UPDATE: 5/30/18: Hunter College gave me a little write-up for my participation in the 38th annual Telly Awards here!
VHS Massacre, a feature length documentary that I directed with Ken Powell about the decline of physical media picked up a Silver Telly Award in the Non-broadcast (under $700 a minute) category and a bronze in both the Documentary and Entertainment Non-broadcast categories. It’s so cool that New York Cinema Productions which really just consists of me at this point can hang in there with the likes of PBS, HBO, National Geographic and so on. Watch the film on Amazon Prime , iTunes, GooglePlay or on Blu-ray!
When I was younger and working at CBS I had heard about he Telly Awards but back then in the late 1990’s it was more exclusively for broadcast and that meant that this type of award was not particularly accessible for an independent filmmaker. At CBS and NBC we all knew about the Regional Emmy and the Telly Awards. For many of us it was something to aspire to. In 2007 I was working for Black20 Studios (that was eventually sold to FOX). They specialized in internet videos featuring some impressive young performers and filmmakers like Amy Schumer, Eric Andre, Aubrey Plaza. I was camera operator on a show directed by Mike Aransky of IGN fame. That show net_work ended up getting a Broadband, Daytime Emmy nomination through (of all places) Myspace. The Daytime Emmy’s, probably in response to awards shows like the Webbys, wanted to adapt to the changing times. So what does this have to do with VHS Massacre? Well recently the Tellys have added additional categories that open up the show more to non-broadcast and streaming content. So the Tellys like others awards has changed with the times.
When I made VHS Massacre for Troma Studios, it really was a love letter to Troma, Lloyd Kaufman and the gang for altering how I saw cinema. They had a powerful combination of comedy, horror and the grotesque. It opened my mind to the idea that you could blend genres, you could be unrestricted by censors and you could still make a solid point. The Toxic Avenger could easily been seen as an environmental film for instance. So the idea that making a film about Troma, B-movies and the video store era could win awards was not in my head. I just believed in idea and wanted to make it. So these Telly Awards mean a lot to me. Thanks to everyone involved including Producer and Composer Timothy Kulig, Ken Powell, Stephanie Perez and the rest of the gang! Long live Troma!
I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has donated to our Indiegogo campaign for the upcoming feature film Monster Kill. We are 5 days in and over 70 percent of the way there. If we go beyond the $2,000 we are trying to raise we’ll be able to hopefully hire a cool cult icon to host the project. For more info on the film specifically read below. It has been a while since I needed to raise money for a film. For instance the documentary VHS Massacre (coming out next year) Ken Powell and I completed for next to nothing. The idea of doing the film Monster Kill came from watching Roger Corman films. The idea of producing films like Roger sounded like a fun idea. Although I have produced all of my features this is a chance to see what other directors can do. I’m directing one of the segments for Monster Kill but the three shorts are being directed by some talented folks, Ken Powell, Girard Tecson and Orion Brown. So we shall see what happens. For those who haven’t seen the pitch video check it out. It’s B-movie camp at it’s dumbest.
Monster Kill is in the vein of “Tales from the Crypt “or George A. Romero’s “Creep Show” where you have a host introducing three short films that make up one feature length film. The first film is called “Merminators from Space”. That’s right! They are half mermaid and half cyborg and they are from Space. The second film is Flying Snake Attack! For some reason snakes can fly and they begins to kill people. The third film is called, Groom of Bigfoot. Bigfoot is on the loose and she’s looking to claim her Groom! These films will be a lot of fun to make and hopefully watch.
The feature length documentary VHS Massacre has been officially handed off to musician and audio technician Timothy Kulig. He is going to create some great music for the doc and really tie the whole film together. Beyond some minor color correction, grain reduction and possible some minor B-role adjustments the picture is for the most part locked. The running time is just under 78 minutes. I’m proud of what we’ve done. It will probably be a good six months before the film is completely finished but we are making progress.
Recently I stared taking two classes at the same time through CUNY to finish off another degree. It is kicking my ass, but I’m not giving up. I’m stubborn like that. I’m loosing a bit of sleep over it. I can direct a feature film in 9 days for under 6 grand and get it distributed but make me take two college level classes at the same time and that’s when I’m truly challenged. Wish me luck for I shall need it. I have a new project in the works involving a film anthology. It would be a feature film involving three short films, think Creep Show or Tales from the Crypt. It’s gonna be great! More details down the road!
Jon Gorman and I were given the opportunity by our distributors at MVD Entertainment to do a digital release for our feature horror film Mark of the Beast.I was able to work on the color grading, and do a little re-cutting for the HD master of the film. So we will be having a Director’s cut of Mark of the Beat available on Amazon on Demand, Google Play and probably paid YouTube. I’m very happy about this mostly because people will finally be able to see the movie at the resolution and quality that was intended. The film has added grain and noise and pretty dynamic color grading going on so that when we created a standard DVD master it really did kill the quality of the visuals and the audio. The film is meant to look like and old horror film from the 70’s, think of a cruder looking Giallo film. When I get more details on the release date I do some more promotion.
Dave Leute, James Richardson and I also got to interview Robyn Paris (Michelle) and Juliette Danielle (Lisa) from The Room Movie on The New York Cine Radio Show. They had some really cool stories to tell and it was a lot of fun. With James Franco producing The Disaster Artist based about The Room Movie, it was really interesting to get their reactions. Our podcast chugs along currently ranked #3 in the TV/Section of Podbean out of literally thousands of other shows. We’ve had our ups and downs and some shows are better than other but so far we have been sure and steady and it’s still fun to create.
I’m waiting to get notes back from three fellow filmmakers to hopefully do a final pass on the VHS Massacre, from there I’ll hand the doc off to Tim Kulig to do some audio design and the score. Things go.
I have an 84 minute cut of the feature length documentary VHS Massacre: Cult films and the rise and fall of physical media. It’s is a film that I directed with Ken Powell of New York Cine Radio. Last month I had a 95 minute version. It has temp score and no sound design but I think I’m on the right track. After taking feed back from various filmmakers, friends and film critics perhaps about a dozen people I feel I had a reasonable idea what needed to be changed. I added in a scene in and cut out about 11 minutes off the running time. So the film is I hope, “getting there”. When I showed pieces of it to some of my student they seemed to be fascinated, it is my hope that, that continues to be the case. I feel good about it in the sense that however the doc is perceived, it is what it is. What I mean is that the doc is about a cult movie podcast that explores the rise an fall of physical media. We are by no means at all the first VHS doc, there are probably half a dozen that I know about.
I didn’t watch them intentionally because I felt that if I did, that I would probably just give up making mine and fall into a depression. From what I understand many of those doc feature mostly on VHS where as we go through the history of Home Movies from Super 8 to streaming. So it’s my hope that this will be something fresh to offer up to the public. It has been a challenging but fulfilling process to make this doc, if the response is even halfway decent I can see trying to make another one down the line. Below is a list of folks featured in the documentary. We have all stars from cult films such as Toxic Avenger,The Room,Birdemic, Troll2,Bikini Bloodbath,Samurai Cop and the show Monster Vision. Hopefully it will be some good fun to watch. My greatest hope is that the film will go big and be seen everywhere but at the very least in doing a feature length documentary (unlike the other 8 narrative films I’ve directed) I hope that it brings me to a different place in my career. I was very thankful to win this year (with co-director Jon Gorman) at the 47th annual Houston International Film Festival for my last feature film Mark of the Beast. It was the first time we directed a dramatic horror film so trying something new can be a good thing. Only time will tell with The VHS Massacre.
This is a very strange time of the year. I love the fall, the changing leaves, horror films on TV, haunted houses and all that good stuff. I’m taking another class to finish off another degree, although at this pace it will take about a decade to finish. I’m continuing to chip away at the VHS Massacre documentary I’m editing, everything is in place but it’s running about 94 minutes and I really want it to be a bit shorter. Also after receiving some great notes last month I’m actually going to try the experiment of re-ordering the entire documentary. As of right now it jumps around from era to era. For instance the origin of Independent film starts about an hour into the doc, that would be put at the beginning of the doc if re-ordered. It’s kind of a massive undertaking and lately I feel like I just don’t have the drive. Of course that usually only lasts a day or two. The podcast I co-host New York Cine Radio keeps roaring along, some of the numbers have been a bit erratic but we remain in the top ten on podbean in the TV/Film section out of thousands of other podcasts, so we’re doing ok. I’m trying to figure out what I want to do next for a feature film. I have a very rough finished script but I’ not sure if it’s what I want to do next. Sometimes when I’m editing and I’m stressed out trying to deal with contracts, waivers and material releases I really begin to question why I do this at all. I suppose it’s a grand distraction that keeps me preoccupied. I wonder if I’m going to keep wanting to do this stuff when I’m older because it’s hard right now. It must be nice to have a large crew on a film set, or a person that handles all the paperwork. In any case, things move along. If you haven’t seen a tiny taste of the rough-cut of the film. There is a two minute clip below which has already been changed in the doc since I posted this last week..ugh will it ever stop? Someone once said that films are never finished, they are abandoned.
It’s been an interesting month. Ken Powell, Dave Leute and I shot an additional scene for the VHS Massacre documentary I’m working on in order to have the film make more sense. So the scene is in place now. I just need to start digging into the notes that my filmmaker friends gave me and see which ones make sense for the film. This week I posted a two minute segment on the VHS Massacre, just a tiny taste of what the film is about. On my podcast New York Cine Radio we had some cool guests lately including the Internet King of Independent film music himself Kevin MacLeod, who has over 1,600 film credits and over 2,000,000 Youtube videos that have used his music. Check out his stuff at Incompetech.com.
We also had Mark Frazer from the cult favorite Samurai Cop on the show. It looks like their Kick-starter campaign for Samurai Cop 2 is going very well with just about 7 grand left to raise. Our numbers have taken a dip lately I think it has something to do with the Stitcher Radio numbers not cycling through to our host Podbean but what can you do? Some things are just out of my control. I’m taking another class about writing for digital media so hopefully I can learn a thing or two and get my writing up to par. I work at a college during the day and it can be very challenging. Someone stole my ipad from work. It was expensive and that makes it very frustrating because money is tight. Lately I’ve been noticing that time flies by very quickly which is good in general because it’s easy to see the progress in things, of course it is a little disturbing because our time on this earth is limited. I’ve noticed this more the older I get. As always I worry about not making progress in my film career and when my podcast numbers dip is disconcerting. In any case, onward and upward! I hope to have a cut finished to give to the sound designer/composer Tim Kulig by the end of the month. We shall see.
It has been very challenging at my job the last few months. I used to like that fact that I didn’t take too much home with me, mental baggage I mean. I could leave work and not think about it but it’s wearing on me lately very heavy. In any case I’m able to take a few days off and in that time I’ll be shooting some close-ups of some VHS tapes that my friend and fellow artist Bruce Brooks gave to me to have more B-role for my documentary VHS Massacre that I’m working on with Ken Powell and Dave Leute. Cool titles like Satan’s Cheerleaders and Vampire Hookers. I always knew the doc would be a heavy commitment. Shooting the doc was simple, easy, it’s the editing that has taken up the most time. I just have to push through and finish this thing. Eh, New York has been getting to me lately, my rent keeps going up, work has been difficult and there is never quite enough money. Some days I wake up and wonder what the hell I’m doing here in NYC but then I visit CT (where I’m from) and it’s fun for a day or two but pretty much after that I want to get back to New York. The podcast New York Cine Radio is going strong with over 40,000 listens a month.
Some days I just don’t feel like I’m making progress. I watched Rocky I-V over the last week or so and I hope one day I’ll get some kind of great opportunity like Rocky did in the first film when he got the chance to fight Apollo. I’ve never really believed in luck and I don’t feel like I’ve had an abundance of it per say however lately as I look at things, some kind of huge thing would have to happen for me get to the success that I dream of and I’m not getting any younger. My biggest fear is that I’ll be like Richard Dreyfuss in Mr. Holland Opus. I’ve always tried to work hard and push through and finish things. VHS Massacre is my 9th feature film. I’ll try my best to make some magic happen with it. I don’t know why I’m so cynical, almost every song I hear I dislike, almost every TV show or commercial wears on me. Facebook has become this thing that I do as a ritual without out any joy in it. I heard a tune by a band called The Information and I was amazed that I actually felt something emotionally when I heard the song “I Lose Control” and then I realized the song was 9 years old and I honestly wondered if a song that has come out in the last ten years has really effected my life. Maybe the time off will clear my mind. Maybe that should be my mission this week, to find new music that I actually connect with. Grand National is one the only bands I’m not sick of but lately I’m even getting tired of them. But really in general things are good. I just really felt the need to write something today even though I don’t have any real news. Onward and upward. Thanks for listening to my rants.
So I just now I plunked the last scene into what is a completed rough-cut of the Documentary VHS Massacre. I need to add a lot of B-role and some movie clips but the film is there at a running time of 98 minutes without credits. My hope is to map out the doc, scene by scene and see what can be boiled down, chopped off or reduced in order to get it to 90 minutes and to have a clearer story. I already have a feeling I’m going to be combining some scenes as well. In general I think the doc will be very much of interest to lovers of cult films. We have folks from Troll 2, The Room, Birdemic, Toxic Avenger, Samurai Cop, Monstervision, Galactic Gigolo, Bikini Bloodbath and many others. There is so much work to do to bring a film from rough-cut to a “fine cut” but I think it’s safe to say this should be a fun watch. It will probably be about 6 months before I have a fine cut but I’m happy in the sense that I believe the doc is fun to watch, relevant and has a good story to tell. Below is a list of folks featured in the doc. Thanks to those involved!
Joe Bob Briggs (Monster Vision)
Greg Sestero (The Room)
Deborah Reed (Troll2)
Mark Frazer (Samurai Cop)
Alan Bagh and Whitney Moore (Birdemic)
Lloyd Kaufman (Film Legend)
Nick Prueher (Found Footage Film Festival) Debbie Rochon (Film Legend) James Nguyen (Director of Birdemic) Juliette Danielle (Lisa from The Room) Ron Bonk (Owner of SRS Video) Carmine Capobiano (Psychos in Love, Galactic Gigolo) Jason West (Vultra entertainment) Phil Hall (Writer/Film Critic) Jon Gorman (director of Bikini Bloodbath 1-3) Josh Schafer (VHS Lunchmeat Magazine) Dr. James Richardson (New Media Technology Expert) Bruce Seymour (Owner of the Fun Stuff Video Store Chain) Ken Powell (filmmaker) Thomas Edward Seymour (Filmmaker) Greg Kissner (Filmmaker) Aaron Syler (Filmmaker) Dave Leute (Owner of Mamas Place studio, producer of New York Cine Radio) Chris Ferry (Credits include Story Pirates on Sirius Radio and Salvage a selection at Sundance FF)