Summer 2000. I get an email from the B-Movie Film Festival stating that my first feature film, My Crepitus is up for an award and that they’d also like to discuss distribution.
Thursday afternoon… I finish up working in a humid basement lab making prosthetic legs. I’m temporarily back in my home town after graduating from the Art Institute and finishing My Crepitus. Jennifer Reynolds and I hit the road blazing through the night…
Friday morning we role in around 7am. Eric James and Tom Colbert meet us there. We all hang outside of the Seven Eleven eating junk across from The Palace Theater… until the fest begins.
Eric hits it off quickly with Roxanne Michaels (whom we would later shoot with on Opening the Mind and Grotesque Fantasies, when she decided to get back to her roots… as Jasi Cotton Lanier)…
The doors open for the kickoff party. Which is at a Pub across from the theater. I immediately find Ron Bonk, owner of Sub Rosa Studios and behind the B-Movie Film Festival.
Me, “Ron… I’m Michael Schneider great to meet you in person…”
Ron, “Sure…did you…submit a film or…uh…?”
Me, “My Crepitus.”
Ron stares blankly at me.
Me, “Well…you said it was up for a possible award and you’d like to discuss distribution?”
Ron, “Oh…well…that was a standard letter sent to all filmmakers who submitted… can you describe your film a little?”
Me, “Well. Um…I’m in an institution… There’s a scene with a girl masturbating in the shower who bleeds…”
Ron, “Oh…yeah…it was really dark. You may want to light your films in the future. Yeah, yeah… You’ll get a Merit Award, because like many other filmmakers…you showed a lot of promise…but your film suffered a lot from the lighting…Soooo it was close to getting an award, but will ultimately receive a Merit Award.”
Me, “What the hell did you watch it on?”
Ron, “Oh… my monitor for editing…”
Me, “It would help if you adjust it to the film itself…I hope you can give it a second chance sometime…I would never use a shot that’s not visible and lost in darkness…”
Ron, “I’ll do that…yeah…so like um…if we finish things up early on Sunday maybe you can screen the first eight to ten minutes of your film. Or any ten minutes of your film for that matter. Since you traveled here… Where did you come from again?”
Me, “We all traveled up from Titusville, Pennsylvania. This is Eric James, Tom Colbert, Jen Reynolds. They all worked on My Crepitus too. We’d all appreciate that…thanks so much…”
So…we kicked off the weekend and made the best of things. It was our first festival and first time screening anywhere. We did not get the pleasure of screening at The Palace theater. On Sunday while back at that Pub, we did in fact get to screen the first ten minutes of My Crepitus (I Never Left the White Room). It screened after the scheduled films had screened and the first to garner applause for the day.
Another was the opening sequence from Tyler Tharpes first feature film, Freak. He also got a round of insane applause. We immediately bonded. He’d shot his film on 16mm and driven a rental from LA to attend the screening. Misdirected as we had been, that his film was up for an award and that ‘they’ wanted to discuss distribution…
Tyler asked us if we’d do the special makeup fx for his next feature film.
Tyler, “So…the fx in what I saw of your guys film was amazing. Would you do the fx on my next film? I have a guy who gets his head crushed by a forklift…could you do that?”
We of course said YES (as we were all mumbling “how the fuck are we going to do that?”)…flash forward five years and we’re all on set in Indiana crushing Eric James head with a forklift…and killing one another while we’re at it. So we not only got to create the fx…but we got to act in it.
Later m kadath and I had the pleasure of scoring the film as well in Detroit…
Our first work for hire film remains a favorite. Return in Red is a powerhouse of minimalism escalating to a brutal climax… and affectionately shot on 16mm film as well…
John Karyus was another whom we met on Sunday. He was working on his first feature film at the time and if I remember correctly he’d acted and done some work on a film that had also screened (or partially screened)… Either way we hit it off and he was the first person to ever buy one of my films. I’ll never forget it as that is a major turning point in any artists life. We have kept in touch to this day and he also has appearances in …And Then I Helped and Opening the Mind…
Eric Stanze‘s film Ice From the Sun swept up the awards. It was surreal on many levels because there were a lot of similarities between his film and ours. Though the execution was completely different. Ron Bonk was sporting Eric’s crew around like super stars. They were untouchable. Until recently I believed I had met Eric briefly. But I’ve come to find out, he doesn’t recall the experience…and it’s likely some of his crew had gone in support of the film separately. Either way it left a strong impression on me. I immediately respected the Wicked Pixel crew because they’d completed their film and were reaping the benefits ten fold…
Flash forward… 2015.
SLAUGHTER IN SYRACUSE.
The world works in mysterious ways.
Nick DeCarlo and Jason West contact me about joining the ranks of their second annual underground film festival in Syracuse. I have not been back to Syracuse since 2000. At that point, I figured that would be the only irony at hand…
They want to be the first to screen Manna (my part for the mysterious and prolific anthology The Profane Exhibit)…and give me the choice of which feature I would like to screen along side it. I pick, His Devil’s Night. My direct return to the darker and depraved side of things I first explored a decade earlier in Mordum.
The festival is announced. Who of all people is headlining? Eric Stanze of course.
Rachael Deacon and I hit the road. She co-stars in His Devil’s Night… and is a multi-talented chick to boot. We check into our hotel room, appropriately room #237. Perfectly setting the mood for the weekend ahead…
The weekend kicked off with a buffet of yumminess…followed by a passion project I had the pleasure of taking part in with my great friend Anthony Matthews. Revenge Is Her Middle Name is about to be unleashed upon the masses by none other then Unearthed Films. What a fun and interactive screening that was. Anthony, Bryan Truex and I had the chance to do a Q and A after the film. Though I was sober as ever, my enthusiasm for the weekend ahead was clear. I was so sleep deprived that it only enhanced the eve’s festivities. I was completely intoxicated on life and the life of our art itself. It was exciting sharing many adventurous stories from set.
Not until I step upon the soil of the theater, do I realize it’s the same theater that the B-Movie Film Festival was held at fifteen years ago. It held much more relevance to me that I was finally able to grace the screen in this wonderful theater. Strange how I was now sharing the same screen as one of Eric’s films after that first experience. Of course Eric is screening a fifteen year anniversary print of his film Scrapbook.
We properly get to meet…share stories…you name it. Always rewarding when things come full circle. He’s the real deal. Getting to meet Jason Christ was also a highlight. Yet another crucial piece to the Wicked Pixel puzzle. It’s easy to see why, he perfectly complements everything they have created.
There were many people I finally got to meet. A few off the cuff that come to mind, first up was Stephen Biro. For as long as I can recall, his distribution company Unearthed Films has been a stamp of approval amongst few. If you see that brand, rest assured you’re in for a ride.
Marcus Koch. A multi-talented chap who I’ve also respected for far too long, yet hadn’t the pleasure of meeting properly. It’s always the best thing ever when someone exceeds expectations. That is something this festival was oozing with for sure.
Jimmy Screamerclauz. I’d seen bunches of his whacked out animation, largely through our mutual friend Rachael Deacon. It was great getting to kick back next to his booth on Sunday and get to talk shop.
Getting to meet Eric, Jason, Stephen, Marcus and Jimmy in the flesh was easily a highlight… Then there were the unexpected folks I didn’t know. There were tons of them. There were lots of old friends and fans alike. This place was like Cancer for the Underground. I’ll never forget it. Of course, it doesn’t go without saying that it’s become a pleasure to stomp about with Fred and Shelby Vogel. Great times indeed were had by all…
It was the first time I’d screamed on the big screen in the States since 2003. I’ve spent a lot of time being buried in my work, others work and all things creative for a very long time. It was exciting to see these two films blaring huge and loud. I’m incredibly proud of them and it brought a tear to my eye to see them larger then life. For that I’m forever in dept to Slaughter in Syracuse. Thank you once again Nick DeCarlo and Jason West for inviting me along for the ride.
Getting to share the stage with such insanely talented monsters of the underground, while Jay Kay (from the Horror Happens Radio Show) carried a wonderful panel. Michael Fitzgerald danced around documenting us as he’d done all weekend with complete ease… The best way to summarize the weekends events, with an appropriately sketchy microphone. A perfect reflection of what we adapt to as underground artists and jacks of our trade.
Thank you to everyone who supported us, Beneath the Underground, the festival, magGot Films and all things grand and un-grand in Syracuse…