Sunday, May 4, 2008

It’s a girl! Dead kids and bad lasagna...

It's a girl!
No, no, no- don't get excited.  Rileah and I didn't have a baby and there is not one on the way.  (Um...if there's something I don't know, Rileah...please don't leave it as a comment on here, OK?  Just like...tell me when I get home?)

As it was announced in The Hollywood Reporter today, my company ARIESCOPE PICTURES will be producing the new horror film GRACE for first time writer/director Paul Solet.  Without giving away too much, the movie is about a woman (played by CABIN FEVER's Jordan Ladd) who's baby tragically dies in the womb.  When she decides to carry it to term anyway, the baby is actually born alive...and seriously disturbing creepiness ensues.  You guys are gonna LOVE this one.  And for all of the women out there who have given birth to dead babies and had them come back to life...this one's for you.

Before I go any further with this blog- I do want to invite you all to check out Paul Solet's MySpace page, located in my Top Friends.  Give him an "add" and start watching and supporting as this extremely talented guy becomes a rising star.

Inevitably, I am going to get slammed with messages from hundreds of aspiring filmmakers asking me "why him and not me?" or thinking that I am the one who can get their project made.  It would take hours to try and explain exactly how the process works and unfortunatey, hours are not something that I have.  Not to mention the fact that I am by no means a 'film school' or Oz's man behind the curtain who can explain how it all works. But here's what I can tell you about this particular story:

I was at the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors 2006 while appearing to promote HATCHET.  (We had just finished shooting it.)  While I was there, a very close friend of mine (Spooky Dan) mentioned to me that he was heading in to the panel hall to see a short film called GRACE which he had done some visual FX for.  Though I wanted to go in with him, I was very busy talking to horror fans and figured I could see it another time.  Then I noticed more friends making their way in to the panel hall, including Eli Roth who was specifically only there to see GRACE and then get back to work.  Turns out Eli was a childhood friend of Solet's and was kind enough to advise and inspire him through the making of the short film.  But then I saw a guy walking around with a dead baby in his arms, also heading into the panel hall.  It didn't take long to figure out that it was the director.  I was in.  What could ten minutes hurt, right?  Needless to say, I loved it.  I walked away thinking, "That kid's on his way! Awesome."

Cut to 3 months later, at another horror convention of far less stature.  It was their first convention and sadly- the turnout was very, very low as there was no awareness.  My director of Photography Will Barratt, Hatchet's composer Andy Garfield, star Joleigh Fioreavanti and I were bored at our autographing table.  Actually, that's a lie.  We were all staring at Laura Ortiz (from the HILLS HAVE EYES remake) and trying to figure out what a cute 12 year old girl was doing at a horror convention.  She seemed to look just right for a comedy that I am directing soon, so I went up to find out what her deal is.  When I got back to the HATCHET table...Will asked me if I had seen the weird guy with the dead baby passing out fliers for his short film.  In less than a minute I had him convinced to go check out GRACE.  He did.  He loved it. Cut ahead one month later to yet ANOTHER horror convention- this time on the East Coast.  I was talking to my friends from ICONS OF FRIGHT and one of them was mentioning how he had done some make-up FX work on a cool short film.  "What short film?"  I asked.  "It was called GRACE."  I mentioned how much I enjoyed it and within seconds- they had handed me a DVD of the short and the director's contact info.  They couldn't say enough about the feature length version screenplay and insisted that I check it out as I would love it. I watched it yet again, but this time there was a special "making of" where I could really watch Solet work and see who the guy really was.  As I base all of my decisions with my own projects- I only work with people that I want to hang out and be friends with.  And this dude fit the bill.  So I caved and I asked Solet to send me his screenplay. 

I'm not going to lie, I had someone else at ArieScope (Jason, who covers everything first) read the script.  He loved it and his coverage was glowing.  Finally, I read it.  And well- a year and a half we are just 4 days away from principal photography.  ArieScope brought the project to our friends at Anchor Bay.  They got behind it and brought on Leomax Pictures as co-financeers...and together we are all giving birth to baby GRACE.

Taking all of the fateful coincidences out of the picture- what Paul did right is that he had a feature screenplay that he believed in.  Rather than blindly submitting it around (because he thought it was great and he wanted to make it) and getting passed on, he started to put a package together and he EARNED each step along the way.  He had a compelling short film that was essentially his first act condensed into 4 minutes.  It was a short that left you wanting to see more.  The short was accepted to DOZENS of film festivals, won awards, garnered critical acclaim, and eventually- the eye of people who were in a position to try and help make it happen.  He did all of the conventions and he did the festival circuit...wandering around with a dead baby in his arms passing out fliers and asking folks politey to give his film a watch.  So when you ask "how did he do it"...that's the VERY short story of how he spent the past 4 years trying to get his film made.  And as everyone who reads these blogs knows- nothing impresses me more than artists who have CLASS and the drive to do it themselves rather than waiting for a hand-out or wasting time bitching about how the system is "unfair" and Hollywood only makes crap.  While I am glad to have been able to use what clout I may have to help get the film taken seriously and financed- it is Paul Solet who did the hard work and who is the one who is going to make an amazing movie.  Because if he doesn't...Victor Crowley will cut his head off.  No pressure.

Before you write to me asking for advice, I recommend a book called THE WRITER'S GUIDE TO PRODUCERS, DIRECTORS, AND SCREENWRTER'S AGENTS by Skip Press.  It is fairly dated now, but it is the first book I ever found that truly details the ins and outs of submitting your material the appropriate way- both legally and professionally.  Hell, it even lists some real contact info at the end of it.  So before you say "that's bullshit that no one will read my stuff" up on WHY they won't.  Then figure out your way around it. 

Anyway- three cheers for Paul Solet- another little guy who made it happen and who deserves everything he has coming his way.  You should see what a pro he is and how much his crew already adores him.  I wish there was a word stronger than "proud", because that's what I am.  And I'm honored to be a part of it. So, all of that being I am in Regina, Canada (which is pronounced like "Vagina" and makes me giggle.)  Though the people are wonderful- the food is...not so much.  Last night I got some lasagna and it was simply noodles, tomato sauce, and melted slices of Kraft American cheese on top.  Thank God for peanut butter and jelly and Cocoa Pebbles.  I'm sure I'll be full of observations about Canada and the towns of Moose Jaw and Regina by the time I leave...but for now let me just tell you about the house I am living in up here...

I am staying in an older house by myself.  It's a terrific house and I'm very happy to be here.  However, I watch way too many horror movies and it's finally hit the point of scaring me.  (Thanks a lot, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY.)  My first night here, I shut off the lights and then started hearing creaking and banging in the house.  Now, during the daytime it would easily be dismissed as the house settling or the heat turning on.  But at night, alone?  It could be nothing else but the ghosts of dead children who were murdered in the basement coming up the stairs to get me.  I mean, after all...what am I, stupid?  Do you not think I realize that a beautiful house like this does not get "rented out" unless people are afraid to live in it because of "what happened"?  Sorry folks, but I'm smarter than that and there was no way I was going to let "them" get me.  Those silly Reginians tried setting me up as a sacrifice to the ghosts of the dead children!  Not this time, buddy! 

So I sat up in bed and yelled out "I know you are out there dead children! And I'll have you know that not only am I not scared of you- but that the power of Christ compels you!"  (I've seen enough horror movies to know how to stop this sort of shit.)  And that's how I spent my entire night.  Not sleeping- but shouting insults at the evil out-of-body entities that were trying to snatch my soul in my sleep.  "That's!  In the closet!  I can see you!  You're not sneaking up on anyone, Pal!"  Stupid dead kids and their spooky antics. I was tired the next day having not slept a wink.  But I am alive.  Goddamnit, I am alive.  And those creepy dead fuckers haven't gotten me yet. I think I have it under control- but if someone could please summon TAPS...I could use their services up here in Regina.  (Heh-heh..."Regina"!)

There's many more Canadian experiences to share and TONS of news on upcoming projects coming real, real soon.  So check back often.  And in the meantime- I'm off to research about the Indian burial ground underneath my house.  There were Indians in Regina, right?  Weren't they the "Brave Regina's"?  (Haha!)

Love to you all-