An older film of mine, Scrapbook (1999), was re-released at the beginning of this year as a signed and numbered Limited Edition VHS. Vultra Video released this collectable incarnation of Scrapbook – and they’re up to their old tricks again.
Another film of mine, Ice From The Sun, also released in 1999, is now receiving the same autographed Limited Edition VHS treatment from Vultra Video. I would invite you to pick up a copy, but when pre-ordering opened, the Ice From The Sun VHS sold out in only four days.
Earlier this week, I met up with DJ Vivona, one of the stars of Ice From The Sun, so we could both sign Vultra Video’s VHS inserts. I had been working long hours on an editing job for weeks, and I’d been on a shoot that day, so I was pretty exhausted when I arrived that night to sign the box art. This is reflected in my signature on the inserts. My autograph looks shakier than usual. (DJ’s autograph, however, is of impeccable quality.)
Here’s more info about Ice From The Sun, and a preview trailer.
You can give Vultra Video a ‘like’ at their official Facebook page to keep up with all the analog awesomeness.
Ice From The Sun is hard to describe. It’s a horror film. It’s a surreal, fever-dream experimental film. It contains fantasy elements, punk rock, and over-the-top gore. My youthful reckless abandon added another layer of quirkiness that a more mature version of me may not have contributed.
The entire movie was shot on Super 8 film. I knew this would make Ice From The Sun grainy, smeary, scratchy, and dirty. I used the unpredictability of Super 8 as a tool, instead of considering it a risk – essentially inviting the flaws to happen, knowing I would let those accidents contribute to the movie. For example, a few rolls of film came back from the lab with a very prominent scratch on them. Instead of throwing out those shots and re-shooting, we unspooled those rolls of film and scratched those shots up even more. I think, when I made that movie, I was throwing paint against the wall to see what it would look like. I had spent a lot of time studying the rules – and I felt like breaking a bunch of them.
The film was the biggest, most logistically complicated, and most expensive project I had ever attempted up to that point. The typical low-budget hurdles were made more intimidating by the scope of our lengthy 54 day shoot. We filmed on more than 70 interior and exterior sets, at 27 different locations spread out across the state of Missouri. We had a large cast, numerous time-consuming special effects, and a crew who were required to wear many hats each to keep the production on track.
We were pre-cell phone, pre-email, and pre-Google Maps. Ice From The Sun still ranks as the most complex feature film production ever achieved at its budget level – and producer Jeremy Wallace had to coordinate the massive undertaking using home telephones, answering machines, and the United States Postal Service. One of the special effects artists, Tony Bridges, didn’t even own a phone when pre-production began. I bought Tony a telephone – so that we would not have to resort to smoke signals and carrier pigeons.
For a film that so enthusiastically embraced its low-fi techniques - and was so narratively and visually bizarre - Ice From The Sun was released to surprisingly good reviews. The movie won the Best Horror / Experimental Feature Film award at the New York International Independent Film And Video Festival. We also broke some ground when DVD was first being introduced to consumers. Ice From The Sun was one of the first independent films to receive a DVD release. It was also the very first movie shot on 8mm film to be released to DVD.
Ice From The Sun was made so long ago, when I look at the film now, it is like another person wrote and directed it. I have a hard time connecting to the movie today. However, as the years roll on, more and more people tell me that they love the film, or that it is their favorite of all the movies I’ve directed. It is hard for me to wrap my head around this, because if I watch the film today, I just sit there cringing at my mistakes.
When I was making it, Ice From The Sun was my highest priority. I was hyper-focused on bringing that movie across the finish line – because I knew this incredibly challenging endeavor would expand my skill set, provide a very unique life experience, build character, and leave me with much-desired battle scars. It gave me what I wanted back then - but so much time has gone by, and I am so different today, Ice From The Sun is no longer for me. It is for the fans who have since gathered around it… for example, the fans who made the brand new Limited Edition VHS sell out in record time.
It is often said that movies are never finished - they are simply taken from the filmmakers, then released. It is not acknowledged often enough that, when a filmmaker is very lucky, their movie is adopted, and the fans provide it a nice warm home.
Thanks for reading.
- Eric Stanze