Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. I’ve talked with Adam Green and Joe Lynch about their various projects through the years and it’s always great to catch up with them. This time around their FearNet series HOLLISTON was the topic of discussion. The first series is collected on DVD and BluRay and available this week. Here’s what Adam and Joe had to say about it…
ADAM GREEN (AG): Hey, Mark!
JOE LYNCH (JL): How are you?
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): I'm well thanks. How are you doing, guys?
BUG: Adam, I think I saw you at the San Diego Comic Con outside of a restaurant at some point during the Con.
AG: Yeah, we’ve been good, really busy. I think in the times since I’ve seen you…maybe I just finished production on HATCHET 3 and then we were just about to start shooting season two of HOLLISTON, so it’s really been like not a day off. I think the season finale on May 10th, I was on my way to New Orleans for HATCHET 3. It’s been nonstop, but it’s all been just so fucking fun, while shooting HATCHET 3 and writing for HOLLISTON as well. How have you been?
BUG: I’ve been doing really well. I’m getting over a cold, so I apologize if I cough every now and then, but speaking of HOLLISTON, tell the readers a little about the show. How do you describe it to people who don’t know what you’re talking about?
AG: Well, HOLLISTON is a traditional multi-camera sitcom, but the short and simple is it’s a sitcom for us. I wouldn’t normally watch too many sitcoms. I think my wife and I really only love like ALL IN THE FAMILY and SEINFELD. Normally I watch shows like FAMILY GUY, but normally sitcoms…forget the format of them with the studio audience and laugh track and the tropes that you’re used to, but they are sort of geared towards a normal family or older crowd and I’ve always wanted to see one that was more for me. I wanted to see one just making horror references and random acts of cartoonish violence, but a show about a time period of having all of these aspirations envisioned and not having things working out.
When I got out of college I’m sitting there watching all of my friends get married and have babies and getting jobs and buying houses and I’m just like struggling through this ridiculous business with trying to get a script in front of people and all of this stuff. I wanted to make a show about that and you don’t need to want to be a filmmaker to relate to it or even be a horror fan to relate to it and that’s been one of the joys in watching the response to the series, that there’s a good portion of the audience that doesn’t even know what we are talking about when we mention Forrest Finker from SHOCKER or SCANNERS, but it’s still funny to them regardless. They just like the characters and the sense of humor and so it’s a show that could be on a major network if the subject matter was different and if we weren’t randomly stabbing each other in the faces. If it’s somebody who normally wouldn’t watch a sitcom, this is the one for you. But we all have a sense of what a traditional sitcom is, and like what I’m saying about relating to these main characters, not everyone needs to be…to enjoy BIG BANG THEORY. I don’t watch that show very often, but when I do it’s like I get all of the references for the most part, but most people don’t. I mean most Americans don’t’ know what Dungeons and Dragons really is, but if the characters in those scenes are funny, it works.
We are watching the landscape of what shows are like right now, so I think there’s an audience out there that wants to hear this stuff in a show. Again, we’re not doing a parody of it where it’s clearly making fun of sitcoms in a way or commenting on it. We have those moments as well where we break the fourth wall or are talking to the audience that no normal sitcom would do unless you have a mental breakdown during the shoot. Just by having that idea of making a sitcom in a way that shows a lot of traditional form, but then we get to play with it with these really exciting themes. Knowing what works and what doesn’t in a sitcom, but then being able to plug in these characters that we are who we want out there, it’s a gratifying thing when you hear “Oh my god, that’s me!” or “I’ve been there too.” That’s the thing that we wanted to hear: people are excited about what happens in the relationships. That to me means we stuck by our guns and said “We want to make this show the way we want to” and have FearNet really embrace that and they were like “Yeah, we love that idea too.”
JL: The biggest joy, and this has been different from anything else that I’ve done, is the fan mail and the unique responses we get, because when you make a movie, you get this influx of fan mail when it first comes out and then it steadily continues over time, but it’s usually like “I love the movie because of X, Y, and Z.” With HOLLISTON we receive huge, almost like diaries, like five or ten page letters from people telling their story about why this speaks to them. The best thing is when people close their letters by saying “Thank you for making this.” That’s something very, very special and the attachments that people have with the characters and the letters aren’t just about “It was really cool when you made the GREMLINS reference.” It’s a reference, so it’s like “So what?” It’s how into the character relationships they are and how opinionated they are. Sometimes you will get letters from people that because the characters on the show use their real names and the lines of reality are burred, I think a lot of people know that the show is very autobiographical and based on my life, they don’t know what the line is. They will write letters like “I think you need to move on from Corri” or writing to Corri like “You need to get your act together.” So it’s really interesting to see such a different response like that.
BUG: Very cool. And you guys have known each other for quite a long time, is that right?
JL: Since 2006. The bromance happened very quickly.
BUG: Okay. (laughs) How autobiographical is this? Is it pretty accurate in the way you guys interacted in those early days while struggling to get those first films out there?
JL: When Adam and I first met each other, this was after Adam had done HATCHET and I had done WRONG TURN 2, so we had already been past that point where you actually…there’s that threshold of “I’ve made a feature.” There’s that weird rite of passage that every filmmaker hopefully gets to experience and so I think everything in the show, in terms of the autobiographical nature of it, is very much in Adam’s world that he had been dealing with for years and years up to the point where he had his first feature made. Adam and his friend Steve worked at a station together and that was their autobiographical…the stuff with Adam and I was something he knew that I went through when I was a kid, but it was also that he knew we had all been through it separately and then he integrated that into our backstories and who our characters are and stuff. On the show I’m not that cheap, but I have been known to borrow a couple of dollars…
AG: But everything around the dialog and the way we interact on the show is very much real, but all the characters, except for Dee, or Lance Rockett, all of the characters are based on the people they were written for. Dee is playing a character that is just something that he likes to make fun of, because if you really knew Twisted Sister, they were not one of those hairbands. They were nothing like that, so he’s getting to make fun of for all of the stuff that he thought was hilarious and a joke about the time period and everything he does on the show are things he would not have done with Twisted Sister. He’s really the only one who is playing a completely fictitious character, but Corri, myself Joe, and even Adam all of the characters are based on us, that’s stuff I wrote for me and for these people.
BUG: And that’s the part that makes me laugh the most, just the Oderus Urungus parts. How did you get him to agree to take part in this series with you?
AG: He was just as easy as everybody else. I mean he was the only one with apprehension, because “look, I just spent twenty years redefining myself and fighting this image of what people thought that I was and now I’m going to come here and act like this?” He was the only one who I think was a little wary at first until he read it and saw what it was and thought it was very funny. He’s been rocking that character for thirty years now with Gwar and the first thing he said was “You want Oderus to be on a sitcom as a main character?” We were like “Yeah.” He’s like “I have been waiting my whole life for something like this. You could have told me this thirty years ago that this could happen, I never would have believed you.” He was so down to do it. He’s just had just a fun time doing it and it’s been really cool…the audience of this show, a lot of them might not necessarily already know who Gwar is or be fans of Gwar until they go and look him up. They are just blown away and so that’s been really fun. It’s the same thing with Corri English, the lead singer of Brokedown Cadillac, a popular country music band and so horror fans sort of came to this show because it has a horror angle and are now becoming fans of her music. Nobody expected that to happen either. So the crossover and the merging of all of these worlds has been really fun to watch happen. I even thought that the Gwar fans wouldn’t like it, because Gwar is very much about the shock value of accepting things, but they have been some of the most outspoken audience that they have. They really, really embraced it quickly, which is really great to see happen.
BUG: Cool. Well where do you see this series going? Do you see it following you into making your first feature film and beyond that?
AG: Right now we have it planned out for a good five, maybe six seasons in terms of where the story is going to go and where the characters are going to go and one of the interesting things about this show is that each episode does stand alone with an individual story that has a beginning, middle, and end, like a traditional sitcom would, but there is an overlying arc where if you do watch all of the episodes and stick with it, there are definite stories that are progressing between the relationship and the career struggles. One of the most popular questions is “If the show keeps going, how long are you going to dedicate to the struggle aspect? At some point are you guys actually going to get a movie made and have some sort of success?” To me, it’s all a struggle, so whatever success you have, whatever the next thing is, it’s still a struggle. I think the characters will always be struggling. If they just went and made a movie and everything just worked out, that’s not realistic, and who wants to watch that? So yeah, at some point we will get a movie made, because there’s a ton of comedy that comes along with that and I definitely have plans to play with that, but I don’t want to hold on too much for season two, but we do trying to get funding for SHIT BAG and the funding doesn’t come through, so there’s a few ideas and one of which is to abandon SHIT BAG for a while and try to make a found footage movie and cash in on that trend, because we feel like anybody can do it and you don’t need money, so “let’s do that.”
JL: “We have a video camera and two girls, what more could we need?”
AG: It was kind of fun to make fun of that trend. I don’t want to spoil anything, but that doesn’t go well.
BUG: Very cool. Well when does the next season start?
AG: We have an hour long Christmas special that will air in December and then be available on iTunes the very next morning for anybody who still doesn’t get FearNet in their cable lineup. The Christmas special is really cool, because it bridges season one and season two and a lot of it is a flashback episode. There’s a lot of stories told and we cut back in time to how characters met and things like that, which are really fun. There’s also some things that take place in it that severely alter the course of the characters’ relationships with each other. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it really sets up where season two is going to go. So it’s kind of like the bridge between the two seasons and season two will start airing in the spring. We don’t know the exact date yet, since FearNet hasn’t told us. I think they are still figuring that out, but my guess would be May or maybe June at the latest. The last season we had six episodes and this season we have ten episodes, plus we have the hour long Christmas special, which is kind of like two episodes. So they upped our order from six to twelve, which was just amazing. We had no idea what was going to happen with it. We just cared about it so much and we believe in it so much and when the second season got picked up the morning after the second episode aired, it was completely by surprise to all of us and very unexpected. That’s only happened a couple of times with a new show on a network, so we were thrilled about that and it sounds cliché, but we have to hand it to the fans, especially the genre fans. I think they all realize just how much their voices matter and they are not afraid to let their opinions and voices be heard and people really rallied behind this very quickly and FearNet listened. So here we are, just having wrapped season two. It’s a dream come true. It’s been a whirlwind since it’s all happening so fast, but I’ve been wanting to do this for a long, long time.
BUG: I know we are running out of time and I had two really quick last questions. One: Joe, what’s the status of KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM?
JL: (laughs) I knew that was coming. Honestly, I don’t know right now. Who knows, KNIGHTS could be coming out the same time as HOLLISTON season two, we’ll see. It’s not in my hands at all. It’s totally in the financiers and company’s hands, so here’s hoping. If we can make it happen before the Mayans’ apocalypse, that’d be great.
BUG: Nice, well I hope so. And Adam, HATCHET 3, when do you think that’s going to be coming out?
AG: Originally Dark Sky was mentioning February for the release of it, because we are almost done with postproduction. We have maybe another month or month and a half before it’s completely done. The interesting thing that independent distributors are starting to do now to combat all of the piracy is coordinate worldwide with the other distributors to all try to go on the same date, so that somebody doesn’t go six months before another country goes and then everybody in that country just steals the movie. So I don’t know how that’s going to factor in. The movie already does have worldwide distribution, so they are coordinating with all of that. That could end up making the movie come out sooner or a little later, but definitely in 2013, hopefully closer to the beginning it should come out everywhere. We’ll be unrated.
BUG: Awesome! Well guys, thank you so much. I really do enjoy the show and best of luck to you guys. Have a good day.
JL: You too.
AG: Thanks, Mark.
BUG: HOLLISTON SEASON ONE is available now on DVD & BluRay!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over ten years. He has written comics such as MUSCLES & FIGHTS, MUSCLES & FRIGHTS, VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010 & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND & has co-written their first ever comic book LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in late 2012 as an 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark has just announced his new comic book miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment to be released March-August 2012. Also look for Mark's exciting arc on GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-80 which begins in August 2012.
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