Can you tell me a little bit about “Mommy”? ^ “Mommy” is a pretty successful picture, an unofficial sequel to “The Bad Seed”. It was very popular, and then we did a second one. We’ve got a 4th picture we’re putting together which is basically an anthology of my short films called “Shades of Noir,” so it will be 4 DVD’s in the box set. “Mommy” is a tenth anniversary special. It came out in 1995. “Mommy’s Day” was made a couple years later; these shorts have been done since. The longest one is actually a documentary on Mickey Spillane, the famous mystery writer, creator of Mike Hammer…there are three shorts that are noir stories, and it ends with this documentary on a noir writer.
Max and Lloyd announced the release of this 4 DVD box set (call it the best of Max Collins, if you will) at their panel discussion on July 23rd, 2004 at the San Diego Comic Con during their indie filmmaking panel. Max also participated in two other panels; one about movie tie-ins, and another about non-superhero comics. These are several areas Max is well versed in.
I asked Max about Road to Perdition. ^ That graphic novel came out in …probably… 1998. It was done with an artist named Richard Piers Rayner. It wasn’t a big success. It sold alright. But we got Hollywood interested early on.
Max, however, did not get to write the screenplay of the film “Road to Perdition” (screw Hollywood, man) but he did get to give notes and was kept in the loop throughout.
And what did he think of the film? ^ I thought they did a great job. They were very faithful really. I couldn’t ask for… I mean… I thought it was a great movie. It had a great cast and a great director.
Do you think the cast represented accurately the characters that you had created? ^ I do, I do. Some people felt that Tom Hanks was miscast, but I thought he was dead-on, because it’s a father and son story. The gangster part of it, anybody can play, but the father aspect of it takes a certain kind of actor. The whole thing had to come off tough and tender, so the relationship between him and the son was key. And he did all the action stuff and the tough guy stuff great. It had Paul Newman and all these people…during it I would be getting phone calls, I live in Iowa, and I’d be getting calls from my agent, and it started to sound like a practical joke. He calls me and he says, “Steven Spielberg is buying the picture”, and then he calls and says, “Tom Hanks is starring in it,” and the next call is “Paul Newman is set to co-star” and then it’s Jude Law, and then Sam Mendes, who was winning all this stuff for “American Beauty”…. It was just amazing, and it lived up to it.
Do you feel that because of the success of “Road to Perdition” that you now have an outlet in Hollywood for other projects? ^ For a long time, before “Road to Perdition”, I tried to operate on a couple different levels. I primarily am a writer of detective and mystery fiction. I am also a comic book writer. Lots of comics. I work in more mediums than a lot of writers do. And with movies what I try to do is have projects on a bunch of different monetary levels. Like, I’ll have scripts that there’s no way I could produce being circulated in Hollywood. There’s interest in a lot of projects because of “Road to Perdition”, but I don’t sit back and wait for that to take off. I do indies. I’ve done pictures for half a million, and I’ve done pictures for ten thousand. I want to stay in the game. I don’t have time to sit back and wait for the next success. That’s crazy. Right now we have a couple indie projects we’re going to do. We actually have an art grant for one. Not everybody at the Troma booth can say that. Another way to get money!
“Mommy” and “Mommy’s Day” are not typical Troma films by any means. “Mommy” was actually a prime time movie of the week on Lifetime. Which I don’t think is true of many Troma projects. Troma bought the company we had distribution from, so Lloyd inherited the two Mommies. Lloyd and I had an instant relationship from the company. We hit it off, and I thought, if I have pictures with Troma, why not do something really funky that would work well with them? The thing they’re really good at is trying to get the most out of a DVD. They really cram a lot of extra features on. They were one of the first to really do that. So I came up with the idea to do the whole picture in “real time.” Which is a robbery that turns into a hostage crisis. We shot it on security cameras and other sorts of found footage. Sort of inspired by “Blair Witch” with the notion of found footage. Because we had so many security cameras going I had all this footage, so I started thinking: why don’t we do alternate angles on the DVD? Wouldn’t that be cool to have that movie where when you press a different button, you get a different angle? And it basically required a second edit from beginning to end, but we had enough coverage to do that. So it became the first, and to my knowledge, only 100% multi-angled mainstream feature to do that. I’ve seen porn do it.
Haven’t we all, Max, haven’t we all…