"...We Are Fucking Cursed."
I hate reading scripts. I know, I know... I'm a director, it's part of my job... But I have the shortest attention span of any person I know.
I am scared to think about how many jobs I have lost out on due to my lack of actually reading scripts being sent to me.
That said, when I picked up Chris Monfette's script of ABATTOIR I could not put it down. It was the first time I can remember finishing a script, and going right back to the beginning to start over again.
ABATTOIR was based on a series of comics I created with Radical Studios. I was busy at the time, and could not write the script myself, so Monfette was hired based on a spec script of his I had read years back.
While I loved the story of a man building a haunted house, I more so loved the way Chris wrote the dialogue. 1950's snappy Noir Speak. It was different.
The movie was set in the modern era, but the lead characters were trapped in the 50's. The script never acknowledged it, nor made mention of it.
I was in love.
The movie was cast and financed very quickly. And off to New Orleans I went.
We were about 10 days from production when my phone rang... It was my agent informing me I was coming home. The movie had fallen apart.
The moment this call took place, I was siting with our then lead actor talking wardrobe with him.
It was devastating. At this point I had been in New Orleans for months. Locations were locked, the film was cast. I had moved into my apartment and had been working around the clock with our cinematographer and production designer.
The next morning, I boarded a plane back to Los Angeles, depressed and demoralized about the fate of ABATTOIR.
Within a week, there was light... A new equity source was going to come in and save the movie. We were all but back...
And then my phone rang. Our 1st AD had had a stroke and was in the hospital. Two days later he died. For those in the know about how productions work, the AD is the backbone of a film. When he died, our production died, too. There was no way we would be able to remount quickly without his knowledge of the script and prep he'd already done in New Orleans.
As the weeks passed, we lost our cast and crew. The offices we were occupying were turned over to another production. We were officially over...
I went into a state of depression. I had loved this film, this script, and this world. Worse, it was humiliating. This was the first time in my career something like that had happened.
A few months later I received a call from Jesse Berger. He was determined to see this movie made, and refused to let obstacles get in his way. He had found a new equity source and we were going back to New Orleans!
Casting began, a new crew was hired, and I was back on a flight to New Orleans a few weeks later.
This time, the movie was shut down within the week. Our new investor suffered a heat attack. While he survived, he was reborn. He wanted nothing to do with movies, let alone horror movies about opening gateways to Hell.
Seven days later I was back in my house in North Hollywood.
Over the next year, the movie was resurrected, and died again, and again. It became comical.
And then, one day, my phone rang again. Jesse had found the money, and we were going back one last time to try to make this thing... WITH some caveats. The budget was now far less, the time to shoot was far shorter, and our resources to tell this tale were far fewer.
But fuck it. There was no way I was gonna NOT let this movie get made.