Thursday, October 30, 2014

October Craziness ...

October is always a busy month around the Haaga house. Halloween parties and costumes, yeah, but there always ends up being more to it than that. Maybe it's the pre-holiday cram. I don't know. Nevertheless, in between all of the parties and going to Universal Studios Horror Nights and Disney Halloween and whatnot, I still managed to do some other stuff. Lemme break it down:

First off, I sat down, put my nose to the grindstone, and wrote a screenplay that's been floating around in my head for a while now. I just felt like I had to get it out. It was kind of like lancing a boil that had been bothering me, so it was nice to just put my ass in the seat and write a totally original screenplay that wasn't for hire or based on someone else's pitch or idea.

The following week, I took Max to a special "family friendly" taping of Tosh.0. Max is a big fan of the show and it was cool to see it all put together. If you catch re-runs, you can see us at the beginning of the show and if you go to the Tosh.0 blog, you can see Max interact with Tosh in a segment that got shortened for the actual airing.

My screenwriting experience went so well earlier in the month and it was so liberating to just write my own thing, so I tried it again. I went out into the desert - Joshua Tree, about 2 hours away from L.A. - for four days. Rented a house from a filmmaker friend, bought some microwave dinners, and wrote 75 pages of another new script. Wasn't able to finish it until I got back to Los Angeles, but I typed "The End" on it a week later. In essence, I wrote two entire screenplays in about a month and a half. Here I am at the amazing El Rancho Reposo (which any writer can rent for a retreat right HERE) working solo in the desert:

I've never gone on a "writing retreat" before, but I wish that I had and I plan on doing it again. It's sometimes hard to be an artist and prioritize your creativity when you've got kids and a house and laundry and dinner, etc, to worry about. I was able to get a huge amount of work done in peace and also able to give the script my full and unadulterated attention. I plan on returning to El Rancho Reposo as soon as I can to do it all again (because I've got a LOT of script ideas waiting in the wings, believe me).

Once I finished the second script, I gave myself a day off ...

... Then started right in on another Lifetime Channel movie, which I'm about 40 pages into now. I've got a mid-November deadline on that one, so I've been writing furiously. Taking a break for a little bit to update this blog, but I'll be right back into it in an hour ...

Let's see ... On the "release" front, I teased a "top secret project" a few months back (which is something that I don't usually do - I either tell you about something or I don't) in the Switzerland update. I flew to the East Coast right after the Swiss trip and worked on my very first video game, which came out a little over two weeks ago.

It's called THE EVIL WITHIN and it was created by Shinji Mikami, the man responsible for RESIDENT EVIL, and it's now available in all gaming formats worldwide.

I don't want to get into particulars, but I was brought in to help with some writing for the game. If you play it, you will read some of my words and hear some of my dialog. I also got to work on the DLC for the game, which isn't out yet.

It was a real pleasure to get to work on a project that wasn't film-related and I got to play the hell out of the game months before it came out (or was completely finished). The whole process was fun and fascinating for me and I have to thank Bethesda and Tango Gameworks ... I would LOVE to work on another video game one day.

Here's a shot of me and Creator Shinji Mikami at this year's E3 convention:

And at the E3 they had a booth where you could put your face on the cover art. Here's mine:

So to re-cap: that's 2.5 screenplays written and a video game release since the last time I updated the old blog. I also managed to squeeze in two huge costume parties, a visit to Universal's Halloween Horror Nights, a day at Disney for their Halloween spectacular, a rocking wedding for a long-time friend (and founder of the seminal death metal band REPULSION!), and went all the way down to Santa Ana the other day to see MADCHILD and NECRO in concert. Tomorrow night I'm just gonna take the little ones out trick-or-treating and then come home to a horror movie on the couch.

Halloween party #2's costume was something I had to throw together quickly. Luckily, since I directed CHOP, I was able to go as my favorite character from my own movie:

October, you are crazy and I love you, but it's time for you to go.

As always, trying to stay busy. Now I've got to figure out what to do next month (aside from finishing the new Lifetime movie) ...

As always, thanks for visiting. Happy Halloween!

- T

Thursday, September 04, 2014

September Releases

I have a couple of new projects coming out this month. Both are acting gigs and they're not lead roles or anything, but for those Trent Haaga completists out there ...

Tomorrow is the VOD release of THE PACT 2 from IFC Midnight. I shot my scene last year with the lovely Camilla Luddington, who is in Grey's Anatomy and played Laura Croft in the new Tomb Raider game. It's a small role, but it's definitely not a "blink and you'll miss it" role. I come into play during one scene. But it was fun and I'm a super-huge fan of the directors - Dallas Hallam and Patrick Horvath. Their first film, ENTRANCE, was a minor masterpiece of micro-budget filmmaking.

I'm not in the trailer or the poster, but here they are anyway:

THE PACT 2 is supposed to get a limited theatrical run on October 10th ... But I don't know what that means, exactly.

AMERICAN MUSCLE comes out on DVD/VOD/etc. on September 30th. I have a bigger role in this one (though I'm by no means a lead or anything). But I do get to wield an AK-47, which is interesting (and you can see me doing so for about .0002 seconds in the trailer below:

I've yet to see the finished versions of either of these movies. Hopefully someone out there enjoys 'em!

In the meantime, I sit here and write ...

Thanks for reading!

- T

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Kickstarter …

… Well there's a week left for the Kickstarter campaign for KILLJOY'S PSYCHO CIRCUS and it's barely raised over 10% of the goal. Seems highly unlikely that it's going to get financed. What does this bode for the production? Will the movie never get made? Will it get made for a lot less money? Will they just make it all in flash animation? Who knows?

I've always had a hate/hate relationship with the concept of Kickstarter. I figure that if your product (script or movie or whatever) is good enough, then you can find investors to finance it. I always figured that Kickstarter was strictly for amateurs and to use Kickstarter would tell everyone that you weren't good enough for prime time, so to speak. I've only been involved in two other projects that Kickstarted (both times as an actor). One of them basically took the money and ran - I went and shot my scenes for a few days, but the actual movie was never completed and as far as I know the rewards were never sent out to donators. The other one is an on-going project that we're still not done with. I've contributed to a few friends' Kickstarter campaigns, but I've always felt a bit resentful that they were coming to me with their hands out, basically begging for money. Like I said, amateur hour …

… But then they kept reporting how "professionals" like the Veronica Mars movie and Zach Braff and Spike Lee were able to raise a shit-load of dough to make their passion projects and Kickstarter became even more clogged-up with people that totally COULD find financing if with just a few phone calls. The massive downside to this (and the fact that successful people began to use KS didn't help at all) is that it's not the best projects or filmmakers that were going to get financed … It was the person with the best marketing abilities or social media savvy that was going to win at KS. Success on KS has less to do with the actual product being made and more to do with the person's begging abilities. In essence, Kickstarter only seems to work for the people that don't really need it.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that KILLJOY'S PSYCHO CIRCUS deserves to get made over any other project on Kickstarter. I'm just saying that we could easily have collected a million dollars if it was the exact same campaign but we had Justin Bieber play Killjoy instead of Trent Haaga. And that, to me, is sort of the problem with Kickstarting a project in the first place …

… Yeah, yeah, I participated in the videos for the Psycho Circus Kickstarter. Hell, I want to work as much as the next guy. And the incentives are pretty good if you're a fan of Full Moon. But I think that the average Killjoy fan probably doesn't have $2500 to visit a film set. Most would be happy to simply donate 10 or 20 bucks for a DVD of the movie and a signed picture or something … but then there would have to be anywhere from 3,000-6,000 Killjoy fans out there. Maybe there are that many, but there's no way to directly contact those 6,000 fans that may or may not exist … It's a conundrum.

Not only that, but the fact that we've been able to previously shoot 3 other Killjoy films since 2001 without Kickstarter might not have helped the campaign, either.

Some dude raised 60 grand to make potato salad and didn't really offer cool incentives. But he did it. And that, to me, is the fundamental reason that I refuse to try and Kickstart a project of my own. Because their success has little to do with the product at all.

Look, I'm totally down to make the fifth Killjoy movie - people love that clown and I love the team that I make these movies with. And I'll bet that we'll probably find a way to make it anyway. And maybe some kind of bizarre miracle will happen and tomorrow's issue of USA Today will have a front-page story about the project and, BAM, 55 grand will come pouring in … Regardless, I still have (and will probably always have) a deep-seated ambivalence about the entire concept of Kickstarter.

If you want participate and get some Full Moon swag in the process, you've got 7 days. It's HERE.

- T

Monday, August 04, 2014

Quarterly Update? Seriously?

Yeah … In this age of social media where we can all BLIP tiny bits of information into a never-ending stream of information, why bother with a blog? I ask myself this all the time. And, quite honestly, I have trouble talking about myself and my work … If you're into it, that's awesome. If you don't know who I am or what I do … well, then you're in the majority. Still, there's barely any excuse to go this long without a blog entry. What can I say? I've been busy working and living life. It's the summer, my older kid was out of school, I've been traveling, and - oh yeah, I also wrote a few screenplays and some other stuff. Let's see if I can run down what I've been up to since the last post …

- After coming back from Switzerland, I wrote another Lifetime Network movie - my 4th for them in just a couple of years.

- CHEAP THRILLS came out on DVD in the States and the UK.

- I wrote another script entitled 68 KILL, which is based on a book that I optioned from an immensely talented novelist named Bryan Smith (follow Bryan on Twitter). I'm really happy with the way the first draft came out and so is Bryan … most surprisingly, my wife, Lynh, really likes it (and she's my toughest critic)! The plan is to raise the financing and make this my sophomore directorial effort. Stay tuned … I'm working on Draft #2 now …

- Then I took the boys to Indiana to visit my folks for 10 days. While there, I wrote another draft of "Lifetime Movie #4"

- While in Indiana, I got to witness the World Premiere of Lifetime Network Movie #3, KILLING DADDY. I watched it for the first time with everybody else, and was pleased with the outcome. The movie did pretty well, too - it was the #2 most-viewed program the night it aired (behind a NASCAR race) with 1.5 million viewers.

- I came home for less than two weeks then headed to the east coast for a family vacation. While I was there, I did some work on a big top-secret project that I've been working on for a few months. All I can say at this juncture is that it's a video game. A really big video game that will come out on all gaming formats. I'll be able to talk more about this thing when it comes out sometime between now and the end of 2014. Stay tuned.

- Just got home a few days ago. Working on some more stuff now that isn't far enough along to discuss yet. Tomorrow I'm shooting a Kickstarter video for KILLJOY'S PSYCHO CIRCUS. A few meetings scheduled, etc.

- In the meantime, AMERICAN MUSCLE's release date has been announced - it comes out September 30th. Also, THE PACT 2 comes out on VOD September 5th.

So that's what I've been doing since the last update 3 months ago: wrote 2 scripts and worked on a video game and went on vacation. And now I'm back to the grind.

Does anybody even read this damned blog? I don't know. Maybe I'll post more stuff here in less than 3 month's time … Maybe I'll include photos next time. Or maybe I'll just switch completely over to Twitter, where I can just burp out stuff in tiny increments … We'll see.

Either way, thanks for visiting.

- T

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Various Artwork ...

Posters, posters, who's got the posters?

Cheap Thrills and American Muscle, that's who.

-T

Thursday, May 08, 2014

A Few CHEAP THRILLS Nuggets ...

… Cheap Thrills is slowly coming out in various formats all over the world. The Blu-Ray DVD came out in Germany a few months ago but it still hasn't gone theatrical in the UK yet, which shows you just how kookoo crazy the distribution world is.

The movie comes out in the UK on June 6th, I hear … I think that it's a simultaneous theatrical/VOD/DVD release, but don't quote me on that. In the meantime, the UK distributor released these promo images. Not sure if they're character posters or trading cards or what. Nice to see the extra effort either way!

And it looks like the DVD and Blu-Ray comes out in the U.S. in just a few weeks (May 27th, to be exact). There's an audio commentary and all kinds of bonus materials including a making of documentary that I have yet to see (I hear that there's even some footage of the elusive screenwriter in there). Here's the box art:

And HERE is Drafthouse's CHEAP THRILLS Blu-Ray page - if you order it from them, there's a cool bundle option with soundtrack download and a limited edition retro press kit!

That's it. Gotta go and make more movies instead of promoting the old ones … no paycheck in that!

-T

Monday, May 05, 2014

April 2014 - What a Month!

I haven't updated in almost a month and I SWEAR it's got nothing to do with my Twitter account … Travel and work really filled my time up for the last few weeks, but the end result is a big update with a ton of pictures. Here we go …

… I was invited to screen my directorial debut, CHOP, at the 15th Installment of a festival called 2300, Plan 9 - The Strange Nights of Cinema in the beautiful city of La Chaux De-Fond, Switzerland. Of course I said yes, thrilled to have the movie play anywhere. I was even more thrilled when they then invited me to attend the festival and be a jury member for their shorts competition. So I hopped on a plane to Zurich and spent an awesome 6 days watching movies, eating good food, and checking out Switzerland.

The festival itself was really amazing, well-run, and had a great atmosphere. It took place in an old temple in La Chaux De-Fond, a relatively small city in the French province of Switzerland. The fest took place nightly from about 5pm until 4am and every single screening of every single night was packed full of enthusiastic film fanatics. What I really loved about the fest was the three-ring circus atmosphere … The temple was decked out in amazing decor, they had a couple of bars in the theater itself to keep the crowd lubed up, and all of the festival workers, volunteers, and organizers got dressed up and made up into elaborate characters … It was kind of like a 6 night-long Swiss Halloween party. No pretension, no competition, just a supportive atmosphere of film lovers.

I was so busy enjoying the festival each night that I didn't take a ton of pictures of the festival happenings themselves, but there's a pretty great Flickr page set up that really captures the anarchic, great spirit of the festival right HERE. Check em out, it's pretty cool.

The other filmmaker guests this year were writer/director/FX guru Ryan Nicholson and my mentor (and the guy who gave me my entree into film), Lloyd Kaufman. It was really great to meet Ryan and to get a week to re-connect with Lloyd and his lovely wife, Pat … Also a pleasure to get to see both of their new movies with a crowd on the big screen.

Switzerland itself is like something out of a storybook. I understand that the weather there can be largely overcast, but it seems that California came with me, because for a good portion of the time I was there the Swiss enjoyed blue skies and unseasonably warm weather.

I managed to get out of La Chaux a couple of times. I took a day trip to the city of Lausanne to hang out with my good buddy Olivier, who lives there. Olivier played "Dolphin Man" in Citizen Toxie and it was great to catch up with him after an almost 15 year absence. Here are some shots from Lausanne:

The festival organizers were kind enough to plan several day trips for the guests of the festival. We went to this weird old mansion that had been turned into some kind of bizarre museum/interactive horror collage/serial killer's den called The Phantom Train.

The place was 5 stories crammed to the gills with horror movie memorabilia. I was disappointed that after all the years of work, I couldn't find anything Trent Haaga related … then I went into the bar/lounge, and was rewarded by seeing a framed postcard for DEADGIRL hanging on the wall:

Ha ha! I made it into The Phantom Train!

On another particularly beautiful day - my last in Switzerland - we went to the picturesque town of Gruyere (where the cheese comes from):

While in Gruyere, we visited the H.R. Giger Museum, where (unfortunately, because it was pretty amazing) photography is prohibited. But there were a few sculptures outside that were photo-friendly:

After the museum, we grabbed a drink at the H.R. Giger Bar, which you could take pictures in as long as you were buying:

I don't drink liquor, so I had a coffee, but there were all sorts of Giger-themed drinks available. Here's a look at Megan Nicholson's Alien Blood shot (although, technically, Alien blood should be green, right?):

As if the Gruyere day trip couldn't get any better, we then were treated to the best fondue lunch that I've ever had.

The festival was awesome and Switzerland was amazing. The 2300 Plan 9 festival is a hidden gem of the international festival circuit and the organizers really took great care of me. I want to extend my warmest thanks to everyone involved … now I just need to make another movie so that I can go back!

… But there is no rest for the wicked, as they say. I flew out of Zurich directly to the East Coast of the U.S. to do a week's worth of writing on a massive top-secret project that is … NON-FILM RELATED. I signed non-disclosure agreements, so I can't really talk about it, but I can say that the project was awesome and I am thrilled to be a part of it. Stay tuned, because once this thing hits the streets, I'll be telling you all to take a look at it.

… Finally, after two weeks in hotels in two parts of the world thousands of miles apart (and thousands of miles from my home), I returned to Los Angeles and the rest of the Haaga family rested and invigorated …

… Where I locked myself down for a week and finished the first draft of my new Lifetime Channel movie, which I turned in Friday.

And that's why I've got a moment to do this big-ass blog update: I find myself in the rare position where I don't have an immediate deadline. Don't worry, this break won't last long … and there are ALWAYS personal deadlines that I create for myself, so I'm not gonna be sitting around and sipping smoothies poolside … too much to do!

As always, thanks for visiting my little corner of the interwebs …

-T