ADAM GREEN TALKS ABOUT HIS NEW SHOW “HOLLISTON”, DEE SNIDER, AND THE ALIEN IN HIS CLOSET…GWAR?
By: Yvette M. Kelley
Yvette: Good morning Adam, how are you? I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with me. Are you in MA right now?
Adam:Good, thank you. Yes, I am actually in Holliston right now. It’s interviews all day and then off to a screening tonight. I’m exhausted, but it’s so much fun. I’m so happy to be back here. It’s been really fun for the cast to actually see the town. Having shot the show, they only saw the exterior of all these places. They’re actually at the real Holliston Grill eating breakfast. It’s just funny when the cast is so excited to see a Market Basket.
Yvette (Laughing): I bet they will love it. There is no place like New England and the weather has been beautiful. I was in L.A. for the first time in January, and I never realized how different the east coast is from the west coast.
Adam: I agree, it’s really, really different. I’ve been out there for twelve years now. My first two years I hated it, and every chance I could I would come running back. I started in the comedy circle. I was a stand-up comedian, and those are some of the most interesting people that you’ll ever meet. Then, once I fell in with the horror crowd I met the nicest people and really started to form a family out there. A lot of people think it would be the other way around, that the comedians would all be really fun, happy people. But, it’s really the other way around. And, now being back here, it’s funny. When we first got dropped off in town everyone was like, “Are they going to bother you or are you unknown here?” I didn’t get two feet, and people were talking to me. I was like, wow, I guess people do know about this. It’s great!
Yvette: That is great. And, I totally agree about the horror crowd. I love several of the people in the horror industry. “Holliston” has been making quite the circuit around here. It’s New England, it’s small, and everything from this area of course we just absolutely love. And, oh my god, your cast is incredible.
Adam: I still can’t believe it happened. It took thirteen years and a brand new network FEARnet to get this show off of the ground. You’d never see ABC or CBS do a show like this; they just wouldn’t get it. They do not understand what it is to be a horror fan. One of the things I’m proudest about with this show is that it shows just because you like this stuff doesn’t mean you’re any different from anyone else. We can fall in love, get heartbroken, or be rejected. You can have your dreams crushed or fulfilled. I think if anybody can relate to that it’s the horror crowd because we’re a culture. Comedy fans, action fans, they don’t have conventions. They’re not like us. Horror is a way of life, and it’s a culture full of really great, great people.
I was worried because I just did what I wanted to do with the show. I went for it, and I didn’t know how people were going to react. But, on both sides, whether it’s just mainstream critics that don’t even like horror or hardcore horror fans, everyone has been embracing this way beyond what I ever thought would happen. It’s great to see because the mainstream can see that horror fans aren’t twisted, awful people, and especially with a sitcom. I never thought I would see a sitcom like this. I can’t believe it happened and that I got the cast that I wanted without any arguments at all. Like, I want Dee Snider as our cross dressing boss at the cable station, and Oderus Urungus from GWAR, and they’re just like, “Do it.” Nobody else would’ve said that.
Yvette: I’ve read your line-up, and you’ve got all of these great guests coming up. I’m excited. How does it feel that you’re going to be the first original series for FEARnet?
Adam: It’s amazing. I would rather be the first on a new, smaller network than just another expendable show somewhere else. Even with my films, I’m proud of what I’ve done. I’ve had the opportunity to just take one of these big-budget remakes that’s going to get a huge release with billboards and national TV commercials, and I’ve purposely chosen to keep doing my own stuff. I’m very lucky because I’m one of that few in the business that this has worked out in a majorly successful way.
But, definitely, I’m really proud of that and to be the flagship production for a brand new network. In some ways it’s scary because it’s a network that a lot of people aren’t familiar with yet; but, at the same time, it’s a blank canvass and we have total creative freedom to do what we want. We don’t have to fit with another show. It’s not like, “This is the way our network is defined and this is how we do things.” We got to do whatever we wanted. Even with the running time of the episodes. Some of our episodes are thirty-five minutes; some of them are forty minutes. They’re exactly as long as they should be, and as long as they need to be. Whereas, on another network, it’s twenty to twenty-one minutes; this is when you go to commercial; this is how it goes. We got to do what we’re calling “monster-sized” episodes. We have six for this first season, but it really feels more like twelve because each episode is like two episodes. So, that is really, really awesome.
Yvette: Now have you been confirmed for a second season yet?
Adam: It’s not one hundred percent definite yet. That’s going to depend on thecritics and the reviews and just the reactions. But, so far, it’s looking like that’s going to happen.
Yvette: I have to say, as someone who loves to watch TV, I personally gravitate toward the outer channels and cable channels instead of major network channels, simply because cable channels are allowed to do more. You take a show like “Fear Itself” that was aired on NBC a couple of years back, and it just didn’t take. I loved it, and I think it would’ve done well on a channel like FEARnet.
Adam: Exactly, and that’s the other great thing about FEARnet. We don’t need to worry about, “Okay, if you guys don’t pull in this many million viewers for the first episode, you’re done.” It’s such an unfair thing to do to show because nobody knows about it until it’s played. Especially with a sitcom, it takes a few episodes to get into it. Whenever we do screenings, I always insist that we show two episodes because the pilot, which I loved, is the setup. Once youget to know the characters everything becomes a little funnier. In your mind you think it’s because the episodes are getting better, but it’s because you’re more familiar with it.
With FEARnet there’s no need to worry about them cancelling us before we get to episode two or three. They totally went for it and committed to this six episode season. And, it’s not because they didn’t have faith in it, but because it’s all they could really afford to do as a new network. So, they put everything they had into this, and that type of belief is unheard of. Normally you don’t want to deal with network executives or producers because they hold everything off or just sit there and note you to death. I was talking to a critic yesterday, and the first thing he said was that the show felt very genuine, that it hadn’t been through the process and homogenized and ruined by that process. It was great to hear. It did go through that process. Obviously, they read the scripts and they were part of it.
But, they were part of it. They weren’t the enemy. It wasn’t “us” and “them” which is what you normally see. I wanted them on set because their ideas were awesome, and they were so supportive of everything that we did. Even down to the fact that when I brought this project to them I said, “This is the cast. You may not know all of these people yet, especially Corri and Laura who I think are some of the best parts of the show. But, this is who I wrote this for; they’ve been part of this for years now. I’ve developed it, and that’s the way it’s going to be.” They said yes. Normally, just on principle, the network would say no because they want to pick who the cast is or they’d be like, “You need somebody from a CW show or you need somebody from this.” They didn’t do that which was so cool.
I really hope this works and I hope the network grows because this could become a playground for people like us. It’s such a breath of fresh air. The fact that they did a sitcom, even after I said that we’re not making fun or spoofing sitcoms, we are a sitcom with a live studio audience, a laugh track, the whole nine yards, except it’s this type of material. They went for it. You’d think with FEARnet they’d be like, how do we do an “X-Files” or let’s do a horror anthology, something that you would expect. But, they did the most unexpected thing as a first move which really, really takes balls, and that’s been the best part of the process. It’s the people that say, “What? At first I was like what is this, and then I started watching and by the end of it you got me.”
Yvette: You mentioned earlier that this has been thirteen years in the making. Can you tell us more about that?
Adam: Well, when I made “Coffee and Donuts”, I made it for four hundred dollars just to see if I could make it. I didn’t even know what I was doing. It ended up being developed as a sitcom for UPN about three years later. It was, essentially, this show. But, it was what you would expect a major network version of this show to be. Once we were done with the script writing process, it wasn’t even really my show anymore. Then, UPN merged with WB and all development of the show got lost. So, they held the rights for about five years, and I couldn’t touch it. In the meantime I went and did “Hatchet”, “Spiral”, “Grace”, and “Frozen.”
Peter Block, who was the producer of “Frozen”, ended up becoming the president of FEARnet about two years ago. He contacted me and said, “I’m going to be the president of FEARnet, and I need to figure out what my first original show is going to be.” And, I’d been trying forever to get this show going. But, as soon as I would get to the point of, “Okay, and then there’s an alien who lives in my closet, and only I can see him, and he’s going to be played by the guy from GWAR,” it was over. They’d say, “I don’t know what GWAR is, and there isn’t going to be an alien in the closet.” Or just saying there were going to be random acts of violence like a “Scanners” moment of exploding somebody’s head, that’s where I would lose these execs. I didn’t want to compromise on that.
So, it took thirteen years, but I think it all happened for a reason. I know people hate hearing that because it’s easy to say when it did work out, but things do happen for a reason. If this show had actually gotten made ten years ago, eight years ago, it wouldn’t be this show. The amount of creative freedom and support I’ve had is unheard of in this industry. So, it really did happen for a reason.
Sometimes people go, “So now you’re trying TV because you’ve done features?” Really, it was the other way around. I started in TV. This was the first project I ever tried to get going. That was how I made my living at first was being a writer for television. I made my living writing pilots for major networks. The shows never got made, but you still get paid to write them. That’s how I was able to support myself and go and do things like “Hatchet.” There’s really no money in your first independent movie unless it becomes a hit, and I was fortune there. But, you have so little to make the movie with that you have to be really frugal with how you pay yourself and how everybody gets paid because you try and keep the money on the screen. But, by being a TV writer, I was able to support myself. So, I’ve actually been doing this for a long time. I think people just didn’t know.
Yvette: So, really if you think about it, Television had to catch up with you. You knew what you wanted for a long time, but there weren’t any channels or outlets available for you to do it, in the way you wanted to do it.
Adam: I think that’s exactly it, and it’s happened to me before. I developed a show in the early 2000s based on a real guy who lives in LA. He’s a clairvoyant and when a real estate company can’t sell a property they would hire this guy to come in and cleanse the house. It’s actually based on a real guy, I saw the story in the paper and pitched the show. The network bought it, so I wrote and developed the script. But, in the end, they said, “I just don’t think America would watch a show about a clairvoyant person who sees dead people.” Then, two years later, there’s “Medium”, and “Ghost Whisperer.” So, once again I was too soon. I think it was the same with “Holliston.” Any time I tried to get this going it was too soon.
I do want to be clear, the story has changed a lot and grown as I have. The show as completely redeveloped from the ground up with FEARnet. It’s still the characters that I always had, but it actually got to become more personal at FEARnet because I am a horror director and I did live this life with that struggle and chasing that dream. Other versions of this over the years featured two guys that wanted to be radio DJs or two guys that want to be podcasters. But, this is so much more real, and I think that’s why the show feels so genuine.
Yvette: Well, it makes sense that the show has grown with you, and now you even have your own production company. Tell me more about ArieScope Pictures. I have to ask if that name came about because you’re an Aries?
Adam (laughing): Honestly, yeah, that’s really how it happened. There’s three of us that sort of founded the company: myself, Will Barratt who’s been my cinematographer on everything I’ve done, and Cory Neal who’s a producer. The very first thing we ever made, back when we were still making crappy commercials back in Malden, Massachusetts, was a short film called “Columbus Day Weekend” where Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees stalk the same campsite by mistake and then they fall in love with each other. We just made it as a goof to show at a Halloween party. We weren’t ever going to show it to anybody, and we made it for eight dollars. It was a joke. The opening credits were made to look like “Friday the 13th’s”, and I was like, shit, we need a production company. What’s our production company going to be called? We had five minutes before we had to finish this, and I’m like, wait a minute. You were born April 2nd, I was born March 31st. Aries…? What sounds like film? ArieScope? ArieScope. Done. And, it stuck for thirteen years now. Now you go to the movies and see that big logo come up with the thunder and lightning before “Hatchet” or “Frozen” or any of these movies and you’re just like I can’t believe this worked.
Yvette: Being an Aries myself that’s awesome! Now, I have seen both “Hatchet” and “Hatchet II” and enjoyed them and really enjoyed them. So, I was surprised when I saw them being criticized for being too bloody or too gory. Seriously?
Adam: It wasn’t too bloody; it wasn’t too gory. It was all f**king politics.
The first “Hatchet” was my answer to the torture porn and the mean-spirited horror movies out there. I was like, wait a minute, how did itthe horror industry become this? I used to go to horror movies and I would cheer and I would laugh and I would walk out really happy, and now I feel like I’m being punished. I don’t want to watch a woman get raped for forty-five minutes. This isn’t what horror is to me. So, I went back to what it is for me which is taking the classic slasher formula and doing it my way which is by using humor. With a slasher movie, you’re setting up characters to be killed. Everybody knows they’re going to be killed, and you want to see them killed in inventive and cool ways. You don’t want to see cartoon, CGI animation. You want to see the old Tom Savini way of latex and blood and guts. So, I made a movie that I didn’t know that anybody was going to like besides me and my friends, and it really struck a nerve with a lot of people and took off.
But, I came out at a time when the MPAA was under a lot of pressure because of the torture porn. So, they really singled me out and went after “Hatchet.” I couldn’t believe how censored that movie was when it opened in theaters. In one aspect, I’m going to the theater on opening night, buying a ticket like everybody else, and I’m like, oh my god, my first movie made it to theaters. Then, I’m watching the movie and thinking this is not the movie I made. After two years of people reading about the reactions at festivals and the reviews and like none of the death scenes are in there anymore, it sucked. So, I fought back. I had an appeal, and it went to trial, and I’ve been a marked man ever since.
So, “Hatchet II” rolls around and they were just like no f**king way. They were going to make me take every death scene out of the movie. Dark Sky made a deal with a major theater chain to put the movie out unrated which hadn’t happened in almost 30 years. It was like I beat the system, and it was history in the making. Oh my god, we actually got the movie put out intact. Then, in forty-eight hours the movie was gone, and nobody would be accountable for it. Nobody would say why it got pulled or what happened. There was nothing we could do except watch it unfold. So, now the movie made history again by being the first movie to ever be pulled from theaters on its opening weekend. The theater chain said it wasn’t making enough money which is bullshit; it was doing fine. It was on sixty-eight screens with no marketing and still pulling in audiences. Besides, how do you even figure out a per screen average when the movie starting getting pulled instantly? It some theaters it didn’t play at all and in some it only played once. So, there was some shady stuff going on there, and I’ll never know exactly how it went down. Nobody will.
Yvette: I did an interview with Todd Farmer, and it was an eye opener as he explained the politics of the horror movie industry. We went to see “Hatchet II” opening weekend, and then all of the sudden it was gone!
Adam: Yeah, I got hit with what were, essentially, restraining orders saying do not talk about, don’t say anything. I couldn’t fight back. Every filmmaker in Hollywood contacted me saying this is crazy and I can’t believe this is happening. I’m like, well, fucking say something. And they’re like, dude, I’ve got a movie coming out in four months; I’m not saying anything. Nobody did anything. Kevin Smith was the only person who publicly said something. But, the happy ending to the story is that controversy probably made it more popular than it was going to be because people said, “Oh my god, I’ve got to see this movie.” When it came out on DVD we got a green light for another sequel within seven days. It was huge.
But, then what bothered me were people saying, “That was a great move. That was a publicity stunt.” Do you really think we’d go through all of that, to make people put it in theaters to pull it? The distributor lost a lot of money off of that. That was a horrible, horrible thing. But, now here we are on pre-production of “Hatchet III”, cameras start rolling in six weeks, and Victor Crowley lives on.
Yvette: Are you just overseeing “Hatchet III”?
Adam: Yes. I wrote it and I’m producing it. I handpicked the director and It’s the same crew that made the other two; everybody’s back again. I just won’t be in the director’s chair this time. I think two was enough for me. I don’t want to keep repeating myself and doing the same thing. I waited five years to make “Hatchet II” because I needed to go do completely different stuff like “Spiral” and “Grace” and “Frozen.” Even now I have the TV show going which is a huge, time-consuming thing wearing all the hats that I wear on that. Then I’m writing “Killer Pizza” right now for MGM; Chris Columbus is producing it. To stop all of that for a year to direct “Hatchet III” won’t work. I’m just not there now, and I don’t think I’ll ever be there again necessarily.
So, I picked BJ McDonnell to take over. He was the camera operator on everything I’ve done. He’s shot over 100 movies, everything from huge, studio Tom Cruise movies to Rob Zombie’s movies, my movies, and he’s always wanted the chance to direct. So, here’s his chance. But, I still wrote it so everything that’s happening is happening my way. Hopefully it won’t even really feel like there was a change. But, I mean that in a good way. I don’t mean that BJ’s not going to be able to put his own stamp on it. I mean that he knows what this is, and he wants to stay true to what the fans like about it. He’s not going to come in and be like we need to change this all up and turn it into something else. He’s very much not only part of the “Hatchet” family, but he’s a “Hatchet” fan. I have all the faith in the world in him.
Yvette: We’re all looking forward to it. I enjoy a good slasher film (the only thing I’m afraid of is zombies). I love Kane Hodder and Danielle Harris is an absolute doll.
Adam: She’s great. In this one she’s really going to become more like Ripley in “Alien.” She had a really hard job in the second one. She was replacing an actress who had already played that role. The other part is that, normally, in a film you get to work yourself up to that emotional level. You get to start and everything’s good. Then, slowly things get worse and by the end you’re screaming for your life and crying and running. She had to start the movie off in the grips of Victor Crowley and having her whole family killed and everybody dead in front of her and about to get killed herself. That’s her starting point. So, the whole movie she is a wreck. Now, in this one, she’s reached the next level and she’s broken and numb and even more pissed off. If the last ten minutes of “Hatchet II” were any inclination of where her character’s going then I think she’s really going to have a lot of fun with this one.
Now, I haven’t let her or Kane or anybody see the script yet. They never get to see it too soon. Sometimes I don’t even let them see the whole thing. I don’t even really know why I do that to the actors. But, it’s just fun to keep them on their toes a little bit.
Yvette: I think it keeps it fresh so their reactions aren’t so rehearsed.
Adam: It does especially when they’re like, wait a minute. I didn’t get the last four pages. What’s going to happen? I’m just like you’re going to have to wait and see. And, of course, they’re all, come on!
But, “Hatchet II” even circulated some fake scripts. That’s the hard thing with the internet now. Just one person hits that forward button and the whole movie’s ruined for everybody. Then, you’ve got sites that review different drafts of scripts. How do you review a script? The only person who knows what the movie is going to hopefully be like is the director. You can’t review a script. I’ve seen that happen to so many people, so I’m very, very careful with it. Even the actors only get hard copies; they don’t get electronic versions; they’re watermarked. It sucks that you have to do that. It’s not like “Hatchet” is “Star Wars” or something like that where everyone is trying to get it. But, it just takes one so you have to be really careful with that stuff.
Yvette: Even with a script I imagine there’s room to allow actor’s to do their own thing, and I’m sure there are script changes along the way.
Adam: Exactly. We’re constantly, constantly changing. You might have planned it to be one way, but then you get there and it’s raining. There are a million things that happen where you can’t do it that way and you have to adjust, or you come up with something better. Until the movie’s done there’s no way to tell what the actual movie’s going to be.
That being said, Adam had another interview to get too. I thanked him for taking the time to talk with Shallow Graves Magazine, and wished him and the rest of the cast of “Holliston” a great day!
For more information on Adam Green and “Holliston” check out the following sites: