“A big film that has the luxury of a $150 million ad budget will certainly educate the public as to what the title means or what kind of film it is. But when you have no money and you’re at the video store or scrolling down the menu on iTunes or Apple TV, the title has to be understandable so people get it. If you can tell a story without even a log line, you’ve got a killer title.” – from the interview with Charles Band
As much of a fan as I am, I’ve never had any interest whatsoever in making films. The whole process seems hard and complicated and scary as all hell. However, I’m somewhat absurdly obsessed with looking into the inner working of film, especially everything that happened behind and beyond the camera. When watching, the story means the most to me, but I’m always curious about what goes into making sure that the story is told effectively. Not only does Danny Draven’s Horror Mavericks: Filmmaking Advice from the Creators, fill that need for me, but it seems to hold some damn helpful tools for those actually interested in doing something with the knowledge as well.
Horror Mavericks consists of 19 short interviews with some of the masters of Horror film, ranging across all levels of production. Want advice from Charles Band (president of Full Moon, as if you didn’t already know) on using 3D technology? How about cues from Reggie Banister (the Phantasm movies) and Robert England (if I need to tell you, kindly step away) about how the best directors interact with their actors? Add in producers, directors, composers, sfx and vfx artists, Tony Timpone and Lovecraft, because why not, and you’ve got a powerful medley of information in a slim, easy to carry package.
The variety of sources is what makes this book stand out in a see of similar resources. Usually you get a book focusing on one or two aspects of filmmaking, usually effects, directing or acting. It was very informative to hear from producers about what they look for when someone is pitching an idea or how a good one interacts with the film crew. Likewise, the interviews with composer Nathan Barr (Hostel I&II and True Blood) and Director of Photography Sam McCurdy (The Descent) were very enlightening from a fan point of view.
Similarly, the brevity is another highpoint. Every interview gets right to the point, cutting past the fat and self-hype that usually bloats books like this. I’m not kidding you that I read the entire thing during a day at work, while trying to keep teenagers from beating each other up. At the same time, as short as it is, it’s packed to the gills with information. And you can cram it in your pants pocket if you really need to.
Now on the down side, I’m sure Lloyd Kaufman (once again, if you don’t know him, step away quickly, blasphemer), Robert Englund and Debbie Rochon aren’t saying anything they haven’t said a million times before in a million other places. Also, I have a tough time believing that anyone really needs to hear acting advice from John D. LeMay (especially when more useful info has already been given by the aforementioned Englund, Rochon and Banister). That’s nowhere near enough to hurt the overall package, though.
Danny Draven has worked as an editor, director, cinematographer and writer for over a decade as a part of Full Moon, so he obviously knew the right people to go to and knows how to be economical with everything he does. That approach works out marvelously for Horror Mavericks, giving the maximum bang/buck/space ratio for obsessive fans and aspiring filmmakers.