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

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House of Friendships

Posted in Crew on February 23, 2013 by amandaforbidden

In the middle of chaos there grew a seed. Contained in that seed would be the makings of lifelong connections and life changing events. All it took was action and perseverance to plant that seed and watch it blossom. In just the span of 60 days, the seed grew and turned into a great strong force. The roots were nourished by the tears we cried, the laughter we shared, and the hard work we all put in. Sacrifice, trials, and good times built the mighty force. We all learned about each other and we all learned about ourselves. What it takes to complete the tasks at hand. How much we can take. Who can handle what and most importantly we all learned when to let go of negativity and self for the greater good of all. Was this a movie set? Yes, but it was also so much more for many of us. For some it changed lives. For some it made us realize what was important in life. For some it was just a family to go to to help forget what is going on outside the world of House of Forbidden Secrets. For a short time, we were all we had. We slept, breathed, and lived House of Forbidden Secrets. It is my hope that everyone’s lives were enriched by this experience. It is my hope that at the end of the day, when all is done and we all move on to our once again separate lives we will all keep in touch. This has not just been a movie set. I have sat back and observed, this has become a proving grounds for many. A very positive one. We all built the force up and now all that is left is to climb it to reach for the stars. I would say I will miss each of the cast and crew members, but I will not. I will instead opt in to keep in contact with everyone. You are all my personal friends now. Thank you for making this time magical even in the face of some adversity. You all did such a wonderful job! As we wind down to the last couple of shoots, I will remember the laughs and good times.

Amanda

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

House of Positive Vibes???

Posted in Production with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2013 by amandaforbidden

We are several weeks into filming and I must say, this has been an amazing work of art. When we watch a film in theaters and on television we do not take the time to think about what goes into the production. We just do not stop and think about all the little details,  the smallest things you can think of. What did it take to pull that scene off? Did the director film it on a set created from nothing or did they use a location? For this film, House of Forbidden Secrets, we have done both. Imagine while you are watching the next film what it would be like to create a set out of nothing and create it into a working environment for a world that did not even exist before. Imagine every take in that scene was the vision of someones mind. Imagine how many people behind the scenes it took to pull off that 30 seconds of greatness in your favorite film. I never knew! Now I do and I really think I am a better person for it. Yes I am going there!

Why would I be a better person having worked on the set of House of Forbidden Secrets? It is simple, I have for once in my life learned and watched the definition of teamwork.  With this film, we have a dozen people working on the same thing. I have never seen anything like it! The set is a very positive place to be. Everyone leaves the outside world behind them and immerses themselves in the project. No one has played the ego card or complained about anything at all. No one is trying to better than anyone else and the most amazing thing to me, everyone is getting along! It has really become a huge family. The thing I noticed, and I hope the readers and followers of this movie will notice as well, is the pictures we take of people laughing and having a good time are real. Everyone has become so close. In fact, when they are killed off they do not want to stay away from the set. Even when they know there is nothing for them to do, they come back and hang out. The crew members and the cast on this film are just amazing people. Everything I have heard about filming movies has been opposite. Everything I have ever done that involved more than three people has always turned out to be a very negative experience. Ego’s flying around and bad attitudes ruling the atmosphere. It has always been like a pissing contest. One person has an idea, another thinks they can do it better, then next thing you know you have 3 people running in circles accomplishing nothing while thinking they are the best.  Now back to the point at hand, why am I a better person? Because now that I have tasted of this positive infectious potion on the set of HOFS, I want to apply it to every project I work on. I strive to build these kinds of lasting relationships with everyone I work with. This project has given me new hope in people, in the human race. To allot of people in the world who have not experienced anything like this, I am sure they are saying, “Oh come on, this is just a stupid fun movie. What are you going on about?” It is not. It is something people from all over, every walk of life are working together on and believing in. People whom I would have never met. Good people that have enriched my life for the better. These people have put their hands on this film, their finger prints. They are the detailers, the planners, the think of every-thingers to make this film everything it can be. They laugh, they learn, they work and lose sleep, they freeze, and they love it. I love working on this film and I adore everyone who is part of it so far. It is my wish everyone in the world gets to experience something great like this at least once.

Holy Cripes! Hospitality!

Posted in Production with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2013 by amandaforbidden

A few years ago if you would have told me I would be making a movie with George Hardy or Allan Kayser, I would have said, “Yeah, on what planet?” I mean meeting people at a con is different….

I remember watching Troll a long long time ago. I think I was like 16? I would watch it over and over, in fact every time it was on and I even rented it a few times on VHS. I would go rent like 2 or 3 awesome cheesy movies on Wednesday nights and watch them all! I just loved it! Now, I didn’t watch Troll 2 until much much later. When I did watch it I was in awe. It was indeed the Best Worst Movie EVER! The scenes that did it for me what of course the now famous, “You can’t piss on hospitality!” being shouted while daddy Michael is taking off his belt. The kid never even got his butt beat for pissing on the table! I was like, “OH MY GOD! Did I just freaking hear that!” Such a great historic line! My other favorite scene was when Creedence was seducing that poor kid and the whole trailer filled up with popped popcorn.. Guest it was a bit too hot? (that was a joke, was it funny?). Anyways, back to what I was talking about, George Hardy. I knew George was a nice guy from having him on the show Nightwatch, but I had no idea what a great man he is. I have to say, if anyone reading this ever gets a chance to meet George Hardy, you MUST do it! His southern hospitality accent draws you in when you are speaking with him. His attitude is very positive and complimentary. He was so excited to be in Kansas City and see everything he could while he was here. George was genuine in every word he spoke and with that man you can certainly tell it. It was a true honor to meet him and I will never forget it. I hope he gets to come back to town very soon and work with us again on something in the future! So, those reading this are going to do what? Watch Troll 2 if you have not done it and go to facebook and LIKE George Hardy!

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