cake Town) has 9 million views just on youtube alone. Was World Champion Record Holder on Twin Galaxies for the Konami Mame Arcade game "Crime Fighers" until his record was just recently defeated. Tom is published in three books about indie filmmaking. His latest film "London Betty" narrated by Clint Howard was just bought by Maverick Entertainment. Before that his Best Selling (York Entertainment) film "The Land of College Prophets hit 193 on the imdb pro ratings in 2005 the week of it's release.

MUBI Notebook and VHS Massacre Too wins at Accolade!

So it’s been a hot minute since my last update. Adjusting to what is the new normal. What is inspiring is that people do carry on, people figure out ways to make things work, whether that is working from home, taking online classes or creating media.

So I’m continuing on with my MFA as CUNY has converted all it’s classes to remote learning and I’m working from home during the day. I was in a pretty sweet spot a few months back, I had gotten into about ten or so film festivals (with VHS Massacre Too) and it seemed like this was going to be different, like after the success of the first VHS Massacre (FilmRise and Troma) things were on track to be more successful but suddenly things started getting cancelled left and right. This is nothing new for me. Sometime around 2008-2009 after the economy cratered, my life and career was essentially erased and it took about a decade to cover. I think things will be different this time. Because although some film festivals just cancelled film festivals or delayed them indefinitely, other film festivals decided to figure out a way to make things work. Bare Bones International may convert to an online Awards Show, Miami International Science fiction film festival with do a virtual showcase and awards show and the Accolade Film festival after just a few days delayed posted their winners!

MUBI Notebook Article

 

 

“VHS Massacre Too” Updates and “The Dead Next Door”!

So some very cool things have happened since my last update. My new documentary feature VHS Massacre Too has made some progress in the film festival circuit. I’ll have exact dates soon but the film will play at the Horror Hound Weekend in March 20-22nd, Bare Bones Film Festival in Muskogee OK, April 2nd-3rd, the Miami International Film Festival (TBA). Also last week I was notified that the film was a semi-finalist at the L.A. Independent Film Festival Awards (more info next month). To date the film has won 5 awards. We are still waiting to hear back from about 20 other film festivals. I think a good goal would be have the film play in 10 cities.

On a side note HorrorHound was one of the three horror magazines (including Fangoria and Rue Morgue) that I read growing up so it was really great to be included in their convention and festival screening! At the end of the day for most American low-budget features, film festivals serve as our theatrical run. This has sort of taken the place of four-walling, when you’d bring your film to one city, promote the local screening and then move to the next city. To some degree the math doesn’t work on four-walling anymore, advertising is expensive and film attendance is down. I think Kevin Smith can pull it off with his special events but its harder if you aren’t already famous. So film festivals are a way you can get your movie played on the big screen. There is risk of course. You have to shell out some money.

A good scenario would be to get accepted to a third of the festivals you enter, so it’s not sure bet by any standard. Certain festivals like Sundance take 14,000 submissions a year and probably only play a few hundred films. So it may be smarter to avoid “bankrolling” certain festivals that play mostly studio releases. In the next few months the results of World-fest Houston the, Webby Awards and the Telly Awards will be in and I’m hoping VHS Massacre Too will do well. I did end up entering Austin Film festival. It’s one of the Top festivals in the world. I can’t seem to totally extinguish this desire to “buy a lottery ticket” if you will. But I couldn’t enter Sundance and Slamdance one more time, I actually felt ill when considering giving my money to those studio film festivals. Dreams shift as you get older. Artists need to create their work to feel normal or navigate the world and all its challenges. So I know I need to keep creating but I also want to get the work seen. That’s my goal these days, complete solid work, offer it to an audience and move on to the next thing.

I watched the Dead Next Door (1989) recently a film directed by J.R. Bookwalter, funded by Sam Raimi and features the voices of Bruce Campbell in the film. The Blu-ray is amazing. My super-wife got it for me for Christmas! The film was shot on Super-8 and was cleaned up to a point where is looks pretty awesome. J.R. is featured in my new documentary and it was a pleasure watching this film. What can I say? It’s a cool zombie flick made in an era that just makes it irresistible. I mean come on, an 80’s zombie flick, it’s worth checking out just for that.

VHS Massacre Too sneak peek results!

So we had a sneak peek of VHS Massacre Too at Anthology Film Archives in New York City last week. I really didn’t know what to expect on a  freezing, Wednesday night in the East Village but I loved it. I saw a lot of friends and family, some fellow grad students and a lot of Troma fans! I even signed some autographs and Thom DeMicco and Dwayne Steeler from Troma were there. The thing about having an event is that although I was relieved that it was well attended, the press generated from the event was far greater. So as an example both Dread Central and the Horror Society both covered the event. So thousands of people are now aware of the film and that’s pretty cool! So if anyone out there has a film but is reluctant to screen it, I’d say go for it and Anthology Film Archives ,New Filmmaker New York is a great place to submit!

In other cool news the Independent Horror Awards has selected VHS Massacre Too for competition. It appears to be a competition that celebrates indie horror flicks that are off the beaten path and rebels against cookie cutter studio films. So it’s an honor.

“VHS Massacre Too” begins its festival run in 2020!

I decided to change my approach to entering film festivals with VHS Massacre Too, my tenth feature film. I’ve written off the top film festivals like Sundance, Slamdance Telluride and so on. After entering them with my other films over the last twenty years I’m simply tired of bankrolling film studio premieres with my hard earned money. In a sense I’ve donated thousands of dollars to the studio film industry. I am convinced that unless it’s a film connected to the studio system or you have major representation (and they think they can make money off you), the odds of getting in are close to zero.

So in result I’m targeting A few larger City Film festivals, Underground festivals, low-budget, exploitation film fests, and (medium sized) film awards shows and contests. I entered them over the last few weeks and I’m already getting results! You figure a followup documentary to a film about VHS and exploitation films is definitely a niche film! I made a video describing exactly which film festivals and contests I’ve entered but my intention to get as much out of my dollar in regards to official selections and wins and so far it seem like it’s going to be ok.

– Impact Docs Award – Official Selection for competition
– Filmmaker New York – Official Selection (Anthology Film Archives January 8th Premiere in NYC)
– The Indie Fest – Official Selection 
– Accolade Global Film Competition – Official Selection 

Creating your own Streaming Service

For the last few years now, people have been able to create their own independent Roku channels at a relatively low cost. As I write now I myself am experimenting with creating one through Vimeo to host some of my features and series work. This is of course nothing new. Troma Entertainment for example is always fast to jump on new technologies. Originally the Troma Now streaming service launched through VHX, but a few years back they were acquired by Vimeo.download (2)Some of my older feature films that were distributed through MVD Group would pop up on these cool Roku channels like Midnight Pulp, ZP TV, etc. but recently I found out that the 24 Hours Movie Channel will be carrying my first film Everything Moves Alone and possibly Land of College Prophets.

It is hard to say if this is any kind of gold rush because the checks I’ve gotten for being on these streaming channels are usually for 20 or 30 bucks at a time but the ability to create these channels is pretty exciting in and of itself. You can create your own channel directly through Roku and set up your own potential advertising. Plus it is actually easier to set up than you’d think. This Tutorial can walk you though how to create your own independent channel in 5 minutes. The drawback is that you are bound to the Roku company.  So your revenue can be suppressed just like on YouTube or Amazon Prime. Still it may be another way for Indie filmmakers to generate a few bucks and we have to keep exploring new media technologies.

Returning a 30 year old VHS to Troma!

Next Friday I’ll head to Troma Entertainment to return a 30 year old VHS that actually says “Return to Troma ASAP” and to speak with the B-movie king himself Lloyd Kaufman. Hopefully he will forgive the tardiness. The film was a screener copy of Killer Condom. This will for the most part, finish off VHS Massacre 2 although I might snag one of two more interviews and I still need a ton of B-role. This film I don’t believe is like the first one, more of an exploration of the challenges that B-movie filmmakers go through, be it censorship, or financial woes. Joe Bob Briggs seems to be one of the most important people celebrating these kinds of films. His drive-in academy award nominations are my favorite. Some of these fringe films and filmmakers end up being really important to the main stream. I think I can have the film close to finished by the end of the year.

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In other updates, tomorrow my short documentary entitled Artifact featuring author Jonathan Alexandratos will play at Yale University as part of the New Haven documentary Film Festival. I’ve made three of these short films some very recently, The Toy Shop was included in my first critique in the Hunter Intergraded Media Arts program earlier this month. I’m over the halfway mark and closing in on my M.F.A. it’s been challenging but I’ll be glad when it’s finished. That’s all for now.

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James Rolfe, Shawn C. Philips, JR Bookwalter join VHS Massacre 2!

I was excited to learn that James Rolfe had actually watched the first VHS Massacre and liked it but more about that later. So I’m slowly chipping away at my MFA and I’m about half way done at this point. The Hunter Intergraded Media Arts Program has been challenging but it will ultimately be rewarding. It’s been humbling being a 42 year old graduate student and it is exhausting working full time and going to school at night. I’ve gotten to learn from Academy Award winning cinematographers and NPR Radio producers. In this sense I feel like I’m starting to get the most out of Living in New York City, even if it took a decade or so to find a decent quality of life. As I prepare to be a father I wanted to have a project going to tinker with on the side the same way my father works on computers, inventions, or wood working. So at least for now that seems to be the VHS Massacre films.

The great news is that over the last month I’ve gotten some really solid interviews. James Rolfe a filmmaker known as the Angry Video Game Nerd has joined the cast of VHS Massacre 2. The views on his web-series are literally in the billions. He made his first feature a few years back and I got to hear about how that process went.

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The next person to join the film is independent film juggernaut and film reviewer Shawn C. Phillips. With over a 130 movie credits, he has carved out a solid career but also his physical media collection is really amazing! His insights into the value of exploitation films are really powerful as well!

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Lastly but certainly not least Mr. J.R. Bookwalter, that man whose first feature was funded by Sam Raimi (The Dead Next Door). He has worked on so many Full Moon classics that it will make your head spin. For instance Witch House 2,3, Curse of Puppet Master and so on! He’s had a great career and his expertise in independent film distribution is a really important in regard to this film. A few more interviews, some B-roll and I should have enough material to finished VHS Massacre 2! Hopefully toward the end of next year. With the success of the first VHS Massacre, it is my hope that I continue to work in the documentary field.

I was thinking about it and the narrative feature films I’ve done over the years, Everything Moves Alone, London Betty, Mark of the Beast were done to the best of my ability. The budgets, give or take were about 10 grand a piece and I really did try my best and push things are far as possible. They even had stars in them like Ellen Muth, Clint Howard and Daniel Von Bargen. Here’s the thing, running around with a camera over my shoulder and moving lights around for 12 hours a day is a young man’s game and that’s what it takes to make a feature length film so cheaply. With documentary you can do a couple of interview a month in your spare time and it’s a lot more manageable. So you could say I’m retiring from narrative feature length films until which time as someone funds $100,000 plus project for me. If I’m going to make another narrative I need to be able to take my time, hire the right people and do it right.

Another reason to want a higher budget is that the average viewer has changed in their expectations. The way film criticism is set up online, where people are pushed and encouraged to rate and review has really created contempt for small films because as some statistics are starting to find, angry people tweet and review more than happy people and so it’s never an accurate representation online. When a low-budget film gets trashed there is no recourse, no million dollar PR machine to counteract this through advertising. So it dies on the vine right there and it becomes difficult for that filmmaker to make another film. I grew up in a time where a low-budget feature film was considered a kind of miracle and people wanted to see what you could do for no money. Now many young adults think of content as free, and when people think something is free, they don’t always appreciate it as much. So it’s a different era.

As far as my career in documentary film it is Troma Entertainment that makes this worth doing. For filmmakers like Eli Roth, Debbie Rochon, James Gunn, Marisa Tomei, Matt Stone, Trey Parker or Sam Jackson, Troma is where you start out your career. For me although I’ve had some successes, it may be where I end up but I think I’m ok with that. Stay tuned for more news!