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Confessions of a Working Director - 11/17/2007

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Eric Stanze, writer/director/producer/actor/owner of Wicked Pixel Cinema has been sending journal entries our way since September, providing us with a rare insight into the mind of a multi-talented genre filmmaker. Here is the latest in a series of entries dubbed Surviving Cinema: The Confessions of a Working Director.

Today is my birthday. I?m now 36 and still refusing to get a real job. I?m in Indianapolis at the HorrorHound Weekend horror movie convention. We are promoting our most recent releases, DEADWOOD PARK, which I directed, and SAVAGE HARVEST 2: OCTOBER BLOOD, which I executive produced and acted in. Jason Christ is at the Wicked Pixel Cinema booth to sign some SAVAGE HARVEST 2 posters and DVD?s for a while, so I?m taking a break to write the words you are reading now.

2007 has been our year of conventions. We should have been doing this years ago, but Fangoria?s Chicago convention at the beginning of this year was our first con appearance.

This method of growing our fan base by meeting horror fans and talking to them one-on-one has been very successful. Furthermore, I?ve truly enjoyed meeting all these people, answering their questions, and talkin? horror movies with them. It?s been cool. . . but I have to admit, all this travel and hub-bub over the last eleven months (on top of all the usual work required in running my production company) has really worn me down. It?s been months of hawkin? our wares, networking, consuming large quantities of alcohol, chatting with horror celebs, and trying to kick and claw our way deeper into both the motion picture industry and the average horror fan?s heart. I?m burnt out, to say the least.

Furthermore, I really need to refocus my energies on getting the next movie into production. It is difficult trying to promote your last movie while you write and prepare for your next one. HorrorHound will be my last convention appearance for a while. I?m looking forward to jumping out of movie promotion and back into movie production. By the way, a few of you reading this may have stopped by our booth and talked to me at some time, at some convention this year. If so, I just want to say thanks. You taking an interest in my movies is perfect fuel for me to make my next one. I genuinely appreciate you stopping by to say hello to me. To everyone who passed me by in a rush to meet Sid Haig or Ken Foree instead, I?ve memorized your mannerisms and I?ll be writing you into my next movie as jerks!

Producer Jeremy Wallace, business manager Scott Muck, all around cool guy collaborator Jason Christ, and I are now trying to launch our next feature. First step: we gotta move. I own a building in St. Louis and Wicked Pixel Cinema has operated out of the top floor for years. If we want our next feature to be bigger and better, utilizing the talents of more people, we need a bigger space. While promoting here at HorrorHound, I?m simultaneously trying to tie up the loose ends of getting Wicked Pixel Cinema into a new, bigger space that we?ve picked out. Like everything else, this endeavor quickly went from an hour?s worth of paperwork to several day?s worth of jumping through hoops. (Every time Jeremy tells me how long something will take, I multiply it by 50, and that gets us closer to reality.) I am almost done with the hoop-jumping however, and we are 95 percent sure that Wicked Pixel Cinema HQ will soon be moving to a bigger space (in a neighborhood with a lot fewer bullets being fired around).

Second step: Get some talented, well-known actors attached to the movie I?m now writing. Securing financing for a movie is based primarily on the name actors you attach to your cast. Being a reliable filmmaker with a good track record is a secondary priority. I don?t have any problems at all attaching ?names? to my movie. I?m eager to do it, actually. But I don?t want to hire anyone for a day?s work for the sole purpose of putting their name on the DVD box. Instead, I want to cast ?stars? who I think I?d enjoy working with. I want to offer a ?star? a part that they really want to do ? something different and interesting that they can make a meal of. I want my ?star? to be excited about the project they?re a part of. I relish the idea of being a director who presents a familiar actor in a new way that excites and expands that actor?s fan base. If both the name actor and I are simply thinking in terms of a name on my DVD box, we?ll both miss out on a great opportunity.

Third step: Get the money to make the movie. Easy, right? I?ll give plenty of updates here about how independent filmmakers attain their budgets. I?m sure you?ll find it entertaining. I?m sure I?ll find it, uh, less than pleasurable.

If everything falls into place (the script, the cast, the budget, the move, the pre-production, etc. etc. etc.) we?ll be making the next movie next year. If one or two things get significantly delayed, we?ll shoot in ?09, and I?ll be grumpy about that. I don?t like a lot of down time between productions.

This convention is going well. Jason and I were interviewed on Night Of The Living Podcast. Also, I got to talk to Andy Copp, director of THE MUTILATION MAN. He?s been a friend and supporter for many years but I?ve never actually met him face to face. It was great talking to him. I had a nice conversation with music score composer Harry Manfredini. I met and had a great conversation with Art Ettinger of Ultraviolent Magazine. It?s also awesome seeing the Toetag Pictures crew again. Across from our booth is The Asylum House, a troupe of haunted house designers. A couple of their attractive leather-clad ladies are giving away free whippings to convention guests. Jason Christ received a dozen lashes to the butt. He was surprisingly enthusiastic and pleased about this.

It?s a good convention, but I?m looking forward to going home. . . and working on my screenplay on the way.

Thanks for reading.

Eric Stanze

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