Archive for Author ThePit

We had a very honest and candid discussion with indie filmmaker Ian Russell of Ringo Jones Productions about his debut feature, the micro-budget horror comedy The Killing Death. The movie, in true b-horror, is about two bumbling cops who are on the trial of a serial killer who makes pizza out of their victims!

When?
The Killing Death was originally shot in 2006 over a five day period for approximately $500 (Canadian). It was screened that October and then put away in a drawer and the depths of various hard drives for years afterwards. A few film festival rejections led nowhere, so I figured it was a test feature rather than anything that would make much noise.

Flash forward over a decade. Amazon Prime has opened up a new avenue for independent movies and I’m contacted by Zellco who had attended the original screening and asked if the movie was available to put online. I decide to open up that drawer and dig through those old hard drives to re-evaluate the movie. With the passage of time, I noticed that there’s some funny stuff that could appeal to cult movie fans. I commissioned an all-new soundtrack from Bogman to replace the public domain old-timey jazz of the original cut and found that the movie suddenly played much better! From there, Zellco put it on Amazon Prime (and other streaming sites) for the world to see and a handful of curious people do.

What?
The Killing Death was inspired by the Herschel Gordon Lewis gore classic Blood Feast. Way back in my university days, I took a cult film class and was exposed to some obscurities that I’d never seen. Now Blood Feast is pretty famous to horror fans, but I’d missed it and there was a lot to like despite the budget limitations. Watching it, I thought that if it had only leaned a little more into comedy, it could work even better, so I decided to write a spoofier version. I kept the idea of two bumbling police officers on the trail of a killer following an Egyptian ritual, but amped up the silliness.

The story was deliberately kept simple to make it possible to shoot on the cheap and I took the idea that the reason the killer was murdering his victims was to take the best parts of them to feed to his new girlfriend in pizza form. That way, she’d be the sum total of all of the things he liked about others. That aspect of the story was perhaps a little undeveloped, but it was my first try, so it is what it is.

Where?
While the location the story is happening is never explicitly stated in the movie, The Killing Death was shot in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. We used a handful of apartments of the crew, my parents house, some streets where traffic would be at a minimum (since we didn’t bother with permits), a convenience store one of the cast worked at, the universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba where I’d been a student, and a local pizza joint. That restaurant, Chicago Phil’s, generously closed for a few hours so we could shoot inside. They may have been under the impression the movie was going to give them some free advertising, instead of just a couple of huge orders we put in to feed everyone.

Who?
I [Ian Russell] wrote, directed, edited, produced, location scouted, etc., The Killing Death. You name it, I probably did it. I’d hold the camera, set the lights, hold the boom, whatever needed to be done. But so did a lot of people. I had whoever was around take part, so the crew all got a chance to work on camera, lighting, sound, etc. Heck, one of the actors brought his teenage son to the set and we let him film a scene too! We were all amateurs who didn’t bother to let the fact that we had no idea what we were doing slow us down. Now a lot of that shows on screen. There’s stuff that makes me cringe and wonder if I should have ever let this out into the world, but then I’ll watch some terrible b-movie and see something way worse and not feel so bad.

I learned everything by doing. I’d only taken a short workshop in filmmaking, so if there was a mistake, I made it. My editing experience came from editing a short from that workshop on Final Cut Pro, so I basically was self-taught. There are so many more tutorials out there on Youtube nowadays that would have been lifesavers back in 2006, but I had to struggle through on my own.

My buddy Lee Hansen helped out with everything, from making the fake blood to directing a couple of scenes when the room was too crowded for crew, to letting us decorate his apartment walls with pornography. You’ll spot him in one scene talking to the University Professor who’s about to lose his brain.

Because this was our first project, everything that could go wrong did. From lights that got so hot everyone was sweating profusely, to the fact that our elderly cast members couldn’t bend at the knees to examine corpses, to overly verbose conversations, to a fight scene that was so poorly choreographed that the entire sequence was cut from the final movie. (Unfortunately I’d forgotten to tell that actress and she came to the screening with her entire family only to find out that her scenes had been whittled down to a few seconds. Oops!) Luckily we had some great actors who saved our bacon. The lead cops were played by Jeremy Dangerfield and Tyhr Trubiak, with the killer played by Neil Reimer and his girlfriend played by Veronica Ternopolski. Tyhr’s gone on to star in some other interesting indie horror movies (Aegri Somnia and Tempus Tormentum). Veronica was in Dark Forest, while Jeremy retired to Vancouver and Neil became a teacher overseas. Everyone did a great job with what they had to work with and I only wish I’d given them more and better things to do!

Why?
The Killing Death was made because we wanted to make a movie! In Winnipeg, there’s a very strong short film community based around the local film co-op. Taking Guy Maddin’s work as inspiration, they play festivals and get artistic cred. I didn’t want to go that route. I wanted to make schlock that was fun and entertaining without taking itself seriously. So rather than go through government funding organizations or apply for grants, I just sold some of my various collections (video games, comics, etc) to raise enough cash to buy a decent (for the time) prosumer camera, shotgun mic, home depot lights, and took the plunge. The script came quick (too quick) and we had a casting call to find people that were willing to work for free. The lead cop, Jeremy Dangerfield, was a member of the Actor’s Union so we had to sign a deferral agreement with them to use him, but everyone else was just as indie as we were.

I really wanted to use this as a chance for everyone to learn and grow, so the atmosphere on set was loose and open. My only regret was that we did everything so fast that I didn’t really get a chance to explore the story as much as I should have. I had so many ideas for new stuff that came after the fact. Which is what led to the novelization of the movie coming ten years later. It’s the version of the movie that I should have made / wish I could have. If you like anything you see on screen, read the book. It’s definitely a million times better in every way.

How?
Before COVID hit, I was all set to film another feature, but that’s been put on hold until restrictions lighten up here. In the meantime, I’ve been keeping incredibly busy publishing books, making youtube videos, and writing new screenplays. Everything I’m doing all connects back to The Killing Death and the characters of Frank and Jimmy have many more adventures on the page and (hopefully soon) on screen.

Watch online:

Read the novelization:

Follow on Social Media:

We had the opportunity to talk with writer/director/producer Jude Klassen on her indie musical, Love in the Sixth. She shares lots of great insight on making an independent feature musical with what you have available to you. Read for more details and where to watch Love in the Sixth!

Why?
Love in the Sixth is my first feature – a kind of accidental musical that was inspired by watching a cool film made for a grand (Mourning Has Broken) by my now producing partners, The Butler Brothers. At the time I was making political satire music videos with LITS DP, Rob McGee and we decided that we could definitely afford to make a feature for that amount of coin. We ended up spending more, but we did keep costs to a bare minimum with an incredible volunteer army. 

I dusted off a script I was working on and started to assemble a team. At my pal Asher Ettinger’s music jam party, in April 2014, I met TC Folkpunk aka Tim Cameron who ended up being my co-star and co-composer on Love in the Sixth. Together with Asher we rather spontaneously started writing songs for the characters to perform. 

What?
It’s an “enviromantic” musical about living in the sixth extinction. LITS has been called “Blondie meets Cassavetes” and I think that’s pretty accurate. It’s not your typical musical, it’s a gritty, funny, naturalistic drama intercut with documentary footage – the main character, Dani interviews strangers on the street about love, relationships, and politics. OK, maybe a nod to the documentary style footage in When Harry Met Sally.

Some of the songs are full color productions like Fucking Love! and Mancation, others are weighty, black and white, dark night of the soul numbers like Murder Us to Sleep. An audience favorite is Bitch in My Pants that was recorded live – an authentic glimpse into the song-writing process where mating and making music meet. Dani is fighting the “Bitch in her Pants” who keeps ruining her life with bad man choices.

Where?
We shot all over Toronto: west side, east side, my house, the actor’s houses, nobody was spared. The beauty of truly independent filmmaking is that you really can be spontaneous and that can lead to some pretty magical shit. LITS is a cool window into the Toronto artistic community with not-so-ordinary people coping with life in what feels like the end of days.

When?
I started working on LITS in April of 2014 at the end of an intense breakup and threw every good, bad, beautiful, toxic emotion into the film. We had our World Premiere at the 2015 Whistler International Film Festival, and our US premiere at the 2016 Chicago International Movies and Music Festival (CIMMFEST). LITS screened in Toronto at the Fox Theatre in June of 2017 and November 2017 at a launch for being on the NFB / First Weekend Club’s Canada Screens website.

Who?
Starring whoever showed up! That was our running joke. Thankfully, I know a lot of naturally hilarious people. Actors, musicians, painters, story tellers. The story revolves around single mom, tutor, and entertainment writer/host Dani (me) who films interviews: Martini Think Tanks in her living room. Her bestie, Mavis (Wendy Sinclair) is in a thruple with two brothers (Brett Butler, Jason Butler) and is falling for one of the bros. Dani’s daughter, Kat (Mikhael Klassen Kay) is the 11 year-old climate activist who fights the power and questions her mom’s choice of a boyfriend. Dani’s friend Qalie (Shay Steinberg) is in a dysfunctional relationship with Tamara (Lisa Santonato), and has some beautiful moments of romantic breakdown that includes putting on lipstick while driving.

Since in real life I was an entertainment writer/host I was able to wrangle a few interesting cameos from the likes of Survivorman (Les Stroud) who helped me recreate our Movie Entertainment interview as fiction with the intrusion of the jealous boyfriend, Sid (TC Folkpunk), who scares him off before Dani can finish the interview. There’s a sweet cameo from actor/comedian Dennis Trainer who plays a Survivorman super fan who pops out of the shrubbery to ask a few questions. Globe and Mail TV critic, John Doyle plays himself on Dani’s live streamed Martini Think Tank show with model/actor/voice of The Corporation, Mikela Jay playing a cynical Canadian TV star set on pissing off her controlling publicist who shuts Dani’s livestream down. We also have a cameo from environmental bad boy/musician John Lefebrve who does a duet with Bitchumen Bitch (me in a black wig) called Dirty Lies which we shot on both the Scarborough Bluffs (with epic paper-mache oil-covered duck costumes by Laura Lind) and Salt Spring Island in BC. John’s footage was captured by my second cameraperson, Jeremy Gilbert, who was on the island visiting his sister. “Hey Jer, while you’re there…

How?
You can catch Love in the Sixth on Amazon Prime Video in the US, Canada, and the UK. Final tidbit: I’m currently in post on my second feature as writer/director, Stupid For You, also a musical with the Dani and Kat characters in another time/dimension and the focus is on the teenage LBGTQ love triangle. Produced by the aforementioned Butler Brothers (Substance Productions Inc), with the same musical production team: Tim Cameron, Asher Ettinger and me. Still has that living at the end of the world atmosphere and wicked tunes but with a John Hughes nouveau vibe.

You can watch Love in the Sixth now on Amazon:

And you can follow Love in the Sixth on Social Media:

If you haven’t seen Zack Snyder’s Justice League on HBO Max yet, I recommend turning around and checking it out! We touch one some spoilers from the epic 4 hour “Elseworlds” special. It is currently unknown if Zack Snyder will make anymore movies, TV shows, specials, or anything else having to do with the DCEU, but the Snyder cut opens the door to some great potential spinoffs. We’re not sharing some secret news or exclusive, we’re just looking at a few potential ways that we’d like to the the ZSJL universe continue. Again, spoilers to follow!

NIGHTMARE TIMELINE MINI SERIES

We saw a warning from the future in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice along with a brief vision Batman had of a “Nightmare” Earth. In Zack Snyder’s Justice League this idea was expanded big time. While connecting to the Mother Boxes, Cyborg got a warning that looks like the start of the “Nightmare”! A future where Darkseid has killed Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Lois Lane, and has brainwashed a revived Superman. Later in the Epilogue, we see this world again with Batman leading a team of heroes and villains against Darkseid and the now evil Superman. I assume that future Zack Snyder Justice League movies would have expanded this concept further, but without those it would be great to see these ideas as an HBO Mini series or full blown series. Potentially we could even get to the point where Flash goes back in time to stop the future?

STAR LABS ANTHOLOGY SERIES

Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Zack Snyder’s Justice League all worked hard to establish STAR LABS as the go to scientists of the DCEU when the world has to deal with alien attacks and general superhero chaos. ZSJL introduced us to Dr. Ryan Choi, who in the comics took over the mantle of the Atom from Ray Palmer. With a STAR LABS centric anthology series on HBO Max, we could see Choi become the Atom (which could make for a fun episode or two). And since STAR LABS is always there when trouble happens, this could be a great way to expand the universe and introduce all sorts of new heroes and villains- while also showing us new adventures with established characters like Cyborg and (more spoilers!) Martian Manhunter without needing the actors to make multi-year commitments.

NEW GODS TV MOVIE OR MINI SERIES

For years there has been a movie based on the New Gods in development being overseen by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Ava DuVernay. There has been mixed information whether it would be connected to the DCEU or its own thing. One of the key things the Snyder cut of Justice League did was to establish Darkseid, his followers, and Apokolips, setting up a great foundation for a New Gods movie. It would be pretty awesome to see DuVernay’s in development movie move from Warner Brothers to HBO Max and become either a mini series or TV movie that further tells the story of those who would rebel or fight back against Darkseid. I’d love to see Orion (the son of Darkseid), Big Barda, and Mister Miracle leading the series.

Did you watch yet? What spinoffs would you like to see from Zack Snyder’s Justice League?

Posted on March 20th, 2021 by ThePit | Leave a Comment
Filed Under Entertainment

Today’s #NewComicsSpotlight takes a look at six titles that stand out from the crowd. Check them out and let us know what is on your pull list!

DC COMICS

 

BATMAN/CATWOMAN #1
Official Description: At last, Tom King returns to the rocky, romantic saga of Batman and Catwoman with his Heroes in Crisis collaborator, superstar artist Clay Mann! Echoing plot points from King’s epic Batman run, this sweeping tale is told across three timelines: the past, when the Bat and the Cat first fell in love; the present, where their union is threatened by one of Batman’s lost loves; and the future, where the couple have a happy life and legacy-including their daughter Helena, the Batwoman. And as the story begins, after a long marriage, Bruce Wayne passes away-which frees Selina Kyle to settle an old score. At every stage of their relationship, Bruce and Selina have an unwelcome chaperone: The Joker! Oh, and that lost love of Bruce’s? It’s Andrea Beaumont-a.k.a. Phantasm. Just thought you’d want to know.
Writer: Tom King | Artist: Clay Mann

JUSTICE LEAGUE: ENDLESS WINTER #1
Official Description: “Endless Winter” chapter one! The crossover event of the season begins here! The Justice League encounters an extinction-level global storm brewing at the former site of the Fortress of Solitude. Enter the Frost King, a monster mad with power with an army at his command! What devastating mystery lies in his past? And how is he tied to Queen Hippolyta, Swamp Thing, Viking Prince, and their reluctant ally, Black Adam? Two timelines will reveal further clues and secrets throughout each chapter of this blockbuster tale!
Writers: Andy Lanning, Ron Marz | Artists: Howard Porter, Marco Santucci

MARVEL COMICS

KING IN BLACK #1
Official Description: DARKNESS REIGNS! After a campaign across the galaxy, Knull’s death march arrives to Earth and, worse yet, he hasn’t come alone! With an army of hundreds of thousands of symbiote dragons at his command, the King in Black is a force unlike any Earth’s heroes have ever faced. EDDIE BROCK, A.K.A. VENOM has seen firsthand the chaos that even one of Knull’s symbiotic monsters can wreak – will he survive an encounter with the God of the Abyss himself? From Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, JP Mayer, Frank Martin and VC’s Clayton Cowles comes the definitive chapter in their two-year-long VENOM saga that changed everything you thought you knew about symbiotes!
Writer: Donny Cates | Artist: Ryan Stegman

X-FACTOR #5
Official Description: The events of X OF SWORDS have put the resurrection protocols in jeopardy! As the Five deals with the fallout, X-Factor investigates those affected by the tragedy…
Writer: Leah Williams | Artist: David Baldeon

BOOM! STUDIOS

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #20
Official Description: It’s Faith, Buffy and Willow versus Xander – not everyone is making it out alive. No Buffy fan will want to miss the shocking conclusion! Meanwhile, Wesley Wyndam-Price has arrived in Sunnydale with his own secret mission.
Writer: Jordie Bellaire | Artist: Ramon Bachs

MEGA MAN FULLY CHARGED #4
Official Description: Skull Man and his army of Robot Masters have invaded Silicon City – but Mega Man and his mysterious new ally aren’t going down without a fight! But Mega Man doesn’t realize he’s playing right into the hands of an enemy he never expected!
Writer: AJ Marchisello | Artist: Stefano Simeone

What titles are you excited about? Will Batman/Catwoman live up to the buzz that has been building for it the past few years?

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Before you go all in with horror movies for Halloween (we will have more horror suggestions soon!), why not try an indie romantic comedy? What Love Looks Like is an anthology movie with “five interwoven love stories that explore the ups and downs of finding love.” The movie was directed by Alex Magaña and stars Josh Gilmer, Nathan Kohnen, Connor Wilkins, Kyle Meck, Jack Menzies, Kate Durocher, Taylor Alexa Frank, and Ana Ming Bostwick-Singer. The movie was released online by Indie Rights Movies.

You can watch What Love Looks Like for free on TubiTV or Amazon (with Prime), and you can follow the movie on Facebook to learn movie about the cast & crew.


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Nicole is a horror thriller from director James Schroeder that stars Tamika Shannon as the title character. Nicole is a shy young woman with a dark family history who goes on a date with the charismatic and cocky John (Stephen Green). The date goes wrong. Very wrong.

The movie is available to watch on Amazon Prime and TubiTV, and you can learn more about the flick here.


LoadedToday’s spotlight indie movie, Ekaj, is a little different than a lot of the movies we spotlight. Director Cati Gonzalez crafted the LGBTQ drama Ekaj by casting non-actors in all of the roles. She did this to make this particular story more authentic and “as real-to-life as possible.” It helps the movie feel different and unique.

Official Description: Ekaj is a film packed with real life drama and a real sense of humor. The film capture’s a naive teen’s runaway journey to one of the most difficult city’s to survive in, New York City.

The movie stars Jake Mestre, Badd Idea, Scooter LaForge, and the movie’s director, Cati Gonzalez. You can watch Ekaj for free on Tubi TV. The LGBTQ crime drama is also free for Amazon Prime members on Prime Video.

What are your favorite platforms to watch movies online? Tubi TV? Amazon Prime? Hulu? Netflix? Let us know in the comments!


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