There comes a time in every creative person’s life when they must put their work out there for everyone to see, and possibly kick around like an old can of Spam™. The often maligned spiced ham product is actually a decent metaphor for the work in question as it is certainly an improbable cocktail of disparate elements mashed together with a healthy dash of heat. And while the resulting taste may be an acquired one, once it’s “in the can”, all that’s left to do is find a way to get it on as many tables as possible.
Let’s get it out of the way: HorrorCon failed to land a spot in any of the twenty-plus festivals to which it was submitted. It did receive one piece of feedback from the New York City Horror Festival folks who said the director was “one to watch”, and there were some other consolatory words offered hither and thither, but the festival stage of the process was, in no uncertain terms, an absolute wash.
Now, before this post starts to sound like I’ve gathered you all here for a pity party, I want everyone to know about a few other truths that I believe are equally absolute:
HorrorCon was designed to challenge audiences.
Failure is necessary for success.
Oswald acted alone.
Wine before beer; never fear.
It will rain inky bird poop on the day I finally wash my car.
As well, there were other factors at work that, while not listed as excuses, most certainly played a role in the film’s flaccid festival return:
HorrorCon utilized the “late deadline” in almost 75% of its submissions.
Not a single consulted horoscope predicted success.
My mother neglected to join any of the submission panels.
I am not often enough “too sexy for my shirt”.
Fortune cookies are best ignored as they are full of despicable lies.
Honorable mentions include budget size, poor festival selection, no boobies on the poster, and, of course, delivering the exact opposite of that which is strongly implied by your film’s title. Which brings me to the title of this post, rather colorfully presented in the image below:
Prominently including the term “horror” in the title of a film that is essentially a psychological thriller/mystery/character-driven drama may not be the best idea if you’re trying to slot into a horror film festival at the 11th hour. It’s also probably not a solid go-to plan if your goal is to sneak into a festival that eschews horror entirely. At worst, it’s stupid. At best, bravely unwise. This is why HorrorCon now goes by the far more artfully intriguing title, Every Drop Counts. If the name and logo suggest a dark and cautiously exsanguinating experience, that’s the idea. If it doesn’t suggest HOTEL BOOBIE SLASHER, that’s the idea, too. Not that there would be anything wrong with one of those, but that’s not what we made. Not even close.
However, there is plenty of cleavage. Who am I, the Pope?
There is one other aspect of the film that begs addressing, and it refers to the original conceptualizing of the story that began as a literary work. HorrorCon the novella was a 140 page psychological exploration of a girl who wanted to die and an older man who saw the opportunity to save her as an opportunity to save himself. The book spends much of the time in our characters heads, and it could be safely described as “dialogue rich”. While imagining it for the screen, it was actually the little screen that seemed the better fit, as in, a TV series. Subsequently, the screenplay takes its time with setting and attempts to allow the horror convention experience to seep into an audience’s skull and under their skin. In the end, I wanted an audience empathy meter that’s needle pinned so hard it broke through the glass and tacked their hats to the wall.
So, I did what anyone with those highly specific goals would do: I made an overlong movie! If you’re getting the faint impression that I don’t always listen to myself, you’re probably right. But I assure you, there were a lot of conversations with the mirror and others about how to go about this project, and let’s face it, there are very few, if any, “series pilot” festivals to be found. A movie seemed the best step forward in terms of furthering my career, even if it was broken into three “chapters” much better suited to episodic television. I suppose I was inspired by series that I had been watching on HBO at the time, such as “Six Feet Under”, “The Sopranos” and “Deadwood”. Of course, as of this posting, we now have “The Walking Dead”, “American Horror Story”, “Bates Motel”, dark drama “Breaking Bad” – the list grows longer every week. Perhaps due to this new proliferation of genre TV series we’ll see something akin to a “series” festival in the future, but of late I haven’t found shit, yo.
So, what does all this mean? Well, I’ll tell you. While I’ve been laying low with the project and planning the next move, I’ve also been maintaining my social media outlets and collecting a fan base, so to speak. The film has 745 lovely Likers on its Facebook Page and 2,645 fantastic followers on Twitter. The plan is that when that number hits 3,000, we’ll roll out EDC as a three night mini-series over the course of a weekend, starting on Friday at 6 pm, then Saturday at 6pm, and finally Sunday at 6pm. See what I did there? Yep, besides being devilishly clever, I’m courting horror fans again. Foolishly, perhaps, but the bet is that the new format will re-calibrate their expectations to a setting that is more favorable to the offered fare. For example, you don’t go through a drive-thru to order the Filet McMignon in your happy meal, do you? No, that would be silly. The average brain is incapable of processing a juicy filet dribbling down one’s shirt and into that crevice in your crotch where all bits of dribbly food vanish forever. Conversely, you don’t go to a fine restaurant and pay $30 for some chicken nuggets in a folded paper container with a lid that won’t stay open unless you weigh it down with something which will eventually lead to whatever’s left in the food side of the container flying across the table because the weight is now unevenly distributed. Anyway, you get the idea, and once the entire series is up, it’ll stay up for an undetermined amount of time before vanishing back into the hybrid ether from whence it came as we gather up the feedback.
But wait, there’s more! In the weeks leading up to the roll-out we’ll be releasing various tidbits related to the series including full color stills, harrowing making-of info, and maybe even a few choice clips. There will also be input from the cast and crew, and if we’re lucky, some of it will involve boobies! There will also be another surprise involving a related musical project of mine, but I’ll save those details for later.
So stay tuned, and feel free to share this post. Why? Because I still believe in this story. I still think it can touch audiences in its exploration of loneliness, loss, and the conflicting ways fan culture cashes in on the victimization of women. And just maybe it offers something so unique and special that not a single film festival knew what to do with it.
Or perhaps, at last, it’s just a helluva first effort. For sure, there are some outstanding performances, both in front and behind the camera, so I’m willing to bet it’s a bit more than a good old college try.
That brings us to your Cracker Jack™ prize video below featuring an animated depiction of yours truly seeing EDC actress Michal Sinnott for the first time on television.* The rest, as they almost never say, is the future. Let’s see if we can change that.
Until next time. And whatever you do, make it count.
*Michall Sinnott is actually the voice and image of GTA V character Tracey De Santa.