I have seen the future of horror fiction, and his name is Clive Barker” – Stephen King
Hellraiser is my favorite horror film of all time. I saw this film on television when I was really young and it inspired me to become a writer of horror fiction. What really intrigued me about the film was that I never saw anything like it before. Its depiction of combining the grotesque with the beautiful was truly original. The film inspired me so much that I sought out and read the original novel The Hellbound Heart. I fell in love with how the writer, Clive Barker, told the story through a poetry of pain like how I fell in love with the images he shot for his screen adaptation.
Barker stated in an interview that the first movie you make is out of sheer luck. Barker lived in England and was friends with fellow producers Oliver Parker, Allen Parker and Chris Figg. There were all inexperienced but wanted to make a movie. Allen put up some money so they could put a package together and get investors interested. Clive adapted the Hellraiser script from his novel, drew up some drawings of the villains, and wrote up some loglines for the package. Figg and Barker flew to Los Angeles hoping to pitch their project around town. They wouldn’t have to go far because the first company they pitched to, New World Pictures, wanted to make the film. And so, in 1987, Hellraiser was born.
The world was a better place when I was 19. My favorite superhero had finally made it to the big screen. Gas cost around a dollar per gallon so I filled up the same Honda I’m still driving today for only $12. Obesity wasn’t an epidemic in the country yet so girls in bikinis actually looked like girls in bikinis instead of resembling Thanksgiving dinner. Yep, 19 was a great year but the best part of it all was whenever I needed a j
This semester I’m teaching film history classes at Fullerton College. As much as it pains me to have to teach about this extremely racist film by Southerner D.W. Griffith, I have to do it because of its historical merit.
The Birth of a Nation (1915) was the first epic film of 12 reels during a time when other films only had 4 reels. Birth of a Nation was a 3-hour epic that held audiences spellbound. It was a film adaptation of a novel called The Clansman by Thomas Dixon.
The Birth of a Nation was made to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ending of the Civil War. The film took place during the war itself from 1861-1865 and during the reconstruction period from 1865-1877. Griffith portrays the mythological antebellum South as a lost paradise. The prewar agrarian South represented the final remnants of the old world ideal before falling victim to the industrialization of the north.
My production company, Torture Chamber Productions will celebrate our fifth year anniversary on February 24, 2011. It’s been five years since we first got together and chose to go the independent route. So many things have happened over those years and we’ve changed so much but the dream has always been consistent, put out genre media that is creator owned and operated, and never spend our own money. Let me take you on this adventure on how we came to be and how
Horror fiction has always been my best friend. As a child growing up, horror comic books, novels, and movies gave me an escape from the horror I had to deal with in real life.
As a young child of six, I watched my father slowly deteriorate from cancer. One of the few memories I have is seeing him vomit profuse amounts of blood into the bathroom sink. The very last time I saw him was when I visited him in the hospital. He was completely withered away and was begging for death to set him free.
I network so much it's ridiculous. I go to every function I can and shake as many hands as possible. When meeting someone new, you usually shake hands, exchange names and ask the killer question, “What do you do?” You respond with what you do for a living, what projects you've done in the past, and what you're currently working on. In most cases people are pretty receptive and interested so we have nice conversations that end with trading business cards, but sometimes something entirely different happens.
I’m currently reading Tales from the Script by Peter Hanson and Paul Robert Herman. It’s a great read that I would recommend to anyone who is a working screenwriter or who is hoping to someday become one. The book has numerous interviews with professional screenwriters and shows each of their viewpoints on the craft of screenwriting and how screenwriting fits into Hollywood. The let downs of being a screenwriter is consistent with every one of them, no matter if they’re selling screenplays for $1 million or $20,000.
Yesterday was the last day of a much-needed vacation. I spent the entire week enjoying LA with my girlfriend and daughter. Yesterday we went to a water park and as we were leaving I received a phone call from my brother-in-law. In his lawyer tone of voice he told me that I received a rejection letter from West LA College. Earlier this summer I had applied to a full-time tenure track film professor position. I thanked him for informing me and then went on with my day completely unscathed.
Don’t be turned off by the title of this article. Please lend me your imagination and attention for just a moment of your time. Say I was to go to any Starbucks for a coffee in Irvine. If there were only 20 people there, how many of them would likely work in the entertainment industry and would be able to help me advance my career? Maybe one if I’m lucky but more chances than likely the number would be zero. Now imagine if I went to any Starbucks in Los Angeles for a coffee. Out of the 20 people there, more likely than not at least 10 of them would be working in the entertainment industry and would be able to help me advance my career.
Stephen King in my opinion is the greatest American writer in the history of literature. While most great American writers only have one great masterpiece like To Kill a Mockingbird or The Scarlet Letter to secure their legacy, King has many he will be remembered for like Stand by Me, The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and Hearts in Atlantis. Few writers are able to create a literary series that lives on like J.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, but King too has captured that success in his The Dark Tower series. I could go on forever talking about King’s accomplishments and the truly scary thing is I haven’t even mentioned the milestones that he has written in his main genre, which is horror fiction.
The Father of Zombie Films: George Romero
Ever since 1968 George A. Romero has shocked the world with his unique vision of horror fiction. Audiences of horror, as well as the genre of horror itself, were forever changed since the release of Night of the Living Dead. The film was Romero’s first feature film, and it would give rise to three more sequels, all written and directed by Romero. Romero has a distinct style that separates him from the other great directors in horror. Romero has permanently changed the way that horrors stories are told on film, as well as the way horror effects are done.
Last month I went to Sharkey’s in Newport Beach to celebrate my bestfriend’s 27th birthday. While there I did what typical young guys do and had a great time. Later that night a guy pointed to me and waved me to come over to him. I walked over and said, “what’s up, dude?”
Four Years of Torture
Four years ago I had a dream that I would one day own a horror production company based out of my hometown of Fullerton. On February 24th, 2010 I got to celebrate the forth anniversary since I put that dream into motion. It has been a tough road and I’m proud of a lot of things that we have done, but I know there are so many more things left to do.
Here is a recap of the previous four years of owning and running Torture Chamber Productions, Orange County’s Home for New Horror Media.
The Confinement Writing on Assignment
STANDING OVATION IS THE GOAL
Superheroes = Role Models
The Logline Formula
Last night one of my clients e-mailed me asking what a logline should look like. I replied with Jule Selbo's formula. It's from her book Gardner's Guide to Screenplay From Idea to Successful Script.
I've taught from her book at the college for 3 years (hurry up and write a book, Mark!). Jule is a great mentor and friend. She's written for Lucas, Romero, and Disney so I think her formula is pretty legit.
Let me tell the story about this guy I met back in film school. I remember sitting in the hallway of the film department waiting to talk to one of my professors. There was a cute girl sitting in the hall waiting for a professor as well. I already had a girlfriend at the time so I paid her no attention and continued drawing in my sketchbook. Suddenly this guy comes into the hallway.
He must have been single since he struck up conversation with the cute girl almost immediately. His voice became loud, trying really hard to impress her, so I overheard him say his dream was to work at Marvel Productions. Something clicked inside my mind.
Here is a trick I was taught by the greatest editor I ever had the pleasure of working with.
I think almost everyone who wants to be screenwriter starts off as a reader. If you don't know what a reader is, it's someone who works for a producer, agent, or production company and reads scripts and writes coverage all day. Coverage is a like a two page review of the script stating whether it should be reviewed or passed on. I have worked as a reader for two studios: Mark Wheeler Management and Ben Katz Productions. At both places the rule was this, if the screenplay isn't in proper format, throw it away.
I have taught screenwriting part-time at Fullerton College for the past three years. Where I differ from most film professors is I split my lectures into two parts: one half on creative technique and the other half on business. Notice how I purposely stated ‘most’ film professors in my previous statement? That’s because professors at the established film schools (i.e.: UCLA, USC, AFI, NYU, etc.) usually do teach the business side too. The reason why I teach the business side of filmmaking is because the last thing I want my students to say to themselves when they graduate is, “I can tell a great story with pictures but how the *#%& do I get a job?”
Recently, on Facebook, I posted my opinion that Stephen King will go down in history as one of the greatest writers ever, while Stephanie Meyer will be forgotten in the pages of time like all of the other pop authors who exploit the market for financial gain, as opposed to writing what's in their hearts. A respondent replied that she felt Ms. Meyer was “brilliant” and she loved her “twist” to the modern day vampire. My response was as a professional writer, Meyer is the polar opposite of brilliant. Brilliant is J.K. Rowling’s twist on the modern wizard. What Stephanie Meyer gave the world isn't a 'twist' but a perversion.
A few months back one of my films, The Perfect Girl, competed in the horror section at the Knight of Shorts Film Festival. All the films in the competition were screened for the judges and audience then there was an intermission while the judges selected which film they liked best. After the intermission the finalists were called to the stage to briefly introduce themselves and their inspirations for their films. After an open Q&A with the audience, the judges announced the winner of the festival.
I remember standing up there with the audiences’ eyes on me. I remember thinking there was no way my film was going to win.
A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away, when I first got into filmmaking, IMDB was in it’s infancy and was not the industry standard it is today for confirming movie and television credits. For those of you who don’t know, IMDB is the Internet Movie Database. IMDB is a tool people use to check others’ professional credits. I remember sitting in a film class and showing the teacher a film I spent all weekend working on. He critiqued my film and told me how I could’ve done it better. I thought to myself, F#$% you! Let me see your credentials if you think you could do better.