Lets try this again, shall we? I posted this once, but the HTML code was all over the place on it. I know how to edit that but then after a while Blogger had issues with my editing and would error out on me. I decided to just delete the post instead of it looking bad. I think I know what I did wrong, so I'm hoping it will work out this time.
Terry Kimmel was one of the first people to start following my little blog. You may know him better as Cattleworks. We have become friends over the years and our talks have often carried over into email. Back in 2007 Terry wanted me to review a movie that he was in. It was a very quick appearance, but it was cool to see him in it all the same. I had been toying with the idea of expanding my blog into interviews. I had never done anything like that before, so wasn't sure where to start. After reviewing Prison Of The Psychotic Damned, I asked Terry if I could cut my interviewing teeth on him, and to my surprise, he agreed. We did the interview, and since then I have done three others. It has been a long time since I have done one though, so I guess it is only fitting that another interview with Terry marks my return to interviewing.
Around a year ago, Terry sent another movie to me called The Final Night And Day. In this movie Terry got to be in more than just a quick scene. I thought it would be fun to interview him again, and of course he agreed again. If you read the first interview, you probably have figured out that he can be a bit long winded at times. We won't hold that against him though, will we? This one is even longer I believe, but there is some good information in there, so please make your way through it when you have the time. Also, before I get into this interview, Terry has agreed to give one DVD of The Final Night And Day away to someone out there. If you would like the DVD, all you have to do is leave a comment here. I will pick someone at random, so check back in say....a week to see if you are the lucky person! And now...Terry Kimmel.
Heather Santrous: So Mr. Kimmel, we meet again. It has been over four years since we did your other interview. I don't know about you, but it sure doesn't feel like it has been that long already. What have you been up to over the years?
Terry Kimmel: Well, I'm assuming you mean what have I been doing in general, but I'll focus on the few films I've been involved with (in some capacity or another) in the Buffalo and Western New York area. Otherwise, I've just been working my full-time day job on a web press-- VERY exciting..!
The summer after I did Prison Of The Psychotic Damned, David Williams, who produced and wrote POTPD, started work on another film, but this time he produced, wrote and also directed it, a horror film called FrightWorld.
HS: I remember FrightWorld. David sent it to me for review, which I was honored that he picked me for that. I have to admit that I don't remember a lot about the movie now though. I do recall the comment that you left about working on the movie. What was it you helped with there?
TK: That was an interesting experience for me because it was totally different from Prison, particularly due to my circumstances. With Prison, I took one of my weeks of vacation so I could be a part of the 10 day shoot (and also "get paid for it" (via my vacation pay) because I wasn't actually paid for working on the film).
On POTPD, I was one of two production assistants for like 7-8 days, and then I had to go back to work.
But, the next summer, with FrightWorld, it was going to be a 2 week shooting schedule, and the first week of shooting I already had scheduled my vacation, and my wife and I were going to be out of town.
But I told David I'd try to help out during the second week when we came back home, although, that meant I would also be back to work, so I'd be coming to the film set only after work (when I could).
So, I felt kinda on the outside looking in with this second film. I really had no idea what the story was about and I really didn't know the actors that came from out of town because I primarily interacted with the crew. But it was still fun, just more surreal, compared to POTPD.
For instance, FrightWorld was shot in a warehouse where an actual indoor haunted house amusement park was set up, called (not so coincidentally), Frightworld. So, David was again utilizing a cool location that already existed for his story.
So all the sets in the film actually existed already.
Anyway, I remember one afternoon I showed up, some crew guys were building this wall for a "fake room." In the script, a couple of the female characters were supposed to be running away from this hulking dude carrying this huge chainsaw.
As outlined in the script, the women run into this room, and as they're hiding in there, suddenly one young woman gets cut in half as the chainsaw suddenly carves through the wall behind her. So, we were building a wall to be actually cut through by a chainsaw, and we had to make this fake wall match up to the existing wall of an existing room.
The next night, I couldn't come back, but I was back the night after THAT. Well, I show up, and in another location of Frightworld is a cemetery, and they were shooting this dummy that was supposed to be the chainsaw guy, but one of the girls was able to get the upper hand, so she was applying his own chainsaw to his face. So they were filming that in various angles and the make-up guys were pumping blood, etc.
So, that was fun watching that.
Now, the previous day (when I couldn't be there) they had shot the scene with the fake wall. Well, after the cemetery scene, they sent me to get something for the next scene, a prop I think, and they said it should be by the fake wall. So, I went over there, and when I saw the fake wall, it was covered in blood and had this long, horizontal chainsaw cut in the middle of the wall. Also, there was the lower half of a female dummy which had been cut in two.
I had to laugh at that.
But for the most part, I was just helping out with crew stuff behind the scenes. I remember pumping fake blood for one scene-- that was a first for me!
And I think there were a couple times I was holding a microphone for sound.
So, nothing exciting, just helping out doing whatever and helping make a movie!
HS: It sounds like you had fun even if you were there only a short time. It is fun to hear stories about what happens behind the scenes. At least it is to me. Now, I seem to recall you telling me about a movie called Banshee. What can you tell us about that one?
TK: Well, Banshee was a monster movie that Emil Novak was working on. Emil's a big fan of Hammer horror films and this was an old fashioned monster movie. There's a main monster in it, but also a couple other creatures as well, and I play one of the "supporting creatures." I had no lines but I ate people and wore monster make-up.
HS: Wait. You "ate" people? I have to ask, what do people taste like? I've always heard we taste like chicken.
TK: Ha! Oh, man! I wish!
In the one scene I remember, and it was a pretty impressive one-- a pretty neat tableau that Emil had arranged with a lot of elements going on it -- the creatures are supposed to be eating this guy.
Well, the "flesh" that was used on the corpse was just for looks. It was some plastic or synthetic stuff that looked like skin and it had fake blood all over it.
Well, the cameras are rolling and we had to look like we were eating this guy, but the shot kind of went on for a while, so as an actor you just have to sell the idea of eating flesh, even if it's plastic, so I'm chewing on this stuff and it was pretty disgusting.
And we had to do a few takes of it. The longer shot was an establishing shot and there were so many details in the scene that's why it took so long to film a take. Well, it may not be all that long in reality, but when you're eating plastic flesh it's sort of an eternity.
But even during the close-ups, you want to look interesting, so I take a bite of plastic skin, chew on it and it looks halfway convincing, but the camera's still rolling, so you have to take ANOTHER bite, but you don't actually want to swallow plastic, so you're trying to negotiate all this mushy plastic and caro syrup around in your mouth and move it into your cheeks and out of the way for another mouthful of delightful tasting plastic flesh..!
Some time after that, in another movie, I had a scene where I was eating flesh again, but they actually used real meat (some kind of cold cuts, I think, with fake blood on top of it), and let me tell you, you appreciate the difference!
It's actually been a while since I worked on Banshee and its current status is still technically "in post production," I think. Well, hang on. Okay, I just checked out IMDb.com, and Banshee is no longer listed on the site, I don't think. So, I guess it's current status is "on hold." But, it was also shot at the Buffalo Central Terminal.
Actually, the Terminal has grown to be a fairly busy location for a number of uses since Prison Of The Psychotic Damned was filmed there, which is the movie you first interviewed me about.
David Williams, who wrote and produced POTPD, went on to film a few more films there (like FrightWorld-- although just it's opening segment), Emil did Banshee there, there's been a Halloween party/fundraiser that's been going on there a few times, and last Halloween (2010) they actually filmed a special live version of Ghost Hunters there for the SyFy Channel.
HS: I watched some of that Ghost Hunters Live event, but not all of it. I couldn't stay up real late and didn't have the DVR room to record it. Did they find anything that you know of?
TK: You know, I have no clue! I tried watching it myself, but I got bored after a while, to be honest. I mean, I sometimes watch the actual Ghost Hunters show, but only for a few minutes, and it's usually because I stumble across it when I'm channel surfing. I mean, I don't even know what day it's on.
But in the regular show, it's all edited down to just the interesting stuff.
But the Halloween event was a live show and it went on for a few hours.
So, I don't know if anything of a paranormal nature was officially encountered that night.
I thought it was cool that Allison Scagliotti, one of the actresses from the SyFy show Warehouse 13, was there! Okay, I don't watch that show either, but she plays Claudia (I just looked it up), and I did see her walking around during the Ghost Hunters special, and I thought she was cute, so celebrity and cuteness works for me!
I don't know how it translated to a TV audience, but after a while, the look of those ghost hunting shows, any of them, all have "that look": shot at night with the infrared on. It looks neat but I don't know how scary it is after a while, especially if nothing happens.
I only bring this up because I'm wondering if people who watched that special got bored, if nothing did happen.
Which is too bad. I mean, I suppose that's the reality of a ghost hunt, it's like a stake out or surveillance, so you never know when something 'interesting" will happen, if ever.
But, if you actually were IN the Terminal, wandering around the floors at night with just a flashlight, and the wind can be heard blowing through the broken windows or the huge empty concourse... man, that's still creepy, whether a paranormal event occurs or not. I still remember that from the POTPD shoot.
So, I'm wondering how much of that spooky atmosphere translates to an audience safe at home eating all their Halloween candy... unless some homicidal specter makes a sudden appearance, that is, and scares the bejeezus out of the Roto-rooter guys.
Oh, and if you want to check out some other events going on at the Terminal this year, here's a link (they have something going on for Dyngus Day, too!):
But, I digress, as usual!
Oh, but there was a point I was getting to-- I heard second-hand that they no longer allow people to the top of the Terminal anymore where there's this balcony outside. When we did Banshee, we did a scene where me and another actress, who goes by the name of Golde (pronounced "Goldie"), who played the OTHER "supporting creature," attacked this guy out on this balcony. But I don't know if they allow anyone anymore to go up there.
Anyway, Emil's currently hard at work working on his latest film, Decayed, which is a variation on the zombie genre. It's an anthology film in that it tells a number of short stories but they all revolve around this same outbreak. Decayed should be out later this year, probably this summer.
Unfortunately, I'm not in Decayed at all-- between working on The Final Night And Day last year and being busy with my "regular life," I just couldn't get my schedule in synch with Decayed's shooting schedule.
But, once Emil's done with Decayed, I think he's going to be focusing on finally wrapping up a few other projects he's either started or had a hand in, that, for one reason or another, just never got finished.
That includes Something Dark (where I briefly played an extra in one segment-- it's also a horror anthology, but more in the traditional way, where they're all different stories) and Emil's first film, the historical sci-fi fantasy Tesla The Accumulator, which had a variety of unique circumstances behind-the-scenes that held up its completion, but I think Emil's finally ready to move along on that project when he gets time to, and that will also see the light of day. Tesla was my introduction to local filmmaking, so it'll be a very cool thing when that finally gets finished.
From what I understand, Banshee is pretty much all shot, I think, although, there may have been one or two additional scenes or shots that Emil needed. Unfortunately, one shot may require the main actress who plays the title monster, and unfortunately, she's moved out of state, so that may require a little extra effort to pull that off. But I really don't know the specifics of what's left, so I guess I'm just starting rumors here, sorry!
But, having said all that, it's still a little ways off before we see a completed Banshee film.
By the way, Something Dark was a project co-produced and co-written by Buffalo actor Michael O'Hear, who also directed the one segment I worked on in that movie.
O'Hear also played Bill in The Final Night And Day (or FND for short), and he's become a ubiquitous presence in several Buffalo films, such as: DefTone Pictures Studios' previous film, Gore; Jay Mager's Born To Die; and Sam Qualiana's Snow Shark: Ancient Snow Beast, currently in production. I had no involvement at all with any of those films, but I know a bunch of people who have worked on them.
HS: What did you work on in Something Dark?
TK: Well, I'm actually hesitant to give too many specifics because if you ever see the film, what I did (or at least participated in) pretty much gives away the ending to that particular segment. But, I was one of several extras in the climax of the one story featuring Jennifer Bihl, who I didn't know prior to the shoot but who has appeared in a few other locally made films, including two short films directed by Jay Mager (The Pigman and Born To Die) and more prominently, Greg Lamberson's Slime City Massacre. Well, I STILL don't really know her personally, but I now know OF her as a local actress working in the local film community and she's pretty good.
I also worked on the crew for a local comedy pilot someone put together, and the main actor in that was Richard Satterwhite who played Officer Marshal Jones in FND.
I also helped out as part of the crew on a romantic comedy that was written, produced and directed by DonnaMarie Vaughan called Henry's Future. That had its premiere last January, 2010.
Henry's Future has been re-edited since then. It originally ran a solid 2 hours, but Donna wanted to enter it into the film festival circuit and everybody told her that if that was the case, it was strongly suggested she knock off 30 minutes. So, over the year, she did exactly that. Working with her editor, they cut a bunch out and also added some footage for story continuity, and it's much shorter now. And, for her efforts, Henry's Future had its festival premiere at the Boston International Film Festival on April 17! That's pretty cool! I'm proud to be a part of Henry's Future because Donna really had no experience directing or producing a film, her main experience was as a screenwriter and a produced playwright, but she is a tenacious individual! So, her getting this film completed and then accepted into this festival is awesome!
That's about it... that I can remember.
HS: Sounds like you have been pretty busy then. Your latest project, The Final Night And Day, was released to DVD not all that long ago. Thanks, by the way, for letting me watch and review it. How did you get involved with that movie?
TK: Oh, jeez, Heather-- thank YOU for taking the time to watch it and offer some feedback!
Well, in a nutshell (uh, sorta), at the end of 2009, I heard about two other local filmmakers, Jay Mager and Adam Steigert. It's always cool and weird hearing about other filmmakers in the Buffalo/Western New York (WNY) area, because when you get used to working with one group of filmmakers, you start to assume that's everybody, because how many local filmmakers can there be? And then, that presumption blows up in your face as you learn not only are there other filmmakers out there but they've actually been very busy as well.
So, I heard about Jay and Adam and they had some film event going on in a local village called Angola (which is south of Buffalo) at some place called The Taste of the Midway in January 2010.
I had never met either guy, but I first heard about Jay at this other small festival earlier in that year, a cool trade show thing called Rotten Jack's Creep Show, and Jay had a table pushing his short film called The Pigman and I had bought one of the DVD's, but I didn't actually meet Jay at the time.
By the way, Rotten Jack's Creep Show is a cool and, unfortunately, sad side story, in that there used to be a little store in Buffalo that sold all sorts of horror related stuff, and the store was called Rotten Jack's Creep Shack. The guy who ran the store then started the Creep Show and it featured local horror filmmakers and had guests and had bands playing and a costume show. It first was held at a local nightclub called Infinity and then expanded into a larger venue the next year at another nightclub called the Town Ballroom.
And, that was it. It was a really great event, but I guess the finances or whatever for either the festival or the store weren't enough, because there never was a third festival-- although the few times I happened to see Tom, the Creep Shack owner and festival founder, he talked about plans for a third show in the works, he was just trying to negotiate the basic scheduling and venue details-- and then, last summer, the store closed! It was a sudden development in one way, considering how successful the Creep Shows were -- among the guests at the final show were actress Debbie Rochon, Rochester filmmaker and madman Chris Seaver of Low Budget Pictures, horror icon Gunnar Hansen, Jimmyo and Monique Burril of Chainsaw Sally, Pittsburgh filmmakers Amy Lynn Best and Mike Watt, Rue Morgue magazine founder and filmmaker Rod Gudino, and actress/filmmaker (and friend), Melantha Blackthorne -- it was amazing! So, I don't know the specifics about why Rotten Jack closed. I can only assume it was all related to finances and the economy. But, all I know is, the store's gone and no more festivals! Boo and boo hoo!
Sorry for that digression, but part of me feels compelled to mention all these detours into the local horror culture-- and again, this is only based on what I know. I'm sure there are some more hardcore horror fans in the area that could give more info and shed light on other things going around that I probably have no clue about.
Which essentially means, there's a lot of nifty and surprising things going on in the Buffalo area related to horror filmmaking and filmmaking in general, and to outsiders, whether people from out of town or even Buffalonians who have no interest in horror or filmmaking, they may not even be aware of this.
Anyway, to sort of get back on track here -- maybe (heh heh!) -- at the end of 2009, I happen to be at this Buffalo bar called Diablo's because another guy I know, Kyle Kaczmarczyk, a local comic book artist and writer (and who I first met at the first Rotten Jack Creep Show!), was having an evening at the bar to promote his independently produced comic books (his company's called Zombie Ink Comics) and he was selling the latest issue he had done. Kyle also designed the titles for Jay's latest film, Born To Die, and Jay was at Diablo's that night as well, so I finally met him, too. Jay reminds me about this mega film event coming up in January at the Taste of the Midway and says I should go, and I say I will, I will!
Well, I did.
I live north of Buffalo, so getting to Angola was like an hour long drive, maybe longer. Now, every summer, we have the Erie County Fair that lasts for a week and that's in Hamburg, which is near Angola, and I kept wondering if The Taste of the Midway was actually located on some fairground or something, because of its name. So, I wasn't sure what to expect. Well, Angola is on the moon but I get there, and it turns out The Taste is a little diner in "downtown" Angola, which is essentially just the main street running through the village and that's where the library, a movie theater and some other things are located. So, I walk into the place, and there's a small counter with seats and further in there's some tables and just a little further back, but really, not THAT far back, because, again, this is a little place, is the "screening room."
In fact, what separated the "screening room" from the rest of the restaurant was a large curtain suspended across the room on like, a clothesline, a very straightforward, utilitarian set-up.
Originally, I was a little taken aback because this seemed very "grassroots," which was my spontaneous euphemism for "primitive" or, well, even "amateurish," and I'm very, very ashamed to say that. But that was my honest first reaction.
The curtain was a dark color, I think it may have even had a pattern of some sort on it, but it wasn't quite opaque enough to completely block out the faint illumination of the screening going on behind it. I was there for the 7:00 pm showing, which was the second screening because the afternoon showing had sold out. In fact, I was worried that I was late, which I was according to the clock (what else is new? Being late is the story of my life!), but the first screening started late so they were still finishing up. Cool!
After the initial shock of seeing the set-up, I then changed my opinion of the set-up and completely embraced it, because it was another example of someone who wanted to do something-- in this case, have a screening room-- and they did what it took to get it done.
Before I was married in '98, I was involved with the local small professional theater community for about a decade and there are a lot of those theaters in Buffalo, too, which surprises people who, again, are either from out of town or who aren't interested in live theater. And, I've seen some theater productions where they've been put on in the back of a bar, like Nietzsche's on Allen St. The point being: for some reason, the Buffalo area somehow nurtures creative types, whether intentionally or in spite of itself -- personally, I think it's a strange good news/bad news dynamic going on here that's bizarrely successful. So, anyway, I took this whole creation of a tiny screening room in the same spirit.
So, finally, the second screening starts, and the full bill was a triple feature: Jay Mager's The Pigman (a short subject), Adam Steigert's Gore (a feature length film), and the premiere of a cross-over event specifically filmed to be screened at The Taste of the Midway, a short film called Pigman VS. Gore.
Wow! I would've kicked myself if I hadn't gotten off my ass and down to this place to catch this major event!
Even if all the films SUCKED! Just the fact that this was all going on was impressive to me!
Well, fortunately, I didn't think the films sucked, and after the screening, I got to meet and talk to Adam.
It was then I heard a little more about DefTone Pictures Studios and how Adam and his group have been busy for the last few years making horror films out of Hamburg. Adam and his creative partner, Stephanie Wlosinski (now Stephanie Andrews because she got married to Kyle Andrews last summer. If you're trying to keep a scorecard, Steph also plays Kendra in FND and Kyle is the "tall drink of water" who played the convict, Mo), who both went to Hamburg High School and who both had a love for horror films as well. So they formed DefTone and the first film they made was a zombie comedy called Bitez. They followed that up with Gore, a film about a hunchbacked serial killer called Gore, and had actually screened it at the Hamburg Palace movie theater and made some money back. That impressed me and seeing their whole finished film impressed me, and it started my brain turning in general because I always wondered about the concept of creating an original full-length film but trying to do it in a similar way that local live theater companies financed their own productions-- through having performances in a theater-- and this just gave me more positive food for thought in that direction.
Meanwhile, I told Adam about my involvement with Emil's films and some others, both behind and in front of the camera, so he invited me to audition for their next big production, The Final Night And Day, a zombie epic. He already told me that they hoped to close off the main street in Angola to film a huge mob of zombies. I'm like, okay... but sure, if my schedule worked out for the shooting dates in the summer I'd be glad to audition for a small role.
And then, fatefully, I was e-mailed an early draft of the FND script in March. I think my audition was in April and we were filming my scenes in May.
So, in a "nutshell", hahaha...
HS: What was your impression of the early draft?
TK: Let me see if I can remember..!
Okay, the first thing I DO remember about the script was the opening scene. In the first script I got, the action starts in the prison transport bus and the bus is inoperable for some reason as a thunderstorm rages outside.
In fact, let me dig up the first bit of screen description from that script...
"Lightning streaks across the night sky as thunder aggressively follows. Pouring rain consumes the landscape. A bus is parked along the side of the road. A voice is heard in the distance through the hard rain..."
In the actual movie, it begins with the prison transport bus already disabled, but in the first draft I received, it started a little before that. The bus has mysteriously lost power, the weather's raging outside, no one's cell phone works, etc. Eventually, the bus starts up again and they proceed on. But, soon they encounter something in the road and the bus becomes disabled trying to avoid it.
So, my very FIRST impression was this: man, how are they gonna do all this weather, this pouring rain, thunder and lightening, and all at night, too? It just sounded like a real pain-in-the-ass to create-- if you were going to recreate the scene as described in the script.
Well, welcome to micro-budgeted films and short shooting schedules!
Beyond that, I thought it was interesting how they had all these characters in it and these situations, although, perhaps it had a bit of a recycled feel to it, like, you can see different film references. For instance, I think when I read the scene set at the school where the convicts are essentially "fed" to the zombies, it seemed a little like a Mad Max: Thunderdome scenario, and I guess that may have been an even more overt reference to something in The Walking Dead graphic novels, but I hadn't read that series beyond the first volume of the series (I know, I know! I suck!), so that was something I sort of heard about later.
The script had a goofy charm about it, what with a young woman fighting off a sleazy rapist and then plowing into a zombie horde armed with her grandpappy's sword. Elements like that were neat, but after reading the whole thing, I wish they developed some of those elements a little more.
So, I guess that was my main reaction to the script. I thought it was fun primarily because of the genre and genres it was set in or at least touched on, but then, I wished they kind of developed these elements more fully.
Like, the whole zombie thing even happening is kinda sorta explained, but not really. Although, why zombies are around or exist in the first place is a real sort of "Macguffin" thing, I think... you really pay lip service as to why it happens, you just want to see the zombies! So, I think the audience has (generally) less impatience for WHY this zombie outbreak is happening, especially horror fans-- I think they almost can accept the most ludicrous excuse to bring the hungry dead on board. But what a filmmaker does once he HAS that zombie element established in the film is where they get critical: Do the zombies act "believably"? Do they look cool? Do the humans trying to avoid the zombies act believably in this situation? Etc., etc.
That's where I think the script could have used a little more work.
But, initially, I was only participating to participate, if that makes any sense. I didn't have a lot of weekends to devote to filming and pretty much ALL the filming was being shot on the weekends. Plus, I just met these people, so under those circumstances, I felt it was more practical to just go with the flow for the most part.
As it turned out, I wound up being one of the six investors in the film. Well, me and my dad actually... I dragged him into it, too, haha!
And so, I wound up being more involved with the film, not so much during shooting, although I was also there for the big zombie scene when they closed the main street in the village of Angola. I wasn't actually a zombie extra. I just helped out behind the scenes and offered support as part of the DefTone Crew, which they needed because over 400 people turned up to be zombies that day. But, my additional time came during post-production.
And during post-production, I think some of the script deficiencies were more apparent. So, I thought I'd be more focused on offering feedback to whatever Adam and DefTone's NEXT script would be, so that their next movie would be even stronger.
Also, I had an idea for a project that Adam and the rest of the DefTone group fully supported, and, it turned out, as well as many people who were associated with the film who also heard about it supported it, and that was to do a comic book movie prequel of FND.
Originally, it was just going to be a 10 page comic that was going to be released the weekend before the movie premiere, so we're talking March 18 of this year-- yeah, over two months ago.
Well, that didn't happen because I didn't follow through on it-- and that's a whole other can of worms I won't go into now -- but part of the whole idea for that, my reason for suggesting it, was to address some of the story elements that weren't addressed in the movie itself.
Like, a lot of the comic would be focused on the prisoners individually and some of their back stories and then how they all wound up on the bus. Because it's just sort of presented as is, with the explanation that they're all being transferred to a new prison cross-country, and the week-long trek is part of the explanation as to why they don't know anything about what's happening in this town regarding this zombie plague.
Well, that raised a lot of questions for me and I thought perhaps I could address some of them with a prequel comic.
But, ultimately, the movie could stand alone without the prequel, but if you had the prequel, it could "inform" your viewing of the film.
Plus, it would have just been cool to have a comic book as FND merchandise.
But I'm a lame-ass and I didn't follow through on it.
At least, not YET.
Okay, I'm getting ahead of myself here.
Between that first draft and my first day of shooting, there was an audition and then a second draft of the script. Prior to the audition, Adam asked me what part I wanted and I said I had no real preference. If anything, my casting was probably going to be affected by my time restrictions. I really didn't have that many weekends to give to the shoot, due to previous plans with my wife for most of the summer weekends. And all the shooting was going to be on the weekends! Nothing on weekdays or week nights. Adam's day job was actually during 2nd shift on the weekdays, so for him and everybody else to be available to film, it had to happen on the weekends.
So, that pretty much left me only a couple convict roles, I think. So, I was just going to read at the audition and just see what sort of developed there.
Well, apparently I had such a ridiculously good audition while reading the part of Clay that they immediately said Clay was mine and they would also add lines for me because they liked me so much.
"They," by the way, were the directors Adam and Stephanie, co-producer/costumes and props master Mark Mendola and production manager Eric Haaf.
I like telling this story because it cracks me up.
I had like a handful of lines to read for Clay. My first line was, "Nope."
That was it.
But, I KILLED with my line reading!
In particular, I remember a HUGE reaction from Eric and Adam, but especially Eric. I mean, he stopped the reading by his reaction to my saying, "Nope."
My next two lines, also very short, but longer than one word, were also very favorably received.
But it was so ridiculously comical.
I bring this up not because it illustrates my acting ability-- I mean, I'm awesome, sure-- but, seriously, it revealed how young these people were, and I mean that not in a patronizing way but just as a fact.
I mean, they were young experience-wise.
Okay, let me re-phrase that, because actually, these people had done a lot more than I had ever done in terms of filmmaking and producing, etc. But a lot of it was on the order of having an idea for a film, getting your friends together and shooting a movie. Which, is really nothing to sneeze at.
But, I think they pretty much cast people they already knew for their first two films and FND was their first experience meeting people they had no previous interaction with, so they were very open to the whole thing of seeing new people and seeing how they interpreted a script. So, they were very new to the audition process, I think.
And to explain the situation more completely, I think what they appreciated the most from my reading was that I made a point of reacting to the OTHER actor's reading their lines as well. It wasn't "Nope" on its own-- it was how it played in the scene with the other lines around it.
I mean, I kinda hammed it up and milked the shit out of it, but really, what was most important was how my stupid "nope" line came across in context.
But, it's a lot funnier to tell people how much everybody loved my line reading, and the line was a single word.
But, to tie this back to the script... so, I got cast as Clay and Adam said they'd expand my part a little because they liked me so much... you know, add a few lines.
So, the next draft I get is how the movie starts, with the bus already disabled.
Well, what's funny is, you know that whole "Nope" line and the couple lines immediately following it? I say it in the bus to Jennings (the rookie guard) just before I escape. Well, in the new draft of the script, that scene's all cut out! So, as you see in the movie itself, my escape is not part of an exchange of dialogue after the accident, but basically, I just scoot out while everyone's all knocked out and disoriented from the bus "crash."
To be fair, they did add some lines for me, just later on.
But even if they didn't add lines, it's no big deal. I just thought it was funny how things worked out.
HS: Moving away from the film itself a little bit, now that you are Clay, did you come up with a back story for him? If so, what was it?
TK: You know, I really didn't do that much work on his character. I had no idea of his character, other than what the one guard says about him on the road, and I think the only thing I was thinking of subtextually was that maybe I was trying to warm up to Nick (played by Nicholas John Morgan Anderson), another convict on the bus-- but only in terms of seeing if he wanted to try to escape as well!
Nothing more than that!.
Although we do eventually have a very brief, "intimate moment" outside the barn, haha!
So, in my mind, I thought it might be ironic if my character had been looking to escape during the bus ride and maybe was trying to enlist Nick's help, and then an actual opportunity to escape presented itself and I took it, but I didn't bring Nick along. So, IN MY HEAD, there's some tension going on between our characters after my failed escape attempt.
But I didn't even bring this up to Nick, because we really had no scenes together so it would've been pointless. He was just acting like a hard-ass in general and that worked for my own private motivations!
But, really, I didn't think too much of Clay's back story. In fact, talking about the comic book prequel, I didn't really have too many ideas for Clay, either. I kept thinking of ideas for a bunch of the other characters.
HS: To be honest, I am a little surprised you didn't come up with something at least. I was going to say this in my review for FND, but decided to say it here since I figured we would be doing this interview: One punch? I mean come on, you are supposed to be this bad ass convict and you get knocked out by one punch?!? Seriously? Actually, I was laughing some at that knowing that it was you in that scene.
TK: What can I say, I'm a lover not a fighter, haha!
Yeah, well, BELIEVE me, I think the most "hardened criminal" aspect about my character was my Fu Manchu mustache and greasy mullet. My hair was doing all my hard-ass acting for me, I'm sorry to say.
My default mode personality-wise tends more towards humor. I realized that when I recently watched the bus scenes again -- after Marshal had brought me back from my failed escape attempt -- he sort of grabs me and yanks me off the ground into a standing position by the bus and I kind of whine nasally in protest. I think its funny, but it occurred to me (while seeing the scene a third time, over a year after we actually filmed it) that if I really WERE a hard-ass I really should've put up more of a fight and been much more of handful for Marshal to deal with. In other words, in retrospect I think should've played it much more seriously.So, that's an acting choice on my part (a spontaneous one, mind you) that I sort of did as a reflex reaction to what Marshal was doing and I really took the easy way out. It was more or less an entertaining reaction because it was funny, but thinking it through, if we convicts are supposed to be creating tension as a group, I should've just been a total prick to deal with to add to that dynamic, you know?
HS: Maybe so, but from what you were saying about your audition, maybe they were looking to you for a few funny moments. Did the directors Adam and Stephanie allow you, and the other actors, to act the scenes the way you wanted, or did they give advice about it?
TK: That's an interesting point you bring up. Maybe that's true, regarding my character being more about comic relief (so to speak) in opposition to the obvious sparks between Nazi Boy George and Marshal's characters. Again, I bring up my acting after seeing the movie a couple times, and from that vantage point, I always felt that perhaps the tension of moving the convicts off the bus and traveling down the road was potentially opening a whole other can of worms for the guards watching over them and I thought the film's ability to maintain that tension was a little inconsistent. For instance, when the one guard, Pete, starts talking to the other guard, Jennings, on the road about the convicts, its a bunch of exposition where the info is more or less necessary but I think the general "talk-y" nature of the scene kind of removes the immediacy of the tension. But that's me.
But, you have a legitimate point as well from the casting perspective.
Adam and Steph were very open to suggestions from the cast. In fact, I think they were very responsive to ideas. Occasionally to a fault, I think, but I think it was also because of the crazy schedule. There were a few moments when Adam would get kind of overwhelmed by the length of the day and he was both manning the camera and also directing, and I think his brain would get a little fried spending all that energy juggling a number of activities simultaneously. At those times, Steph would jump in to help direct, or production manager Eric Haaf or costumer/prop master Mark Mendola (who also played Axe) would offer ideas, or EVERYBODY would start offering thoughts, myself included. And sometimes that got out of hand. I remember Tim Dugan (who played Pete) once kind of yelling at all the actors (mostly the convicts) to shut up and let the directors direct.
As I said before, there really were no rehearsals prior to a shooting day, which is particularly understandable when you're dealing with scenes involving a lot of actors. It wasn't practical to get a bunch of people just to rehearse. To me, it seemed the closest we had any rehearsal was actually just going over our lines prior to filming a scene, and usually Eric would sort of run that. But, having said that, Adam and Steph primarily gave blocking direction -- how to move, where to go, etc.
If anyone had a problem with something, they'd tell the directors and then Adam or Steph would try to figure out how to make it work. Or if an actor had an idea, Adam and Steph were usually receptive to it.
But, generally, my impression was that Adam and Steph were more focused on trying to manage the camera positioning and how the action would go.
I think the actors pretty much had an idea of how they wanted to act a scene, with occasional nudging from the directors. But, again, I was only there for the scenes involving a lot of people.
There may have been a completely different dynamic going on with smaller scenes involving only a couple people.
HS: Did you have a favorite scene that you were part of as an actor?
TK: Hmmm. Well, I really enjoyed working on the scenes that I had, but it was mostly ensemble stuff, so just in general I enjoyed the fun of the filmmaking process.
Well, okay, it was especially fun rattling through my escape sequence with Rich Satterwhite ("Marshal"). It was toward the end of the day, we still needed to shoot these scenes, so we kind of tried to get them done quickly without losing sunlight. So we ran off to a nearby field and banged out the shots.
So, that was fun. Okay, falling down in the bushes wasn't all THAT much fun, as we kept shooting Marshal punching me. In fact, I still have a scar from a scratch on my upper arm that I sustained falling in the brush. It doesn't hurt, but I can't believe it never healed and went away. I mean, it's just a line on my skin, but still.
So, I actually have a permanent souvenir on my carcass from The Final Night And Day, and I didn't have to get a tattoo like some guys I know who worked on Slime City Massacre!
But, I think some of my favorite memories are behind the scenes stuff, like, there were a couple little girls who played zombies at the farmhouse. And it was fun seeing them act like zombies and get made up with lots of blood. Pretty adorable. And funny. And sick.
Probably my favorite experience was helping out on a scene I didn't act in-- the day of the big zombie shoot in Angola in June, 2010. There was a call for zombie extras and no one knew how many people would actually show up. Well, before the day of the shoot, we got some publicity on the local news and one news station was YNN, a 24 Hour newscast, and they were playing the story on a regular loop the day before (they even had a clip from the film-- along with other convicts walking on the road-- so I even could be seen, for a microsecond, in that news story), plus there was a story in the local paper, so the potential was there for a lot of people to show up. But no one really knew. You had to wait and see. Well, a CRAPLOAD of people came out, a ridiculous number. Literally a few hundred people. 300-400, I think. So, that was quite a neat experience to be a part of.
One memory of that night that sticks out:
We did a number of takes of the zombie horde working their way down Main Street. The camera was on top of a fire truck and we had lights on facing the zombies. I was standing by one of the light stands in order to help zombies walk over an extension cord stretched across the road (at that point the extras would be out of the shot and just walking by the fire truck).
So, we shot this a few times, like half a dozen. And each time, literally hundreds of extras would have to slowly work their way back down the street, get back in position, and do it all over again.
Well, there were a couple zombies that was like middle-aged (I think-- I mean, they were in zombie make-up! But they seemed a little older), and they kept walking past me. And after one take, they were slowly working their way back to the beginning, and just after they passed me, they stopped and kissed each other. It was very romantic and touching. They were like kids on a date. Apparently they were zombie geek sweethearts fulfilling a dream together! At least that was my interpretation. I thought that was pretty awesome and sweet.
HS: I was going to ask you about that scene actually. It seems like a big deal to shut down a road, even if it is a small town. Do you know if this was asked for by the directors or something that the town just said they would do?
TK: I think Adam and Stephanie talk about this more in detail on the extra feature about shooting that day on the DVD. But, if I remember correctly, early in the year Adam and Steph both went to an Angola town board meeting and presented their proposal and request to close the Main St down for a one-day shoot. So, I think the board was basically receptive, the main issues were the dates and the logistics behind doing something like that.
So, DefTone got the okay, although the biggest hoop they had to jump through was getting insurance, and after that it was figuring out what part of the street would actually be closed and other stuff like that.
Later, when I was aboard as a one of the producers, I went to a meeting of Angola business people as they were figuring out more specifics for the date. I was really impressed by how helpful everybody was. The police and fire departments were also extremely helpful. And it turned out they were going to make a big day of it, the fire company was planning a fundraiser for that day as well. Everybody seemed to be very supportive. It was very cool.
And, what was great about that was, I know Adam and Steph were stressed out about how everything was going to go. I mean, potentially a lot of people could show up and things could go wrong, and they were trying to be as prepared as they could be. But you gotta start somewhere and just hope you did your homework and preparations and also hope for a little luck, too. Which I think they got, what with the huge turn-out of zombie extras and also the good weather. Originally, it was raining like hell and I thought it was going to be a miserable, long-ass day, but it cleared up after a couple of hours and then it was great.
So, the answer is: it IS a big deal to shut down the main road of the town. It just doesn't happen. You have to ask permission and be very professional and have insurance, etc. BUT, if you're going to do that, it's nice to practice doing something like that with a small village, like Angola, and on top of it, it's great when the village authorities are willing to help you out, too.
HS: It is one of the more memorable scenes in the movie. For the most part when I think of a film that has a low or next to no budget, you don't expect to see hundreds of zombies coming down a street. That is something you don't see in some major Hollywood films. I think I remember reading about this in the newspaper stuff you sent to me along with the movie, but for those that can't read that stuff, were the extras asked to come already as zombies or were there volunteers doing zombie makeup for folks?
TK: I think Adam and Stephanie would be very pleased to hear you say that! They really had ambitious plans for the film to try and elevate it above the usual low-budget zombie film. This scene was the real topper.
Rod Durick was the head make-up guy and he had a small staff working several hours prior to shooting in the evening. If I remember correctly, they broke up the extras into three categories. I forget what Rod actually called the categories, but basically, they were: (1) the Featured Zombies, the ones that were going to be prominently seen in the shots or in close-up action; (2) Supporting Zombies, who didn't have specific actions on screen but were seen in the immediate background; and (3) the Basic Zombie Mob, the majority of extras who would be part of the giant horde, seen but not too closely.
Extras were told to come wearing the clothes they were going to wear for the scene. They were asked not to wear anything that had a copyrighted logo, but then the sky was the limit, as long as they didn't care what happened to their clothes.
Lots of prom dresses were there! At least one wedding dress, too. I think some women were working through some issues...
When the DefTone staff was signing up the extras, taking all their information and having them sign their releases, they also picked out people that looked particularly interesting to be possibly part of the second group, or even the first group, if they had a particularly striking look. Otherwise, they would be part of the third group and get really basic zombie make-up.
So, they sent people in to Rod's make-up area (the screening room of the Taste of the Midway, a small diner in the heart of downtown Angola), ten at a time, starting at around noon, I think. And Rod and his team just kept applying make-up until shooting started that night. And even past that.
So, Rod and his staff had a good basic game plan set up to apply make-up to so many people. It just required time, which is why they asked the extras to come at noon.
HS: Speaking of zombies, we don't get to see you as one. In fact I noticed in the end credits that they took several takes of your death scene, what was up with that?
TK: Yeah! I know! The worst death for a zombie I know: winding up on the (proverbial) cutting room floor!
I was VERY excited to die twice in this film, and then Adam wound up cutting my re-animation and immediate (second) death scene, I think because he felt the sequence was just going on too long, or he thought it was too much. I forget to be honest.
I was really disappointed but I didn't make a big deal about it because I felt self-conscious trying to get the scene put back in because that may have come off as just me trying to get more screen time. And I can't say that wasn't the case. But, still... DAMMIT!
HS: So no zombie makeup for you?
TK: Alas, no. In one shot, I'm lying dead, then I sit up as a zombie, and then I'm immediately shot in the head.
HS: That is too bad, you would have made a great zombie. Why didn't you ask to be in the big town scene? They could have done your makeup in a way to fool people into thinking you were someone else.
TK: Well, I didn't really have a burning desire to be a zombie in the film once my scene was done as Clay. When it sort of happened in the moment with the chain gang, how I spontaneously resurrected and then was shot, there was a neat succinct "poetry" to that, how short lived my part was, both as convict and then zombie.
That idea appealed to me, and we had shot it that way.
So, my being a zombie and killed a second time just didn't make the final cut, so that was genuinely disappointing, but, eh! What are you gonna do? That's also part of the filmmaking process.
But by the time of the big zombie shoot in Angola, I was one of the film's investors, and I knew that the scale of the Angola shoot was simply unprecedented in the DefTone film history and experience, so they needed as many people to help run the day's shooting and preparation, so that's where I was used. And that was perfectly fine, considering the circumstances.
But, with so many filmmakers in Buffalo making horror films, I'm sure my time as a zombie will eventually come!
Although, did you notice?: the Zombie Catholic School Girl that's part of the tight pack in front of the general undead mob working its way down Main Street Angola, the small group that descends upon a body on the ground? Well, that Zombie Catholic School Girl was played by Sherri Lyn Litz and she also played the zombie that attacked Officer Marshal Jones in the house.
HS: No I didn't notice that, but it is pretty cool. The last time we did an interview with you, you were more the behind the scenes guy with a quick shot of you in the movie. Sounds like you did a little acting before this, but what was it like for you to see yourself on the screen as an actor?
TK: Unfortunately, I think all my responses were tinged with vanity. I saw all the gray hair in my Fu Manchu mustache and beard, and I could see exactly how short I was compared to everybody else. Oh, and I can hear exactly how nasally I speak. But other than that... haha, so I guess I'm just critical and self-conscious.
Aside from all that stupid personal junk, it was just fun to watch the scenes.
I've read how some actors don't like watching dailies because they don't like to see themselves on screen. It makes them self-conscious. And I can totally sympathize with that.
But I've also read how some actors use it as a tool to learn how they act on screen, so they can improve whatever things they think they need to improve. That attitude seems the most constructive.
If I did more parts in other films, watching myself on screen would probably be more helpful. But, acting happens so infrequently for me, by the time I'm acting in another film I think I'll always forget whatever I noticed about myself from before.
With FND, I think watching myself in the DVD supplements made more of an impression on me.
I know I talk with my hands a lot in general. I tend to be very demonstrative and animated. I remember I was talking to a friend I bumped into at a mall during Christmas shopping season a few years back, and in the few minutes I was chatting with her, I almost clocked a poor passr-by in the head.
I'm ridiculous. And dangerous.
But I can't believe how emphatic I am gesturing with my hand during one of the interview segments. It looks like I'm trying to flick snot off my fingers. Cripes.
HS: No worries, you aren't the only one that talks with their hands. If I'm not doing something that is keeping my hands busy while talking, I do the same thing. Which appeals to you more: the acting or behind the scenes?
TK: Well, because I act so infrequently, I'm more partial to behind the scenes stuff. But, the idea of acting sounds appealing on paper, that if I ever find myself in such a situation again, that could be fun.
But, to be honest, right now I've been trying to get myself in a situation to direct a film, either a short subject or feature. And it looks like that's going to happen!
There's a script for a short film that my wife wrote as a favor to me that I hope to film sometime this year and finish in time to submit it to this year's Buffalo Screams Horror Film Festival that happens in October. My wife is a writer (though unpublished, so far), and her forte is prose, so this is her first effort in the screenplay format. It's not a horror film per se, but there is a murder. It's called Pilgrims.
There's also another film I'm going to be working on, but that won't happen until next year. Right now I'll be coy and mention only a few details until things are closer to shooting time (it's a superstitious thing!). But I met a gentleman who currently teaches film at one of the SUNY schools (the State University of New York school system) and he produced three low-budget films before moving to New York recently. Anyway, we hit it off big-time in terms of similar film tastes, and he said that he was planning on working on another film and he was going to send me a first draft of the script to see what I thought of it.
By the time he did that, he discovered my theater background (where I did some directing) and my aspirations to direct a film, so he asked if I was interested in directing this project. I read the script and I said, "Sure!"
The twist is, it looks like I'm also rewriting the screenplay as well, and that process has been a real blast. Seriously, the last couple weeks, I wrote three scenes, and I can't believe how much fun I had. He really liked the scenes as well, so the collaboration seems to be working out so far.
His original draft was a strange horror/comedy hybrid, very Troma-like in feel, particularly in terms of the humor and the gross special effects. I thought it was fun to read, but when we discussed my directing the film, I asked him if he didn't mind if I tried to make the film more scary, and he was totally fine with that objective, so that started the process of changing the script.
But, now the film is really undergoing a metamorphosis, with some additional plot dynamics and I'm curious how it's all going to shake out in the end. Maybe good. Maybe bad. But I'm really enjoying the writing process so far. But it's going to be a real before and after picture regarding the his first draft and the eventual finished product, I think. Having said that, that doesn't mean there won't be humor or gross special effects. In fact, one of my ideas is pretty damn gross, perhaps even more so than anything he wrote. So, I guess that's win-win?
Anyway, right now, I'm thrilled to be behind the scenes.
And we'll see if I'm any good at it, haha!
HS: If you do end up directing (which it sounds like he will be), we will be doing a third interview...right?
TK: Haha! Of course! Absolutely! If you can endure another interview with ME, I'm certainly up to inflicting another set of answers on YOU!
HS: Well, I think we have done our job here. Hopefully gotten people a little more interested in The Final Night And Day. For those still thinking about giving this movie a chance, what would you like to say to them?
TK: Well, in a nutshell: I hope you do! And if you do, thanks! I hope you enjoy it!
3 days ago