Monday, October 20, 2008

"THE TiVO" - 10 years of Halloween short films!

Ten years ago this month, ArieScope Pictures was born.

I had just gotten out of college and I had taken a job working on local cable commercials in the Boston area. On my first day of work, I was paired up with Will Barratt and we were sent off to Nashua, New Hampshire to shoot a commercial for a car dealership. By the time we were driving home we had hatched plans to get us out of cable advertising, break us in to Hollywood, and have us making "real movies".

And I had only known him for a few hours at that point.

That weekend we "borrowed" the cable company's equipment to shoot a short film that we could entertain friends with at an upcoming Halloween party. With a Super8 film camera and Time Warner Cable's three lights, we rounded up some friends and set out to make COLUMBUS DAY WEEKEND. The premise of the short was that Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers had stalked the same group of teenagers by mistake and the whole point of it all was really just to make our friends laugh. Little did we know how many people would actually wind up seeing that short film and what it would ultimately lead to for us.

But before I go any further, here are some funny stories from the making of COLUMBUS DAY WEEKEND while I am getting all nostalgic and thinking back to the beginning here…

We needed a location with lots and lots of woods, so I contacted a childhood friend's parents who lived on the edge of a forest back in my hometown of Holliston. For those of you who are HATCHET fans- it was Scott Barnes' parents. You know the line in the movie where Misty randomly checks her cell phone and says "Ew, Scott Barnes called me?" That was a shout out to this guy. Anyway, Scott's parents were kind enough to give us full reign over their property. Their one and only request before they went out for the night?

"Whatever you do… don't let Dusty the cat out of the house."

"No problem, Mr. and Mrs. Barnes!"

I swear, you could still see Mr. Barnes' break lights driving away down the street… and Dusty had already gotten out of the house. For the next 3 HOURS we tried everything possible to capture this filthy creature and get it back in the house, but we had no luck. Finally, in an act of desperation, I grabbed Dusty by the tail and pulled him out of the bush he was trying to hide in.

"Got him!" I yelled.

That's when Dusty proceeded to try and scratch my eyes out. Literally. The first claw hooked the inside of my right eye socket and sliced my skin wide open. My eye was bleeding everywhere.

But hey… at least I got Dusty back in the house and we could start shooting.

"Dude… you need to disinfect your eye." Will said. Not able to find ANY rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide in the Barnes household, Will pointed out that we had a bottle of cheap Tequila on set that was being used as a prop in the film. Before I could think it through, Will was pouring TEQUILLA straight into my bleeding eye.

It hurt. It hurt BAD. But finally, we were ready to begin shooting our short film. All I needed to do was find a towel to wipe the liquor out of my eyes with. So I went back into the house and when I opened the door… I let Dusty out again.

Needless to say, we didn't get much actual shooting done that night. Other problems we had were the fact that we forgot to bring enough extension cords to get the lights in to the actual woods… so instead we had to shoot the whole movie in Mr. and Mrs. Barnes' backyard… where we proceeded to build a campfire and burn an enormous hole in the center of their lawn.

I should also point out that for some reason we loaded our camera with the wrong kind of film and the footage was completely unusable when we got it back from the lab. Luckily, we had also been rolling with Time Warner's Betacam next to our film camera as it was recording the audio for each scene. So we were able to salvage the short by using the Betacam tapes. Sure, every shot was off kilter and framed wrong as the Betacam was never meant to be shooting the actual scenes- but at least we still had a little movie we could show our friends.

In editing we realized that we needed a production company name. With my birthday being March 31st and Will's being April 2nd, we somehow came up with the name "ArieScope" as it combined "something film sounding" and "something we had in common". Yes, that's literally how we came up with the name.


10 years later, ArieScope Pictures is a real Hollywood production company producing theatrically released feature films and our own original content. And though we've grown substantially and gone on to great success… two things have remained the same after all of that time. First of all, we are still laughing even though (with us) whatever can possibly go wrong WILL always go wrong. And second of all, no matter what big projects we are working on, at this time every year we still drop everything and make a new "Halloween short film".

In honor of how we got our start, every single Halloween since 1998 we have gotten our "family" of creative artists together and made a short film in one night (OK, so we've started cheating and spreading them out over two nights because we're getting old, wanna fight about it?), with absolutely no budget, and all in the name of FUN. So last week a group of us got together and we made "The TiVO" which I'm proud to unveil for you all today.

This year's short is by far the most "out-there" one that we've done yet. With inspirations coming from The Thing, The Shining, Single White Female, and a few other classics… this entry into the "ArieScope Hallowen Short Film Catalogue" is as weird as they come. I don't know how many of you have TiVO at home or how many just rough it out with DVR, but hopefully you know enough about TiVO to understand how absolutely amazing it is for your quality of life… but how entirely creepy it can be at the same time. Regardless, I can say that I've never laughed so hard on a set as I did when we were shooting this film's climax. 10 years later… I still love what I do and I can still appreciate how lucky I am to be doing it.

If you are new to all of this, be sure and click over to the official ArieScope Pictures website ( and click the link that says "View The Short Films" to see what you've missed over the past decade. Which reminds me, some of you may have noticed that the same two people who started our website for us 10 years ago are still the same two designing and running it for us now. John and Nicole Anguish are "lifers". I guess that most everybody who gets involved with ArieScope winds up in it for life. And that must be why 10 years later, ArieScope Pictures is still alive and growing beyond anything we ever hoped for.

To EVERYONE who is a part of ArieScope, from the other folks who work here alongside me, to the extremely talented pool of cast and crew that work with us regularly, to the friends and fans all over the world that have supported our work over the years… happy birthday, happy anniversary, and most of all… HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

If someone could have told us then- while we were sanding off a girl's face with a power sander and throwing spoiled meat all over another- that we'd eventually make a living… sanding off a girl's face with a power sander and throwing spoiled meat all over another…I never would have believed them.


So without any further adieu, here's the 2008 Halloween short film..."The TiVO".