The adventure that is 2012 is well underway, and I've been pleasantly surprised by a new wave of Ratline buzz, thanks to our movie appearing on a number of 'Best Of 2011' lists. Here is the most recent.
The 'Best Of 2011' lists have now tapered off, but looking at them over the past couple of weeks, I was again reminded that with my brain so much in filmmaker mode, I tend to fall way behind on being a film fan. Usually I've only seen one or two of the films on these lists. Often I've seen zero of 'em.
Clearly then, I am not qualified to subject you to my own 'Best Of 2011' list, but here's a snapshot of my 2011 movie-viewing highs and lows: Mark Romanek's Never Let Me Go and David Fincher's The Social Network, two 2010 movies that I did not see until 2011, were probably the most impressive films I saw all year. The worst thing I saw in a theater last year was the premake of The Thing.
The three films of 2011 I was most eager to see were Fincher's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Lars von Trier's Melancholia, and Terrence Malick's Tree Of Life. The first two I thoroughly enjoyed, but I failed to catch Tree Of Life due to my workload surrounding the release of Ratline.
The movie I most eagerly anticipated that turned out extra awesome was Troll Hunter. The movie I most eagerly anticipated that turned out extra crappy was Cowboys & Aliens. The most pleasant surprises of the year were Drive Angry, Let Me In, and Winter's Bone, the latter two also being 2010 movies I caught late.
This week, however, I must stop daydreaming about my 2011 motion picture experiences and focus on the future. If you read this blog with any regularity - and who wouldn't? - you know that I have multiple projects in the works, all of which may or may not actually get made. This week I'm toiling on one such feature film called The Bloodfest Club, on which I'm a producer.
The writers of this screenplay are Oscar Madrid, who will be producing/directing, and Jim Ousley, who will be producing/starring.
Last year, Mr. Madrid and Mr. Ousley summoned me to a lunch meeting to discuss their horror-comedy The Bloodfest Club. At the time, I knew almost nothing about the project. Madrid and Ousley had chatted with me a few times about Ratline and my experience as the second unit director on Stake Land - so when they asked to meet with me, I thought they were going to talk to me about directing second unit on The Bloodfest Club. I was somewhat surprised when they asked me to climb aboard as a producer - if I liked the script, of course.
I already knew I would enjoy working with these guys - and turning down paid work as a filmmaker is not something I want to be in the habit of. Still, I understood that the paycheck versus the responsibilities would be very out of sync - the norm on indie films - and that I'd better be a fan of the script before I accepted their offer. Not only had I never read anything these guys had written, I was skeptical about a horror-comedy. Seldom do these two flavors blend well. The overwhelming majority of horror-comedies I've seen I did not like.
A few days later, I read their screenplay, and I was completely impressed. I had been developing a thought in my head that the best films are, at their core, love stories. I don't necessarily mean huggy-kissy-sexy-mushy stuff. Any film can be a love story, even if - maybe especially if - there is no intimate coupling going on. A buddy cop film can be a love story, if it's written well.
The Bloodfest Club is overflowing with raunchy, politically incorrect humor, violent action scenes, and gory deaths - still, at its core, The Bloodfest Club is a love story between two unlikely friends. I told Oscar and Jim that this love story aspect of the screenplay gives the film its heartbeat - and that they should protect this more than any other aspect of the film.
A second thing that impressed me about the screenplay was that the horror and action scenes were outstanding. I could visualize fright film fans everywhere immediately embracing this blood-soaked movie. The third thing that impressed me about the script was the dark, over-the-top, often ridiculous (in a good way) humor. The screenplay was actually funny. I am not alone in noting that the reason most horror-comedies suck is because they are decidedly lacking in horror and/or comedy. If a film manages to strike the right horror notes, the humor tends to fizzle, and vice versa. The Bloodfest Club got it right in both categories. Add to this an incredibly well-told platonic love story at its center, and you have a film that is definitely firing on all required cylinders.
Bill Moseley (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, The Devil's Rejects), Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes, Weird Science), and William Forsythe (Raising Arizona, The Rock) are already attached, our desired crew members have signed on, and Madrid and Ousley are making great progress in pulling together the budget for the film, which we hope to shoot this summer. They may not get the budget in time, or at all, but I'm impressed with what they've accomplished so far in these early phases of the project's life. On that note, I've gotta go. We have a meeting in a few days with potential investors, and I have to prep for the event.
Wish us luck - and thanks for reading.