At the close of 2013, the two films that seemed to define the year for me were China White Serpentine, a film I co-directed with Robin Garrels, and We Are What We Are, a film for which I directed 2nd Unit. China White Serpentine received an unexpected burst of attention last year, as 2013 marked the 10 Year Anniversary of its release. The PollyGrind Film Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada celebrated the film's decade in release by screening it as a special showcase selection, and SRS Cinema unveiled a Limited Edition VHS collectors release of the film.
The Limited Edition VHS release included mini-lobby-cards, signed by lead actress Eli DeGeer and myself. We closed out 2013 by scribbling our names across the cards, and reflecting upon the fact that China White Serpentine was attracting an unanticipated amount of spotlight for a film that was seen by very few (at least in the U.S.) upon initial release, and had built its fan base at a snail's pace over the course of many years.
Jim Mickle's We Are What We Are enjoyed a great 2013. It premiered at Sundance at the top of the year, then went on to successful screenings at multiple other fests, including the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. The movie gathered a mountain of critical acclaim over the months, and capped off the year by being included on numerous Best Of 2013 lists, including those by BloodyDisgusting.com, ShockTillYouDrop.com, FilmSchoolRejects.com, BuzzFeed.com, FirstShowing.net, Diabolique Magazine, Sound On Sight, Cinezilla, and Scott Weinberg, right here at FEARnet. We Are What We Are snagged the #1 spot on Michael Gingold's best horror films of 2013 list at Fangoria.
Toiling on We Are What We Are as the 2nd Unit director was exhausting but incredibly fulfilling. I thoroughly enjoyed working with super-talented Jim Mickle as well as the other great on-set cohorts who shared with me the journey. When I saw the rough cut of the movie in late 2012, I was extremely proud to have contributed to what I knew was an awesome horror flick. Seeing my high opinion of the film backed up by the great reviews, fan praise, and Best Of 2013 lists certainly makes me even more proud to have been part of the collaboration.
I was on the road at the end of 2013 - and thankfully the weather cooperated. The blizzard currently outside my office window did not descend until several days after returning. Last night, just before the snow began to fall, I made a quick trek to the grocery store. I was just there to grab a few items for dinner, but I quickly realized most people were there to stock up before the nasty weather struck.
I don't think I've ever seen the shelves at the grocery store so bare. Almost all of the bread was gone - and good luck finding what ya wanted in the picked-over and jumbled canned goods. Ninety percent of the veggie section was completely gone too. Many items you wouldn't think would sell out in a weather-fueled-panic run on the supermarket had vanished... like cilantro. Who stocks up on cilantro when they hear a blizzard is on its way? "Hey Martha, a massive winter storm is comin' right fer us - ya best grab every bit of cilantro ya can!"
As we creep into 2014, I say goodbye to my year dominated by lots of meetings, tons of writing, China White Serpentine, and We Are What We Are. I'm on to new adventures, including one biggish film and one smallish film I'm currently developing, plus the usual inflow of requests to participate in other film outings. I'm looking forward to it all, and I'm eager to get back to work... just as soon as the snow plows come through.
Thanks for reading.
- Eric Stanze