From the sound of it, your upcoming movie First Man on Mars can be categorized
as a creature feature - a favourite genre of yours, and some of your genre
favourites? And (other) sources of inspiration when dreaming
up First Man on Mars?
do love a good creature feature, and the 1967 film Equinox is probably the
greatest source of inspiration for First Man on Mars.
The first movie made by future special effects greats Dennis Muren,
David Allen, Jim Danforth and others, Equinox was truly a no-budget (6,000.00) labor of love which
stressed special effects over script/acting, and while I believe that a
film must have a decent script first and foremost, I'm willing to overlook
this when I think about Equinox. If
you haven't seen it, it's on Hulu now and elsewhere online.
One of the incredible things about the film is that it was shot
using a Bolex wind up 16mm camera, which is amazing to me.
The stop motion animation is great and the in-camera effects like
forced perspective are superb. If
any aspiring filmmaker out there is lamenting the fact that they don't
have enough money to make a film, check out Equinox and you will be
inspired! Classic low budget
films such as The
Incredible Melting Man, Night of the Blood Beast and First
Man into Space served as direct inspirations for First Man on Mars as
they all have to do with astronauts in space who come back as monsters of
some sort. I always thought
that was a cool sub-genre and I think that our film will be a fitting
homage to those movies.
What can you tell us about
your co-writer Christian Walker, and what was your collaboration like?
made a very good short film for the last feature I produced, a horror
anthology entitled Creepers (www.creepersfilm.com)
and it just so happened that I was pondering First Man on Mars when he
called me out of the blue asking if I had anything cooking.
I said yes, I was frying up some cube steaks, so after some
confusion I realized he was asking if I had any new films in the works and
we started talking about First Man on Mars.
He's on board as co-writer, co-producer, 1st A.D. and actor and
he's been an enormous help on the film thus far.
film like First Man on Mars seems to demand quite some special
effects work almost by design - so what have you planned for your movie?
movie is loaded with practical visual effects and special make up effects.
We are using miniatures, green screen, stop motion animation and a
variety of "old school" methods (read NO CGI) to create First
Man on Mars. This complements
the fact that we are shooting on super 16mm film with cinematography
duties helmed by my good ol' fiend from the northwest John Woods, a guy
who I made super 8 horror films with back in the high school-junior
college days of the early 80's! We
will probably have a short film we made called Mutilation Maniacs
as a bonus on the DVD/Blu-ray release, a super 8 movie which could be seen as the original concept
for First Man on Mars.
you call First Man on Mars a "science fiction horror
comedy" - what can you tell us about your film's brand of humour?
going for Corman-Troma in this
one [Roger Corman bio - click
lot of outrageous humor and twisted gore along with a very funny, dialog-driven script.
talk about the intended overall look and feel of First Man on Mars
for a bit?
60's - 70's style science fiction-horror with a drive-in movie flavor.
The super 16 format lends itself very well to the look and feel of
First Man on Mars.
Any future projects beyond First Man on Mars
you'd like to share?
I still have a feature called Scath
in the wings with collaborator Jean
Stallard, a period piece horror film which takes place during the
devasting yellow fever outbreak in 1850's New Orleans.
This is a much larger budget film and I anticipate pre-production
to commence in September, 2015.
What got you into filmmaking in the
first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
took a few junior college classes back in the day, but I think filmmaking
(along with many other art forms) is something you just have to do
yourself and gain from experience. While
I can appreciate the university courses and so forth, I think a lot of
people who go through that system end up being technocrats rather than
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to First Man on Mars?
Joe R. Lansdale and Mike doing a Q&A at the
Nacogdoches Film Festiva 2015
I said I just wrapped up producing the horror anthology film Creepers, of
which I made one of the segments called By the Hair of the Head, based
upon the short story by Joe R. Lansdale [Joe
R. Lansdale interview - click here].
It showed at several film festivals, the last one being Nacogdoches
in February where it was seen by none other than George R.R. Martin who
was the featured guest. I did
a Q&A after with Mr. Lansdale and it was a very enlightening
have been making indie movies for quite some time now - so how has the
"business" changed over the years?
When I started doing features back in the 90's, it was a different world
entirely. The name of the game
for low budgets was Blockbuster Video and worldwide foreign distibution. Today
I see many filmmakers bypassing distributors and doing self-distribution
which I've done for my last two films Creepers and Horror
Anthology Movie Vol. 1 (www.horroranthologymovies.com).
Self distribution makes life more difficult, but it pays far better
than most distribution deals you are going to get.
For example, on an average DVD sales deal from a genre distributor
you might expect 2-3 dollars a disc net, but if you do it yourself you can
produce the DVD's for 1.50/ea. and net 10 or 15 dollars a copy.
Huge difference. Sure,
you might only sell 300 DVD's yourself while a distributor might sell
1000, but you're still making more money net on the 300 you sold yourself.
Of course there are avenues like Distribber who can get your film
into other markets, but get ready to pay out some $$$ on the front end.
your films are of the horror variety - a genre at all dear to you, and why
science fiction, comedies - those are the genres I like for making films,
but I'll watch any film if it's interesting enough.
I love science fiction-horror and horror comedies because it gives
you a chance to get out of your human self and into a mutated state where
you can conceive of and create a reality that simply doesn't exist in real
life. There's a creative
charge that wouldn't exist if I was making a straight drama or comedy for
One also has to mention that over a five year
stay in South America, you have compiled over 100 live indigenous and
traditional music videos for Howling Earth - so you obviously have
to talk about that project!
in 2005 I went down to Venezuela to work as a veterinary tech volunteer at
a large animal shelter. After
two months I ended up touring around the country with a few friends and we
discovered that Venezuela had amazing music, whether it was street
musicians, college students or professionals,
so decided we'd come back and start recording music in South
America. We formed Howling
Earth and over the next few years we'd be there for 5-6 months recording,
then go back home and work for 6 months to get the money to return for
another 5-6 months. We ended
up recording quite a few amazing groups and musicians until we ran out of
money and steam. But my last
trip to Peru was momentous. I
met a Peruvian girl and we ended up getting married here in the States,
and now Rubi does costumes and helps me with special make up effects on my
films. We may end up moving
back there one of these days...
Filmmakers who inspire you?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Cronenberg, Dario Argento, John Waters, Don Dohler, Roger Corman [Roger
Corman bio - click here], early
Peter Jackson, William Friedkin, Dan O'Bannon, John Carpenter,
Ken Russell, Murnau, Lynch... I could go on.
Naked Lunch, The Conversation,
Dr. Caligari (1990), The
Exorcist, Forbidden Planet, The Day the Earth Stood Still (original),
Bucket of Blood,
Rosemary's Baby, Suspiria,
Deep Red, Pontypool,
Alien, both versions of
The Thing, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Flesh
Gordon, Cosmopolis, Maps to
the Stars, Beasterday, Martyrs, Duck
... and of course, films you really
Infini, Godzilla (2014), Avengers, Captain America
2, Iron Man
2. Most remakes and sequels. Films
loaded with CGI, and ESPECIALLY horror films that use CGI BLOOD! I mean
what the hell people, real blood is not that difficult!
I do excuse a recent favorite of mine though, a film that is near
and dear to my twisted heart called Beasterday.
If you haven't seen Beasterday, you haven't lived!
And if you see Beasterday, you may die! Of laughter that is,
because it's the most hysterical, non-sensical, silly ass movie I've seen
in a long, long time. The
monster is a sight to behold...
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
First Man on Mars -
Creepers - www.creepersfilm.com
Horror Anthology Movie Vol. 1 -
Thanks for the interview!