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McCrae, Scooter on The Alien Agenda PDF Print E-mail
Written by By Kevin Lindenmuth   
Apr 08, 2004 at 02:00 AM
Q: Lately you\'ve been getting more work as a writer and an actor than as a director. How did this all come about?
A: I think I\'m getting more work as an actor and a writer lately because people have seen what happens when I direct. I\'m getting a lot more work as a writer now than anything else because that is what I want to be doing; the whole reason I made SHATTER DEAD was to show that the kind of script I was writing could be done as a film project with a reasonably low budget. The fact that my video \'first-draft\' turned out to be releasable as a project that could stand on its own was purely a happy accident. I mean, I enjoyed directing SHATTER DEAD because there was no other way it was going to get made, so I decided to make the best out of it and had a good time. Since it was all put together with my meager funds, I wasn\'t about to just turn it over to someone else to direct; I figured it\'s my money, dammit! I should be the one who fucks everything up!
I\'ve directed other stuff that I\'ve written before so I was certainly used to the challenges that any day on the set presents to someone with a vision, stable or otherwise. But I prefer to deal with the problems on the page or on the editing bench, not on the set with a dozen people standing around drilling bullseyes into the back of your head while wondering why lunch is going to be an hour late when they\'ve been working so damn hard without getting paid.
Unfortunately, as I move through life, I find very few people who share my vision as to what a horror film is, so I\'m faced with the fact that I\'m probably going to have to keep on directing my own material for a little while. Also, fewer people want to toss money at anything as eccentric as what I\'d like to make, so I\'m hoping to keep on writing scripts for other people so I can raise enough money to make my next small project.
Also, I guess one of the other reasons I won\'t be approached for directing jobs is that I don\'t really have any interest in doing that kind of thing on something that isn\'t a script that I\'ve written. A screenplay isn\'t the final blueprint to me; I like to keep the creative writing process going through the entire shoot, so things are changing all the time (within reason, of course. The budget and schedule rule over all changes) and I like seeing what the actors do with the material. So much can change in your mind in the course of just a few hours, depending on thespian chemistry and disastrous weather changes or losing a location just as you get there, etc. Sometimes you just have to take a piss on the written material and let the light into the lens; I couldn\'t see doing something that bold and occasionally disrespectful to someone else\'s material. But if the right project came along and allowed for a certain degree of that to occur, or if the writer wanted to be on set to assist the changes (only to a point, of course), then I could see \"just\" directing a project.
I\'m a pretty patient guy, but I\'m not going to keep banging my head against the wall trying to get my next project together if it looks like there\'s just no audience out there for what I\'m trying to present. I\'d rather get the Hell out of this idiot business entirely if it looks like an endless line of ass-kissing and promises dangling just out of reach like a golden carrot. Life is there to be enjoyed by people with some sense of purpose; you don\'t want to waste too much time keeping the liars and thieves who try to pass themselves off as \'producers\' well fed wit your hopeless hopes. At least I don\'t have the time for that kind of bullshit.
The acting angle is especially amusing to me because it\'s the piece of the pie that I could have least predicted. I guess my ability to memorize dialogue reasonably quickly, show up on time to the shoot and not knock over all the furniture when I move from one side of the room to the other has made me quite attractive to some low budget projects that can\'t afford \"real\" actors. I have no complaints about it; it\'s a great way to meet new and interesting people and someone else pays for my dinner, which is about as good as it gets in my dirt-cheap book.
Q: What\'s your view of low-budget, independent filmmaking and how was it working on these different projects?
A: I love the low-budget filmmaking route because it allows people like me who refuse to give up their daytime job to be a part of the creative community without worrying about starving to death because I need to take this job (even though the script sucks) or work with these people (who are obviously a bunch of assholes) . I get to choose the projects I work on this way and I haven\'t worked on anything that I haven\'t been totally excited about. The film industry is still an industry, so there are a lot of people who have to have a job and end up working on so much of this shit that clogs of our valuable eye-time. I\'m at the age right now (30 years old) where I can still pretty much do whatever I want concerning the film community, so you spend time building a niche for yourself so people will remember you when they want someone to do that thing that you do so well. A lot of people just want to direct a movie, which is a stupid desire if you don\'t have a fallback position.
Working with Kevin (Lindenmuth) on THE ALIEN AGENDA: OUT OF THE DARKNESS was a lot of fun; it brought back a lot of memories of working on SHATTER DEAD because the crew was so small (almost nonexistent!). Most of the time it was just Kevin and his sound man (Michael Velasco), which made for a much more intimate setting to perform within than your usual film shoot. And of course Kevin, like myself, is a bottomless pit of useless horror film anecdotes, so we were always keeping each other entertained with obscure references and such. I\'ve always been a bit of a workaholic, so I love working the five-day week and then spending the weekend on a shoot of some kind. One of the weirdest things about acting was watching the light stands and the tripod go flying right past me as I stood there on my mark, realizing that normally I\'m the one doing all that stuff, not the person standing here watching it happen while trying to remember my lines.
Q: Do you think the genre conventions, such as CHILLER and FANGORIA WEEKEND OF HORRORS helps and/or supports the independent filmmaker?
A: I think those conventions don\'t necessarily support the independent filmmaker, but they do present a marvelous opportunity to someone who is willing to take advantage of it. If you have a videotape for sale, it could be sitting on a table right next to a booth advertising the latest major studio horror project; as far as I\'m concerned, I couldn\'t imagine a better opportunity for a young filmmaker with a unique project to take advantage of the money falling out of the studios\' ass and re-direct it towards themselves. I don\'t think it takes a lot of money or a half-naked \"scream queen\" bimbo to gather the attention of a convention goer if you have a special project to offer for sale at your table and have the good reviews and box art to back it up. Better still, a video monitor on which you could show some scene and/or a preview. There\'s a couple of thousand people at this place to see crap like Freddy or Jason or some jerk signing titty-photos who might not have ever gotten a chance to see that the kind of stuff you\'re making is available for viewing! Now that\'s democracy at its finest, dammit!
So, to answer the question more directly, I\'d have to say no, I don\'t think the goals of the conventions include supporting the independent filmmaker, but they do by default provide a grounded area in which everyone has a fair chance to compete. The conventions are important and vital because they provide the horror consumer with a better choice of viewing material than a chanrle house like Blockbuster Video. So lets all get out there and make the best possible movies we can as our friendly little \"fuck you\" to a distribution system that would love to see all of us just go away, okay kiddies? If you\'re not helping the system, then you\'re hurting it. That\'s all.

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