Your upcoming movie The Ungovernable Force - in a few words,
what is it about?
The Ungovernable Force is about a
bunch of punks in Anycity, USA living their day-to-day PUNK LIVES until
they find out that this asshole fascist sheriff is going around raping and
killing homeless women at night. So they team up with the local homeless
community to take the pig down!
What were your inspirations
when writing The Ungovernable Force - and since the film is
at least on some level about punks vs the system, to what extent can you
identify with punk rock culture?
I've always been involved
in, fascinated by, and identifying with punk culture. I was in an
anarcho-punk band in high school and though I've dabbled in just about
every subculture and music genre I always consider punk and the punk
attitude to be closest to my heart. At one point a writer friend of mine
said, in the midst of myself and some mutual punk friends, that he would
like to write a screenplay based on a house we all lived in at that time,
because it had naturally become somewhat of a "punk house", full
of rats, swarms of mice, trash, booze, drugs, and rotting food. One of the
punks said later, "If he writes that script, it'll suck. You should
write it, Paul," him knowing that I was also an avid writer. That
wasn't the inspiration for me writing this script, and the script has
nothing to do with a "punk house", but it is a source of
encouragement when looking back on the conversation, because even at that
time, when I wasn't identifying as a punk to a large degree, I could still
identify with the subculture, music, attitude, etc. more than the average
young adult. Since then I've gotten back much closer to my punk roots. My
inspirations, therefore, have been my own adoration of punk music, the
punk culture and attitude, and just the fact that punk rules.
I read The Ungovernable Force being described as
"punxploitation mondo" - would you care to elaborate on this?
the time that my last feature film Honky Holocaust was in
post-production, I was developing a much stronger admiration of unorthodox
shooting styles. There is a scene in Romper Stomper, right after
the raucous skinhead party, when the lead character Hando walks around
their squat and the music from the party has ended. There is unmistakable
feeling of realism; the scene was unnecessary to the plot development and
it was shot in a way that made you feel like you were really there. I want
that feeling to pervade through our film The Ungovernable Force especially
during certain scenes. And there are some great filmmakers, films, and
film genres that really exploit that feature: namely mondo films such as Mondo
Cane, Cannibal Holocaust, and Goodbye Uncle Tom,
that I really like, and also a bunch of other films that break the fourth
wall directly or indirectly by having the camera be so involved in the
film that the audience really feels like they are sitting in a room with
real people, not just characters, a few primary inspirations being Kids,
Panic In Needle Park, Sid and Nancy, Walker, Blue In
The Face, and even to an extreme and dichotomous degree Reds by
Warren Beatty. So I really wanted to take the campy b-movie feel of films
like Escape From New York, Suburbia, Class of 1984, Repo
Trash, and others with those obvious campy sets, characters, plot
devices, etc. and juxtapose them with the mondo-style gritty realism of
the less structured films aforementioned. Reds and Blue In
The Face were huge inspirations for this style, and Martin
Scorsese and Spike Lee pull off this technique beautifully, but they don't
make exploitation films in the classic sense, with the obvious exceptions
being portions of Taxi
Driver, Boxcar Bertha, and even
Summer of Sam, and all three of those are excellent examples of the style of
filmmaking I want to exploit and emulate with The Ungovernable Force.
it's just me, but it seems that The Ungovernable Force will
have a bit of a violent streak to it - so how are you planning to go about
your gore effects and the like - and since we're at it, also do talk about
your "Fuck CGI" motto for a bit!
you're right on the money. The Ungovernable Force actually
won't have as much violence as our other films have, proportionally, but
it will have a lot of gore and violence. I refuse to use CGI for any of
our special effects, aside from the occasional cheeky green screen, which
is a technique so old-fashioned by now that I don't even consider it to be
real CGI, just computer-enhanced effects, I guess. But none of the blood,
none of the wounds, none of the gore, muzzle flash or gun flare, monsters,
etc. will be created or enhanced by computer generated images. We make our
own blood, use tubes and pressure (generated by hoses or squeezing plastic
bottles), or just our best out-of-shape pitcher's arms to project gore and
blood across the set or from somebody's body. We recently recruited a
bunch of talented special effects artists who are already working around
the clock on prosthetic wounds and gore. CGI is stupid. It rarely looks
real, and even when it does it's just because the "filmmaker"
has access to lots of money and/or powerful computers. If somebody watches
one of our films, they can know with absolute certainty that what they are
seeing is what they'd see if they were on our set. We do use digital
cameras, but only because we can't afford to use real film.
few words about the film's intended look and feel?
the film to look very gritty. I want it to have a very raw appearance and
to really exploit the realism of punk. There will plenty of uncomfortable
sudden cuts, and we'd like to use multiple cameras with different looks
and feels, if the budget and time allows. I ideally want it to look like
somebody found all this footage and spliced it together to look like a
movie, sort of like "found footage" films, but to also have that
campy B-movie feel that you get with so many Troma, Carpenter, and Corman
films [Roger Corman bio -
What can you tell us about your intended key cast and
crew, and why exactly these people?
I like using
non-professional actors. In fact, with no disrespect to
"professional" actors, I prefer to use under-experienced actors
over actors who have been in the game for a long time. I just think it's
more fun to watch someone who doesn't consider himself or herself to be an
actor become a character onscreen. It's part of the process of watching my
script become a film - seeing ordinary people become characters.
Professional actors can be very talented, which makes for a smoother
production, but I never got into filmmaking to have a "smooth"
experience. If it's not challenging or gritty or feeling like we're moving
uphill or against the current, we're not doing the right project. So our
cast includes mostly local actors. The few bigger-name actors that we are
using were chosen because they are heroes to us, in one way or another.
Lloyd Kaufman is one of our heroes, and he'll be making a cameo appearance
in the film. Tony Moran is set to appear in the film; he was the original Michael Myers
from the first Halloween. Debbie Rochon,
scream queen of the 90s [Debbie
Rochon interview - click here], and Bill Weeden of Sgt. Kabukiman, NYPD, are also
set to appear in the film; they are both Troma
veterans and heroes of ours
for that reason. We also have punk rock legends Merle Allin, Steve
Ignorant, Steve Lake, Nick Cash, Zillah Minx, Thomas Mensforth, and The
Shend participating in the film. It's another way of making the film
appear to have been "spliced" together - to include cameos from
all over the place, appearing in a variety of roles and scenes, and
bringing our film to life like some kind of Frankenstein monster, patched
together like a bloody quilt.
As far as I know, The
Ungovernable Force is currently still in its fundraising stages - so
what can you tell us about your fundraising efforts?
is never easy. It requires a lot of begging and bargaining. We're running
a Kickstarter campaign now
with some awesome incentives and really need to hit our goal or I'll be
selling kidneys and sperm to finance it. We're on track to exceed our
Kickstarter goal of $12,000, but there is no guarantee that we'll get even
one more donation, so we could easily stall out at the halfway mark. It's
just a matter of tireless promoting and corresponding with people who
already have little to no money to part with a few bucks. If 12,000 people
donate $1.00 each, we'll reach our goal. But it's hard to get even 100
people to part with $1.00, which you don't realize until you start the
Once your funds are raised, what's the
schedule - and any idea when and where the film might be released yet (and
I know it's probably waaay too early to ask)?
I'd like to
wrap principle photography by the end of August. Our schedule for our last
feature film, Honky Holocaust, was to finish by the end of 2012 and
we didn't finish shooting until May of 2013. Only now is the film finally
just about ready to be screened to the public and it's now May of 2014...
Filmmaking is very unpredictable, especially when we all have dayjobs. So
ideally The Ungovernable Force will be ready for its first
large screening in January of 2015, but who the hell knows. We plan to
start shooting almost immediately once fundraising is
complete, so in late June.
As we're talking, your debut
feature Honky Holocaust is coming out of post, right? So obviously,
you have to talk about that one for a bit, from your initial ideas, to the
actual shoot, to the finished product? And any ideas when that movie might
be released onto the general public yet?
Honky Holocaust is about to undergo its first large
screening, which we'll use to fund the festival run. Once the festival run
is concluded, we can start deciding how to release it to the general
public. Again... no idea when that will be. Maybe 2015? Only time will
tell. For now, it's basically in its final cut form. And I'd love to show
it to the public, but there's a lot of politics and money involved in
deciding how to do that and when. The film looks similar but at the same
time nothing quite like I initially pictured. I wanted it to be very campy
with lots of allusions to Spaghetti Westerns, which it has. I also wanted
it to have lots of male nudity, which it has. One thing that got a major
overhaul was the amount of female nudity, which we increased about 1000%
from the script to the final product. Oh, and there's way more blaxploitation influence in the final product as opposed to the script,
because I was watching a lot of Jack Hill, Rudy Ray Moore, Pam Grier, and
Fred Williamson films while we were filming.
projects beyond The Ungovernable Force you'd like to talk
I always have about five to ten projects in the
works, either in my head, in outline or treatment form, or as fully
written scripts. I'd like to do a short film I already wrote called Gay
Jesus after The Ungovernable Force. Gay Jesus is
basically a retelling of Christ's final days by somebody who has virtually
no knowledge of the gospels (myself) and a sincere distaste for religious
oppression of sexuality. Gay Jesus will portray Jesus and his
disciples in basically the same way they are portrayed in The Bible, only
they will all be bisexual or homosexual, and very promiscuous. I
also have a script called Bookworm Biker vs. Demons of the Third Reich,
a Jewsploitation film about a Jewish girl who has to battle demon Nazis
resurrected by a deal with the devil that Hitler made just before the end
of WWII. It's also a biker film reminiscent of Wild Angels and
Devil's Angels. I'm also working on a script for a film that takes
place in Haiti and intends to combat Free Trade policies, corporate and
capitalist greed, and economic/social oppression of impoverished workers.
It's my Marxist film set in the jungle, and I want it to be my homage to
Jack Hill and Roger Corman projects [Roger
Corman bio - click here] filmed in the Philippines like
The Big Bird Cage
and The Big Doll House. I also have an
idea for a film about a guy who gambles on the Superbowl and gets arrested
for manslaughter right before the game begins, then relives his life
through flashbacks while he is mistreated by the cops in the holding cell.
It will be my homage to Buffalo '66. Then there's Revenge of the
Bitches, a rape revenge/women in prison/biker film. I won't go
into detail into any more film ideas though because it won't end.
got you into filmmaking to begin with, and did you receive any formal
education on the subject?
I have zero formal education on
filmmaking or writing. I have always been an avid and obsessive writer,
starting when I could first hold a pencil. I've written four and half
novels, dozens of screenplays, several plays, and countless short stories
and personal essays. A lifelong film fanatic, I got frustrated when all
the screenplays I wrote were just collecting digital dust on my computer
and not getting produced, so I decided I would take a stab and producing
and directing my own films. I started with Super-Townie, a sitcom I
co-created and co-wrote with my close friend Greg LaVoie. It is nothing
great, but taught me almost everything I needed to know about producing
and directing an independent film. After two Super-Townie webisodes
were finished, Nick Norrman asked me to direct a short b-horror film he
wanted to make. I accepted, primarily because I owed him for helping and
educating me on the set of Super-Townie, on which he was the unpaid
director of photography and 1st camera (and only camera haha). It was
called Moonsmilers, and I had so much fun making it that I realized
I'd have more fun and better success with making b-movies than I had in
comedy web-series. The rest is history. I have a bachelor's degree in
Sociology which has gotten me nothing as far as paid work goes, but it has
turned me into a radical liberal.
What can you tell us about
your filmwork prior to Honky Holocaust and The
Prior to Honky Holocaust, we
did short films and a web-series called Super-Townie. I've acted
only once on a production that wasn't my own and wrote a script for
someone else's short film; everything else I've done is my own work,
noting of course that Moonsmilers was written by Bill Freas
and produced by Nick Norrman, but as director I considered it to be Nick's
and my collaborative effort. After Moonsmilers, we did No Thanks,
a short film about a Thanksgiving dinner incurring some much deserved
wrath by local Native American zombies. It was our "fuck you,
Columbus" film. And then right after Honky Holocaust was
finished filming, we did another short, 12 Rounds For The Loaded, a
torture Western with no moral lesson, just lots of nihilistic gore and
How would you describe yourself as a director?
think I'm a pretty fun person to work with, but that's something you'll
have to ask the cast and crew. I am very open-minded and will pretty much
give the green light to any idea that I think will elicit some kind of
extreme response from the audience. I'm a no-bullshit kind of guy, though,
and refuse to answer questions such as "when will we wrap
today?" or "what's my motivation in this scene?" when we
are six hours behind schedule. I'm a firm believer in having a decent
finished film than a half-finished masterpiece, similar to my idols Roger
Corman [Roger Corman bio -
click here] and Lloyd Kaufman, so a lot of the time we're cutting corners and
replacing said corners with nudity, gore, or obscene violence. I am not a
perfectionist and actually loathe perfectionism on set - if
"perfect" will take an hour but "acceptable" will take
a minute, I'll go with "acceptable". I believe that film is a
form of entertainment, not some perfect alternate universe through which
egomaniacs can engage in a pissing contest, so if what we film is
entertaining, we've succeeded. End of story. If it looks beautiful, that's
simply icing on the cake. But if it's boring or bland, we've failed
Filmmakers who inspire you?
My biggest, purest influences are Roger Corman [Roger
Corman bio - click here], Lloyd Kaufman, Jack
Hill, John Carpenter, Sergio Leone, Sergio Corbucci, Ruggero Deodato [Ruggero
Deodato bio - click here],
Dario Argento, Oliver Stone, John Waters, Richard Linklater, Terrence
Malick, Akira Kurosawa, the Coen Brothers, and Martin Scorsese.
I also need to give a shout out to Quentin Tarantino, who I love and
hold in a league of his own, not because of his greatness but because he
is so misunderstood by mainstream audiences. His work is genius and
borrows directly from my absolute favorite films and filmmakers, and so
many modern day cretins don't understand his work. That's fine, but I
put all his films in a protective bubble in my head to keep them from
leaking integrity into the black holes of contemporary audiences.
And, though I think his work is complete garbage, I have to give another
shout out to Bill Zebub, whose approach to filmmaking as simply
"showing images that elicit a response of arousal or horror"
has been hugely inspirational and liberating to me as a filmmaker.
Your favourite movies?
Dazed and Confused, Clerks, The Big Bird Cage, The
Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Cannibal
Holocaust, Django Unchained,
Foxy Brown, Born on the Fourth of July, Big Lebowski,
Black Caesar, Do The Right Thing, All About Eve and
A Clockwork Orange... those are some of my all time favorites.
... and of
course, films you really deplore?
Haha, these don't come to
mind very easily. Anything by Uwe Boll. He's terrible. If he wants to
challenge me to a boxing match I'll tell him watching any of his films is
more painful than his best haymaker. House of the Dead is the
worst film I've ever seen, and NOT in an amusing way. I also don't like
films based on graphic novels, and I'm not sure why. I hated Sin
get a lot of shit for that. I also don't like Shaun of the Dead,
another one I get a lot of criticisms for hating. Other than that, I don't
care for most mainstream films, most films with a lot of CGI
(though I do love everything Star Trek, CGI or not), but most films
I can watch and appreciate at least the fact that it was made, unless it's
CGI-heavy, in which case it's boring to me.
website, Facebook, Kickstarter, whatever else?
Kickstarter campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/743768696/the-ungovernable-force-punxploitation-feature-film
Anything else you are
dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
one point on my drive and motivation when making any film or anything
people will hear or see: I hate the idea of inherent sanctity, and love
anything that shatters the assumed sacred nature of anything. Honky
Holocaust, if made by a black director, might be seen as something
very dangerous and anti-white. And it is very anti-white, and that's what
I was going for, because I'm sick and tired of racism so I decided to make
something racist toward white people in an attempt to shatter the sanctity
of caucasian genealogy. I made an Islamic terrorist group some of the
"good guys" in the Bookworm Biker script
because they're just as good and bad as any militant group, and it was
about time they get to be the good guys in a movie. Sorry, America, but
we're no more "sacred" than Palestine, China, Russia, Cuba, or
any other region of this planet. Comedians who are obscenely politically
incorrect are some of the best influences our society could hope for - the
more we consider topics to be "off-limits" or "exempt from
ridicule", the closer we get to repeating witch hunts, fascism,
genocide, apartheid, oligarchy, racism, etc. We need to all accept
the fact that we're all equal mortals and we need to ridicule the things
that we think are sacred, and not just in the religious sense but in every
sense. I'm glad Rolling Stone put the marathon bomber on the
cover of their magazine - if people want to figure out how to avoid
"terrorism", we can't ban the photograph of a
"terrorist". It's like that classic scene in The People vs.
Larry Flynt where Woody Harrelson asks "Is this obscene?"
to a bunch of pornographic photos and images of war and atrocity. We're
animals, we're mortals, let's have a laugh and fuck everything else.
That's exploitation film to me.
for the interview!