Thursday, September 30, 2010


A Horrible Way to Die had its U.S. premiere at Fantastic Fest on Sunday, September 26, 2010 at 6:30 pm at the Alamo Drafthouse Lamar in Austin, TX, which meant our audience could order and consume alcoholic beverages during the film. I don’t know if that helped, but both of our Fantastic Fest screenings sold out and included celebrity audience members such as Harry Knowles, Jeffrey Combs, Stuart Gordon and Elijah Wood, who was really cool about us all staring at him and loudly debating the relative merits of The Good Son before the screening started.

For those of you who’ve never been to Fantastic Fest, you need to go as soon as possible. It basically appears to be a festival that was designed specifically for me. They show insane movies, have festival ads deliberately conceived to be in the worst possible taste, stage target shooting events and boxing matches between filmmakers, and drink quantities of alcohol at a single festival party that exceed the amount consumed at most L.A. industry events in an entire year. They have premiered films ranging from There Will Be Blood to A Serbian Film, and even their most humble festival volunteers know more about cinema than tenured film theory professors. This was the first year I attended Fantastic Fest, but it will not be the last.

So, as has been already reported by various media outlets, A Horrible Way to Die actually won some awards at Fantastic Fest, to our vast delight and considerably more vast astonishment. In the horror category (we’re debatably a horror film, but we’ll take it), Amy Seimetz (in absentia) won best actress, which frankly seems about right, since I haven’t seen better acting in a film this year. AJ Bowen, who was at the festival, then won best actor, causing my heart to swell with joy like in the Grinch cartoon, only with slightly more pain and shoulder numbness. Then I won best screenplay. The less said about that decision, the better.

Appropriately enough, the Fantastic Fest trophy comes in the form of a beer stein that you receive onstage filled with beer (Dos Equis lager, if you’re curious). You then have 30 second to chug the beer in front of the audience or Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League will punch you in the solar plexus. I am not making this up, and it says absolutely everything you need to know about why Fantastic Fest is the best film festival in America.

I haven’t been able to find any photos online of us at the awards show. Oddly, present journalists seem to have been more concerned with photographing Messrs. League and Wood at the event. However, if you go to this link here, you can watch an indifferently shot video of the entire ceremony. At around 39:00, the apparently intoxicated announcer for our segment begins reading off the awards for our section. He somehow manages to pronounce all three of our names wrong, but he makes up for it by chugging a beer along with us on behalf of the absent Amy, which starts around 41:00. As you can see, AJ, who can drink a terrifying amount of whisky while remaining eerily lucid, actually loses the chugging contest, though a close-up photo would reveal that I am both weeping and trying not to vomit, having not chugged a stein of beer since high school. Fortunately, no such photos exist.

We then staggered back to our seats, grinning like fools.

Below are some photos of the Fantastic Fest award trophy taken by AJ. After the ceremony, we immediately went to the lobby bar, then did an interview for IFC on the red carpet while drinking more beer from our trophies. This interview has yet to surface, which should come as no surprise to anyone.

In all seriousness, we are all immensely thrilled and honored to have even played at Fantastic Fest, to say nothing of having received awards. It was an unexpectedly amazing experience that I will never forget.

Drinking excessive amounts of beer always makes me feel like a winner, but drinking excessive amounts of beer from my Fantastic Fest award trophy will make this feeling even more intense. Either that or it will somehow reverse it, in which case I can use the stein as a storage vessel for my tears of infinite regret and sadness. Either way, you can be certain it will receive some use in my household.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The AHWTD premiere, our first distribution deal, and upcoming screenings.

At 8 pm on Tuesday, September 14, A Horrible Way to Die had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. In attendance (besides myself) were Adam, Travis, Kim, Zak, our stars AJ Bowen, Amy Seimetz, Joe Swanberg, Brandon Carroll and Lane Hughes, supporting actor Michael Wilson, our co-DP Chris Hilleke, and associate producer Brad Miska.

We screened in Theater 2 at the AMC Yonge & Dundas 24, an enormous multiplex that had been taken over for festival screenings. The large theater was almost full, with only a few seats available in the front rows. That was surprising enough, but even more surprisingly, the audience seemed to love our film, applauding through most of the end credits. A few filmmakers I admire were randomly in attendance as well, such as Jim Mickle, Larry Fessenden and Bobcat Goldthwait. It was really cool.

Even better than any of that, though, was seeing how A Horrible Way to Die looked and sounded on a massive screen and a Dolby sound system. Adam and I had both been a little nervous about this, as our HDCAM tape transfers for the festival had to be put together quite hastily, but as soon as the movie began, we couldn’t believe how amazing the images and sound mix came out. The festival provided us with a tech rep for our screening, Keith, who consulted with Adam and me beforehand, and we remain grateful to him for his assistance. It was an unbelievable pleasure to see the movie in such a perfect theatrical environment.

Afterwards, we all got up onstage with beloved celebrity TIFF programmer Colin Geddes for a fun and occasionally informative Q&A session. Then we all went and got really drunk at a nearby bar, and then I staggered with Brad, Zak and Colin’s fiancĂ©e Kat to go see the midnight premiere of Insidious while everyone else journeyed by cab to some SXSW party, because apparently only Brad, Zak, Kat and I know how to keep it real at a film festival. Of course, I was so drunk that I literally remember almost nothing about that movie, but keeping it real isn’t about results, it’s about the effort.

Of course none of us took any photos of this event because Taylor Glascock wasn’t there and we were all frankly pretty overwhelmed at the time. And drunk. But photos were taken of us by sober professionals, as you can see.

Less than 48 hours later, after some insanely exciting hours, we signed a distribution deal for both a theatrical and home video release of A Horrible Way to Die in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia with Anchor Bay Entertainment. We chose Anchor Bay over other distributors not only because they have an excellent reputation in the filmmaking community, but because they seem to really get our film and know how to promote it. Anchor Bay started out mostly as a DVD label focusing on genre fare, but in recent years they’ve successfully expanded as a theatrical distributor and production studio. Just this year, they’ve released the arthouse hits Solitary Man and City Island, as well as smaller genre films such as Frozen and The Disappearance of Alice Creed, and have many more films on their 2011 slate, including another acclaimed TIFF selection, Beautiful Boy, and the big budget video game adaptation Tekken. At the risk of jinxing ourselves, we have every confidence that our movie will be a huge sleeper hit for them next year. We’re pretty damn excited to be part of the Anchor Bay library and hope that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Details of our upcoming theatrical release through Anchor Bay Films, etc., will of course be posted here and elsewhere. In the meantime, though, our U.S. premiere at Fantastic Fest will be in Austin, TX this upcoming Sunday, September 26, at 6:30 pm at the Alamo Drafthouse Lamar. We screen again at the same location on Tuesday, September 28, at 5:45 pm. So if you live in Austin or are attending Fantastic Fest, please come out and see us. I’ll be there, in addition to Adam, AJ, Travis and Zak. If our Toronto audiences are any indication, it should be a pretty great time.