What can you tell us about your production company ScUMBAG
We are a husband and wife team based in San Diego. We've been making
films together since 2006. We use a experimental approach to our filming
and draw on personal experience to call up visual stories. We're ScUMBAGs
for a lot of different reasons but mostly because we work with extremely
low budgets and have to do some "scummy" stuff to complete a
project. Namely do all the work ourselves with the exception of a few
loyal ScUMMY folk. We do music videos as well which we really love! We're
always looking for cool musicians to work with.
Your first movie was Grape
Jelly: Memoir of a Teenage Cannibal. How did that one come into
Brandon had wanted to make that film since high school. We were living
in Santa Barbara at the time. Brooks Institute photography school is
there and Brandon, being an ex-model, was always being asked to model
for the students. But them being students they were not paying him, and
though it would be great to be in a position to work for free for
struggling students, at the time, we weren't. Then a student named Brian
Kelly began his campaign to recruit Brandon. And his work was really
good. So we bargained with him. Brandon would model if he would help us
shoot a film we wanted to make and at the same time show us how to use
these new digital video cameras. Brandon had only ever used a 8mm just
to fuck around with. So we were happy with the film and we had so much
fun with Brian we decided to make another film with him and some others
he introduced us to. By the end of that film we had learned enough to
start working on our own.
What were your main inspirations for Grape
Jelly: Memoir of a Teenage Cannibal?
The story came from the sleeping brain of an old friend Rick Reger. He
shared a story with Brandon about a dream. In the dream he was eating
brains and when Brandon asked him what it was like, he said it just
smelled like grape jelly. Rick was also into the Nights Templar, so
Brandon and Rick came up with a story around the dream and the legends.
But the idea sat on the mental shelf for years.
back at Grape Jelly: Memoir
of a Teenage Cannibal all these years later - what were the
lessons learned from your directorial debut?
technical stuff. Learning how to use a camera, editing software, and how
to articulate images in your mind to words in order to be able to convey
your ideas to others you are working with. Also keeping the faith. Besides
the couple people like Brian working with us on the first project, everyone
was telling us we couldn't do it. People, family, friends would ask
"what are you up to these days" and we'd tell them "making
a movie" and they'd laugh. "You can't make a movie without any
money!" And while you do need some money to buy that first camera,
after that everything else is within reach. So believing in yourself and
your abilities is a struggle, but luckly for us we've always been over
you tell us about your experiences in filmmaking prior to Grape
Jelly: Memoir of a Teenage Cannibal? And did you receive any formal
education on the subject?
Brandon had always wanted to be a filmmaker and bought his first 8mm
camera when he was 14. The first footage he ever shot was of Josh of The
Seat Sniffer, but it sat on the shelf for years. But that was it before
Grape Jelly. We were both more into graphic design and did T shirts.
Then we got a itch to finally do this film, so we ate eggs for about 3
months so we could save up for our first digital camera and mac
No formal training for either of us. Just got the equipment we thought
we needed and started messing with it. You'd be surprised how fast you
can learn on your own. Especially now with the internet. We consider
every film we make as part of our education. Maybe our technical know
how is not the most accurate, but every project teaches us something new
we need to know and we have a lot more films under our belt than most
film school graduates we know. And as even they'll tell you, its your
reel that will get you jobs, not a piece of paper with your name on it.
Jelly: Memoir of a Teenage Cannibal came The
Seat Sniffer. What made you switch gears and try your hands on a
Actually Brandon had started The
Seat Sniffer when he got his first
camera. It started out just experimental in order to learn how to use the
camera. But because he had to follow Josh around for so long we did Grape
Jelly in the mean time, it just ended up being finished first.
Where did you find Josh and Terry, the two
subjects of The Seat
Sniffer - and what has ever become of them?
Rick Reger, the interview conductor, had introduced Brandon to Josh. He
was neighbors with him. Rick and Brandon were in a band together at the
time called The Hateful Dead. They practiced in Rick's garage and Josh
used to come and sit out on the curb to listen. Eventually Josh made his
way into the garage and would dance. Rick thought it would be great to
be a fly on the wall in this strange guys house, so the next natural
thought was to make a documentary on him. Rick and Brandon followed Josh
around for a few years getting footage, but nothing really happened
until they were over at Josh's house and Terry showed up. None of us
knew Terry beforehand. What you see in the film is how we came to know
As far as what happened to them, last we talked to Terry she is born
again Christian. Reconnected with God I guess. Josh is still doing the
same old thing. He may be in your town, still sniffing seats.
the Musical is about a girl falling in love with her rapist - now
why did you think it was a good idea to turn this story into of all things
We were getting really beat back then. We had met Paul Rey, he does
all the strange ukulele music, and he and Brandon were planning on
doing some spoken word performance. So Brandon had been writing some
poetry. For some reason their beat duo never panned out. So guess we
were just in the musical mood. We also just love irony, combining the
dark with the light.
A few words about the music in ScUMBAG
Well, we worked with a few different
musicians. Paul Rey and Ian Reigalmen wrote all of the music to the songs
that I (Leia) sang and I wrote the lyrics. A group at the time called The
Cotton Ponies wrote The Lesbian Song, and Brandon put together a few of
the songs that he sang. All the musicians we worked with are some of the
most talented people we know. We are very jealous of musicians. We always
wished we were good at music. That's probably another reason we like doing
musicals, cause we get to work with musicians and get to pretend we are
some for a while.
Honestly, are either of you into
musicals at all, and your genre favourites?
Yes, we both like musicals. Some of our favorites are The
Sweeney Todd, Cannibal, and the best of all, Cry Baby. Brandon spending
some time in New York, used to go to on and off Broadway musicals all the
time. Back in California Brandon even played Rocky in the Oakland
production of Rocky Horror Picture Show, another great. We just feel that
the marriage of film and music is one of the most expressive mediums.
Maybe if we were better at music we'd do more musicals. We like to
incorporate as much music as possible in our films one of our ultimate
goals is to make a movie that's a really long music video.
Holy Shit - in a
few words, what is it about, and how does (actual) shit figure in a satire
on (commercialized) religion?
On the surface it is about a preacher who wants to start his own church
so he can use the congregation for his own sinful cravings. He uses a
naive girl to get it started. The story was adapted from someone we know.
He told us that when he was really down and out, deep into drugs and
depressed, he visited hell and was told that he needed to start a church
and that he was a prophet. The sermons in the film are really from this
person. When we learned of this it was amazing to us that someone would
chalk up this experience to reality instead of the self induced high from
huffing paint. So to us this prophet church stuff he was talking about was
all just bullshit. Thats where the shit factors in. Also this person we
know perplexed us, before this spiritual realization of his, he was rather
obsessed with his own fecal matter . When we asked him about the seemingly
contradiction of this fetish and other sexual preferences rejected by the
church, his answer was, "Nothing is forbidden in the marriage
bed." So a Christian can shit and piss on his wife but can't be truly
be in love with someone of the same sex? It just all seems like a bunch of
dogmatic bullshit. Picking and choosing the shit they want to eat.
Are you religious persons,
and your thoughts about religion as such?
Though we are
fascinated by it we are not religious. To us it is only a archetypical
mental protection mechanism. Religion is an issue that we have had to deal
with our whole lives. Both of us were raised in strict religious
households. For some reason both of us were able to see through to the
hypocrisy in the churches we attended and in our immediate families. That's
were the shit factors in. To us the contradictions and obvious business
model of the church that was spewed from the pulpit was as plain as shit
coming from their mouths. Pigs returning to their vomit. We feel that in a
day and age where you can communicate with someone face to face on the
other side of the world its a little childish to believe in the god that
religion has painted for us in order to spiritually blackmail us with our
immortality. Unfortunately as a species we have not psychologically,
mentally, emotionally, and spiritually evolved as fast as our technology
has. Maybe unfortunately is not the appropriate response, I suppose it is
a necessary step in the progression of people.
features a great silent avant garde-style sequence during your lead
character's epiphany. A few words about that sequence, and what inspired
you to shoot it that way?
We've always liked silent films
and we wanted to do some experimenting. We are going to be expanding on
that idea in future projects.
You just have to talk about
the extended GOD TV sequences in Holy
Shit for a bit!
Ha! Yeah that was some funny shit. Again we just wanted to show that
religion is just any other business. But the Pastor Patrick sequence was
inspired by a TV evangelist in the town we're from called Peter Popov.
He would come on public access and sell the strangest little items like
buttons and bits of string, but what was special about this crap was
that he had blessed it. Now who would want to be without that!
Shit did cause a bit of a controversy, right?
A small amount. Mostly just got us kicked off a couple online
social sites and video sharing sites. Guess we should have known better
though. At that time we still did not have our own website so we split it
up into smaller videos and posted them on this un-named social networking
site. It was up for about 5 weeks or so before we got the plug pulled on
us. No biggie though, no matter who tries to shut you up there will always
be another platform. Sometimes we get a nasty comment or email about the
film but surprisingly we get much more positive feedback. In fact that
trailer and the Pastor Patrick sequences has done a lot to get us
commissioned work and help us pay the bills. Must be God's hand ;)
For me, Home
Made Monster is your take on Frankenstein. Would you agree to
that, and what were your (other) sources of inspiration?
We would absolutely agree with that. Frankenstein
is such a wonderfully
imagined story. Exploring the origins of life and the endeavor to be
that origin I think is a subject all humans have examined it the dark
hidden parts of their minds. Some humans have taken it farther than
most, Jeffrey Dahmer, for example, another inspiration for the film.
That's where the main character's obsession with being loved factored in.
We had read in a article about Dahmer that he was looking for the part
of the brain where love resided. In Home
she was looking for
what would animate the body.
made Home Made Monster
into another musical. Why, and what can you tell us about the music used
in this one?
We made Home
Made Monster a musical for the
same reason we did our first one. Just a love of music. Also I (Leia) just
really wanted an excuse to sing and dance. We've been close friends with
The Jim Rowdy Show since high school. We've always loved the horror
psychobilly ambience of their sound and their stage show. We wanted to
reinterpret that onto the screen with a little bit of sexuality.
Based on this, will you ever make another
That's a very difficult question to answer
definitively. One can never know how when or for what inspiration will
strike you with. But if an idea that seems to be perfect for a musical
ever enters this plan through us again, of course we would.
Leia, in Home
Made Monster you appear in a series of very revealing outfits and
also have a nude scene. Did that at all bother you?
am very clear with myself and with Brandon what I am comfortable with in
any aspect of filmmaking and in life for that matter. Plus by this point
I've been nude in front of the camera a number of times, so I've had
practice at it. But I do insist on the set being clear of crew. Brandon
and I are the only ones on the set, which can make it a challenge for the
cinematography. I felt that the nudity and provocative dress was
imperative to the story. In fact the strip/necromantic scene was written
exclusively by myself. I wanted to express the feeling of yearning and
desperateness to be loved that goes along with vulnerability and being
Made Monster, you shared directing duties (at
least officially) for the first time. How did that go?
for Grape Jelly all of our films have been unofficially co-directed. This
one was official because I (Leia) had written this story and really wanted
to have a influence in its execution. Of course we do have differences of
opinions. We both respect each other creatively so much that we are very
open to our different ideas, but we do decide during pre-production which
one of us has the ultimate authority on the project. That usually boils
down to who ever had the initial idea. I think us working together is
perfect for the type of films we make. I feel we balance each other
perfectly resulting in the strange but "cute" films we make. And
I think that Home
Made Monster is the pinnacle of that arrangement.
Made Monster's open ending almost suggests a sequel. Will there
ever be Bride of the Home Made Monster?
I love that! And yes we did leave it open-ended in case we ever do want to
do a sequel, just like the original film. But mostly it was to say that
when you try to change someone into someone to love, instead of loving
someone for who they already are, it will only end badly. You can't change
We talked about Trantastic
at length in our last interview [click
here]. Anything you want to add?
is our latest film. It is our seventh. It is a mocumentary
or docudrama. Guess some people have been mistaken about whether it is real
or not. To be clear, it is not.
projects you'd like to talk about?
We are currently in
production on our first Sci Fi exploitation film and some animated shorts.
We're also doing a music video for Erleen Nada, who is contributing a song
to the Sci Fi film. All the information on these projects will be up on
our website shortly.
You usually tend to
appear in front of the camera in your movies as well. What can you tell us
about Leia and Brandon Gadow, the actors?
Well, we have a lot of reasons for acting in our own films. The reason
we even started doing acting in our films is that we don't have the
money to pay actors. Also as the writers of our own movies we know
exactly what we want the characters to portray. There's no way for you
to misinterpret your own intentions for a character. We also look at
our films much like a band does their album. A band doesn't hire someone
else to play their instruments or sing their songs. We feel like that
about our films, we want all the control. We want to do as much as we
can to make a film. Write, direct, produce, act in, edit and promote
everything we do. Our last challenge is music, though we have gotten to
dabble in it on the musicals we've done.
Acting is very liberating. Being in character and reacting as that
character is freeing. A little vacation from yourself kinda. A chance to
know what it would be like to be someone else.
Your films are
usually accompanied by very compelling musical scores of the underground
variety. Would you like to comment on that?
Sure. The music we use in our films are always from artists we love and
respect. These are groups that we already listen too. We both grew up on
the musical underground, so its just what we like and relate to and
express the same mood our films do. We want our films to not just be a
visual experience but also a audible one. We would love to make our films
one long music videos.
also made a series of music videos, right? A few words about these, and
how does making a music video differ from making a feature film?
we have done a number of music videos. We LOVE doing them. It is a chance
to be more experimental both in story and technique. It is a chance for us
to be more expressive without have to worry about it "making sense." Also its another excuse to work with musicians.
can you tell us about your cinematic work outside of ScUMBAG
Movies? And what prompted you to start your own company?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
We do commissioned pieces not under ScUMBAG
Movies. These are works for hire
that we cannot speak of directly because of contractual obligations - and anyone
looking for video production services can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
We stared ScUMBAG
Movies because we wanted to make films. Our films, and we
didn't want to have to compromise our vision in order to receive distribution.
So we decided to distribute ourselves. We follow the business strategy of the
indie music labels. And though we don't make much money off our films we get to
make exactly what we want.
a few folks pop up in movie after movie of yours. What can you tell us
about your ScUMBAG-regulars?
people are our ScUMMY family. These people are always down to work on our
films. We couldn't do it without them. They share our vision for a
entertainment outlet that bleeds freedom from the typical. We let them
interpret the characters as they wish and they always deliver the ScUMMY
Facebook, whatever else?
Our website is scumbagmovies.com,
Facebook is http://www.facebook.com/pages/ScUMBAG-Movies/115208147491,
and YouTube http://www.youtube.com/scumbagmovies.