“Sicut umbra transeunt dies” As the shadow pass the days.
If there’s one thing that I learned about the film industry over time is that it’s wise to have more than one project to shop around at a time. Right now, I am pushing five of them, all different genres and different budget ranges (with EVA and THE PRIZE getting the most traction thus far). On that, another project was just born (Co-Writer Karim Cheriguene and I recently finished our final draft), it is called HERETIC and the easiest way I can describe it is: Apocalypse Now with Templars!
It started off as short by Karim and we were all set to shoot it. But it got LOTS of love by the folks who read it and all I kept hearing was “it should be a feature”. Hence Karim and I decided to do just that. Personally, I am so passionate about the time period, the subject matter and the themes at hand, that writing it was simply a pleasure.
It’s set in a time when men were men.
Amidst wondrous and treacherous nature.
Explores the double edge sword of spiritual belief.
Sports action and brutal sword fights.
Addresses the themes of brotherhood and the layered ways one can cope with guilt.
Yup, the last time I was THIS pumped about making a film was THE SHELTER, which basically means, there will be no stopping me in getting it off the ground. I already have a name cast and varied production outlets interested. Time to bring this one home.
I founded Arrow in the Head in the year 2000 (this was my first review…lol), alongside my hombre JoBlo aka Berge Garabedian (thanks again for the opportunity man), when I was a young horror-loving punk and when the internet was still the Wild West. I did everything myself on the site till about 2005 when it got so big that we had to hire a staff to back me up. Up until now, I was the main “reviewer” on the site. On that, I did miss a lot of horror films last year for varied reasons, which brings me to this article: after 16 years, I am stepping down as the main theatrical/new-releases reviewer for AITH.
Although I do have mix feelings about it (it will be kind of odd and maybe refreshing to see new flicks and not HAVE TO write about them afterwards) I decided that this was the right time to do it. Throughout the years, I have balanced working on the site while pursuing my cinematic aspirations (I have been screenwriting or/and acting in films like 100 FEET,DEAD SHADOWS or AMERICAN MUSCLE). But it’s having directed my first feature THE SHELTER (coming to Redbox on February 7 BTW), which prompted me to call it a day. I completely fell in love with the process, it invigorated me, and am now focusing my energies further on that career path. And to be honest with ya, since last year, reviewing new releases, just didn’t feel “right” anymore. When it doesn’t feel right – it’s time to call it quits.
With Derek Mears (Jason Voorhees), Nick Principe (Chromeskull) and R.A. Mihailoff (Leatherface)!
On that, I will always be on the site behind the scenes, and in the name of keeping my voice on it, I have decided to still give out my two cents and chump change on the occasional old movie (like I recently did here). Why? To educate younger readers about cinema and maybe bring attention to fine films that some of you may have overlooked. I also may start a column down the road, I have a nifty idea (yes, it is nifty), we’ll see. And of course, when I get my next feature off the ground (I got 5 that are being looked at right now, one will set-up sooner or later), AITH will be ground zero for me to share my (mis) adventures in filmmaking.
In closing, I would like to thank all of you who have supported my ramblings on AITH for all them years – I’ve felt lots of love over time and enjoyed interacting with many of you, debating what we all worship: GENRE CINEMA. I also want to thank the haters who were key in my evolution too, as they taught me how to handle fair/harsh/unfair criticism. A key trait to have in this biz. Ya know, I still get the random e-mail from folks saying that they “grew up with me”, or “went into the film biz because of me” or that they fell in love with horror because of my keyboard drivel. Shit, I’ve even had high profile filmmakers re-cut their films after reading my early Fest reviews. Kind of nuts when I stop and think about it. So yeah, I think in terms of this field – one that I undertook by accident (creating/running a site and reviewing films were never goals of mine, they just happened) – you can’t get any better than that. Now time to conquer other mountains! Thanks again for all the support and the positive energy over the years. Back at ya mofos and mofettes!
I didn’t do a retrospective of 2013 on this blog, because it just wasn’t worth it. It was a year filled with waste of my time, thick bullshit and negative energy. Not one for the records. A year to forget. But at the end of the year, I had a burning desire to turn it all around and I went back to the basic rule of life. You have to pose an action to get a reaction; nothing will happen unless you prod life to budge… so that’s what I did.
So in 2014 I “cut myself off” from said BS that ruined 2013 and started off the year by taking a huge risk, putting it all on the line in the name of directing my first film; THE SHELTER. It needs to be said that the film would not have happened without pal and producer Donny Broussard who took on and aced the pre production of the film early on. He and his team got me everything I needed and efficiently at that! I couldn’t have asked for more! Our hard working cast/crew who hustled hard on the shoot and JoBlo Movie Productions who came in and financed the Post Production once the shoot was done also helped make this dream a reality. So thank you all for that, I will never forget it.
With Producer Donny Broussard and actor Michael Pare on The Shelter set!
Yup, getting The Shelter done was my highlight of 2014.
I felt alive on that set and in my element if you will. Having a veteran like Michael Pare as a lead was a pleasure (and an education), the Holbrooks were on f-ing fire (loved their on set ethics) and I was finally able to accomplish a dream that I’ve had for over 10 years. So I can stop this retrospective right here! In January of 2014 I finally reached what had been my Holy Grail for eons; I directed my first feature. But ya known what? I feel like babbling, so lets move on!
The rest of 2014 also had more The Shelter, The Shelter and The Shelter in it. Holbrook Multi Media and I took on Post Production duties with the whole of the process taking 8 months (on and off) to bring home. It was a lot of work (note to self, next film, I have to pay myself), but work is fine when you enjoy what you’re doing. And what really stimulated me was that it was all creative.
Post on The Shelter with sound designer Colby Huval and editor Bobby Holbrook!
Locking the cut with editor Bobby Holbrook, working the score with composer Shawn Knippleberg, overseeing the VFX with Thomas Wilson or sitting down with Colby “Road House” Huval to nail that sound design; all mucho stimulating processes, made all that much more easy, being that these were fun fucking guys to work with. Needless to say I learned more about every aspect of filmmaking (and producing…ahhh…producing… learn from your mistakes Johnny, LEARN!) from The Shelter, than I did in my entire life. That includes film school and the countless sets I have been on. So I will bring all of this new knowledge with me onto the next film (The Shadowing baby!). To say I am a better man for it would be an understatement.
Other than The Shelter, it was swell to see past work come to fruition. David Cholewa’s DEAD SHADOWS ( a sci-fi/action film that I acted in) got its North American release via Scream Factory while Ravi Dhar’s AMERICAN MUSCLE (a film that I wrote and acted in) was unleashed on disk and Netflix via WellGoUsa. Both got good to middle ground to negative reviews but nothing entertained me more than than the “critics” who got their underpants in a bunch over American Muscle’s depiction of slutty women (the film was set in the biker world, not a Royal Wedding). Of course the fact that all the men in the film were all PURE SCUM with our leading man being the biggest SLUT of them all went over their heads but I digress. Highly entertaining reads from my POV. Thank you! needless to say that those were two projects that I am VERY PROUD to be a part of.
American Muscle came out this year! It pissed some people off. That made me happy!
I also planted more seeds in 2014 in the form of two screenplays that I gunned out. I was hired to adapt/translate a french graphic novel into a script and I’m very happy as to how it turned out (I can’t say which novel it is at this stage) and then I was hired to do a polish on another script (initially written by somebody I grew up admiring), which in time wound up basically being a Page 1 rewrite to fit the producer’s wants. I can’t say which script that was either just yet but you’ll all know in due time. So two scripts in the bank and two acting roles on hold as well!
In between all that; I spent some considerable time in LA (always great to see my bro Eric Red and his lovely better half Meredith), I then fled to Spain again for a while (saw my bro Gonzalo there, hiked Montserrat once more, partied with my bud Mike Hostench and the beautiful city that is Barcelona always warms my heart), worked a script at my friend’s beach house (ideal place to write) and I got to experience some Navy Seal training in Washington DC. It was just a TINY taste of it, but I got hooked and I’ll be back to do the whole course when my wallet says I can.
At home in nature.
In between all of that, I saw all kinds of Habs games live at the Bell Center (all winning games too, thx Bryant and Berge) spent lots of time in nature (nothing makes me happier than being there… nothing), hiking mountains, kayaking, sea-dooing, skiing, snowmobiling, tree climbing, running and had a memorable booze/hockey fueled party week with my bud Bryant who came down from Australia to let loose. Fun, alcohol laced, weight gaining good times! Always great to see the lad.
Speaking of weight gain; I considerably cut down on my boozing this year. I have been spending more time in the Gym, playing hockey (not as much as I wanted), being in the wild, and more time boxing than in Pubs. I kind of like it that way to be honest It keeps me out of trouble, keeps me fit and really helps in terms of relieving stress. And more importantly – it makes me happy. I’ll be trying out Kickboxing early next year and giving classic boxing a rest for a bit, lets see how it goes!
Got a SMALL taste of Navy Seals training! LOVED IT!
2014 wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows though. As much as it was productive and rewarding, it also came with its fair share of hick-ups… such is life. As opposed to listing all that went wrong, I’ll just list what I learned from it all and what I will bring with me in 2015
–Always back up your work cause you never know when your computer will die on you. I lost 25 pages of a spec script cause of that when my laptop went kaput. And now my PC just went down on me too (that didn’t sound right).
-I’m not a very trusting person by nature. But I was reminded the HARD WAY that mistrust shouldn’t just be applied to the people in your day to day surroundings, it also should be applied to complete strangers. People are fucking nuts out there! You have to watch your back, ALL THE TIME.
-Many are all talk and don’t keep their word, specially in the film biz. Just how it is. I have to deal with it and stop getting so pissed about it. The saying: You scratch my back, I scratch yours should be re-named as: I scratch yours, I scratch yours, I scratch yours.
-The saying: You want something done right, do it yourself, should be re-named as: You want something done, period, do it yourself, period.
Practicing my hockey.
-I fell for the oldest film financing deception in the book in 2014 at the hand of a scumbag “producer”, I was ashamed that after all that I have been through that I fell for such an old trick AGAIN and wasted so much of my time and efforts. It won’t happen again. Stern reminder.
-If you don’t want some nut-job out there to throw your cats in an abandoned pool and drown them to death; don’t let your cats out the house. I lost two of my feline buddies that way this year, and it broke my heart. Then I broke something else…
There’s another end of the year whopper that has already started to change my life and I will address that one when the time is right. Look for a blog entry about it in the near future.
In closing; if 2014 was the year THE SHELTER got made; 2015 will be the year when I find it a HOME! Sales, distribution and Festivals in should be interesting! I’m also excited to take on THE SHADOWING full time and get that bad-boy off the ground! I have a plan. It’s my next film as a director and I’m totally in love with the script. it’s gonna OWN! I also got other projects up in the air with other people, a couple of acting roles too, but it’s too early for me to feel 100% excited about them i.e. I’ll believe it when it happens. I don’t buy talk – I buy action.
Onward and forward!
Do I have any resolutions? I guess quit Nicotine gum without getting back to cigarettes. Yeah, that would be it. Tough one. I also have a French sports spec script I’ve been wanting to write forever. I think 2015 is the year. Other than that just keep doing what I’m doing; challenge myself, work my butt off and continue to achieve. Oh and keep enjoying life. I’m thankfully a simple man and I don’t need much. Give me a lake to sit by or a mountain to hike and I’m happy as a pig in shit.
To some degree, 2015 will be uncharted territory for me; meaning that basically, my whole life changed in 2014 and now it’s time for me to find out where it goes in 2015. I anticipate lots of traveling and new endeavors that may surprise me. I made all kinds of new film biz connections in 2014 and I hope it leads to more exciting film projects in 2015. Whatever the case, I know I’ll have a good time traveling the path to find out what is in store for me! Successful or not. Rich or poor. I don’t sit on my hands and I always find a way to have a good time 🙂 Here’s my 2015 National Anthem. RISE. 🙂
Happy New Year everybody! Much love and God bless!