November 20, 2014
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Glass Eye pals weigh in on state of Horror in MovieMaker Mag

Fessenden, JT Petty, Travis Stevens and more discuss the biz of genre filmmaking in the Fall 2014 issue of MovieMaker Magazine, on newsstands Nov 25th.

Fessenden

From MovieMaker.com:

“A decade ago, the primary focus of independent horror moviemakers was making a good horror movie, knowing that if they did their job well, they were virtually guaranteed to find an audience and make their money back (and then some). Horror was the Teflon genre—or so it seemed.

“In the last decade it’s gotten cheaper to make movies, and harder to make money off of them,” says J.T. Petty, writer-director of horror features The Burrowers (2008) and Hellbenders (2012). “The ‘guarantee’ most people took for granted was the DVD market, and that’s all but gone.” Today, the business of independent horror moviemaking has changed dramatically, and while making a good movie is still paramount, the moviemaker of 2014 must wear other hats just as well in order to survive: branding expert, distributor, producer, publicist, sales agent. “And,” as Eduardo Sanchez, director of 1999’s game-changing The Blair Witch Project and the upcoming Exists, says, “most of us didn’t get into this to become distributors.”

According to Larry Fessenden, director of Wendigo (2001) and producer of Stake Land (2010), “Executives often say, ‘Do you have anything in the Blumhouse model?’ The thing to understand is: Blum’s films have name actors (Ethan Hawke, Patrick Wilson) who work at scale, the films are made relatively cheaply, and there is a distribution scheme that gets the movies onto 3,000 screens on opening weekend. This is not the same as making an independent haunted house movie on the Canon 5D and hoping it makes a lot of money. You can’t guarantee your investors that your $15,000 movie will earn $200 million at the box office.”

“Horror used to have that whiff of danger and discovery,” says Fessenden. “That is why the remakes don’t excite the fans, because there is no discovery there, just studios cashing in. Blum’s films are original stories, even as he franchises them, and that alone makes his approach more compelling than the studio approach.”

Stevens is philosophical, though optimistic. “Your perspective shifts a bit. Maybe there isn’t more money coming in, but what are the upsides? Our film played around the world in festivals, which gave us opportunities to meet more filmmakers, financiers and distributors. It played globally in cinemas and was easily available in retail outlets. This meant we were building an international audience and international distributors see value in that. It allowed us to secure more money on our other projects. Your definition of ‘profit’ expands a bit, working in this space.”

Check out the full article at MovieMaker.com.

May 23, 2014
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“My New Film, American Jesus, Is Not A Horror Movie”

From MovieMaker Magazine:

“Larry Fessenden, producer of the new documentary American Jesus, explains why Glass Eye Pix became involved in Aram Garriga’s exploration of the sometimes bizarre relationship between faith, materialism, politics and personal passions that is American Christianity.

I run a small production outfit in New York City called Glass Eye Pix. We are known for making independent horror-themed films with a psychological bent. Through the company I have produced such films as The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers, Stake Land and I Sell the Dead. My own films include Habit, Wendigo and The Last Winter. Why would a company known for making independent horror films get involved with a documentary called American Jesus?

The answer is that I am primarily concerned with the construction of meaning in our daily lives, in the human tendency to see the world through narrative. My horror films have been about how we invent monsters and demons to deal with reality. In some way the subtext of my films is that the monsters we invent are a comfort and help us frame and define our existence.

In Habit, the protagonist believes his girlfriend is a vampire causing him to weaken physically, when we the viewer can plainly see he is a drunk debilitating himself. In Wendigo a 10-year-old invents a mythical being to protect himself from the horror that his father has been shot by a disgruntled hunter in the woods. I have always felt that my films are fundamentally about our craving for religious and mythic narratives in a senseless and arbitrary world.

And so it was not a stretch when the filmmaker Aram Garriga came to me with his proposal to make a film that was then titled Pop Church. I had met Garriga at the Sitges Film Festival outside Barcelona, one of the great horror and fantasy festivals in the world. Garriga worked for the fest and played host to myself and my producing associate Brent Kunkle on more than one visit to Sitges…”

Check out the full article at MovieMaker.com.

AMERICAN JESUS is now playing in Los Angeles at the Downtown Independent and coming soon to Chicago. Also available on Demand and on DVD.

An exclusive clip is now available at Indiewire. See it here.