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Gregory Lamberson
28 July 2014 @ 02:16 am
7:00 am call.  First shot: 7:48 am.  That's called effective set management!

We began Day Two shooting the portions of the surgery scene we didn't complete the night before.  These sots focused on Bob Bozek as nurse Herbie East, and allowed him to perform slapstick.  Bob never gives anything less than his all, and he was - ready? - hilarious.

Next, we shot Assistant Director Sam Qualiana's first scene as Dutch, Betty's insensitive boyfriend,  The scene called for him to interact with Debbie and Bob, and the three of them were great.  So was Joel Resnikoff's art direction, and I think I did well by Paul McGinnis's script, which is my chief goal.

Next, we moved onto the first scene in the film, which introduces Herbie and Dr. Thulu (Debbie Rochon).  The space was tighter than I'd expected, so we were limited in what we could do, but Director of Photography delivered an effective dolly shot and the chemistry between Bob and Debbie was spot on.

Moving down the hall, we returned to Herbie's domain, the waiting room, and grabbed a pickup shot for the big (biiiiiiiiiig) schene we shot the da before, a needed reaction shot from Debbie,  Worth the time to get.

And then co-producer Rod Durick took Debbie outside to shoot some second unit footage for the title sequence.  This was an instance where Debbie used her make-up to create a funny gag.  She does her own make-up on a lot of films, not by choice but because so many of these indie films don't have the budget for a hair/make-up stylist.  Guilty as charged.  Anyway, Debbie created a cool look for Dr. Thulu in our film, and worked all the tools in her arsenal to mine extra laughs.

We had down time next, because we were waiting for SFX artists Arick Szymecki and Stacey Book to escort Jessica Zwolak to set in the Boobs.  I never expect SFX on time, it just doesn't happen.  I'd intended to shoot first unit while Rod shot second, but that didn't happen.  Using the time before lunch, Debbie, Jessica, Bob and I rehearsed the climactic confrontation between Thulu and Betty.  I thought it was a page and a half long scene, but it was three.  My bad.  So the rehearsal was much needed, and a better use of time than if we'd shot the scene I'd planned next.

Jessica and the SFX team arrived, and the Boobs were spectacular.  Wide screen spectacular.  And we shot their first scene after lunch, when Betty storms into the waiting room and demands to see Dr. Thulu.  At this point, I was keenly aware of our time limitations: this was the last day Debbie and Bob were scheduled to shoot, and the last day we were scheduled to shoot in the mad scientist lab and waiting room.  When you're paying for locations, you don't have the same luxury as you do when you film in your house to postpone what you don't have time to get.  We ended up shooting more limited coverage of this scene than we had, but when Jessica is wearing the Boobs I want to limit that coverage anyway.

FIially, we moved on to the next scene, which could have been a monster like the one the day before.  I used the tighter space to create some masters which covered all the action - always tougher with three actors than with two - and we punched in for close ups.  All three actors were great.  But I'd planned for this scene to feature a climactic reveal of the Boobs nekkid.  This was the perfect place in the script for that.  And they just didn't look good enough undressed.  Arick said he would fix them digitally, but I just didn't want to rely on that.  So I made the decision to keep Betty clothed, and I saw the relief on at least one actor's face.  A subpar effect her could have sunk the whole scene.  The four four hours spent by Arick and Stacey applying the Boobs prosthetic o Jessica weren't wasted, though: without them, we wouldn't have had boobs at all, the silicone versions I bought just wouldn't have worked.  So we went with our strongest option and everyone was happy.  Debbie worked the scene, giving us plenty of options, Bob got to do his funniest bits, and Jessica proved she's going to be excellent in the starring role.

The schedule was for 7 am - 7 pm, meaning we were supposed to stop shooting at 7 pm.  Everyone would have worked longer, but I didn't want that to happen.  We're shooting on location next weekend, so we had to pack up all our equipment and set operations, and move most of it to Paul's and unpack it.  We finished the big scene at 6 pm, which gave us just an hour to shoot the next big scene: the post surgery scene in which the Boobs are revealed without really being revealed (that comes later).  As written, the scene spoofed jack Nicholson unwrapping his bandages in BATMAN.  For me, it always had to be more of a reference to THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, an idea grew stronger when we discovered our surgical table had a mechanism enabling it to rise.

With the clock ticking, we had to rearrange Joel's impressive laboratory set to get the wide angle behind the table I wanted.  This wasn't a continuity issue, since I wanted this scene to be noirish, and Chris and I agreed it should be lit by an overhead light Joel had strung up  The scene calls for the table to rise, keeping Jessica mostly hidden with Debbie and Bob on either side of it.  The master looked gorgeous.  Then we got a two shot of Debbie and Bob, and that looked gorgeous.  Then we shot a three quarter view of Jessica staggering off the table, shrouded in shadows, falling down because her new boobs are so heavy, and stumbling out of the room.  And that looked gorgeous.  More important, the prosthetic boobs were glimpsed ever so briefly, teasing the audience, and they looked great in this shot,  We shot a close up of Bob and called a picture wrap on him, then a close up of Debbie and called a picture wrap on her, and finished our shooting day at 7 pm, right on schedule.  So we made our day, plus made some pickups leftover from the day before, and got some fantastic footage.

 Now we have five days to prep next weekend's shoot, which features all local actors.
 
 
Gregory Lamberson
26 July 2014 @ 10:41 pm
Call was 7:00 am at Pierce Arrow Film Arts Center.  No one was late.  We loaded the equipment into the facility quickly.  We're shooting one third of the film in a suite of basement offices.  Today we shot in the front office space, which serves as Dr. Cate Thulu's (Debboe Rochon) reception area, manned by male nurse Herbie East (Bob Bozek), and in the back room, serving as Dr. Thulu's surgery room.  First of all, our production designer, Joel Resnikoff, is doing a fantastic job with the spaces, and all of the costumes today were cool.

We got our first shot off at 8:20 am, which is pretty damned good for a first day.  In our first scene, Herbie East enters the waiting area populated by patients who have heard horrible sounds coming from Thulu's operating room.  Jenn Brown and Erica Ladd played extras in the scene, and made very funny use of our props: issues of CEMETERY DANCE magazine, provided by Derek Clendening and authorized by publisher Richard Chizmar, who happens to be one of our executive producers.  Bob Bpozek's co-star in the scene was Tamar Lamberson, a last minute substitute for a character who appears throughout the film.  I thought it would be funny if we played up Tamar's "New Yorican" roots, since she doesn't fit that image at all: tacky clothes and jewelry, and a "street" attitude.  It took a few takes to get her comfortable, but she was hilarious, and Bob did some great improvisations.  That was the easy part.

The second scene involves our heroine, Betty (Jessica Zwolak) visiting Dr. Thulu for a breast enhancement consultation,.  I knew going in this was going to be tough: Paul McGinnis wrote a six page dialogue scene between Betty, Thulu and Herbie.  You cannot shoot six pages of talking with conventional coverage.  I broke the scene into thirds: a clearly defined first act, a second act which centers around Betty removing her clothes for the examination, and the climax.  We shot the scene by covering it 360 degrees: circling the actors and getting a master shot and close ups from each position.  Very time consuming.  I've never shot a scene this way before, but it was necessary.

When you cast Debbie Rochon, you get a pro and you don't worry about her delivering.  We've been discussing her part in this film since the shooting of DRY BONES and THE LEGEND OF SIX FINGERS.  I knew she'd deliver, but she exceeded expectations: she came up with so many bits, so many pieces of outstanding physical comedy which helped dictate camera placement, a true collaborator.  She did some pretty physically demanding its as well.

I predicted a while ago that this film will make Jessica a cult star, and she was brilliant: very sweet and funny, the perfect Betty.  She had her lines down - not an easy task for the single mother of a three year old who works full time plus does volunteer work.  Today's scene required her to wear pasties for a simulated topless scene, and she was great, and I was glad when it was over.

Bob Bozek has had several small parts in my films, and has his biggest role as Herbie.  I think it's going to be his greatest part, and he's making the most of it.  He had his lines down a week ago, and never complains, and is always willing o lend an extra hand - couldn't ask for a nicer guy.  More important, he was hilarious, a term I hope to use a lot when discussing this film.

Kelly Wahl catered a fantastic lunch, and we got our fist shot after lunch at the 20 minute mark - again, damn good.  We resumed the big scene, which started to wear me down, and I got a little frustrated because I wanted to wrap at 7:00 pm - a twelve hour day, followed by an hour to wrap the equipment.  Our DP, Chris Rados, and AD, Sam  Qualiana, just owrked two weeks straight on another film without a day off, and I didn't want to tax them.  I had to simplify the ending portion of the scene, but we got it.  Then we moved into the surgery room - the mad scientist's lair, and our most impressive set.  We shot about two thirds of the scene, those parts involving Jess and Debbie, and we got some really stylized shots, and Debbie came up with another hilarious bit.  I called it a night at 7:32.  We didn't make our day - we still have to shoot Bob's slapstick for the scene, but I didn't want to keep the guys, so we'll pick it up tomorrow.

I don't know how many setups we did, but we did 280 takes...
 
 
Gregory Lamberson
25 July 2014 @ 12:19 am
Big C (2)



Well, that was fast.  Or so it seems: Paul McGinnis reminds me it was March 2013 when we sat down in Tim Horton's and I told him I had to direct his script KILLER RACK.  Michael O'Hear and I had just started shooting DRY BONES, and Sam Qualiana and I were discussing THE LEGEND OF SIX FINGERS.  Principal photography on KILLER RACK begins this Saturday, July 26th, with lead actress Jessica Zwolak (who will be on set an astounding 15 out of 15 principal days), Debbie Rochon (our sixth film together in five years), and Bob Bozek (playing his biggest role in a film I've either produced or directed - Herbie East).  But we're shooting second unit green screen stuff tomorrow (technically today), so pre-production is coming o an end.

I treat every film like it's going to be my last one.  My gut tells me this is The One.  I've never felt so confident I was going to direct a movie people will love.  That's why I had to direct Paul's script.  But after three overlapping films (four, if you count the short I just did) and three novels being published over the course of one year, I can safely say there's a definite possibility I'll be taking one full year off from movie making and book writing.  Not that anyone will be able to tell - I have a book scheduled for publication in October 2015 (my second novel for 2015...), and I hope to travel around with KILLER RACK.  Or I may just get a crappy night job and pay down my debt, or spend it with my family.  It would be nice to take a vacation that didn't center around a convention or trade show.

Regardless, I have the feeling that KILLER RACK is going to turn out wonderful, and that it's going to break out in a way no other film I've worked on has.  And if it doesn't, I plan to have a great time making it.  There's always the next one...

Our costumes are largely set.  Our location sets are almost all dressed. Our props are built.   Our boobs are almost cast.  And our cast is ready to go.  Next week, our production designer Joel Resnikoff and co-producer, Rod Durick are building a gypsy parlor on the sound stage at our facility.  It's so cool to walk from set to set, and to have some really talented and committed actors.

Time to make the donuts.
 
 
Gregory Lamberson
09 July 2014 @ 07:05 pm
It's hard for me to believe, but it's already almost time to turn this blog over to KILLER RACK, the next motion picture I'm directing.

It's been a long lead on this one: seven weeks of crowd funding on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo: I mean seven weeks of double time work, from the moment I woke to the moment I faded; seven weeks when my writing (and the income that goes with it) had to be put on hold...and then I went straight into pre-production.

I love pre-production: it's when things start coming together, and a film edges toward reality.  It's also overwhelming: I mean double time, morning to fade overwhelming, with troubleshooting that is both satisfying and frustrating.  But enough about how hard it's been getting the perfect size boobs.

Most of the films I've made and worked on  have been shot on location, like in my house.  One exception was BRAIN DAMAGE, for which we converted a warehouse into a sound stage, SFX lab and living quarters.  On SLIME CITY MASSACRE, we shot fifteen days in the dilapidated ruins around the Central Terminal, two days in a warehouse that wasn't a sound stage, and one day at a sound stage in Rochester, to qualify for the New York State tax incentive.  We also shot on a sound stage for BATTLEDOGS for that same purpose.

For KILLER RACK, we're doing something really ambitious: we're shooting at the Pierce Arrow Film Arts Center, a "developing" sound stage operation.  We'll have one day on a sound stage, five days in assorted offices, and access to the back of the facility, including alleys.  We'll only be shooting in my house for two days!

We'll be shooting two thirds of our movie there, and I'm looking forward to "driving to the studio" each day.
 
 
Gregory Lamberson
frenzy wolves

I'm still waiting for the first review of THE JULIAN YEAR to appear; the final version wasn't ready until almost the release date, and I imagine reviewers want to read all of the story branches.  You can read all about it in the new issue of RUE MORGUE though (#145, with WOLF COP on the cover).  But two reviews have already appeared for THE FRENZY WOLVES, which won't be published until October.  The first is from PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, and the second is from FANGORIA.

I've been very fortunate with PW, which has given positive reviews of all my titles they've reviewed except CARNAGE ROAD (which I consider one of my best works).  Here are some excerpts from the review for THE FRENZY WOLVES:

"Lamberson’s third and final Frenzy Cycle installment (after The Frenzy War) is an engrossing tale that can stand on its own."

"Mace is a sympathetic and thoroughly modern protagonist who agonizes over how to define terrorism in a complex world even as he longs for suburban surcease from his sorrows. The story unfolds smoothly, and, while some unwieldy characters never come alive, the plot is riveting."

Color me pleased.  Read the full review here:http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-60542-716-4

I'm even more excited by Chris Alexander's review for FANGORIA.  Here are some excerpts from that:

"It’s hard to keep up with Buffalo-based lunatic, Greg Lamberson. Writer. Director. Producer. Author. Film Festival director. Father. The man is prolific (see FANGORIA #316 for our extensive feature), tireless and attacks all his interests with vigor. He’s also a great storyteller as well as a fine mythmaker, and his latest novel, THE FRENZY WOLVES, is yet another solid chapter in his vibrant, eccentric body of work."

"Only someone like Lamberson could link werewolves to terrorism to cop thriller pulp to Spanish Inquisition nods, while making it all seem both deadly serious and perfectly palatable. That’s what his FRENZY series is all about."

“Frenzy” is the operative word in these books, as Lamberson writes with a rough pen, hammering out the monster mash action (vaguely quoting the UNDERWORLD films and WOLFEN) and slamming it up against hard-boiled no-bullshit SERPICO-styled cop thriller melodrama. And it works. Lamberson – a noted exploitation filmmaker whose works include the SLIME CITY films – ain’t no fool and is clearly writing these books with the intent of flipping them into cinema. His wordplay reads often like a screenplay, detailed and visual. We’d welcome such a genre-bending film or franchise, especially considering the dearth of werewolf movies being made."

"THE FRENZY WOLVES will be out this Fall from Medallion Press and by the time it drops, Lamberson will have accomplished more than most artists do in a decade. Sure, it’s about quantity with the man but thankfully, quality is always riding shotgun."

3.5 out of four bloody skulls!

Read the full review here: http://www.fangoria.com/new/the-frenzy-wolves-book-review/

And just a reminder that THE JULIAN YEAR, the world's first TREEbook with organic story branching technology, is now available.  Download the Medallion Media Group Sidekick app for FREE from itunes, and use the app to unlock THE JULIAN YEAR and future TREEbooks.  For the record, I consider it my best novel.  Visit TJY's website for details: http://thejulianyear.com/

TJY ad

 
 
Gregory Lamberson
One of my favorite reviews of SLIME CITY MASSACRE appeared on Fearnet.com.  This being the21st century, another corporation has taken over Fearnet.com, and the excellent website should be folding soon.  Here then is Gregory Burkhart's excellent review of SCM:



When we say Greg Lamberson wrote the book on low-budget horror filmmaking, we mean it literally, and he's got the book to prove it. Back in 2009, Cheap Scares not only offered a lot of hard-earned advice from the hard-knocks school of DIY film production, but also gave readers a funny and fascinating look at the making of his 1988 cult classic Slime City. In the years since that film sprang up on the midnight-movie circuit, Lamberson has ventured deep into horror fiction, comics and other media, and the movie finally got a cool remastered DVD release in 2006. Rumors of a Slime City sequel buzzed around the horror community for ages – eventually becoming reality last year, when Slime City Massacre began making the film-fest circuit to favorable reviews.

This summer, Massacre arrived on DVD in a Special Edition 2-disc set from Shriek Show, and we've got a full review of this splatter micro-epic on the flipside. Slime on!


Where the original Slime City was grimy, surreal splatstick, the sequel is a more ambitious science fiction/horror reboot, set in a near-future dystopia. Besides the slime itself, most of the original movie's strengths – macabre humor, social commentary, bizarre sex and hallucinogenic visuals – not only carry over to the broader new story, but get amped up to a literally apocalyptic level.

The film's prologue is set in the late '50s, where cult leader Zachary Devon (Robert C. Sabin, star of the original) introduces a young prostitute to his close-knit urban community, whose nefarious activities touched off the events of the first film. Suddenly we rocket ahead fifty years, long enough to witness a dirty bomb wipe out half of New York City (including Troma mogul Lloyd Kaufman). The central story begins seven years after the disaster, where the resulting wasteland is now populated by mutants, roaming scavengers and criminals seeking refuge. It's also hinted that the rest of the country is now under the grip of a corporate paramilitary government... another of many elements reminiscent of John Carpenter's Escape from New York.

Among the recent arrivals are fugitives Cory and Alexa (Kealan Patrick Burke & Jennifer Bihl), who are taken in by Mason (Lee Perkins) and Alice (cult horror fave Debbie Rochon), the rough and street-smart leaders of one of the city's few reasonably settled areas. Our heroes' new home is soon disrupted, however, after they discover a cache of homemade booze and "Himalayan yogurt" left in a basement by Zachary Devon more than half a century ago; apparently their desperation and hunger has left them with the common sense of a four-year old, because they immediately pop open the creepy-looking stuff and go to town.

That's where things take a hard left turn into wacky-land, when we learn that the contents of their little picnic are hallucinogenic, trigger physical mutations, and make them horny as feral cats... and they get their freak on in more ways than one when multi-colored slime begins to ooze out of their pores. As the parallel story of Devon's "coven" (depicted in black & white flashbacks) and the plight of our protagonists catch up to each other, we begin to discover the connection between the cult's mass suicide and the ability of Devon's elixir to possess the minds of those who ingest it. When things start to get seriously nasty, only a mysterious stranger named Swan (Mary Hunter Bogle, reprising her role from the original), knows how to stop the slime plague from spreading to the entire world.



Lamberson's writing skills and dark sense of humor really come into play here, taking full advantage of the dystopian premise to fire some clever pot-shots at world events. Props like duct tape and garbage bags, once the stuff of post-9/11 paranoia, are transformed into post-nuke couture, and the mercenary armies patrolling the streets purposely resemble the private security firm Blackwater. The satirical moments are far more refined than they would be in, say, a Troma flick, but the horror elements are as outrageous as they come, on par with the perverse visions of Frank Henenlotter (the "decapitation by giant vagina" scene could have come straight from Frank's Bad Biology) and 1987 exploitation fave Street Trash.

The grim premise is also enhanced by the location – mainly an abandoned factory in Buffalo, its dark corners often lit a sickly radioactive green. The practical makeup effects, which drive the film's most outrageous scenes (and there are many), are well-executed and very clever considering the budget limitations, and as in the original film, the surreal scenario allows Lamberson and his FX crew to create some seriously outlandish set-pieces. The use of CGI is fairly limited – which is probably for the best, because it tends to look a bit clunky.

Gore and slime aside, it's also the well-crafted characters that keep things interesting. Most of the performances are strong – particularly Rochon, whose portrayal of recovered addict Alice is compelling to watch. Sabin's fatherly take on the cult leader is also interesting, and Bogle gets a much cooler dimension to her character this time around. The supporting roles are also solid and entertaining, particularly Robert Bozek as the city's incredibly sleazy "Mayor," and there's a fun cameo from filmmaker Roy Frumkes (Document of the Dead) as a crooked land developer aiming to exploit Slime City property.


Shriek Show's presentation is also solid, containing the main feature on Disc 1 in 1.78:1 widescreen and Dolby 2.0. The picture is pristine and the audio is decent, punctuated by lots of loud and squishy sound effects. The disc also includes an energetic, anecdote-packed commentary from Lamberson and most of the main cast, as well as makeup effects artist Rod Durick. Disc 2 features the documentary features Slime City Survivor (basically an on-set video journal, but with some very funny moments) and Scoring Slime, a session with the film's composer Mars (whose '80s-flavored music also accompanied Stephen Romano's Shock Festival DVD set). Other extras include outtakes and bloopers, trailers and stills.

It's a pleasure to see Lamberson back on feature-film turf again, exploring his familiar themes on a larger scale thanks to the relative affordability of digital video. Slime City Massacre is a wild, ballsy sequel that makes good on the promise of the original, and it's well worth watching on the small or big screen. Speaking of which... hopefully a planned series of theatrical showings this year via IndieFilmNet (part of their "Cinema Meets Horror" series) will introduce a new generation of horror fans and filmmakers to Greg's work on a grand scale, and bring a little midnight-movie nostalgia along for those of us who dig the old-school spirit of classic '80s indie horror.

Check out the trailer below...

 
 
Gregory Lamberson
Here is the trailer for GAVE UP THE GHOST, the short film which Jeff Strand wrote and i directed.  The film will screen at festivals this Fall before being released as one segment of the CREEPERS anthology feature.  Joe Lansdale, Edgar Allan Poe, and Lafcadio Hearn are the other authors whose work has been adapted for the anthology.  Newcomer Drew Bialy plays the frustrated author who loses his latest masterpiece when his computer dies; John Renna co-stars as an unorthodox repairman; and Paul McGinnis plays the ghost of the computer.  Sam Qualiana, Jessica Zwolak and Alexamder S,.Mcbryde have supporting roles.  Sam is the writer-director of SNOW SHARK : ANCIENT SNOW BEAST and THE LEGEND OF SIX FINGERS; Jessica will star int he next film I direct, KiLLER RACK.  GAVE UP THE GHOST is a comedy, please check it out:



THE LEGEND OF SIX FINGERS, which Sam wrote, directed, shot, edited and co-stars in - along with Lynn Lowry, Debbie Rochon, Andrew Elias, Bill Brown and Tim O'Hearn - and I produced, is now available on DVD!  Here's the trailer for that:



And don't forget, DRY BONES, which I wrote and co-directed, is coming to DVD October 14th!

dry bones
 
 
Gregory Lamberson
24 June 2014 @ 01:30 pm
I just completed a crowd funding campaign for the next feature I'm directing, a comedy horror (as opposed to horror comedy) called KILLER RACK.  My partners Paul McGinnis, Rod Durick and I successfully raised $7,325 to cover the start up costs of our film.  And all it took was almost every waking moment of my life over a seven week period, at the expense of the other projects I'm juggling (like the ones I get paid for).

In the past, I raised $3500 on IndieGoGo to supplement investor capital for DRY BONES, immediately followed by $4300 to supplement co-production capital for THE LEGEND OF SIX FINGERS.  Both campaigns exceeded their fundraising goals, which was nice, and both films were completed in a timely manner; THE LEGEND OF SIX FINGERS is released on DVD today by Alternative Cinema, and DRY BONES will be released on DVD October 14th by the same company.

After doing some research, I learned there are six times as many "Backers" on Kickstarter as "Funders" on IndieGoGo.  For KILLER RACK, I wanted to raise $25,000 to get through production and basic editing.  The appeal to me was to own the film outright.  My arrangement with investors calls for them to recoup their full investment before Net profits, if any, can be shared.  Let's be honest: the appeal is to own your project with other people's money.  I didn't believe I could raise 25K on IndieGoGo, but thought I might be able to raise it on Kickstarter.  "No guts, no glory" has always been my philosophy in life - and I've shown plenty of guts but basked in very little glory.

Setting up our Kickstarter was ten times harder than setting up previous IndieGoGo campaigns.  I had plenty of issues verifying my Amazon account and bank account, complicated by different emails, and so on.   It was time consuming and frustrating, but it is a highly functional website.  Kickstarter recommends campaigns run less than a month, so we went for 28 days.  For the record, my project features a high concept, a brilliant screenplay by Paul McGinnis, and a talented local cast aided by genre vets Debbie Rochon, Lloyd Kaufman, Brooke Lewis, Michael Thurber and Roy Frumkes - people whose names mean something to our target audience.  And I have credibility as an indie horror filmmaker that few others at my level can claim (because so many of the people who started at the same time as me moved on to real jobs, and a few actually attained real careers).  I also had some nice concept art, a well written pitch, and a fairly (I think) entertaining pitch video. So I felt I had my boxes checked.  I should also mention that a film with similar themes had succeeded with its $25,000 Kickstarter, so I was cautiously optimistic.

The first thing that worked against us after launching our campaign was we failed to attain "Staff Pick" status.  This didn't come as a surprise to me: if you write, direct or work on horror films, you become accustomed to artistic discrimination and learn to expect it.  But becoming  a "staff pick" gives you a huge leg up on the competition, and every film begging for dollars is competition.

Which leads me to the second thing that worked against us: the high number of horror films being produced in WNY at the same time, with overlapping schedules, all competing for the same generosity.  You hope that backers outside your milieu will find your project, and then find it appealing, but the fact is, it comes down to the people you know, and the people that know the people you know.  And I know from speaking to a number of backers/funders to my campaign that they were frustrated by the number of competing projects.  "If I give money to your campaign, I'll also have to give to Tom, Dick and Jerry, and if I give you more than I do them, they'll give me shit.  I don't want my life to become miserable because I stepped up to the plate and helped you out."  I understand and sympathize - but give me some money, god damn it!

For the record, KILLER RACK found itself competing with DICK JOHNSON AND TOMMYGUN vs. THE CANNIBAL COP from John Renna and Chris Rados; CAMP OF THE DAMNED from Ken Consentino; DWELLING from Brandyn Williams; and STORIES FROM THE CARNIVAL from Sam,Qualiana,  I know all of these guys, some are friends, and some are good friends - I wish them all luck, and while I can't afford to donate even a buck to campaigns even as a show of support (I'm an author and an indie filmmaker, remember?), I did share their links on my Facebook page, and I'm doing press for CANNIBAL COP.  In addition to these films, a local short called AMIGIONE from John Martin Scherer and Bobby Gott ran a campaign at the same time.  We all know the same people, and in my opinion,this mass crowd funding was suicide; there is no way each film can do as well as the other.  NO FUCKING WAY.  And some will lose out because of poor planning in that respect, but we all have to put our own projects first, and try not to worry about the others.

When we shot DRY BONES a year ago, we had Debbie Rochon stay over and shoot some scenes for THE LEGEND OF SIX FINGERS.  I also had her record a bit for our pitch video.  I told her I just wanted her to discuss Paul's script, I didn't want her to specifically ask her fans to contribute.  I feel it's the filmmakers' responsibility to raise the money, not the actors'.  I consider myself a more savvy promoter than most indie filmmakers, and I have a good relationship with a lot of horror websites.  Over the last year, a lot of sites have stopped posting press releases from indies who are not yet funded; a couple that would have passed on KILLER RACK during its crowd funding phase made an exception either because I was involved, or because Debbie or Brooke were.  And these web articles did lead to attention from a lot of other sites, including io9, which gave us a Christmas present in the headline, "Killer Rack May Be The Wrongest Horror Film in the History of Wrongness," which drew 40,000 clicks. Look for that quote in our trailer.

Getting back to my cast: Tweets, re-Tweets, posts and re-posts from Debbie, Brooke and Lloyd gave us a lot of visibility and resulted in some pledges.  But my feeling is, if you're depending on your actors to raise money for you, you're going to be disappointed.  They can be attached to a lot of projects at the same time, and a lot of those projects are looking for crowd funding, so why put them in a difficult position?  If they help, fantastic; but don't press them for more, it isn't fair.

My partners have full time jobs, so their ability to push the campaign was limited. I have a full time job too: it's called writing.  I have an entire novel to edit; another to write from scratch; another that was just released to promote; and a screenplay based on one of my books to rewrite for a Hollywood actor.  I work my job time and a half, every day, seven days a week.  That's why FANGORIA called me "the hardest working man in horror."  And I did almost nothing on any of these projects during the last seven weeks.  I had to put my job(s), and the income that goes with them, aside to focus on our campaign.  I had no choice: of the three of us, I was the only one who could make that sacrifice.  Business as usual in my life, no complaints.

My daily routine including Tweeting ad nauseum from two Twitter accounts; posting on three different Facebook pages, cross-posting on multiple horror pages, sending press releases, and posting daily updates on Kickstarter.  And for every hour of effort, we'd see one contribution.  By the halfway mark of our campaign, we had raised maybe $5,000, and I knew there was no way our campaign was going to succeed.  If you don't meet your goal on Kickstarter, you don't see a dime.  Experts will tell you this psychological imperative will convince backers to contribute it.  Maybe they're right, or maybe they were right at one time and the model has changed because there are so many campaigns out there now.  In any case, the handwriting was on the wall, so I turned to my investor base, and within one week I raised in commitments for a sizable amount of our budget.  That's what real producers do.  I knew we were still going to need crowd funding to supplement any investor capital actually came through, just as we did on DRY BONES and THE LEGEND OF SIX FINGERS.  By the last week of our kickstarter I prepped our IndieGoGo campaign, which took me all of ten minutes, a welcome relief after the Kickstarter nonsense.  I didn't let up on promoting the Kickstarter - I don't believe in quitting, it's not in my nature, and I hoped we could get all those Kickstarter pledgers to swing over to IndieGoGo.

Around this time, another local film launched its campaign: GODZILLA HERITAGE, a "non-profit" film, which is to say a fan film.  And those guys pulled in contributions fast.  The film looks cool: I contacted them and congratulated them on running a great campaign, and encouraged them to submit the film to Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival whenever it's ready.  But this points to another problem we encountered: on Kickstarter, it is easier to raise $25,000 - $60,000 for a fan film centered around a copyrighted character than it is for an original piece of work that can actually be released.  Don't believe me?  Go to Kickstarter and search for fan films based on superheroes.  Your mind will be blown.  I now know that I could raise $50,000 to shoot a short film based on my favorite superhero, pay myself, my cast and my crew, and have an awesome looking film I can show for free on YouTube or at some film festivals.  That isn't what I want to do with my life, but don't be surprised if I give it a whirl someday.  And I can't wait to see GODZILLA HERITAGE!

By the time our Kickstarter ended, we had raised $6,669 in pledges - more than I had ever raised via crowd funding before, but not even one third of our goal.  Fail.  Our IndieGoGo campaign launched the same day;te there's nothing like starting over from scratch after an exhausting four weeks.  Now the challenge was getting Kickstarter Backers to become IndieGoGo Funders.  I thought about setting our goal at $7,000, then lowered it to $5,000, then $6,000, then back to $7,000.  No guts, no glory, right?  Not really: IndieGoGo has a "flexible spending" campaign, meaning campaign managers keep most of their contributions even if they don't meet their goal, but IGG keeps a higher percentage.  We also set the campaign period for three weeks: I could not possibly sacrifice another whole month to get start up funds.  Now my daily routine consisted of the same cycle as before, with the added bonus of continued daily updates on two platforms because I wanted to cajole the Kickstarter backers to follow us.  Maybe half of them did, and many of those went contributed lower amounts than they had pledged.  But by the halfway mark of this campaign, we were halfway to our lowered goal.  That increased pledge percentage looked pretty good.

Then I started examining funds in my Paypal account.  It's great that IGG accepts Paypal since Kickstarter doesn't, but PP also deducts 9% in fees.  Combine that with 9% deducted by IGG, and we were only receiving 82% of each contribution.  suddenly it became more important to me that we meet our full goal, since IGG offers a 5% refund on the total received when you succeed.

We hit our next roadblock: frigging Facebook.  KILLER RACK has over 1,200 people on its fan page,  In the old days, you could "message all" and every "fan" would receive a message.  That was great.  No longer.  When we started our campaign, I could only see the identities of 500 people on that page - my friends.  By the time we switched to IGG, I could only see 20 or so people, most of whom I would never message for a contribution.  Thank you, Facebook!  The solution: post even more.

Three days away from the end of our second campaign, we had raised $4,500.  Not enough.  We had to make our goal.  I stepped up my efforts (and stopped bathing).  Our percentage increased.  Two days from the end of our campaign, we had $5,500.  Somehow I stepped up my efforts more.  So did Rod and Paul.  When I woke up the morning of our last day, I became a madman.  One of our friends contributed $500, which gave us the momentum we needed.  By 2:00 pm - twelve hours before the end of our campaign, we reached our goal.  Now IGG would have to refund $350+ in fees.- but that still left 13% we stood to lose in fees, so we kept pushing.  By the time our campaign closed, we had raised $7,325, or 105% of our goal.  After the sting of our Kickstarter failure, we needed that win, or I did, anyway.  And it only took seven weeks, and cost us three weeks of pre-production time.  But now we can book flights and hotels, and start work on our SFX - good thing, because running this campaign has left me no time to finalize details with my investors, which is next on my list.
1
As it turns out, Kickstarter wasn't a waste of time; it resulted in a lot of visibility for the project, and some likely investors.  But damn, it was a lot of work.  One thing I never found time to do was visit the crowd funding forums; I don't know if that would have helped or not.

I enjoy studying the statistics provided by each platform.  Our graph for Kickstarter ptledges is up and down, like a heart monitor.  By contrast, contributions on IndieGoGo are displayed as a constant upward trajectory.  According to the referrals breakdown, $4,484 of our $7,325 - 61% of the total - was a direct result of my posts.

Will I ever run a crowd funding campaign to fund a film again?  I don't know. It seems a waste not to use everything I've learned; maybe I'll run an IndieGoGo campaign to fund myself so I can run a Kickstarter to fund a film.

Now I have to shower and pre-produce a movie.
 
 
Gregory Lamberson
23 June 2014 @ 07:28 am
Yesterday was the cast reading for KILLER RACK, the movie I plan to shoot beginning in one month; it was also the world premiere for GAVE UP THE GHOST, the short film I directed based on Jeff Strand's short story.  Jeff came up for the premiere and participated in the reading.  The table read was hilarious, as I knew it would be, and the premiere was a success, with a great turnout.  I saw the screening version of the film (some tweaks to follow) at midnight, and knew it would play well.

Today is the final day of the IndieGoGo campaign for KILLER RACK.  I will not be sorry to see it go.  Between four weeks of Kickstarter, which raised $6,669 is pledges, none of which we saw because the campaign did not succeed, and three weeks of IndieGoGo, I've devoted an inordinate amount of time to raising money for this project; it has devoured my life.  But this is what independent filmmakers do - whatever it takes to get our films made.

As I key this in (on my wife's crappy laptop, because my daughter, cat and a cup of water conspired to take out my laptop and succeeded), we have raised $6,020 of our $7,000 goal - 86% funded, with 81 funders and 20 hours to go.  We need to raise $980 before 3;00 am EST, and then we can get on with making the movie.
 
 
Gregory Lamberson
But first a personal update: my daughter left a cup with a little bit of water in it near my laptop, and the cat must have gotten thirsty during the night; I awoke to a non-working Toshiba resting upon a wet tabletop.  I've been blowing fans on the damn thing, which has worked in the past, but so far, no go.  I'm keying this in on a MAC set up in my office, which is where I wish I'd kept the laptop.

THE JULIAN YEAR

My novel The Julian Year, Medallion Press' first TREEbook, was released on Sunday, June 1st.  I believe it's my best book, and it's the first of its kind, so I have high hopes for it.  Readers download the Medallion Media Group app for free from iTunes, then purchase the novel through the app for $9.99, and use the app to open the book and read it.  The story has several pre-determined branch points, and each reader's individual reading habits trigger the branching technology, which is seamless and organic; the whole point id for a reader to be unaware the story has changed on him until a tree graph appears at the end of the book; at that point the reader can bounce around the other branches, experiencing entirely different events and outcomes, at will.  My story posits that over the course of one year, every one on earth gets possessed on his birthday; at the end of one year's time, there should be no one recognizable left...depending on which branch(es) you follow.  I think it's an original concept, one that suits the possibilities offered by the technology.  Because the technology is so new - developed by Medallion - the roll out will be slow.  We're still waiting for reviews (it will take reviewers a while to fully explore the alternate story lines I created), but one fellow novelist did tell me he thought the novel was fantastic.  You can read more about it in the "spotlight" literary section of the new issue of Rue Morgue, and you can read excerpts from the novel, and follow a link to download the MMG Sidekick, here: http://thejulianyear.com/signup

KILLER RACK

Several weeks ago, I posted a blog about the Kickstarter for my next film, KILLER RACK, a comedy about a woman who discovers her new breast implants are actually Lovecraftian monsters hell bent on taking over the world.  The screenplay was written by my friend Paul McGinnis, and it may be the funniest thing I've ever read.  We hoped to raise $25,000 to make the film, but only mustered $6,600 - which means we see none of it.  Man, I spent a month working around the clock on that.  Still, we found 101 backers, which isn't bad.  Our Plan B was to launch an IndieGoGo campaign fo ronly $7,000; on IGG, people can pay by credit card or Paypal.  We've raised $2,960 so far, and are 42% funded.  At IGG we keep what we raise regardless of whether or not we meet our goal, but IGG takes a bigger cut if we fail.  We only have 11 days left!  Please consider giving the Boobs a helping hand:     https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/killer-rack/x/78828  


THE FRENZY WOLVES

The third and final volume in my Frenzy Cycle won't be published until October, but Publishers Weekly has already given it an excellent review.  I've been fortunate with PW; they've given every book of mine they've reviewed a positive review except for CARNAGE ROAD, which they awarded a mixed review.  Here's the  new review:

Lamberson’s third and final Frenzy Cycle installment (after The Frenzy War) is an engrossing tale that can stand on its own. NYPD captain Anthony Mace has won acclaim for prevailing against the Brotherhood of Torquemada, an organization known to the public as a terrorist group but in reality is an ancient sect dedicated to wiping out suspected witches and werewolves. In a contemporary New York secretly home to a pack of lycanthropes, Mace is tasked with tracking down the Full Moon Killer, an escaped murderer who has recently discovered his inner wolf, while the authorities try to suppress mounting evidence of the monsters. Mace thinks the lycanthropes pose no inherent threat to humans, but a war for supremacy among them may undermine their natural indifference. Mace is a sympathetic and thoroughly modern protagonist who agonizes over how to define terrorism in a complex world even as he longs for suburban surcease from his sorrows. The story unfolds smoothly, and, while some unwieldy characters never come alive, the plot is riveting. (Oct.)

Well, summer is here at last, after a typically dispiriting Buffalo winter.  I'm currently editing the sixth and final book in The Jake Helman Files series, writing drafts of the CARNAGE ROAD screenplay for Craig Sheffer, prepping KILLER RACK and researching what will be my twelfth novel for Medallion, a stand alone eco horror novel.  I've never been so busy in my life, and I've promised myself I'll never be this busy again - I'm 50 now, and I can't maintain this pace.