Archive for the Director’s Log Category

The never ending Blog post from beyond time and space…

Posted in Cast, Crew, Director's Log, Production with tags , , , , on April 13, 2013 by extremetodd

Or welcome to my awesome personal Hell! Locked away in an editing room on HOTH.

Sorry it has been a while since my last post. As I have said here, I really wanted more people to be involved in the online blog so it could act as a online diary of sorts for the film. People are so busy it has been tough to get many participants. It was a good idea at least. I have been working on the edit for House of Forbidden Secrets night and day for a few weeks now and the rough cut edit is done. One word: Incredible! Even without the final effects and music mix, it is just entertaining as hell. They say if a film plays this well with no final mixes, it is going to blow away audiences when it is finally finished! No music yet, as we are still working with Fabio Frizzi, Italian Maestro who worked with so many amazing directors including Maestro Fulci – and with the pride of the Horror underground Toshiyuki Hiraoka.  There will be an official soundtrack by BEAT Records from Italy, executive produced by BD Productions, that will see release worldwide with both Mastro Frizzi AND Toshi’s music included!  But as I was writing, the rough cut is finished. I then took a break from editing for a few days to film and edit our new short film “The Request.” It is part of the Horror Anthology “HI-8” and I was blessed by the producers Brad Sykes and Tim Ritter, both amazing Horror icons in their own right, to be asked to be part of the project. Of course I jumped at this opportunity as it really shows brotherhood and support among those of us in the Horror underground. Just finished the full edit on that film and it’s around 10 or 11 minutes long. Came out great and there are many connections to House of Forbidden Secrets in it, including Shadowview Manor itself! And of course Brad Westmar, Nicole Santorella and Antwoine Steel all were in it. Same crew as well. It was a pretty great experience. Now back to work on the fantastic “House of Forbidden Secrets” – doing my final edits, tightening it up and making the “polish” edit complete!!!!

The weekend we shot the short was also a busy weekend for my radio show NIGHTWATCH. The crew of the show were at Planet Comicon as Nightwatch is a sponsor each year for Chris Jackson and he once again put on a great show. But it was also in a bigger new venue and we had a lot of work to do for the con. Got to meet and connect with Adam Baldwin too!!!! We hit it off pretty good and we have some plans to do a few things together so watch for that! In addition to that we released our first two official teasers for “House of Forbidden Secrets.” It’s about a minute long and I decided to do it in the old “Grindhouse” style of film trailers. I am not jumping on any trend here. I truly love that genre. It’s pretty much the same as Drive In Movies, only it was indoors. I used to call the old Empire Theater the “indoor Drive In” when I was a kid… only when I got older did I truly learn about 42nd Street and the Grindhouses that peppered this country in every city in the 60’s 70s and 80’s. Thanks to 42nd Street Pete for that info… I was a regular Grindhouse patron and never knew it! So I do embrace the genre, the style and the world. And this film is truly, in it’s dark heart, a Grindhouse style film. The cast includes such Drive In Icons as Dyanne Thorne and Howard Maurer, George Hardy, Allan Kayser, Ari Lehman, Lloyd Kaufman and Lew Temple, who is a star of more modern Drive In fare. The way the film was written was in direct homage to the films I grew up loving from such directors as Lucio Fulci, David DeCoteau, Fred Olen Ray, Jim Wynorski, Roger Corman, Dario Argento, a bit of HG Lewis and Troma. This is meant to be a fun and entertaining film, not one that is pretentious, “arthouse” and highbrow. Those movies are boring! So in regards to all of that, I wanted the first teaser to reflect that underground connection. To show where my heart and alliances are. I think it works perfectly. I was so happy! I was on cloud 9! I was having a huge party in my heart! We also have a 2nd version of the teaser that was cut for a more “General Audience” tone, supervised by Executive Producer Bryan David – you can find both of them below.

Of course this is not the only teaser/trailer I plan on releasing. I have always had the plan to maybe do 4 trailers, maybe 5, for theatrical and TV ads and such, and each one would have it’s own “look” and feel. There would be no real watered down or dumbed down version though. I know that some audiences just will not understand this film, and I am OK with that. You cannot please everyone they say – and I feel that this is true. But I truly want to please myself, the cast and crew and fans of these types of movies. My goal as the director and producer is to first and foremost match, to the best of my ability within my resources, what was in my head while writing the film. I had the whole film done in my mind. Every shot, every edit, the music, the look and the characters – all in my head – I had seen this film already in there. It had screened nonstop in the Drive In of my mind. The hard part is to work hard on set to try and match what was in there. Most of the time I was able to make it happen. Sometimes a location’s logistics may have changed it a little, or maybe an actor who was helping me bring a character to life had an idea or two. I was fine with that and welcome it, as long as it doesn’t go too far and change the character or who I wanted them to be.  After all I had been through this year, it really was important for me to not waste another minute of my life doing things I don’t want to do, or working on anything I do not 100% believe in.  So you know for sure that I believe in this film 100%!  Our whole cast and crew are exactly the same!  We have all poured our 100% into this project!!!

As I mentioned earlier, this film was already done and screened in my head. I sat down to my computer with a blank screen and when I was done, something new was brought into this world. It was my job as director and producer to now sit down and try and put together a team of talented people to bring the words to life. It took me almost a year after the hospital and all that went down, things finally fell into place! My friend Lew Temple, an amazing actor and super nice human being, introduced me to a guy he knew named Bryan David. Bryan was a Green Engineer who was also involved in entertainment and he had done a short film called The Price and was really looking to get into Executive Production more. I met with Bryan about the radio show and some other business and told him about my film. We hit it off and decided to move forward with the project. I am eternally grateful and thankful to Bryan David and his company BD Productions for stepping in and helping to make the film a reality, moving into production very quickly. VERY quickly.  I had already contacted A/V Concepts, my old investors / Executive Producers and they were interested in the project as well. I was finishing the final draft of the script at the time and Vinnie was out of town on business for 6 weeks, so we had not made a final agreement. BD Productions came in, based on the treatment and story outline and we made our first agreement.  I am truly excited and pleased with the results!  This film kicks ass!  This has been a wild and crazy ride!  I had decided to get back into what I loved the most after the heart attack and I really missed making movies. My early films were troubled, but even then, as a kid, I loved it. And I had gotten pretty good at it right when I stopped. I had learned much and I was winning some awards at film festivals and such.  Now it was time to take those parts of me back – laying there with the thought that I was never going to leave that hospital…. I knew then and there that if I was able to leave that place, I would bring back those parts of me that I had given up – parts of me that I missed very much.

The thing that really strikes me about the film is that from how it starts, there is no way a person could predict where it is going to end. It’s a wild ride, and one I am so proud of. And I love this ride! I love it with every bit of my heart and soul. Thanks to every single person who helped me bring those words real life. Before we all got together, this film never existed. We truly brought new life into the world together. Truly. It stands as proof that people can share a vision and a passion and create something from nothing in this world. All I want is to be 100% true and honest to myself and the people who worked so hard to make it – and to every single person who will watch the film. They will know it is all real, all honest and all from the heart.  Friendships were formed, family created and a brotherhood was forged.  I just cannot wait to bring this baby to the world!

Sincerely,
Todd Sheets
Director/Producer/Writer/Editor
House of Forbidden Secrets

To Hell and Back Again – the final weeks of actual production

Posted in Director's Log with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 18, 2013 by extremetodd

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.

Lloyd Kaufman on set of House of Forbidden Secrets with director Todd Sheets

Lloyd Kaufman on set of House of Forbidden Secrets with director Todd Sheets

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.

Todd Sheets

Director

A double edged Axe and a smile…

Posted in Director's Log with tags , , , , , on February 13, 2013 by extremetodd

Well, principal photography has wrapped on the film – we have a few pick up scenes and effects shots to do… mostly 2nd unity type of stuff. The last official night of shooting was this past weekend – we actually shot 3 days, sneaking in a WED night shoot with comedians AJ Finney and Dustin Kaufman. We also had a few extras in attendance and we added a really cool shot where a few of the girls try and escape the brothel slaughter, only to be caught before they could get off of the porch of Shadowview Manor. Turned out pretty amazing and the sets at The Beast, one of the largest Haunted Houses in the USA turned out simply stunning. It truly looks like we are outside.

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The hard part is over, but instead of feeling a huge relief, I feel pretty down about it. The creative process on this one, the cast and crew, the late nights with this new group of friends who pulled together and became a family…. it’s all pretty much over. When we get together to shoot, the large cast sitting around together, the large crew working like busy creatures of the night – all pretty much gone. Now there are a few of us and maybe one or two actors showing up. Kind of hard. I really miss everyone. But the film looks amazing, and that helps a bunch. Everyone did a great job – and now I have started the editing process. This will be a pain in my ass, but it is worth it. We have the latest version of Premiere that JUST came out a couple of weeks ago, so I am at a small disadvantage, it’s a slight learning curve, but I’ll master it soon enough. I actually miss the older versions like 6.0 and 6.5 and wish that Premiere would offer a “classic” interface for those of us that like the older versions.

Anyway – I’ll write more soon, I have some very good things to write about the “big weekend” with the amazing brothel scenes and some pics to post as well. Stay tuned –

Todd

28 hours in 2 days and still rolling!

Posted in Director's Log with tags , , , , , , on February 4, 2013 by extremetodd

OK, this was the big one. And I was nervous. Have to admit it. Our last major big principal day of filming. We have a couple of days for pick up shots and things we missed, but this was the big one. This was the weekend we had to get through about 15 pages of script. We had Dyanne Thorne and Howard Maurer from the popular Ilsa series of films…. we had Lew Temple who is a true icon and an amazing character actor – most people know Lew as Axel on Walking Dead. We had about 40 or 50 extras, and we had our regular cast of incredible actors. Plus, we had a ton of effects to do. A n entire “Slaughter in a brothel” scene. I was seriously afraid it could not be done. But the thing sis: We friggin did it! We beat the odds, tore ourselves up and got it done! The crew pulled together like never before – the cast worked twice as hard and everyone was in high spirits. As always, I stressed a positive set, and for the most part, it worked. Negative people just got booted…hehe. I will write more about it later – I am still so tired that I am not sure who I am at the moment…. but I will elaborate soon, I promise.

Time for sleep –
Todd

4 weeks down… and its a dream come true

Posted in Director's Log on January 22, 2013 by extremetodd

In addition to the privilege of working with the cast and crew on House of Forbidden Secrets, we have some special guest stars scheduled to be a part of the film… and this past weekend, we had two great actors on set.  Both are genre icons.  One is George Hardy, star of the cult classic Troll 2 and the really incredible documentary Best Worst Movie.  George is just a great person.  his generosity is only matched by his positive energy.  The other actor we had on set is Allan Kayser, a huge fan favorite from the cult classic Night of The Creeps.  Allan had played the part of Brad (The Bradster) in the film before going on to more acting gigs including a major part as Bubba on the much loved TV series Mama’s Family.  We were lucky enough to get both in the SAME scene!  It was such a rush and an honor to direct two icons that I have looked up to and admired for so many years!  The scenes went by without a hitch, and aside from one crazy situation where a fuse blew out at Macabre Cinema, things were fast and organized and so much fun.  It was a night of positive energy, a family atmosphere and true friendships being forged.  Thanks again to everyone for making the weekend so special for George and Allan and for always taking good care of your director!  Couldn’t ask for a better time!

Todd Sheets

Director

The cast and crew with George Hardy and Allan Kayser on the set of House of Forbidden Secrets

The cast and crew with George Hardy on the set of House of Forbidden Secrets

We laughed, we cried… and it was good. Weekend 3 is history!

Posted in Director's Log with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2013 by extremetodd

Had an amazing time this weekend. It was our longest shooting time so far, no sleep at all – tons of blocking and effects, huge dialogue scenes, massive areas to light – and I loved it all! In 3 days I got around 7 hours of sleep. The cast and crew were simply incredible. At one point the actors and I had a meeting so I could explain the evening and how long it was taking. We played a song and did some Zen / Chi work for about 5 minutes. The actors all told me that they wanted me to take my time, that they understood and they would be there no matter what. They trusted my vision, and they wanted to make sure I was able to get what I wanted for the film. Even if it took till Noon the next day, they were there for me. That felt great.

This weekend was also incredibly hard for the actors due to the amount of emotion they had to portray.  Everyone stepped up to the challenge and did such a wonderful job.  Nicole really got lost in her character of Cassie, pushing herself to the edge on many occasions, to the point where I was actually a bit worried about her.  I asked her about it and she said she was doing OK… but she and many others in the cast had to visit some dark places and to see their dedication made me proud and warmed my heart.  Thanks to the cast for taking my words into their hearts and giving them life and passion!!!

Saturday night was a rough one, but I can honestly say we did the best we could to move as fast as possible. Some things are out of our control, but in every way that I could control, we made sure things were rolling ahead. We had two major characters that did gore scenes and there was a ton of Special Makeup Effects work to do. The effects crew did a great job!!! One of the most disturbing things I have even shot.

All in all, a major amount of scenes are in the can, looking great and sounding even better!!!! This is going to be an amazing film.

Todd Sheets

Director / Producer

First Weekend of Shooting

Posted in Director's Log, Production with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 26, 2012 by extremetodd

Just finished our first weekend of shooting before we take a break for the Christmas holidays. Things went even better than I thought, we had an amazing time and the cast proved to be just as incredible as I expected them to be!

The main Cast of House of Forbidden Secrets

The main Cast of House of Forbidden Secrets

We had several key dialogue scenes to do and some minor stunts and action sequences. Things went very smooth. Highlights were the Seance scene where Iris, playing the role of Dorothy Fremont, was actually so scared at Nicole’s amazing performance that she tried to run away! Great job everyone! Cannot wait to be back on the set with all of you on January 4th, in the new year of 2013!  The new dolly we made from scratch worked great as did our steadicam system created by Assistant Director Wayne Whisenant.  Footage came out stellar!