Sunday, February 22, 2015


There are no real words to describe how just plain fucking cool Nadine is. I think this'll be the third or fourth time I say, in print, that she is one of the last bastions of punk rock as fuck film making, and as such brings out my crass teen writing voice when introducing and talking to her. You just get the feeling of being in a room that smells like stale beer, sitting on a couch that's been broken since the seventies, and bullshitting around while Surf Nazis blares on the television.

She's also super hard to keep track of, so keep an eye out on the Blue Girl Productions website here.

Alright, enough gushing, let's get to the conversation. I chose not to edit some things I said I would because, well, it makes the conversation more fun if I don't. 

Alright intros are always tricky, so gimme a quick one and I'll work a question around it then we'll go from there.

Getting interviewed by anyone is always fucking awesome! Thank you for showing an interest in my cheesy films.

Look, I'm the guy who has made people forceably watch Rock N Roll Nightmare numerous times. There's no way I can't be drawn to cheesy films. Especially from Canada!


I actually found out about you in the most roundabout way. First I saw Samantha Mack at a Gwarbecue, then I saw the No Pets Allowed trailer, then I realized I followed the both of you on twitter. And then it finally all clicked in that maybe I had something here.

That's totally rad dude. I love it when random strangers find my shit.

But yeah, gimme a run down of what you've put out there. I mentioned No Pets Allowed, but that is your fourth flick. Tell the readers what you do. Just imagine that question in the voice of the dad in the Twisted Sister videos


Holy Fuck I just pictured that!

I am just your average Joe who one day picked up a camera to enter an amateur zombie film contest in my home city. I decided that's a blast making films and never looked back. Now still as a DIY, I have traveled to many places with my DIY films. I write, direct, produce, edit, sound, make-up and do basically everything in them. 

I mean, if you do catering too, I like to call that the micro-budget EGOT

I don't cater.Just snackadoos and in No Pets Allowed my Mom was the caterer for my cast.

Hey. Snacks are important, man.

Snacks ROCK!

I will straight up murder a man that bad mouths snacks.

No shit dude. I'm a snacky kinda gal. Especially NACHOS!

See now I kind of want to end the interview now and go get some nachos, but journalistic integrity and all.

Yes. Let's keep it "Pro." 


I want Nachos now

One of us is going to eat nachos at the end of this interview. And I live close to a 7-11.

Mmmmm....nasty nacho cheese!

Now I feel like it's cheating to call your films punk rock as fuck as the sound track to No Pets Allowed is literally that, but you definitely got that edge there that honestly reminds me a lot of mid-nineties Troma stuff.

OH DUDE! I had Terror in Toronto call my film a "Punk Rock ClusterFuck" and "If John Waters had a baby with Troma" "A Tromatic Film." I get the coolest,trashiest comments and I love it

Oh man, so that totally has to be what you're going for, right? Basically, this is me putting on the James Lipton hat and asking what inspires you? What are your goals?

What actually inspires me is horror and really bad jokes...I actually love in poor taste jokes and bodies and blood everywhere. Evil Dead inspires me and my goal is to make the cheesiest, scary, punk rock horror feature film.

Now we talking Evil Dead 1 inspiration, Evil Dead 2 inspiration, or Evil Dead feel so bad about yourself remake inspiration?

I have THREE Evil Dead tattoos, so the old ones. I love the originals. The remake-- I looked at it as a whole new entity and enjoyed it, NOT my beloved Evil Dead though.

I loved the remake, and liked the plan of doing two remake universe movies, then a crossover with the original. But now Ash is getting a TV show, so I'm down.

NO SHIT right? I so can't wait. Bruce Campbell is the shit; my cheesy inspiration! I'm a 70's/80's horror whore. C.H.U.D., Critters, Hellraiser, Friday the 13th, Halloween. 

I am obsessed with Friday the 13th.

Who the fuck isn't???

I really hope that the new one hits its release date this year. Because it will be my birthday, and the 13th Friday the 13th in theaters. 


Fuck yeah!Also coming out with a new game!

I saw that! And as a man who spent -- well I will not tell you how much -- on the San Diego Comic Con Exclusive 8-Bit Jason action figure, I am double hyped.

Man, we are so off topic.

Totally we are

So you are straight up DIY. How'd you learn all your tricks? Because No Pets Allowed, like I told you before the interview, looks straight up like pro Giallo work.

I learned on my own.Still learning'

Alright so, you're learning all these makeup effects on your own. What resources do you turn to? I'm genuinely curious about DIY special effects how-to guides.

I actually went to make-up school for a diploma.SO i did my own effects for everything EXCEPT No Pets Allowed; I got to hire a pro, and my SPFX girl won and award for my film in San Diego at FANtastic Horror Film Festival.

See this is what I get for not researching! I had no idea you went to make-up school!

I have many secrets under my sleeve..MWAHAHA!

Alright, so now I am curious. I used to go to school at a college that was near the Tom Savini school, and every Halloween the students'd come over and do makeup for I think class credit. That is literally all I know about it. What's make-up school even like? Like, break down an average course load and what not.

I did a full time course for 6 months. Every day for 6 hours. Learning technique is RAD if you already have an artist's eye. It was a great fucking course. Plus, it was a fucking blast making the bloodiest stuff. I graduated with honours.


See I went to art school for screenwriting. Four year degree in the heart of Center City Philadelphia. All the major classes were great, but then you'd have to take like regular college classes. And man, an art school science class is a thing to behold.

Sweet baby SATAN..you have more experience than I do!

I am a Cannon films junkie, so I gotta ask, what makes the perfect action scene?

When the actors have it in their heart to get ready to die for the film; the PASSION!

Freddy versus Jason: who's better?

Freddy versus Jason? No fucking contest!

I am going to assume you answered correctly, with Jason.

Um fuck yeah, because you answered the same thing earlier! 


Alright alright last question: unlimited budget or the ability to have a cast made up of any actor living or dead: which do you choose?

Bruce Campbell in a creature feature!


This is my DREAM!

You have a damn good dream!

After that part, we kind of just yell at each other a little bit more. Easily one of my favorite interviews I've done. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015


I am legitimately shocked that Brandon did not punch me in the face what with how much I nagged at him to get this interview done. Well, I mean, he couldn't physically do it, but whatever the internet equivalent is. 

Brandon's an actor/director who's been carving quite a little niche path, usually with partner in crime Devanny Pinn, in the independent genre scene. His current feature, in post-production right now, House of Manson has got a ton of buzz, and you can watch the trailer for it here. 

It'd be almost impossible to keep track of everything he's doing, so I'd suggest following him on twitter. And also giving him money by buying his films.

You could rent them too, but come on now. 

You played The Question in a fan film by Chris Notarile, (who made those Power Girl shorts I absolutely adore.) I've always been fascinated by that superhero fan film community. What was that experience like? What all does the making of something like that entail?

Those were A LONG time ago now.  I believe in early 2007.  It was surreal because I had a complete mask over my entire face, and vision was quite limited, which of course made the action sequence in the second segment pretty...challengingto say the least.  It's been so long now I wish I could tell you how we pulled that off.  Most of it was done very guerilla-style, including the shot of The Question dropping a briefcase bomb off in a populated area, which I believe was the Path Train stop in Jersey City, just across the water from New York City.  YOU'D THINK people would be more mindful about mysterious masked men dropping briefcases there and walking away.  You'd think...

Speaking of blasts from the past, you were on Sesame Street! You have no idea how jealous I am of this. Like, I don't even know how to phrase a question here. Tell me all about Sesame Street!

That's another old one.  It was on a greenscreen stage.  My head was composited onto a letter of the alphabet.  I never saw the segment (and I think the IMDb listing is incorrectly dated), but I believe I was the letter P.  I have to admit that I really only loaded the IMDb credit for sheer comic effect and as a discussion piece.

I used to say things such as “you wouldn't believe Elmo's crack-cocaine habit!”, but then I realized I could easily be slapped with a libel suit from Elmo's reps.

I am actually super stoked to see House of Manson. What drew you to the Manson story? 

It was actually Devanny Pinn's idea.  Of course I was familiar with the story, but I'm not a, dare I say it,  Manson “fan boy,” by any means.  That being said, I DO enjoy stories that explore psychology, so THAT is what drew me to it -- not murder or carnage.  How did this 5'2” ex-con get all of these younger people to follow him?  Young people NOW still “follow” him in their own way.  THAT is the interesting part, to me at least.

How does a project come into existence for you? What is step one for a Brandon Slagle feature? 

Well, there is no easy answer to that.  At this point, the subject matter HAS to be something marketable; it just has to.  When you're trying to work towards higher levels in film, the hard, solid truth is that you have to make a product -- a product that someone will want to distribute, market, and sell.  Luckily we've been able to come up with takes on concepts that have done just that, for better or worse.  

I won't tell you which is better and which is worse by the way.

I first came aware of you, as I'm sure a lot of people did, by just how cool the artwork looked for The Black Dahlia Haunting. How important to low budget film making is marketing art?

It's perhaps the most important part of it, above all else  -- especially if your film doesn't have household names in it.  If you don't have the marquee name on the top of the box, you have to have artwork that will visually GRAB the consumer.

Speaking of budget, 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. 

If you're making a low-budget film, something that will come in handy is if you write around things you have access to – actors, locations, crew, effects, etc.  That's what we did with The Black Dahlia Haunting.  We had access to the location we used for the “hospital” (which was a post house in Hollywood – I won't tell you which one), the cast and crew's homes/apartments, and our friend Britt Griffith from Ghost Hunters.  These elements really set the film up to be a relatively easy shoot.

Something a little more directly in-line with the question though, could become the stuff of legends.  We were shooting pickups for Dead Sea - and we had to do the best we could with what we had because the creature was never shipped to us, which is why there is so little of it in the film and is another story entirely.  So we bought a swimming pool to do insert shots of the small lampreys, which had been built by our FX artist Adrian Marcato, and a larger monster Adrian created last-minute once we were certain our ACTUAL creature wasn't making it to UPS.  Our lights had been stolen a couple of months before, so we had to create our own flood light to place over the pool since most of the shots needed the night time aesthetic. 

We needed something to anchor the lights, which were worklights --  the type you find on the side of the road plugged into generators during highway construction --  above the pool, something strong to keep them from falling in and electrocuting us.

We exhausted all of our options before Britt Griffith, who was a producer on this film,  came up with a novel idea -- weigh our makeshift “crane," built with 2x4's, down with a COUCH.

Yes.  A couch.  It became known lovingly as “the safety couch” in the stories that followed.

I DO NOT RECOMMEND DOING THIS UNLESS YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO BY THE WAY.  The thing is though – you see last-minute fixes such of this in big budget films too.

This space is reserved solely for you to tell pirates to fuck off. I'll come up with a question around it in post. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: I was too lazy to come up with a question, so just imagine Brandon decided to cut a wrestling promo mid-interview. Seriously though, Camp Counseling's official stance is fuck piracy.

If you notice food disappearing from your refrigerator – it's not your brother, your drunken step-father, or your roommate's significant other.  It's me.  Eye for an eye.

With House of Manson in post, I gotta ask: what's next? I know there is no way in hell you don't have something else in the pipelines.

I'd love to tell you but, as of this writing at least, there isn't anything certain.  I was hired to write a script based on a treatment someone else wrote, but that's it at this point.  There have been two films that didn't work out, both “bigger budget, " because the deal wasn't right for me.  It's nothing bad – this sort of thing happens all the time, but no one speaks about it.  Who knows, by the time anyone reads this, a deal could have been made on something else...

I'll leave it at that. 

I know you were close with Wayne Static. He is actually part of one of a very small handful of truly great high school memories, so any stories about him would be super cool here. His passing really kicked me in the gut this year.

In 1999 or so, he taught me what stop-leak was.  I had a blown radiator and I remember him maneuvering his hair under the hood of my car and schooling me about the miracles of stop-leak.  I hadn't spoken to him in years, since I stopped doing music,  but I can honestly say that to this day, I still remember him as one of the most thoughtful, generous people I've had the pleasure of knowing.

I ask everyone this, as I am a huge Cannon films junkie: what makes the perfect action scene?

Cannon films were a bit part of my formative years of course.  I'd say that the choreography needs a dose of kinetic energy in it, a dose of tension -- of course the hero usually wins, but you have to make the audience doubt it -- but most of all you have to be invested in the characters -- on BOTH sides.  Otherwise who do you root for?  You need a bad guy you either completely love or hate and the good guy needs to be endearing; it goes a long way.  Back in the day, Jean-Claude Van Damme pulled this off marvelously.  It may have been his sort of “fish out of water” innocence that he had,  but looking back you can certainly see why he was a star when he was.

Finally: Is there anything you want to ask me?

Albert Pyun's CYBORG – the “workprint” that was released via Pyun a few years ago versus the theatrical cut which was edited by JCVD:discuss...

I told you this when you first sent in your answers, but it bears repeating: god damn you. 


Deep Breath.

I ain't gonna go into detail on the actual quality of the shot choice and editing, as this totally couldn't be the final version Pyun wanted to turn in, or the studio had every right to steal it from him. Then again, just hearing his soundtrack choices should have been enough. Like, have you ever seen Giorgio Morder's Metropolis? You know how the soundtrack is just so crazy to work? 

The workprint version's soundtrack is the direct opposite. 

Now, no one can say that the story of Cyborg was deep and enriching, but somehow the workprint's arbitrary change to the thrust of the story makes it dumber.  For those who haven't seen the movie,  basically it's a post-apocalyptic wasteland and the protagonists are looking for a cure to the plague that is ravaging the land. In the workprint, the story is about the protagonists trying to bring back technology and electricity, like their some kinda Mad Max Ben Franklins or some ol' bullshit.  Thing is, "technology" is never really explained, and Fender prays to Satan like, all the goddamn time in it, which actually makes the crucifixion scene from the theatrical cut have a little more context. Also the Cyborg has a robot voice in it!

I really, really hate the workprint. The assault on the colony is completely missing, and it's just a narrative mess, and it makes me sad as Albert Pyun is one of my favorite guys. Watching it felt very much like the first time you find out adults are fallible.

Sunday, February 8, 2015


John Stimpson is a cat I had to track down, because I feel like there are so many things right on the outskirts of the mainstream that people just don't respect. I'll admit, it was ninety percent because I am a sucker for Sexting in Suburbia, but I just wanted to pick the brain of someone who brings us those guilty pleasure Lifetime flicks you all know you're gonna watch.

He is actually a Harvard educated cat based out in Boston, and if you need keep track of what he's been up to, you should totally keep your eyes on his personal website.

Well, first of all, a little introduction'd be in order. I'm not gonna lie, like ninety percent of why I had to track you down is you made Sexting in Suburbia, which is one of the two Lifetime originals I absolute had to buy on DVD.

You're a super star!  Thank you.  I am so glad you liked it.

So, I've gotta ask what it's like behind the scenes of those flicks? Give me the inside track on the Lifetime originals machine

We have a really fantastic team here in central Massachusetts.  We've collectively done about 10 movies in the last few years, and many of them have sold to Lifetime.  They've been a really good customer.  Have you watched my TEDx talk?

ED NOTE: Here's a link to said talk.

I haven't seen it, no, because I am the actual worst journalist. Can you give me and the readers the gist of it?

We have been making small sub-million dollar indie films here in Massachusetts for about five years now.  I did a bigger film, The Legend of Lucy Keyes starring Julie Delpy and Justin Theroux back in 2005 and after a successful festival tour, we were able to get a sales company to rep us.  They sold it all over the world, but we didn't get a theatrical release.  We did however sell the film to Lifetime, and it ran for about 8 years.  But it still hasn't broken even, and we may never be in the black on that picture.  What I learned from that experience was to actually make money with independent films you need to keep the budget as low as possible and the concepts sellable to a worldwide TV audience. Theatrical releases are the holy grail, but they are so rare for a film made for $1 million or less.  We spent too much money on Lucy Keyes.  I'm in this business to make money, so that was lesson one.

Yeah, that seems to be the tie that binds the entire indie film community together.

We've also found that thrillers and Christmas movies are pretty evergreen.  They sell pretty easily. Romantic comedies not so much.  We've been really successful with the "ripped from the headlines" style of thriller.  Like Sexting.

I've always said, half-jokingly, that superhero movies killed the rom com.

Unfortunately it's true.  Mt two favorite movies this summer were Chef and Boyhood.  Both paradigm breakers, but great movies.  I'm frankly pretty sick of the monster/super hero tent pole movies the studios are cranking out just to satisfy big, foreign, and particularly Chinese audiences.  I think audiences are looking for more though.  Certainly the binge watchable series like True Detective, Ray Donovan, and Orange is the New Black are changing what people are craving in a new way.  As people stay home more and more and don't go to the theater, non-commercial television is booming!

I do agree with you on the shift in television changing the way we accept media. I recently blew through the entire season of Bojack Horseman, and that was a phenomenal ride that could not be done in any form. For the record? My two favorite flicks this year were Birdman and Nightcrawler. But that's beside the point. I was wondering, how does a project start for you guys?

My projects all start differently.  I can't say there is one route to a green light.  Sometimes I come up with an idea, write the script, raise the money and just make the sucker. Other times we have worked with a distribution company to determine what they think they can sell.  I'll pitch ideas, and they'll give us scripts to consider.  That's how Sexting came about.  I got a script from our distribution company, MarVista Entertainment.  It was by a writer from Massachusetts, but it focused too much on the girl who died and her story.  The problem was she died. We decided it had to be more about the Mom and her quest to find out what happened to her daughter. So I ended up re-writing the script with Marcy Holland.

I can't even imagine that movie with the teen girl dying.

Funny story about Sexting and shooting the scene where she hangs herself.  The cast and crew were all just fantastic on that project.  We really bonded, and I think it stemmed from the fact that we knew we had something special.  But the day we shot the hanging, we all laughed and said, "Oh, boy! It's suicide day!"  We had to treat it lightly or it would have been too heavy.  Plus, the way we staged it, we left most of it up to the audiences imagination which was a good choice, I think.

Yeah, I feel like you have to kind of have a gallows humor approach to that stuff. It's why, I've noticed, people who work on horror films exclusively are just the perkiest bunch.

So, Macy Holland who wrote Sexting with me, wrote a senior thesis script at BU which turned into the film A Fall From Grace, which Lifetime re-named Last Hours in Suburbia.  It was a beautiful story about a high school girl who kills her best friend in a drunk driving accident (ripped from the headlines...) The ghost of the girl who dies then comes back to help Grace figure out what really happened the night of the accident.  It was a wonderful script and we were thrilled to be able to make another film with Marcy and bring her thesis project to life.

I actually remember watching Last Hours in Suburbia and thinking not only was it a really great story, but the setting alone gave it the feel of a contemporary ghost story that could live on in urban legend. What makes Massachusetts special to you? I love hearing about the film scenes in each city/state.

I've got serious roots here.  I grew up here, my family is here, I met my wife here.  It's home.  I spent 5 years in LA when I got out of college, but knew I would never stay.  I feel like the luckiest guy in the world doing what I do here in central Massachusetts.  I live in a little town called Princeton, with only 3,500 people and one blinking light in the center of town.  I'm only an hour from Boston so I can get into town easily enough, but out here feels like another world.  The tax credit here in our state has been a huge draw and lots of projects are coming to town.  Just recently, American Hustle, The Equalizer, The Judge, Ted 2, and Black Mass, just to name a few of the big films, shot here.  It's been great because the crew base has gotten really deep and very experienced.  To my chagrin, however, I'm competing with theses big projects for personnel.  But we've given a lot of folks a first job in this business and watched them go on to bigger projects and actually launch a career.

I think it's gotta be a bittersweet, almost paternal feeling when your crew quote unquote graduates to bigger projects. , speaking of projects, what's in the pipes? What's next for John Stimpson?

Yes, it's bitter sweet, but very rewarding to see our little chicks leave the nest and learn to fly.  Very much like parenting. I've got a few bigger projects in various stages of development.  Next spring, I'm hoping we can pull the trigger on Crashing Camelot, a story about a streetwise kid who befriends John F. Kennedy Jr. in 1975 just as he is about to lose his secret service protection.  I've also got a story we are developing around the Cocoanut Grove fire here in Boston in 1942.

JFK Jr. is an interesting topic to me because not only is his life fascinating, but he is forever ingrained because, see, I went to Catholic School and the first big project you had to do, in like the seventh grade, was a huge research paper on famous living Catholics. So I am actually super psyched for Crashing Camelot

Yeah, that's a cool story, and it's true.  It's based on a book called, Forever Young, by William Noonan. Great characters in a really cool time period, the mid-seventies. 

I'll have to check that book out. Alright so, I'm a Cannon Film junkie, unabashedly so, and I ask everyone this, no matter who they are: what makes the perfect action scene?

Building the suspense behind the action.  By itself action is just action.

If there was one pre-existing film you wish you'd made, what would it be?

The Sting and The Princess Bride. Tie.

Finally: you have the ability to have any actor, alive or dead, in their prime, in your flick. Which do you choose?

Oh, boy... that's hard.  There are so many.  I can definitely say Jimmy Stewart.  Gene Wilder was magical... I'd love to work with Al Pacino, but I'm sure he would intimidate the shit out of me.  Bill Murray would be a dream today... And then the ladies... I'm fascinated by Charlize Theron.  I think Vera Farmiga is stunning, and I had the pleasure of meeting Lee Remick, so elegant.  I could go on and on. 

Honestly just spending ten seconds with Bill Murray'd be a dream, but I couldn't argue with any of those choices. You can keep an eye on John with the aforementioned link to his personal site, and also follow him on twitter.