Cariad Harmon: Cariad Harmon [Album]

Cariad Harmon - Album ArtWith that feeling that the sun is finally breaking through the thick white clouds to brighter up our lives, we have discovered another beautiful singer/songwriter who creates beautiful little tunes that splash together Americana and Blues lyrics over a some precious acoustic strumming in precisely the perfect manner!  Yes, describing the beautiful music that Cariad Harmon has created on her self titled album is well-deserving of run on sentences, and bouts of explicit happiness.  With an album that can conjure up imagery of smoky jazz clubs or even smokier blues bars located in Anytown U.S.A., Harmon is a wonderful British artist who definitely understands Americana music, and has found just the right away to perfect it.

Whether it is beautiful little ditties about not giving up on what you truly need/want (“Old and Grey”) or one woman’s love/hate relationship with NYC (“Wicked Town”), there is something so deeply personal and touching about this collection of Cariad Harmon tracks that you just can’t help but sway your head to, even just a little bit.  Whether she is breaking it down with piano driven melodies (“Williamsburg Bridge”) or adding just the right amount of country twang to a self esteem boosting cut (“You Don’t Know Me Yet”), there is something on this beautiful album for anyone who appreciates brilliant singer/songwriter stylings.

We’ve covered a whole mess of Americana artists here at Trainwreck’d Society because, well….trains.  The image of a train rolling through a corn field in middle America somewhere as the sun is setting over the prairie is about as American as it gets, right?  But, really, this is the new age of Americana music.  The revolution that began oh so many years in places like The Village in NYC has brought these roots driven tracks all over the land, and even across the pond.  Cariad Harmon used to spend her days running around the streets of London dancing around to house music and techno, but deep down inside, there was a real artist.  And we should all be so damn grateful that she chose the path that has brought us her brilliant self-titled sophomore release.  So, it would behoove other great singer/songwriters like Laura Gibson or Theressa Anderson to join forces with this whirlwind of talent, or simply step aside as a new queen steps in to rule with her beautiful album in tow, which is one of the finest pieces of work of 2014.  And it would behoove you to jump on the bandwagon right about now.  Because like said train in a cornfield, Cariad Harmon is going places.  Going places fast!

Cariad Harmon’s self titled album will be available November 11th, 2014.  Stayed tune for updates at her website and be sure to Friend her on Facebook.  You can also preview and download “You Don’t Know Me Yet” at Large Hearted Boy.

Killer Instinct by Jane Hamsher [Book]

Killer Instinct by Jane HamsherFresh out of film school, aspiring producer Jane Hamsher and her partner Don Murphy stumbled onto a screenplay by a geeky filmmaker-wannabe named Quentin Tarantino. For $10,000, Jane and Don optioned Natural Born Killers and set off on a two-year roller coaster ride no classroom could have prepared them for. With an outrageous cast of real-life characters including Oliver Stone, Woody Harrelson, Robert Downey, Jr., and Juliette Lewis–along with a slew of film-crew leeches and behind-the-scenes studio pitbulls–Killer Instinct rivals the most mesmerizing, gut-wrenching movie scenes. A wild joyride like no other, Hamsher’s tale provides a fresh, insider’s perspective on stardom and the real balance of power in Hollywood.

- GOODREADS.COM

 

 

I had been wanting to check out this book for such a very long time, but somehow it just kept slipping on down my reading list over the last 15 years or so.  I was just a young 12-year-old, movie obsessive kid when it was released, but I remember it quite clearly.  What I mainly remembered was learning about an incident involving my then favorite filmmaker, Quentin Tarantino, and some producer I had never heard of named Don Murphy (seriously, what 12-13 kid really gives a shit about the “producer”?) in which QT apparently clocked Mr. Murphy in the jaw because of things that were said in this little book, Killer Instinct.  Well, I will be damned if I wasn’t at least a bit intrigued.  What could have led one of my heroes to fly off the handle like that?  But, as I previously stated, the hype of it all died down (for me, anyway) and I just went back to loving the work of a man who I just knew was going to continue to thrive and make wonderful films.  Jackie Brown came out that year, and I was in love, and completely forgot about these Jane Hamsher and Don Murphy people.

As any young kid with wild aspirations to be a “screenwriter”, whatever that really meant to me, I loved Quentin Tarantino.  And it was easy to side with him on any matter that might put him in a negative light.  For this reason, I believe I decided not to read this book because I was fearful that I might see my hero in a light I just didn’t want to see.  Who wants to hear terrible things about somebody you admire so much?  So, I just let it go and continued to enjoy the world of QT.  Although there was a 7 year dry spell in there where I was desperately wanting a feature film to come around, but I knew he would be back.  And boy did he ever.

Before I get to far into the defensive or offensive of QT, I’d like to throw some thoughts out there about the author, Jane Hamsher, herself.  Jane, teamed up with Don Murphy, were a duo of producers who dove right into the 90’s world of cinema and created quite a splash when they took a script originally penned by Quentin Tarantino entitled Natural Born Killers, and managed to engulf themselves into the world of the legendary filmmaker Oliver Stone with this film by creating one of the most controversial films of the decade.  For all that it is worth, Natural Born Killers is a great film, albeit landing somewhere near the bottom of my “favorite things QT”, but that shouldn’t sway from the film’s brilliance, as the story was almost entirely reconstructed and removed so much of the original writer’s vision, that his name being attached to the film is simply a contractual obligation it seems.  Jane would go on to produce, alongside Don Murphy, a few other fabulous films that creating the beginnings of a wonderful career.  She managed to produce films like Apt. Pupil, Permanent Midnight, and From Hell.  But, Jane, for reasons I don’t really know (or honestly care to really research anymore than I already did) sort of fell out of the producing scene after splitting with her partner Don Murphy (who would go on to bring the world Transformers, which is a phenomenon to say the least, albeit one I couldn’t give a shit about) and has transformed into a professional blogger of sorts.  Her work has appeared on The Huffington Post, and on her very own blog.  Mostly political stuff, I guess.  S0 there is that.

natural-born-killers-movie-poster-1994-1020260244So that sums up Jane Hamsher and her career to date, in my eyes anyway.  Her career is not something to laugh at entirely, but in all honesty much like the content of Killer Instinct and my poor grammar, quite disdainful.  When you really stop and take a full on look at it: what has she accomplished?  The main focal point of this book, Natural Born Killers, is a wonderful and blood spattered film that only received attention by riding toe curtain tails of the newly sought after screenwriter and filmmaker Quentin Tarantino that would have never even came to life had the legendary Oliver Stone not managed to find interest in it as a project and half-heartedly let a couple of nobodies with serious attitude problems tag along with him.  This was a project Tarantino never wanted to see come to life, but was forced to settle with a check for $350,000 and knowing that his world will be forever intertwined with the likes of the legendary Oliver Stone.  And I am not saying that Jane Hamsher and Don Murphy didn’t suffer their own stresses and challenges on their part to get this film started.  But, what became of the final product, and the short career of Hamsher and continual career of Murphy, are obviously owed to the brilliance of both Quentin Tarantino and Oliver Stone.  This is a fact that can be argued very easily.  Sure, they put in the work, but would these two even have jobs today if it weren’t for a good bit of luck?  If both Jane and Don where ever willing to clearly state that they essentially owe EVERYTHING they have now to these two men, I think this would do them a bit of good.

So in Killer Instinct, does Jane Hamsher recognize the fact that the only reason she made it into the business was because of the genius of one man who penned a script she managed to acquire early enough?  Or that if one of the greatest filmmakers of our generation and the previous one hadn’t become interested in the script, she would be counting greasy dollar bills at a bank in Santa Monica somewhere?  Does she have appear to have a humble bone in her entire body?  In my opinion (which of course, is not fact) the answer to all of these questions is a sad “no”.  Instead, she manages to do something that truly embodies the US Weekly quality of journalism that Killer Instinct provides.  She bashes.  She exploits.  She demonizes every single move that anyone made around her, except for her own.  Hamsher manages to profile herself as the only person she knows with a fully functional brain.  The disgrace is even aimed (a lot!) at her business partner and “friend” Don Murphy who she seems to portray an as an arrogant, junk food swilling, mindless fuck who can’t even dress himself, and one who would be nothing without her.

When I completed Killer Instinct, the complexities of emotions I felt were fierce.  Here I had been waiting all of these years to check out this book out of fear that I might hate to see my hero being demonized.  But what I came to hate about the book was so much more than some petty QT bashing.  In fact, after the first 100 pages or so, I was already discrediting every ill word stated towards the man.  It didn’t take long to notice the self-righteousness that was spilling out of each page.  It is as though Hamsher never once took the time to think that maybe when others look out for their best interests, it’s not a full on attack against you?  No, instead it was the entire world (well, at least a few naysayers in the L.A. metro area) fierce fully attacking this poor little film school grad who just wanted to get her name out there.

But in all fairness, although I believe this book reads like a very long article for the National Enquirer, it is actually very well written, and does contain some cool little snippets of knowledge of what it means to make a movie.  If you are able to look past the idea that this was a book that was basically written by a recent film school graduate who thought her “experience” and “knowledge” out-weighed that of many folks who have extremely successful careers, you might find a few interesting things to learn.  Hamsher is articulate, even funny at times.  And whilst reading a bit of her work these days, it is obvious that she has grown quite a bit.  I Jane Hamsherknow I have spent a good deal of time bashing her for what she wrote, but I do believe she has a good heart, and it seems as though her departure from the producing world was probably best for everyone.  And who knows, maybe every word she printed is right, and the odds were stacked against her so damn hard that she felt compelled to put it all on paper.  I highly doubt it.  I couldn’t verify a damn thing, but it just seems far too unrealistic to be all truth.

In the end, Natural Born Killers became a successful film, and Jane Hamsher and Don Murphy certainly deserve to be acknowledged for the work they put in, almost as much as Quentin Tarantino and Oliver Stone deserve credit for giving them the best bit of luck they could have ever hoped for.  While I generally disliked this book, it’s not hard to see that it is simply a period piece where some totally fucked up events happened, and made for a quite a story.  All self-righteousness aside, it is certainly a good little story.

 

Rolfe Kanefsky [Interview]

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There are certain people who were simply born to enter the world of movies.  For one reason or another there is a burning sensation in the pit of these folk’s stomachs that tell them they HAVE to be in the business of making movies.  Even as cold and shameless as the world may be, it is just something they obviously have to do.  And even better, there are some folks who simply will not be pigeonholed into making just certain types of movies.  In fact it becomes the versatility in their work that becomes an obvious factor that has been brought by their drive to great cinema.

Take for instance the wonderful filmmaker/screenwriter Rolfe Kanefsky.  If you scour the internet for a while, you will most likely find that the horror community has embraced this man as a legend among indie horror filmmakers for his now cult classic first feature, There’s Nothing Out There.  A horror movie that preceded what would become some more well known films like Scream or Cabin in the Woods.  Kanefsky is the man who laid the ground work for the certain sub-genre of an already beloved genre of movies.  The film is great in its own right, and it is no surprise that the horror community (arguably, one of the most loyal communities the internet has ever seen), but there is so much more to this man.  His abilities to transcend through any genre (erotica, western, comedy, alien mommy issues, and on and on) is what makes him a true master of cinema.  Rolfe knew that the best way to break into the business was by using the horror genre to kickstart his career.  And it worked!  Though There’s Nothing Out There might not have been an initial “success” (depending on how you would deem success), time has proven that is the stuff that legends are made of, and also a door to a truly astounding career that has shown no evidence of slowing up anytime soon.

So, with that in mind, we are proud to bring Mr. Kanefsky into the digital pages of Trainwreck’d Society!  We managed to peel him away from his work for a few questions about his career thus far, his amazing versatility, and maybe give some insight into some of this other great works.  So, ladies and gentlemen, Rolfe Kanefsky!

 

In the early stages of your career, you were working for the legendary Troma Films. How did you land this gig? What were you up to around there, and what films did you happen to work on during this time?

I started working as a P.A. when I was 16 over the summers on a bunch of independent films including a slasher film called Posed For Murder and a still unreleased comedy called Rich Boys. I got involved with Troma the summer before I started college. I believe my father, Victor Kanefsky, a film editor is the one who hooked me up over there. He edited a movie that eventually became one of their most infamous releases, Joel M. Reed’s Bloodsucking Freaks. My father owned and ran a post production company in New York called Valkhn Films and got the assignment to edit some Troma titles. I helped cut one for Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD. But before that I was a P.A. on their biggest production ever, Troma’s War. I worked for them for about two months on that show. I had to leave to start college but that was quite an experience. I actually was interviewed about it on their special anniversary DVD of Troma’s War. There’s a seven minute interview I did about my memories from that set. I’ve stayed in contact with Troma and Lloyd over the years and have put Lloyd in bit parts on some of the later films I directed like Tomorrow By Midnight and Pretty Cool although you now only hear his voice in the films. Troma also ended up releasing our 20th Anniversary DVD for my very first professional feature film, There’s Nothing Out There.

A5701As time marches on, it seems that your now cult classic film There’s Nothing Out There is finally receiving some of the much deserved respect and admiration it has always deserved, even outside of the realm of die hard horror fans. Why do you think this is? What do you believe it is that people see in this film that is so captivating?

I could write a book about There’s Nothing Out There and in fact, have. It’s on my website.  But the shorter story is, at the age of 14, I decided I wanted to be a filmmaker and started to research how to do it. I realized that at that time most first time filmmaker started with horror films so I started renting every horror film on video. I saw some great ones like Evil Dead and Carpenter’s Halloween and a lot of bad ones that were just doing the same old clichés to make a quick buck. I wrote Nothing Out There when I was still in high school as an exercise to see how long it would take me to write a low budget exploitation horror flick. As I wrote it, I couldn’t get myself to write all the same clichés seriously so I added the character of Mike, (basically myself), a horror fan who has seen all the horror films and immediately started to recognize and warn the others of the conventions of the genre. But I was careful not to make fun of the horror genre but of the lazy filmmakers and producers who keep doing the cat scare, the person going into the basement alone, standing in front of an open window, etc… My thought was to send-up all these cliches so horror films would be forced to be smarter for the fans. When we shot the film in 1989, the horror genre was still huge. Unfortunately, it collapsed the following year. My film got a small theatrical release in New York and California, played a bunch of film festivals, got surprisingly good reviews and then hit video through Prism entertainment, laser disc through Image, and played HBO/Cinemax. I thought it was over. A few years later, Wes Craven made a movie called Scream and to my surprise, thanks to a few movie books and the internet, people started talking about Nothing again. It slowly became a cult film. So, I embraced it, started a website for the movie, and let the slow legion of growing fans keep it alive. When DVD came along, IMAGE was willing to do a special 10 year anniversary on DVD and we were finally able to get a good quality version of the film put out. Reviews were great for the DVD. Because of Scream, Nothing Out There was discovered more and more. And for the 20th Anniversary, Troma stepped up to release a 2 disc special edition. There is talk that one day they may put it out on Blu-Ray too.

I think the reason why Nothing Out There has stayed so popular is that it is very honest in its’ intentions and is still funny. The genre hasn’t changed that much. Filmmakers and producers are still doing the same cliches so There’s Nothing Out There is still current. Even after Cabin in the Woods, people came back to write about There’s Nothing Out There. One reviewer said it’s the perfect bookends to the self-reflexive horror genre that started with Nothing moved to Scream and ended with Cabin in the Woods. To be grouped in that company is an honor.

DOC HOLLIDAY new final art-2While you are no stranger to the world of horror, your body of work consists of many different genres, from comedy to erotica, actually pretty scattered to say the least. One film in particular that interests me a whole lot is the film Doc Holliday’s Revenge, which is actually a western you wrote, and was directed by David DeCoteau. So, how did you manage to enter the world of Doc Holliday? What made you want to get involved with this project?

It was simple. David DeCoteau asked me to write a western that he could shoot in three days with about seven characters. I came up with a couple of simple premises, one kind of variation of Straw Dogs that he liked. But then he wanted to add a history western figure into the story. I talked with a good writer friend of mine, C. Courtney Joyner, who is a huge western fan and has written a wonderful book called Shotgun, to help me. Courtney suggested Doc Holliday. So, I started researching Doc Holliday and looked for an event that could fit into my original story idea. I ended up writing a fictional story that consists of all real people from the time around real events that were taking place. During this time, the news with filled with the whole Trevon Martin/Scott Zimmerman trial where they were calling Florida the wild wild west because of the “Stand Your Ground” law. I thought that would be a great title for my western and actually wrote the story very much as an allegory to the Zimmerman trial from the point of view of the judge, who was eventually played by Tom Berenger in my story. David loved it and shot the movie, getting a little more time and money then usual because of the quality of the script. The distributors changed the title from Stand Your Ground to “Doc Holliday’s Revenge and Lions Gate released it. I hear the film has done well and I’m proud of the script I wrote for it.

And even a bit more of a jump is your comedy Blonde and Blonder. That was even more of a stretch compared to your normal body of work? How did you land this gig?

Actually, Blonde and Blonder was not a stretch at all. I fell in love with Abbott and Costello movies when I was four years old. Comedy is actually my forte. No matter what genre I write, there is always a pretty good sense of humor in it. I was working for Alain Siritzky, producer of the famous Emmanuelle series in the 90’s. He has the idea of doing a female version of Dumb and Dumber and asked me to write it.  So, I wrote Blonde and Blonder as almost a female version of Abbott and Costello, although I described more along the lines of a younger, sexier I Love Lucy episode. When I wrote the script, I thought perhaps Pamela Anderson and Jenny McCarthy would be good for the roles. Alain tried to get the script made but couldn’t.

Layout 1:IJ[OneSheet-Keyart]MechIt sat on a shelf unproduced for about 10 years until another producer came to me. He’s a Brazilian producer named “Frederico Lapenda”. He invested some money into my flick, Nightmare Man, and asked what other scripts I had. I gave him Blonde and Blonder. He asked who I saw in the roles? I told him originally, Pamela Anderson. So Frederico got the script the Pamela’s brother, Gerry. He got it to her. She liked it and they set the film up in Canada with Insight Film Studios. Bob Clark was hired to direct and suddenly the film was in production with Pamela Anderson and Denise Richards. I am not very happy with the final results and the worst part was that Bob Clark, director of such films as A Christmas Story, Porky’s, Black Christmas) died in a car accident right after production wrapped and didn’t get any credit on the finished film due to Canadian Content (aka stealing money from the government as a tax rebate if there are enough Canadians working on the film.) I won’t go into all the details and dirty dealings that occurred but it’s a shame that Bob Clark does not have credit for the last film he directed after such an incredible career.

What is your ultimate goal for yourself as a filmmaker/screenwriter? When you look back on your career at a much older age, what are you hoping to see?

Well, it’s a crazy business. To be able to have had a career full time as the writer/director for almost 25 years is amazing in itself. A filmmaker always hope that he leaves behind a film or a body of work that is remembered and appreciated. I am pleased that I have a cult film still talked about after twenty years. I am proud of a film that has never been released in the states called Tomorrow By Midnight which is the most personal film I’ve made. I hope to see that released one day. You’ve probably heard the saying that any film that gets completed should win an award and if it turns out to be good, it’s a miracle. I am pleased to say that I believe a handful of my films have turned out good. I hope to have a handful more before I’m done. I have a lot of scripts ready to go if I could just find the finances. I love film and all genres. I feel fortunate to have been able to work in most genres and not be pigeonholed. I hope to make more thrillers since I’m a big Hitchcock fan. At this point, I have 50 produced scripts that I written of which 23 of them I personally directed. I consider that a career, more better or worse. I hope others consider it to be better.

What would you say has been your greatest experience in the film business thus far?

The response that There’s Nothing Out There received at film festivals around the world. Hearing the crowd react in Florence, Ohio, New York, and California was amazing. That’s a memory you can never lose. I also loved directing Tomorrow By Midnight which is a film that is the closest I’ve gotten to getting my full vision on screen.

Rolfe&cameraNM-2And, of course, what has been your least favorite experience in your career to date?

Working on Corpses for Tanya York’s company. Miserable experience every single day only made slightly better by a good cast consisting of Tiffany Shepis, Jeff Fahey, and Robert Donavan. And meeting my script supervisor turned friend turned producer, Esther Goodstein.

Most important question of all…..you are on set for say 14-16 straight hours.  When you find a chance to sit and eat something, what is your personal “brain food” you use to fuel creativity?
I don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs. My one vice is chocolate. I wouldn’t call it “brain food” but I do find myself eating the junk food. Chocolate chip cookies make me happy.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Doing this interview. A lot of good memories mixed with the bad but I try to be a positive person. Glass is half full.

Joe Chrest [Interview]

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One of my favorite things about running this site is gaining the ability to at least digitally talk with some folks who have been involved in some major projects that have either influenced or entertained me over the years.  Whether it is with laughs, inspiration, or just pure and non-granulated talent, each individual that has been interviewed on this site has been someone who is very special to me for one reason or another.

And our interviewee today is no exception.  Well, maybe a slight exception, as Joe Chrest has turned out to be one of the funniest and most down to earth people I have had the honor and privilege to have a digital conversation with since, well the last person who was extremely cordial via e-mail (honestly, they’ve all be pretty cool, but Joe has been THE man!).  We also happen to share two very important commonalities.  We’ve both flown desks for the Air Force, and we absolutely LOVE the feel of brand new pair of socks.  How can you not dig a guy like that.  I guess more importantly might be that he is a very talented actor who you should recognize as Schmidt’s dad in both 21 Jump Street & 22 Jump Street.  Along with various other roles in films like Oldboy, One the Road, Lee Daniel’s The Butler, The Blind Side, Jeff Who Lives at Home, and many more.  More notably so, you may recognize him for his reoccurring role on HBO’s hit drama True Detective, that is certainly one of the finest shows on television today.  You can also see him in the upcoming and final(?) installment of The Hunger Games films in 2015.

No matter how you know him, he is a hilarious and talented son of a gun, and we are so honored to welcome him to the Trainwreck’d Society family.  With that being said, ladies and gentlemen…..Joe Chrest!

When did you first decide you wanted to become and actor? 

First got interested in acting during my senior year of high school. I was always heavy into sports (and still am) so I always needed the adrenaline rush and with my skill set, it was becoming obvious I was not going to take it to the next level in sports. I auditioned for a play and it really got the heart pounding — I was hooked, but it wasn’t until I got out of basic training at Lackland Air Force Base and started sitting at a desk every morning, in a uniform that I realized I wasn’t going to be happy unless I went all in with the acting thing and see where it took me. Bummer was that I still owed Uncle Sam 4 more years. I was able to finish out my service and finish undergrad at the same time, so all was not lost, and my theatre degree was fully funded by the U.S. Government!

What were some of your earliest influences?

My early influences were all about comedy. I loved Monty Python and British humor since I was around twelve years old and I couldn’t get enough of the Cheech and Chong LP’s — my buddies and I would recite them in the locker room even though I didn’t understand half the shit — they still made me laugh (at twelve I couldn’t understand why the effeminate pirate would say “yes!” when they beat him with cat o nine tails on the yardarm, but it still broke me up). Of all the famous people I ever worked with, meeting Cheech on Nash Bridges was a true highlight. He still liked to talk about the old stuff and signed my buddy’s Los Cochinos album, “snack bar’s closed, fool…” referencing the prime parking spot from Pedro and The Man at the Drive-in.

What was your first paying gig as an actor?

My first paying gig was the same as Andy Griffith — The Lost Colony summer theatre in North Carolina. He found a wife there as well, but I quit after the first week and left wife-less (and soundly convinced by the producer that I would be black-balled forever in the industry if he didn’t see me at rehearsal that evening). Maybe that’s why I never got a Matlock gig?? I had never quit anything before, nor have I since, but suffice to say without going into detail that I felt justified enough with the circumstances to walk — even with Mr. Knowles’ black ball (balls??) hanging over my head.

Can you tell us a bit about Swine Palace?  How did this come to life?

After graduating Marshall University in my home state of West Virginia, I needed a good reason to procrastinate the big move to New York, and LSU came through with an offer of an assistantship and a full ride, so I figured what the hell and headed down to this mysterious land called Louisiana. Great move. There I met the three artists who have been the most influential on my life…John Dennis (my mentor), Steven Soderbergh (who gave me my breakout film role as Ben in King of the Hill in 1993), and Barry Kyle (Royal Shakespeare Company Director Emeritus) who after guest directing at LSU decided Louisiana was the perfect place for his new American acting company. He asked me to come down and found the company with him. It was to be called Swine Palace. Despite the odd name, I didn’t hesitate. Barry Kyle was a brilliant director, a visionary, and this was an artist’s dream…an artistic home. We had no theatre space, just a vision and a dream to turn the abandoned pig viewing pavilion (thus the name Swine Palace) on the LSU campus into the most state of the art, innovative performance space in the world. Eight years later, the doors were opened on our new multimillion dollar facility, The Reilly Theater, the dream having become a reality. The irony is that not long after the ribbon cutting, Barry Kyle was run out of town on a rail. Amazing. The man had directed a who’s who list of British super stars and it would be very difficult to argue that he was not a genius, but he could be… shall we say, “difficult.” Tough loss for Baton Rouge. The coda here is that the theatre is finally back in good hands with a great guy, Kennedy Center Fellow, George Judy.

True Detective Group

On the set of HBO’s True Detective.

In the span of your career, you seem to have portrayed several cops, or at least some form of law enforcement. Why do you think you tend to land so many of these gigs, including your reoccurring role on the hit HBO series True Detective?

Possibly the only thing longer than the arm of “Johnny Law” is my list of law enforcement roles. It’s kind of funny, but I spent the first half of my career on the other side of the law, playing just about every type of criminal found on line at Hedley Lamar’s card table in Blazing Saddles, and now all I’m pulling in are the cops, FBI, ATF, SWAT…you name it. To be honest, I really believe the reason is because when I would go to an audition in Los Angeles, I was always one of the weirdest looking guys in the room, but when I go to an audition in New Orleans, I’m always one of the most normal looking people in the room. I long for those days on the wrong side of the law — in film it’s far more interesting. Problem is, every time I get a good beard going, or a makings of a decent mullet, I get cast as a cop or lawyer or military officer and I have to break out the razor.

I noticed that you will be appearing in the next in line of the Hunger Games films.  I also noticed that you have some kids.  Are they fans of the movies, and stoked about seeing their dad in one of these films?  How about yourself?  Are you a fan as well?

5. I was a huge fan of The Hunger Games so I was stoked to find myself right there in the world with Katniss, Peeta, and Finnick going to take down Panem. The great part was that I was sucked into the world by the first two movies and the cliff hanger at the end of Catching Fire sent me running out to get my hands on Mockingjay, which I read in a day. What made it surreal was that I was so angered by President Snow at the end of Mockingjay, and then I get a call to audition to be in the “Star Squad” “Squad 451” who goes in to kick that son of a bitch’s ass! It was like being an arm chair quarterback and then waking up to find myself in the real Super Bowl. My kid’s are still a little young for The Hunger Games, but by the time MJ2 comes out, it’ll be a cool thing at school. It’s already on my 10 year old’s friends’ radar for sure. Spending the hot summer months shooting in Paris and Berlin made the whole thing about the coolest thing I’ve done in my 20 years in the business.

You have appeared as Jonah Hills father in both 21 Jump Street and 22 Jump Street, and were involved with some of the most hilarious scenes of both films.  How is the set life like films like these?  Is it as fun and full of laughs as it appears to be on the screen?

Everything about 21 Jump Street, AND 22JS has been a blast. Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller are laid back, fun to be around, and FUNNY dudes. Their attitude trickles down on the entire company as it always does with the best directors. Soderbergh’s sets are fun sets, and Francis Lawrence creates the same happy space. What makes their stuff great is that they trust their actors, and welcome anything you bring to the table. On the Jump Street sets improv was the order of the day and the only sad part about it is that so much funny stuff has to get left out. A great comedy director has to have the discipline to cut out the stuff that is hilarious, but not really needed to advance the movie. On something like that, the only hope is that the audience has as much fun watching it as you had making it.

What is your preferred genre of film to work in?

Comedy is the best. I love it all, dumb stuff like Stripes, and The Animal to high brow Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward plays to the corny stuff like Andy Griffith and Don Knotts movies. In junior high and high school, before ever wanting to act I was always voted class clown and stuff like that. I’ve always enjoyed laughing and I love making people laugh. One of the most important lessons I hope to teach my kids is to learn to laugh at themselves. Humility is a virtue. We need to lighten up as a society — laugh when it hurts! Cliches are cliches for a reason.

Dead Man Walking

On the set of Dead Man Walking, for being re-casted by Clancy Brown due to scheduling conflicts

What is the most embarrassing moment you have had on set, whether in the theatre or on a shoot?

Most embarrassing moment on set? Wow, there have been so many. We always laugh at the stuff Barry Kyle used to yell at me, like the time he stopped rehearsal when I grabbed an actress by the arm (not too roughly or anything) but we both kind of stumbled making it look worse…he yelled in front of the entire company, “Joe you and your bullshit method acting have been holding the American theatre back for years!!” I was young and green and this coming from someone I held in such high esteem was humiliating and devastating. Now it is one of my favorite laughs…man, to shoulder the blame for the entire American Theatre’s backward ways??

What was the last thing that made you smile?

9. Ha ha. I’m smiling now thinking about all those embarrassing Barry Kyle outbursts, “Joe! Cut the bit with the jacket!! It’s a TERRIBLE BORE!!!” I can hear it like it was yesterday.

Bodi: One [Single]

Bodi - OneLoyal TWS readers should not be surprised that we are once again showcasing the wonderful artist and overall beautiful human being that is Alexander Hallet a.k.a. Bodi.  He is arguably (and you best bet I would argue it!) the finest MC in the hip hop game today.  And even with these characteristics in tow, he still manages to prove himself to be an incendiary human being who obviously has the thoughts of others placed far above his own personal wants, and some times even his own needs.  Rapper, poet, photographer, philanthropist….these are the simplest definitions of this complex and obviously multi-talented human being.  And guess what Dear Readers…the man is back!

The man who is Bodi has recently returned from what he has dubbed The Volunteer Adventures, and is back in the lab(s) and seemingly perfecting his art(s) the only way he knows how: with his entire heart involved.  He is currently hard at work on a book of photography and a documentary about The Volunteer Adventures, but in between it all he is also not forgetting about what made us love him in the first place.  He is still writing songs and mastering his craft as a hip hop artist, now with a year’s worth of world traveling to influence his already beautiful storytelling that we have all come to know and love.  And I while damned if his latest single “One” isn’t a prime example of what can happen to an already talented artist when they set out on a personal voyage across the globe and comes back with an entire planet’s worth of experience with death, happiness, sadness, and exclamation.  Our man has done it once again.

Bodi - One 2“One” is a track that, in some ways, brings us back to this one dude I used to know and love called Alexipharmic.  Which was, as if you didn’t know, the portrait of a young man who would be Bodi.  The music brings us back to the bit more upbeat yet filled with struggle times of Alex’s early years, which is to say that the beat is a bit lighter than we heard on his brilliant 2013 release as Bodi, The Fall of Atlas.  But our man hasn’t exactly lightened up too much, thank goodness.  The poetry in his lyrics are still littered with beautiful sadness, especially when he spits about his “books of shadows that are way past due”, or when he mentions the “saints turned Gods” that essentially failed him.  “One” is, at the very least, a beautiful addition to the amazing songbook that he has managed to create in his short time on this earth.  And while it may be one of the jazziest and most upbeat songs we have heard from this cat as Bodi, “One” might be one of the most heart-felt and discovery driven songs we have heard from this man yet.

And even better yet, this is just one track from his forthcoming EP that is due out around mid-September.  And it would be a safe bet to say that we will be watching for this brilliant MP3 riddled canvas to drop and to tell you all about it.  Until then, be sure to head on over HERE to check out “One” which is without a single solitary doubt just the beginning of one of the finest albums of the year.  Bodi is unstoppable, Bodi is genius, Bodi is life.

Simple Steven [Artist]

Simple Steven3Here at Trainwreck’d Society, we are probably only slightly known for our support for the hip hop community.  While yours truly is a HUGE fan of hip hop music, especially the thought driven and lyrical bliss that can be accomplished in a simple 16 bars.  We’ve covered several hip hop acts, called out one artist as Person of the Year, and there is always a handful of hip hop albums on our end of year lists.  Still, it still feels like we don’t do enough.  That is exactly why I am so happy about this new feature.  I am so happy to (possibly) introduce one of the finest artist I have heard in so damn long, Simple Steven.

Somewhere in the vein of the Bodi, Sadistik, or Cas One….we shall find Simple Steven.  And this is not to say they have similar sounds, although they sort of do.  If anything they are similar in how different they are form everything you are used to hearing the hip hop world.  A Simple Steven song might be a bit less hook heavy when compared to his label mate Infidelix, and his lyrics a bit more complicated than fellow label mate Twitchy, and possibly not as dark in nature as the aforementioned Sadistik or Cas One.  So what does he sound like?  Exactly.  He sounds like Simple Steven.  He is man all on his own who has proven himself worthy of walking with the giants.  And walk he shall when he hits the road this summer in support of his new album Abandon All Anchors, which will be released August 5th, with the likes of DJ Abilities and Jake Spike.  And if the recently released music video for the album’s first single “Dormant” should act as a sign of how great this album and accompanying tour may be, you all are in for a real goddamned treat to say the least.

 

Simple Steven is, whether he knows it or not, a truly gifted lyricist by what almost seems like a birth right.  Should this brilliant young man decide to continue down a path guided by his ability to spit a flow that leaves your legs weak and mind fucking blown, he is almost guaranteed success and massive gratification.  There is little doubt in my mind that Abandon All Anchors will be a beautiful little building block that will piece together the beginnings of a very bright and definitely earned career for Simple Steven in the hip hop game.

 

Abandon All Anchors will be available on August 5th.  Check HERE for more details.  Also be sure to check out Simple Steven when he tours a city near you:

Simple Steven1

Herschell Gordon Lewis [Interview]

HGLAnd off we go again here at Trainwreck’d Society with another round with the world of horror.  But this time, we have something exceptionally wonderful for you fine readers.  True admirers of the world of horror should know exactly what I mean when you catch the name of who we are honored enough to have featured in our digital pages today.

Back in 1963 a little film called Blood Feast was released that truly shook the world.  Horror films had ben existence for decades before, but not quite like this.  The pure shock value of this film would lead independent filmmaker Herschel Gordon Lewis to be deemed “The Godfather of Gore”, a nickname he truly deserves as set forth with other great films like Two Thousand Maniacs and Color Me Blood Red.  Whether through splatter horror films or sexplotation romps, Herschel Gordon Lewis has had a long and historical career of creating films that simply entertain.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Just good old fashion sex, violence, and hilarity.  And what more do we really need, sometimes?  Mr. Lewis took a bit of a hiatus from the film world, but returned in 2002 to direct the anticipated sequel to Blood Feast, and actually has a grand new project that is beginning production this summer entitled BloodMania, an anthology consisting of four parts.  One segment was co-written by HGB, and he is slated to direct two of them.  It is so exciting to see The Godfather back in his element, and this damn project has success written all over it.  Learn more HERE!

After such a long hiatus, how did it feel in 2002 when you got back into the director’s chair to make the sequel to Blood Feast you had always wanted to do?  Did it feel natural or nerve-racking? 

I had phantom-directed just about every film I viewed during that hiatus. The mind-set was ready and natural.

What do you believe it is about the exploitation genre that continues to have a large cult following among film buffs?  What makes them different from more mainstream films from the 60’s and 70’s, and even beyond?

Exploitation films grab attention, roughly and mercilessly, to the action rather than to the actors. Viewers feel they’re in a back-alley, sharing a primitive creative experience.

What sorts of things were going through your head when you decided to release Living Venus, which was extremely risqué for its time.  Where you ever nervous about how the public was going to take it?  Where you targeting an audience at all?

I had determined that for a production whose values couldn’t compete with polish, we could compete by showing a limited number of brave theatergoers the kind of visual experience in which they could envision themselves being immersed. That formula still exists.

HGB2What do you think it is that keeps your hit film Blood Feast a relevant work of horror art that his hailed and praised to this very day?

Blood Feast has been criticized for every facet of production from lack of acting talent to shoddy camera work. But no other film can match its place in motion picture history: it was the first of its kind. Those who see it today sometimes say what they don’t say after viewing a hundred-million-dollar product: they got their money’s worth.

If you were given $5 million dollars in 60’s to make a film, do you think you would have gone a different route with your work?  

You bet I would. But I wouldn’t be regarded as a pioneer.

In your personal opinion, what is an “independent film”?  And do you think there is any hope in revitalizing a fearfully dead way of making films?

An independent film is produced outside the sacred gates guarded by Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild and controlled distribution. Regrettably, since fewer and fewer theatres will book this type of product, the independent has to compete in the semi-closed world of DVDs. That means aping what the major companies do.

If you were to attempt to modernize any of your films from the past, which would you like to see done?  Furthermore would you even really want to do so?

I’d rather move forward. I have scripts that haven’t been produced yet, so why should I remake movies whose history is firm enough to resist re-making?

HGB1After several decades in the horror business, how do you feel about the obvious changes that have occurred in the world of film?  Are things better?  Worse?

Production is light-years easier. Distribution is light-years more difficult.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Opening a package of Gummi-Bears.

 

Be sure to stay up to date with Bloodmania at the film’s WEBSITE.  You can also film’s page on Facebook.

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