Stuart Gordon talks about turning hit play “Nevermore” into a film with Jeffrey Combs

Stuart Gordon has directed and be behind some of my favorite horror films to date including “Re-Animator”. He teamed up with “Re-Animator” star Jeffrey Combs in 2009 for a stage play called “Nevermore”, which focused on a night with Edgar Allen Poe. The show was only suppose to run for a month but ended up become a huge hit and held over many times and even toured. Gordon and Combs are now trying to get the play turned into a feature film…with the help of YOU! They have started a Kickstarter campaign, which will end on November 1st, 2013. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Stuart about this campaign and about what we can expect.

Click here to support and back this campaign and tell them that Media Mikes sent you!

Mike Gencarelli: “Nevermore” opened for a one month run in California in 2009, which ended up being extended four times. What made you decide now to make a feature film version of this stage play?
Stuart Gordon: Jeffrey Combs’ performance as Poe has been called “A landmark performance” by the LA Times, and we have toured the show to great acclaim throughout the US bringing it to audiences from Los Angeles to Poe’s gravesite in Baltimore to New York’s Lincoln Center. Filming it will allow it to reach an even larger audience.

MG: Tell us your decision to turn to crowd funding with Kickstarter for this project?
SG: Kickstarter seems the ideal way to fund this project as historical films can be a hard sell at the studios. Even Spielberg had a difficult time finding financing for LINCOLN.

MG: The stage play worked so well since it was Combs captivating the audience solo; how do you plan to expand the scope of the play?
SG: We will be able to show the characters that are referred to in the play beginning with Poe’s shocked fiance’ Sarah Helen Whitman, as well as his doomed young first wife and actress mother. We will also be able to dramatize THE TELL-TALE HEART, THE RAVEN and many of his other poems.

MG: What fascinates you most about Edgar Allan Poe that you want to tell this story?
SG: Poe’s life is even more tragic and disturbing than his macabre stories. NEVERMORE gives us the opportunity to bring this troubled genius to life, warts and all.

MG: As hard as it is to say, in the case you don’t meet your pledge of $375,000 is there a plan B?
SG: There really is no plan B, which is why it is so important that we reach our goal. And with the help of our friends, old and new, we will.

MG: Besides as an incentive on the Kickstarter, do you play to do a wide release of the stage play on DVD?
SG: We have no plans to release the stage play on DVD.

MG: After the film is funded, what is the timeline to get the film to the fans?
SG: We plan on shooting the film next summer with a release in early 2015.

MG: Speaking of the fans, at the time of this question there are over 400 backers; why do you think the horror fans are so loyal to the genre?
SG: There are no fans more loyal than horror fans. God bless them! The more you scare them, the more they love you.

Jeffrey Hornaday talks about directing Disney Channel’s “Teen Beach Movie”

Jeffrey Hornaday has work choreography with tons of great talent including Madonna and Michael Jackson, as well as tons of films including “Dick Tracy”, “Flashdance”, “A Chorus Line”. His latest film is  the Disney Channel film “Teen Beach Movie”, which he is toke on the role of both director and choreographer.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Jeffrey about “Teen Beach Movie” and its impact on pop culture this summer.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you became attached to the Disney Channel film “Teen Beach Movie”?
Jeffrey Hornaday: I had worked with Disney Channel before on a film called “Geek Charming”. It wasn’t a musical but it was a romantic comedy. It got really good ratings and I got nominated for a Director’s Guild Award. So we all came away very happy with how it went. So when this came up given Disney’s background and mine also with musicals, it was a natural fit.

MG: Tell us about your approach to making this a true summer film?
JH: When you look back at the old beach party movies from the 60’s, you think about those and get this sort of nostalgia and warmth. If you go back and look at them now, they are kind of flat [laughs]. The choreography is kids basically dancing a little at the beach. They are not full blown production numbers. We decided instead of trying to clone what those used to be, let’s do something that makes you feel like when you think about that nostalgia feeling. We sort of took the gloves off and gave ourself the right to go past what the original genre was. We really tried to tap into what it is feels like to think about those movies.

MG: Tell us about your approach to the music in the film?
JH: The music department was really great and wanted to approach it like a Broadway show. Rather than giving them a laundry list of catalog songs, we got together with the composers on number and really talked about it and work-shopped the ideas. It was really like we were putting on a Broadway show and that was really fun.

MG:  How was it taking on the role of both director and choreographer on this project?
JH: Because my background is in choreography in Los Angeles not Broadway, I learned about design choreography for camera, which is a very different world. I was lucky that I got to work with really good directors in the past. So it is kind of coming full circle and having more control it actually made the process easier to translate to someone who doesn’t have the choreography experience. I also had help with the choreography from a brilliant young guy, Christopher Scott, he was just incredible to work with. It was a great collaboration and we had this unspoken connection. He came into the project with a lot of ideas. That made it really fun and easier to share the load.

MG: What was your most challenging song to film?
JH: The physical aspect of just shooting on the beach was first a big challenge. Working with sand is not easy. It is hard enough to walk or even run on the beach yet alone dance. There is a number called “Crusin’ for a Brusin'”, which was challenging but in a fun way. There is a song from “West Side Story” called “Cool” and I had that as a prototype in my mind. You could really feel the cinematographer’s hand in the song and it was an homage to that. It was very carefully designed and quite the challenge.

MG: Let’s talk about the success of the film since it has aired on Disney Channel?
JH: It is hard to predict that type of success, especially in pop culture. I remember when I choreographed “Flashdance” at the time and we just thought we were doing this little movie but had no idea that it was going to touch a nerve on pop culture. The thing that was interesting to me was the connection of the old school American musical. You wonder about if the younger audience was going to be able to connect to this, especially since this film deals with aspects from the 60’s. But they have been really able to connect to it.

MG: Any plans to for a follow up to “Teen Beach Movie”?
JH: There has been no confirmation yet. I know that they are certainly thinking about it and their story department has it in development. It would be a no-brainer for me. So I am on-board. I am also currently writing a screenplay for Disney right now. It will have music but is also a contemporary piece. So I am hard at work right now.

Jeffrey Brown talks about new book “Star Wars: Vader’s Little Princess”

Jeffrey Brown the author of last years hit children’s book “Star Wars: Darth Vader and Son”. When this book was realized was a month before my daughter was born and I couldn’t help but ask where is the female version. Well my request was answered with the newly released sequel “Star Wars: Vader’s Little Princess”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Jeffrey about his books and what we can expect next. If you want to ask him your own questions be sure to check out the upcoming Virtual Chat between Jeffrey, Daniel Wallace and Jonathan Rinzler on May 1st, click here to submit questions.

Mike Gencarelli: Are you surprised by the success of “Star Wars: Darth Vader and Son”?
Jeffrey Brown: I am. I thought it would do well, on the basis of it being a Star Wars book if nothing else, but I didn’t anticipate the incredible response it got. I’m most surprised by how much kids love the book. I wrote it from and for the parents’ perspective, but kids really get a kick out of it.

MG: What has been your son’s reaction to the book?
He likes it, although I suspect spending a year watching me write and draw the book too some of the shine off it.  He doesn’t like it as much as my nephew who’s just about the same age.

MG: Where did get your inspiration for “Star Wars: Vader’s Little Princess”?
There wasn’t really enough space for Leia in the first book, so I knew I wanted to do more with her. At the same time, I felt like I’d used up most of the four-year-old jokes and situations, so making Leia a teenager seemed obvious, and provided a lot more potential material – especially being able to show her dating Han Solo.

MG: Did you find this follow-up more challenging?
I did – first, because I’d used up some key bits of dialogue and scenes from the movies, and second, I don’t have a teenage daughter. Fortunately, I have a few friends with teenage daughters, and was able to get some ideas from them as well as my editor at Lucasfilm, J.W. Rizler. who has daughters.

How much research did you do within the “Star Wars” universe to complete these books?
Even though I’ve seen the films countless times, I re-watched them repeatedly the whole time I was working on the book. I also used numerous books, issues of Star Wars Insider, looked at toys, and finally had a good reason to spend some time intensely studying my collection of Topps Star Wars cards.

MG: Have you ever heard a reaction from George Lucas on these books?
I heard that he asked for more copies of Darth Vader and son, which is extremely flattering. As much as I was having fun with the Star Wars universe, I wanted to be true to it, and so I feel like I did it right.

MG: Can you give us a sneak preview for “Star Wars: Jedi Academy”
Jedi Academy is the story of Roan Novachez, a young boy from Tatooine expecting to spend middle school at the Pilot Academy, but ends up at Jedi Academy instead. The story is told through Roan’s journal, comics, letters from family, notes from class, and even pages from the school newspaper. It’s very different from anything I’ve done before in many ways, and I hope kids have as much fun reading it as I had making it.

MG: You co-wrote last years’s “Save The Date”; do you expect to do more feature films?
I do, although it might be a while. I have a handful of ideas I’d like to work on, but I also have a ton of books I’d like to draw, and have more Star Wars books that I’m already working on. So for now I’m just letting the film ideas percolate in the back of my mind until it’s time to really get to work on them.

MG: Tell us about your upcoming book “A Matter of Life”?
I’ve had the idea of writing some stories about my experiences with religion for a while, and A Matter Of Life started out as that book. My dad is a minister, and I’m a father now myself, so at some point the book became about fatherhood as much as anything else. It’s more meditative and thoughtful than the other work I’ve been doing lately, and is probably my most personal autobiographical book yet.


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Film Review "The Jeffrey Dahmer Files"

Directed by: Chris James Thompson
Starring: Andrew Swant, Jeffrey Jentzen, Pat Kennedy, Pamela Bass
Distributed by: IFC Films
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running time: 77 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

I am not sure what it is about serial killers but the topic always sparks America’s interest. “The Jeffrey Dahmer Files” is a documentary/re-enactment film about Jeffrey Dahmer during the summer of his arrest. Andrew Swant plays the serial killer in those segments and that footage is mixed in with real interviews with Jeffrey Jentzen, the medical examiner from the case; Pat Kennedy, the lead detective; and even Dahmer’s actual next door neighbor, Pamela Bass. I loved the way that the real and new footage that was created and is blended almost seamlessly. Even though this film is just a documentary, it still disturbing and creepy.

Official Synopsis: In the summer of 1991 Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested in Milwaukee and sentenced to 957 years in prison for killing 17 people and dismembering their bodies. ‘Jeff’ explores the city of Milwaukee by meeting those surrounding Dahmer during and after his hidden spree. Recollections from Milwaukee Medical Examiner Jeffrey Jentzen, Police Detective Patrick Kennedy, and neighbor Pamela Bass are interwoven with archival footage and everyday scenes from Dahmer’s life, working collectively to disassemble the facade of an ordinary man leading an ordinary existence.

When you see the re-enactment footage with Andrew Swant playing Dahmer and then the actual court footage of Dahmer it is very disturbing and at first almost hard to tell the difference. As a film, I think this word be better suited as a TV special then a feature film. But nonetheless, it was interesting and definitely grasped my attention for the near 80 minutes. In fact, I actually learned a few things about this notorious serial killer. If you are interested in serial killers, then I would recommend checking this out.


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Interview with Jeffrey Reddick

Jeffrey Reddick is known best for creating the successful horror “Final Destination” series.  Jeffrey also was involved writing the 2008’s remake of “Day of the Dead”.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Jeffrey about the series and also what else he had planned for 2012.

Mike Gencarelli: You created the very successful horror franchise, “Final Destination”, tell us the origin of how to created it?
Jeffrey Reddick: The idea stemmed from a strange real-life incident. I was on a plane, flying home to Kentucky. I read an article about a woman who was on vacation, in Hawaii, I think. On the morning of her flight, her mother called her and told her not to take the flight she was booked on because she had a bad feeling about it. The woman changed her flight and the plane she was supposed to be on crashed. This story got me thinking…what if she was meant to die in that crash? What if she cheated Death? At the time, I was working at New Line Cinema and was trying to get an agent. I was told to write a spec script for something on TV. “The X-Files” was my favorite show and it was really hot at the time. So, I came up with an episode where Scully’s brother had the premonition. The script got me an agent. Mark Kaufman, a colleague at New Line Cinema, really loved the script and convinced me to try and turn it in to a feature.

MG: Why did you leave “Final Destination” series after the second film?
JR: After the first film, I thought I had a really clever way to expand on the original movie, without just rehashing the first one. It’s interesting, I’ve done two of films, James Wong and Glen Morgan did two, as did David Ellis and Eric Bress. But the studio decided to go with completely new folks on the last one. But I didn’t leave the series. Each movie is its own animal and the studio always waits until the last film does theatrically, and on DVD, before deciding if they’re going to make another one. So, it’s really their call. But I’d only want to do another one if I could bring something fresh to the table. Just redoing the formula doesn’t interest me.

MG: After your departure from the series, how do you feel the the series continued through the latest fifth film?
JR: I always remember how fortunate I am to have created a horror film that’s had such a long life, so I’ve found things I’ve enjoyed about all of the films. But when you get to a part 5, sequel fatigue always sets in. The studio doesn’t want to mess with the formula, so the movies tend to blend together and feel repetitive. But each of the films has managed to be a fun ride.

MG: I feel the fifth film did a nice touch are related to the first film, do you think the franchise still has steam left?
JR: I think the fifth sequel was great. I feel they really made that one for the fans and not just to cash in. They brought Tony Todd back and added some real depth, and twists, to the story. I think part 5 is a great way to go out with the current formula. But I think if they want to keep the series vital, they should do a reboot. Death is a crafty mother…and can always come up with a new design.

MG: You took on the task of writing the screenplay to the 2008 remake of “Day of the Dead”, what was you most difficult task?
JR: Steve Miner’s involvement was the main reason I signed on. The hardest task was trying to craft a film that was reverent to the original. Because of the rights, we could only use the basic story and characters from “Day of the Dead.” We couldn’t reference any of the other movies, so it had to be a standalone story. But the treatment I wrote, which got me hired for the job, was much closer to the original film. I really feel it paid tribute in a respectful way, while creating a fresh new story. But after I got hired, the studio started making me change things…and strip out everything related to the original. There were many arguments, but at the end of the day they usually win. So, watching the film turn in to something other than what I intended, was the hardest part. At the end of the day, I think it’s a fun film…but it shouldn’t be called Day of The Dead.

MG: Any truth to the rumor of a 3D follow-up to “Day of the Dead”?
JR: They just announced they’re releasing the remake on Blu-ray in 3D. I’m excited to see it.

MG: What do you have planned next in the works?
JR: I’ve got several irons in the fire, but nothing I can report right now, as you never know if, and when, things will pan out. But I can say they’re all genre projects and I’m hoping to direct one of them. I’ll keep you posted.