Photos and Chainsaws

What you are looking at is the official image of the three directors from Bordello Death Tales. Handsome bunch, aren’t we? (Left to Right: Al Ronald, myself, Jim Eaves). Weird to have ‘official’ photos, which seem to end up getting used over and over again for ages.

The black & white photo that’s probably at the top of this blog, for example, (although may not be if you’re reading a reskinned version within another site) is bloody ancient. It was actually a publicity photo from back when I was doing stand-up rather than directing horror movies. I was thinking of getting a new one but, frankly, who the hell do I think I am? I haven’t stuck a photo onto my IMDB page either, and can’t quite work out whether I should or not. On the ‘not’ side.. I’m a writer/director, so why the fuck should anybody actually care what I look like? On the ‘should’ side, most of the directors that I like best have carefully cultivated a public image, complete with wardrobe gimmics, and so I sort of feel like I can get away with it. Plus, let’s be honest, I’m an attention junkie. If I wasn’t an attention junkie I’d have never got involved in movies, let alone my prior stint in stand-up.

One of the reasons I’ve been thinking about photos.. The chainsaw from TrashHouse finally made its way back home to the Jinx office the other week. And it’s almost impossible to resist the urge to pose with it. It’s a hulking great thing, damn heavy and really looks like it means business. And I keep thinking, hey, maybe I can find an excuse to pose for a publicity photo with that sucker. I know it’s pathetic and sad. But I make horror movies, for God’s sake, so of course I want to pose with chainsaws. Maybe a chainsaw in one hand and a camera in the other. In an urban wasteland. Like I’m in Mad Max.

Please note; I think I’m safely into the realms of self-parody now. But when I look at the chainsaw I’m not too sure. The other odd thing, of course, is that I’m terrified of it. As an object. Even though it doesn’t work any more, there’s a part of me that feels like it’s going to splutter into very real and dangerous life at any minute (hence the amusing ‘trivia’ that someone added to my aforementioned IMDB page) and start ripping up everything in the house. I’m not an outdoorsy kind of guy, and my only frame of reference for chainsaws is from my own and other people’s horror movies. I don’t associate them with gardening. I associate them with unpleasantness, so much so that it actually feels oddly transgressive to have one in the house.

Oh, and before I sign off, I was rather pleased last week to notice this blog quoted extensively over on The Melon-Farmers anti-censorship site. I’ve read that site for years, and is was strange to be reading it and suddenly realising that I was reading my own ramblings.

Rock on,

The industry

Hmm.. How do I dance around this subject? Is this something I even want to address? At the end of the day, what is the purpose of this blog? Am I basically just here to plug stuff, and say that everything’s great? Because sometimes it ain’t that great.

Because, as far as independents are concerned, the industry is broken.

A quick look around the shelves of my local Blockbuster (which, as a chain, has its own problems), reveals that very nearly all the straight-to-DVD horror on their shelves is put out by Sony or Lionsgate (oh, those tiny independents). Two years ago, when TrashHouse hit those shelves, there were at least a dozen distribution companies regularly putting out indie horror and getting decent distribution for it. Nowadays, they all seem to have either gone out of business or, at very best, gone into a kind of suspended animation whilst hoping to weather the storm. Companies are folding left and right; some of them, like Tartan, make headlines. Countless others have just quietly stopped putting out product and expired.

There will be a new system. It’s not all doom and gloom. But the new major distribution system, which I presume will be some kind of complete video-on-demand package which will enable folks to watch any movie from any period straight onto their telly for either a monthly subscription or a per-movie charge, isn’t here yet. It might be years away, and God knows whether it’ll be indie-friendly or a totally closed loop.

So we’re in a kind of limbo at the moment. The day a movie hits the shelves in a single territory it also hits the torrents worldwide, which can be fatal for an indie with no simultaneous worldwide release. There seems to be no way of making money on smaller movies. Obviously, the BBFC have done their very best to turn the knife by tightening their restrictions on things like commentaries, (which now have to be rated as a whole new work, thus adding vast amounts of money to the BBFC costs) and Behind The Scenes materials. Thus when an indie flick does manage to get out onto DVD in the current climate, it can’t even afford to have the full extras on the UK disc which might actually persuade people to buy it. And without economies of scale working in it’s favour, it’s gonna end up costing the consumer twice as much as a 2-disc set of a blockbuster. For a vanilla disc. And the consumer, understandably, will vote with their wallet.

I’ve seen awesome movies that would have been snapped up two years ago fail to find even basic distribution. There are, of course, other options to be explored. There’s a terrific blog over at Zen Films about their decision to self-distribute the movie MINDFLESH which is a really interesting read.. Tragically, though, the BBFC requirements as they currently stand would make a UK version of the Amazon Unbox scheme mentioned in the article completely non-viable. Thus driving yet more of our independent film business out of the country.

The whole thing’s a total bummer for those who make and those who enjoy watching independent cinema.

Dammit, I’ve depressed myself.

Back to endlessly plugging my stuff next time, I promise.

Rock on,

Good Morning America

And thankyou.

Not one for going wildly off topic on this blog, but watching the US election last night was a pretty amazing experience. Pip & I finally turned in at about 7am, after a bottle of bubbly and a couple of cigars. Here’s to a bright and fantastic future.

Oh, and just to keep this post on topic, there’s a new interview with me over on