Comic-Con Week: Day #6-ComicConaRama
Shot with iPhone, click to enlarge.
I have to admit, this is tough.
The past few weeks have been nothing short of pure insanity. I'm not complaining in the least, but since the last posting I did on the eve of the CHILLERAMA premiere on Friday the 24th & the KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM panel at Comic-Con on Saturday the 25th, I literally haven't had any time to sit down and write more than short bursts (usually 140 characters, thanks Twitter!).
Plus…its been hard to really take in all that's transpired since then and write them down. Every day on my To Do list I have "WRITE BLOG", which i sadly cut and paste to the next day…then the next…then the next. It took a flight to Germany on the first stop of our "Chillerama European Tour" with Green to finally settle in and catch up.
So my apologies for being a little late (NOTE: ALMOST 4 WEEKS, LYNCH. JEEZ) but with it still somewhat fresh in my mind, I wanted to finally flip on the Flux Capacitor and take us back, starting with Friday as Im racing to the Gaslamp Theater to meet the CHILLERAMA guys for our first big preview screening of our Anthology…let's go back, shall we? Great! Let's go! 88 Miles Per Hour, Doc!
After braving traffic to move 6 blocks through the barrage of cosplayers and gift-bag toting comic-con fans, I finally make it to the Gaslamp, a movie theater a few blocks away from the Con. Tonight was poised to be our first public screening of our little passion project that we bled, sweat and tore our way to completion-all this while I'm still working on 3 other things AND attempt to be a good Husband and Dad, mind you-and we were all very excited and more than a little nervous. CHILLERAMA was made with a lot of love and quite a few favors, and Image Entertainment (the fantastic distribution company that believed in the project from the start) was looking at the Comic-Con crowd as the perfect place to test the film, so they set up this free screening for people who would likely appreciate it. Good strategy, right?
When I get there, the other directors (Adam, Adam & Tim) had already arrived and doing press so I jumped right in and we were off to the media races, doing 5 interviews in 20 minutes, trying to all get a word in edgewise. Bunch 'a chatterboxes, the lot of us. Then it was a marathon signing of our John Hancocks on the VERY cool Limited edition posters that the great Phil Roberts-who did Rifkin's killer DETROIT ROCK CITY poster which I was a huge fan of-had lovingly illustrated, using the 4 of us representing each of our shorts. All of us were blown away with the design, and to make things uber-cooler, the MPAA rejected the design…due to MY image; seems like you can get away with severed fingers and Phallic chainsaws on posters but a cartoon featuring me with my eyeball hanging out of my skull, a ripped cheek and blue spooge (i.e. Demon Sement) emanating from my crotch is not safe for public consumption. All fine, since this was just a limited edition poster and the official poster is on a much grander scale (also done by Phil, bringing back the good ole days of illustrated posters like ANIMAL HOUSE & AMERICAN GRAFITTI).
So, with an hour and a half before we start and fans lining up outside, we were anxiously excited to unveil this sick little beast on unassuming eyes. Yet…WHERE WAS THE MOVIE?? Cory the producer, phone firmly affixed to his ear, was informing us that the Blu Ray screener of the latest cut was stuck in traffic.
But, thankfully we had a backup, but it was an even rougher cut, and after playing it in the theater, we were all dismayed to see most of the FX and sound were VERY rough (even more incomplete than what we were expecting) so our high hopes were lowering by the minute. In a scenario ripped from say BROADCAST NEWS, all 4 of us are coming up with Plan B's, Plan C's and D's and F's and T's as the clock was ticking and our other Producer/FX guru Jason Miller was furiously weaving and sliding through massive gridlock on the 5, desperately struggling to get to the theater in time. The Image folks and the PR peeps, keeping a cool, collective position as we all tear what little hair we have left out, suggested that we do our Q&A BEFORE the screening since they already had a "hard out" with CHILLERAMA since they were also premiering Rob Hall's Splatacular LAID TO REST 2, and we couldn't push his spot out. And hey, at least we had the rough cut right? We would just have to be explicit and say HOW rough it was. Very….VERY rough.
So, 7:30 arrived and the doors opened, a good crowd of horror fans started filling seats and sweat couldn't come out of enough pores as Cory & Mark Ward from Image kept getting up-to-the-minute updates from Jason…"He's 20 away….No he's 35….wait…He's 5. Shit! We lost him!" Nothing like a little extra stress to fill your big night huh? But the show MUST go on.
Photo courtesy of Arrow In The Head
Finally, it's 7:45 and we HAD to start. Steve "Uncle Creepy" Barton from DreadCentral.com was our moderator and introduced us and you couldn't get a more nerve-racked, disparaged quartet shuffle out with the best smiles we could muster and sit in on a very strange Q&A where Steve threw out questions on the genesis of the project, influences, what have you. Thankfully, Steve is a great personality and knows how to keep a crowd enthused, since each of us would be looking off to the sidelines, begging for an update. At one point, a good 10 minutes into the Q&A, we hear from the right side of the theater in a hardly hushed tone: "It's here!" and then immediacy followed by "NO…ITS NOT!". If you watch closely in any pics or video, you can see each of us SQUIRMING in our seats, praying it would arrive.
…and thankfully it did. WHEW! Jason had shoved his way through the Gaslamp District somehow and raced up to the Projection booth, and with that, away we went with CHILLERAMA's first public screening.
Now, truth be told, it was a hard screening for me. This was the first time I was seeing it with many of the visual FX that producer Jason Miller and his Skull Tree VFX (alongside some favors from Stacy Davidson who directed SWEATSHOP) had implemented and honestly, they looked GREAT. I knew they were partially finished, but just the opening scene in the graveyard (Spoiler!) had a completely new look to it since we shot it all on green screen, so it was a nice surprise to see it work with the crowd. So far so good….
All three of the other shorts; WADZILLA, WEREBEARS & ANNE FRANK, played really well to the crowd, despite the unfinished elements (score, mix, VFX, coloring, etc). It just showed how strong the film is and everyone was sucked into the world of the Kaufman Drive In.
But then, slowly, disaster struck (at least to me). The other shorts didn't have as many of these, but technical flubs began to sprinkle in, each making me go "Oooh!" "Arrgh" from the sidelines. Shots were missing or in the wrong spot; title cards were not in their right place, shots that were freeze frames were now the beginning of shots when the DP is zooming into the shot for focus, etc. This wasn't intentional of course; someone who was conforming the film at the breakneck pace we had been going to make this insane deadline might have slipped a bit, but I can't say it was easy to watch. But it wasn't all doom and gloom: There was even a moment where he film goes out of sync….and the audience LOVED it. Happy Accidents, huh?
Since we designed this "Preview" to be able to truly test it with a crowd, one that would at least appreciate the fun vibe we were going for, it while the response was worlds better than we expected for a rough cut, all four of the filmmakers agreed to go back into the edit for one last pass to real tighten up the moments we all felt weren't hitting and of course clean up any mistakes or unfinished business. Oh, and I kept in the out of sync shot; it KILLS now! Gotta love that.
Outside the crowd was buzzing and we were very thankful for the positive responses, but also relieved it was over. To me for this weekend, it was "One down, one to go". But KoB felt so far away, even if it was only 12 hours till Hall H. No matter, I was gonna try to blow off some steam and enjoy the rest of the night, which included going to a few parties which were way too hip and douchey for my taste; seriously, none of the people here at these swanky soirees would be caught DEAD in Comic-Con…where did they come from? But I did get to meet Roddy Piper, shake his hand while he crushed my fingers momentarily, which did bring a smile to my face. Then it was back to the hotel for SOME sleep before the big day...
Thanks to everyone who came out on their busy Comic-Con schedules and join in a little movie magic with us! It was such a helpful screening and the film is better now for it! Watch for more details on when CHILLERAMA will invade your home...or even home town!
Here's some of the reactions to CHILLERAMA from the preview screening. Hopefully some more warm, squishy regards to come (pun intended).
Killer Film Review
Shock Till You Drop Review
Arrow In The Head coverage
Interview with the 4 directors HERE.
Tomorrow: THE KNIGHTS INVADE HALL H!