The last time that I wrote a screenplay on spec it was THE SHELTER and to be honest, the trial and tribulations that I have had with that film in 2015 nipped my creative streak in the bud for the bulk of the year. In short, handling the producing duties after the shoot killed the screenwriter in me. Now although I’m still carrying/pushing/hustling THE SHELTER (and with some help, FINALLY overcoming the obstacles that have plagued us); I’ve rediscovered my creative streak and am now in the midst of writing my next spec script EVA (working title, or maybe not).
After DEADEN and AMERICAN MUSCLE, I’ve always wanted to round up my “revenge” trilogy (as a writer anyways) with a female protagonist. I have been thinking about Eva and her story for a long time and I am now having a blast finally giving it life on the page. I’m relishing writing a strong, intelligent and damaged female lead character, the story that I have is unique within the subgenre and yes, there will be blood – lots of it. In between taking THE SHELTER home, setting up my next film as a director THE PRIZE, fulfilling my duties on a writing job for hire, a new project with Dead Shadows director David Cholewa and now EVA, my 2016 is off to a solid start. Off to the Pub! Got some writing to do.
It was on this day last year in 2015 (on January 17) that ex Army Ranger, Fitness Model, Body Builder, Motivational speaker, Actor on the rise and thrill seeker GREG PLITT passed on. Now I’ve never met Greg in real life but his death hit me like a ton of bricks none the less. Much like many of his followers out there, Greg’s videos spoke to me, moved me, educated me and inspired me. They did years ago when I found some of them on YouTube and they helped me climb out of the gutter I had dug for myself and they did even more in 2015.
You see, prompted by his passing I went to his site and I got so much out of it in terms of learning (fitness, nutrition, supplements), inspiration and motivation. You’ve been gone a year Greg, but you still live on through all of us. I can only speak for myself and say a heartfelt THANK YOU for all that you’ve given me and still give me. And thank you to the Plitt family for keeping his legacy alive via updating his website and Facebook Page. In honor of Greg, I share with you this MOTIVATIONAL MP3(download it here), trust me when I say this: if you need a good morale boost, this will do it (I listen to this on the subway all the time). I am also sharing my fav fan made Plitt video below and finally I urge you to JOIN HIS SITE if you want to know more about training, nutrition, achieving goals, his philosophy etc. I’m actually going to ski a mountain today in his honor. God bless you brother! Your legacy lives on!
At Greg Plitt’s place of death. Had to do it. Pay my respects…
Looking back at 2015, all I remember off hand are two things: 1- Greg Plitt died out of no where on January 17 of 2015 (a man who helped me get back on track via his site/videos years ago. His passing prompted me to go back to his site and once again he helped a lot this year) and my film THE SHELTER, which took over the bulk of my thoughts and efforts. The film resulted in some positive things like cool festival runs, positive reviews, meeting new people, making new contacts and new opportunities arising.
Work hard – play hard. Always.
It also came with its fair share of hardships (that I will go into when all is said and done some day – I may write a book ) and some trial by fire i.e. gaining further knowledge as to the current state of the film market through my mistakes. Shelter aside, I actually had to look back at my 2015 pictures to remind me of what else I did that year and yeah, I had yet another groovy year of doing what makes me happy: training, nature, my friends, traveling and challenging myself.
Top of my head here are some of my favorite personal moments of 2015!
Tackled one of the biggest mountains I have ever scaled. What a rush. I want more!
My dad got hit with larynx cancer early this year. I was sure he was a goner, but the man fought (respect) and with the help of our support, he prevailed. Happy to still have him around.
In Paris, France with the Dead Shadows cast/crew for an autograph session. It was so cool to see everybody again, to be in Paris, a city that I love, and to spend time with the Cholewa clan aka awesome people.
The Shelter had its world premiere at Frightfest in the UK and we got lots of solid reviews out of it. It was a great moment to share with exec producer/buddy Berge Garabedian, Seeing old friends (Richard Cosgrove!) and drinking Trooper Ale were also big pluses :)
Spent even more time at the lake house. Can’t go wrong when your time is all about nature, training, reading, exploring, writing and the water.
Although the Sitges Film Festival The Shelter screening didn’t go as well as I wanted it to for varied reasons (image problems on our DCP being one of them), I got to hang with my brother Mike Hostench, hit some fly parties, appreciated the setting once again, had fun with Rurik Salle and met new great peeps like Julien Seri and Pascal Sid. VIVA SITGES!
Eric Red and I worked on the same set together for the first time time since 100 Feet. This time I did second unit directing/camera work and took on set pics. Without going into details; the war that was this set solidified my brotherhood with Eric. And for that and the experience – I was grateful…
Streamlining The Shelter, which is a film that addresses spirituality or lack of, has been responsible for an evolution in my own spiritual path. Hence after Sitges, I spend a week in Barcelona with my bro Gonzalo. We wound up having a pilgrimage of sorts and I found it very rewarding.
I was very happy to see The Shelter screen at the prestigious A Night of Horror Film Festival in Australia. The crowd dug it and star Michael Pare won a career achievement award for his work in the film. Twas a good ending for The Shelter in 2015
At Greg Plitt’s place of death. It was very important for me to pay respect. He inspired/motivated me so much all year, it was the least I could do. It took hours to find the exact spot of his passing. Was worth it. RIP Legend.
In terms of negatives, I’m not one to dwell on those cause, well, what will that achieve? Nothing. I’ll just say that the odd energy around The Shelter gave me a run for my patience, maximum effort often led to maximum frustrations as opposed to results and knives stabbed in my back here and a severe “misjudgement of character on my part” there should be noted… nothing new at this point, people are people. Lastly, my 14 year old dog is on her way out (going deaf, blind and very old) it’s coming and I am bracing myself… such is life.
My dog Toby can’t swim alone anymore…she’s too old. I still have her work-out though. Use it or lose it.
I feel very positive in terms of 2016 though (just got back from a stay in the wilderness – that always sets me right)! The Shelter will screen at a handful of Festivals and will lock distribution, am pumped to get my next film The Prize off the ground, I’m starting boxing again (after dealing with a stubborn tennis elbow in 2015 that got in my way, I finally healed it), I’ll be part of handful of exciting projects (as a writer and actor), already have some traveling on the horizon, mother nature is always in my plans and I will focus on awakening by creative side again, specially when it comes to writing for myself. Producing The Shelter in 2015 kind of numbed by creative juices, I won’t let that happen this year. That’s it in a nutshell! Welcome to 2016 people! I leave you with my 2016 National Anthem:
Early this year AMERICAN MUSCLE was released in the UK on disk under the title VENGEANCE ROAD. Being that THE SHELTER has been consuming the bulk of my life, I totally forgot to keep tabs on the UK reviews of the flick. So here are four reviews that I found below! This is probably the last time that I will I post about American Muscle aka Vengeance Road, so I will end with this: I am and will always be very proud of the film. It so didn’t get the attention that it deserved from the festival circuit IMO (it was an ideal drunken Midnight audience movie) but I do find comfort in the fact that it has been gaining a sturdy cult following.
PS: I do have one more vigilante film in me, this time with a female protagonist. I already have a basic story line mapped out. Yes I kind of like the idea of leaving a”revenge” trilogy behind; screenplay wise anyways: Deaden, American Muscle and this next one. To be continued on that!
“What better way to end this span of enforced detox than with the latest from the pen of John Fallon. VENGEANCE ROAD is a brisk uber-violent piece of glorious neo-Grindhouse”!
Brutal as Hell: “Vengeance Road does what so few neo-grindhouse movies manage: it delivers all the old school sleaze you hope to see, but doesn’t neglect to tell a well-rounded story in an intelligent way.”
I’m so happy that THE SHELTER will screen there, my only regret is that I won’t be there to support the screening in person (I made a prior commitment the Southern Screen Film Festival – the film will play there too) and hang with all the fine folks at the Festival. On that, I do have a message for the ANOH crowd:
“The Shelter is a moody, trippy and introspective film, hence set those gore and bouncing melons expectations aside. As opposed to what I have done in the past, this is not that kind of movie.Don’t go in there expecting a party, think more the mood of a funeral… :)”
The short OLD NUMBER SEVEN (read my production diary here) started off with writer/director Gonzalo Lopez and I getting inspired by way of a bottle of Jack Daniels, some early Argento movies and Maiden’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album. We wrote the film in 2 days, we got ace DP Javier Rueda on board and we eventually shot the film on a shoe string budget. The film premiered at the Sitges Film Festival in 2009 to a so-so response and based off of that screening we re-cut the film (for the better). It screened at 5 more International Festivals after that and then vanished – and pretty much everybody involved was content with that. It had vanished. It was over.
On a personal level; this film happened pretty much around the time where my whole life went downhill. So for me, on top of not performing as well as I had hoped, the short had a “bad times” connotation tagged to it, one that I wanted to leave behind me. Over the years though, every single time I’d go to Spain, Gonzalo and I would watch the film, and all depending on the amount of beers we’d have, it was either a piece of shit or a masterpiece. Either way, we’d always fun with it – in a Rocky Horror Picture Show kind of way!
On my last trip to Spain, we watched it yet again, and although flawed, I did recognize some very solid elements within it (the opening, the abortion, the kill, Saida’s fine performance, some of the imagery) and I convinced director Gonzalo Lopez to slap the short online and fully close the book on the film if you will.
So there ya have it! You curious about OLD NUMBER SEVEN? You can watch it below! Some aspects I love, some I hate, it didn’t have the end result or life I wanted it to have… but that’s just how it goes sometimes. I’ve made peace with all of it and I now look at it fondly as it does come with its far share of good memories. I’m happy it’s now online. Cheers! JF PS: Yes Iron Maiden gave us the permission to use the opening song
Hey all! Just letting you know that I will be at this year’s AMERICAN FILM MARKET (aka AFM) pushing THE SHELTER in terms of locking distribution. I’ll also be pimping my next film as a director THE PRIZE (now in development) and other cool projects. I’ll be on hand for the duration of the market and I will then stick around Los Angeles till November 17 or so in the name of catching up with old friends (get ready Red) and attending a handful of key meetings. If you wanna meet up while I’m there, send me an e-mail ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) and we’ll take it from there! Here we go again! WAR TIME.
The SITGES FILM FESTIVAL screening of THE SHELTER has come and gone and here are my quick thoughts on how it went down. When I presented the film I said: “You know me for films with tits and gore” and the crowd went wild and then I said “Well, this isn’t one of those” and the crowd groaned. This was the first day of the Fest, the audience wanted to party and if there’s one thing THE SHELTER is NOT is a party movie. With that aside; the crowd didn’t boo (those trustee whistles) which I saw as a positive thing and they all clapped at a certain point which at least told me they were involved in the happenings.
PPS: When the flick finally rolled, I did a double take. The image didn’t look too good with the colors being all over the place. Not sure if it was my DCP, the projector or a bit of both, but the film never looked this bad on a big screen. I am still in Spain now, but when I get home, I will get to the bottom of things as I NEVER want the movie to look like that on a big screen again.
Me and Dead Shadows co-star Rurik Salle finally finishing our fight!
Post screening, I corresponded in person with folks at the Fest and online with people who enjoyed the picture and on the flip side I read some negative things online but nothing that I would call too thought out i.e. no sweat off my bulldog balls. Hence overall my SITGES was a positive one , saw old amigos (too many to name, you know who you are), made new ones, saw one film that I LOVED (Julien Seri’s Night Fare – see it), dealt with one sucker-punch burst of negative energy in a surprisingly admirable fashion (I impressed myself… God bless this new maturity), appreciated all of the fans who came to see me (signed some Shelter and even Dead Shadows stuff) and that supported me and left Sitges to hit Barcelona with a smile on my face.
With great men Rurik Salle, Pascal Sid and Julien Seri. Keep fighting gents!
I am now talking with varied distributors who are interested in putting out THE SHELTER, say prayers, knock on wood, do whatever you do – send that positive energy our way! In closing: big thank you to the Sitges Film Festival and specifically to the great Mike Hostench for having me and making my stay there yet another memorable one. See you with the next film!
Blessed to know this man for 10 years! The Hostench!
In the words of the immortal Gunther: “Mama mia, give me a sangria!”
Filmmaking is a team sport…period. Everybody from craft, PA, makeup, crew, cast etc. makes the film happen. So it was very important for me to lock a screening of THE SHELTER in Lafayette Louisiana (where we shot the picture), so that the people who worked on the movie would have the opportunity to see it on the big screen.
Good news is – it is FINALLY locked in stone. THE SHELTER will screen in Lafayette, LA between November 19 and 22nd 2015 at the SOUTHERN SCREEN FILM FESTIVAL. I of course invite everybody that hustled on the film to attend. Will I be there? I want to be, I am not 100% sure yet, I will know in about two weeks. But if I am, I’ll try to bring star Michael Pare with me! So there you have it! WOOT!
I was recently interviewed by the famous fan site AIN’T IT COOL NEWS aka AICN. We talked THE SHELTER…what else?! All I got these days Here is an excerpt:
CO: Was there anything else that changed between the script and what was shot?
JF: The religious imagery. There was a statue of Christ and I do little ‘push ins’ on it. When I walked into the house location, the man who owned it was a hardcore Christian and it was filled with religious imagery everywhere. Everywhere. EVERYWHERE. It was a shrine to Christ. And I was like, okay, we’re in the right house.
THE SHELTER will be screening at the SITGES FILM FESTIVAL on October 9th at 8:00PM at the Retiro as part of the Panorama Fantastic section! Writer/Director John Fallon will be on hand to present the screening.