I attended the premiere of Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume 2 at the Museum of Moving Image this weekend. I was a teacher/extra somewhere in that film. Twas a great time! Being a part of any film directed by Lloyd Kaufman is a real honor. I really loved going to the premiere because it made me feel like I had a connection to the film industry and to the films I grew up with. Lloyd Kaufman, George Romero and Ridley Scott are some of my favorite directors of all time which is why when I heard the news that Romero had passed it knocked the wind out of me. George was truly an Independent filmmaker who’s films were more subversive than most remember.
I recorded my Filmmaker Diary #3 before the news of George Romero came in. Not two weeks ago I sent a package out to George Romero. It was a fan letter from me stating how much his films have effected my life. Dawn of the Dead is the greatest horror film ever made and I just wanted to thank him for making it. I was hoping to get his autograph and I included a few of my films Mark of the Beast and VHS Massacre. I thought to myself even if he just looks at the covers of the films it would be meaningful to me. The thing is, Dawn of the Dead is a lot like Blade Runner to me (Blade Runner being the best Sci-fi movie ever made). They came out with a director’s cut of both films during the VHS era. Everyone knows that cool art work with the gas mask on the side of DOD director’s cut.
I bought both films it and started watching them. I’m not sure I loved Dawn of the Dead right away but much like Blade Runner I kept coming back to both films over and over. I think that even though my knowledge of filmmaking with limited as a teenager I could detect the quality and profoundness in both films. Dawn of the Dead was an apocalyptic future and Blade Runner was dystopian. The relationship between Peter and Roger in Dead was a wonderful thing and I found it touching somehow. Whether it was when Peter had to kill Roger in DOD or when Deckard watched Roy Batty die on the roof in Blade Runner they both effected me deeply. In Dawn the zombies roaming the mall represented consumerism out of control, where as in Blade Runner the companies controlled so much of society that people or replicants actually became a product.
Romero always pushed boundaries right from the beginning by having a strong African American lead in Night of the Living Dead in 1968 but he didn’t sugar coat things and when the main character is shot in the end, it ends up being a commentary on injustice of American society toward a minority population. This happens again in Dawn of the Dead when innocent people are killed in the projects in the beginning of the film with no accountability. He was pushing boundaries under the guise of a horror film but much like Blade Runner we know they were both great dramas of about the nature of life, equality of life and how people are sometimes worse than monsters or machines. Thanks for everything George!
Tom talks about the VHS Massacre Blu-ray and other news. Listen to the podcast here! Download this episode (right click and save)
“WorldFest is in the business of validating excellence!” Ridley Scott. So great news for all you fans of VHS Massacre! Pre-order the Bluray now on Amazon! The film snagged a win from the Houston International Film Festival otherwise know as WorldFest, more details to come later. This marks the second festival win that includes “A Best Documentary” win from Miami Sci-Fi International Film Festival as well at selections at Manhattan Film Festival, New Haven Doc Fest at Yale University, Norwich Radical FF, Cinedelphia and others! This may be the closest I ever get in my career to being even remotely associated with someone like Ridley Scott but it’s cool to know he received an award at WorldFest some years back and considered it important enough to speak on it. So this is a nice pick-me-up! Thanks for the support everyone! Below is a list if titans that won their first prize at WorldFest, read below!
“Our heartiest “CONGRATULATIONS!” to you on your exceptional production, and we look forward to having you here at the 50th Annual WorldFest-Houston! We gave first honors to Spielberg, George Lucas, Ang Lee, the Coen Brothers, Randal Kleiser, Oliver Stone, Ridley Scott, David Lynch, John Lee Hancock and hundreds more with their very first film! You may well be the next Spielberg or Lucas…!”
Listen to Tom’s sign off on NYCR here!
Some folks may have noticed that we haven’t posted a new New York Cine Radio show in a while. Lucky the Tribbles and Trilobites show has been has started after a long break. We had been posting NYCR shows for over 5 years now. I personally got a lot out of it. With nearly 1,000,000 we were able to I hope help some Indie filmmakers raise some money. I was able to interview some amazing folks and we made the rather successful Amazon Prime documentary VHS Massacre about the decline of physical media! Order your Blu-ray today it’s coming out May 9th! It was called a really fantastic documentary by Aint it Cool News and Indie film king Lloyd Kaufman himself called it brilliant. It’s truly been an honor. I don’t think I’m going to stop the show altogether. I will probably post a show on occasion and I may open the door for others to host there own show on our network. Lately the idea of just talking about the latest piece of shit to come out of Hollywood is really not doing anything. For instance lately I’m fascinated by Tarkofsky films which bare no resemblance to modern films. James Richardson may post his own show and I’m going to use NYCR to give your updates on my films projects or to say something more concise. So the light at New York Cinema Radio are not off but I no longer want to make a show just to make a show. Thanks to everyone who has listened over the years.
Hey great news! Add the ZP TV channel to your Roku and watch
Everything Moves Alone and Land of College Prophets for free now!
It’s a nice feeling to have a few of my older films get picked up by ZPTV. Ken Powell helped me re-master Everything Moves Alone and Land of College Prophets last year as a matter of fact. The backyard action/adventure Land of College Prophets (Co-created by Mike Aransky and Phil Guerette) was a pretty popular title at Hollywood Video and Movie Gallery back in the day but it pre-dated any streaming services. So these were films that had a long good run in film festival and home video but since I’ve made several feature films since then I really had to move on. So Roku stations are a pretty great thing and it seems like a decent venue for us Indie filmmakers. If you get a chance have a look, LOCP is available now and EMA should be up soon!
This is filmmaker Tom Seymour’s perspective on the film Logan. A film more profound than is had to be Tom makes the case that the flm is really about the dying American Dream, family, Immigration policy and the shrinking middle-class crushed uder the weight of runnaway government and corperate facism. The films will get to you. We” be back Thursday witht he full crew too hear the gang perspective!
First of all some of you might be saying hasn’t it been New York Cine for the last four years? Yes that’s true. Well for one thing, we just got to a point where we got exhausted by explaining that cine stood for cinema and a lot of people where pronouncing it New York Sign. That be said we will still occasionally use New York Cine for short. Also we’re getting close to hitting a million listens and we wanted to revamp things a bit. We should have some pretty cool interviews in the next few weeks. Last month I went to the Miami International Science Fiction Film Festival with my friend/composer/producer Tim Kulig and we spoke on a panel about creating web series and how to market them. I was able to record it for the podcast. Another thing I was able to do while I was there was get an Interview with Indie film Legend William Grefe about his amazing film career. So have a look at the new site below!
From working with a dozen live rattlesnakes on the film Stanley, directing William Shatner in Impulse, making a film with no script (Psychedelic Priest) or even shooting a feature film in seven days (Death Curse of Tartu), Indie film legend William Grefe has had one of the most Interesting film careers we’ve ever heard of. He sat down with Tom Seymour to talk about it all. William also ran the Ivan Tors’ Studio in Miami that produced such classics at Flipper and Gentle Ben but his real passion was exploitation films and he has director over a dozen throughout the years.
More about the NYCR and myself
For those who don’t know we also created a few projects with Troma. The Amazon Prime documentary VHS Massacre and the Troma Now original series Monster Kill. The Bluray will be out soon so that will be exciting. I recently I watched a film called the Greasy Strangler. It was like Wes Anderson did the set and costume design for a John Waters film written by Napoleon Dynamite. So you know, I loved it. In any case I noticed that same distributor FilmRise also put out VHS Massacre and I thought that was really cool. While I was at the Miami FF last month we screened Monster Kill and that seemed like a fitting end to the original series now available on Troma Now! More updates to come!
There is no progress without time and aging is part of it. I’m turning 40 and I guess that’s ok as long as I have a few irons in the fire. As the youngest of three I’ve always felt “younger”, like I didn’t know as much as my brothers or that I was constantly behind. 40 is a kind of standard for admitting that one is middle-aged and it’s a bit of a bummer. My birthday is on January 20th. In that past it has been associated with the presidential inauguration and even sometimes MLK day. For the past 8 years at least it was kind of cool with Obama and all that. This year for my birthday I get a bit of a shit sandwich with the inauguration on Donald Trump. My ninth film co-directed with Ken Powell is coming out on Blu-ray soon and has already been featured on Amazon Prime. The reviews have been solid and I really could not have asked for more. The film VHS Massacre: Cult films and the Decline of Physical Media bares a harsh truth, it is nearly impossible in the U.S. for a low budget indie filmmaker to make a living off the scraps of streaming revenue share. There does come a time, as an artist when you do have to dig in and improve the conditions of your day job even if it takes years. I have been lucky in that, working in a college film department has a tremendous amount of crossover with filmmaking.
Mike Aransky, Tom Seymour and Greg Kissner working for IGN.
So from here you start asking yourself what CAN I do here? In my over 20 years of filmmaking I have always found a way to make and “sell” feature films. I feel like I’m good at creating opportunities. I could get a movie done in a way professional enough to “sell” for distribution (at least contractually) and get them to market. Right now I can’t see a path forward for progress at this point but I could make another one the same way. I’ve done the corporate thing working at CBS, NBC, Fisher Price etc. I’ve worked with the famous Indie film studio Troma Entertainment and Lloyd Kaufman on several projects. It was a dream come true but it’s not something you can make a living on. Even the podcast that I host (New York Cine) with Dave Leute, Ken Powell and James Richardson was a top ten podcast for the third year in a row on Podbean but where do I go from here? Sometimes I have to ask myself, to what end?
That being said I will always make films but now I’m looking at opportunities that are ACTUALLY around me. I’ve been going back to school for about 3 years now. I finished taking two classes the Graduate Center (CUNY SPS). This means just two more classes and I’m finished with another degree, a B.A. in Media and Communication. Also I started the application process for my MFA degree. So with some luck I’ll be starting on that this year. I think about how I want people to think of me and what they would call me. A film director? A teacher? In the summer I’ll start lecturing my first class in the CUNY system. And three years from now when I finish my MFA, I could go from Lecturer to Professor in theory. This is something I’m willing to hard work for. Over the past few years this desire has been slowly growing to a point where I must do this, I must be this. I’m hoping the MFA program with take me in a new direction with my filmmaking. Sometimes in being forced to do projects you really break outside of your comfort zone. Currently I’m a tenured Senior Technician in the CUNY system and although I do teach students in the lab I’m looking forward to running my own classes. I can not help but be obsessed with titles. One thing I like about education is that if you put the time in, do the work, you get the degree. You certainly have more control over things than you do in the success of making and selling and Independent feature. As an artist, if I’m being honest, I made those films for myself and now I want to go to get my MFA for myself. I think we all have to hang in there, don’t let the election get you down, work your opportunities you have or make new ones.
There is no progress without time and aging is part of that, from a brand new baby born, to an old man’s dying breathe. I’m turning 40 and I guess that’s ok as long as I have a few irons in the fire. It also doesn’t hurt that I have an amazing Fiancee as well.
It’s been a busy few weeks. I recently got to work with my friends Mike Aransky and Greg Kissner for IGN. We covered the New York Comic Con specifically cosplay. So we had the chance to work with some IGN hosts and interview cosplayers like Yaya Han and others. I honestly am not part of that world so I had never heard of those folks. It was hard work, we’d shoot for a few hours, come back and edit and complete a piece of video and go back out to shoot more. We averaged about 3 videos a day. I’ve been doing this kind of work my whole life so I’m not sure why I was so stressed out.
I used to work for CBS and it was similar, you have to finish the editing because the news has to air that night. But I think it reminded me most of my time at Black20 and I think that’s why I was a little rattled. Those three years and cranking out comedy content, getting paid next to nothing, drinking too much coffee to keep our concentration. I just wasn’t sure I ever wanted to do that kind of work again but it was actually satisfying. It was a bit outside of my comfort zone though. I much prefer working on a feature film over the course of a few years. My latest documentary (co-directed by Ken Powell) , now available on Amazon Prime entitled VHS Massacre, seems to be doing very well. It’s about the video store era and the decline of physical media.
In any case Greg Kissner and I did some solid work at IGN equating to several million views and that feels like a victory to me. It was good to hang out with Mike Aransky with who I directed several feature films in the past including the 2001 film Everything Moves Alone which is now on VHX and YouTube and Amazon for those who want to have a watch. Mike had told me that every now and then someone at IGN brings up a few of the mashups videos that Mike, Greg and I created and Black20 and it puts a smile on my face.Watch Mantis and The Spirit I remember being particularly ridiculous.
A few people hit me up on Twitter about the Bikini Bloodbath Films. I always thought they were kinda of funny. Though this scene sort of reminds me why I don’t act that much anymore. It’s cool to know that people are still watching them. It may be thanks to Film Rise that seems to be working with our film distributor MVD to get them out. I actually discovered the Film Rise Roku Channel which has some pretty great free horror titles.
This year I want to look for a new project. A few things have been put on the back burner for now including Skate Nazi’s Must Die (A script I completed) and also working with Troma on the Tales from the Crapper Series. So I’m leaning towards finding a new documentary subject to work on. I’d like to find a real mystery to explore. Maybe something New York based. I love that Resurrect Dead Documentary. The whole film is actually available on Vimeo. Something like this could be great if I could stumble upon it.