||[Dec. 7th, 2013|08:23 pm]
I don't think I've mentioned this on LJ, but the next film I'm tentatively directing and co-producing is Killer Rack, written and co-produced by Paul McGinnis and co-produced by Rod Durick. Killer Rack won Best Original Screenplay at Buffalo Screams Horror Film Festival last year (which was the festival's last year...). The competition was judged by Toronto's Joseph O'Brien, and I actually didn't read it myself until this past spring, either during or after the Dry Bones shoot. Paul acted in Bones (coming to DVD in 2014), and I remember him and Michael O'Hear looking at me like I'd just peed on the Sistine Chapel when I agreed on the spot to produce Sam Qualiana's The Legend of Six Fingers (Coming to DVD in 2014...). I basically agreed to produce Six Fingers without having read a single page of the screenplay because 1) Sam said he was going to star, direct, shoot and edit the film himself, so I knew he could do it for very little money; and 2) I knew I could raise that very little money. Killer Rack is another story, in more ways than one: neither Paul nor Michael could shoot or edit the film, so there was no way they were making a professional looking feature with special effects for pennies (Six Fingers is a found footage film, so looking professional wasn't a concern). This is one of the things I bring to the table as a producer of micro-budget films: I have a good idea how long is necessary to shoot them and how much money they will cost to make, even at rock bottom prices (Rock Bottom may be the sequel to Killer Rack).|
Anyway, I told Paul to send me the script and I loved it. I laughed out loud several times. Paul had written a previous script called Mall Grizzly which was also funny, but it failed to win Best Original Screenplay at Buffalo Screams because it wasn't a screenplay, it was a play. I liked it enough to give Paul a critique, and was pleased to see he applied 95% of what I taught him about formatting, structure, scene length etc. to Killer Rack. Few things are more irritating to a screenwriter than reading a screenplay by someone who hasn't even taken the time to do the slightest bit of research on how a screenplay should look and function. So Killer Rack was an easy read, meaning the screenwriter, Paul, did not put up any barriers between the screenplay and the reader, but it was also a good read (and I want to go on record now, on December 7th, 2013, that the Slime City references were in the script before I attached myself to it). I laughed harder reading Killer Rack than I can remember laughing at any script since Life of Brian back in the day. The story is about Betty, a flat chested woman whose insecurity in her relationship and at her job leads her to get breast enhancement surgery, What she doesn't know is that her surgeon, Dr. Thulu, worships the Elder Gods, and the implants she gives Betty are living creatures... and they are hungry. Despite the somewhat selacious subject matter, there is a sweet love story at the core which reminds me of The Little Shop of Horrors musical more than anything else, and some hilarious set pieces. I saw very clearly that this could be a classic comedy cult film if handled properly, and told Paul I had to direct it. I told him upfront that I would not co-direct it (my experience is that there is only ever one true director on a project), but I would make him a co-producer so he would have some say in the project beyond the script. I hammered out an agreement, he made a couple of script changes I requested, and we're now in development on the project.
Unbeknownst to me, my buddy Rod Durick had hoped to direct the film, or co-direct it with Paul. Paul did the proper thing and went to Rod before shaking my hand, and Rod gave him his blessing to let me direct it. I only found this out when I had my preliminary meeting with Paul. Since Rod is one of my best friends in Buffalo, it would have been wrong to shut him out, and since he doesn't want to do special make-up effects anymore, and he's a jack of all trades, it made sense to make him a co-producer too. Confession: I have never once had the experience - the luxury - of having a full time producer on set for any of the films I've directed, someone who could take care of regular bullshit and sudden crises so I could direct; I've always had to do double-triple-quadruple duty, and I trust Rod to use common sense and practical knowledge to handle things, so this should be a dream scenario for me. Everything happens for a reason.
So we have a script, a writer, a director, three producers, and a production year (2014). What's next? Kelly Forbes (veteran graphic designer for FANGORIA, artist of one of the Johnny Gruesome online comics) is designing a teaser poster for us, Dave Setlik, graphic designer for Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival, is doing some concept drawings for me, and Debbie Rochon has committed to play Dr. Thulu. We're scheduled to have our first production meeting next week, then we're doing preliminary casting, then we're fundraising. Production depends on what happens with Craig Sheffer's TV/movie production of my novella Carnage Road, because I have to be available for that no matter what, but I enjoy shooting in the summer, and there is a hot tub scene. So we'll see - we'll make it when the time is right. In the meantime, feel free to "like" Killer Rack Movie on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KillerRack . We need your support.