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Behind every big organisation there is normally one or two characters with vision who have pushed hard and created something from almost nothing. Bill Gates and Richard Branson are two men who created international brands so big almost nobody on earth can get away from them. Well, in the world of film there are a lot of people all trying to do practically the same thing – make and sell films. There are thousands of indie filmmakers out there all with creativity and imagination and striving to be the next Tarantino or Spielberg. Problem is, when they have finally finished that low budget drama, where do they go? All too often they’ll pay out money to get their film to a festival and hope to get picked up. When that doesn’t work, they spend more and send to another festival. Sometimes this can actually work, but only at the right festival, at the right time and with the right product. After all that waiting and spending they then trawl the internet looking for distributors to take them on and then it’s a game of Russian Roulette wondering just who can be trusted to sell their precious film, let alone actually pay royalties, eventually and honestly.
Well that pretty much sums up the situation for filmmakers who don’t work at one of the big studios, unless of course they go it alone and try and get listed on Amazon or somewhere else. I wanted to get to the bottom of the whole thing and so we’re gonna have some interviews with some of those men behind the world’s biggest independent film and documentary distribution companies.
We start with one of the men behind a film company that started around ten years ago with one film and is now one of the fastest growing international independent film companies with hundreds of movies and documentaries. These guys actively seek out films around the world. They don’t take any crap, they say it how it is and they have a lot of experience within the entertainment industry and marketing. I have spoken to a few filmmakers who are with them and have had nothing back but glowing reports, which makes me suspicious that there’s way too much dope being smoked in the industry.
Well, here we are, Warren Croyle, CEO of Reality Entertainment. Enjoy.
Have you always wanted to work in the horror industry or did you begin your career elsewhere?
Oh yeah, I loved everything Horror starting with Frankenstein at the top of the list, then “Creature Features” with Bob Wilkins on channel 44 and of course “The Night Stalker” hooked me big time. Then there was “Friday the 13th – the original.” My Mom had to buy us the tickets and go with us due to our age. When Jason came out of the lake, the whole theater jumped out of their chairs, I remember it like it was yesterday – it was AWESOME. After that “Halloween,” “The Howling,” and “The Thing” were my favorites at the time. But when I was a teenager I was into rock and early metal so I started hanging out at the big LA studios, eventually becoming a recording engineer and then a producer. Years later, when we weren’t seeing our royalties being paid on time, or at all for that matter, I decided to start Reality Entertainment and as a result many of the bands I had produced came over to the label with me. From KC and the Sunshine Band to Godhead to Marcy Playground we’re one big happy family. We started our film division ten years ago and always planned to branch off into Horror which we finally did with Chemical Burn.
I know you own a lot of other media properties. Could you describe them?
Well Reality Entertainment is our parent company. RE is a multimedia company, we produce and distribute music, books and films. Chemical Burn is one of our brands all under the RE umbrella. World Wide Multi Media is another brand in which we have Horror and other interesting genres. But we cover all applicable media from digital to CD to DVD with no barriers or limitations. We’re considered a major aggregator for the large distribution networks in the US and have many partners abroad so we are into a wide range of film and other content.
What is your company philosophy?
Strange is Normal, in other words we’re looking for something as mind blowing and original as Jimi Hendrix was with music and want to support original and exciting films and filmmakers who are trying to re-connect with the heights of filmmaking which we seem to have gotten so far away from in the last 20 years. Take a look at “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Exorcist,” and “The Tenant” as well as films like “In a Glass Cage,” you just don’t see these kinds of films anymore. Not only are they MORE terrifying, but they are made in a style and with an intelligence that has been completely erased by the modern film industry, which is a travesty. Slash is talking about restoring this void of the true supernatural, suspense horror film, THANK GOD! Slash, we want to put out all those films please call! (Slash was in our studio a while back doing an incredible solo on Ray Charles’ last record.) But I must say that past the time of the films I mentioned above, there’s one filmmaker who’s work stands up incredibly and took the essence of “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Exorcist” into the 70’s, 80’s and beyond and that is John Carpenter. From “The Thing” to “Star Man,” Carpenter films are ones you can watch many times and still truly enjoy. They resonate deeper than films today and have a quality, an intelligence to them that is rarely there anymore. Films need to be more than visceral gore and standard scares and well lit sets. Instead they need to rock our psyches, they need to change how we think about certain things, and keep us exploring who are we, what are we, and where are we going?
How do you select which movies you want to produce or distribute?
It’s either something quite marketable, something we like, or something we see potential in. Some films aren’t the best but you can see mega potential in the filmmaker so we take them on and help them grow and make a business from their hard work which is a big part of the reason there is a Reality Entertainment, Chemical Burn, etc. Outside of being a studio, we are also a creative breeding ground for what’s around the corner. We’re like a virtual world studio that can facilitate almost any type of work, be it music, books, films, theater, whatever. For instance, we have a filmmaker Daniel Falicki, who is making AMAZING films entirely in green screen, wait until the world gets a hold of “Future World: City of Mass Destruction” and “Dwarf Hammer.” Amazing characters and total transportation to another world all within the confines of a green screen and a computer loaded to the gills with memory. It’s the beginning of a whole new genre really, one where the stories have no limitations or barriers – anything goes, the imagination doesn’t have to stop because “it costs too much” or “can’t be done”… it’s very exciting. Ultimately we are looking for super original, cool stories that have unique characters that immediately command your attention and suck you into their story/journey. Where is the new Lynch, Kubrick, Polanski? Maybe I’m asking for too much, I don’t know. But one thing is for sure, no more detectives on murder investigations, that has to stop!
How has the horror movie market changed from when you first began?
I think it’s become very derivative, much like music. You’ve got too many bands making records that probably shouldn’t be making records, same with horror films. So many people are making the SAME movie, and they are making movies for the wrong reasons in a lot of cases. It’s not about showcasing that you can shoot on a RED camera, it’s not about the derivative template or framework, lets blow these things apart and REALLY see where it can go, “In a Glass Cage” stills blows my mind – sex, death, horror, are all layers in that film that go much deeper into the psyche than a “normal” horror film. We’ve got a film called “FELL” by Marcus Koch, which is about a guy (Jeff Dylan Graham) who’s on the skids, lost his job, his girlfriend broke up with him, he got kicked out of the band, etc. so he’s a mess, He’s seeing a shrink who wants to put him on pills, so he’s sort of going down a rabbit hole if you will, when one day he wakes up to find a dead body in his bathtub. “FELL” is a one character, 2 peripheral characters max that achieves the depth and brings the horror out in a way that you can relate to because it’s in a very real context. All this with literally no budget. We are now in an era where VERY talented people who perhaps couldn’t have made films back when CAN do so now. The video era is opening up the possibility of finding a horror Picasso in a trailer park in Des Moines, Alaska, wherever…
Where do you see the horror movie market currently headed?
I think there’s going to be a breakthrough, at least I’m hoping so. Its interesting that more people aren’t demanding better films with better stories, that tap deeper, even the first films of the modern era like “Friday the 13th,” “Halloween” and “Jaws” got way under your skin compared to a lot of films nowadays. You just don’t care enough about the characters and the situations, and the audience isn’t experiencing that ride into another world like movies of the past have achieved. There HAS indeed been breakthroughs, but largely from Europe and Japan, some of the Japanese films are mind blowing, very unique and genre defining, Takashi Miike and the others are doing a style and a perspective that they OWN. In addition to Japan, you’ve got Sweden, Italy, Serbia, etc. kicking our asses with cooler films, they have nuances and perspectives that are defining a different kind of genre. So I’m hoping that we can take a step back, and see of we can do more than push the limit but create a new playing field. I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one.
What advice would you give to budding indie horror filmmakers?
Do it – go forth and do it and don’t look back. Ted Nugent said it best, you pick up that guitar, find your own sound and style, then you get a drummer to back you up and you never look back. Don’t read books by people who TEACH you how to make a movie who don’t actually make movies. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, I’m sure you can learn a lot from some of the schools out there and that may also lead to some opportunities but most filmmakers I admire just do it – no budget, no huge crew, no Kraft Services… nothing, they make do with what they have available and what’s more they are quite often BETTER films from relying on ingenuity and true creativity, they are REALLY resourceful. Guys like David Lynch are most happy when they are creating, for them this is the state that their minds are at peace, they try to make that stasis “everyday normal” which is cool, I dig that but I also admire the filmmaker who has a specific vision, has done their homework and works methodically to achieve the end result. Make a film that blows your mind and therefore will probably blow the audience’s mind as well. Look at Bennie Woodell who made “Fast Zombies with Guns,” what a cool title. Here’s a kid from the Midwest who HAS to make films, you gotta support that so we had him make two films, “Fast Zombies” and “Death Angel December” both great efforts from a first time filmmaker. Bottom line, don’t let anything get in your way and just do it.
What is your personal favorite film that Chemical Burn released and why?
There are several really, but what James Eaves did with basically a bare industrial room to achieve some first rate horror and terror in “BANE: An Experiment in Human Suffering” is quite admirable. Then theres Julian Grant, a Corman alumni who’s “The Defiled” is for me, the greatest zombie film since “Night of the Living Dead.” HUGE statement I know, but he captured a parallel universe, post the final holocaust and framed it in such a way that it forces you to examine your fears, insecurities, human relationships… such a cool film. “I Sold My Soul to Satan” by David Gaz is one of the coolest documentaries of late. Philip Gardiner heads up our UK team and has a “Hammer” style to a lot of his films like “The Stone” and “Paranormal Haunting.” The Dark Watchers was the weirdest Alien horror film you’ll ever see. We’ve got a lot of cool films coming out in 2013/14, some of the young filmmakers we have are doing incredible stuff and will be names to look for in the years to come.
So how do you get your film in with these guys? Send your screeners to
Foresthill CA 95631
write by Dilys