In the middle of shooting Stabbing, one of your actors moved to another
state, leaving no forwarding address and no phone number he could be reached at. Great story. Got any others?
Yes, in fact, I do, but first I feel I should give a slight correction on the Jack Shreck story. He did not move to Arizona, his parents did. He had been living in their basement and we all knew the move was coming and that Shreck would be moving into an apartment. I just assumed that since I had informed him a week in advance of when we’d be shooting the final battle that he would contact me at some point in between. Well…that did not happen. And we had no idea where the hell he had moved to. Minneapolis isn’t the biggest town in the nation, but it ain’t that small. So we rewrote the ending the day before shooting it. Of course, then, as the laws of irony would have it, Shreck ends up calling us the day of the shoot after we were almost entirely done. Whatcha gonna do? Kill him? Nah. He’s the only person I know who actually owns the 3-D version of “Friday the 13th Part 3” and all the equipment you need to view it.
Since our movies have no special FX or anything like that, all our problems are actor related. Because our shoots are so laid back and we never have a schedule of any kind, we frequently wait until the last second to call the person we actually want for the part, only to find out they work when we need them and then we have to spend all the night trying to find someone else. On Stabbing Me this happened twice, and weirdly enough, to characters who are married in the film (Herman’s friend Zack and Zack’s wife, Susan). Nathan Morales was supposed to play Zack, but he had to leave for school early. Then the back up we had cast honestly dropped out of the film because he wanted to hang out with one of his friends, and this was after he had already demanded that his weird foreign girlfriend be allowed to play Susan. Well, now we needed a Zack and a Susan. We found a Zack fairly easy, dipping into my list of actors I hadn’t used since high school, but we just could not find a Susan. All our girls were gone that summer (that’s why the film has almost no female parts), and we finally came to the bottom of our list, my ex-girlfriend, Crystal. Now, Crystal and I are currently on friendly terms, but at the time we never spoke and any time we’d bump into each other at a party it was a horrible scene of awkwardness. So needless to say, that was not a call I wanted to make. But one must suffer for one’s crappy films!
What would you guess was the final budget on Stabbing?
I’d say between $200 and $300. I go back and forth on whether or not I like to admit that to people. At the moment I feel good about it. But I’m also fully aware that it makes people think the movie will be total garbage. All we ever spend money on is tape stock. Sometimes we need clothes and costumes, but I’ve been making movies for so long that I have a fairly acceptable prop and costume reserve. Normally we try to make movies that revolve around what we know we already have. Stabbing Me was written around several locations we had wanted to use for a while that we knew would look cool. That’s the trick to keeping it cheap. Making it a comedy is a good idea too because the audience will forgive a lot more. Our “monster costume” would not fly for a second if the movie were supposed to be serious in any way.
How did you go about getting “I was a Teenage Frankenstein’s Roommate” and Stabbing released on Sub Rosa?
As I briefly mentioned before, the first movie Patrick Casey and I made together was “Murder Made Easy.” We made it in 1998 when we were 19, and our director of photography, whose equipment we were using for free, ended up suing us. He and our executive producer had become entangled in a heated backstage battle, which we were totally unaware of until it culminated in him quitting the project and taking our raw footage hostage. All we were left with were terrible looking VHS copies, all of which had time code on the picture. He was demanding all sorts of money that we certainly could not and would not pay him, so we just walked away. We finished the film ourselves and ended up editing it together out of the crappy VHS tapes. We thought maybe if we could get a distributor interested, maybe our DP would give in. I tried Unapix ’cause I knew they specialized in straight to video stuff, but MME is black and white and they told me they do not release b&w films. Alas. Then Sean Hall discovered Sub Rosa and I contacted Ron Bonk (founder and head honcho) and sent him a copy. He really liked the film, but by this time it was clear that our DP just wanted an insane amount of cash. The connection had been made with Sub Rosa though, and we were now determined to get something out there in the world and fast. This is part of the reason why “Frankenstein’s Roommate” is so subpar. We slapped it together about as fast as we humanly could to fill the horrible void left in our collective soul by MME. It could have been a lot better, but Sub Rosa seemed to like it enough and gave it a small VHS release. We chose Stabbing Me to be our first DVD release because it has the most intriguing title and we consider it our tightest film.
The interview continues in part three of LAIR OF THE SCHLOCK WORM>>>