Monday, September 27, 2010

15 Years of F&C Productions

Way back in the fall of 1995, while sitting behind the counter at Hero Hero, a comic shop I co-owned with some high school buddies, I began scribbling notes and drawing sketches for an X-Files-ish b-horror movie. I had some cool special effects shots in mind and started linking them together with a storyline of government conspiracies, men in black and things from another dimension. I remember hashing through the project with Tom Shaffer at that counter and a few weeks later, I grabbed my giant VHS camcorder, threw Tom into a lab coat and began making the short feature DIMENSION OF BLOOD.

Thus was the birth of F&C Productions and my plunge into the world of shot-on-video movies.

I had been self-publishing a comic book and just started publishing a zine called Dr. Squid which featured b-movie reviews among other things. I had subscribed to Draculina Magazine, which advertised many no-budget, homemade horror tapes in the back, so I was aware of a growing subculture of selling and trading these VHS movies. I had made some sci-fi and horror shorts with friends John Bowker and Rob Merickel years earlier, and this looked like fun.

My dad helped me edit DIMENSION OF BLOOD on a 3/4-inch U-Matic editing system, a dinosaur in the editing world already at that time, but ya gotta work with what you've got. I had some VHS copies made and we had a little screening and it was fun.

This was the early days of the internet for me, but soon I had a website up and was networking with other homemade moviemakers around the globe. There were 'microcinema' bulletin boards and amateur movie review sites were popping up all over the place.

My old friend John Bowker came over for a visit and once he saw DIMENSION OF BLOOD, he said he had to be involved in my next production.

I soon made another short feature called MONSTER IN THE GARAGE, a horror comedy starring John and Rob. Again, I made some paper mache monsters, some props, mixed up some fake blood, cast a bunch of friends, and made a movie. I put the two movies on a double feature tape and ended up selling some through Draculina Magazine.

Next up I became the videographer for John's fantasy feature, DREAMWALKERS for his own "Pipedreams Entertainment." It was a herculean project, shot on long weekends for a year or so. I played a role, made some props, etc. We used three Hi-8 cameras over the course of the shoot and most everyone we knew ended up in a role. John and I edited that together on the 3/4" system, which by this time my dad had given me.

Things accelerated over the next several years, with John and I both writing and directing projects, and me shooting them. John ended up getting his own editing set-up and through the internet, we got involved in shooting not just our own features, but anthology segments for other microcinema folks.

My stuff was mostly horror/sci-fi with a comedic bent: TRAILER PARK DOUBLE-WIDE TRILOGY OF TERROR, VAMPIRISA'S VELVET VAULT OF HORROR, WE NEED EARTH WOMEN, CRIMSON HEATHER and LUST OF THE VAMPIRE HOOKERS. During the same time, John got some financing and flew in an actress from L.A., for a straight horror feature, THE EVILMAKER. Others that followed included ABOMINATION: EVILMAKER 2, THE SEEKERS and HOUSEBOUND, all straight horror. We were both involved in anthologies like the ALIEN CONSPIRACY series, WEREWOLF TALES and TWISTED ILLUSIONS 2.

John's THE EVILMAKER was picked up by a regional distributor, who unfortunately went bankrupt. ABOMINATION: EVILMAKER 2 was picked up by Brain Damage Films and showed up in Hollywood Video stores across the country! Both HOUSEBOUND and THE SEEKERS were picked up and put out on DVD as well.

I tried my hand at something different in the early 2000s, making a sexy crime thriller called UNDERBELLY. Then John made the move to Hollywood. In the spring of 2003, I hired Ron Ford to direct a segment for TWISTED FATES, a horror anthology I'd written. Later in 2003, Mike Hegg and I were contracted to co-write a crazy comedy called BLOODSUCKING REDNECK VAMPIRES. We both produced, I directed, Mike edited and we again cast all sorts of friends and contacts. It was a huge cast, a huge project, shot mainly in a remote location 3 hours from me on long weekends in the last summer and fall. The next summer, we had a big premiere and a weeklong run at a Portland, Oregon theater/bar. It came out on DVD from a New-York-based distributor in September of 2004 and by summer of 2007 it was sold out. It was available on Netflix and it's high gross-out factor earned it both praise and thrashings across the internet.

In 2005, I started shooting a mystery thriller I'd written called DEADLY PREMONITIONS with an actor from Alabama named Tom Stedham who flew out to be star in this new feature. Shooting for it continued off and on over the next several years. I was also shooting more for TWISTED FATES, including one segment directed by Robert J. Olin, and contracting out to other filmmakers to shoot from my scripts for a monster-themed anthology called TRULY DREADFUL TALES. I even sold a horror script I'd written to another producer.

John moved back to Oregon in 2007 and we got right into a new project, a sci-fi zombie flick called PLATOON OF THE DEAD. Tom Stedham came out again and we also brought actress Ariauna Albright up from L.A. I was my first time shooting in HD and it was a huge project. At the end of 2007 Tempe Video put out a double feature DVD set of The EVILMAKER & ABOMINATION: EVILMAKER 2.

Both John and I began screening and premiering our movies at a theater/pub in Salem, Oregon called Northern Lights. Not only have the events been fun, but we've sold the place out, Troma's Lloyd Kaufman stopped by, and we even cast for a project from the audience!

In early 2009, I shot and played a role in EVIL RISING, another John-written & directed horror flick. Tempe Video released PLATOON OF THE DEAD in June of that year, and insanely enough, John and embarked on yet another horror feature later that summer. I shot & directed one of the most ambitious projects I've done yet, BLOOD CREEK WOODSMAN, written by John.

In the spring of 2010, I wrote & directed a short for Steve Sessions' tattoo-themed horror anthology DEAD INK, and that summer BLOODSUCKING REDNECK VAMPIRES was re-released on DVD with a new title from the distributor: INBRED REDNECK VAMPIRES.

So here were are in late 2010, a decade and a half after the birth of F&C Productions. It's funny - the "F" and "C" originally stood for "Fast" and "Cheap." While every once in a while it seems like I'm able to do things fast or cheap, the fact is that the majority of the time projects take forever and there are always expenses you don't count on! As always, I've got more projects on my plate than I have time for, but I just keep on keepin' on.

These movies wouldn't be anything without the great friends and contacts I've made over the years. Some of the best non-actor actors I've met, amazing craftsmen in props & effects, people with connections I would have never thought of, folks who let us shoot in their homes and get things bloody, technical wizards and so many others are all part of the puzzle that makes these wild flicks come to life.

Finally I have to thank my family for supporting me in this crazy addiction for the last 15 years.

Here's to another 15 years? Who knows? You never know what the future might hold. But I know I have projects to get back to working on...


Unknown said...

Wow, I had no idea Doc. Congratulations!!!!

Tom Stedham said...

You rock, Joe.

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