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Patience

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A movie for which I was executive producer and a lead actor, Savage Harvest 2: October Blood (2007), was released five years ago last month.  It is the sequel to a little gore-splattered flick called Savage Harvest (1995), my first “professional” movie - which I directed at the tender age of 21.  Savage Harvest 2: October Blood was written and directed by Jason Christ.  Emily Haack (Scrapbook) took on one of the leading roles. 

The Savage Harvest movies have their own small but voracious fan base, which is awesome – but those fans must have a whole lot of one thing: patience.  The movies themselves are not slow-paced… but the Savage Harvest franchise is expanding at a snail’s pace. 

Most independent micro-budget movies require more time to complete than major studio movies.  Just raising the money for a small indie film can take forever.  Then, shooting tends to be very start-and-stop.  Editing can also take an eternity due to lack of money, staff, and resources.  A major studio picture may be released within a year of being greenlit.  Movies at the budget level of the Savage Harvest flicks may take two or three years - or longer - from the first day of pre-production to the last day of post-production.  We shot Savage Harvest in 1993.  If memory serves, we were still shooting special effects pickups into 1994.  Post-production was completed in 1995, the year it was released.  This is lightning-fast compared to the speed with which the sequel came together.

On the other hand, not every ultra-low-budget movie is birthed so slowly.  We shot Scrapbook (1999) - also starring Emily Haack - in only 13 days.  I rocketed through post-production in just two or three months.  If it were not for a lengthy delay between production and post-production, Scrapbook would have been made and released in record time.  Scrapbook went on to remarkable critical acclaim, proving an endless, soul-demolishing shoot is not required to make a quality movie that gets a lot of attention. 

I had a window of exactly one month - August, 2003 - to shoot China White Serpentine, and within that month, we rolled camera for approximately 13 days.  (The magic number, perhaps?)  China White Serpentine was released that same year (and it is another movie I’m proud of).

Did Savage Harvest 2: October Blood come together as efficiently?  Nope.

Twelve years separate the releases of Savage Harvest and Savage Harvest 2: October Blood.  See, this series really does take patience!  More notably, director Jason Christ had to muster great determination to power through making the sequel.  We started shooting in 2002.  Production was shut down completely about half-way through the shoot when Jason survived a car accident.  Shooting resumed in 2003, and the production finally wrapped later that year.  Then, post-production was delayed while Jason worked on Deadwood Park (2007) as a producer and actor.  After Deadwood Park wrapped, Jason jumped back into Savage Harvest 2: October Blood and started editing.  Both of these movies were released in ’07.  Savage Harvest 2: October Blood has now been on the market for as many years as it took to make.

There are some nightmare stories about indie filmmakers bringing their films to completion over an agonizingly long period of time.  I think Jim VanBebber’s film The Manson Family (2003) took a decade to complete.  On the bigger-budget end of the spectrum, Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (1999) took 14 months to shoot, and around a year to edit.  Apocalypse Now (1979) took 16 months to shoot, almost two years to edit, and nine months to trudge through sound mixing.  Savage Harvest 2: October Blood has some great company on the slow track.

About a year after the release of Savage Harvest 2: October Blood, we began making Ratline (2011).  This movie (another one on the slow track) functioned as something of a reunion of Savage Harvest 2’s key creative people.  Emily and Jason starred in the leading roles.  Jason and I co-wrote the screenplay and executive produced together.  Jeremy Wallace, associate producer on Savage Harvest 2, was back to produce Ratline.  I directed, shot, and edited Ratline

You can feast your eyes on preview trailers for Ratline and both Savage Harvest movies here.

If the long, arduous haul that was making Savage Harvest 2: October Blood intrigues you, check out the documentary, Harvest Season: The Making Of Savage Harvest 2: October Blood.  Get all the gory details about the torture director Jason Christ went through!  The doc is on the second disc of the bonus-features-packed 2-Disc Savage Harvest 2: October Blood DVD release.  All the details are here.

Patience is important for fans of the Savage Harvest movies, but it was more important for Jason Christ to have patience while making part 2.  Five years is a long stretch, and I don’t think at any point in that span of time was it easy for Jason.  He had to have tenacity… and an impressively unshakable work ethic.

Believe it or not, story ideas for a Savage Harvest 3 have been kicked around in recent years.  This is especially insane to me, as I can barely believe someone already wrote and directed a sequel to my youthful effort, the original Savage Harvest - a movie I have a very difficult time taking seriously now, having nearly two decades of additional experience under my belt.

So, prepare yourself for the next Savage Harvest movie… at this rate, expect part three to emerge around 2019 – or later… we’re older now, and we move a bit slower these days.

Thanks for reading.

- Eric Stanze

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