Wednesday, August 5, 2015


In the biopic of your life, what's the opening scene?

The opening scene would be me at 6 dancing like crazy in my room to "Upside Down" by Diana Ross, me at 7 making the kids in my class learn a musical that I wrote called Jungle Fever, or me at 8 performing "Kids in America" via karaoke in Korea with a stuffed bear as my back up singer. 

I really, really loved Plain Devil (You can view the trailer here and purchase or rent it from Amazon). It definitely felt like a love letter to John Waters' love of old fifties juvenile delinquent movies; almost like a modern day Girls Town only set in Seattle and with more sleazy European villains. So, basically this is your cue to tell me all about the genesis of it and any cool behind the scenes stories you been dying to tell.

Thank you! So, Plain Devil started with the title. I thought it was a sort of funny double entendre. Are they nothing but devils or very dull devils? Of course I was inspired by juvenile delinquent films as well as noir films. So many noir films equate bad girls with evil and the devil and use in the title, well I went from there. I wanted it to be a sort of fish out of water story where the new girl tries to fit in with the bad girls in town. Instead of it being a cautionary tale she does end up fitting in in a sort of Sandy from Grease way. I feel like the same things that influenced John Waters and probably Grease influenced me too. I have a love for those old films and yet I identify with the misfits, so in my film the bad girls do not get their comeuppance but win, in a way, at the end. 

Hobo with a Trash Can just premiered last month (You can view the trailer here.). I've been following it for a bit, as whenever you say the words "anthology film" and "budget of literally one dollar," my ears are definitely going to perk up. Can you give me a bit of a rundown about what the deal is?

Oh man, Hobo with a Trash Can was so much fun and something I'm really proud to be a part of. Claire Llewellyn is a director that I know and she put out a call for directors to submit trailers for an anthology based on trash items. She gave you your item and you had to create a story and short trailer of it. The best ones were voted on and got to be in the anthology. The idea is that the Bo, the hobo played by Christopher Kahler, has the gift of second sight. As he digs through the trash can he can see where the items have been. Each short film is the story of a trash item. Our rules were to film something using the budget of $1. Of course there's much more too it, you'll have to watch it.

If we're gonna talk about what's down the pipleline, how's Raw Meat coming along? I know that a couple of our mutual friends, Samantha Mack and Shreddz, are in it, but what else can you tell me, and, I guess, by extension, the readers?

I am very excited about Raw Meat. Right now the props and other special effects are being made. It's a very exciting process and I can't wait to show images of some of it. We've also cast a lot of local talent as well as, of course, Bill Oberst Jr. and Jackey Neyman who played Debbie in Manos: The Hands of Fate. There may also be a cameo from a certain Nadine L'Esperance as well. After a few more things come together we'll be ready to shoot everything. I can't wait. 

Being super independent, and especially with genre pictures, you've gotta come up with a lot of creative problem solving to get the effect/shot you need. Gimme some examples of ones you are particularly proud of.

For Awesome Ouija Board (ed note: check out the trailer here.) we had to come up with a way to make scissors fly though the air. I had a few different ideas that involved a combination of running shots backwards, some editing trickery, and my personal favorite part that I came up with on the fly, what I call "the scissor cam." What we did was film part of it from the scissors' point of view. As the scissors fly around we just see the blades and what the scissors see.

I think what I like most about your work, is everything seems to have a specific mood in mind. You can see your fingerprints all over whatever you do, but you definitely have a mission to accomplish and that varies from project to project. What you're trying to accomplish with Awesome Ouija Board is not what you want to accomplish with Plain Devil which is totally different from, say, what you're going for with with any of your musical projects. How important to you is it to experiment with various tones and motifs with each project? 

I have eclectic tastes and I think that shows in the work that I made. I do treat each project individually and try to give it the tone and feel that it warrants. I was afraid that an overview of my work would be too disjointed for viewers. But I've been told many times that my projects have a certain feel. I'm too close to it to see, but I'm glad that other people can see it.   

Speaking of music, you're in a few bands, Due To-It, Filthy Issue, and Huh-Uh but the one I cannot stop listening to is Huh-Uh (listen here), because I am a sucker for exactly what you're peddling. Like, I've been playing "Insect Photographer" and "Castles" so much, that if I had a roommate, they'd probably've murdered me by now. I couldn't find a bio on the band because I am a terrible journalist, so tell me all about it. And also promise me there will be more music from you cats. Even if it's a lie.

Huh-Uh was a synth band. We were once an all girl all synth band, but we added a dude and live drums. Then we added a bass which played with a synth sound. Our stuff is very edgy and dancey. We were featured on one compilation cd and one compilation picture disc 45 via Olympia's Crunks Not Dead label. We put out our own limited run ep a few years ago called "Castles." I think there are still a few copies you can get via Amazon. I'm planning on doing a re-release of that ep soon. We also have more material that was never released. Although we don't play together anymore there's still recorded material enough to make an album. I have the raw tracks but they need a little work. Hopefully, I'll be able to work on that after my next film is finished. 

You also sell jewelry at your Etsy store, but what I was more intrigued by was that you also make custom nail polish colors. I have zero idea what even goes into nail polish, let alone how you'd go about creating new shades. This is me literally fumbling around to ask: so, how do you even make nail polish? 

I buy supplies including the nail polish bases, mica powders, glitter, bottles, etc. They I experiment with mixing the colors and the glitters until I get the polishes that I like. There are so many different options. Usually I think about it in my head first before I try something. When it turns out wrong it's disappointing, but when it turns out well it's exciting. 

I'm a total Cannon films junkie, so I ask everyone this (mostly as a provocation to talk about Golan Globus productons): what makes the perfect action scene?

Oh man, I wish I knew. I'd love to make action and thriller films. I never have. One thing that I think is crucial to an action sequence is tight and meaningful editing. You can't have any filler or unnecessary moments in action. The moment you have that the viewer becomes disengaged and whatever is happening makes less of an impact.   

Since it's been a few months, time to ignite what will either be you agreeing with me and being correct, or you detailing, at length at why you are wrong: Freddy vs Jason - who's better?

Freddy. I'm a Freddy girl. I love Freddy. I know some people find Jason scarier because his world is based in reality. I'm big into dreams and psychological scares. So for me it's Freddy all the way. I also love how Robert Englund plays him, especially when he is being more menacing. 

ED NOTE: Wow, way to be completely wrong. Jason is clearly better for the simple reason that after a dream monster that can do literally anything still manages to get punked out by a teen, they lose all credibility. Like, how'm I gonna be afraid of Freddy when I know he'll get his, when meanwhile, you got Jason over here who's either a hillbilly what doesn't understand pain or some kind of rage Frankenstein and I know that all I ever did was just slow him down if I happened to survive.

Finally, is there anything you want to ask me?

How did you develop your love of Lifetime movie of the week films, and what are some of the best?

I could write a dissertation on why I love Lifetime movies, but I'll just tell you about the first movie that got me hooked. 

In the early 2000's, Lifetime aired what is, still, to this day, one of the craziest goddamn movies I've ever seen. It's called Invisible Child. The basic premise is Rita Wilson plays a mother of two, who has an imaginary third child that all the family basically goes along with, humoring this clearly mentally ill woman. Our protagonist is actually the new nanny they hired, who is slowly getting increasingly disturbed and uncomfortable with this whole situation, as Rita keeps freaking out at the nanny for forgetting to do shit for this imaginary child. Eventually, the nanny calls child protective services, as that's what you do in this situation, and the movie plays them as the villains. Seriously, the third act is about the nanny and the family banding together to keep this insane bullshit going. 

I'm purposely not selling you on specific plot points, because I implore you to track a copy down. You can get it used for like a buck on Amazon. 

After that, I was hooked. Lifetime movies just have this very specific trashiness that can't be duplicated by anything else.

Some great ones are Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life, which is about a teen swimmer who loses it all because of his addiction to internet pornography. It's actually directed by the guy who did Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, and since, as we've already gone over, Jason is better than Freddy, this is a good jumping in point.

I mean, you gotta check out the more recently hyped Lizzie Borden Took and Axe with Christina Ricci and the Flowers in the Attic flicks. Then there's Maternal Instincts, where Delta Burke goes around beating people in a hospital to death since, due to an emergency hysterectomy, she can't have children. Baby Monitor: The Sound of Fear, wherein a nanny overhears about a plot to assassinate her over the titular baby monitor. She's Too Young, which sounds like it should be about teen pregnancy but ends up being even more absurd. Sexting in Suburbia, which, well, should be self explanatory, and, finally, Honeymoon with Mom, wherein Shelley Long tricks her left at the altar daughter to take her on said honeymoon. She has tricked her because she's a magazine editor and is trying to interview the reclusive ex-astronaut who owns the resort.

You can keep track of everything Tonjia's doing at her official website.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


I tend to let people introduce themselves, so this space here is reserved for just that purpose. Go nuts!

I was born on the Peninsula in the California sun, sprinkled by silicon in the shadow of Black Mountain. I was not properly equipped with the goods to maintain a positive mental attitude and had to claw my way to some semblance of sanity in adulthood. Making motion pictures helped me. Film as art? Self-help tool? I say yes to both!

At an early age I fell in love with motion pictures. TV was my babysitter. Then it was the VCR. I watched everything. My dad was an a/v enthusiast and once I got to fourth grade he trusted me enough to let me use his expensive and bulky equipment.

Since then my work hasn't changed that much. I am committed to a no-fi aesthetic. It is direct and intimate and the most exciting approach for me. I don't think movies need to cost so much money to make. There are no-fi masterpieces to be made, things that can have impact on audiences on a Citizen Kane or Casablanca level. Let's make them! Viva la underground!

I just want to start off asking about Bumps because I remember that absurd pregnancy pact news and wanted to thank you for making a proper ridiculous movie about it, which is something even Lifetime fumbled with. So, I guess this isn't so much a question as me asking you to tell all the readers about Bumps (which you all can watch here)!

Yeah, I read about it and the story fascinated me. But the info was limited and conflicting depending on the sources. And then the press coverage just sort of got shut down. So I kind of ran with it. I remember very well what it felt like being an early, mid teen. It sucked! You felt alienated and alone. Well, I felt that way. Until I found my way into a tightly knit community of friends. We were all creating new families. What if a tightly knit community of friends decided to start a family? It makes sense to raise children in a community with access to more resources than what two parental units may be able to provide. As a kid, you're not so much in the spotlight that way and that's kind of a nice thing. As a parent you've got a little more room and more resources to help out. It's kind of a great idea! But also, you're pretty young and dumb at 16. Or at least I was. I was very very dumb. I would have been a horrible dad!

But BUMPS came together very organically. Anita, who played Marcy, was a friend of a mutual friend, but the rest of the actors I found on craigslist. The ages ranged from 15 to 21. I think Anita was the oldest. I see BUMPS as their movie. Once the cast was assembled I gave everyone their character outline and the outline for the movie and they ran with it. They did everything. I just caught it on camera and gave some direction sometimes. The end result reminds me of a John Cassavetes movie but with a bunch of young women instead of obnoxious, middle aged, entitled, alcoholic philanderers.

BUMPS was an example where I had a fantastic group of actors who were creatively invested in the story we were trying to tell. Those ladies rocked the thing. As soon as the camera was rolling, they were on. I really enjoyed making that movie. I feel like I got to witness a world I could never be part of as an older white dude. In high school I had girls who were close friends in a platonic way, but even with them I was not let into that deep and private world. Those women let me into that place and let me film it, which is a very brave thing to do. It was an amazing experience. I am thankful for the actors' generosity and openness.

I love your work because it feels like its been dipped into a veneer of seventies grindhouse, yet it isn't pigeonholed in peddling shock. I am not really doing your films justice, but this is kind of my way of goading you to kind of tell me a little bit about your style/influences/motivations.

As of now, shock has been done to death. It's a great tactic, but not a very mature one. I mean, who really needs to see horrible things done to babies or animals or whatever? I understand the cathartic thrills of transgression, but it's all been done. How gross can you get? 

The implicit threat, menace, and horror of those old Universal monster movies still contain a real magic. You have to use your imagination. Today we live in a very automated world. Everything is done for us by machines. You can't even unlock your car door without a computer. So it's almost a novelty going back to those older methods where the murder takes place off screen or the monster is never fully revealed because what we can imagine is so much worse than anything we are shown.
I'm not a big fan of movies that revel in the gutter for no other reason than to shock. Gaspar Noe presents shocking imagery in his work, but there is a transcendent element to it. He is trying to open minds, not piss all over them. That's very different than just shocking people. And nothing's shocking anymore anyway, so why bother? There are so many ways to communicate things. It's good sometimes to stay away from the overused, overdone stuff.

I really love the DIY spirit of some of the Bay Area garage rock bands from the 90's like the Mummies, the Brentwoods, and the Trashwomen. They were just free and open and in love with the thrill of rock n roll. They did not give one single poo about money or fame. They were in it for the sheer joy of it and they shared it with their fans, and most of their fans were their friends. They were accessible people. Their shows were always more like parties. They knew all about the greatest F word: fun.

I enjoy what used to be called "cult movies". These movies developed an audience because they didn't really fall into the regular old genre classifications. A movie like El Topo is a mystical western with dramatic and horror elements. It's tough to classify. Paul Bartel's work is a lot like that, too. Those are the movies I've always strived to make, where a whole bunch of different elements converge into one thing that is entirely it's own universe. Genre conventions sort of make no sense to me.

Irina is my favorite influence. We watch stuff together and we talk about everything. It's fun having a partner you can formulate your world view with. She's an artist, too, so I can always ask her for advice and what I get is always honest and useful.

I feel you and I are kindred spirits with regard to not doing what we do with the goal of making money. How freeing is it to let art just exist? 

Few things are as subjective as art. Who determines the worth of it and how they determine it is so beyond the realm of my interest and so very boring. I just leave all that junk alone. I just want to make my movies and give them to the people who will appreciate them.  

I am a deep person, dang it. I have lived life. I have something to say. And it's in my movies. They are a gift. They are an offering of true love to the human race. I am very lucky to do what I get to do. I have a job outside the film industry which makes me feel like I am doing something with my life. It pays the bills and contributes fuel to my work. I am not dependent on my art bringing home the bacon. My art can be free to be exactly what it is. Being able to make the kinds of movies I make is an exhilarating, intoxicating freedom for me. 

You are hardcore DIY, so I know you probably have a bunch, but could you rattle off a few effects scenes you managed to cheat that you are especially proud of?

Some of my movies have gore effects, but I always do those in a contained environment. I don't want to traumatize strangers on the street or trigger some serious PTSD. Generally, though, I'm more into the human elements like characters, motivations, and behaviors. Whenever I can get away with a chase scene in public, I'm pretty happy. I shot a music video for Eat Skull with Ben Popp back in Portland and we had a guy in "fuck society" t-shirt, a mask, and a very phony machete walk into a 7-11 and people were flipping out and calling the cops  


 It's good to bring a little bit of surrealism into people's lives. We shot a fairly extensive car chase for Brainbox, but that was back in 1996. Nobody hassled us, we were left alone. But those were different times. Everybody's freaking out over everything these days. Oh, and then there was the time we shot a sex scene in the back of an unmarked police car with a guy dressed up like a cop for PALACE OF STAINS. We got a helicopter escort for that one.

I am a certified Cannon Films Junkie, so I ask everyone this: what makes the perfect action scene?

Those Golan-Globus films are great. I especially loved the 80's Sho Kosugi ninja flicks. A perfect action scene needs suspense and tension and a payoff; a build up to an orgasmic climax. The audience has to be invested in the characters. The rhythm of the editing and the composition of the shots are integral. I am amazed when I see non CGI-ed stunts where I fear for the stunt person's life. Like, oh my God did they really do that?!?!?! I've got to look this up on IMDB to see if the person died doing this stunt! But for me the big one is always that famous car chase in Bullitt. So simple and beautiful. That thing is a symphony. There's no music whatsoever, just the sound of those revving engines. That scene is just pure magic. There's real intimacy to it. There are many many action scenes from other movies that outdo it for sheer visceral impact, but to me the car chase from Bullitt is the big banana. One of the things I saw early in my life which ignited my love for cinema.

Switching gears, and stroking my vanity: is there anything you wanted to ask me?

Not only do I make underground movies but I am a big fan of them. I found some really cool filmmakers I've never heard of on your blog. You seem to be one of the people brave enough to venture out into this realm and find value in it. What got you interested in this kind of stuff? Who are some of your favorite underground filmmakers and why?

I legitimately don't think there was ever a time I wasn't interested in the underground. I actually took forever to post this interview because I was pondering this question. It just feels coded into my DNA to find the craziest, most interesting thing I can. I am driven to know just what kind of cool things are being done out there, and with the less risks Hollywood is taking lately, the more I feel I have to go down alternate routes. 

A huge component has to do with my love of campy trash.  I am convinced John Waters is my spirit animal. Look. I DVR Lifetime Original movies. I am obsessed with Pretty Little Liars. I own pretty much every Heavy Metal Horror movie ever released in some form. I still haven't gotten over them canceling Passions. That kind of patent ridiculousness is in the lifeblood of the underground. You can have so much more fun with a movie when you aren't focused on making a billion dollars in order to break even. 

And, that freedom knife cuts both ways. The underground can throw just so much darker than the mainstream. You can really probe into horrifying, intriguing, and unpleasant aspects of humanity that just go so much deeper into the human condition than you'll see in The Avengers. 

Finally, though, and this is probably my biggest sticking point: genre films still exist in the underground. For example, if you are a huge horror fan? Every single sub-genre under that umbrella is thriving in underground cinema. Do you still appreciate fight choreography and practical stunts? Some of the best action directors today are doing limited release or even direct to video films. Basically, I love the underground because it remembers. For every bit of homogenization going on in Hollywood, the underground diversifies even more, and I'm always discovering more new sub-genres.

 Now to name favorites, I will have to cheat a little and name people I already interviewed

I really love Nadine L'Esperance and Milan Todorovic

I'm double cheating with Nadine because we are pals, but she is basically the second coming of Troma, only with an even more punk rock edge. She unabashedly tickles that need to see something gross, ridiculous, and horrific, with that little wink that lets you know everyone's in on the joke.

Milan is basically trying to start a revolution in Serbia, and I can't respect that more. 

Well that sure was a torrent of words. To end this interview in a way where you get the last word, and not my big dumb ego, any parting words for the audience reading this? 

There is a very diverse and expanding community of filmmakers who have no intention of joining the Hollywood ranks. People who are perfectly content making things that have "no commercial value." An audience exists for this type of work. But people have to work a little bit to discover it. It's not backed by big money that and forced down out throats, which is a beautiful thing. I suggest seeking out channels on vimeo labelled underground or experimental. There are tons of great things out there ready to be discovered by the thrill seeking cineaste. Think about it as foraging in the forest for mushrooms or truffles. It's fun and yummy.

Keep your mind open. Seek out bold, new, and challenging audio visual works. If you like what you see, then share it with others.

You can keep track of Bob via his official pageblogvimeo, and youtube channels. But, more importantly, you can purchase his stuff from his etsy page.

Sunday, May 24, 2015


It's been a while, huh?

This week, we're talking to Daniel Emery Taylor, mostly because he was in Return of Swamp Thing, but also because he's been up to a bunch! You can keep tabs on him over at his facebook page.

You got a movie banned by the Bulgarian government.  That's gotta be a point of pride!  This is my super subtle way to get you to talk to me about The Hospital.
Well, the fact that it even made it to Bulgaria was quite a surprise!  We made a very lo-fi film with extreme elements, meant to emulate exploitation classics like I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE or THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT.  We knew it would have limited appeal and would be embraced by a small, niche audience.  The fact that it received a worldwide release is absolutely crazy to me.  They pulled us off of the shelves of Tesco in the United Kingdom.  We were banned by Bulgaria.  We've gotten reviews from folks in South Africa, Australia, Russia, Spain, France, Germany -- I never expected it to be larger than an underground American thing.

They cut about forty minutes out of the film in Germany.  I've watched the German release and it makes no sense.  They cut out all of the violence.  Characters disappear without explanation.  And still people complained about the content.  What are they complaining about?  There's nothing left!


But I was quite proud of getting banned by Bulgaria.  I hope the sequel gets banned in a few more former Soviet republics.

Let's get the Swamp Thing question out of the way.  You were in Return of Swamp Thing as a kid.  I am not going to ask you the general "what was that like?" question.  It was kind of a weird time that people forget.  In short order, there were two Swamp Thing movies as well as two TV shows.  I was a kid then, but you were in the epicenter.  Was Swamp Thing really this huge thing for a second in the eighties?  What was that like?

You know, I never noticed it.  Now, I hear from fans all the time that THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING was their favorite film growing up and they watched it over and over.  I have since become aware of all of the wonderful, weird merchandise that was release.  I even recently found a Swamp Thing chalk on eBay that I had to have, mainly because on the package is a speech balloon that declares "I'm Chalk!" for anyone who may be confused.

But at the time?  I never knew anything about it.  I just grew up assuming I had been in this movie nobody had seen. And I knew the character was (and remains) popular because of the comic series and appearances but I didn't see the cartoon and toys until years later.  It may have been a regional thing. I grew up in Alabama.  We had swamps.  They weren't very fascinating to us.

And speaking of riding zeitgeists, you were in Road Trip!  That wave of teen sex comedies in the late nineties to early aughts was pretty dang impressive.  Any cool stories from that era?

ROAD TRIP was great because it's the gift that keeps on giving. 


 It seems to play on TBS about once a week and I have made more off of it than any other film I've done, without a doubt. And it was so much fun to work on. It was Todd Phillips' first feature and I knew he would go on to be huge. THE HANGOVER, OLD SCHOOL, but it all started with ROAD TRIP! And Ivan Reitman, who produced the film, actually directed some of the scenes I was in. He seemed to be mentoring Todd. Do I even have to mention what a thrill it was to work for Ivan Reitman? He literally directed most of my favorite films.

I get asked a lot about working with Tom Green. He couldn't be further from his persona. He was incredibly quiet and polite. A fantastic colleague. His show on MTV was pretty much at its peak in popularity, so crowds formed everywhere he went on set. (We filmed most of our scenes on the University of Georgia campus, so there were excited frat boys everywhere.) We overheard a group of guys planning to ambush Tom to lick him. I suppose they figured this would be a fitting tribute to such an outlandish star. Well, we told Tom and he was appropriately disturbed. He had personal security with him from that point forward.

Let's flash forward to the actual reason I tracked you down: Mountain Mafia. The cast in that film is insane to a pop culture junkie like me. You had Al Snow. You had the late Robert Z'Dar. You had The Ying Yang Twins. Please tell me you have a bunch of stories about this flick!

Well, Al Snow is always a joy to work with.  I cast him in my CAMP MASSACRE.  I've worked with him on three other films.  Wrestlers are generally good, anyway, because they know how to ad-lib and improvise.  They make a scene work.  But Al is like the sweetest guy in the world and always so entertaining to chat with.  And I wasn't on set with the Ying Yang Twins but it probably isn't too scandalous to say that they reportedly smoked an entire gallon Ziplock bag of weed before showing up on set and couldn't remember their lines.  That's just par for the course, really.

And Robert Z'Dar ...good old Bobby Z.  Man, there are so many stories and I'm not sure if any of them are safe to tell.  He arrived on set and made the producers buy him a haircut, some sweatpants, and a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black.  He refused to leave his hotel room and put filming behind by seven hours.  He kept switching accents during the scene.  Southern.  English.  Irish.  And, as he was being driven back to the airport the next day, he demanded to be let out on the side of the road where he promptly took a shit in someone's front yard.

Now, granted, he was having a major problem with alcohol at the time and is reportedly doing much better these days.  But it was a challenging shoot.

Low budget film making leads to all kinds of MacGyver-esque special effects cheats.  Are there any in your films you are especially proud of?

Near the end of CAMP MASSACRE, there's a scene where Andy, played by the excellent T.J. Moreschi, runs through a wall.  I thought it would be funny to see a fat guy run through a wall.  The film is full of these great sight gags.  You seldom see overweight people in horror movies so I thought it would be a great opportunity to poke fun at some of the slasher cliches.  We can't hide in the closet or under the bed.  We can't outrun the killer.  So, we have to think of other methods of survival.  So, the character slings his girth through the wall to escape, LOONEY TUNES style.

It looks fantastic.  A lot of it was just framing the shot.  We shot it at an angle so you never actually see the point of exit.  We constructed a basic frame and leaned it against the back of the cabin.  Three or four of us hid in the shadows with armloads of wood and debris.  On action, T.J. takes off running as we drop the frame and toss the wood.  It sounds so simple and ridiculous but it really does look great.  The frame hits the ground and this big cloud of dirt and leaves flies up.  Movie magic.

Okay so Camp Massacre: One: how bummed are you the original title of "Fat Chance" didn't go through?  and two: actually, I didn't plan a two, this is an excuse for you to talk about it!

I had a ... period of adjustment.  FAT CHANCE was a labor of love that I had worked on since I first wrote the script in 2008.   I know all of these great character actors, many of them overweight, and we all lamented at the lack of truly iconic roles for guys like us.  As I said earlier, you don't see many roles for big folks and the roles that are there are usually lame.  It's usually there to make a point, like a positive affirmation "don't make fun of fat people" message.  The characters aren't treated like real people.  I wanted to change that and the best course of action seemed to be to put as many fat actors into a film that I could find.  FAT CHANCE - They're starving ... to death.  I always loved a good catch line.

And then the distributor decides to play down the entire "fat" angle.  CAMP MASSACRE - Survive the night!  It doesn't even mean anything.  It's about as generic and milquetoast as it comes.  But what do I know?  I'm biased.  Their job is to make money.  I can't complain ... it's still my film, my vision.  My only fear is that some people may be disappointed when they're expecting to watch a sleek, sexy slasher and instead watch a bunch of funny fat guys running through the woods.

I am a Cannon Films Junkie, so I ask everyone this: what makes the perfect action scene?

It's got to be over the top and ridiculous.  Have you ever seen a real street fight?  It's boring.  There's a lot of hair pulling and t-shirt tugging.  Some grappling.  A stray punch may actually get thrown here and there.  But they're seldom very exciting.  It's the same reason I prefer WWE to MMA.  Sure, you occasionally see a really balls-out MMA fight but, more often than not, it's just two guys hugging and rolling around on the mat.  WWE is great because it's always this spectacle of bodies flying around, falling off ladders, slamming through the barricades.

Movies should be the same.  Choreographed fights are never going to look "real."  They've got to look better than real.  It's not a Cannon film but one of my favorite fight scenes is the one in THEY LIVE.  Roddy Piper and Keith David have this long, drawn out, ridiculous fight scene in an alleyway over a pair of sunglasses.  It goes on forever and it's perfect.  In CAMP MASSACRE, we had a fight between Ritz, played by Al Snow, and our killer.  It devolves into them throwing snack cakes at each other ... just the way it should.

Remember when I said I was done with Swamp Thing questions? I lied. Swamp Thing vs Man-Thing: who's cooler?

I'm actually a big fan of both.  I think Swamp Thing is easier to relate to but Man-Thing has the metaphysical stuff down.  

Finally, is there anything you want to ask me? 

Who is your Daddy and what does he do?

My daddy's just some guy who was born in Egypt and when you figure out what he does, please tell me. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015


For this week's Camp Counseling, I decided to share with you the raw audio of an interview I conducted. This is not a total product of laziness, as the very real pressures of what pays my bills have been hammering down on me. Plus, it's fun to see how I turn a conversation where I sound like an actual idiot into something that makes every subject look like cool scholars.

Monday, April 6, 2015


Camp Counseling is morphing again. There will be sporadic stops and goes as we approach the next level in evolution. This is partially due to me having inherited insane responsibility, but also because I can't conceivably keep churning out interviews on a weekly basis without burning through content too fast.

This week's Camp Counseling'll be a special treat, as a lot of people have wanted to know what the raw audio/text of an interview looks like. So, I will post that. You'll get all the cool answers you normally would, but you'll see what I kind of hammer into what you eventually read on the page. And, it'll be with someone you haven't seen interviewed yet!

So, tune in everybody!

Sunday, March 22, 2015


A few of the newer interviews are going to have intros written by the subject to start them off. The prompt is kinda generic as I like to give these guys and gals leeway to intro themselves any way they want. There is no really good way to transition to/explain it, so hey that's why these clumsy words are here to say what is going on with the article starting in italics.

Film saved my life – I’ll believe that till the day I die. I’m a 32 year old rock n’ roll filmmaker – I love my music heavy and dirty, just like I enjoy my films – heavy and dirty, but with substance. I believe characters can make any story work as long as you have strong enough characters to drive the story forward and keep it interesting. I’m tattooed -- not because it’s cool -- and you’ll find everything on my body has a deep rooted meaning to me, I’m  flawed in almost every sense of the word, and I have an affinity for the outrageous, but sometimes mundane. Did I lose you yet?

Not even remotely. Let's do this

Okay, so, I've talked to a bunch of cats who put out short films, and as someone who uses way too many words to communicate simple ideas, I gotta know other than the obvious dramatically shorter, in a perfect world, turnaround time, how the process varies from popping out a feature or even a TV show. Everything from script to screen. 

I have a big internal argument with myself when I’m writing a short film because literally every single idea I ever have when I sit down and start writing is much larger than a short film, which is probably why I have so many features written, 4,  or far in the process, 5. I find it incredibly difficult to have a traditional beginning-middle-resolution in short films because you really want to be able to capture people’s attention and keep it within just a few short minutes while also trying to show what you can do as a director, which is why I leave a lot to interpretation in my short films and hope that the content that’s there speaks for itself on my capabilities. I think for me, since I learned and continue to learn on my own without any kind of film school behind me, the difference between short films and knocking out a quality feature is the word quality. I could totally bang out a feature film with the gear I have, the crew I have, and use all local actors and nobody gets paid and we attempt to get some kind of distribution and it would probably be good, however the style of films that I want to do and I want Burn Baby Burn Films to be known for requires more money than a few thousand dollars, and I really want to be able to shoot on better gear than DSLRs that are not-so-great in low light. That said, I am diligently working on fine tuning a feature script that we can shoot for a lot less money than most would think, while sticking with the  theme that I want to do which is crime-drama and use some more relatively unknown actors, but have enough money to be able to hire someone to shoot on something better in low light. So I’m pretty excited for the next few months.

Using that very long-winded opener as a spring-board, I did recently watch your latest, Grind & Blow (official website here). I dug it a lot! What was the genesis of it? The characters felt really, eerily lived in, like maybe not including the end, these are some peeps you are intimately familiar with. 

It’s funny that you picked up on that, the project actually began as a joke between myself and the other two producers. We were sitting around sharing a few cocktails making jokes and I blurted out that we should just knock out a quick short film of just us -- myself, Antonio and Geoff -- sitting around the table BSing with each other. Well, when I sobered up and sat down by myself I started taking a look at what we had to work with on a minimal budget and something we could shoot in a day or two and this joke turned into something very real and I really just let the story flow out of me just to see where it ended up. And what I ended up with was 40 pages of dialogue – so I started trimming to get to what you saw. But it really is just a dramedy to me because I feel like I was able to take certain parts of each of our personalities and bring them out in each character, leveraging everyone’s strengths. I’m not sure I answered the question – but I’m also long-winded, so I think I may have.

Okay we are going to switch gears a little bit, just because we've got something in common. In addition to film making, you run Loud and Heavy (official website here,) where you interview metal bands. That was pretty much what I did when I was in college and abusing the fact you could use college radio credentials to bullshit your way into concerts and conducting interviews you were not even remotely qualified for! How'd you get involved with that? 

Loud & Heavy is my dysfunctional child. I used to be a music journalist for the now defunct magazines Fringe Mag, and Your Music Magazine out of the bay area interviewing some pretty large metal and hard rock bands, so that was where I learned how to work the system and really cut my teeth in the publication world. I’m a writer, so I have this weird strong connection with physical publications, but I also know that it’s pretty much a dead world. I've also been in and out of the Sacramento music scene for years now in multiple capacities, which really positioned me well with knowing a lot of club owners and being able to work the system and understand the nuances of the business. Loud & Heavy spawned originally from a production co. name that I was using to make music videos, but since I like to stay crazy busy and leave little time to sleep I decided I wanted to create a website where we interview on video and written interviews with unknown bands around the world as well as known signed bands around the world. Now it’s just ever evolving where I’m working with some smaller metal bands and trying to become a sponsor on some tours to help drive more people to the website, and also recruiting content creators…and with the help of my great web guy Geoff, trying to revamp the site a bit and logo a bit since we’re starting to gain some traction. I’m pretty open-minded with where the site goes, I’d like to get into the retail market someway as well doing some kind of merchandise designing, or sponsoring bands, etc.

Using your best judgement, and any NAME REDACTED tags you want, we've gotta compare war stories with regard to the previous question. What's your most absurd meeting a band story?  

Hmm, that’s a good question. I would say that a few years back I was backstage walking with Brian from Shadows Fall to his bus to knock out this interview (and by the way, Shadows Fall guys are super cool and always great to interview), and as we’re walking up a super famous singer comes riding up on a motor scooter, cigarette hanging out of his mouth, beer in one hand, noticeably hammered, and the scooter was a bit wobbly. I don’t really get star struck anymore, however I really wanted to meet him because, well…that’s what I do in that line of work, so as he stopped to just nod his head at Brian he stared at me kind of wobbling around himself on the scooter, I said “How’s it going? I’m Josh with Your Music Magazine, it’s great to meet you, any chance you have a few minutes?” He mumbled something with some F You’s scattered about in it and quickly took off on the scooter wobbling around. Other than that I've had some interviews go badly, especially with younger bands that got too popular too quickly because they think they’re better than you or too cool or whatever, but for the most part, most bands are really cool with me.

I actually met Brian when Shadows Fall was touring with Lamb of God and Killswitch Engage. I interviewed him, Randy from Lamb of God, and Howard from Killswitch all at once. Their show was fantastic because they clearly were all friends and would interrupt each other's sets. I think the worst/best interview I did was with George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher, wherein about half way in, it just turned into us arguing about who Thanos could take in a fight. I mean, I had fun, I just doubt the listeners really wanted to hear us talk about nerdy bullshit for about forty five minutes.

Alright, back on track with the movies. You've got a little crew that's followed you through all the Burn Baby Burn shorts. Do you almost get a feeling that your films are a family business? 

I’m one of those people that always wants to insulate himself with good people that work hard, collaborate well together and take direction well, which is where this crew has come from. However, Grind & Blow really was the last film I’ll be able to do with that crew because most of them have moved on to college or work or other things, so I’m working on building a new crew now. But yes, I feel like a few of them have definitely become like family to me…I know that when Burn Baby Burn Films shows up to a film festival, we’re always well represented.

I am a Cannon Films Junkie, so I have to ask everyone this: what makes the perfect action scene? 

I wish I knew, really….

I grew up an action fan loving Hard Boiled, Top Gun, The Rock, Bad Boys, Die Hard, and I find myself still watching those films and loving the action sequences, but if I had to pick one of my favorite scenes of all time it’s in Face/Off at the end when Nicolas Cage comes into the church on the beach in slow-motion and the infamous doves come flying out from behind him and then the shoot-out ensues. I feel like action movies nowadays lack the drama that the ones I mentioned have, now it’s all about fast fights and realistic shaky cinematography, which is cool, I guess, but yeah. Let me make an action film and I’ll proudly represent the early 90’s!

Alright, you get asked to go on a world tour with Iron Maiden or you get offered to direct your first feature and it's written by Tarantino: which do you pick? 

Easy-Tarantino…because if he asked anyone nowadays to direct something he wrote, it would be pretty damn special. Hell, look at True Romance!

You're writing your next film. What's on your playlist? And, okay, we're talking writing so let's not pretend this isn't true: what's your cocktail of choice? 

My playlist is scattered with all kinds of stuff, but I usually crank my iTunes playlist that mostly consists of In Flames, The Haunted, Soilwork, Dark Tranquility, Omnium Gatherum, Insomnium, Disarmonia Mundi, and some slower more “rock” stuff like Witchcraft, Ghost and don’t laugh…but Stone Sour…sometimes it’s good to bring you down from being on such a high with the other tunes.

As far as cocktails, believe it or not, lately I've been easing off the booze…it was getting me in some trouble since I don’t exactly have an “off-switch.” But I prefer a good Amber or Red micro brew to sip on while I’m writing, or it used to be Sailor Jerry and Diet Pepsi. If I’m out, it’s Tequila…which is where I get in trouble. I ruined whiskey long ago.

EDITORS NOTE: This note exists solely to give Josh shit for picking the inferior Slipknot side-group, Stone Sour, and not the superior Murderdolls. 

Speaking of next films, I know you have literally just finished Grind and Blow, but I gotta ask: what's in the pipelines? What'chu got up your sleeve? 

Well, I’m currently editing another short film I filmed last summer called “The End of Me”, which is one that is very near and dear to me and a little away from the norm of what I normally would write. I’m also developing a short film that I plan on attempting to act and co-direct in that is about an alcoholic/drug addicted doctor that lost his license and will now pretty much work for anyone that will hire him. Somewhat in the same vein as “Playing God”  but still much different in the approach. I’m also simultaneously developing my first feature film titled “Where Sleeping Dogs Lie,” which is a 100% complete return to form for me in a full neo-noir style crime-drama, in which we’re hoping to start filming by the summer. Other than that, I’m always looking to stay busy and knock out some music videos or commercials, et cetera.

And, finally: Is there anything you want to ask me?  

How and why did you get into interviewing filmmakers, especially ones that are more unknown? And what do you do in your daily life? Do you like long walks on the beach? 

It was always going to be the natural evolution for me. I've talked a little bit about the human aspect at the end of my interview with Heather Dorff, here, but, really it's just to make sure I am constantly discovering new things. I love finding the little films no one is talking about or paying enough attention to and showing it to other people. It really was gonna be the end game scenario where I just start bugging the cats making the stuff I love so's I can gush a bit. 

It's also a reflection of how I talk about movies, in general. I rarely ever talk about films I hate, and don't feel like having conversation number 343234959 about how totally baller Casablanaca is. I'd rather discuss the brilliance of Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go To College with the like, five other people who have seen it for the first time. 

I spend most of my daily life drinking heavily and being as irresponsible as humanly possible as some kind of childish backlash against my very corporate and grown up day job.  Basically, I want to be the thirty-year-old at spring break for the rest of my life.

You can follow Josh and what Burn Baby Burn Films are up to via their website and youtube channel.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


There was no way I was passing up a chance to have another blood soaked promo picture when the opportunity presented itself.

I am just going to save some space here so you can do a big fun self-aggrandizing intro for yourself:

Oh, I’m just a girl from East London, South Africa, trying to navigate her way through Tinseltown without getting into too much trouble! 

You are in pretty much everything. Like, I have joked about that with a few subjects, but you are the queen. How do you keep track of it all? I am legit asking for time/life management tips here!

(Seriously. Check out her imdb page.)

Before I moved to the USA in 2005, I practiced as a Bankruptcy Trustee and administered hundreds of cases at a time. This taught me how to manage my time and how to prioritize, and I use what I learned there to keep track of the tons of projects I’m involved in, both acting and producing, and to ensure that I get everything done by when it has to be done. I also enjoy working to deadlines, as that gives me a concrete way to structure my time and to know when to get something done by. When there are no deadlines to work to, I allocate time to everything I have to do so that nothing is forgotten. Yes, it might take me a long time to get to read a certain script or answer a certain email, but that’s because I’m literally inundated with messages and such every day and, not only do I have to wade through everything to figure out what is urgent and what isn't, I also have to answer the things that need my immediate attention. And then, of course, my carefully constructed schemes are always thrown out of the window whenever unexpected auditions or shoots arrive! 

You have played your fair share of zombies in your career. As a seasoned pro, what advice would you have for anyone trying to break into the zombie acting biz?

Zombies must:

A. Love their prosthetic: do not be afraid to sneeze into your prosthetic as the make-up artist will absolutely love you when they have to take your prosthetic off after 10 hours of shooting and there’s slimy, sticky sneeze-debris all over the inside;  had an inside-prosthetic sneezing attack while shooting Death Valley.

B.  Learn their lines: the zombies who didn't know the words to their theme song in Undying Love never lived it down. It went something like “we’re zoooombies, we’re zooooombies; we zom all day and we bie all night." I kid you not; find the film on Youtube and watch it!

EDITORS NOTE: Did that for you.

C. Allow others to handle their eyeballs.  I cannot count the number of times make-up and FX people have stuck their fingers in my eyes to fix my FX contact lenses. 

Let me see: One: Let Them --  before every take. Two: The Remains. Three: Curtain. Four: Agoraphobia. Five...you get the picture!

You tend to bounce around from big named pictures like Saving Mr. Banks or Neighbors, to one of my favorite indie horror movies in years Starry Eyes. Now, disregarding size of the role, do you have to alter your mindset on each shoot, or is it all just the same?

What my mindset is on a particular shoot depends very much on the type and size of the role I’m playing -- so, yup, size IS important! 


There is no way that my head will be in the same place for a few-hour no-line, just-standing-there, shoot like Neighbors, to an on-set-for-five-weeks, starring role, shoot like Reunion.  How I approach the bigger roles also depends on whether the characters I’m playing are human or not, as it’s very much easier – and takes very much less thought – to justify odd and often bloodthirsty behavior for creatures that aren't human.

I am just going to keep on trucking bouncing around your resume. You were in Percy Jackson, and I've always wondered what the feeling is on the set for big fantasy epics. I mean, it all seems silly on paper with elves and gods and what have you, just wonder how that translates to actually making the big costume epic.

Most of my scenes were all as normal as normal can be: they were in a classroom where I chatted to my students, on location at a Vancouver school, and in a museum where my students and I checked out an exhibition, in a studio just outside Vancouver. The interesting part came when I confronted Percy and suddenly found myself on top of – and then jumping off of – a 20ft high scaffolding! My Fury was all CGI, though, and I never actually got to fly around on set, or fly out of a window, covered in prosthetic with 20ft wings attached -- damn! I was going to be written into a scene in Hell with Hades, but that never panned out -- again, damn! THAT would have been interesting as there it would have been full-on “elves and gods,” so to speak!

You actually entered my radar because of the movie Die-ner (Get it?) because, if I see a title like that, there is no way I can resist it. I know you are the first one to die, but do you have any cool stories from the set? The whole thing was shot in about a week, right?

I think we shot it in just over a week, maybe 8 days. I was on set for only 5 of those days, if I remember correctly, and, although, yes, I bought it early, Zombie Rose lived to eat brains another day! My fave story from on set doesn't even concern me but, instead, has my now-producing partner, Edward Payson of An AntiHero Production, in a starring role: he was one of the random zombies that invade the diner at the end of the film and he was given an actual piece of pig’s intestine to chew on. Going “full zombie” he bit down into it...hard...and then spent the rest of the take with a mouthful of whatever the pig had eaten and tried to get rid of just before it had checked out... Can you say EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!???

You have a production company, MOnsterworks 66 (check out their facebook page here.). Tell me all about what cool stuff you're up to, what the mission statement is/what you have in the works. Basically, this is a clumsily worded forum for you to gush about what I think is the coolest thing you do.

I originally set up MO66 to be a company that connects people in order to get movies made. I have a HUGE number of industry connections, and if I hear of anyone wanting someone with a specific skill, I usually know just where to look for that skill, so I connect people, and they get stuff made. I also co-produce features, both narrative and documentary, and I usually lend my skills to areas like casting, marketing, promotions, administration and, occasionally, when on location, catering!

At the moment, here’s where we’re at with the different productions:

 Faraway, co-produced with Randal Kamradt’s Soliloquy Films, is on Amazon and showing in film festivals.

Live-in Fear, co-produced with Brandon Scullion’s Iodine Sky Produtions, is on the festival circuit and will shortly be released through Wild Eye Releasing. We recently won Best Grindhouse Feature and Best Actress, Arielle Brachfeld, at the 2014 RIP Horror Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Way Down in Chinatown, co-produced with Eric Michael Kochmer, is on Amazon Instant Video.

Something Sinister, co-produced with Christopher Dye’s DyeNamic Films, is out of post-production and we’re about to have a test screening.

Reunion, co-produced with Shawn Chou and Precious Hilton, should emerge from post during April and then will be shown to several distributors who have asked to see it.

Our Friend Jon – The Documentary and Sunday Night Slaughters, both co-produced with Edward’s An AntiHero Production, are both still shooting. 

 We’re currently looking for funding for Blood Angel (Carl Lindbergh/ANOC Productions), Happy Ending (Phil Condit/Sick Puppy Pictures), Cruel Summer and Pitbull (An AntiHero), Our Zombie Mother (Patrick Griffin/Griffin Studios), Slash and Grizzled! (Rycke Foreman/haRMFul Productions) and several more.

I am a huge Cannon Films Junkie, and ask everyone this: what makes the perfect action scene?

For me I think it’s the fluidity of an action scene that makes it great. I think my all-time favorite action sequences are the opening of Superman III, the 1983 one, and Indiana Jones’ ride in a railway car in Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom.

I really, really liked 1313 Blood Lane (The facebook page for it, naturally, can be found here.)  
Are there any plans for new episodes? I may or may not've watched A Nightmare on Elm Street with your commentary this past week. 

Ha! I hope you enjoyed Nightmare with our yapping in the background! Unfortunately, at the moment, due to our ever-increasing workloads, Barry, Edward and I don’t have any plans to record any more episodes, but, I guess, ya never know! We have many more fan commentaries that you can enjoy, though.

I hear through the grapevine you have a pretty impressive comic collection. Any standout issues you are proud to have in your possession? 

Well, I don’t know if they’re considered standout issues by anyone but myself, but the ones I love most are my Wonder Woman and Teen Titan issues drawn by Dick Giordano and George Perez!

Pretty much all my most prized comics are beat up old issues of Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane, sentiment always trumps importance!

You can follow Maria on twitter, and  facebook. Also, as you can see from the imdb page I linked, you'd have to go out of your way to not see her in something!