When it was all said and done, Josh Hasty emerged from Murderworld with over 500 hours of footage documenting the making of Rob Zombie's new movie, 31. Titled In Hell Everybody Loves Popcorn: The Making of 31, Hasty's immersive documentary is now available to view as both a two-hour bonus feature on Lionsgate's Blu-ray / DVD release of 31 and as a four-hour version on VOD, and we caught up with the filmmaker for our latest Q&A feature to discuss what it was like being a fly on the wall with a camera to capture Zombie's new cinematic creation.
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us, Josh. How did you initially get involved with Rob Zombie’s 31?
Josh Hasty: My pleasure. I originally met Rob during production of The Lords of Salem. It was the first time I'd seen him directing in person and I was really amazed and impressed with how he approached the process. I learned so much about filmmaking from watching his behind-the-scenes features, but I had never seen how hands-on, meticulous, and focused he was as a director. That stuck with me. So I kept in touch with some of the people I met on set, and when he announced 31, I pulled some favors to get me in front of Rob to pitch my idea of making a feature-length documentary that showcased everything I thought made him such an amazing filmmaker. He dug the idea, so a couple weeks later I was on a plane to L.A.
When you were documenting the making of 31, how much creative freedom did you have to capture the movie’s most memorable behind-the-scenes moments?
Josh Hasty: 100%. Rob and I quickly hit it off and struck up a great, trusting relationship. Because of this, the actors and crew quickly got comfortable having me around all the time, so I was able to really be a fly on the wall and just do my thing. I was there on behalf of Rob personally, so I didn't have any producers or anything telling me what to do. Rob trusted me and just let me run with it the entire way through the process. It was great.
About how many hours of behind-the-scenes footage did you shoot during the making of 31? As the editor on this project in addition to being the director, how did you decide what to keep and what to cut for the final versions (both the two-hour edition on the Blu-ray / DVD of 31 and the four-plus hour version on VOD) of the documentary?
Josh Hasty: Altogether I had a little over 500 hours of footage. Almost all of it was shot during pre-production and production of the film over the course of about 40 days, and then I went to Rob's house and interviewed him for three days once 31 was completely done. Deciding what to cut was really tough because I literally shot everything that happened. But once we decided how the story would be told, which is that it would be broken into days, I had a blueprint to work from. At that point, I was literally just sitting down all day, every day watching everything to decide which pieces were going to best represent the overall story.
The first rough cut was probably around ten hours. Once Lionsgate got involved, they gave me the guidelines of a four and two-hour cut, so at that point I was just going through and tightening up each chapter until it fit in the timeline. In the end, you don't even remember what you cut out, the final product just becomes what it is.
What did you learn about effective filmmaking from Rob Zombie while on the set of 31?
Josh Hasty: I could do a whole class on what I learned from Rob over the last year and a half working on the documentary. I'd say the most effective things I learned from him is that there are no rules in filmmaking and you've got to know how to adapt. This is such a crazy business. Nothing ever, ever goes as planned, so as a filmmaker, you've got to be ready to flip on a dime and hit the ground running when something doesn't work out in favor of the script. There's no right or wrong way, there's just the movie you have to make, so make it.
With prior experience directing shorts and feature films, was it a big difference for you creatively to shoot a documentary compared to a feature film like Honeyspider? Did you enjoy taking a different approach behind the camera?
Josh Hasty: Well, every project I've done is completely different from the other. Honeyspider was 100% a passion project that didn't even have the budget of any 30-second commercial I've directed. So for many reasons, a project like that is nothing but challenges from the beginning. But even in a not-so-ideal situation like that, you're still somewhat in control, whereas shooting and directing a documentary is like another language entirely. With a narrative, you're directing every action, every word, light, special effect, sound queue, etc. With a documentary, the direction is basically, "What's our story and who/what are we going to shoot that's going to tell that story?" After that, it's up to those subjects to do their thing and up to you as the filmmaker to capture it. You never know what's going to happen at the beginning of the day, so you always have to be on guard with your camera ready to roll, and that's when it becomes a circus.
Shooting someone like Rob Zombie is a workout. He moves fast. All of the time. So I was running in and out of varying lighting and sound conditions, constantly adjusting the camera settings on the fly while paying attention to audio and pulling focus. Additionally, I wanted this documentary to have a good aesthetic look and feel, so I was always focused on my cinematography, finding interesting places to shoot from. It's really nothing like a narrative. You can't prepare for anything, you don't stop, you're always filming with no real idea as to what's going to happen next. So I'd say when you're shooting a narrative, you're 90% in control of what happens, and when you're shooting a documentary, you're 100% out of control of what happens. But that's why I love it.
When you look back at your time on set, is there a particularly funny or memorable moment that stands out?
Josh Hasty: There were so many. The funniest memory for me is probably the Doom-Head and Cherry Bomb scene. It was a closed set, so the only people in the room were the camera crew, Richard Brake, Ginger Lynn, and myself. It was hot, smelly, and sticky—just awful. The whole night, they'd do their thing and then wait for Rob to yell something like, “Be nastier!”, or “Grab a big handful of hair!” Meanwhile, the camera crew all looked like they were questioning everything about their career choices. In hindsight, it was hilarious.
But the most memorable thing is probably the interviews I did with everyone. I really enjoyed having one-on-one time with each actor. So many of them have worked with some of the biggest directors in the industry over the years, and to be able to set up my camera and just talk to them about their craft and hear them describe why they adore and admire Rob as a fellow filmmaker, was great not only for the documentary, but was a priceless education for me as a filmmaker.
Would you be open to filming another “making of” documentary in the future for Rob Zombie or another filmmaker?
Josh Hasty: Probably not. I've loved Rob Zombie as a filmmaker for as long as I can remember, so this documentary was so much more than just another project to me. From day 1 it was treated like a feature-length documentary, not just a behind-the-scenes bonus feature. That's why it came out the way it did, and I'm not sure I could ever do it again from that place of sincerity and passion. I would potentially do it for another filmmaker, but there would have to be a story I felt was bigger than just a film being made, and someone I was passionate about as a filmmaker. But Kubrick is dead, so unless [Alejandro] Iñárritu calls me, I don't see that happening any time soon.
With In Hell Everybody Loves Popcorn: The Making of 31 now available to watch on the Blu-ray / DVD release of 31 as well as on VOD, what projects do you have on deck that you can tease, and where can our readers find you online?
Josh Hasty: I'm always working on something. I've been doing some work for John 5's solo work, and I'm working with The Local Boogeyman clothing line on some exciting stuff right now. But the next big project I'm working on is my film Candy Corn. I wrote the script based on a story by Butch Von Dreaux, and I'll be directing it. This will be the first film I get to direct with a real budget. It's pretty crazy, we just announced it right after Thanksgiving and we've already cultivated a small cult following. People have been getting the Candy Corn logo tattooed on them and sending us a ton of fan art. There's a nice amount of anticipation for it, so I can't wait to start shooting. We're in pre-production now and plan to begin production in spring 2017. You can stay posted on all of my work at joshhasty.com and Facebook, but I'm active almost daily on Instagram at @josh_hasty