Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Demonica Falls in Love with Indie Fav Anthony G. Summer

 You know my bear faithful readers I have had some minor medical issues that have plagued me over the course of the past week or so. Laying in bed , popping pain killers , and being waited on hand and foot, sheer hell I tell you. During the course of my comatose state I had the  pleasure of sitting down and chatting with none other then the FABULOUS Anthony G. Summer ( Slices Of Life), Mr. Summer is one of the many immensely talented individuals blazing the trails of the indie horror scene and is very well knowledge when it comes to genre and trash cinema. Below you can read over our little chat and see why Mr. Summer is the soon to be the future Mr. Demonica Vansant. ENJOY!!!

 Tell me a little about some of the films you saw growing up that influenced you to make films within the realm of horror? Any films that fall into the "trash" category stick out as being particularly exciting to you?

I was really obsessed with horror films growing up and honestly the trashier the better. For me a trash movie is generally odd, eccentric, or just plain weird. The plot is often controversial, offering the viewer a story told in a manner that has not been used in previous films. I would say some of my biggest influences were Frank Henenlotter, early David Cronenberg, John Waters, Kenneth Anger, Roger Corman, Gualtiero Jacopetti, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulici, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Federico Fellini and many more. I think what excited me so much about the work of these directors was perhaps their themes and visual style where so original and unique- either by design or necessity. Their work is often unsettling, or just peculiar to me- which is exciting and usually the protagonists are outsiders, anti-heroes, lovable villains, losers, or slackers- which I always identified with.

How did you get into the film business? Was It something that you always had the desire to pursue?

 I like to say it was Neil Diamond that inspired me to pursue the arts- naturally, LOL. I remember in 1976 watching him perform live on TV (from the Greek Theater) and thinking holy shit- that hair, those sequins and he is friends with Helen Reddy (Angie Baby is the creepiest song ever made) I wanted to be Neil Diamond.

But that was just one inspirational moment,. I had always loved making up stories and then drawing them out on paper, from a really young age. By the time I was in fifth grade I was already starting to experiment with 3 dimensional design and special make-up effects- the only way I knew to test my effects was to start filming them, so in 6th grade I bought a super 8 camera and started making horror movies with my classmates as victims. From that point on I have been filming. Later I got my college degree in filmmaking and then started to turn the skill set into a viable means to earn a living- which led to advertising, courtroom forensic videos, Investment bank IPO presentations government communications and a host of other businesses that you wouldn’t normally associate with media- but they had a need to visually tell stories and I was able to fill that need.

 You appear to have a genuine love for the kind of cinema that was prevalent in the grindhouse era. The Pink Snapper segment from Slices Of life seems like an ode to the early films of Frank Henelotter with gooey critters and violent metaphors. Where did the idea and concept for this segment come from? Are there any direct genre influences? Any film that can pull off a killer pussy with such atmosphere and genuine talent as you did deserves major kudos in this old girls book.

 Thank you so much, that really means a lot. I LOVE Frank Hennenlotter, I really think he is a cinematic genius, his stories have so much humor but never cut corners on the creepiness, the gore or the social commentary- he is one of my favorite filmmakers of all time. PINK SNAPPER was a story I wanted to do for many years, long before TEETH and the idea came when I was talking with a friend about how I wanted to make an outrageously themed film called PINK SNAPPER with a killer pussy parasite. At first it was kinda of a joke, but the more I thought about it, the vigilante aspects of the story began to develop and I really loved it- it was the anchor of the whole anthology and really began the process of us thinking about the entire feature film. I would say the biggest genre influences for PINK SNAPPER are BRAIN DAMAGE, SHIVERS and HANSEL & GRETEL. It was such a fun project with so many talented people involved. I think Deneen Melody, Judith Lesser, Galen Schloming all turned in fantastic performances under some very hurried and extreme conditions.

 Can you tell me a little bit about the production of Jitters? The concept sound amazing. Was it your first journey into creating a short film? How was the experience?

 JITTERS wasn’t my first short, there have been many over the years, but it was the first to sort of go back to the roots of work that I really liked as a kid. it was also the first narrative project I did with my producing partner Eric Richter. We saw that Fangoria was having short film competition for projects to be featured on their Blood Drive DVD- we saw the announcement literally 2 weeks before the deadline. So we pumped out a quick story and shot it in two days and then did post work and completed in time for the contest. We did NOT get selected, but the film did get selected for DragonCon, The New York Horror Film Festival, Shockerfest and many more. because of that project we met so many fantastic people while traveling to the festivals (including Alan Rowe Kelly) that we felt inspired and driven to start a micro-budget feature.

 I see that W.O.R.M (a segment from Slices Of Life) was also one of your earlier short film production. How did you take that core idea and shift it for Slices Of Life? What are some of the changes that where made?

 W.O.R.M was always conceived to be part of the SLICES OF LIFE anthology. When we wrote it, the intention was to for it to be part of a feature, of course we had no idea how long it would take to make the feature or how much we could spend on a feature. So W.O.R.M. was the first trial in a lot of ways- it helped to establish the budget we could spend per 30 minute short, shooting time etc. We also sent it out to festivals to see how it would be received and hoped the response would push to the finish line on the feature. W.O.R.M. was received really well and took home many awards including the Stephen King award for best horror short- so that really fueled us to continue and improve. When the final feature was put together we added some sound effects, trimmed a little and updated a couple VFX shots- but overall it is the same short that went to festivals in 2007.

 Alan Rowe Kelly is a absolute favorite of The Trash Compactor. Can you tell us a bit about how you became involved with Gallery Of Fear and your segment in the film?

 Well Alan Rowe Kelly is huge favorite of mine as well, I just love him and I’m in awe of his incredible talent. As I mentioned earlier, I met Alan at the New York Horror Film festival in 2006. Our film JITTERS was playing the festival and I had just recently seen I’LL BURY YOU TOMORROW. When I saw Alan sitting at the bar the Varick Room (a connecting venue to the Tribeca Cinema) I ran up to tell him how much I loved I’LL BURY YOU TOMORROW and invite him to the JITTERS screening. We hit off immediately and have been fast friends ever since. A year later when I was shooting W.O.R.M. I asked if he would play the webcam vamp that is the catalyst for the events that follow. When he agreed I was just so excited and feel like his scene in that segment is hands down the best part of the short. He is brilliant.

As for GALLERY OF FEAR, that was a project that Alan had been developing back in 2007 and we had been talking about it when I told him about BY HER HAND, SHE DRAWS YOU DOWNI.

BY HER HAND, SHE DRAWS YOU DOWN is a short story that I read in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Volume 13, this was the first story I had read by author Douglas Smith and it just blew me away. For me, it was hands down the best story in the book and one of the best I have read in years. So with a little online investigation, I made contact with Douglas Smith to see if he would grant me permission to adapt his story to the screen. I honestly didn’t know whether I would hear back from him, but his response was quick and extremely gracious. We both got excited and struck up deal to get the project off the ground. Naturally I wanted Alan’s opinion of the story, so I sent it along and he fell in love with it also and ask if I would like to have it be a part of the anthology GALLERY OF FEAR—of course I said YES and brought Alan on as co-producer.

In regard to casting, while I scripted and storyboarded the project, Alan lined up locations, actors, and specialty prop items. He showed the short story to Zoe and Jerry who immediately responded to the characters and wanted to be a part of the project- this was a huge coupe for me personally having been a longtime fan of both actors.

Once everything was in place, I loaded up my van with equipment and took off to the New Jersey shore for the one-week shooting schedule. Alan had arranged everything perfectly; we all stayed in summer bungalow rental, which allowed me extra time in the evenings to really work with the actors in between our full days of shooting. Jerry and Zoë both had such a great grasp of their characters and really brought pathos to their roles. Since it was the off-season, the barren boardwalks and amusements really created an eerie atmosphere that I don’t think we could have captured anywhere else. After principal photography was completed, I took the footage back to Chicago and did some pick-up green screen work, as well as some second unit photography in San Francisco the following month. We then focused on finalizing the edit, visual effects, and score.

I am so pleased with the final project and how well it has been received- We won Best Film, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Score, Best Director of Photography, Best Short at multiple festivals. http://www.byherhandmovie.com/. If you would like to get the Official Movie Companion eBook for BY HER HAND, SHE DRAWS YOU DOWN containing the original story, storyboards, interviews with the producer, director, lead actor & actress, photos from the shoot, and more- It can be ordered at Amazon for 0nly $2.99: http://tinyurl.com/3gbkz3j or even better you can pick up all of Douglas Smiths incredible stories (many e-books just $.99) at http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/DouglasSmith

Tell us all a little bit about Slices Of Life and how it came to fruition. Where did the ideas and concepts for the film stem from?

I LOVE horror anthologies and shooting it as an anthology would allow us certain freedoms that wouldn’t exist with a single story narrative. We also wanted to switch up our styles and try something a little different with each segment, as a way to sharpen our skills with different sub-genres of horror. Each segment was developed with this intent, to create three disparate stories in three varied styles, all inspired by classic low-budget horror sub-genres. We divided the stories into slices of everyday life that everyone experiences- Work Life, Home Life and Sex Life, then we built a wraparound story that would tie these stories together.

The wrap around story is called Sketcher and focuses on Mira (Kaylee Williams). She awakens in front of a seedy roadside motel with little memory of whom or where she might be. She searches for clues to her identity in the pages of three bound sketchbooks, each of which represents a different aspect of everyday life, maybe her life.

The first book is WORK LIFE and is a homage to SciFi/technology horror and zombie flicks: A lowly clerk at a nano technology firm unleashes a deadly virus at the office headquarters, giving new meaning to the term corporate zombie. It is the most comical of the three and was the first segment we shot.

The second segment is HOME LIFE: As local girls begin to disappear, a young pregnant woman is haunted by visions of evil demonic children hell bent on stealing her unborn fetus. (Starring Toya Turner and Thurston Hill)

The third segment is SEX LIFE: A young brother and sister on the run from a sexually abusive home life, take refuge in a countryside Victorian manor- only to discover the monsters hidden in this house have been looking for a new home. (Starrin Deneen Melody, Galen Schloming and Judith Lesser)

Convinced that the characters from these books are roaming around the motel, Mira's reality begins to crumble. Are these visions real or is she going insane? Desperate, Mira turns to the motel caretakers Irma and Tiny (Marv Blauvelt and Helene Alter-Dyche), only to discover the true evil bound in the flesh covered books. We spent four years total completing the entire project, one segment at a time as we had the money to pay for it. It was our goal to have the project completely paid for when it was complete- no debt and then anything we made off of it could be used for the next project. Ultimately that is exactly what we did.

The incredible score was done by Gene Hodsdon, who managed to develop a seperate theme for each segment and was with the project from beginning to end. In addition to myself and Eric Richter who was DP for the entire project- we had a crew of 3 other guys Chad Norris, Brian Raida and Paul Mackey. In addition to crewing, most of the visual effects where done by Chad Norris and Paul Mackey. So it was really 6 guys and camera plugging along on the weekends that got the film made. http://chadnorris.net/home/ http://www.soundclick.com/falseimagination Check out the soundtrack here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcCT9oa3kRw&feature=list_related&playnext=1&list=SPD6BB811C6CB87952 . For scripting I really wanted to some variation in styles, so Eric Richter did the screenplay for WORM and the Sketcher. Alan Rowe Kelly did the screenplay for Amber Alert and I did the PINK SNAPPER screenplay. I think it added some needed diversity to the stories by have them scripted this way.

 The special effects in Slices of life where amazing. Even the digital effects in the "Amber Alert " segment where very impressive and had a disturbing and off putting tone. How where the effects handled on this film? I know you have supervised effects on several of your productions, did you have a helping hand in creating any of the bloodshed?

Ahh- Thank you so much, we have gotten a lot of grief for the digital effects. But actually all the effects are a combination of practical and digital- many of the digital effects people are not even aware of, because they were just fixing little things like a boom pole, exposed light, crew member or even changing the motel sign to a different name- very subtle stuff. I would say that 95% of the gore was done with practical old-school special make-up effects and I did all of those except the first Pink Snapper monster you see in the film, which was done by the amazing Jeremy Selenfriend of Monster In My Closet (http://www.monsterinmycloset.com/). The flying snapper and the tail I made and then we enhanced them with digital effects. All the visual effects were handled by Chad Norris, Paul Mackey and myself. We just split up the work and did the best we could using Adobe After Effects- We certainly learned a great deal from the hurdles we had with III SLICES OF LIFE. Overall I am really happy with both the special effects and visual effects, considering how often I see shoddy work in motion pictures that had about 5,000 times our budget (no joke) Our entire budget for SLICES including production, post, sound, marketing and final deliverables was about the cost of a used chevy compact car.

 Do you have any desire to revisit the world of Slices Of Life / If so what are some of the themes and concepts you'd like to explore next?

Not in the immediate future, because we have several projects currently in the works and one in production. With that being said, I love the short film format and would absolutely revisit SLICES OF LIFE. I think the general ideas original leave it open for a lot of interpretations of what is a horrifying “life story”. I think themes I would like to explore are our secret life, our social life, our child life—there are many options and it could easily translate into a web series as well with multiple directors and themes.

 Looking forward what are some things you have lined up as a director? What are some dream projects that you would love to see developed?

There are a couple of other short story adaptations I am working on getting the rights and one of them I would like to expand to a feature. We have already started our second feature, which we hope to have principal photography done in the spring. it is a very different beast than III SLICES OF LIFE- so I am excited for everyone to see it. We also have a sleazy dance/musical horror film that we is currently be scripted and I hope to start in 2013- if the world hasn’t ended. Imagine Showgirls meets demons….no that is a dream project. LOL.

 Who are some of you favorite " sleaze " or " obscure directors that influenced you to make films ? Slices Of Life seemed at times to invoke that early Cronenberg aura of inner demons manifesting themselves as body horror , any influence ?

Absolutely- we drew from many places for III SLICES OF LIFE and I think early Cronenberg and Frank Henenlotter are the most obvious. I love those two directors so much and of course other directors I admire are Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Tinto Brass, Roger Corman, Wes Craven, David Cronenberg, Joe D'Amato, Jörg Buttgereit, David E. Durston, Stuart Gordon, Brian Yuzna, Baz Luhrmann, Ovidio G. Assonitis, Dwain Esper, Abel Ferrara, Peter Greenaway, Atom Egyon, William Lustig, Michael and Roberta Findlay, Jess Franco, Bruce LaBruce, Ted V. Mikels, Ron Ormond, Jean Rollin, George A. Romero, Daryush Shokof, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Lindsay Shonteff, Paul Bartel, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Juan Piquer Simón, Jack Smith, Ray Dennis Steckler, John Waters, Paul Morrissey, David Lynch, Brian DePalma, Philip Ridley, Doris Wishman, Lucio Fulci, Samuel Fuller, Jean Rollin, Robert Altman, Ken Russell, William Girdler, Jack Hill, Tobe Hooper, Lloyd Kaufman, José Ramón Larraz, Don Coscarelli, José Mojica Marins, Paul Naschy, Harry Kümel, Umberto Lenzi, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Danny Steinmann, Sean S. Cunningham, Bruno Mattei, Radley Metzger, Curt McDowell, George & Mike Kuchar, Kenneth Anger, Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury, Pete Walker, Michele Soavi, Romano Scavolini, Lamberto Bava, Alex Cox, Terry Gilliam, Todd Haynes, Takashi Miike, Maya Deren, Danny Boyle, Darren Aronofsky and of course Alan Rowe Kelly, Bart Mastronardi, Susan Adriensen, Cory J. Udler, The Souska sisters and many more.


 What where some of the last " great " underground or sleaze cinema films you recall seeing in the past 10 years ?


 Any directors currently working in the industry both independent and mainstream that you believe are working hard to keep that underground edge in the limelight?

 Well I think the obvious choices are Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Jason Eisener and several other large budget directors- I really love the work Ti West and Paul Solet have been producing , but I also like to find the more obscure projects that you hear about through word of mouth more than through large press junkets. I think Simon Rumley’s films, particularly Red, White and Blue are brilliant. I also adore the work of Alan Rowe Kelly and Bart Mastronardi.

 How difficult is it in these times of financial crisis to get an indie film financed and distributed ?

Its really tough, but we are used to working with ZERO money- so I guess in some ways it is something we are used to dealing with. So far we have been completely self-financed and that may change on future project, but you really have to look at the numbers and what the sales projections should be. So far our intention was to make back what we spent and use that for the next project- and that has happened. If someone else finances the film, they will get the money from the film- so we will be in the same place looking for investors. So we opted to self-finance and so far it has worked out.

 It has become a trend in the past several years to remake horror films. What is your take on this trend ? What are some films you believe could use a good ole reboot?

I actually complain a lot about the remakes, but I also see almost all of them- so I guess the studios theory is working…we still pay to see them. I am all for new interpretations of movies, I just wish that more original product was being put out by the studios. I can honestly say that I don’t think very many of the remakes have had the charm of the originals and that could just be my age, but I think something is lost when you try to polish up these scrappy independent films and make them accesible to the broadest audience. Originals I love are I Spit on Your Grave, Mothers Day, Nightmare on Elm Street (horrendously remade), Friday the 13th, Last House on the Left, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, and My Bloody Valentine- I didn’t hate all these remakes, but none of them captured my excitement like the originals (I did hate the Friday the 13th remake/reboot and I hated the Nightmare on Elm Street reboot). I enjoyed Zombies Halloween, but it wasn’t Halloween- it lost the things I admired about the original Halloween. I just watched Don’t be Afraid of the Dark and I was really excited about it, because the original had so many areas that could be improved upon just by making it a theatrical film- but I was disappointed.

 As a filmmaker how do you feel about the industry moving into the digital realm?

After film school I was a film snob for many years- but the reality is it was completely cost prohibitive for low budget filmmakers to shoot film and make prints that the digital age has opened up many doors for storytellers to express themselves. We would have never been able self-finance feature using film…So I love it. Plus the new equipment gives a person much greater latitude for image quality then ever before- so I am very happy with digital.

 When working on the fringe outside of the studio system , does the MPAA tend to give you a lot of shit? Do you believe it is more difficult for indie directors as opposed to mainstream Hollywood productions?

Since our films are not released theatrically we don’t deal with the MPAA at all- being unrated is fine with me and I think the MPAA is a ridiculous organization to have in the 21st century. I don’t need a conservative group of people dictating what my moral compass should be- and that is exactly what they do…it is a sad statement on our population that we govern morality- and the MPAA is just one of the many forms of censorship in the US.

Luckily, other chains of distribution have made it possible to remove them from the equation- so we do.

And Of course since this is The Trash Compactor can you please tell us what your favorite SLEAZE moment is from any film in any genre?

The abortion in HANGER, The Newborn Porn in SERBIAN FILM, all the feeding scenes in FEED, the blow job in BRAIN DAMAGE, the header fuck n HEADER, the ending of FAT GIRL, piao wire cuts off foot in AUDITION, Baby removal in INSIDE, clit removal in ANTICHRIST, shit eating in SALO and PINK FLAMINGOES, Edith Massey in FEMALE TROUBLE and countless scenes in DESPERATE LIVING. Of course we cant the sex scene in NEKROMANTIK.

Thank You SO MUCH for taking the time to chat with this simple country virgin Mr. Summer. If any of you have not yet had the chance to see Anthony's Slices Of Life , get off your ass and grab a copy ASAP , it is one of the best genre efforts of recent memory.

What do you say, babies ?

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