Kool Kats of the Week: WOLVERTON Co-Writers Michael Stark and Terrell T. Garrett Get Adventurous in Turn of the Century London Where the Science of H.G. Wells Goes Head to Head with the Mysterious

Posted on: Jun 13th, 2017 By:

by Melanie Crew
Managing Editor

Michael Stark, former screenwriter for Disney and Universal Pictures and current purveyor of rare horror and sci-fi books (Burnt Biscuit Books) “in the shadows of Pinewood Studios,” and Terrell T. Garrett, screenwriter, reside south of the Atlanta Airport, a.k.a. “Hillbilly Hollywood.” Having written several screenplays together, they decided to take an artistic leap and are currently in the process of producing their first comic, “WOLVERTON: THIEF OF IMPOSSIBLE OBJECTS, along with artist Derek Rodenbeck. Initially slated for the big screen but not quite making it past Hollywood’s current aversion to original works, WOLVERTON was revived as a self-published comic book and labor of love for Stark and Garrett. This action-packed story entangles Jack Wolverton, gentleman thief, within a wicked supernatural web, and “Only he can save the world’s most powerful artifacts from getting into the wrong hands.” While their tale takes place in turn of the century London and Wolverton holds H.G. Wells’ science in high esteem, as opposed to the superstition-riddled occultish general population, “Wolverton isn’t exactly steampunk,” tweeted Stark. “He’s more Schvitz Punk!” The premier issue is finished, however, Stark and Garrett made a decision to add four previously cut pages back in before it goes to the printers, so all you retro-fabulous turn of the century comic-loving kiddies will have more action-packed goodness when it hits the shelves!

Stark and Garrett’s home-grown labor of love is being crowd-funded by a Kickstarter campaign, in part to cover printing costs (28 full-color pages with a 5000 copy run!), but also to put feelers out to gauge interest in their project. They are offering many enticing perks for backers, including digital and hard copies, exclusive signed prints and the chance for a few lucky folks to get drawn and/or written into the action. So come on out and be a part of WOLVERTON history and snatch up an adventurous perk or two via the Kickstarter campaign available through July 6! Check out the full range of rewards here!

ATLRetro caught up with Michael Stark and Terrell T. Garrett to gab a bit about their upcoming comic,  writing for the Hollywood machine; and why going with crowd-funding made sense for this project. While you’re takin’ a gander at our little Q&A, why not take a peek at the teaser trailer and a wee history of WOLVERTON here.

ATLRetro: How did you and your co-writer, Terrell T. Garrett, come up with the idea of “Wolverton?” What inspired the tale and why set the story in turn of the century London?

Michael: I had an old script about a gentleman thief that I pitched to Sean Connery’s company before he did ENTRAPMENT. I wanted to dust it off, but Terrell yawned, finding the trope a bit old-fashioned. So, out of the blue I blurted out: “What if we set it in Edwardian England and he only stole magical objects like the Monkey’s paw?” Suddenly, my writing partner leaned in, very interested, and we knew we had a great idea.

(l-r) Co-Writers Terrell T. Garrett and Michael Stark

Can you tell our readers a little about the creative team behind WOLVERTON?

Michael: I was making a good living writing in Hollywood in the ’90s without actually having anything produced. Those days have changed. The new normal is free options and free rewrites which is why I started looking at trying a different format. Our artist, Derek Rodenbeck, was an army vet whose testimony of overcoming great tragedy with his art really moved us. We think we found a very talented, young man.

Terrell:  I’m currently adapting Alistair MacLean‘s novel, FEAR IS THE KEY, for the big screen. In fact, most of the stuff I’ve written has been in the screenplay format except for a few short stories here and there and a novel that I’m working on at a glacial pace. I’m also a new father.

What is it about the “gentleman thief” trope that inspires you to create a character like Jack Wolverton?

Michael: We were getting known in Hollywood for writing wild set pieces.  I wanted to do something that mixed action with the wit and sophistication of a Preston Sturges or an Ernst Lubitch film. The Gentleman Thief trope fit both worlds perfectly.

We see that you and Garrett worked together on several screenplays, and that you’ve optioned a few to Universal and Disney. Comics and film are similar in that they both rely on dialogue, action and visuals to deliver an awe-inspiring story. As a screenwriter and now a comic book writer, what would you say are the biggest differences between the two, and the challenges of each?

Artist Derek Rodenbeck

Michael: I thought it would be pretty easy to transpose the script into comic book format. I was dead wrong! Especially because modern comic books like modern screenplays have far less text in ‘em than when I was a kid. So, even after we basically locked the book, I’m still calling the letterer and asking if we can fit in a new bit.

Can you tell our readers what drew you to screenwriting, and who would you say are your most inspirational screenwriters/films?

Michael: Thank God for PBS in the 70s.  I saw a Francois Truffaut and Luis Bunuel film festival when I was 10 years old and knew then I wanted to be a screenwriter. Not a director ’cause I looked lousy in jodhpurs. At NYU, I mentored under three Academy winning screenwriters: Ring Lardner JR (MASH, WOMAN OF THE YEAR), Waldo Salt (MIDNIGHT COWBOY, SERPICO) and Ian Hunter, who could tear apart and fix just about anything.

Terrell: I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker when I saw JURASSIC PARK when I was 14 years old. Something about the collective awe in the theater and seeing all the names in the credits made me realize I wanted to be a part of the movie magic. My favorite screenwriters and filmmakers who inspire me are Walter Hill (ALIEN franchise), James Cameron, Jane Goldman (KICK-ASS), Frank Darabont (THE MIST), Dan Gilroy (NIGHTCRAWLER), Joe Carnahan (THE GREY), Bryan Fuller (HANNIBAL TV series), Jon Spaihts (DOCTOR STRANGE, PROMETHEUS) and Diablo Cody (JUNO).

Of course we have to know, as a native Long Islander, what made you fly south, and what is it about Atlanta that’s kept you around for so long?

Michael: That is a very long and surreal story, but basically I was given a month to live a decade ago and went on a spiritual journey that ended up with this nice, Jewish kid from Long Island becoming a minister in a small, rural GA church. That of course would make a good screenplay, but I strictly believe in never writing about your own life. Oh, yeah, I didn’t die BTW.

Most kids (and now adults, as the guilty pleasure no longer carries the negative geek stigma) can’t wait to get their grubby little hands on the coolest of the cool comics. What comics were your favorite growing up and what are your favorites now?

Terrell:  I grew up reading Chris Claremont X-MEN comics and the ’90s issues of THE NEW MUTANTS. PREACHER and Neil Gaiman‘s SANDMAN blew my teenage mind. These days, I’m enjoying Alan Moore‘s PROVIDENCE, Brian K. Vaughan‘s SAGA and Matt Fraction‘s ODY-C.

MichaelTeam Marvel and mind warping EC reprints. Now anything by Alan Moore.

WOLVERTON began as an original screenplay and was then regenerated into a comic book. Can you tell us a little about that process and whether seeing it drawn on the page in color helps visualize how it will look on the big screen?

Michael: The screenplay was a director’s wet dream with action scenes that were beyond hyper kinetic. Derek did a great job capturing that energy on the page. Even Wolverton’s hair is constantly in motion.

Any plans to take the tale back to Hollywood after its success as a comic book?

Michael: Well, there was just a huge bidding war over a friend’s graphic novel, so, yes! Hollywood is more interested in acquiring existing material than original screenplays. Maybe they’ll come to us this time if the comic book is successful.

Why a Kickstarter campaign for WOLVERTON? What are the advantages of taking the crowd-sourcing route?

Terrell: We chose Kickstarter because it just felt logical. A lot of creatives have used the crowd-sourcing platform and have found success, especially in the realm of comics. We figured it was worth a shot. Not only to hopefully cover the cost of printing, but to see if people would be interested in our little story.

You’ve put together some great bonuses for investors, ranging from digital and hard copies to exclusive signed prints and the chance to get drawn into the action (Exciting!). What can folks looking to invest via Kickstarter expect to get when they back your comic?

Terrell: Backers can, firstly, expect a fun adventure story full of cool visuals, sparking dialogue and great characters.  Secondly, for the backers who dish out a little extra, they can expect to see their likeness or the name of their business in comic book form or own exciting and original artwork. Thirdly, they can know that they invested in a story with little risk, and have contributed to the dream of a brand new father.

Can you give us five things you’re into at the moment that we should be watching, reading or listening to right now— past or present, well-known or obscure?

Terrell:  Nonfiction Book: MIND HUNTER: INSIDE THE FBI’S ELITE SERIAL CRIME UNIT by John E. Douglas. Podcast: LIMETOWN. Podcast: THE BLACK TAPES. Science Fiction Book: RED RISING by Pierce Brown. Novella: “Agents of Dreamland” by Caitlin R. Kiernan.

Michael: I’m cycling through John Ford westerns and Jeeves and Wooster books at the moment. I’m not sure what I’ll spit out after that combo meal. Although, Terrell and I already wrote a script about Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in Victorian London.  That may be our next comic book.

Any advice for writers and/or artists out there on putting together and publishing their own comic books?

Terrell:  Treat the artist as your collaborator. Be patient with the process. Never give up.

Michael: Who knew sticking it to the man – the man being Hollywood – would be so damn expensive. Many people I went to film school with are now editors at Marvel and DC. Some even started their own publishing companies. I knew if I asked for their advice, they’d probably talk me out of it and I didn’t want to be talked out of it.

Getting back to why we’re here chatting you up, WOLVERTON, and the comic book’s Kickstarter campaign! Without giving too much away, what can you tell our readers a little about the comic?

Michael:  Here’s how we pitched it to Hollywood. In turn of the century London, Jack Wolverton, gentleman thief, specializes in stealing the arcane, the accursed and the occult. With war about to break out, only he can stop the world’s most powerful artifacts (The Monkey’s Paw, The Hope Diamond and the Portrait of Dorian Gray) from falling into the wrong hands! Think Indiana Jones meets Pirates of the Caribbean.

And last but not least, how many issues are planned and how can our readers snag up their very own copies?

Michael: We are printing up 5,000 copies and you can get a copy before anyone on the planet does by backing us now. If the ship carrying them through the high China Seas isn’t attacked by pirates, expect a summer release.

All photos courtesy of Michael Stark and Terrell T. Garrett and used with permission.

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Kool Kats of the Week: Monster Movie Madness Ensues as Mark Maddox and Jim Adams Let Loose the Creatures of the Night, Sending Chills Down Your Spine with MONSTER ATTACK!

Posted on: Feb 3rd, 2016 By:

by Melanie CrewSaucermen800-730x548
Managing Editor

Award-winning illustrator, Mark Maddox teams up with jack-of-all creative trades, Jim Adams (actor, radio personality, NERDVANA podcast co-host, Project iRadio PR liaison), to let loose upon the unsuspecting public a monstrous creation, their podcast MONSTER ATTACK! via Project iRadio! Their beastly baby aired its first episode on January 11, 2016 (catch it here), diving head first into the monster madness that started it all for these two monster kids [William Castle’s spine-chilling, THE TINGLER (1959), starring Vincent Price, and Douglas Hickox/Eugene Lourie’s THE GIANT BEHEMOTH (1959)]. MONSTER ATTACK! airs weekly and covers topics that run a gory-fying gamut from scary creatures that go bump in the night, to old-school sci-fi, to radioactive monsters, mad scientists and more! Take a listen, get your bones a rattlin’ and catch the craze that is, MONSTER ATTACK!

Jim Adams and Mark Maddox

Jim Adams and Mark Maddox

Maddox, monster kid, artiste extraordinaire and recipient of a Rondo Award (2011’s Artist of the Year) and Pulp Factory’s “Cover of the Year” award, hails from Tallahassee, FL and his artistic seed has spread like wildfire! He’s illustrated many a magazine cover [SCREEM MAGAZINE (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”; “Universal Monsters”; MST3K’s 25th Anniversary Issue; “American Horror Story”); HORRORHOUND MAGAZINE; LITTLE SHOPPE OF HORRORS; UNDYING MONSTERS; MAD SCIENTIST MAGAZINE, just to name a few], book covers, films [Warner Brothers’ 3D Blu-ray of HOUSE OF WAX, Cortlandt Hull’s DVD THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA UNMASKING THE MASTERPIECE] and so much more! Maddox has also become an officially licensed artist through the Vincent Price estate, having illustrated a vast library of Vincent Price book and magazine covers. If you haven’t caught a glimpse of Maddox’s artistic endeavors, you may want to haunt on down to your local purveyor of monsterific lit, or catch him at one of many classic monster conventions, including Atlanta’s own Monsterama, Louisville, KY’s Wonderfest and more!HH copy

Adams, New Yorker by birth and Atlantan at heart, began co-hosting Project iRadio’s “Nerdvana Interviews” in 2014. He has been a professional actor for 30-plus years, was a morning wake-up show radio personality for twenty years, and dabbled in newspaper reporting. Adams is a fixture in the metro Atlanta theatre scene, having served on the Board of Directors for the Georgia Theatre Conference and served as the Senior Artistic Director for the Canton Professional Theatre. He is a devout monster movie matinee fanatic and is a true monster kid, boasting having once owned a collection of classic and modern monster/horror films that exceeded 1,500 titles. Adams can also be found lurking around classic monster and horror conventions, camera and microphone in hand, seeking his prey as the next charming victim for his Project iRadio interviews.

ATLRetro caught up with Adams and Maddox for a quick interview about their love of classic monster movies, their take on classic and modern special effects and tales from their monster kid childhoods. While you’re reeling in on our little Q&A, catch MONSTER ATTACK!’s second episode, “The Werewolfhere!

Jim Adams and Veronica Carlson

Jim Adams and Veronica Carlson

ATLRetro: Congratulations on “The Premiere” episode of your new Project iRadio podcast, MONSTER ATTACK!, which aired January 11, 2016. Classic monsters and “monster movies” in general are right up ATLRetro’s alley and we’re pretty excited to have a podcast devoted to old school monster flicks and those who dreamed them up. Can you tell our readers how you two partnered up to put together this show?

Jim Adams: Mark and I met at the first Monsterama convention in Atlanta two years ago. His table was located next to Veronica Carlson‘s table and I was heading to speak with her when I spotted a print from the movie INVASION OF THE SAUCERMEN. As a kid, it was one of my favorite films, and I stopped to purchase the print. As we talked about the film and many others, it became pretty clear that Mark and I grew up appreciating most of the same monster movies. A few weeks later, Mark was a guest on my podcast, NERDVANA, and we blasted through the entire hour without taking a breath, talking about our favorite films. But it was the following year at the next Monsterama convention that we began talking about doing a podcast together. The idea took form and we recorded our first show 1959_1028_tinglerjust before Christmas.

Mark Maddox: Jim and I had met at a couple of conventions and realized we had a rapport when it came to talking about films. He had a common affinity for classic horror films and the idea to do a podcast came from that. We seemed to work well together talking about them.

In the premiere episode, you both discussed your first taste of monsters in film land, with Mark’s being William Castle’s spine-chilling THE TINGLER (1959), starring Vincent Price, and Jim’s being Douglas Hickox/Eugene Lourie’s tale of a giant dinosaur radiating London in THE GIANT BEHEMOTH (1959). Although these were your first tantalizing tastes of terror, can you fill us in on your favorite classic monsters and why?

J: For me, my favorites have always been the classics – vampires and werewolves. I loved THE WOLF MAN with Lon Chaney Jr., and it still remains one of my all-time favorites. Fred F. SearsTHE WEREWOLF (1956) is also one I really enjoy and it is the subject of our second MONSTER ATTACK! affiche-la-bete-geante-qui-s-abat-sur-londres-the-giant-behemoth-1959-2podcast. Vampires have always been favorites as well. I am a huge fan of the Hammer films featuring Christopher Lee, although the best vampire film, in my opinion was THE BRIDES OF DRACULA with David Peel playing the vampire. The Count Yorga films are also ones I enjoy watching very much. Bela Lugosi’s DRACULA (1931) has a warm place in my heart. I don’t have much use for some the contemporary takes offered like the TWILIGHT series. I think they sometimes forget that vampires are monsters, not love interests. I am not a fan of what I call “90210 with fangs.”

M: My first favorite monster as a child had to be Frankenstein’s Monster, by far – the film version. The flat head and makeup along with his strength just captivated me. I first saw him on the cover of a magazine fighting The Wolfman and my love for monsters was set. From there, it spread to King Kong, Dracula and on and on.

Which classic monster and/or movie would you say is the most neglected and what do you think makes them worthymummy-poster of attention?

J: The original THE MUMMY with Boris Karloff is a work of absolute genius. The horror is very subtle, but powerful. I love the lighting and set design and Karloff‘s performance the very best of his illustrious career. To many folks, the film may be too “talky” compared to the action-packed horror films of today, but true film lovers should be able to appreciate the incredible artistry The scene where the Mummy first reveals himself to one of the archaeologists is absolutely one of the best horror scenes I have ever witnessed.

M: I think Bela Lugosi‘s DRACULA and Boris Karloff‘s THE MUMMY are both neglected. A lot of people would say they are both slow and not much happens. Bull! They are just incorporating the same kind of techniques that would later be used by Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch – the kind of pacing that brings its own tension. The settings for Dracula and Lugosi’s portrayal are both so weird that it’s like a broken arm that’s been set. Everything looks all right, but there is just something that feels wrong. I think the film has been dismissed too quickly by people.

frankensteinCan you tell us a little about some of your favorite “monster kid” memories?

J: The one I tell a lot is one that happened watching an OUTER LIMITS episode entitled “The Architects of Fear.” I was eight years old and the monster was the most frightening thing I had ever seen. My bedroom at the time had several maps on the walls. I loved maps as a kid, and during the night a fly got stuck one of them. The sound it made was exactly like the sound the creature made on the show, and I was panic-stricken. It was about four or five years later before I dared watch that episode again, but I decided to take a chance. When the monster appeared, my body physically shook. It was almost 20 years before I saw “Architects” again. I purchased the episode on VHS and when I watched it, it still bothered me a bit. I cannot think of anything that affected me quite as powerfully as that one did.

M: One of my favorites was the night that I found out the local TV station was going to show a double-feature of FRANKENSTEIN (1931) and THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935) because I had never seen either one. Another was my mom letting me stay up on a Wednesday night to watch KING KONG (1933) and I was ecstatic. A couple memories that Jim and I have in common are one, checking out the new TV UM2CoverFinalGUIDE every week and looking to see what “Monster Movies” were going to come on that weekend. The other was going to the newsstand and seeing the latest copy of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND. (Note: One of Jim’s also included going to the neighborhood drug store and watching for the latest Monster Model releases by Aurora and Revell.)

Despite the invasion of modernized and extreme terror tactics, what do you think it is that keeps generation after generation returning to classic monster movies? What is it about these films that continue to draw you to them?

J: There is true artistry to them. I love that we can do so much today with special effects, but sometimes having that luxury creates lazy or sloppy filmmaking. I believe anyone who looks at these classic monsters – even the low-budget ones – cannot help but be blown away by the love the filmmakers poured into them. But, on another note, even the bad ones are just so damn entertaining to watch. Even today, watching the old films I grew up with for our podcast, I find myself re-experiencing those wonderful times growing up with optimism and youthful exuberance from my childhood.

black-scorpionM: Classic films have a lot of dedicated people working for them – writers, directors, actors, technicians, etc. I think that quality is what makes people return to them. With modern horror films, the ones that say something new (THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, CABIN IN THE WOODS, and HOSTEL) were all different than their predecessors and that’s why they succeeded. The old films always had the backing of the major studios which helped with the quality. Even the “B” pictures were of high quality

In “The Premiere” episode you discuss the special effects in films like Edward Ludwig’s THE BLACK SCORPION (1957) (Willis H. O’Brien – special effects supervisor) and Eugene Lourie’s THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953) (Willis Cook/special effects; Ray Harryhausen/animation). The techniques and art of “old school” special effects has influenced many modern SPFX artists. What do you consider the pros and cons of the advent of computerized SPFX and the more Screem25finalhands off approach to filmmaking? And what is your favorite “old-school” special effect that you think should be used more often in modern film-making?

J: As I said earlier, sometimes I find that filmmakers get a little sloppy and lazy with access to CGI and other computerized effects. I love practical effects because they seem more realistic and I think using those effects helps the performers deliver a better performance. I also believe that the best “scary” movies leave something to the imagination. The human brain will fill the gaps with far more frightening imagery than any effect can. Films like ALIEN (1979), the original THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951), and IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE (1958) have shown that. I also miss really good stop-action effects. Done well, I believe they can really sell a film. Films like MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (1961) and any of the other Ray Harryhausen films are still favorites of mine and are always enjoyable.

M: I think that if it is handled well, you should use whatever tool in the toolbox you have to get the job done. That does not mean you use that tool when it is not necessary. Filmmaking is still about storytelling. JURASSIC PARK (1993) needed its special effects to make the dinosaurs seem alive. Some films overuse computerized effects at the expense of the story.

MAD SCIENTIST 29 FRONT CVR MARK MADDOXMark, it’s no secret that your artistic resume and portfolio is quite prolific with your art spanning the covers of SCREEM MAGAZINE; HORRORHOUND MAGAZINE; LITTLE SHOPPE OF HORRORS; MAD SCIENTIST MAGAZINE (and so many more!); your illustrations being used for Warner Brothers Blu-ray releases; and your Vincent Price magazine and book covers leading you to becoming an officially licensed artist through the Vincent Price estate. Can you tell our readers what drew you to your art and why this particular subject matter? And who would you say is your greatest inspiration/influence and why?

M: I loved comic books, monster movies and science fiction. I would draw the things I loved, and the things I loved were my muses. The muse fed the wish to draw, to create more of what I loved. When it came to films, the love of films made me want to draw and the drawing made me love films even more. As far as my influences, the first person who made me want to draw was Dr. Seuss. But the person who really made me want to become an artist, because I loved their work tremendously and still do to this day, was Jack Kirby. That moved me from comic book art to realistic art, portraits and realism with people like James Bama, who did the Doc Savage covers and stills does great Western art to this day.

Jim, we see that you’ve been in radio for quite some time, having been a radio personality in the metro-Atlanta area

Jim Adams

Jim Adams

for a couple decades and now with the invent of podcasts, began co-hosting Project iRadio’s “Nerdvana Interviews” in 2014. Project iRadio not only has brought underrated and almost unknown subjects to light with its podcasts, but it’s made it easier for fans to access knowledge and information delivered by a wide range of industry professionals. What do you hope to achieve with MONSTER ATTACK! and what do you want our readers and your audience to take away from the show?

J: I am so excited about the future of Project iRadio, especially with the incredible hosts we have. After seeing the success of horror writers like Brian Keene, James Moore, Jonathan Mayberry and the others on the network, it appeared there was a need for a look at old horror as well as the new, and that’s where Mark and I fit in. I would love to see MONSTER ATTACK! open up that world to a new generation of fans. Jess Roberts, founder of Project iRadio, is about half my age and he recalls how he fell in love with the older films when he first watched THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954). There are several generations who have never watched any of these magnificent films and maybe listening to the podcast will help whet their appetites to try them out.

30e2e9be532710c523aff1387ccc1381We hear that you were going to initiate a Patreon for subscribers and funding for Project iRadio. Can you tell us a little about that effort?

J: I’m a rookie at Patreon, but from what I have been told, it is a terrific vehicle for helping the network grow and expand. Right now, we are all doing what we do out of love, but bills have to paid and the overhead of maintaining a large podcast network has to be met. Patreon allows those who love what we do help take some ownership in this incredible adventure. I’m still being educated about some of the incentives we will be offering in the near future. You can visit our Patreon site here.

Can you both tell our readers something about yourself that they don’t know already?

J: Wow, that’s a tough one. There is not too much I am private about except my beliefs. I consider myself a very spiritual person – not religious, spiritual. I believe this is one incredible adventure that will set the table for the next adventure to follow after I physically leave this planet. I do believe that energy will come back for another round, and I am a big believer in the concept of “soul families.”

M: I’m taller than Jim. No, seriously I am an artist first, and then I’m a motivational person. I believe that somehow I would be involved in motivational speaking or therapy if I weren’t an artist.

And of course we want to know what’s up next for both of you. Any exciting plans in the near future?

J: If MONSTER ATTACK! succeeds, we would love to launch another podcast where we can talk about all of our other favorite films and TV shows  that don’t fit into the category of old monster movies.

M: A lot more art, a lot more podcasts – even ones that will cover films that are not horror films and hopefully a lot of conventions. You never really know where life is going to take you, but it’s going to be exciting!

 

All photographs are courtesy of Mark Maddox and Jim Adams and used with permission.

 

 

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Kool Kat of the Week: Brian Lonano Explores the Ins and Outs of Goblin Lovin’ With His Latest Short Film GWILLIAM!

Posted on: Jun 16th, 2015 By:

by Aleck BennettGwilliam_Poster_11x17_v03
Contributing Writer

Atlanta filmmaker Brian Lonano has been garnering raves on the festival circuit for humorous horror short CROW HAND!!!, which makes all of us at ATLRetro laugh like crazed lunatics every time we see it. Now he  is on the cusp of bringing us another heaping helping of the hilariously bizarre with GWILLIAM, a tender tale about the love between a man (William Tokarsky of TOO MANY COOKS and YOUR PRETTY FACE IS GOING TO HELL) and a goblin (an animatronic puppet). But he needs your help! That’s why he’s running an IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign, promising an insanely inventive and perfectly perverse variety of rewards for donors.

The short film has long been the weird nephew in the motion picture family. Since theatrical exhibitions largely abandoned the “selected short subjects” of days gone by (aside from, say, Pixar’s commitment to the form) in favor of more movie trailers and before-the-show advertisements, it’s been a constant struggle to get short films in front of large audiences. Sure, film festivals routinely devote chunks of programming to shorts, but the audience is always limited to the people in attendance. In recent years, however, that has changed. Say what you will about the Internet’s impact on the film industry, one thing is indisputable: it’s provided makers of short films with a platform that allows more people to see their work. That, in turn, has had an impact on television programming. Animated TV series have used the “two cartoons in one half-hour” format for a long while now, but some networks—most notably Cartoon Network and its [adult swim] programming block—have embraced the 11-minute episode as a standalone entity. And [adult swim] has taken that short film format into live action, with series like Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim’s multiple offerings (such as TIM AND ERIC AWESOME SHOW, GREAT JOB! and CHECK IT OUT! WITH DR. STEVE BRULE), YOUR PRETTY FACE IS GOING TO HELL and that twilight zone of weirdness at 4:00 a.m. where things like TOO MANY COOKS show up.

Brian Lonano - SXSW

Brian Lonano – SXSW

That’s where we cross paths with Kool Kat of the Week Brian Lonano. Lonano has been making short films for a decade now. His nine shorts have screened at festivals from SXSW to Fantasia International Film Festival, from Canada to Cambodia. And here in Atlanta, he’s been shown at the Atlanta Film Festival and the Buried Alive Film Fest. (He’s done promotional bumper shorts for many festivals around the world as well.) His shorts are typically a deft mix of wacky comedy, horror or sci-fi tropes and inventive practical effects.- a combo no better seen than in last year’s CROW HAND!!! His 10th film, GWILLIAM, is currently in preproduction, and to raise the funds for this endeavor (because while the Internet is a convenient platform, it’s really hard to monetize it), Lonano has turned to the new audience that the Internet has provided for assistance via this IndieGoGo campaign.

ATLRetro caught up with Brian Lonano to ask him about the campaign, his history in short films, what GWILLIAM is all about and what’s on the horizon.

ATLRetro: You’ve got nine short films under your belt in the past decade, including the inspired THE TRANSMISSION and the utterly berserk CROW HAND!!! What first drove you to dive into filmmaking?

I grew up watching films that featured a lot of special effects and puppets. I am a big fan of Jim Henson, Tim Burton, Spielberg and classic STAR WARS. JURASSIC PARK came out when I was 10 and I wanted to make movies ever since. I became obsessed with seeing any and every movie that Industrial Light & Magic did the special effects for. I didn’t have a camera for a long time so I drew comics and made puppets. As I get older I seek out more bizarre film oddities like HAUSU, THE VISITOR and A FIELD IN ENGLAND. Those kinds of films coupled with what I grew up worshiping keep me inspired to make movies.

You’re not only known for your short films, which have screened all over the world, but you’ve also been recognized by the industry for your usecommissioned work for festivals and television, something our readers might not immediately know about. What does Brian Lonano do when he’s not dreaming up weird short films?

My full time job is working at a post-production facility that processes dailies for TV shows and movies that shoot in town. The commissioned work I make is mostly for film festivals. I would direct a short film called a bumper that advertises the film festival and I would more or less have creative control which is great. I’m very grateful to film festivals that show my work so when I’m asked to make a bumper for one, I put a lot of effort in making a kick ass bumper to show how bad ass the festival is.

It’s a tale as old as time: a man and a goblin in love. What attracted you to this story, and just how disgustingly screwed up can we expect the end result to be?

GWILLIAM came about from a drawing my brother did back in 2011. He was drawing a picture of this weird little man—it just looked completely wrong in the best way possible. We laughed about the picture and decided we had to name the weird man. So we asked ourselves, what’s a gross name that would fit this monstrosity? And we decided on Gwilliam. After that we came up with a strange story where a different man was prowling at night and has an encounter with Gwilliam…I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. I’m excited about how gross this movie is going to be because it’s not gore centric like my previous film CROW HAND!!!. It’s a whole new kind of disgusting.

The preliminary sculpt you’ve shown on the website is impressive even in this early stage. Who’s behind the design of the Gwilliam puppet?

IMG_0150The sculpt of Gwilliam is actually created by Splatter Cinema super team Blake Myers, Luke Godfrey and Nick Morgan. They will be responsible for making the creature puppet for the film.

I see designer Rachel De Urioste mentioned in the IndieGoGo campaign. What she’s bringing to the table? Rachel De Urioste is a local artist, fabricator and designer and she’s designing the GWILLIAM perks for IndieGoGo. She designed the crow totem that was featured in CROW HAND!!!. When we were on the festival circuit with CROW HAND!!! I asked Rachel to make some plastic versions of the Crowtem so I could plant them in theaters and see if anyone would pick them up. I loved the idea of something tangible to take away from the movie. CROW HAND!!! is so short that I wanted to make a big impact with the promotion of it. So with GWILLIAM I wanted to make a new prize to give out to potential donors. If I was giving to a campaign, I would want something cool like a toy. I think people gravitate towards tchotchkes like that.

The variety of rewards you’re offering investors range from the innocuous (digital downloads, credit listing) to the utterly depraved (a Gwilliam sex doll???). How did you come up with these ideas?

I brainstormed ideas for prizes with Rachel and my wife/co-producer Victoria Cook. We all agreed the totems from CROW HAND!!! were a great idea and we wanted to take it a step further. Rachel had never dabbled in designing toys and I am a big fan of Archie McPhee‘s novelty finger puppets so I thought a Gwilliam finger puppet would be a great prize to give out. As I said earlier, if I was donating to something, I would want to get a cool toy. Rachel is making full painted Gwilliam finger puppets but she is also making rainbow editions of the Crowtem and Finger Puppet as well as solid color Gwilliams (we’re calling it the ROY G BIV collection) and even glow in the dark finger puppets! The blow up is another prize we allROYGBIV Gwilliams came up with. The doll would be life size (meaning Goblin size) and the goal is make it a functioning doll. We wanted our campaign to stand out and I figured weird finger puppets and blow up dolls would do the trick!

You’ve lucked up in nabbing William Tokarsky fresh off the TOO MANY COOKS brouhaha, but he’s also popped up in projects ranging from THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE to YOUR PRETTY FACE IS GOING TO HELL. How did your paths cross, and how did you know he was the right man to romance a goblin puppet?

William was very easy to get in touch with. I sent him a message on Facebook asking if he would be interested in working together on a project. We agreed to meet in person and I gave him the script to read. I didn’t say much about it until he read it. Thankfully, he was laughing at the script and said he would absolutely be a part of it. So far working with William has been terrific. He’s easy going, very funny and a great team player. I look forward to shooting so I can direct him.

On the local front, you’ve worked with the Buried Alive Film Festival as a judge, you’ve shot a great bumper for them, and you’ve had your shorts exhibited there as well. Any hope you’ll be bringing GWILLIAM to BAFF screens in the future?

If the film is completed in time I would absolutely love to screen it at BAFF this year. But because I am friends with Blake and the whole team (and they are also working on the film), it would be an out of competition entry. I love screening my work here because the audience gets what I am trying to do and they all seem to really enjoy it!

CROW HAND!!! from !ROBOT HAND! on Vimeo.

All photos courtesy of Brian Lonano and used with permission.  Aleck Bennett is a writer, blogger, pug warden, pop culture enthusiast, raconteur and bon vivant from the greater Atlanta area. Visit his blog at doctorsardonicus.wordpress.com.

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