Wednesday, June 13, 2007

One of us...has fallen.

Hi all,

This is extremely hard for me, but I had to express how I feel now and not try to dredge up some bullshit emotion later in hopes I'll do him justice. One of my closest friends, Daniel Robert Epstein, died early this morning at the age of 31. Details will come eventually, but its not about the details; it's about the man.

Daniel and I first met and worked together at MetroTV, a cable channel out of NYC that did crap-ass cable lifestyle dreck. I was a segment producer and Dan was a writer, and in sitting across each other, we found a mutual love for Billy Friedkin, Mike Patton and the smell of each others was like love at first sniff. We also had history with Troma, where he was an intern on TROMEO & JULIET & I came in later for TERROR FIRMER, so we were basically geeky brudda's from another mudda. Since then we became fast friends and creative confidants, always able to throw a quote or trivia to each other and instantly know the movie or song or band or filmmaker. He was great like that, and to everyone who know the big guy, a lovable comedian. There is NOONE who could withstand his infectious laugh and not laugh themselves. He was also the guy who got me my bootleg VHS of BATTLE ROYALE, a film that changed my life.

When Bri and I left NYC for "greener pastures", Dan and his girlfriend, now wife, were so nice to come to see us off, and ever since I've been out in LA, Dan and I were constantly talking, thanks to the advent of Instant Messaging. We would spout off topics, get opinions on ideas, check out each others works and just generally geek out and make each other laugh from from across the nation.

As I was toiling away here in (he)L.A., Dan was quickly becoming a name in the Internets for his amazingly causal, insightful and funny interviews with a slew of filmmakers, writers, actors and musicians for websites like UGO, IGN and of course his virtual home, SuicideGirls. If you get a chance, go HERE to check out his stellar interview work. Seriously, so good they could be bound in a book. His writing style was one that fans could relate to but intelligent enough to attract some major talent to talk with. Recently (the last time I spoke to Dan on the phone that just hit me) he was bouncing off the walls like Sugarcult because he was about to interview Friedkin, and I was flipping out with him. That was huge for Dan, meeting his heroes, and he did that a lot...the geek-out he displayed on my I.M. over meeting Luc Besson was hilarious, but I would have done the same thing (and did a week later when I also met him at the ANGEL-A screening here).

That's Dan. He loved his work, because it wasnt work to was surrounding himself in the mediums he loved and just telling the rest of the world about it too.

When I got WRONG TURN 2, Dan and I would talk all the time, going over ideas, casting choices, shots, people to work with...he was always a great person to talk to when it came to anything, really. He always had an opinion and was never afraid to say it, which I loved, but it was always constructive. But he always encouraged me to keep going, even when times were tough out here. He believed in me from the first day we met, and I did the same. Now I didn't talk to him to get in good with a leading viral journalist; it was just how things worked out. But when I got the film and they discussed bringing media to the set, Dan was the first person I asked to come. I just wanted him to see some of the magic, and knew not many people would enjoy this as much as I was. When we met again in the Sutton House, it was such a wonderful reunion...we watched dailies and he again belted out that infectious laugh when he saw some of the gore gags. When he was on the set and I felt better about my own work, seeing a friendly face enjoying the entrail decor made me all the more confident that I was making a film the fans were going to enjoy. Later on, Dan conducted the first interview I ever did, which you can see HERE. I wish there was more of him in there, since our conversation was far-reaching and very hilarious, but clearly Dan is enough of a professional to let the subject do the talking....even though he was just as much a voice as I was. But regardless, I know both of us were proud of that interview.

In January I came home to NY and got the chance to show Dan the opening scene, the one he's known about for a year since it was the one I used to pitch my ideas for the film. He had seen the storyboards, read the notes and my approach, so this was really the result of a year of blood, sweat and tears. To see his eyes light up, to see him and his wife jump and scream, was so gratifying to me. Dan is a HUGE horror nut but also honest in his assessment, so I was hoping it would pass muster with the Man. When it finished, he turned to me and his eyes were HUGE. "WOW, Joe, that was FUCKING AMAZING!" I think again, both of us were proud.

It's now been a few hours since Dan's passing and Im still in shock from this major loss not only to the genre media world, but to my own life. Dan was proof positive that good people DO work in the industry, and smart people CAN make a difference. Dan did amazing work with his articles and interviews, and his forthcoming Troma comic is sure to impress. It's just sad that he wont be able to enjoy that acclaim. Nor will I ever get to show him the final version of WRONG TURN 2, a film he put his own ass on the line for telling people that it might not suck. Nor will we ever get to talk, laugh, hang out, geek out, or I.M. ever again. We were looking forward to celebrating together at the Fangoria Weekend of Horror in Jersey, my "Homecoming" appearance, and to just enjoy each other's company again, and that is now gone.

Whats truly creepy is that after I heard the news this morning, I went on I.M., even just to see if maybe the news was false, or to see if anyone else who knew Dan was on....

All I found was his I.M. icon. It was on, and idle. It still is now....a virtual reminder of a great man. I wrote to him, told him I'll miss him and love him, knowing it wont get to anyone other than the person who has to turn off the cpu. I almost hope it never gets turned off. Once it does, then to me, he will truly be gone to me. Right now I just stare at it....hoping he'll write back. As of this writing, Dan has been "idle" for exactly 9 hours....But I will just have to come to terms with the fact that a truly gifted voice is silenced forever.

Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the Epstein family for their loss.

Love you Dan. See you someday soon and we'll geek out forever.



Blogger Unknown said...

My sincere condolences to Daniel's family and friends.

His writing and insite were exemplary, and something to aspire to. I'm super bummed I never got to meet him.


5:06 PM  

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