Quantcast Tim Sullivan interview 2 - 2001 MANIACS, DRIFTWOOD, HOOD OF HORROR

Writer/Director
Tim Sullivan!!!

Writer/Director Tim Sullivan has already illustrated his diverse love of the horror genre between his films 2001 MANIACS, DRIFTWOOD and HOOD OF HORROR. We caught up with him recently to talk about the 2001 MANIACS comic book, the upcoming sequel BEVERLY HELLBILLYS, as well as the just released DRIFTWOOD DVD Special Edition. Read on for Part One of our candid and frank FRIGHT exclusive interview with Tim Sullivan! - by Robg. 11/07

First and foremost, the last time we spoke to you was prior to the 2001 MANIACS DVD release. It’s a film that’s been with you for a very long time, and now it’s finally out there and genre fans have embraced it. How do you look back on MANIACS now in retrospect considering how long it took you to get it out there?

I think that my middle name should be changed from Michael to “Maniacs”! Timothy “Maniacs” Sullivan! Because it’s always with me, man! And I guess it’s going to be something I’m always associated with and a lot of that is my own doing. The reason the movie was called 2001 MANIACS was because Chris Kobin and I wrote it in 2000 and immediately optioned it to Rhino Films and we really thought we were going to make it and have it out in 2001! Well, cut to not even filming it until 2003 and then it finally came out in 2005, and now here I am in 2007 with the comic book!


And a sequel in the works! You’re all about the MANIACS!

Yes! I feel like I’m the one man band with this! But it’s had a tremendous fan-base. What’s interesting to me is I just came back from a trip of Ireland and Spain and Europe and it was amazing to me – Tower Records is still in Dublin, so I walk into the Tower Records in Dublin and there’s a display of Halloween horror! And right there is HANNIBAL, HOSTEL and there’s MANIACS! 20 copies of MANIACS! I went to all these festivals to show DRIFTWOOD and I was so happy that everyone embraced DRIFTWOOD. I’d do a Q & A after the screenings and here we are talking about DRIFTWOOD, but it inevitably goes towards MANIACS and I end up doing a half hour on that! It’s just so obvious that this film has struck a chord and found it’s audience as I always hoped it would. And I think there’s so many different characters in the film, every one has their favorite. There’s a richness to it. I tried to make the victims not just faceless. So, we had memorable characters, and not just one killer, but 2001 or at least 13 (as we call them) featured maniacs. People have responded to that!


What can you tell us about the 2001 MANIACS comic book?

The comic book is not an adaptation to the film, it’s a prequel. It’s the origin of how these guys became the maniacs. The people that have read it so far have said “Wow, this is like a new MANIACS movie! It’s like a screenplay with storyboards.” Hopefully, it’ll tide everyone over until we get the 2001 MANIACS: BEVERLY HELLBILLY’S up and running. No matter what I do, I’m always going to be so fond of MANIACS because it was the first film I directed. DETROIT ROCK CITY was my first big break as a producer. I don’t care if down the road the MANIACS sequels end up being straight to DVD for half the cost of the previous feature, but I always want to be involved. I want to be hands on! I’m in love with these characters. I wish there were a Showtime series about the MANIACS, because I could easily come up with enough ideas to never bore anybody. The first festival is 1864 and there’s a 100 and some odd stories to tell!

You could hit every period of time along the way.

Yeah! There’s so many social issues that you can use the maniacs to explore. I was so taken a back by how loved MANIACS is in Europe and even here. For instance, I’ve known Paul Reubens since the 80’s when I worked at MTV and he was a guest VJ as Pee Wee Herman. I ran into him at Comic-Con having not seen him in a while and the first thing he says to me is “I love 2001 MANIACS! Can I be in the sequel!” And I say, “Uh, sure!” So, it looks like Paul Reubens is going to be in BEVERLY HELLBILLYS. I can’t seem to turn on Showtime without it being on!

It’s on quite a bit on Showtime, but that’s great because it’s the type of movie I would’ve discovered on cable growing up as a kid, and that’s awesome.

Yeah! I can’t believe it, on My Space, kids are sending me pictures that they were Hucklebilly for Halloween, or Mayor Buckman! I think, wow! We hit something here.
The one thing I will tell you is that one of the goals on the drawing board for the 2nd one is to finally do the director’s and writer’s vision-cut. It’s looking like I’ll be able to go back in there with my partner Chris Kobin, who started this whole thing with me. On the first film, there were a lot of cooks in the kitchen, everybody was well intentioned, but everybody had a different idea of what MANIACS was. I don’t even think some of the people closest to the project quite knew what was inside my head.
I remember when I worked at New Line and Mike Myers first brought in the concept of Austin Powers. On paper, no one really got it! And it was very hard to get on paper, but Mike DeLuca believed in it and let Mike Myers run with his vision, and next thing you know Austin Powers is a phenomenon. Well, it was much easier on the 2nd and 3rd one to let Mike Myers have full creative freedom, because he had proven with the 1st one where he was going with it. And I think I sort of have the same situation with MANIACS in the sense that we had a lot of people that didn’t quite get the humor horror combo.
Didn’t really get the exploitation “grindhouse” films that I was paying homage to. Sometimes we tried to steer it in a more serious, dramatic direction. And as a result, as much as I love the film and it’s settled into its own thing, it is what it is and people have embraced that, none the less, I know what I intended and what people have been saying about the sequel script.
Everybody has said that it’s so much better then the first, and one of the best compliments I’d ever gotten was from Tobe Hooper who said “The script is so aware of what it needs to be.” I think looking back at the MANIACS film, there are moments in it where it doesn’t know what kind of film it needs to be. Now, when people have read the comic which I wrote on my own, and read the sequel script and see the storyboards, people “get it”. So, we’re going to go back into that first film and put back in some of the zaniness that was left off on the cutting room floor.


So, you will do a director’s cut of the first one?

Yes. Absolutely. But it’ll be a different kind of director’s cut. Because it’s not just a matter of putting scenes back in. We’ll be changing score. When I wrote the script, me and Kobin put in the middle of the film a section we called “gratuitous sex montage”. In all those 80’s splatter films, there’s always that moment where everyone takes off their cloths and has sex. So, we thought let’s actually make it one specific moment in the movie, and everybody will have sex in a way that’s characteristic of who their identity is.
The idea was to make it be a music video in the middle of the film, but I had this vision that you’d have this shockabilly music that represented the maniacs, so for the kids, the modern visitors of Pleasant Valley, I wanted them to always be represented by modern rock-n-roll pop. And somehow along the way, somebody had a brother who wanted to get a song in the movie, or somebody wanted to get their name on a publishing so they could get a residual. And the majority of the songs in the film were not my choice, and quite honestly I can’t stand. In particular, I absolutely hate the song that plays during the sex scene.
It was intended to be a fast-paced techno, up-beat song that represented the modern kids. Instead, it’s the down toned, slow thing that I don’t even know the name of. I don’t even know who wrote it! However, I get emails all the time from people asking what the name of that song is! “I can’t find it on iTunes!” I have to email them back and say “I honestly don’t know!” All I know is that literally one of the producers was in a band and that’s his band that is playing that song.
So, I will go back in and recut that montage and put the song that was intended. I’m going to take out some other songs and put songs I intended. I’ll redo a lot of the ADR. Some of the jokes in there were not really written by me and they were written after the fact and they just sort of feel shoe-horned in there as if they’re from another movie. We’re going to go back and do all that, and I’m really excited because we’ve got the full support of the cast. And we’re finally going to start the film with the original John Landis opening as it was intended. Re-cut the acid-moonshine sequence.
Wow. Now, the comic book, is it its own prequel story or does it tie into the upcoming sequel?

Yes it does tie in. There never really was a specific drawn out origin of the maniacs. In the Herschell Gordon Lewis film, there was a massacre and the town burnt to the group, and these people came back seeking revenge against the northern heathens who did this. So, I decided to get very specific. We didn’t want to do an adaptation of the first film because people have already heard that story! So, we went back to 1864, which was great because for the comic, I didn’t have to worry about budget or a shooting schedule. I could burn down the entire Pleasant Valley with 2000 people and it’s just a drawing, you know? It really brings you back in time to the beginning. It’s what happens! Mayor Buckman doesn’t have his eye patch yet! In addition to explain what happened that day in April of 1864, we also introduce a couple of new characters whom are going to be figured prominently in the sequel. So for instance, we will introduce Scarlet Red who is at the crux of what happens. She’s Mayor Buckman and Granny Boone’s daughter.
Then we introduce another key figure Jim Crow who will be played by Tony Todd, who’s sort of a slave there from Haiti who’s knowledge of voodoo figures prominently in the curse of the confederacy, which actually condemned the Pleasant Valley citizens. And then we also introduce another character named Doc Tickles, who will be played by Bill Moseley. So, the comic is really cool because it’s a prequel and a bridge to the sequel. The comic was actually delayed which turned out to be a good thing, because as I’ve always said MANIACS is my rock-n-roll anthem and DRIFTWOOD is my power balled, so it’s kind of nice to have them both out there at the same time, because for those that see DRIFTWOOD and think “Aw, Tim has a sensitive side!” Well, there’s a comic book out there to remind you I’m still a twisted fuck! (Laughs)


2001 MANIACS was something that took you a while to put together, whereas DRIFTWOOD was a project that came together rather fast. It seemed like there was a lot of serendipity at work for DRIFTWOOD with finding the location, getting the cast and how fast it all came together. Can you talk about that?

I learned a lot from MANIACS. You learn what you did right and what you did wrong, and you hope not to repeat your mistakes and to continue along the path that was successful. I think what happened is that MANIACS was such a long, arduous process and there was just so many voices and people involved, I wanted to call it 2001 ego maniacs for a while! When it was over, I thought I can’t do this again. I can’t spend 4 years just fighting every little step of the way. There’s got to be an easier way to do this. And literally, right around that time, a familiar friend from the past, producer Barry Levin, whom I produced DETROIT ROCK CITY with.


And your experience on DETROIT ROCK CITY was completely different from your other films, right?

DETROIT ROCK CITY was literally one of the most effortless projects. Gene Simmons gave me the script in July, I brought it into New Line and told them it was one of the best scripts I’d ever read regardless of weather you liked KISS or not and they bought it. 6 weeks later we were in Toronto in pre-production. It was insane. So, I was jaded! I thought everything went like that. But then I had that 4 year hell with MANIACS. With DRIFTWOOD, it was ironic that Barry Levin who had done DETROIT ROCK CITY with me came out of the woodwork and said, “Wow, I’m really impressed! You went from producing DETROIT ROCK CITY to doing MANIACS!”
He had just started working at Dark Horse Comics and they had struck a deal with Image Home Entertainment. The deal was to start doing original theatrical independent films that Image would distribute and Dark Horse would present. Barry was in charge of those projects and asked me if I had anything. He said “If you have a project ready to go, we’ll do that first.” So, I was thinking, Ok, what do I have? I had a couple of other MANIAC type projects, but… I just felt I wanted to do something different. I admire people like Guillermo Del Toro who can do a high concept pop-culture type of film like HELLBOY and then he’ll do PAN’S LABYRINTH. Or like when he did BLADE 2 and then THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE. He does one for the studio and then one for himself, and that’s how I felt. If I’m going to go through another long process on a film, I want the story that I tell to be extremely personal this time. So, I told Barry about DRIFTWOOD.

So, you had this idea for a personal story you wanted to tell. Can you tell us the origins of DRIFTWOOD’s story and how it evolved along the way?
At the time, there was no ghost in the film. It was simply a teenage GREAT ESCAPE set at one of these attitude adjustment camps. Barry thought it was great, but he said “Tim, for the amount of money we have, we’ll never be able to do this huge finale.” And quite honestly, once the story started getting to the escape at the end of the final, I kind of didn’t dig it. I liked all the stuff that got you there. So, Barry pushed me to think or something I could bring to this that’s contained. Rather then an escape, make it an exposure. Once he said that, everything clicked. And I just thought, Ok, there’s been a murder and the ghost of the dead boy is still there, and it’ll become about exposing what happened to him. It just flowed.


How’d you find that killer location for DRIFTWOOD?

Well, once we had the ghost element, everyone got excited. We began the process and I still just wanted to speed this up, and as fate would have it, someone told me about an abandoned juvenile prison in Whittier. I went there by myself on a Sunday, I climbed over the barbed wire fence and was looking around and the next Monday, I said “Guys! We have to make this movie now! Because I found this prison but it’s going to be turned into a Walmart in January. This was August. We’ve got to get into production, we’ve got to take advantage of this, or else we’re going to lose this incredible opportunity.
So, it just was fast tracked and literally everything went from standing still to a steam roller. That following weekend, I went to see a play called DEAD END, which was a drama and this kid Ricky Ulman was in it. I’d never heard of PHIL OF THE FUTURE, I don’t watch the Disney Channel! Next thing I know, I thought he could be the lead. Then Barry Levine suggested I meet this wrestler, and I thought I don’t want to put a wrestler in my movie! But he did get my movie up and running, so I owe it to him to meet his friend.
So, then I meet Diamond Dallas Page. I thought “Oh my God! Anyone that refers to you as just a wrestler is doing you a dis-service! This guy’s like a renaissance man!” He can do anything! He’s one of the most inspirational people I’ve ever met in my life. And I initially met him just to appease Barry! I walked out thinking I want DDP to be the lead! Next thing you know, I’ve got this Disney kid, and then I’ve got this wrestler and then the following week, a friend of mine said, “You should meet this kid Talon, he’s in the number one MTV reality show.”
I thought you got to be kidding me! So, Talon shows up and he was dressed up as a military commando and just owned the part! He said, “Look, I know you wanted me to play Noah because it’s a bigger part, but… I think I’d be better for Yates, even if it is a smaller part.” And I thought, “God bless you!” An actor that would actually take a smaller part realizing he’s better for it and it serves the film better! Because he was so egoless and only thinking of what was best for the film, I said you got the part! So suddenly within the week, I had a prison, Ricky, Talon and DDP. We were just off to the races and we never looked back.
We only had 15 days to shoot it, and we only had a million bucks, but I got to say, I think sometimes these long, drawn out pre-productions and these 100 day shoots and 6 months editing… it takes an edge away. It makes you lazy, it makes you groggy. It takes the energy away. Although it’s very tough, you feel as if you constantly have a gun to the back of your head. There really is something to be said about working fast! You really have to be at the height of your abilities.


I think that’s why so many independent horror films have a certain spark and edge to them that these studio horror films with 40 day shoots and unlimited budgets just don’t have. When it’s over thought by a committee, it tends not to have a soul.

Some of the most classic horror films of all time were independent films made by struggling filmmakers, like the original HALLOWEEN. Or TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE.

LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, THE HILLS HAVE EYES, FRIDAY THE 13 TH! A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, CABIN FEVER, THE EVIL DEAD. I mean, the list goes on and on. All my favorites were made outside of the studio system.

As much as I love MANIACS, DRIFTWOOD was a better made film in every capacity…

Well, there was only one person, one captain of the ship on DRIFTWOOD! (Laughs) I was allowed to be Russell Crowe. Be the MASTER AND COMMANDER! I love it when people are like, “Man! I love this script! Now change it.” (Laughs) Well, if you wanted an apple, why are you buying an orange? “Man, that’s the best horror comedy I’ve ever read! Let’s turn it into a drama!” With DRIFTWOOD, we really knew what we were doing and they let me run with it. Also, I love KISS but I love THE DOORS. KISS represents my guts and THE DOORS represent my soul! With MANIACS, it’s a rollarcoaster ride, we’re having a good time! We’re having a few beers. It’s like that. With DRIFTWOOD, I’m cutting open my vein and bleeding on the screen!


It came off as a very personal film. There’s certain sequences that stand out above all the horror, things I imagine are personal experiences. One of my favorite scenes of the whole movie was when David gets a visit from his parents and has a fight with his father played by Mark McClure. His father says “I know you!” And David challenges him by closing his eyes and asking his father to tell him what color his eyes are.

One of the things horror film directors get asked the most is “What scares you the most?” For me, other then producers (Laughs)… the answer would be not being allowed to be who you are. To be forcibly, through society or through the government or any kind of parental, education or religious authority, keep your self identity under lock and key for fear of your life. That’s the greatest horror of all. To not be able to express a certain type of music that you like, or a certain type of poetry or a certain sport you like to play or a certain person you’d like to be with.
To be made fun of is on one end of the spectrum, but on the other end to be locked up and brutalized, there’s no greater horror then that. We all have our own prisons. Some of them are psychical and some of them are metaphorical. We all tend to live in those prisons and sometimes we hold that key in our own hands or sometimes someone else holds that key. Growing up being a horror guy, it wasn’t as popular in the 80’s when everyone’s off playing football to be sitting in your backyard painting monster models. Or writing a script that you plan to shoot on a Super 8 camera in your local graveyard. You’re looked at as if you’re a little Norman Bates!
Honestly, parents, teachers looked at my love of monster make-up and horror as something bad. Add to the fact that I preferred the guy next door as opposed to the girl next door, I was just double fucked! Sometimes, I felt it would be much better for people around me if I didn’t exist. So, you sort of try not to exist, or exist in your own world and for me that world was creativity and coming up with stories. There are scenes in DRIFTWOOD that I thought up when I was 16 doing my paper route.
One of which is the scene you mentioned, where the father is telling his son to be a man. What does being a man mean? Take a beating! Don’t fight back! Follow what everyone else is doing! My dad left when I was 8, but I’d still see him on the weekends and he’d make sure to tell me that the things I liked were all crappy for me. From KISS to horror comics to Famous Monsters. I remember one time I said to him, “You don’t know anything about me. You don’t know what you’re talking about.” And he says, “I know everything about you!” And I remember closing my eyes and saying, “Ok, what color are my eyes, Dad?” He couldn’t tell me. That day I said to myself I’m going to put this scene in a movie or something I write one day. Finally, 20 some-odd years later I did.


One of the things I wanted to talk about was the look of your films. And the most important aspect of that is the work of your cinematographer, Steve Adcock who shot both 2001 MANIACS and DRIFTWOOD…

And he’ll be with me on everything from now on! (Laughs)

Can you talk a bit about your working relationship with Steve, As well as achieving the look of DRIFTWOOD? What’d you do differently from MANIACS to DRIFTWOOD?

You know, first of all thank you so much for asking! It’s me and Steve against the world when we make a film and what I mean is with Steve, there’s so many things going on! First of all, there’s the creative aspect, what we decide the film is going to look like. And then it’s the execution, because we (on both films MANIACS and DRIFTWOOD) had 15 days and a skeleton crew of people to help Steve achieve what he needed to. So, it involves meticulous planning.
This is very interesting – I know Steve, because Steve shot an incredible short film that I’m surprised hasn’t been more visible lately. It was called MUST BE THE MUSIC. It was one of the best, most honest, most real depictions of gay teenagers that I’d ever seen, and this movie was made 10 years ago and its star was a very young newcomer named Milo Ventimiglia, who’s now the lead on HEROES. It’s this real, wonderful little film. It was the first gay themed film I had ever seen where the teenagers were depicted honestly. It was about 4 guys who were going out and it could’ve been them going out for chicks, it was just the way it was depicted. I saw this film and I was stunned by the look of the film.
It looked like this major SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER type of film and I knew it was shot for next to nothing. It was made by a filmmaker named Nick Perry, and then he did a movie called SPEEDWAY JUNKY with Jordan Brower, Jesse Bradford and Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Again, it looked great! Nick Perry was a friend of mine, so I asked him, “Who is your cinematographer? Who is getting these incredible looks with no budget?” He told me it was Steve Adcock, so I met Steve and we just hit it off. He’s this British guy. He looks like Robert Shaw in JAWS, Quint! Only a younger, thinner, taller version, but he’s got that kind of no-nonsense personality. Very British, very cool. We quickly formed the ability to just sort of finish each other’s thoughts and sentences. A lot of times you lose a location, then you find one on the spot, and we can go into any room and we can both know immediately what angles, how many shots we’ll need to get to tell the story.


So, you developed an immediate second-hand with him?

Exactly! And that was so important. I didn’t have to explain anything to him! The thing was, when I met Steve on MANIACS, the storyboards were already done. He was blown away because I literally storyboarded the entire film like a comic book. So, he looked at it and thought WOW. I told him, “Steve, I just want you to know that you can run with this. You can do what you want. And please feel free to come up with other ideas.” And Steve said, “You’re kidding me, mate?” So often, directors are dictators. Honestly! And I don’t believe in that.
I asked Steve if he could come up with a better way to do it, by all means, please let me know! I’m open. Because I gave him that freedom and told him that I valued his opinion, he really went all the way out for me on MANIACS and made sure we got everything in time. He’s got such a powerful personality. You have an Assistant Director who runs the set? Well, Steve ran the set! Eventually me and Steve ran that set and everybody just had to keep up with us. It had to be that way, because honestly on a low-budget film, the most important person other then the director is the cinematographer.
I learned so much from him. Just the idea of shooting in one direction. For example, in DRIFTWOOD, we had a couple of scenes in a classroom. It takes forever to move all the equipment and we had two angles to shoot. One looking at the teacher, and the other reserving the angle and showing the kids. Well, when we shot both scenes of looking at the teacher – we would shoot the first scene on him, then he would change his costume and we’d do the second scene. And then we turned it around. I had to make sure the actors knew exactly what they were doing! But normally you would shoot the scene out, and then you would shoot it again. But he was just amazing with all these quick ways to save time. I could go on! (Laughs)


Can you elaborate on the look of MANIACS verses DRIFTWOOD? What you guys tried to achieve with both?

On MANIACS, we had a specific plan. Most horror films take place in darkness, and we wanted to do the opposite. We wanted most of the murders to take place in bright sunlight. We decided we wanted it to have the look of a movie musical. And really turn the horror genre on its head. The first half of the film is very bright and very sunny and very wide open. And then, as we start to find out these are ghosts, the second half we called “rot” mode. Even the make-up. In the beginning their faces are very colorful, and then they started to get pale and ghostly.
If you look, Robert Englund’s scar starts to get thicker and longer every time you see him and the lighting gets darker. We started making the wallpaper dirty and ripped. By the end of the film, it’s Dante’s Inferno! The costumes are all sweaty and rumpled. Their hair is all fucked up. And the camera angles start to get tilted. That was something that Steve and I had charted out that you really had to pay attention to, because we shot out of sequence. Steve’s a very strong man. We didn’t have a steady cam, we couldn’t afford it! So, he did a lot of stuff to save time. He just put the camera on his shoulder and hauled it.
He’s also his own camera operator, which is very rare. Usually the cameraman has his own camera operator, but he is his own camera operator. He would just get down and dirty and get in there! When we finished MANIACS, there was only one choice on DRIFTWOOD. Because Steve was coming into the project ahead of time, one of my favorite cherished memories of DRIFTWOOD is he and I went out to the prison a couple of weeks beforehand and together, me and him alone went through every location and we blocked the scenes and the way we were going to shoot them, and how many angles we were going to use and what order we were going to do them. From these conversations with Steve, I created a shot list and then I storyboarded the film based on my conversations with Steve at the actual location.
Then I’d bring the storyboards that I did with Jacob Hair to Steve and we would go over them again. We’d figure out our “meat & potato” shots, the ones we definitely needed to tell the story, and then we had our “gravy” shots, the shots that weren’t necessary to tell the story, but that might add a little seasoning, a little style, a little extra something. Every time we’d get into a scene, we’d always know what the “meat & potatoes” were, but then had the “gravy”! And God damn, we got the “gravy” because Steve was just so fast! The other thing we did was we used a second cameraman (which we did on MANIACS too), so that every scene was shot with 2 angles so we got 2 angles for the price of one.


Steve and I were very meticulous in knowing and deciding what he was going to get and what camera B was going to get. Steve would shoot the master and camera B would get what we call “phishing”. We’d get a wide shot of the boys in the dorm and the other guy through out the scene would get a little bit of each character on their dialogue. Sometimes we’d shoot a scene once but have 4 angles! So we’d have the scene and we could move on.

As far as the look, on DRIFTWOOD, there are so many prison movies and shows. A lot of times they’re very stark, very white, very flat. Steve wanted to shoot something different. The color of fear is green, so we decided the entire look of the film inside the prison would be green. All the lights in there would also be fluorescent. So, Steve went in there, on his own and switched out every light that was there and put in a green gel. Once we decided that the look was going to be green/aqua, everything was dictated from that. We tried so many different colors of T-shirts on the kids and we decided it had to be blue. At night they would have gray and black.
Everything, even Jonathan’s ghost make-up was derived by how it would look against Steve’s color scheme. We decided we would shoot on Fuji film and on Super 16. MANIACS was shot 35, DRIFTWOOD was shot Super 16, because the camera was smaller and it enabled Steve the ability to hold the camera and shoot a lot of things handheld rather then on tripod to give it a more ghostly effect. As if there was a presence there, as if something was watching and observing a scene. It was a wonderful experience and a lot of times, Steve was so clever.


A lot of the action, we blocked because Steve told me what would be easiest for him to shoot. A lot of times, a director will have an idea and then the cameraman has to catch up. Well, what I would do was ask Steve, “What would make it easiest for you to light and rig?” And that’s how I would choose my shots. 2 things I’m very proud of, we were running out of time a lot.

One of the most creepiest scenes in DRIFTWOOD is when Captain Kennedy is rubbing his daughters shoulder and she’s brushing her hair in the mirror and there’s this implied unpleasant relationship between the two of them. We had it all blocked out with all these different camera angles, but we were running out of time. So, Steve looks at me and says “Tell you what, mate. Why we put down a dolly, we’ll shoot it in a wide and as he gets more intimidate with her, we’ll bring it in closer and closer, and we’ll bring the audience in closer and closer. And as soon as he crosses the line, we’ll actually stop moving, and then we’ll slowly move back because he’s gotten too close to his daughter.”
It worked thematically, but we also shot it in one shot! Rather then having to do 5 angles and 5 lighting set-ups. That was all Steve. There’s another scene, after they beat up David, they’re all lying in bed talking about Jonathan and it’s a close up of each kid. We were running out of time, so we couldn’t light each bed! So we literally lit one bed and had each kid get in and get out, and I just told them which way they were looking! If you watch that scene, it’s an amazing scene and it was shot in about 15 minutes! And all we did was light one bed and rotate the actors! (Laughs)
The power of editing and doing things on the fly!

I won’t shoot a film without Steve. We were going to shoot the new MANIACS movie, BEVERLY HELLBILLYS and then it got postponed and he wasn’t available. I was very upset because I was going to need another cameraman! Robert Englund’s schedule forced us to push the schedule to February (2008) and now Steve’s available and I’m just so grateful because honestly, I don’t want to do a movie without Steve Adcock.


One of the producers on DRIFTWOOD was Bud Smith, who of course genre fans know as one of the editors on THE EXORCIST. As a fan, what was it like to have such a seasoned veteran as one of your producers on DRIFTWOOD?

I learned more in 4 weeks with Bud Smith on DRIFTWOOD then I did in 4 years of film school at NYU. It was unbelievable. When I wrote the script, in my head I always envisioned the depiction of Jonathan to be these quick glimpses, very much like in THE EXORCIST in the dream sequences. That scary moment of the white face! Very subliminal but it would scare the hell out of you. And that’s how I wanted Jonathan to be. I’d always describe “Sort of like in THE EXORCIST!” So, when I was told by Mike Richardson that his good friend Bud Smith was interested in editing the film and being a producer, I was stunned! I couldn’t believe it! THE Bud Smith? Friedkin’s editor?
CRUSIN’? TO LIVE AND DIE IN LA? CAT PEOPLE Bud Smith? I met him and he was just such a wonderful guy! A seasoned vet who spent his time in Hollywood and was done with it and now has this editing facility with his son Scott, who actually was the editor on DRIFTWOOD and Scott had edited THE CROW. So we have the editor of THE CROW and the editor of THE EXORCIST! He does projects because he believes in them. He wants to work outside the studio system because he can’t stand it! Like most of us. (Laughs) He believed in this story, he believed in me, he believed in my vision. I get very passionate about things and he caught my passion.


God bless him, like Steve, he was invaluable. Him and Steve were the 2 most valuable players on DRIFTWOOD, because he stood next to me and would guide me with ideas and talk about transitions from one scene to the next. Just to hear him say, “Well on THE EXORCIST, we did this…”

Bud believed in my vision, not letting the filmmaker get in the way of telling my story. It did not need flashy, MTV style cutting. I trusted the story and I trusted the actors and I shot it in a classical way, where you let the story tell itself and you give the actors breathing space to do their thing. You rely on the intensity of the story and its performances. It’s a lot different from MANIACS, which is more a thrill ride. DRIFTWOOD is more of an emotional journey. Bud believed in that, and so from day one, he was there. It was a wonderful experience for me, because on MANIACS there were a lot of investors and a lot of producers and everyone seemed to have a different vision of what the movie should be. There was a lot of nervousness because that film needed to succeed financially, everyone wanted to decide what would be the best formula. And so, there were a lot of clashes whereas on DRIFTWOOD, Steve and Bud were on the same wavelength as me with the vision for this thing.
So, everybody’s suggestions and thoughts were for the betterment of the film. It wasn’t to serve the ego of the person who came up with the best idea. It was what works best for the film. I trusted Steve and I trusted Bud. And so, when they would suggest things that were maybe different from what I envisioned, it made sense to go with what they said because I realized that they were coming from a place where they really understood the film. Case in point with Bud was the ending. There’s a 5 minute coda to the film that was written and shot. I was in love with the way it was shot.
That ending is on the DVD, right?

It’s on the DVD and that’s one of the reasons I was able to let it go of it because I knew it would have a life on DVD. There’s the day you sit in the chair and the white light comes on and you’ve got to speak the truth! (Laughs) All director’s have that moment. Even Friedkin. What works best for the film? At this point in the film when David says, “Do you feel worthless?” you’ve reached your emotional crescendo. And what follows is a dot, dot, dot. You have the audience on their edge, and you’ve made your point. Now you’re letting it slip away from you. Bud said “I think it’s a mistake.” You want the audience to go out on that punch verses a gentle ending. He was right and I didn’t want to admit it because I spent a whole day shooting that ending, and I thought the acting was good and the camerawork was great. But at the end of the day, if it doesn’t serve the story, you have to cut it out, and Bud helped me see that. It really taught me a lot.


With the advent of DVD these days, it’s comforting to know that those great performances and that great camerawork wouldn’t be totally lost, because people can see them as a deleted scene.

Exactly! And as a fan, I love that. That’s why the DVD experience is such a wonderful thing. Nowadays it’s not so much about getting the movie but it’s about the package that comes with it! That’s why we keep buying movies over and over again that we already have! (Laughs)

(Laughs) That’s why we double-dip and buy the same movie is for the extra features! God only knows how many copies of HALLOWEEN and EVIL DEAD I own!

(Laughs) Oh jeez! I know. Well, you’re not going to have to get another copy of 2001 MANIACS because I’m happy to formally announce for the first time, we just met with Lionsgate and part of doing 2001 MANIACS: BEVERLY HELLBILLYS is that I’m finally going to get to do my vision, my cut of MANIACS. It’s going to be called 2001 MANIACS: REDUX. It’s going to the way it was written, storyboarded, the way it was meant to be with different scenes, re-edited and with the original music. BUT, we’re not going to make you double-dip. We’re going to make it a bonus disc on the DVD release for 2001 MANIACS: BEVERLY HELLBILLYS. Now, how’s that?


Wow! Now, THAT’S cool! That’s awesome. Congrats! I’m very happy that’s official.

I’m very excited!

DRIFTWOOD is out on DVD. The 2001 MANIACS comic book is out. The sequel’s up next, along with your director’s cut. So, what else is in your future? Don’t you have a vampire story?

Yeah, that’s my next thing after the MANIACS sequel. It’s called BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLOOD. It’s my operatic supernatural romantic thriller. How’s that for a genre? (Laughs) It’s about a love triangle between 2 male vampires and a female mortal. It’s very much in line with THE HUNGER and INTERVIEW THE VAMPIRE and in the direction that those films maybe wanted to go but perhaps couldn’t at the time because of censorship or nerves or whatever. Thomas Dekker who’s playing John Conner in the new Sarah Conner Chronicles is going to be playing Luke, the younger vampire and we’re hoping to get Rob Lowe to play Sebastian, his counterpart.
It’s going to be very hardcore and very cool and very much in line with the type of stuff I do. It’ll be a film that will appeal to a variety of audiences, but I think horror audiences are really going to dig it.

And now that you’ve done some writing in comics with the 2001 MANIACS comic book, is that an area you’d like to perhaps delve in again in the future?

Absolutely! Absolutely, so if anyone out there is reading this and wants to hire me to write an original comic or adapt something? I’m your man! I loved it. It was so fulfilling and people have been digging on the comic, so it’s very gratifying. We will be doing more MANIACS comic books in the future, we had a great relationship with Avatar and I just want to keep going in that direction. It was an incredible experience and very rewarding.


Well, I wish you the best always, Tim! Look forward to whatever you have planned for us next!

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Special thanks to Tracy Galermo!

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