Before he was interviewing movie stars or producing podcasts, horror fandom stalwart Tom Elliot was sharing his thoughts on the genre with the GeekPlanetOnline community. From grim 1970s slashers to modern CGI murder, if you need the opinion of a gorehound then Tom is your man...
One of the things I love about the horror genre is the stories of young hungry film makers, who dig deep, and doggedly pursue their dreams to get their projects made. People like Sam Raimi who went begging for funding to make The Evil Dead, and then shot the movie piece by gruelling piece for over a year. Then there’s Peter Jackson who, like Raimi, filmed Bad Taste in his spare time, scrimping and saving every dollar, and applying for grants from a prudish New Zealand film committee. Tobe Hooper and his crew braved the stifling heat of Texas, and managed to survive the insanity of shooting The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I’m sure stories like this happen in other genres, but horror has these tales in abundance.
The reason I mention these directors, is that I was reminded of their determination and spirit recently when I came across A.D. Lane, and The Indywood Project.
Rather than shopping his horror script, Invasion of the Not Quite Dead around film studios looking for financing, 30 year old Antony Lane, a graduate of the International Film School of Wales, decided to take full control of the project himself, and set up The Indywood Project. The purpose of the project is to raise at least £100,000 to finance Invasion, and allow Antony complete creative control of the film, eliminating the possibility of studio interference compromising his vision.
Antony is keeping details of the script of Invasion a closely guarded secret, all we know so far is a few details from this brief synopsis:
In 1978 a meteorite crash lands into the Swiss Mountains, unleashing a deadly virus. Killing everyone within a 20 mile radius, the incident was covered up by local officials. Now thirty years later the virus is released onto an unsuspecting island off the coast of England. A group of survivors must band together in order to survive the death and destruction of the once friendly locals.
Without the benefit of a script to read, perhaps the support the film has garnered from established film veterans is an indicator of Invasion’s potential. Ken Russell, the controversial British film maker is Invasion’s Executive Consulting Producer. Special effects legend and Actor/Director Tom Savini is interested in taking one of the leading roles, and other genre stars such as Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers); Ken Foree (Dawn of The Dead); Warwick Davis (Leprechaun) and Anthony Head (Buffy The Vampire Slayer) are all in talks to appear. Award winning composer Misha Segal will be creating an original soundtrack. Here's a short clip of Antony talking about the project:
Antony Lane was kind enough to take a few moments out of his busy schedule to answer a few of my questions.
Tom Lucas: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me Antony, how is the fundraising for Invasion of the Not Quite Dead going? Is it proceeding as hoped?
AD Lane: When I originally launched the fund raising project on May 1st 2009 I was very sceptical about being able to convince people to take a pre-order producer package before the movie had been filmed, it was a concept that excited me, and when I began using twitter as a way of giving people real time updates on what I was doing it began driving people to the project site, although I only sold 12 pre-orders in my first week, it was enough to show me the power that Twitter had on getting people excited... now 7 weeks later I have sold 211 pre-order producer packages, ranging from just a pre-order with tons of extras to VIP producer packages, so for me Twitter, which of course wasn't even part of my strategy has pretty much made my fund raising campaign the success it has been so far... so in answer to your question, the fund raising is going amazingly well, far better than I had ever envisioned, I just had no idea how many people I could get excited by just chatting one to one with the fans on twitter, as we speak now, 7 weeks into the project we are 30 followers away from 10,000 - word is spreading very nicely... Not Quite Dead
TL: Some of your fundraising initiatives for Invasion involve contributors being offered small speaking roles, or product placement opportunities, are you confident that these can be catered for without compromising the integrity of the film?
ADL: When I launched the fund raising project I had to weigh up pro's and cons to everything, one of which was I did not want to sell out to a studio or funding body that could potentially take it over and make a fast buck from the 2 years of promotion I have put into the movie, with that in mind, I decided on certain areas that would excite fans and businesses to get them to help fund it... I am not a huge fan of product placement, which is why I have stated on the fund raising site that any products will be background to the action, nothing will take the viewers eye off the main scenes, its a perk for businesses, but it won't be in your face advertising like some movies, lets take the Bond movies for an example, I feel as though I am watching a long television advert in some of the scenes, the fans can be assured that won't happen with Invasion... Some of the other treats we have are a Digital Zombie photo makeover, we have teamed up with a visual arts studio called Destination Creation, who have been zombie-ing up all our pre-order producers... We are also offering extra roles and close up Zombie roles for people based in or around the UK, and as a special bonus we are even offering people to have a small speaking role for a small price to help some people get on the acting ladder... this movie is about giving people opportunities, helping people to get noticed, it goes beyond just making a horror movie...
TL: You’ve got some heavy duty support for the project already, what piqued my interest is that you may have Tom Savini on board. He’s a major hero of mine and pretty much every horror fan on the planet, but more than that, his charisma and enthusiasm are infectious, he’s a definite asset to any project, how have you found your interaction with him so far?
ADL: Me and Tom go back years, about a decade now, I was a regular visitor to his savini.com chat room, he would attend personally every Friday night, I offered him the chance to come over in 2000, but at the time I didn't have a feature on the cards, so it all kind of fizzled out, then with this project jumping into high gear this year I re-approached him, he got very excited to negotiate, so we will just have to see how the fund raising goes... The same goes with a few other big names that I have got excited including David Hess, the original bad ass from Last House on the Left, he has expressed excitement for the movie as well... But at the end of the day the more money we raise the more big names we can attach...
TL: Are you still tweaking the script as you prepare, or are you pretty happy with it as it stands?
ADL: I spent a year developing the script, it's 90% the film I want to make, at some point I will have to stand back and just say, right that’s it... I am fund raising till JAN 2010, so I will be tweaking it weekly, possibly right up until the night before shooting, that’s how much this film means to me, I am obsessive when it comes to getting it just right, I believe you only have one real chance at making a first impression, this is my chance and I don't want to screw it up...
TL: The title Invasion of the Not Quite Dead has an element of humour to it. Are you able to tell us how you’re pitching this movie? Is it a horror comedy? Or is it a horror with hints of comedy? Basically, how dark will it get?
ADL: That is a very good question, since I can't really go into the original zombie concept, I knew that I had to have a strong title, poster and synopsis, luckily we brought on board an amazingly talented designer called Jesse D'Angelo who created an amazing poster, which takes me back to how posters of the 80's looked, drawn on rather than using a real person... I think the title and the poster shows that this movie does have a sense of humour, what people may be surprised with is how dark it could potentially be... without giving anything away one of the characters is the result of years of bullying, so I have tried to use real life scenarios to make the characters stronger, which makes them far more interesting when it comes to them dealing with the zombie massacre... So expect a really dark and scary horror movie with hints of black humour that pops up here and there.
TL: Zombie movies have enjoyed a resurgence in the past few years, notably since the Dawn Of The Dead remake and Shaun of The Dead. Is this an advantage to the project, or do you think maybe people have had their fill of zombie movies for the time being?
ADL: I think there have been a few good entries into the zombie collective, I myself am a big fan of Dawn remake, Shaun of the Dead for it's silly take on the genre and 28 Days Later for giving us a truly British take on the genre... I have even started to warm up to the resident evil films... now lets talk about all the bad movies to come out of the genre, films that seem to be made for the sake of it, money talks in Hollywood, good ideas do not... Children of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead 2, Day of the Dead remake, I could go on and on with the amount of bad zombie movies there are being made every year... very few make it into my collection... I know from experience what makes a good movie and what makes them bad, I am a horror connoisseur, so I am hoping to put that into my feature... I will be taking a fresh angle on the genre but will be going old school on the zombies, it's not just a nod to Romero, but a nod to the fans saying, this is how zombies should walk around and act... No more fast zombie bull shit... my fans deserve the best quality movie, not something that is rushed and put together using friends and family... I am hoping that Invasion of the Not Quite Dead will bring back to life a fresh new zombie franchise; it's a planned trilogy, with part 1 setting the series off...
TL: If you had to compare the tone with a movie that’s already out there, what would it be?
ADL: An American Werewolf In London and Dawn Of The Dead, my two favourite horror movies, so for anyone thinking that this will be anotherShaun of the Dead, couldn't be more wrong, its more on the same dark level as 28 days later, but with real zombies, and the humour won't be slapstick but more in the vain of American Werewolf... Shaun of the Dead is the biggest movie to inspire me, which is why there are a few nods to that movie...
TL: I love the cover art for the DVD/Blu-ray, can that artwork be purchased in any form yet?
ADL: As I mentioned earlier, the man behind the poster is called Jesse D'Angelo who came on board to help the project have a face, he did an amazing job, and I really do believe that a lot of this early success is down to his art work, I will be selling movie posters and Invasion merchandise at the project site shortly. He was filmed recently for a BBC 2 documentary which should be airing later in the year, and so I took the opportunity to get an Invasion poster blown up, and I have to say it looks amazing, so I think there could be a fund raising idea in selling a signed poster to the fans early.
TL: If Shaun of the Dead, is the success that we all hope it will be, would you try to fund a sequel or another un-related film project in the same way? Or would you try to use that success to fund it via more conventional means?
ADL: My ultimate goal is to self fund Invasion the best I can, with the remainder of the funding going to investors of which we already have a few interested parties, I will then be using the profits from the film, as I believe this movie will be a HUGE HIT, to then self fund part two, as I previously said this will be a planned trilogy, as soon as we finish the first part, work will begin on part two...
TL: This whole project is a major undertaking, what keeps you motivated?
ADL: It's a very exciting time for this project, and in all honesty its the interaction with the fans on Twitter that keep me sane, spending over 100 hours a week on the project can be a very lonely thing, so to have constant support from my twitter followers is truly amazing. I have to say that putting the fund raising aside, there are people on twitter that spend every day pushing and promoting the project, it's an amazing feeling to know that your not alone and there are potentially thousands of people excited to see you succeed and I welcome it... I just hope that I can raise enough money to do the fans the justice they deserve... and part 2 of this answer is my girlfriend Katie Phillimore and my mum Pam Smith are 2 of THE BIGGEST supporters of this project, they have been keeping my spirits alive beyond belief, so I dedicate this movie to them... without the support of family and friends it really is hard to fund raise £100,000 and remain strong during days when you get no pre-order sales, so I would say that the biggest thing to keep a filmmaker going is a strong support network... otherwise insanity would of kicked in along time ago.
TL: What would you say to anyone who is considering pre ordering the DVD or donating to the project in other ways?
ADL: I would say to any potential pre-order producers that your not just pre-ordering a DVD, your helping me to persue a life long dream, every time my email beeps, I jump up and run over to the computer, much to the annoyance of my girlfriend, but I see it as being one step closer to filming my dream... one of the things I have always been saying on Twitter is, only take a pre-order if you can afford it, the world is in recession right now, and I would hate to think people are struggling to buy food after sending me £20... so please only take a pre-order if you can afford it... but know this if you do take a pre-order producer package, you will literally be making my day every time someone takes one. Just in case people have read the answer to every question and they are still reading this, I just want to explain what you can get with a pre-order producer package, you get a DVD or Blu-Ray, a digital zombie makeover, if your local to the UK you will get a day on set as a background extra or zombie extra, you will also get your name in the END credits of the movie as a producer... So please help me to make FILM FUNDRAISING HISTORY by becoming a pre-order producer and helping us to make the best film possible...
Again my thanks to Antony for taking the time to answer some questions.
After my brief contact with Antony, I’ve been extremely impressed with not only his drive and enthusiasm, but his genuine warmth and gratitude towards the people who have contributed to his project. Can he pull off the mammoth fundraising task and then go on to create a worthwhile horror film? Time will tell, and it’s going to be fascinating to see how this unfolds.
Internet message boards are rife with film fans voicing dissatisfaction with the way Hollywood does their business. I can’t think of a more satisfying way to send a message that their way isn’t the only way than by helping a project like this get off the ground.
Initially I was happy to shell out £20 for a Blu-Ray pre order, but I’ve recently decided to make a lifelong dream of my own come true. By donating £75 to the project I get to appear as a zombie in Invasion of The Not Quite Dead. And when that happens, you’ll hear all about it at GeekPlanetOnline.
If you’d like to learn more about the Indywood Project, and the different ways you can get involved visit www.theindywoodproject.com. To follow Antony’s progress on Twitter go to https://twitter.com/IndywoodFILMS
If you’d like to learn more about the Indywood Project, and the different ways you can get involved visit www.theindywoodproject.com.
To follow Antony’s progress on Twitter go to https://twitter.com/IndywoodFILMS