Today I had a phone interview with one of my favorite directors, Mr. Adam Green. Adam is known for directing Hatchet, Hatchet II, Frozen , and the upcoming show Holliston on FEARnet. Those who know him, love him, and those who don’t, should. Adam Green is making scary movies frightening again, one slasher at a time. He’s also working to expand the rights for horror directors, by pushing for R ratings on films the MPAA would rather slap with a NC-17. The horror genre is lucky to have him situated behind the camera. In this interview, I talked to Adam about Holliston, Hatchet III and getting presentable for nude scenes.
Kalyn Corrigan: Well happy early birthday! Do you have any big plans?
Adam Green: Not really, I just went to Disneyland with the Holliston cast and my wife for the past two days to celebrate. It’s crazy, with the launch of the show, and with Hatchet III starting pre-production, so I’ll probably just be working on my actual birthday but there’s really nothing I can do.
KC: Oh, well I’m glad you had fun at Disneyland.
AG: Yes it was awesome.
KC: Did you get any Mickey Mouse ears?
AG: Actually, I have a pair that somebody sent me a few years ago that say ‘Victor Crowley’ on the back, but I only wore those for about five minutes before my wife instructed me to take them off. She said my head was too big for the ears and I looked like a mentally handicapped child, so I didn’t think it would stick through the whole day. (Laughs)
KC: That’s great. So let’s talk about Holliston! You and Joe Lynch are playing roommates struggling to make it big as horror directors in the town of Holliston, Massachusetts. This is your first show and FEARnet’s first original show, how excited are you?
AG: Extremely excited, this show has taken me about thirteen years to actually get going. When I first got out of college back in ’97, the first job I got was making really kind of crappy, low-budget, cable commercials in the Boston area. Whenever you’re watching MTV or ESPN late at night and that one old commercial comes on that’s just terrible, that’s what I was doing. And I would steal their equipment at night, and make my own short films and things, because I didn’t have any money to actually buy a camera or make anything myself. So one of the things we ended up making, Will Barratt, who has been my director of photography since then, we made a movie called “Coffee & Donuts” which we made for just $400 by borrowing the cable company’s equipment. And the pilot episode of Holliston, the first episode, is essentially that whole movie in one episode. So, that movie, when we made it, we didn’t really know what we were doing, we didn’t really expect anything to happen with it, but it ended up winning a film festival. Then I got a call from the Hollywood Town agency, they said they wanted to represent me, and all of a sudden, things started moving. So I moved out here and I thought things would kind of just start happening, but it took about three years before we were able to set the movie up as a T.V. series. So, it was still called Coffee And Donuts at the time, and we set it up at UPN, which, that was the year that network sold it and the WB became the CW so it was bad timing and everything got lost and the rights got held for like five years. In the meantime, I went and made Hatchet, and Spiral and Grace and Frozen, and the producer of Frozen was a guy named Peter Block. About a year and a half ago, he became the President of FEARnet, and he contacted me and said “I gotta figure out what my show is gonna be, but I don’t want to do what everybody thinks I’m gonna do, which is a Tales From The Crypt type thing, or an X-Files knockoff. I want to do something completely out of left field that nobody would expect, so I basically took my concept of Coffee & Donuts and made it even more real, and more about my life. The original movie was about two guys living in Holliston that were trying to become radio DJs. I played myself in it and a lot of the story was about me trying to get over the break-up of my high school girlfriend, which was a tumultuous and torturous decade of trying to get over that and so, actually, the fact that the show took so long to get made, made it so that it would get made the right way so that it actually much more true to my real life now, and the fact that it’s a sitcom about horror is amazing, because until there was a network like FEARnet, nobody would have done this. Every time we tried to get this show going, as soon as I would get to the part about two guys trying to be horror filmmakers it would be like “Well, we’ll have to change that” or the fact that there was an imaginary alien living in my closet they were like “Yeah, no, we can’t do that” or exploding heads or melting faces, that’s usually where I would lose them. So, with FEARnet, they were like “That sounds great! Let’s do that!” So, people always say that everything happens for a reason,and I mean, it’s easier to hear somebody say that when things actually work out, but I think that it is true. I’m grateful for all of the times that this idea didn’t happen because now it happened exactly the right way. And I’ve never ever had a better time doing anything in my life than doing this show.
KC: I’m so excited for you! I can’t wait to see it. So I guess you’ve acted before, so are you pretty comfortable in front of the camera?
AG: Yeah I’m very comfortable in front of the camera. I’ve done a lot of acting and when I first came out here, one of the ways I was making my living was as a stand up comic, and also doing a lot of sitcom and comedy writing for television, so as much as Hatchet is sort of my first real movie, and the first one that really became a big success, it’s a horror movie, but for anybody who’s familiar with it, they know it’s also a comedy, so this really wasn’t a big stretch. But there still are some people saying “Oh wait, Adam Green’s doing a sitcom and now he’s acting in it, what the hell’s going on?” This is actually what I started doing, and what I’ve always loved doing, I’ve just sort of been waiting for the right thing. It’s very easy for me to play myself. there’s some things about it that are hard, but it’s not like when I write my movies when I think of “okay, how do I make myself believe in this or something?” I don’t even think about that. I just stay behind the camera, but for something like this, it just totally made sense.
KC: So, on the show you get to work with many celebrities, including some of your idols. Do you ever get starstruck?
AG: No, not anymore. I think when you first start to make it in this business and you start to realize a lot of your circle of friends are celebrities, or people you looked up to when you were growing up, you get over it pretty fast and you realize that they’re just people, just like you, and that’s one of the weirder things about being on that side of it, when you meet people and they’re starstruck by you, you need to remind them it’s great that you’re a fan or whatever, but you’re no different from them, you’re just a person, and you do get over it pretty quick. I’m trying to think the last time I was actually starstruck by anybody and I think it would probably just be musicians at this point. I think if I found myself in a room with Steven Tyler or like Metallica like maybe I’d be a little bit weird or nervous about it, but you do get over it pretty fast.
KC: Well you also have “Hatchet III”coming up, like you were saying, except this time, BJ McDonnell is directing and you’re producing it. How involved are you going to be in the making of this movie?
AG: I’m still extremely involved. I wrote it, everything that happens in it is stuff that I chose to happen in it, even down to BJ directing it, he was my pick. When I made Hatchet II I was lucky that I got to have five years in-between the making of Hatchet I and the making of Hatchet II, so I was really ready to do it, and then I got to go and do a bunch of other stuff. I think one thing that people forget is, when you see the movie, one thing you have to remember is that that was years of somebody’s life making that thing, so by the time the movies come out, the last thing you wanna do is watch it ever again, or even think about it. You wanna move on and do something new because you have to put so much of yourself into it. So, having those five years was great, and I really felt like I owed it to the fans to do a sequel because that was the movie that really launched my career, and the people that supported that movie are the whole reason why I have the career that I have now. Plus, the way that I ended Hatchet I, I always knew what the sequel would be, and I really wanted to do it and even with Hatchet II I knew what Hatchet III would be, but before I made Hatchet II I had already made the decision that that would be my last time in the director’s chair. I try really hard to always do different stuff and not repeat myself. So I think aside from doing the sequel to Hatchet, I’ve been pretty successful in constantly reinventing myself and doing different things. It’s just, life is too short to keep doing the same thing. And it’s hard, because when you do something and you get fans for it, the fans like to keep you in that box, and they want you to keep doing the same thing. Or, at least they think that’s what they want from you. So this time around, I’m still the creator, I’m still in charge of the whole thing, but now I get to sit back and I get to watch somebody have their first directing experience, who is just as excited and just as hungry as I was when I made the first one. I think it’s great for the crew, too, because everybody’s feeding off of that excitement. For BJ, this is the biggest thing that’s ever happened to him, and he’s just so excited and so out for blood with it and honestly, I think if I had to do Hatchet III right now, I don’t know if I would’ve been that excited. I mean the fans deserve to have somebody who’s as excited as they are. So, now I’m excited because, like, I can’t really describe it but I get to sit back and watch this whole universe and this world keep moving along and get created and because Dark Sky Studios, that put it out, they’re so great, I so love being there. A lot of times, you’ll see the directors of the original kind of distance themselves from the sequels and just have nothing to do with it. And in this case they’ve just been so great and they’re so patient with stuff, even the fact that they’re not rushing theirs out, like as soon as the second one became a big hit obviously they wanted to do another one, but they waited until it fit with everybody’s schedule, and everybody was excited and ready to do it. A lot of times that doesn’t happen. Some of the bigger studio franchises, they’ll ask the release date a day after the other one opens. They’re like “Next Halloween we’re gonna have the next one” and they don’t even know what it’s gonna be yet, and then they have to work backwards and rush to make that delivery, and I think that’s why sometimes people can suffer. But with this one, I feel like we’re doing everything right, and if you think of them as sort of one big movie, they always sort of start, like they end and start where the other one left off and that’s the same way this one’s gonna be. This is sort of like the big action climax to the whole thing.
KC: Cool, well I know you had problems releasing Hatchet and Hatchet II in theaters because of the graphic nature of the films. How are you planning to avoid confrontation with the MPAA when you release Hatchet III?
AG: Well, I’m hoping and, I don’t really get too much of a say in how that stuff happen,s that’s really up to the distributer. I’m beyond grateful that Dark Sky did what they did with Hatchet II in that they found a way to put the movie out without castrating the entire thing, but if I could have my way with this one, I would rather just do like New York and LA, or just select theaters, do midnight screenings, one weekend only, and give people a chance to see it in the theater, but then get it to On Demand and DVD as quickly as possible so that everybody can have it. I don’t know why and ’till the day I die it’s gonna be a mystery to me, why the MPAA has targeted this franchise and why they’re so hard on it, because out of all the stuff going on out there, this is probably the most harmless because it’s so obviously for fun. It’s so fantastical and it’s so over the top and ridiculous, there’s nothing in these movies that’s mean-spirited or that’s realistic, yet we just went through like, a whole decade of torture porn, where it’s all about this depraved and disturbing stuff, like tying somebody down and torturing them and them screaming and crying, and women being realistically raped on camera, and then they’re fine with that, that’s totally cool, but if you have a undead swamp monster with a gas-powered belt sander chasing a bunch of comedians through the woods, then all of a sudden they’re like “Whoa, whoa whoa”. It really doesn’t make sense and I’ve already been there, done that, and I’m so over it, but I feel like Hatchet came out at a time when they needed a scapegoat and they were under so much pressure because of the torture porn, because of the, just the mean nature of where the genre was heading, and then along came this independent movie that had no money behind it, that had no major studio behind it, now all of a sudden, it was successful enough to actually make it to theaters and then they just came down on it so hard. So, the first time around, I actually had an appeal trial, and I went to trial, because I didn’t agree with their rating. Now I know better. Like, that’s the worst thing you can do because you can’t win. The whole thing is so stacked against you, and they make sure that you do not win those appeals. But it is good to see more people starting to stand up, like Harvey Weinstein, now twice in the past two years, with Blue Valentine and Bully, he’s gone up against them, Kevin Smith has gone up against them, and I don’t think it’s something that we’re gonna change over night, and the weird thing is I’m the one who really got the shittiest end of the stick, I mean, my movie got yanked from theaters it’s first weekend, that’s never happened in the history of cinema. It’s like an unspeakable crime that that even happened, but I actually, I’m all for the MPAA to be honest. There should be a way for parents to know exactly what they’re getting into, but at the same time, just like there’s a legal system if you get pulled over by a cop and you go before a judge, there’s a book, and it’s iron clad, and they can point out this is the ruling and this is why. That’s what this needs to be. It can’t be so arbitrary and anonymous, there’s no accountability. You can’t even get the names or speak to the people that are making these decisions, they hide, and there’s something that’s just so weird about the whole situation, and I think with filmmakers one of the problems with them is just the tone. Like, if you don’t like this type of stuff, then you’re never gonna get why it’s entertaining or why it’s funny, all you see is people getting killed, and it’s horrifying to you. If I was a parent, I would much rather my kid see stuff like Hatchet, which is silly, then watch animal violence, or women being raped, or kids shooting guns at each other, even the stuff that you see on T.V. It’s not like I wanted Hatchet to get a PG-13, I think R is a fair rating, it’s restricted and you can’t get in without a parent. I don’t know why we get NC-17 which is the equivalent of pornography, it just doesn’t really make sense.
KC: Yeah, I totally agree.
AG: And that’s sort of the problem, everybody agrees, and there’s nobody in the world that will ever say like “No, the MPAA is perfect and everything they do is right”, but yet, nothing is changing. And even that weekend two Octobers ago when Hatchet II got pulled, the first thing that happened was my lawyers and all my reps calling me, being like “You need to just shut up, don’t say anything, don’t speak out, don’t fight anymore, just take it” and it was like “really”? All of these other directors, everybody from huge studio directors to other horror directors were all calling me, e-mailing me, and being outraged like “I can’t believe this is happening right now, this is nuts” and I’d be like “well why don’t you say something?” And they’d be like “Well dude I got a movie coming out in like six months I’m not saying anything” and it’s too bad that everybody is so afraid to do anything. Maybe I should be more afraid. I mean, I’m sure by me finding a way around them and getting the movie put in theaters, that’s how the movie wound up getting pulled. Because what if that had worked? What if we were in a decade where genre fans actually liked original stuff and not just remakes? What if they had all actually made the time and gone out and went or just gotten on fandango and bought a $6.00 matinee ticket to some idea of an unrated horror movie and it had worked, then you would’ve seen so many people doing that. So, I think they had no choice but to just make sure that the thing just went away. And we’ll never know exactly how it went down or who made what calls or what, but the movie made history twice in forty-eight hours. It was the first horror movie to be in mainstream cinemas unrated in like thirty years, and then forty-eight hours later, it was the first movie to ever get pulled from theaters its first weekend.
KC: Yeah, and I’m sorry about that, I thought Hatchet II was brilliant, and that was ridiculous, what they did.
AG: Well, on the bright side, I think, it was hard to see it at the time, because everyone kept calling me saying “You do realize the movie’s gonna be even bigger now than it would’ve been because of this, like so many people know about it, it’s on the front page of CNN, it’s everywhere” and at the time it was like “Hey I don’t care” and “So what?” but it did, I mean, it made the movie hugely more popular so in a way, that was sort of a redemption because they tried to get rid of it and you couldn’t even buy it on opening day, it sold out of every store in an hour or two. Seven days after it came out on DVD there was a green light for another one. So in the end, we won, and it’s gonna keep going, and it’s on cable now, but from what I hear, it’s been pretty censored on cable, but most people have seen the real version on DVD or Blu-ray and here we are making part three.
KC: Yeah it’s kind of funny they wound up making it more famous.
AG: Yeah, I guess. It’s still hard to be excited about it, but I’m sure in twenty years I’ll look back and I’ll be like “Well maybe you know, maybe now, that was cool that all that happened” but not yet. It’s still too soon to really look at it that way.
KC: Yeah, definitely. Well, you have another project coming out called Killer Pizza, what’s that about?
AG: Killer Pizza is a kind of teenage adventure monster movie. It’s based on a children’s book called Killer Pizza by Greg Taylor. The book was about a kid who gets a job at a pizza place called “Killer Pizza” and then learns that it’s actually a covert monster hunting organization that he gets recruited into, and the book is really written for eight year-olds for the most part so it’s very basic, but when 1492, which is Chris Columbus’s company, when they sent me the book, they were like “We like the idea of this, do you have an idea on how you would do this as a big summer blockbuster movie?” and so I’ve been able to take that general idea and completely make up my own story, my own mythology for the monsters. Like in the book, there was really only one monster, but in mine there’s like hundreds of them. I didn’t really know what was gonna happen from there, but MGM studios bought the project a few months ago, and so now I’m in the process of addressing all of their notes and requirements, and rewriting, and rewriting, and rewriting. So Killer Pizza is different from the other stuff I’ve done because it’s a studio movie so it’s gonna take a long time before there’s really anything that I can say about it, whereas with independent movies, especially with my own company’s movies, usually they move really really fast and as soon as we announce it the movie is usually going into production right away, so with Killer Pizza, I don’t know exactly what’s gonna happen but so far the process has been amazing. It’s been a huge joy. Sometimes, when you start getting studio notes and all these people get involved, you start to not even recognize it anymore and it just sort of gets taken away from you and pulled in all these different directions but I think the fact that Chris is such a supporter of the project and because he’s the producer on it, he doesn’t have to deal with anything like that and everything that I’ve been getting from MGM has been terrific. So I’ve got high hopes for that one, and hopefully, by the end of the year, there’s gonna be some concrete news about a plan, and a date.
KC: Oh, cool, it sounds like you’re a really busy guy.
AG: Yeah, I’m trying to work on that actually. Since last April, between the T.V. Show and Killer Pizza and Hatchet III and then Chillerama which just came out a couple of months ago, and then this documentary project I’m working on called Digging Up the Marrow it’s a lot. The T.V. show alone was so much, because normally, for a sitcom, you’d have a staff of writers and all these other people that you lean on, but with this one, I wrote every episode myself. I directed every episode, I starred in every episode, so it was a really, really hard schedule. If we do another season of Holliston, which is looking very likely based on how well the show has been perceived so far, and how well it’s been testing, I will likely step down as the director for future seasons. But the good thing about T.V. is if you’re the show runner and creator, you’re still the director, for the most part, and you still have the final say over everything, so I’m not at all worried about that. In fact, I’m actually looking forward to it. It’s going to be really nice when it gets to post production to just come in once a week and watch the cut and give notes and not have to be the one who is sitting there for eight hours a day, trying to make everything work the right way.
KC: Wow, when do you sleep?
AG: I don’t. I don’t sleep at all and it’s really starting to add up. For a while, I started to feel like I was invincible, and people started to just the other day I worked two thirty-six hour workdays back to back with two hours sleep, and for the longest time I don’t know how I did it. It was just a lot of diet coke and candy bars for the most part, which is also hard to do and still stay in shape for the show, because I had to drop so much weight and get in such good physical shape to be on camera to do the show, so for like six months leading up to it, it was all these fitness boot camps and dieting and I lost like ten pounds. I didn’t really have much weight to lose, but when you’re gonna be on camera, you have to be so leaned out. There’s a couple of different points in the third season when I had to be naked on camera too so if there’s ever been a better motivation to get to the gym and eat well, knowing you’re going to be on a sitcom and be seen by millions of people naked that’s usually a pretty good motivator. (Laughs) So I lost like, twenty-two pounds before we started shooting and I was never really a big guy to begin with, so it was hard to do. But the lack of sweets and how badly I’ve been treating my body, I don’t know how much longer I can go. I’m very close till the show comes out next week so I still don’t really get a chance to take a vacation and rest, but I do have to start working on that because I’m gonna burn out and either have a nervous breakdown or collapse or something.
KC: Yeah, well, I saw those posters with the guitars and everything and you look great so good job.
AG: Thank you (laughs)
“Holliston” premieres on FEARnet on April 3rd, 2012.
Photos courtesy of http://www.fearnet.com