Digging Up the Marrow will be released on VOD and iTunes beginning February 20th. Filmmaker Adam Green and artist Alex Pardee, whose work inspired the film, are also currently touring the film around the country with a special art exhibit, leading up to the premiere of the film tomorrow evening. Daily Dead recently had the opportunity to speak with Green about the tour, his experiences working on Marrow over the last few years and what it's like to make a film that feels like nothing else out there.
You can check out part one of our extensive interview with Green HERE.
As a huge fan, I do like that there’s also stuff that’s for fans, whether it’s seeing ArieScope offices or seeing Sara Elbert show up. All that stuff is really cool, but you don’t have to be a diehard fan to appreciate the movie. The movie works just going in cold not knowing anything, but if you’re a fan it works on a whole different level.
Adam Green: We try to do that. We’re always thinking as broadly as possible, but if there are things we can do, whether they’re little inside jokes or nods that the fanbase that’s been with us the whole time and supported us feels like they got something cool for them, then we’re always quick to put that in. But we always try to have a rule never to make it something that’s distracting or where you would only understand what’s going on if you’ve seen the other things. A good example would be in Hatchet II there’s two or three seconds where on the TV in Reverend Zombie’s shop you see the epilogue from Frozen. You see Emma Bell as Parker talking about the lawsuit settlement that she got from the mountain. Now, if you’ve seen Frozen, that’s super cool to see and finally find out what happened and if she lived or died. But if you’ve never seen Frozen, you wouldn’t even think twice about it. We try to do that stuff in as non-distracting a way as possible. But with this movie, if you are a fan I think there’s something cool about really seeing behind the behind-the-scenes.
When you’re out shooting some of these scenes like the one with you and Will with the boot in the woods, do you have a big crew with you or is that just you guys out shooting?
Adam Green: We did have a pretty big crew with us. It wasn’t huge, but there’s a lot of lighting that actually goes into that — especially to make it look like there isn’t a lot of lighting that goes into it. It’s funny; a few people so far have said this is a great example of guerrilla filmmaking. But it actually wasn’t. There actually was a very decent budget for this and there was a lot of money put on the screen, but we did it so that it would feel like there wasn’t. If you were really to go out into the woods with a camera, you wouldn’t see anything. It would just be darkness. I don’t think the average audience member ever stops to think about that.
When you watch a Friday the 13th and everything at Crystal Lake is bathed in blue light, nothing looks like that in real life. There are giant HMIs that are shining down because there’s no point in watching a movie if you can’t see what’s going on. We did have the light on the camera, which would help, but even with that everything else would have fallen off into shadow. You wouldn’t have seen trees, you wouldn’t have seen anything. So we did have a bunch of HMIs up in the trees, and you do need power and a crew, and especially the monsters were incredibly involved. So I’m glad that it feels like it was really just Will and me out in the woods, but it wasn’t.
We live in a culture of “found footage” now, and while this is clearly not a found footage movie, how do you combat that? Try to get the word out — hey, this isn’t found footage — or letting the movie speak for itself?
Adam Green: I mean, you can’t control that. Anybody who knows what they’re talking about knows that found footage, as a genre, is footage that was found. It’s presented as though it’s straight out of the camera. It’s supposedly not edited. There’s no score. There’s no sound design. We make it very clear in this that it’s a documentary and it’s been put together. There are scenes in this that are interviews that are extremely professionally shot. There’s even very little shaky-cam in the movie; there’s like a minute total. But because it’s not a traditional narrative, a lot of people just jump to “Oh, it’s found footage.” You can’t do anything about that.
There was a review of the first Hatchet movie by a huge mainstream outlet that said “All this movie is teenagers having sex, doing drugs and getting killed one by one. Haven’t we seen this before?” Now, there are no teenagers in Hatchet. Nobody has sex and nobody does drugs and they get killed in fucking twos. They really got every single thing wrong that they were damning the movie for. But that’s somebody who made up their mind before they watched it; they realized “Hey, it’s a slasher movie, I don’t like those so I’m just going to say this.” That one bothered me so much and I was so mad about it, but over time you get numb to it and it doesn’t really affect you anymore.
I mean, with Frozen there was a review that said that wolves were “so obviously CGI.” Like…what? You can’t tell that those are real wolves? And you know that that review thought “Wait, there’s no way they put actors with real wolves, so those have to be CGI. Therefore, I’m going to say that I could tell and I’m smarter than these filmmakers.” You would waste so much of your life getting worried about that, so if people are going to call it found footage or if they’re going to call it rockumentary…you know, it’s hard because I don’t know what else is exactly like this and that was the joy in making it.
Only we could make this movie where it’s us in it. Nobody else has access to us. Sure, other people could mimic this now, but if the story had been a fake filmmaker who had made fake movies or worked at a fake studio with fake friends and fake actors they worked with and fake fans, it wouldn’t be this movie. It wouldn’t feel like it feels. So that’s why we made the choice and that was the joy in making it, and I think that’s why it’s so special. But there is no way to “combat” anything; people are going to say what they’re going to say.
For other filmmakers, they should pay attention to this because it’s hard when you make your first few films and you put so much of your life into it and you kill yourself for it. It’s your baby, and then it’s just free game for everybody to shit on it. In no other career do people do that. Nobody writes stories about the janitor at your high school and how clean the floor was and how they cleaned the floor and what product they used and what they should have done. That doesn’t happen. So you have to have to just accept that that’s going to come with this. People are going to get things wrong, so just don’t read it or don’t let it get to you. Especially if it’s personal. There are some people out there that feel like Hatchet was so bad that they hate everything else I’ve done because how dare I have a career. I’m never going to win them over. I can’t.
But thankfully we’ve had enough success that we do have this amazing fan base and they don’t pirate our movies and they don’t torrent them. They’ll drive five or six hours to a theater that’s showing it and they buy the movies and they buy the merchandise and that’s why ArieScope exists. There’s not many other things like this — I can’t think of any — where we’re like our own island. We’re our own studio. And as hard as it is to keep that going — because it’s not about the money, it’s about the art — that was the dream. If you had asked me when I was eight what I wanted to do, I would have said I wanted to be a filmmaker. But I wasn’t just thinking I want to do big-budget blockbusters; I want to do things I want to do and work with my friends and not have to answer to anybody else. I’m no opposed to doing one of those bigger movies; I just haven’t been offered the right one yet. But there could be one coming soon.
How did the idea for the tour come about?
Adam Green: In keeping this to ourselves, we knew we’d have to go with a distributor for VOD and DVD and Blu-ray because as much as the industry is changing and becoming more artist friendly, you still can’t, as an independent artist, make a deal that’s remotely near fair with, like, Netflix or Hulu. You have to work with an established distributor for that. But we wanted to keep the theatrical rights for ourselves for a number of reasons, most of them business related, because with all of our other movies, they were all theatrically released.
But there was no marketing, and it didn’t really matter that they were in theaters — nobody ever expected them to do any business — it was just about the prestige of ‘this was a theatrical movie,’ and therefore Wal-Mart will order more copies or you’ll get better placement or whatever that might be. And then they turn around and show you they’re expense report and suddenly it says that they’ve spent millions on this theatrical release. So even though your movie is a huge hit, they’ll keep telling you ‘No, sorry, it didn’t really make money yet…but can we get a sequel?’
This time around we wanted to control that, so we’re the ones putting it out in theaters. And we’re doing it just the smartest way possible. So the movie will open in L.A. when it hits VOD and then two weeks later — the week of March 2 — it’s going to expand to 10 other cities. But it might only play once in those cities, or it will play a week. I don’t know yet, necessarily. But the tour was the coolest way to introduce this movie; I wish we could have gone to every city, but it’s so expensive to tour with the art exhibit and everything else. But when else as a fan do you get to go to a movie and then afterwards walk through and look at the artwork that inspired what you just watched? And see how it all came together and take pictures with one of the monsters, because it’s actually real and good enough for you to walk up close and take a picture with it. That’s really, really special. That’s just something you can’t get anywhere else, and we’re only charging $15 a ticket. I mean, to go see a 3-D movie here at the Arclight in Hollywood, it’s $20.
So you’re getting all of this for $15. And of course we have the merchandise and the other stuff for the people who want it, but it’s always been about the fans first, down to the fact that when I do conventions I never charge for my autograph and my picture. It’s always been that way and it always will as long as I can control it. It’s hard at some conventions where they don’t want to allow me to do that because the other guests are complaining because then fans walk up to them and say “Adam Green didn’t charge me. Why are you charging me, Zombie #6 in a movie that’s 30 years old?” And I get it. And they should be charging for their autograph. I don’t think they’re doing anything wrong, and they’ve got to make a living too. Believe me, I would be doing so much better in life if I did charge for that stuff, because I lose money and I lose time and I lose work when I do those conventions. But I wouldn’t have this career without those fans, so if I can go and do that I’ll do it. That’s just always been the heart of this whole thing.
So this tour is going to be really cool. I hope people got their tickets early, because I’m sure they’re going to sell out and I hope as many people as possible get to experience it that way.
Check back tomorrow for our review of Digging Up the Marrow. Until then, here's a look at the trailer: