Your new movie Winners
Tape All: The Henderson Brothers Story - in a few words, what is
Tape All: The Henderson Brothers Story is basically a mockumentary
about two stepbrothers who made two direct-to-VHS movies back in the '80s
and how their films were rediscovered by the recent interest in vintage
horror VHS. It's kind of like the British show Garth Marenghi's
Darkplace, but geared toward fans of shot-on-video movies like Cannibal
Campout, Video Violence, Sledge
Hammer and 555.
Tape All: The Henderson Brothers Story being centered around
shot-on-video horror filmmakers of yesteryear and today's VHS collectors -
your personal thoughts on the subject? And when have you bought your first
and your last VHS, actually?
As far as shot-on-video horror filmmakers, I look at them as an
inspiration. When I first discovered shot-on-video movies at the video
store, it made me decide that I could make my own movies that could make
it to those same shelves. Even though I can't get behind all of the films
- and I'm sure people think the same thing about my work - the simple fact
they got the movie finished and out there is an amazing accomplishment.
Today's VHS collectors are very interesting to me. It's fascinating that
these folks are out there cataloging and celebrating unsung gems that
would've been lost if they hadn't stepped in. While some of the
price-gouging aspects are kind of upsetting and claims of "VHS is
better for horror" is kind of exaggerated, it's impossible to deny
that VHS making a comeback in the past five years is fascinating in a
lot of ways.
My first VHS was probably a copy of The Land Before Time my
mom bought for me, and I watched repeatedly as a kid. But for the sake of
horror films, I can say the first horror movie I ever watched on VHS was
The Gate and the first VHS horror movie I bought on my own
was an Anchor Bay VHS of Evil Dead 2
when I was in like 5th
grade. I paid $5 in change I had saved up at a Wal-Mart for it. The last
ones I bought were a stack I picked up at a horror convention about a
year ago... I still haven't watched them, but the titles were The
Surgeon, Midnight and Matinee (the Joe
Tape All: The Henderson Brothers Story is fictional of course, to
what extent did you include your own experiences as an indie filmmaker and
anecdotes from indie sets in your movie?
Well, much like
the Henderson Brothers, I was inspired to make movies by seeing
shot-on-video movies in the video store and thinking, "Hey, I can do
that too!" Also, the clips of the early Henderson Brothers movie are
actually clips and outtakes from a feature film I made when I was 16
called Raising the Stakes. There are a few other little
aspects inspired by our previous work or things I'd said to my cast and
crew - for example, I told Joshua Lively he had "that leading man
look" as teenagers and he's been the lead in all my movies - and
things inspired by actual events that happened during the production -
like writing around rain and Josh announcing he was moving to Las Vegas
during pre-production. But other than that, it was all fictionalized.
of inspiration when writing Winners
Tape All: The Henderson Brothers Story?
To be completely honest, I watched Cannibal
Campout at least
three times (and once with commentary!) while writing the scenes for Curse of Stabberman and
Cannibal Swim Club.
Also, I used to do a podcast and interviewed a guy named Clint Kelly
that sought out the filmmakers behind Sledge Hammer - the
first shot-on-VHS movie to hit home video - and later worked on films
with them and learned a lot. Between that interview and becoming friends
with Louis Justin of Massacre Video - who has multiple crazy stories of
finding SOV filmmakers - I knew I had a good framing device for a movie.
But the biggest inspiration was definitely Garth Marenghi's
Darkplace, which is a British comedy show that's framed as an old
'80s sci-fi show being rediscovered and broadcast with interviews from
the creators. It's the most pitch-perfect attempt at making something
look intentionally old and cheesy and I can't deny its influence.
you tell us about your co-writers, co-producers and stars Zane Crosby and
Joshua Lively, and what was your collaboration like on Winners
Tape All: The Henderson Brothers Story?
Well, Josh, Zane and I have been best friends since we were 14 years old
and they've been central collaborators in all of my films. We have a
Trey Parker and Matt Stone type of collaboration where we pretty much
just try to make each other laugh and hope the audience is entertained
as well. For this movie, the collaboration was a bit different. We usually spend
a lot of time writing and shooting, but it had to change a bit because
we all lived in different cities.
I had come up with this idea back in
2010 and shot some b-roll for the VHS collecting segments, but abandoned
it shortly afterward. After we were all itching to make something new, I
brought it up again because I figured we could shoot it piecemeal over
time and see what came out of the footage, then finish with wraparounds
at the end. This plan was quickly changed when Josh told us he was moving with his
girlfriend to Las Vegas. It was completely out of left field... like, he
pretty much mentioned it in passing in a text message, so casually that
Zane and I weren't sure if he was serious. When I found out he was, I
decided to scrap the piecemeal idea and just get his scenes done in as
much time as we had left.
worked with both Zane Crosby and Joshua Lively before - so do talk about
your previous collaborations, and how have you first met even?
Remember that Evil Dead 2
VHS I mentioned? Well, I had it in
my backpack during a junior high school marching band practice and Josh
saw it and we started talking about the whole series. Zane was friends
with Josh and I was introduced to him, though we had met before through
a mutual love of Evil
Dead. Zane was wearing an Evil
Dead shirt with Ash holding a chainsaw and I randomly went up to him to rant
about how I hated that poster, because Ash never actually used a
chainsaw in the first movie. We later started hanging out, rented a ton
of horror movies and discovered we were all interested in making our own
We started making silly shorts on a Digital8 camera and eventually, I
started running Troma's official fansite and founded a small film
festival, which allowed me to gather contacts and information on making movies.
Josh and Zane are a year older than me and were set to graduate in 2005.
I figured they'd leave for college and we'd be done making movies and I
wanted to have something to show for our work other than some pretty
embarrassing short films. That's when we made Raising the Stakes,
which I funded on spending money for a school trip to
Disney World that I pocketed. I wrote the script, which we actually
followed a lot of, but Josh and Zane were fond of improvising on the
set, often coming up with stuff that was better than what I wrote, so I
went with it. This kind of set the mold for how we work. Raising the Stakes is not a very good movie, because it's a
bunch of inexperienced teenagers trying to make a Kevin Smith vampire
movie, but it managed to get a pretty good response and the funds for
our next movie, a teen-romance-zombie-comedy called Die and Let
Live. I wrote it as a completely different movie, because Josh
didn't want to be the lead. We shot one day using my original script and
it just didn't work, so we got together and reworked it, while also
finding some other investors, and shot the final version a year later. Die and Let Live was kind of a dream come true, because I
got to screen it at a movie theater I had started working in my freshman
year of college, and we got a distribution deal through Heretic Films.
That was always the dream - to get a movie on video store shelves.
Unfortunately, we were a few years too late and even though Heretic got
us into a lot of great stores, the DVD market dried up and they went out
After that, I did a short film called Mike Wuz Here for an
anthology called Faces of Schlock with our friends Henrique
Couto, Chris LaMartina [Chris
LaMartina interview - click here] and Andrew Shearer. We each directed a segment of
the film. I'm really proud of Mike Wuz Here, because I got
to shoot it in the movie theater where I worked (now closed, sadly) and
it's a really different concept about a ghost working at a movie theater
who is trying to be run out by the new manager who has a prejudice
toward ghosts. It was a lot of fun dealing with such a heavy subject
like racism is such an absurd way and I think we managed to do it
without looking like total assholes. We also collaborated on a
mockumentary webseries called 2 Dudes and a Sweet Prince,
which is kind of like a slacker version of The Office about
two roommates and their magical pet cat. We had a lot of fun doing that,
because it was pretty much all improvisation and the mockumentary format
really opens up a lot of opportunities for jokes you can't get in a
standard narrative structure.
to Winners Tape All: The
Henderson Brothers Story: Also talk about your third key
castmember, the catalyst if you may, Chris LaMartina [Chris
LaMartina interview - click here], an indie filmmaker in his own
right, for a bit, and why did you cast exactly him?
I met Chris at a HorrorFind Weekend in Baltimore when we were teenagers.
I remember I met our mutual friend, Henrique Couto, that same weekend
and he introduced Chris to me as "my wop, Chris." I later saw
a short film of Chris' and started chatting with him on AOL Instant
Messenger. I soon put two-and-two together and said, "Hey, I think
we've met... aren't you Henrique's wop?" He replied with something
like, "Uh, yeah... Henrique thinks racism is really
hilarious." We've been friends ever since. Of the Faces of Schlock crew, I definitely think Chris is
the most talented. He and his partner in crime, Jimmy George, never
cease to amaze me with what they accomplish. They come up with some real
high-concept stuff and I always think there's no way they can pull it
off at such a low budget, and they've done it every time. I stopped in
for a few days to help out with his film President's Day and
it was the most professional microbudget film set I've ever seen.
Chris was cast because he was on a work trip and drove near my apartment
during production. We went out to lunch and I showed him some of the
scenes on my phone and he said, "Can I be in this movie?" I
thought he'd be perfect for the part and I went to Baltimore to shoot
his scenes after we finished the bulk of the film. That day was
interesting, because Chris' band, Pure Junk, were opening for one of my
all-time favorite bands, The Dickies, later that night AND he was going
into surgery at like 8am the next morning. That's a real sign of his
talent and dedication
also appear in front of the camera in Winners
Tape All: The Henderson Brothers Story - so do talk about your
character for a bit ... as well as the rest of your cast!
My character didn't even exist in the script! We got rained out on one
of the only days we had left with Josh and had to improvise, so I ran in
front of the camera to have that work out. Originally, I was going to
play the part Chris LaMartina went on to play, but it wouldn't work with
me being in the actual movie segments, so I had to change that.
The rest of the cast are made up of people we'd worked with in the past
that hadn't moved away and still wanted to help, except for Laura
Ciarolla, who is Zane's fiancée and was gracious enough to let me not
only kill her on camera, but also was fine with the extended joke about
Zane's character not being fond of her character, and Madison Whiting,
who was cast by Steve McElroy and was a great help around set. She was
game to shoot in the pouring rain, helped out with setting up equipment
and props and was just all-around great to work with. Steve is another
actor we love to work with. He was a friend of my older brother's who
went on to become a local theater actor, which is a great resource for
someone young making movies. He's been so great throughout all the
movies we've made and we couldn't have done a lot of things without
him... especially on this movie, because we wouldn't have two major
characters in the Cannibal Swim Camp segment and it would've
just been Josh and Zane.
Another new member was Vincent Renfield from the horror-punk band The
Renfields, who played Stabberman. The movie wouldn't be the same without
him in that ill-fitting jumpsuit.
Tape All: The Henderson Brothers Story takes the mockumentary
approach to things - so do talk about that aspect of your movie for a bit!
I mentioned, it was mainly brought on by our webseries, 2 Dudes and
a Sweet Prince,"and our blatant ripping off of Garth
Marenghi's Darkplace. It just was an interesting framing device for
a horror comedy anthology. We had so much fun doing it with a straight
comedy that we wanted to find a way to bring it into a horror film.
also have to talk about the amazingly authentic looking clips from The
Curse of the Stabberman and Cannibal Swim Club for a bit, and
how much effort and also fun was it to make them?
Originally, I planned to shoot them on Super8 and VHS, but when we had
to shoot quickly with little room for camera problems - and with no
money other than what I could pay for out of my own pocket - I had to
scrap that plan. I decided early on that if I couldn't shoot it on VHS
natively, I wanted it took like a really bad film production that was
edited on video instead. We shot it all in HD, then I spent a lot of
time in AfterEffects making it look like a bad Super8 or 16mm film
print. Once that was done, I made a 4x3 DVD and dubbed that to VHS. I
managed to find an SVHS-to-MiniDV VCR at a Goodwill for $10 about a year
earlier, so I dubbed the VHS tape back to MiniDV with that and the
results were pretty surprising. I've had people tell me they swore we
really shot it on film and edited on VHS.
We also spent a lot of time on set creating intentional continuity
errors. I discovered it takes just as much planning to create continuity
problems as it does to avoid them!
can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
The shoots were mostly really laid back and a lot of fun, though the
worst day was when we shot all of Josh's scenes for Cannibal Swim
Club. The entire summer 2015 was a rainy mess and we got lucky
with the day we shot the bulk of Curse of Stabberman."The
weather forecast didn't look good for the one Cannibal Swim Club day
we had with Josh, then the day before, it looked clear. We started
shooting and about one scene in, we got hit with torrential downpours. I
thought we were completely screwed, but the cast started coming up with
ways that we could work around it and it actually made the movie better
- and more realistic, in my opinion. Weather always screws with
filmmakers shooting outdoors, so it needed to be represented. After
that, no one really cared about being in the cold rain... it was like we
took back summer from the shitty weather. Though it was disappointing
when we came up with a funny gag involving the rain and when we were
ready to shoot it, the sun started shining again. By the end, it was pretty much just Zane and I bringing people out for
pickup shots. That's when it was most laid back. I think the final day,
we only did some gore effects inserts and it literally took us about 5
hours to do maybe a minute of screen time. It wasn't that it took a lot
of prep work, we just took our sweet ass time, because we were in the
home stretch and ready to just relax.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of your movie yet?
it's still pretty early, so really only friends and a few reviewers have
seen it. So far, it's been positive. We pretty much set out to make
something funny and entertaining that horror fans and general comedy fans
alike could enjoy, so I hope that ends up working out for us.
future projects you'd like to share?
I hate mentioning any films I'd like to make in interviews, because I
inevitably talk about an idea I end up hating and never wanting to do.
The worst was when I went on about a seed of an idea in Gregory
Lamberson interview - click here] book Cheap Thrills that I never went on to make,
but there it is in print forever for people to wonder what the hell I
was talking about.
But I do have a music side project called Portopak and I'm working on
getting a new album out soon. It's an experimental chiptune rock project
where I program music on two Nintendo Game Boys and play guitar over it.
Actually, a lot of the score for Winners Tape
All: The Henderson Brothers Story were
unfinished tracks from the album or previously finished tracks. You can check it out over at
or on Spotify, iTunes, etc.
What got you into
filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on
Well, I kind of got a bit into that earlier.
But apart from horror movies, I'd say my only formal training is being a Troma
fan. Running my Troma fansite gave me the opportunity to interview
some fantastic filmmakers and screenwriters like Buddy Giovinazzo, James
Gunn, Onur Tukel, Trent Haaga and more and they all gave me a bit of
advice and support that helped me along. Apart from that, I have to give
credit to my junior high teacher, Mark Tankersley, who got a grant to get
digital video equipment for a school TV show and pretty much let me teach
myself how to use the camera and editing software. I'm a poor coal miner's
son from West Virginia, and if it weren't for him, I would've never had
access to such tools.
What can you tell us about your filmwork
prior to Winners Tape
All: The Henderson Brothers Story?
I kind of
covered all of that in Josh and Zane's section, but I've also done a
little bit of work outside of our films. A few years ago, I found an
affordable route to shoot Super8 film and made a little experimental short
called Monorail as well as a music video for the band Librarians. From there, Chris LaMartina [Chris
LaMartina interview - click here] actually got me a gig shooting
Super8 for the web-video promotions for Eduardo Sanchez's movie
Lovely Molly. That was a really fun gig and I really love what
the transmedia unit did with the footage!
How would you
describe yourself as a director?
I'm always willing to
listen to a new idea from anyone on set. If it's a good idea, I don't care
who came up with it. If it's a bad idea and Josh or Zane came up with it,
I'll tell them we'll shoot it both ways to keep them happy, and inevitably
keep my way in the final cut.
Filmmakers who inspire
I'd say the ones that had the biggest influence on me, whether it be
style or work ethic, are Trey Parker, David Wain, Lloyd Kaufman, George
A. Romero, Edgar Wright, Kevin Smith, Richard Linklater, David Zucker,
Sam Raimi, Abel Ferrara and Buddy Giovinazzo. I also am incredibly
inspired by the work Onur Tukel, who's probably most well-known for his
recent films Summer of Blood and Applesauce. I
screened his film Ding-A-Ling-Less at my coffee-shop film
festival and he was the only filmmaker who drove from out of state for
any of the events. That film is absolutely brilliant and it's a tragedy
it barely got seen. He's really hit a renaissance with his recent films,
where he's also branched out as an amazingly talented actor, and seeing
the brilliant stories he's able to tell with such small budgets is
Your favourite movies?
Wet Hot American
Summer, Evil Dead 2, Cannibal! The Musical, Annie Hall, Suspiria, and Dawn
of the Dead.
... and of
course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
I try to not badmouth any
movies these days, because it seems everyone wants to attack movies so
much that I wonder if they even actually enjoy them anymore. But I will
say that Zane and I did a podcast where we just reviewed G and PG rated
movies and we came across so many family films that were clearly made by
directors who just didn't give a shit about what they were making and were
just in it for the money. That's something I deplore. If you don't want to
make the movie, don't do it just to have a product to sell. Let someone
who cares enough to make something entertaining do it.
website, Facebook, whatever else?
is our main site, but it's kind of in disrepair at the moment, so I
recommend just heading over to Facebook:
Anything else you're
dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
really hope Winners Tape
All: The Henderson Brothers Story finds its audience and they are
entertained by it. That's my dream at this point.
for the interview!