Boy, are we in for a treat today! I was recently able to grab a few minutes with one of independent film’s busiest and most talented people. One of horror’s most glamorous scribes, Alan Rowe Kelly not only writes his films, but he acts, produces and directs them as well. His latest film, The Blood Shed, recently won the Best Feature award at the Dark Carnival Film Festival. A true talent in the industry, and one who Next Tuesday Magazine voted Best Director and Best Writer for his debut film I’ll Bury You Tomorrow in 2003, I am extremely pleased and incredibly honored to give you 10 Questions for…Alan Rowe Kelly!
1.) Dave: How did you get your first start in film?
Alan: A total accident! 1999 is when I began my 4-year journey of getting I’ll Bury You Tomorrow written, filmed, edited and distributed. Previous to that, my experience began as a make-up artist in the film and television industry – which I still work at it steadily today. Becoming a filmmaker happened quite by accident. My partners on IBYT had their own film & video production company and I worked many jobs for them as a make up stylist. We discussed our love for the genre and how fun it would be to make an old fashioned B-horror film and 'Bingo' - a fire alarm went off in my head. “Free equipment!” Once we realized how much money we would save on equipment, rentals, etc., we decided to go for it! They had the technical know-how and I had the writing talent and organizational skills for producing. We figured once we got started, we would quickly know if filming a horror movie would be 'a go' for us or not.
I’ll Bury You Tomorrow was not an easy shoot. It took three years to make, primarily shooting on weekends. My biggest challenge was to simply complete it! It took its toll on the cast and crew and, for some time, it looked as if it was never going to happen. Leads dropped out and had to be replaced. Scenes had to be shot over, money ran out, and the interest from partners dwindled. But like most low-budget movies, we made it through and the completion itself is a testament to the tenacity and support of my cast and crew. I never skimped on time or rushed through something to get it done. Since it was my first time as a director – and that was only because the “original director” never showed up for the first days of shooting - I aimed for an amount of professionalism on screen and behind-the-scenes, and, quite fortunately, everyone involved believed in it too. The film did very well on the indie circuit, won awards and was my initiation into this crazy world of independent horror.
2.) Dave: What is your writing routine like?
Alan: It’s a daily thing. At least 2 to 3 hours a day/night – whenever it comes to me. There is no rhyme or reason to the way I write but I love to tell a good story. I still type like a newspaper reporter in an old movie! I don’t use the script programs, or format my pages, or utilize any of the easier methods available for a writer on a computer. I am very old fashioned that way.
But at least when I’m done, every actor, cameraman, editor and producer who reads my script always comes back knowing exactly where the story, the characters, the setting, and look of the film is going. My scripts are part novella, part production notes all in one. It just works for me and my crew that way, so why fix it if it ain’t broke?
It excites me even to know that my point of view on paper can look exactly as written on film – if not better. So when its time for cast readings, rehearsals, and the actual filming, everyone knows and understands exactly where they have to be – yet still have plenty of room for improvisation.
I am totally glued to my scripts until that very moment when I call “Action”. Then everything tends to change, and usually for the better. I use my scripts only as a template the work day – so if changes have to be made, we make them right there at that very moment. I’m not overly attached to my words, just the point they get across on camera. And if an actor has an easier and more beneficial way of conveying that point – I’m all for it! As long as it looks good and the story moves smoothly.
The Blood Shed was a very different script than what I normally write. It was mostly a series of vignettes like many foreign films follow. A sort of “a day in the life of…” storyline. The Blood Shed was originally written as a short for the horror anthology Hung By A Thread. But it became so much bigger when filming it that we had to make it a feature. I found it very interesting that a lot of American critics really liked the film – but felt it totally lacked a plot of any kind. I always thought it had a strong beginning, middle and end. But then, a lot of folks expect a film to be only one way in structure without deviation of any kind. In the end, I’m the one who is happy with the results. If I can’t look at that film and like it – no one else is going to either.
3.) Dave: What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the filmmaking process?
Alan: All the aspects of filmmaking are my favorite part! From conception, to pre- production, to filming, to post and it’s release. Each step is a different job where I get to wear many different hats and thrive in each department. I just want to know ALL there is to making and completing a film. I want be knowledgeable of what everyone does. That’s a director’s job. That’s my favorite part, creating with other talented minds and making movies. I have learned SO much and continue to learn more and more. It’s been a remarkable education. My least favorite part about filmmaking is Financing! It is the hardest part and the dirtiest. Always an uphill battle!
4.) Dave: What inspires you creatively?
Alan: A good scare. A great horror movie. Anything that is offbeat or bent.
5.) Dave: Where did the idea for The Blood Shed come from?
Alan: It was originally slated as a short for the Hung By A Thread horror anthology that I’m producing with filmmakers’ Michael Todd Schneider and Tyler Tharpe. I knew the “cannibal family” theme had been used to the umpteenth power and I didn’t want to copy all of the Mother’s Day-American Gothic-Hills Have Eyes-TCM films, so instead we parodied them. We knew the film would be vulgar, loud, tasteless and nutty – but I never thought it would be so hilarious until we started editing. Then we began laughing our asses off! We could have taken the film it to a total serious level if we wanted, but I thought we had sort of a unique hybrid here and wanted to go for something entirely different. Everyone compares it to a John Waters’ film, simply because there is really nothing else to compare it too and you have a large man in a dress! We knew from the beginning that viewers would either love it or totally hate it. It’s just that kind of movie and I wasn’t afraid to take that chance because I loved the finished product so much. And the reviews have been very good indeed, considering!
6.) Dave: As a writer, director, producer and actor, your talents are evident and quite impressive. Do you have any artistic or non-artistic endeavors outside of filmmaking?
Alan: No! LOL! I’m such a nerd! My fun is driving, scouting and photographing film locations, writing, and watching bad B-horror! And I’ll never say no to drinks at a bar with friends! But I have to admit that my favorite thing to do is hike and climb in the woods.
7.) Dave: Jerry Murdock, Joshua Nelson, Katherine O’Sullivan and Zoë Daelman Chlanda have been in a number of your films. Where did you all meet and what’s it like working with them?
Alan: I’m more than happy to talk about how special these people are! Jerry, Katherine and Zoë I met while auditioning roles for I’ll Bury You Tomorrow.
They have been my great friends ever since and just recently Katherine married my dear friend and music composer Tom Burns. They met on the set of IBYT! I will always work with these talents and try to put them in every film I do. And now following The Blood Shed with my next (and best!) completed piece A Far Cry From Home for Hung By A Thread, I have added the great talents of Joshua Nelson, Terry M. West, Mike Lane, Susie Adriensen, Don Money, Robert Norman, Sandra Schaller and Benzy to my acting roster! I have to admit I have been extremely fortunate in the acting department as far as the talent I have been able to assemble. They give their all, believe in my projects and are pretty fearless in the chances they take once the camera rolls. I think they trust me enough to know that I would never let anything less than their best takes appear on screen. We’ve really become quite a close-knit family. That’s the best reward.
8.) Dave: With the positive reviews for The Blood Shed pouring in, will we be seeing you and the gang at any upcoming horror conventions in 2008?
Alan: I will be attending Chiller this May as a vendor and hitting a lot of film festivals to promote Hung by A Thread. But I’ll be quite honest Dave, for the years I’ve been in this business and for all the press I get, I have yet to be invited as a guest to ANY of these big convention events with all the other indie directors and stars. If I don’t pay for a vendor table, I have to stand on line for hours to get a ticket to see people I know and work with – so go figure! It’s a bit tired.
9.) Dave: With Pink Eye and Hung by a Thread hopefully being released soon, what can we expect next from the twisted mind of Alan Rowe Kelly?
Alan: I just finished producing a fantastic short thriller called By Her Hand for award-winning director Anthony G. Sumner (W.O.R.M.). I loved working on this project and especially being asked to produce it, cast it, art direct it and use my aesthetic throughout the film. Presently I am completing a script for a web series called The Hollows that will begin shooting this March. Zoë, Katherine, Jerry and myself will be in it, as well as Raine Brown, Keith Fraser, Jessie May Laumann, Miguel Lopez, and Blood Shed’s Susan Adriensen, Josh Nelson and Mike Lane. There’s a few more ‘special guests’ whom I still need to confirm, and once that’s in place we’re ready to go! It will be five 24-minute episodes in the vein of Twin Peaks and Dark Shadows. It’s a new medium and I want to try it out!
I also have a ton of screenplays ready to film! Unhallowed Ground, SPORE! A Murder of Crows, Sudden Fear and a Xmas horror tale called You Better Watch Out! There is also a Blood Shed sequel floating around, just in case we decide to go really crazy! So as you can see I have a lot of stories to tell and each one takes on a different category or theme in the horror genre. I never wish to write or make the same film twice.
As for acting, I’ll appear in the The Hollows this March/April and a bunch of films I co-starred will be debuting throughout 2008 such as Bart Mastronardi’s Vindication, Stolis Hadjicharalambous’ Crossed, Michael Todd Schneider’s Opening The Mind and Tate Steinsiek’s The Devoured.
10.) Dave: Where do you see both yourself and your film career in five years?
Alan: I hope I’m still right here David! LOL! Only in five years I’d like to have all the screenplays mentioned above as completed films and expand my production company to support and produce not only films I want to make, but also the works of other talented filmmakers as well. I want to be the Roger Corman of my day and always remain independent. I love this genre and all the changes it goes through. I’ll always work extremely hard to maintain a strong sense of production value and tell a good story. I just want to continue to make movies as best as I can, and my way.
I want to thank my guest, Alan Rowe Kelly, for giving us a brief glimpse into his life as one of today’s most important independent filmmakers. For more information about this incredible talent, visit his website at http://www.alanrowekelly.net/ or check out the website for his recently released film The Blood Shed at http://www.thebloodshed.net/.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
They're baaaack! One of the best, hell, THE best horror rock band has returned with their second serving of hot, steaming intestinal tracks! Yes, I give you Calabrese! The boys, after winning the award for best horror rock band last year, could have settled for a mediocre sophomore effort, but what they did was completely the opposite. As awesome as 13 Hallowe'ens was, in many respects The Traveling Vampire Show is superior! The recording is better, the playing is crisper and the lyrics are bloodier! The CD features 12 hard rocking tunes and it sounds unbelievable when cranked! The band wastes no time in getting back in your face as the CD kicks off with the gruesome "Death Eternal." Over the course of the disc, you're treated to some of the best rock you've ever heard! My favorite track is "Vampires Don't Exist," or it could be "Night in the Lonesome October," hell, I'm not sure! Like I've said before, I don't care if you love or hate horror rock, Calabrese cannot be denied! Before this band is through, all will bow before their shadow. Just like 13 Hallowe'ens before it, The Traveling Vampire Show gets ****** out of *****. That's not a typo. It gets 6 out of 5 stars! Grab a copy today! Click the banner at the bottom of the page to visit the band's website and while you're at it, check out their video for "Voices of the Dead" immediately below.
Posted by dave at 3:43 PM
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Hmmm, nice title, nice box design, could this be a diamond in the rough? No doubt about it, I love werewolf movies, when they're done right that is. Films like Dog Soldiers and the Ginger Snaps series have been some of the better movies on the subject, but boy have there been some crappers too. Wolf and Cursed anyone? Anyway, when I came across this flick, I just had to check it out, and in truth, it wasn't as bad as it could have been, but it wasn't as good as it should have been. Werewolf: The Devil's Hound is like watching three films in one. It starts off as an action movie, then tranforms into a serious melodrama and ultimately ends up as a slapstick comedy. The amazing thing - when taken individually, they each work, but as a whole, it leaves you feeling bewildered. The plot follows a female werewolf who is boxed up and shipped on a tanker to parts unknown when the shipment accidentally ends up on American soil. She escapes and bites a young pyrotechnic named Kevin. What ensues is pretty good as the drama unfolds and the Kevin's girlfriend gets pissed that this other woman is around all the while the guy is undergoing the "change." But it's the end of the film that really surprised me. When VonBunsen enters the picture (where he came from, I don't know) things get silly. Suddenly, it turns into a martial arts/werewolf farce and yes, I was laughing through it all. As far as the werewolf makeup is concerned, Kevin's make-up was great, as he never fully "changed," but the female werewolf? Where did they come up with that design? I've never seen so much puffy hair on a werewolf! Overall, it was entertaining, if not certainly off-balance. I believe most people wouldn't care for it, but I appreciate the filmmaker's attempt. That's why I give Werewolf: The Devil's Hound **1/2 out of *****. It's no Ginger Snaps, but it's not Cursed either. Check out the trailer for Werewolf: The Devil's Hound below.
Posted by dave at 6:51 AM