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As you may or may not know, the mighty empire that was once Fangoria magazine has pretty much crumbled. I was able to get this article approved RIGHT before all the pieces started to fall. It was originally approved for Fangoria, then moved to GoreZone, then after the Editor-in-Chief left, rather abruptly, the article was lost in the shuffle. Most unfortunate, but sometimes that’s the nature of the beast. Enjoy. – J
We all have at least one good story in us – yet, so few of us ever go beyond just having that idea in our heads – we mentally cock-block ourselves before that seed ever has a chance to grow. “I’m just Mike from Nebraska,” you say, already shooting yourself down, “There’s no way I could make a movie, I’m not cinematic royalty.” Want to know a secret? None of us are cinematic royalty – unless you are a Weinstein, and in that case please call me. But in all seriousness, we ALL start at the same place – an idea, and if you nourish that seed properly, it can become a mighty tree – your story can become a part of history. There is no better time than now for any aspiring filmmaker to spread their wings and follow their dreams – hell, as so eloquently stated in Nymphomaniac, ‘If you have wings, why not fly?’
Jimmy Screamerclauz is one such individual who decided to spread his wings, and unlike Icarus, never flew too close to the sun. In fact he has just finished his second animated film – When Black Birds Fly, and the kicker? Jimmy started exactly where you are now, the absolute bottom of the ladder, with nothing but an idea. His solution – he taught himself everything he knows about animation and film-making – fancy college degree and Pixar be damned!
“When I made my first animated feature, Where the Dead Go to Die, I didn’t have any animation training whatsoever. I used the movie as an excuse to learn and try things, so the biggest obstacle was, well, everything.” And learn he did, Screamerclauz spent months scouting YouTube for tutorials on animation – anything that would help. “I started researching 3D programs and messing around with pretty much all of them until I settled on Cinema 4d. After that, I just started searching for tutorial DVDs; it was 2008, so even though there was some stuff on YouTube, it wasn’t like it is today. Most of the DVDs were geared more towards modeling static characters or building 3D cars, so I would have to take the knowledge and reapply it to the filthy horrible things I wanted to do – it was a huge learning curve! About half way through my second short, I started meeting other animators, like M dot Strange, and exchanging information and tips/tricks. Every movie gets a little better on a technical level, or at least that’s what I like to tell myself.”
It should be stated that Screamerclauz’s movies are not for everybody – these are not mainstream films by any stretch of the imagination, no, they are quite possibly the apex of depravity –in violence, sexual content, and general fucked-up-ness – pretty much every scene sets a new status quo for how crazy things can get. Trying to nail a genre onto either Where the Dead go to Die or When Black Birds Fly is as futile as arguing which Lucio Fulci film is best, though, psychedelic is probably the best adjective to start with…and nightmarish – Screamerclauz’s visuals and sounds combine to create a world none of us have ever seen before, and some may never want to return to.
Where the Dead go to Die is actually an anthology of short films made over a four year period, “I started making the first short in 2008, the second one in 2010, and the third one in 2011. But the first two shorts I was just working on in my spare time while I was also trying to shoot live-action films. After the second short, I received an offer from Unearthed Films to release it as anthology film if I came up with a third chapter, so I dropped everything I was doing and worked on it all day, every day, for roughly 11 months.” And what a monster Screamerclauz created – the first entry in his trifecta of debauchery, Tainted Milk, centers around a little naive boy named Tommy who blindly listens to a talking demonic dog who informs him that, due to involvement of shadow people and tainted breast milk, his unborn brother is in fact the Antichrist and must be destroyed – try pitching that to ANY movie studio. The best part of pulling a Lloyd Kaufman and doing it all yourself, Troma-style – carte blanche on your film, and this is blatantly obvious when watching a Screamerclauz film – this is HIS vision, and we play by HIS rules. “My advice to aspiring filmmakers is don’t follow passing trends or hop on bandwagons. Create your own bandwagons! Then hop aboard, cause carnage, run over random citizens, and go out in flames!”
Fast forward seven years and Screamerclauz is on the cusp of releasing his new film – another self-animated romp into the circles of depravity – When Black Birds Fly. ”In a lot of ways my new film is really my first feature film, or at very least my first feature film on purpose. So I treated it like it was a job and worked on it pretty much from the time I woke up until I went to bed, for 3 years straight. It still really doesn’t feel like it’s done, even now as I’m writing this I still spend a couple hours a day fixing glitches, filling out film festival forms, and hiding from bill collectors.”
When Black Birds Fly takes place in a seemingly perfect suburbia appropriately named Heaven. Life is naturally good in Heaven, so lest you follow the rules… First and foremost, stay away from the wall that encircles the town, second, and almost as equally important, worship Caine – the over-zealous Orwellian Big Brother-type figure who runs the town. Rule two is hard to forget because the town is plastered with more signs than CGBG (RIP) telling the citizens of Heaven to “Worship Caine;” and how “Safety is important, but not as important as Caine” and the aforementioned Orwellian “Caine is watching you.” One day, our protagonists, a young boy named Marius and his classmate, Eden, find a hole in the wall encompassing Heaven. They are drawn closer by both the curiosity of the colors and the pleas of a seemingly injured talking animal. What follows is a journey into the deepest recesses of the human (?) mind and psyche – a Cenobitian (it’s a word now) world that mixes pain, fear, and pleasure at such intense doses you swear somebody slipped you a strong psychedelic and threw you into enemy territory.
For aspiring filmmakers, Screamerclauz says to “Either write or find a script that you would like to make into a movie. Then just figure out how to do it, one page at a time, with the resources you have available, until it’s done.” Sounds simple enough, right? Screamerclauz is the epitome of this advice – he uses his friends for voices, his peers for animating advice, and even his Xbox 360’s Kinnect for motion-capture.
So what’s your excuse? Go create something so we can discuss it in a future Fangoria!