RUN LIKE HELL – The long and torrid history: PART FOUR.

To be honest, I never really expected to be writing a Part Four to this journey, but I really should have known better. The tale of getting Run Like Hell to the public could never end as easily as a simple Kickstarter campaign, right? I swear things have been so insane with this project for so many years that when this is all finally finished, I’m going to feel a large gap where all this constant tribulation used to be. Anyway, here we are with a recap of everything that happened since the Kickstarter ended last June.

For those who never read the beginning of this project’s insane journey, here are links to how we got here:

The long and torrid history of Run Like Hell:  PART ONE

RUN LIKE HELL – The long and torrid history:  PART TWO.

RUN LIKE HELL – The long and torrid history:  PART THREE.

Now, I know I’ve mentioned this in past postings, but it bears repeating. Obviously there are some instances where specifics can not be discussed. There are times when legal teams, contracts, and a lot of ugliness held sway. These are not situations that I will delve into for obvious reasons. I may reference vague generalizations, but specific name-calling and complete descriptions will not happen. Just know that sometimes being the nice guy stops working, and you have to kick some ass to get things done.

And now, on to an unexpected PART FOUR.

THE FIRST RED FLAG.

So it was June 4th, 2013. The Kickstarter campaign finally came to a successful close, and everything seemed to be going my way. To add a bit more to this story, I had also just recently sold a TV show with a high profile actress to ABC Family during the same period (I’m sure you’ve already seen past updates about that.) It was an insane time where everything was nutty, but things seemed like it was going right. I was given all kinds of promises about timelines and completion dates, etc, about the book, and because of this information, I gave August 2013 as a delivery date for the final product. I was actually even told there would be “preview copies” done in July for me to take to the San Diego Comic Con, but I decided to put August as a safety. Oh man, was I wrong.

The first red flag came pretty quickly. Initially, I never thought Run Like Hell was going to printed in paperback. I always thought since I was raising all the money myself, I’d just do it all in hardcover. So image my surprise when I saw it listed on Amazon… in trade paperback. Now initially this was pleasantly surprising for me. I thought, hey cool, now I’ll have hardcovers for the Kickstarter campaign, and trades for the wide release. Makes the Kickstarter books that much more exclusive, and that much more cool. I thought APE had a big master plan for all of this. The only problem was… my contact at APE seemed to forget all about the hardcovers. He thought he was only doing trade paperbacks.

Yes, there was some initial confusion, but it seemed solved. I wrote multiple checks (with all the raised Kickstarter funds) to APE for two separate printings, one for trade paperback, and a later one for hardcover. Bear in mind, I made ZERO money on this project. Of all the money raised, 5% went to Kickstarter, which is their fee. 5% went to Amazon Payments, which again is a requirement through Kickstarter. And all the rest went to APE for the printing, with only a little left over for all the shipping I’ll be doing to send these babies out. *Note: yes, to make matters worse, the check for the hardcovers LITERALLY got lost in the mail. I discovered that yes, that actually does happen! It’s not just a fake excuse or an old wive’s tale. Of course that would happen on this project, right? Sigh… Anyway, I digress. Long story short, the money was all spent, and everything seemed back on track.

So in addition to the August release of the limited edition hardcovers, all sorts of planning was going on for the unexpected trade paperback release as well. For instance, NYCC was in October, and my artist Karl wanted the book for that since he was attending. APE also had plans to release it wide in October 2013 to coincide with Halloween, which makes perfect sense given the book… then it got moved to November because there was another high profile project that they were focused on… then it got moved to December… Yeah, you get the idea. Long story short, ALL these plans went POOF. And the books were nowhere to be found.

DISAPPEARING MONEY AND NO BOOKS TO SHOW FOR IT.

Throughout the rest of 2013, delays upon delays upon delays kept piling up. I was utterly confused by it all. All we really had to do was finalize the back cover, and the credit pages, and that was it. The book was looooong done (for years.) But for some reason this posed more problems that you’d ever believe. Long story short, I discovered, the hard way, that my little opus was just simply not a priority for a few of the people that were supposed to be pushing it through the finish line. I further discovered later that the one of main reasons for this constant “dropping of the ball” was that the point man on my project, and one of the heads of the company, surprisingly LEFT his post at APE, thus leaving a lot of people and projects high and dry. Me and and my project were seemingly collateral damage in this scenario. He obviously didn’t really care about the book if he was going to be leaving. So yes, AGAIN… regime change almost destroyed my project, for a third or fourth time (depending on how you look at it.)

I was flabbergasted that all of this could happen again. I had raised the damn money. I paid for the printing and book myself! And all the money was gone. How could I seriously be going through all this garbage again??? Meanwhile, I was receiving numerous emails from backers asking where the book was. Some were nice. Some were not so nice. But I understood their anger. They paid money for a product, and promised a timeline, and it wasn’t delivered. The problem was, at the time I had no idea what was going on either, nor had any answers for anyone. I thought it was for sure one final death rattle of a doomed project.

Mainly because of the in-limbo/gone(?) Kickstarter money, this was around the time when the aforementioned attorneys, contracts, and ugliness took place. Certain threats were made, and ready to be backed up. I admit I think I wrote some of the most angry emails, and partook in some of the tersest phone calls, of my career. It wasn’t fun. But thank GOD, certain things started to move. I didn’t want things to go in the direction they were about to… Attorneys and legal tangos are NEVER a good time. And I should add that this was not really APE’s fault at all. It was a few other individuals that kept dropping the ball. Let’s just call them “middlemen.” Damn you middlemen.

FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY.

Finally. That is definitely the most appropriate word. Finally in the opening months of 2014, things started to open. Finally I started to get some answers. Finally I started to get some headway. Finally. I have to give a shout out to the COO of APE, Brent Erwin, for really stepping up for me. He helped with a lot of these “finally’s” and decided to take it on himself to finally make things right. A new sense of righting some wrongs took place, and things started to happen again. My worries about my disappearing money, and zero product, were eased. But as part of this enlightenment, as an insulting bonus, I discovered that some of the stuff that I was told was finished last summer NEVER EVEN TOOK PLACE! Grr…

Frustrations aside, I am, as I will always be, a believer in the “all’s well that ends well” philosophy. Because quite honestly, if I wasn’t, I’d have dropped dead long ago from the stress of it all.

So finally, after all’s said and done… I’ve got my books.

To commemorate this “finally”, here’s a brief photographic tour of that pinnacle. It happened yesterday, April 8th, 2014 — a full TEN MONTHS after the Kickstarter campaign ended. I already posted this on Kickstarter to my backers, but I’ll repost here for anyone who didn’t see it. This is a sampling of what it looks like for an almost decade long journey to start to have a sense of completion.

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Here is my escort through the Indiana Jones-like warehouse toward my books that just arrived by barge from Korea. That’s the pallet of my books to his left.

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This is just some weirdo making sure this is really happening. Yep, both Trade Paperbacks and Hardcovers. They. Are. Real.

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Loading them all up! My wife’s leg guest stars in a special cameo.

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And here they are. Limited edition hardcover copies created exclusively for the Kickstarter backers. And in the boxes below them, a few trade paperbacks for the rest of the world.

I honestly can’t hardly believe they’re real.

And now that I have my books, I’ll be sending out all the Kickstarter orders and finalizing the rest of the plans for the release with APE. Quite honestly, I have no idea what that’s going to be. Promises were initially made, but by now you should realize that means nothing. All I care about is that I hope as many eyes as possible can get their hands on, and read the book. That’s seriously all I care about. Heaven knows it’s not about money, or else I’d have chosen a much different career. Run Like Hell has been a lengthy labor of love, with an insane amount of lessons learned, but hell, the book is finally published.

Like I said before… All’s well that ends well.

Phew.

Thanks again for coming along with me on this journey. All I can say is that hopefully there’s not a PART FIVE.
Jeff


A Bloody (and lengthy) Valentine’s Day Update

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Usually, whenever it’s a holiday, I’m ranting to anyone within earshot my opinions on that specific holiday’s best horror films (it’s obvious, but please watch the original UNCUT version of My Bloody Valentine if you’ve never seen it.)  Although, this Valentine’s Day I’m here for a different reason.  First, yes, I’m still alive.  I know I haven’t written in a while, and even sadly skipped both my Horror Advent Calendar, and Sundance Film Festival updates this year. But you’ll have to cut me some slack.  I’ve been pretty swamped. Regardless, the main reason I’m here is because many people have been asking, so here I am to finally give a bit of an update on a few current projects.

#1 – Let’s not beat around the bush. Most of you want to know what’s the latest with The Final Girls. http://www.deadline.com/2013/09/abc-family-preps-horror-drama-jamie-lee-curtis-attached-to-star-steve-miner-to-helm/ Pretty much every time I see anyone, the first words they say to me are, “So what’s going on with the show?”  Well, as most of you know about this business, it’s ALWAYS the best policy to say less, than it is to say more.  So forgive me if I pick my shared information carefully. But the nitty gritty of it is a typical good news/bad news situation.

First the good news.

The good news is that the pilot is in the best shape it’s ever been in creatively. We’ve had some ups and downs, that’s for sure.  What good roller coaster doesn’t have those wonderful hills and valleys?  But after many delays, starts, stops, hirings, firings, and countless bottles of whiskey, I’ve finished my rewrites, polishes, tweaks, hugs, and full blown french kisses on the project. I’m insanely happy with it.  Now, that’s NOT to say that there won’t be more work done on the script. Everyone in this business knows that’s never quite the case. These pilots go through 100 ringers (and sometimes writers) before anyone has the confidence to put millions of dollars into it. I get it. That’s a lot of dough. That being said, I do believe that if we were in a typical pilot situation, we’d be out shooting this baby as I type.  But… we’re not in a typical pilot situation…  And this is the part I have to leave out. Without going into the unique specifics of this project, and all of its machinations, because of these unique terms, along comes the bad news.

The bad news is that we’ve been delayed. Originally we were planning on starting shooting in March, with a eyeballed starting airdate of October, to coincide with Halloween (of course.) This does not appear to be happening anymore. The calendar just doesn’t line up. It’s a bit of a bummer for me, because I like to move when I feel like things are ready. Plus, I’ve been through maaaaaaany of these delays before in my career, and I know that delays of any kind always open the door for a world of other potential issues. I hate delays. But, there is a new plan of attack being constructed for my little opus over at ABC Family, and that takes time. I just have to wait it out and see our fate. That being said, the reason for the delay might actually be because of a good thing.

The bright spot of this bad news is that we are still a big priority at the network, and no one wants to rush this. They know this is a project that could be huge for them. The potential is endless. Everyone simply wants to make sure everything is exactly where it should be, and exactly right for the audience. They still have full confidence in the show, and that hasn’t wavered in the least. Sometimes things that are high priority aren’t rushed, but rather carefully plotted. Plus, let’s not forget that there’s a brand new president over at ABC Family, and whenever there’s a new boss in town, there’s always an extra round of “quality control.”

To end this Final Girls update, I’ll say this. Now, I’ve been around the block many, many times in this business. I’ve seen it all, and I’ve dealt with it all. Because of this, I take everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, with a grain of salt, including this next comment. But saying that, I have been told with utmost assurance, that shooting our series is not a matter of “IF”, but simply a matter of “WHEN.” Grain of salt or not, I will leave you with that. Not “if”, but “when.” That’s all I can really hope for in this crazy town. Let’s just hope the “when” is sooner rather than later.

#2 – My other larger update is what hopefully is one of my last updates on the matter of my graphic novel, RUN LIKE HELL.  As most of you know, I have gone through literal hell in getting this thing to print. Well, I’m glad to say that just yesterday, I finally approved the absolute final proofs, sent to me directly from the printer. After all this time, and all the shit I’ve gone through with this book, it’s finally being printing as you read this!  I could not be more happy about this.  Here is a sneak peek at the final cover, both front and back. Click on the image for a larger version.

RLH Cover Final Proof

I will defintiely be posting more in the upcoming months about final release dates, where to buy it, and all that good stuff.  For now, I’m just ecstatic that all my amazing Kickstarter backers that helped me make this book possible are finally going to get their HARDCOVER copy that they so richly deserve. Stay tuned for more on RUN LIKE HELL for sure.

#3 – Lastly, I wanted to fill you in on a teeny bit of film news.  Mostly, my film news is all over the place, and because of that, this is definitely where I like to subscribe to the less is more school of thought. But I can spew these two tiny neato tidbits.
– First, my tattoo script DERMIS has some new life, new producers, potential new financiers, lots of life. Stay tuned on that one.  That is my personal favorite script I’ve ever written.
– Second, my indie project BETA TEST has attached the awesome Fran Kranz as the lead. Fran was absolutely incredible as the stoner hero from The Cabin in the Woods. He will be perfect in this Cronenberg-esque mind-mender of a project. It’s out to female leads now.

So yeah, there you have it. Lots to write about. Thanks for sticking with my long-winded update, but it actually saves me time from having to explain it all each time I see anybody. There is a lot more going on behind the scenes, but this will have to do for now.

Until next time, everyone go out and enjoy Valentine’s Day. I know it’s a Hallmark holiday, but who gives a shit. It gives people in relationships a reason to be a little nicer to one another. What’s the problem with that? And hell, if you’re single, it gives you a lot more opportunities than you think. Get out somewhere. Call another single person. You’re all feeling the exact same way. Trust me.

Be good everybody. Till next time!
Jeff


Día de los Muertos = Jeff has returned to his coffin

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For most of us in the states, November 1st is usually referred to as either Halloween Hangover, or “What the hell, it’s November already?”  But for much of the world, today is Día de los Muertos, aka the Day of the Dead.  It’s as much a macabre celebration as it is a remembrance of deceased loved ones.  So however you decide to celebrate it, dig in and do it right.  As our skeleton friends here should remind us, life is too short to do anything half assed.  Because soon enough, today will be OUR day.  We can only hope we’ve left behind loved ones that want to celebrate us as well.

And on that note, I need a break.  October is over.  It’s been a long month.  Many horror movies.  Many costumes.  Many amazing experiences.  But dammit, I’m exhausted.  I’m taking some time off.  Much love to you all.

See you on the other side.

Jeff has returned to his coffin.

 


THE RETURN OF MY TOP 13 HALLOWEEN HORROR MOVIES – For the Stan Winston School.

As many of you probably saw last year, I did my TOP 13 HALLOWEEN HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME for the Stan Winston School of the Character Arts last year.  In case you missed it, here are links to both PART 1 & PART 2.

www.stanwinstonschool.com/blog/top-13-halloween-movies-part-one
www.stanwinstonschool.com/blog/halloween-movies-top-13-part-two

But like all good horror movies themselves, that list needed a sequel.  So here we go again.  The RETURN of my TOP 13 HALLOWEEN HORROR MOVIES.  Yes, the return, or the revenge, or the bride of, or son of, or seed of… whatever.  It’s a sequel.  So if you have any interest, here’s the follow-up.  I’m sure many of you will disagree, but I welcome that.  Go ahead and give it a gander anyway.

The Return of Halloween’s Top 13 Horror Movies

Hannibal

www.stanwinstonschool.com/blog/top-13-halloween-horror-movies-jeff-dixon


10/31/13 – OCTOBER HORROR MOVIE RECOMMENDATION #31 – Rosemary’s Baby

rosemary's baby

When I do these lists each year, people inevitably ask me, “You’ve missed some obvious and amazing horror movies. Why haven’t you put (insert film here) in yet?” Well dear friends, as any good horror writer/filmmaker knows, it’s just as important how much you hold back as it is how much you deliver. And as difficult as it is to hold back on listing some of my absolute favorites, I must so that every Halloween, I have a super special film for you. Rosemary’s Baby is this year’s super special film. I’ve been DYING to put this on my list for a few years now, but I’ve been waiting… and waiting… till just the right moment. And this leads right into why Rosemary’s Baby itself is so utterly perfect. It is the ultimate slow burn horror film. Roman Polanski’s masterpiece waits… and waits… and peels back layer… by layer… It unfolds its mysteries at such an ideal pace, that you find yourself practically leaning forward waiting for more. For those of you who have never seen this movie, it’s about a young couple that moves into an old NY building with a dark past. As the couple meets their elderly neighbors and are “welcomed” into the community, well, a mystery begins to unfold. And yes, as the title implies, it mainly circles around Rosemary’s pregnancy. The connection you feel with Rosemary is so ideal, that it’s almost like the situations that happen to her, are happening to you as the viewer as well. From the initial stages of her pregnancy, where she loses weight instead of gains it (and she had almost none to lose in the first place), to the constant pains she must live with, to the later scenes of pure and utter helplessness, you are right there with her, feeling everything she does. And speaking of Rosemary, this is definitely Mia Farrow’s movie. She’s just so lovely in every way, that you truly feel for her. To think that this movie is almost 50 years old just blows me away. It’s just gorgeous, deep, emotional, and an ideal portrait of NY in the late 60’s. Rosemary’s Baby is an almost perfect movie. Please do yourself a favor and either revisit it, or watch it for the first time. Get drawn in again, and witness the birth… of a great film.

And thus concludes this season’s October Horror Movie Recommendations.  As always, it’s been amazing everyone.  Hopefully these (and the past years’ lists) will tide you over until 2014!

NEVER stop watching horror.

Happy Samhain.

Happy Halloween.


10/30/13 – OCTOBER HORROR MOVIE RECOMMENDATION #30 – Halloween II

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I had to get one more Jamie Lee Curtis flick in here before this year goes bye-bye. And this time I’m going sequel. I know this film can be divisive. Hell, let’s be honest, aren’t ALL sequels?? But in my humble opinion, Halloween II is actually a great follow-up to the original Halloween. For one, it does my absolute favorite sequel device. It picks up at the exact moment the first one ended. It even replays the original’s final scenes in order to keep that carryover feeling intact. In fact, the entire film takes place on the same Halloween night as the original. So really, if you watch both back-to-back you can just imagine Halloween I and II as one lengthy movie. This same trick has been done with other films as well, including [REC] and [REC]2, another favorite series of mine. But when these types of sequels work best is if they not only continue the same vibe of the original film, but also introduce new information that makes you look at the original in a little bit of a different light. Now, look, I get it… Some people don’t like that. They like the original pure and untarnished. But here’s the deal, if you aren’t on board with a sequel, fine. No biggie. Just don’t watch it, and you’ve still got your memories of the original in pristine condition. But for me, I’m always excited to see how the filmmakers expand upon their original ideas, especially when it’s a film I love and revere. With Halloween II, they up the body count, up the violence, change the locale from a neighborhood to a hospital (for the majority of it at least), and most importantly, they broaden the scope of the Michael Myers mythos, including an explanation of the mysterious relationship between he and Laurie. It’s not the first film, I know that. It’s even got a different director (even though John Carpenter did co-write it.) But it does retain a lot of the same style and suspense. It still has some wonderful Michael Myers-seen-in-the-background moments. It still has his tilting and inquiring head. And most importantly for me, it still has the amazing Jamie Lee Curtis picking up exactly where she left off from the original, as the ultimate survivor. Laurie Strode rules. And so does this movie, sequel or not.


10/29/13 – OCTOBER HORROR MOVIE RECOMMENDATION #29 – The Lost Boys

Lost Boys

Yep, another 80’s horror movie. I’m sorry, I can’t help myself. But come on, this is The Lost Boys here. This is Peter Freakin’ Pan for the horror crowd. This movie is what Twilight WISHES it could be. This is teen vampire angst done right. The storyline follows a newly divorced mother and her two sons moving into a new beach town looking for a fresh start. Unfortunately for them, this new town, which is dubbed “the murder capital of the world”, just happens to be crawling with vampires. There are so many things to love about this movie that it’s pretty difficult to list them all, but I’ll try. First off, the actors involved. This is the 80’s encapsulated in actor form. Corey Haim, Cory Feldman, Jason Patric, Jami Gertz, Dianne Wiest, Alex Winter, and of course, Kiefer Sutherland. Come ON! He’s so awesome in this!  Then all the amazing music (“thou shall not kill…) The soundtrack is fantastic. And that concert scene with the ridiculous, buff, greased up, saxophone-playing lead singer might be one of my favorite concert scenes in a movie EVER. Plus, I swear you will never see another film with more helicopter or swooping shots in it. Watch it again, you’ll see.  It’s a quirky studio film with some fantastic little twists and turns along the way. There actually isn’t that much violence until toward the end, and then it’s just awesome. And the finale vampire battle is just top notch. Funny story, I grew up going to the Santa Cruz Beach & Boardwalk every summer, where this movie is filmed. And the one thing that ALWAYS disturbed the hell out of me as a child was that on their Sky Ride, they would put these weird random caveman-like mannequins on a few of the chairs. They terrified me. They haunted my dreams. Well, if you watch the opening montage of this movie where it shows numerous clips of the boardwalk, there’s actually a glimpse of one of those damn Sky Ride dummies. For me, that just guaranteed this movie was always going to stick with me. Anyway, stupid Sky Ride dummies aside, this movie rules. The amusement park setting. The biker gang aspect. The incredible vampire “lair”. Everything about this film is just magic. Go see it again. It really does hold up.


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