To Hell and Back Again – the final weeks of actual production
It’s been a few weeks since I have written, but things have been crazy hectic! We had a major weather related issue, and it really hit the production hard. We had one final series of scenes to film, 3 of them to be exact. And they were a big deal because not only do they help in moving the story forward, but they had a very special guest star in then… Lloyd Kaufman!!! Lloyd is a huge inspiration for many of us involve din House of Forbidden Secrets. He is the main man at Troma Films, an actor in many genre titles and even Rocky, and most importantly, he has produced or directed many of our favorite movies, like Toxic Avenger, Class of Nuke Em High and Terror Firmer! Lloyd was set to come in on FEB 24, 25 and 26…. But we got his with a crazy snowstorm, not once, but twice. Causing us to get over 22 inches of snow here. While Lloyd was in town, we had set up an awesome deal with the Alamo Drafthouse to do a huge screening with a Q and A and Lloyd would be signing autographs and posing for pics with his fans. Advance tickets had been sold. Not only did we have to move filming, we also had to move the Alamo Drafthouse event. The AD staff is incredible really – very helpful and open to working through issues like this. Thankfully!!! So everything ha dto be moved to March 4. 5 and 6. The day Lloyd was set to come, it snowed again… and his flight was delayed until almost 4 AM!!!!! We picked him up at our airport, while there I noticed a mural on the wall about Kansas City and how much help Tom Pendfergast had given the city…. My how history has changed! More on that later! Lloyd was in good spirits but very tired, so we got him to his hotel – the Drury Suites near the airport.
The Drury was a whole new adventure! The girl behind the counter when we went earlier to ensure his room was ready told us we could not check him in early because she was running her reports and her computer was busy. It was a shock to me, because I always thought that this kind of thing was done at end of shift…. So here we were, back with Lloyd this time. It took us an hour to check in. Pretty simple reason – employess error. My credit card was charged 3 times until finally it began to decline her. She swore she had not charged a thing, and I reminded her the card swiped fine 3 times and now was saying declined, meaning all my funds were gone. So she took Lloyd’s credit card. I gave Lloyd cash for the room and he in turn charged it since they wanted a credit card. She double charged Lloyd. This was becoming the most expensive room ever in Kansas City. Of course, Lloyd didn’t know he was double charged until a few days after the shoot. We got it all resolved finally. Damned mess!
So Lloyd finally got upstairs around 5:15 AM and went to bed. He was cracking jokes right up until we said goodnight and we made fun of the situation a bit. The next day was an early start as we had to be on set by 12:30 PM to ensure we could shoot all we needed in time to rush down to the Alamo Drafthouse… with Lloyd arriving so late, we had to move things around and shoot on the same day as the Alamo event. Tim Mclaws took his daughter Aria out of school for us and even helped get us a new location at his in-laws house. It ended up being perfect! Lloyd, being the professional he is, was stunning in his part and these 3 small scenes burst to life in a way that I can’t even describe. It was surreal and amazing to be standing in that kitchen with one of my idols… and directing him to boot! After the shoot, Lloyd gave me some great words of encouragement and some much needed praise for my style as a director and off we went to the Alamo Drafthouse… we were behind by 15 minutes.
Traffic was actually in our favor as we hit downtown… usually a terrible experience and a traffic jam from hell, our side was going AGAINST that traffic and we made it downtown in record time. We got inside, introduced Lloyd to ur Drafthouse friends and they got his table all set for him and we actually got everything set up and ready right on time. People started arriving. I was worried that since we had to move it, some people who had tickets could not make it. We did end up losing a few to the date change, maybe 20 people…. Not too terrible. We ended up selling out almost ¾ of the large theater on a Tuesday night. Troma Tuesday we called it! Of course this also meant we had to cancel our radio shows we normally produce for the night, including my own show Nightwatch. Sideshow Radio had a guest that had to be moved and it was all quite a mess. And Movies Hate You, a show that is on before Sideshow Radio was really messed up due to technology failing and communication not getting through, resulting in the guys thinking they were still going to be live, yet I was at the Drafthouse with Lloyd and not in studio to produce. This resulted in my apologizing from me, and about a 20 minute phone call trying to patch it up… I had to explain that there was a huge investment riding on this event and that we had no choice, we didn’t choose the new dates, and the snow had forced us into this situation. Keep in mind that I feel Sideshow and Movies Hate You were fully justified in being upset at the situation… the snow and everything had caused issues with their shows, thus letting down THEIR fans. All around, it was not a perfect situation – but Lloyd and the event went perfect and everyone seems happy in the end.
I also felt a bit upset… no one really knew what kind of hell we had all been through, so I didn’t feel upset toward the show hosts, I just felt like in some cases, I had been catching some hell from people in my life for doing this film. The movie had been going full steam since DEC 21st. We had two weeks off in there, so things realy didn’t get crazy for me until mid January. It had been about 10 weeks of crazy, and it was surprising how many people that I had been so helpful to, that I had helped and that I always, even while I was in the hospital last year after my heart attack, I always took care of their shows and their archives and things for the radio station. And yet now, when I truly needed some understanding, they were all so self absorbed and selfish. This was a major opportunity for me, and after that surgery I decided right then and there that if I lived through quadruple bypass that I was going to get back into making films. It is truly the only time I feel so alive and comfortable. And not only was a making a film again, I had a good budget and I was bringing major actors and actresses into Kansas City to help make this movie a success. Making a movie is not just something you can do for 4 hours and then go and do other stuff. It’s not like a part time job! You have to immerse yourself in it… you live, eat and breathe it! In addition to filming I was still doing my radio duties, handling my graphic clients for my day job and still finding time to be with my family once in a while!
The radio station has been growing in large increments for some time now, and so we had moved servers in December, I had talked with MochaHost about moving there, getting a better rate, a dedicated server and I told them everything – we talked in depth about my needs, the amount of traffic and how many shows we had. 2 weeks into shooting MochaHost shut us down, after taking over $600.00 from me, saying we had too much bandwidth and traffic for them. They had made a deal with me, they knew our numbers, yet they did this without even calling me. I had to find out from a show host. No e-mails, nothing. So right in the middle of film production the radio station website had to be moved. On top of that, half of my files that were on their server were deleted. Gone. I had to basically get ANOTHER server, rebuild our website and get us back online. Many archives were lost, so in addition I have been going back and doing my best to re-edit the old shows and get the archives put back together. With so many shows it is taking some time, but I am almost done with that finally and our Archive Vault is almost ready to upload again. During this time, I became so upset with some hosts that I basically fired them from the station or told them it was best to part ways. I pay for most of this station myself, out of pocket. I make sure the archives are right, I handle all the business. I have some help from Amanda producing, but I myself produce 50% of our content. Also for free. I refuse to allow someone to trash me or be an asshole to me on my dime. If they can’t support my dream after all I have been through, there’s the door. Now that all the major scenes have been filmed, and most of our pick up shots are done, I have been able to do some of that work as well. But of course, I also have been editing now.
I started editing the film about a week before Lloyd was set to arrive the first time. We have been in negotiations with a major Horror film composer that will be revealed soon – and he needed a rough cut to help him with the theme music… the final score for the film will be split between this amazing composer and our favorite long time soundtrack master Toshi. And this is in no way a reflection on Toshi… he does amazing atmospheric music, but we simply could not pass up the opportunity to also work with this composer from Italy…. And it will also help bring more attention to the film and to Toshi’s work as well. In addition, we have had several film festivals ask about the film and their deadlines are coming up too… and they require at least a rough cut to be done to enter the film – we can actually show the finished film in the fest, most of them are late Summer or Fall – but we have to get the film entered and paid for now. So I have a huge deadline on me and I refuse to compromise quality. It has to be the best it can be… and even though I am pushing hard, I still am taking the time to do it right… I am just not sleeping – LOL. Nothing will be sacrificed in film quality, but the same cannot be said of my life… I will make sacrifices to ensure the film is done right and on time. That is what making a movie is all about. Sacrifice, hard work and a very amazing end result.
I don’t want it to sound like I was being a complainer or a bitcher, I’m not. Just giving am account of the last few weeks and why it has taken me a while to get an update done. In the end, the public is pretty smart, but also a bit unforgiving. If the film has issues, they don’t care why. They don’t care if an actor was tired, or if a camera got broken, or an effect didn’t work right… they don’t care if there was a blizzard or a flood, if a location was flooded, if a light blew out… all they care about is if they were entertained… so it is my duty and my true responsibility to every cast and crew person to make sure this turns out the best I can possibly make it. And if some things must be sacrificed for a short amount of time, so be it. I learned a long time ago that film is timeless. Movies last forever… and even some of my old films that I have disowned and would like to see buried keep coming back to haunt me. Once this film is done and out there it will be forever. It will outlast all of us. And so it has been an honor to be able to bring my vision to life with the help of all of the talented people involved – you have brought my imagination to life! Thanks to every person who helped in any way – and thanks to every person who watches it and gets it and has as much fun as we did making it.