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.
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!
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, Maria 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!