Your film Where
the Dead Go to Die - in a few words, what is it about?
the Dead Go to Die
follows the story of three troubled children
all living in the same neighborhood. They are haunted by a talking dog who
tries to manipulate them in doing terrible things in the name of God.
You're never really sure what is real or what is a nightmare.
the Dead Go to Die deliberately defies the rules of linear
storytelling. Could you elaborate on your narrative approach to your
I didn’t really do it on purpose,
that’s just how I write I guess. I never read any screenwriting books or
took any classes, so I don’t really know what “the rules” are. I
know about basic structure and I just try to come up with weird stories
and then find a way to present them in different way.
As far as I know, Where
the Dead Go to Die started life as three seperate shorts. Did you
always plan to compile them to one single feature film, or when did the
decision to do so come about? And what brought the shorts into being to
I made Where
the Dead Go to Die
completely by accident. Tainted Milk (the first story) started out as a joke, I wrote a short
comic book that I wanted to include with my next 12" release that was
called The Night Labby Came Home, and it was a parody of the Lassie TV series. I changed little Timmy to little Tommy, a collie
named Lassie to a Labrador named Labby, and had it all centered around a
well that kids were always falling into and a lady that lived down there
and told them to do bad things. Half way through writing and badly drawing
the comic, I decided it would be really funny if I made a 3D animated film
out of it instead. I re-wrote it a few times until I had it as a script
instead of a comic. I decided I wanted to have some actors do the voices
of the characters instead of just attempting to do all of the voices
myself. I wanted to treat it more like I was making a short film instead
of a cartoon.
When I recorded the voices for Tainted Milk with Ruby LaRocca, Joshua
Greene, Victor Bonacore and Joey Smack, we actually recorded a second short
as well called The Lovening that starred just Josh & Ruby.
It was about a disturbed man who meets a weird prostitute in a hotel room
and it had a shot where he looks out the window and sees Tommy looking up
at the cross and then disappearing, implying that this was Tommy many
years later. I decided I was going to make both of them back to back.
Tainted Milk was originally made as a comedy. Since I thought it was
going to be funny I told everyone to act really over the top and cartoony.
For a while it had a laugh track on it and "ooohhss" and
"aahhsss' on all the inappropriate parts. I found that after taking
them off the movie worked much better as a horror film. I decided after
finishing Tainted Milk that The Lovening was the wrong sequel and I
instead wrote Liquid Memories and decided that this time I would make
it more serious and gloomy. I recast most of the actors from Tainted
Milk and added in Brandon Slagle [Brandon
Slagle interview - click here] as the main character. I animated it on
off for roughly a year. After it was finished I just threw it on Youtube.
During that time I was also sending the pair to film festivals and they
were rejected from pretty much all of them except for the Dark Carnival
Film Festival. I decided to just send both shorts to any horror related
mailing address I could find, one of them being Unearthed Films.
One day out of the blue I received a phone call from Stephen Biro (El
Presidente of Unearthed Films). He said he really liked the shorts and
that he would like to release them but they only totaled 45 minutes. I
told him that I had a script for a third chapter called The Masks That
The Monsters Wear that was even more disturbing and that it would be
about 40 minutes. He said that was perfect and to come back to him when I
completed it. Almost a year to the date of the original phone call I came
back to Mr. Biro with a feature length film entitled Where
the Dead Go to Die. I dropped the closing credits of each short and edited
them all together as an anthology-style feature film all taking place at
the same time told from different prospectives and flashbacks.
Sources of inspiration when writing Where
the Dead Go to Die?
Tainted Milk was inspired by the Lassie series and old 50's
styled sitcoms. I was also watching a lot of the British show Monkey
Dust at the time.
My main inspirations for Liquid Memories and The Masks That
The Monsters Wear were old
Christian Scare films by directors like Ron Ormond who made If
Footmen Tire you, What Will Horses Do?, Grim Reaper and The
Burning Hell. They were really graphic Christian gore films made to try
and scare people out of sinning. Like there’s this one scene in If
Footmen Tire you, What Will Horses Do? where communists take over America and poke out the ear
drums of children so they can no longer hear the word of God. I also
watched propaganda films and recruitment movies made by cults, such as Unarius,
which was led by the crazy 90 old woman named Archangel Uriel. She had a
giant beehive hairdo and claimed to be in communication with aliens. I
watched the Heaven’s Gate recruitment videos made by Marshall Applewhite
a few times too, I hide subliminal messages of him in a lot of my work. I
also studied 80s drug PSA’s, I wanted Liquid Memories to feel like
a really twisted anti-drug PSA with the main character shooting up
people’s memories instead of drugs.
How would you describe the
visual style of Where
the Dead Go to Die, and would you also like to talk about the
underlying symbolism of your movie for a bit?
of people describe it as “The Sims in hell” or “Second Life on
acid”. I suppose that’s pretty accurate, mostly because of the nature
of the Poser models and looping motion capture that I use. I honestly
didn’t do too much symbolism on purpose, the nature of the film and
religious overtones kind of create symbolism of their own independent of
anything I intended. The main thing that I wanted was reality and the
imagination of children to be so closely intertwined that you’re never
really sure what is real. All the stories are told from the perspectives
of these three kids and the adults are all just background characters in
Could you talk about the animation-techniques of Where
the Dead Go to Die for a bit, and also the whole process from
character creation to animating your characters?
After recording the voices for Tainted Milk I was faced with a new
problem, I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about 3D animation. A
couple of months before recording I had just finished a feature length
live action/2D animation hybrid called Reality Bleed-Through
that was playing in a couple festivals at the time. In that film I had
done a couple of 3D shots in a program called Maya but it was really
complicated and had no idea what I was doing. I don't even remember how I
did it but I managed to cheat the program enough to make an edited stock
model turn its head a few times. I remember it being really complicated
and frustrating. When it came time to do a whole movie like that I knew I
had to rethink my whole process. After reading a bunch of articles and
watching some Youtube videos I eventually settled on a program called
Cinema 4D with the Interposer plugin.
Basically, Poser Models are pre-made fully rigged 3D characters with
giant communities that make all user generated content. On these sites you
can buy pre-made clothes, hair, poses, etc. for relatively low costs.
After getting a bunch of models and programs I just opened up Cinema 4D
and going down my shot list figuring out how to make the movie one shot at
a time. I only had 1 computer at the time (I have 5 now) and I would
animate a shot, render it, and then drop it into Adobe Premiere. I would
watch the shot with sound and then go "ok, next shot" and figure
out just enough to complete the next shot. After doing that on and off for
a few months I eventually finished Tainted Milk. During that time I
learned a lot about animating and rendering and I invested in 2 more
computers. While making Liquid Memories I built my own small render farm
in my basement so I could now animate on one computer while shots rendered
on the other computers. During the making of The Masks The Monsters
Wear I learned how to do my own motion capture by using a hacked
Microsoft Xbox 360 Kinect.
voice- and motion capture-cast features quite a few well-known names of the
indie horror scene. So what can you tell us about your cast, and how did
you get all those people?
Most of them were just my friends that I met over the years from
working on other peoples movies or attending conventions on the east
coast. Brandon Slagle [Brandon
Slagle interview - click here] I met at a Fangoria convention in NJ while he was
promoting one of his films. Years later we recorded Liquid Memories and
The Masks The Monsters
Wear while he and Devanny Pinn [Devanny
Pinn interview - click here] were on the East Coast shooting a film
called Song of the Shattered that I worked on, they just so happened
to be shooting it in my home town! I met Victor Bonacore through his
cousin Eddie Bonacore, who I went to high school with. Through Victor I
met Ruby LaRocca and Joey Smack and we were all part of Chainsaw
Kiss together for a few years. We all did a screening together at the
Anthology Film Archives in NY which was hosted by Linnea Quigley. At the
time I was working on Liquid Memories and I asked her if she wanted to do
a cameo, and she agreed! So we recorded a few lines with my shotgun
microphone going into my Panasonic DVX100 camera at Jennifer English's
apartment in NJ after the event.
I have also been producing Industrial Speedcore Techno for many years
under the name ScreamerClauz and decided to include a bunch of
my other producer friends such as Passenger Of Shit (AKA Bushpig from
Butchers Harem), C1B2 (who also helped score The Masks The Monsters Wear), and DJ Plague from
Canada. When it came time to make The Masks The Monsters Wear I decided to go
outside of my little bubble and I contacted Trent Haaga, whom I was a fan
of from his Troma days. During that time another
Cinema 4D animator named
M dot Strange was holding internet auditions for parts in his film Heart String Marionette. I sent in
Tainted Milk as my audition
tape and he emailed me back telling me he really liked it! He cast me as
the monster tranny killer "Cearlis" and after exchanging a few
emails I asked him if he wanted to play a fat doctor with a breathing
problem in my new film, he agreed!
Your film is quite a bit
disturbing and controversial to say the least. So what can you tell us
about critical and audience reception so far?
It seems to
be a love/hate sort of thing. Many people seem offended by it, which I
never really understand. I don’t really get how people can be personally
offended by a work of fiction. At the end of the day it’s just an
animated film made by an all adult cast, nobody was actually hurt in any
way. Well except maybe for me!! Haha! It’s also gotten a fair number
of positive reviews, more than I thought honestly. I did a program though
the distributor where they send out a bunch of screeners to critics and I
wasn’t sure how websites outside of the horror world would respond to
it. But some of the reviews have surprised me! I’ve gotten a couple of
bad ones too, one person goes as far as to say the film is
“worthless”. But bad reviews don’t really bother me. So far I’ve
really only heard from critics though so I’m waiting to see what the
general public thinks!
in my eyes, Where
the Dead Go to Die is wide open to all sorts of interpretation.
What are some of the funniest you have heard so far?
haven’t gotten any really off-the-wall interpretations just yet; I don’t
think many people have seen it. It’s only been out for a month or so and
hasn’t had a chance to catch on. Once more people start seeing it I’m
looking forward to hearing what crazy shit people have to say!! Actually
when I sent the last chapter to Mr. Biro he called me a gave me a long
rant and told me “I was surprised, Labby was more of a good guy in this
one!” and I laughed because I was like “he was way worse this time!”
and then he said something about the main character was going to grow up
to be the next Hitler, I had never thought about that so maybe he was onto
you into filmmaking in the first place, and into animation in particular?
And did you receive any formal education on the subject?
I was a kid my Uncle Steven used to teach me about movies and filmmaking.
He showed me films like Night Of The Living
Dead, Star Wars, El Mariachi,
and taught me what independent filmmaking was and the process involved.
After that I read books and watched any documentaries I could find on the
subject (I didn't have the internet yet). Every Christmas growing up I
convinced my mom to buy me a camera or a new computer to edit films on.
Then I just kept at it over the years, learning mostly from watching
tutorials and extra features on DVDs. I never went to film school, I
attended college very briefly for general education, it wasn't for me. I
always wanted to do animation as a kid but it always seemed so impossible,
and really until recent years it was pretty much impossible. I got my
animation degree from the University of Youtube, Lynda, Greyscalegorilla,
Video Copilot, and South Park commentaries. On an odd side note, recently
my friend Victor Bonacore made a deal with Tina Krause [Tina
Krause interview - click here] to release one of
her old films. He let me borrow it and one night I was watching it and I
heard my Uncle Steven’s voice. I looked up and he was acting in the
fucking movie!!! Then I had remembered him telling me the stories of
working on films with her. Life had come full circle.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Where
the Dead Go to Die?
As I mentioned earlier, I make a form of industrial techno music
referred to as “speedcore”. One of the first film-related things I
made and released was a short film/music video called “Homicide Is a
Form Of Art” where a bunch of us put on celebrity masks and went into
the woods and sexually mutilated each other (for pretend... mostly). I
knew nothing about editing and just put raw footage of my friends sticking
pens and popsicle into a dildo squirting blood over top of some of my
tracks and called it a music video. The whole thing was like 15 minutes
(in reality it SHOULD have been cut to 3-5 minutes tops) and my friend DJ
Plague agreed to release it on a speedcore DVD compilation he was putting
out called Hardcore Worldwide Vol. 2. The DVD was distributed
through a German Distributor called Soundbase and apparently a
number of people complained about the video thinking it was a snuff film
(I honestly don’t know how). The Cops raided his warehouse’s thinking
he was illegally distributing snuff films and I had to send the German
police behind the scenes photos to prove that no one was actually harmed
and they eventually dropped the charges. All copies of the DVD were
confiscated and he decided not to restock them though!
A number of years later I tried to make a more serious horror feature
called Reality Bleed-Through which starred Brandon Slagle [Brandon
Slagle interview - click here]. It played
in a few festivals and got pretty good reviews, but I was never satisfied
with it and kind of embarrassed by a lot of the amateurishness of it. I
never released it, every now and then I try to go back and do something
with it but it just seems counterproductive at this point. I recently
redid the first 4 minutes or so and put it on Youtube, I’m not sure what
the future holds for this one just yet.
After that I started shooting another feature called Dogshit that
I was making at the same time as Liquid Memories. But it came to the
point where I had to choose between shooting the other half or making The Masks The Monsters Wear. I’m glad I made the choice I did because I went back and
re-read the Dogshit script recently and I didn’t really like it. It’s
not possible to finish it at this point, for a number of different
reasons. I’m thinking of throwing out the old script and editing a whole
new movie out of what I already have, but I’m not sure just yet.
Any future projects you'd
like to talk about?
Currently I'm building a new motion
capture space in my basement and writing my next feature. I hope to have
the script in another month or so and then jump right into recording and
animating. I want to see how long it takes me to make a feature from start
to finish instead of three shorts over three years. I think if I really
crack down I can do it in a little over a year, I just have to finish this
damn script first! I eventually want to do a follow up movie to Where
the Dead Go to Die as
well, but I want to try something else before I go right back into that.
In general, do you see a big
audience for your style of animation?
I think if more
homemade animated films come along a whole new genre could form! They
don’t have to be as vile as mine, that’s just where my interests happen to
lie. I know my animation is far from the level of Pixar or Shrek, but
hundreds of people work on those films. I did this one alone in my
basement with hacked video game parts and computers I built myself. I
scrapped together just enough cash every month to just pay the rent and
the high electric bills from 24/7 rendering. I lived in a small house in
middle of nowhere, PA, with two other people in an isolated old age
community. I didn't always have the time or the money to re-render shots
because of tiny glitches and such. So the lips might not always match and
the heads might twitch for a few frames, just think of it as seeing the
zipper on the monsters costume, just let it go man!! Movies like Evil Dead
and Basket Case had hokey effects at the time and now they’re considered
animators, directors who inspire you?
Let’s see, as far as animators go, Trey Parker & Matt Stone, Mike
Judge, M dot Strange, Emily Youcis, David Firth, the people who did Moral
Orel, the people who did The Maxx… I really don’t know haha
Directors, I don’t know, this part is always hard for me because
there’s a fine line between “directors who inspire me” and
“directors who’s movies I consistently like” - are they supposed to be
the same thing? Haha, sorry, I guess I should be less difficult.
I never know how to answer this question, I don’t
even know what I like or why! Brain Damage, Beverly Hills Cop
GWAR’s Phallus In Wonderland, Taxi
Driver, The S.O.S Music Video
Collection made by The Children Of God Cult, Cooking with Huck
Clockwork Orange, Clifford, Garbage Pail Kids, Natural Born
Killers, The Wizard, The Merrill Howard Kalin Cooking Show,
Menace II Society, Cannibal
Holocaust, Bad Boy Bubby, Toxic
Official Rejection, American History X, Orgazmo, They
Live, Robocop… Is
... and of course, films you really deplore?
obvious stuff that isn’t really worth mentioning, it would just be a
list of mainstream romantic comedies and other bland mainstream things
that I would tend to stay away from in the first place. If I watch
something and I don’t like it I just stop watching it and forget about
it. I honestly can’t think of anything I really hate though. Most of the
time I’m just happy sound is on, and if its sound I can have on for a
long period of time without having to change it, then that means its good.
website, Facebook, whatever else?
Website – http://www.screamerclauz.com
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/screamerclauz
the Dead Go to Die Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/wherethedeadgo
Forever Alone Film-Making Podcast - http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/forever-alone-filmmaking-podcast/id506556243
Youtube - http://www.youtube.com/user/ScreamerClauz
Vimeo (Banned-from-Youtube-content) - http://vimeo.com/user10197169
Anything else you are
dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
the DVD and/or Blu-ray and/or Limited Edition VHS so I can make more
animated travesties of humanity and beyond the universe where evil alien
Gods lord over us waiting for us to float up to the cosmos and then like,
when we’re floating we have angel wings and harps and we’re singing
songs and the angel wings are flapping creating some sort of new beat that
human brains can’t even comprehend so they file it under “the noise
section” in their local heaven record stores that nobody shops at cause
everyone just downloads shit up there cause its heaven and it’s a
cashless society and the recording industry hasn’t quite figured out how
to crack the dead people demographic. But that doesn’t even matter cause
we never make it up there cause the douche nugget aliens come and knock our
wings off and we fall back to earth and God’s hand quickly catches us
and then he’s all like “see I told you I loved you” and then we’re
all like “well then how come our eye is black and you haven’t called
us in 2 weeks.” Then God doesn’t really have a good excuse, he never
really does actually.
for the interview!