Starset’s Dustin Bates talks about debut album “Transmissions”

Dustin Bates is the singer for the Columbus, Ohio based rock band Starset a band whose debut album “Transmissions” spawned the break out hit “My Demons” long before there was ever actually a real band. Media Mikes spoke with Dustin recently about the creation of the album, the formation of the band and the group’s current tour with the recently reformed Breaking Benjamin.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the band and “The Starset Society”
Dustin Bates: I actually created the “Transmissions” album before there was even a band. We had the song “My Demons” out on the radio before we ever had out first rehearsal. We did that because the record was done based upon the philosophy and the narrative of “The Starset Society”. I sort of incorporated their outlook into the record almost as a marketing device for their society. We are not the only tool being used to promote the society as they are using a variety of other media such as graphic novels and video. It’s cool to be a part of that and to be able to incorporate that into our record.

AL: Was then always the idea to adopt Starset as the band’s name?
DB: Exactly! The actually name itself sort of harkens back to the narrative. Starset is a non-rotating planet that is involved in all of this. The planet does rotate around the sun making a portion of the planet inhabital called the Starset region because there is always an eternal sunset there. The way that this plays into the narrative will be told in the first graphic novel.

AL: Does the band have any hand in writing the graphic novel?
DB: That is something separate. We mention the novel and the other forms of media being used so that people can dig more into what we as a band are a part of. We realize this can all be a bit confusing so we try to inform everyone of how things all go together.

AL: Can you tell us a little more about the album done prior to there actually being a band?
DB: I did the music based on the inspiration of the narrative. There is also another story line that is more of a love story so I tried to give the music a human element that people could relate to as there is a lot of science, technology and future type elements. I was very careful to not go too far. Once I had that done I reached out to various friends to help me record this. I was able to bring on Rob Graves to produce and he really helped me obtain the cinematic level of sound that I wanted to create. I knew early on that Starset needed to have a soundtrack to a sci-fi movie which was created by a rock band. Rob was the perfect guy for that. We sent the song “My Demons” to radio and it started to get really positive reactions. I knew very quickly that I needed a band and a record label. Since getting both of those things we have practically been on the road non-stop ever since. That was about a year and a half ago now.

AL: The album has quite a number of musical layers. Where did you start when you were writing the record?
DB: It was different for each song. Some started out more traditional with the melody and lyrics while some started with the music and after I had the lyrics I threw all the music away and rebuilt it so it had a cinematic vibe. I usually do write the melody of a song before the lyrics. I generally have ideas already for the other layers such as the strings and what not but until we get the actual players in there that’s when things come to life. We had an actual quartet come in and play all the orchestral parts on this record.

AL: Can you tell us about your current tour with Breaking Benjamin and what the band has planned for the rest of the year?
DB: It has been pretty busy for us with touring. We just recently got off of tour with Halestorm and the Pretty Reckless and now we are out with Breaking Benjamin through August. They are one of my favorite bands from when I was younger so it’s really great to be able to be out here with them. After this run wraps up there’s a possibility of going overseas and being out on the road for the rest of the year. Between all of that the Starset novel will be coming out this winter.

“The Puppet Monster Massacre” Director Dustin Mills talks about new film “Zombie A-Hole”

Dustin Mills is the director of the wild and crazy film “The Puppet Monster Massacre”. Dustin took out some time with Media Mikes to chat about that film as well as his new film “Zombie A-Hole”.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about what the inspiration was behind “The Puppet Monster Massacre”?
Dustin Mills: It’s the same with every film idea I come up with. I am just trying to make films that I would want to watch. I look for holes in the B-Movie universe and try to fill them.

MG: Are you surprised with the response this film has gotten?
DM: The response has been rather mixed, and honestly the only places it sells well are Horror Conventions. I think my surprise came from seeing it featured in magazines and websites that I had read for years. We were in HorrorHound, Fangoria, and there was a review on AintItCoolNews. That was wild. That’s the stuff that makes my heart race.

MG: When can we expect the sequel to this film?
DM: I really want to make one, but so for we haven’t had a ton of luck with raising the funds. I have the outline, I have started the screenplay, but now it just boils down to hard numbers. I’m not going to make the film until I can give it everything it needs. My plan right now is to produce some low budget exploitative short films to sell with the sole purpose of raising money for PMM2. It will happen… its just a matter of time.

MG: Tell us how it was going to puppets to “Zombie A-Hole”?
DM: It was much much easier. Production was smoother because I wasn’t playing every single part (we had no puppeteers for PMM) and post was easier because we had real locations instead of a greenscreen that required keying and or matte paintings and 3d backgrounds. The only thing that is more difficult about a live action film vs something like PMM is that you have to be willing to relinquish control and improvise and let your actors help build your world. Making a virtual backlot puppet film allows you to have a much narrower mind, but working with people and weird conditions forces you to be a resourceful soldier.

MG: What was your biggest challenge besides the budget of $1K?
DM: The budget was never actually a hindrance. I like working with nothing. A low budget like that forces you to be a renegade and I like that. there is something really exhilarating about shaking your camera while your actor’s wife blows fog over your car with a $20 fog machine and a fan that barely works and a couple of your buddies bounce the trunk up and down so it will kinda sorta look like the zombie hunting cowboy is driving at night. I live for that shit. The biggest challenge I guess was just time. Its hard to line up schedules, and we had a medical emergency with one of our actors that set us back for a month or so (not an onset injury mind you). That’s really it. Once we got folks together there was never really anything that held us back too much.

MG: Sticking with the horror genre, who are your idols?
DM: Thats a hard question because I have two sets of idols. I got my mainstreamers like Robert Rodriguez, Guillermo Del Toro, Sam Raimi, Dario Argento, and Fred Dekker. But then I also have my indie heroes. People like Eric Stanze, Bill Zebub, Fred Vogel, Jason Eisener, Kevin Strange, The Kuchar Brothers, and a few others. These are guys with true vision who know how to make their budgets and indie status work for them. I may not even like every movie they put out, but I respect the shit out of them. My grandaddy idol at least for right now is Jim Wynorski. I’m not sure the world will ever truly appreciate his genius.

MG: Favorite horror film?
DM: My favorite horror film and probably favorite film of all time is “The Monster Squad”. It embodies just about everything I love about horror and the magic of the movies.

MG: Tell us about your upcoming “Theatre of the Deranged II”?
DM: Well James Bressack is spearheading this wacky anthology and on it I have an animated short that is sort of inspired by anime and the sushi typhoon films called Girl Girl: Mutant Lesbo Vengeance. Its going to be quite strange and extremely bloody. I am pretty excited about it, and I am in good company on that collection. James really gathered a good group of filmmakers and I am pretty honored to be rubbing shoulders with them.

MG: What else do you have set on the horizon?
DM: I am putting the finishing touches on Night of the Tentacles. It will be out early next year probably. I am shooting a film called Kill That Bitch which will be out early next year as well. I am shooting a puppet porno music video for a Las Vegas band called The Fat Dukes of Fuck that is perhaps the strangest thing I have ever done. I recently did a video for one of their member’s other band called Demon Lung, check it out here. I have two other projects; one of which is already filmed and the other I am filming currently. I’m honestly not sure how much I can say about them so that might be a tale for another time.

Book Review “Making Tootsie: Inside the Classic Film with Dustin Hoffman and Sydney Pollack – The 30th Anniversary Edition”

Author: Susan Dworkin
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Newmarket Press; Expanded edition
Release Date: August 28, 2012

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Who doesn’t love “Tootsie”. It showcases Dustin Hoffman in one of his best roles to date. It was named #2 of the 100 Best Comedies of the Twentieth Century by The American Film Institute (#1 was Some Like It Hot). This book was originally published back in March 1983. This 30th anniversary edition is presented as a film study. Thanks to Newmarket Press, this book is back in both print and e-book editions.

The writer Susan Dworkin was the only journalist Pollack and Columbia Pictures permitted on the set and in the editing room. She is a playwright, award-winning documentary writer, and Ms. magazine contributing editor. She conducted in-depth interviews not only with its director and star but also with the costume designer, the film editors, costars Teri Garr, Bill Murray, and Dabney Coleman, and many others. She really understands and loves this movie and it shows through her work.

This short but sweet trade paperback is a very each read and very informative. There are also 52 beautiful photos from the film and production. This is a must for all fans of this film and lovers of great cinema. So get ready to travel back to 1982 with director Sydney Pollack and actor Dustin Hoffman and the wonderful collaboration that created one of our best enduring classic.

Interview with Dustin Milligan

Dustin Milligan co-stars in the 3D thriller “Shark Night 3D”.  The film is directed by David R. Ellis and co-star Sara Paxton, Chris Carmack, Chrisk Zylka, Sinqua Walls and Joel Moore.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Dustin about his role in the film and also working with the sharks

Mike Gencarelli: How did you get involved with “Shark Night 3D”?
Dustin Milligan: Oddly enough, I was circling more than one Shark movie at the time (pun fin-tended), but “Shark Night 3D” was by far the best-paced and most fun. So after talking with David Ellis about the shoot and the crazy (and totally new to me) action/stunts I’d get to do down in the Louisiana bayou, I was sold.

MG: Tell us about the 3D filming process, was it difficult shoot?
DM: The team we worked with were old pros when it came to 3D, and more specifically underwater 3D.  So as actors all we had to do was remember to act in that additional dimension, which was new to almost all of us as the majority of us had only been on 2D projects.

MG: David R. Ellis obviously knows action and knows 3D, how was it working with him?
DM: With David, you know you’re in good hands because of his stunt/action background, and his prior work has allowed him to hone-in on what to do and not to do with 3D. Most importantly, though, he’s a really fun guy to work with. He shut-down set one day, pretending to be all angry and serious, then busted out four dozen Krispy Kremes and held a donut eating contest! I wanted to participate but couldn’t because of the high-cramp potential due to eating prior to working underwater.

MG: The film has such a great young cast, tell us about working with Sara Paxton, Joel Moore and everyone else?
DM: One of the coolest parts of this shoot was how great the entire cast got along, despite not being allowed to look at or speak directly to Ms.Paxton or ride in Mr. Moore’s double-wide stretch Hummer to/from set [laughs]. We all ate together, went to movies together, there were basketball games– It was really nice to see everyone drop the ego at the door and just get down to have fun.

MG: Tell us about working with the sharks in “Shark Night 3D”?
DM: Terrifying. The mechanical sharks were equipped with real shark teeth! It was nuts being in the water with them while they’re thrashing around because if your hand got too close to their mouth it would undoubtedly end up bleeding. The realism the shark team was going for paid off though as all the mechanical sharks look really awesome.

MG: We interviewed Richard de Klerk, tell us about your film “Repeaters” and when can we see it?
DM: “Repeaters” is on sale now! Please go check your local DVD-buying source and buy the DVD. It was a blast working on such a dark and twisted story with such hilarious and dark and twisted Canadians. I’ve also got another film with director Carl Bessai going to TIFF this year called “Sisters & Brothers” which I am very excited about. It’s entirely improvised and I shot my whole sequence with my buddy Cory Monteith in one day! It sounds insane but I promise it will be good.

MG: What do you have planned next?
DM: Like, after this interview? I dunno, probably put some pants on. Make an omelet [laughs].


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