I know we've talked about this before,
but do give us a recap: What's your new movie Toxic Alien Zombie Babes
from Outer Space about, and what can you tell us about its creation?
Alien Zombie Babes From Outer Space is a
comedic sci-fi/ horror film that pays homage to the great B grade cult
movies of the 50's - 70's, while covering a number of the strange issues
that have come up during this pandemic year.
now want to put Toxic Alien Zombie Babes from Outer Space into
cinemas around the world for free - was this the intention from the get-go or was
it triggered by current events?
All of my past films have been released for free - however, those are
all short films and a hosted horror TV series.
I was always unsure of what I was going to do with distribution and
revenue when I released my first feature film.
The fact that Toxic
Alien Zombie Babes From Outer Space was being made during the pandemic and
theatres were already suffering meant that from the very start, we were
both in this together.
did look at other options before making the decision to release this for
free, and the problem isnít really the lack of revenue coming back to me.
The big obstacle is distribution.
The releasing companies who put films into cinemas, on TV, DVD and
VOD sites need to make money, so they canít take on something that any
outlet can get free via other means. Releasing
this at no cost could actually reduce the amount of outlets the film goes
out on, and means that fewer people see it.
taking the risk anyway because I believe that the system is broken and I
refuse to sign a 5 year agreement with any releasing company when I
believe that the cracks are going to open up long before that.
If I sign and they donít manage to place the film in many places,
then I have a movie sitting around that I can do nothing with until the
Now let's focus for this
question on the theatrical situation almost worldwide before Corona, and
its (maybe fatal) dependence on the major Hollywood studios - your
Many cinemas have been held to ransom by Hollywood for decades because
their business model is based around showing the latest blockbuster
movies. Bit by bit, the
theatres have had their deals eroded over the years.
Theyíve become so reliant on blockbusters that during this
pandemic a delay in releasing just one James Bond movie had many
closing their doors for 6 months.
now get as little back on the ticket sales as 10% with the big studios
getting the lion's share. The
amount was reduced gradually over the years.
Even the time that the theatres have blockbusters exclusively has
been cut back as the big studios realised that there is more money to be
made in going direct to VOD.
Hollywood trend has been to keep finding ways to take more and it has
gotten so bad that now itís time for the movie houses to wake up before
it is too late. Gone are the
days of 2,500 seat cinemas being packed to the rafters with crowds around
the block. Theatres have
shrunk along with the deals they are given and that cannot continue
To what extent do you see the current
situation as a chance to break that stranglehold?
If the theatre owners can
change their way of thinking to realise that they are more of a community
centre for film lovers, then a whole new world will open to them. Due to
the pandemic, people are becoming more open-minded to businesses having to
make changes, so the current mindset of the general public is perfect.
owners' real job is to get people through their doors so that they can
market to them. Most of the
revenue a cinema makes is via food sales and not ticket sales anyway.
Another chunk of revenue comes from the showing of advertising
before the feature. Basically
a cinemaís business is only based around movies and not purely from the
showing of films themselves. Now,
the theatre owners need to work out other ways to get people through the
doors rather than relying only on the latest release blockbusters as the
is a whole industry out there based on films that is making money hand
over foot. Iím referring to
the big conventions. Many of
the most popular actors today can make more money from signing autographs
at these over a year than they do for appearing in a ten show series.
These conventions donít even have the latest blockbusters showing
and yet they can charge $150 a ticket instead of the cinema ticket price
theatres change their business model, they could be incorporating
merchandise sales and personal appearances to a film night.
This is just one idea of many but it illustrates that the theatres
do not have to just sit idly back and allow themselves to be strangled to
for what extent this situation gives the cinemas a chance to break the
stranglehold, well, many cinema owners that knocked back my short films in
the past were afraid that if they showed one of my movies that they would
upset the distributors and be at risk of not getting the next Hollywood
blockbuster. For those that
could elect to stay open, they arenít getting any blockbusters for at
least 6 months anyway, so that gives them a good chunk of time to try
things out and a perfectly valid reason to do so.
like to turn the last question right onto its head, to what degree do you
think the general public is ready for indie productions?
I think the general
public has always been ready for indie productions but the fault in them
not getting out there as much as they should falls to the producers
themselves. Theyíve been
trapped into the belief that they are competing with Hollywood, so many
have pitched themselves against that standard.
Without a multi-million dollar budget, a filmmaker is not going to
be able to have the costumes, sets, props, fx etc of the biggies.
In the 60ís Ė 80ís, B grade moviemakers could take advantage
of Hollywood being limited by codes and push the bar with boobs and blood,
but the big companies no longer follow those codes and caught up with that
over 20 years ago.
it strange that the concept of honesty hasnít dawned on too many indie
filmmakers. I think that as a no budget filmmaker, what I have going for me
is that the films donít have to follow an economic formula.
We donít have investors to kowtow to by following market trends.
The strength for indie filmmakers lies in realising what the
restrictions are for the biggies and then exploiting them.
You donít face a big monster head on.
You look for its weak spots and then take aim.
were once the wild west of movie making and need to reoccupy that position
by going where Hollywood is too scared to venture and exploring new ideas.
We need to be the place people can go to see things that you could
never see in a Hollywood blockbuster.
Boobs and blood are now mainstream, but risk and imagination are
not, so that is where we indie filmmakers must head.
a perfect world, what kinds of movies would you like to see distributed in
I think that the cinema
should be for all movies. Films
are really just another medium of storytelling.
In that sense, it all started with small tribes and the shamans
that travelled from village to village telling the tales that made up the
collective culture of an area. Todayís
cinema owners should understand that they are the modern corroboree, and if
they continue to push only the stories of a formularised Hollywood then
they are failing their communities and they will lose relevance with the
Now let's return to Toxic Alien Zombie
Babes from Outer Space - to what kind of audience do you think the
movie will speak, whom will it lure into the theatres?
I think that this time, and possibly the only time for me ever, that
the audience is pretty much everyone over the age of 15.
The pandemic has been a shared experience, and we're covering as much
as we can in a schlocky way. The
general public might never identify with my past films, or the ones I have
planned for the future, but this is something that we all have in common.
In one way, it might even be therapeutic for some to look back at
what has been a painful time and be able to laugh at it.
talk about your campaign to get Toxic Alien Zombie Babes from Outer
Space into theatres - and then your campaign to fill those seats?
Iím hoping to help cinema owners survive by giving away Toxic
Alien Zombie Babes From Outer Space free
so that they can show it and get 100% of the ticket sales revenue.
They need product to show, and this would be of help, but I
understand that it wouldnít be anywhere near enough, so I need other
filmmakers to join in. Cinemas
are likely to need 25 or more seat fillers to get through the next 6
can see the difficulties here too because itís not just a case of
getting cinema owners to open their minds and accept indie films.
Most filmmakers are not going to give their hard work away for
free. Many know that they can
take their film to the American Film Market and bring in a few small deals
at 10k a piece, and although that still might count for a loss of money,
itís still throwing away 10 Ė 20k.
marketing path that many indie film producers have bought into is far
worse than anything the theatre owners are oppressed by, so even the 10-20k
represents a big loss when you consider that they might have pumped 50k+
into the film and a yearsí worth of their time. They may as well just
break the cycle now while we are in different times and join me in forging
Alien Zombie Babes From Outer Space, Iím not going to be pumping thousands of
Dollars into entering
film festivals. I can see that
the big money is made by actors and directors from the fame they get from
a successful film, and that comes from having as many people as possible
see it and love it. Itís
about building a fan base that will pay to have their picture taken with
you and buy your merchandise. Big
companies pay celebrities for endorsements and appearances at their
events. I donít believe all
the stuff in the middle, such as film festivals, will necessarily get you
there when you can distribute directly to the general public via YouTube
and other online places.
are numerous industries that have adopted a freemium model successfully
and I believe it is time for filmmakers to do so as well.
With the amount of piracy out there, we may as well. Indie
filmmakers that decide to come on board and offer their product for free
are helping break a broken system and go direct to the public.
The industry has become too bloated with middle men making big
bucks while at the start and end of the process, the filmmaker and the
theatre, are being bled to starvation. The
time for change is right now because we are all restricted by the
pandemic. And if not now, then
never because many cinemas are just not going to survive this while their
biggest threat, VOD, is thriving due to the very same set of circumstances.
will come out as the new mainstream outlet due to lower overheads and the
ability to reach the entire world, while only 250 people or so can fit
into a theatre. If we want to
preserve the cinema experience then theatres must embrace indie films, and
indie filmmakers need to help theatres survive.
key question of course, when will your movie have its release, and do you
plan a big premiere?
Weíre now looking at a January release.
Weíd originally planned for December but no one has made a movie
in this way before and weíre finding that there is a lot more work
involved than we could have imagined.
would love a big premiere but itís proving difficult.
I think that marketingwise, those cinemas that accept the film
should turn their nights into a theme party, which is not far off of what
a premiere is, but the difference is that they can sell all sorts of other
merchandise on the night. Anything
from old sci fi/ horror movie merch to sci fi toys and costumes, and even
have themed food at the snack bar. The
theatres should not even worry if it is a premiere to create the party
experience, and should make every showing a crazy experience.
That very same approach has worked for decades for The Rocky Horror
Picture Show, so it is a tried and proven, winning formula.
Any future projects you'd like to
I have one feature that is almost ready to go called Badass
Bunyip. We were going to re
shoot some scenes over the Easter break but that is when Melbourne went
into lockdown. As soon as
weíre able to do 2-3 days of shooting, without masks on the actors, then
the film will be released.
also a feature length documentary that is finished called A Night at
the Movies Ö Indie StyleĒ Itís
a hosted compilation of many of my short films, with featurettes about
indie movie nights and behind the scenes looks at the sets.
Itís been shown on TV already and is available to any TV station
that wants to show it. I
havenít had the time to market it properly and get it seen on more than
a couple of stations due to the amount of work Iím putting into Toxic
Alien Zombie Babes From Outer Space. I
might package it up later with Toxic
Alien Zombie Babes From Outer Space for those theatres that want to run
a double feature.
from those two features, I have a handful of short films planned that are
scripted, cast and ready to shoot but am just waiting for the lockdown to
Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
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Anything else you're dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
I do. One of the most
difficult things for a business is the creation of processes and the
training of staff. This takes
years of hard work. Cinemas
that close now will find that staff will move into other careers and take
with them their knowledge. Theatres
could struggle to reopen when we are in better times because they might
not have enough experienced people to ensure things run smoothly.
Itís better to try out new ideas now to remain open.
Thanks for the interview!
Thanks for having me back, Mike, and listening to some crazy ideas.