Please have a look around and sign up to interact in the forum. All questions and requests will be answered within the threads in the forum. Please note, all dvd’s ordered from the store will be signed by myself, Ryan Nicholson, unless otherwise suggested in your specific order. Any personalized signings must be requested as well. Please note, Plotdigger Films is not accepting any unsolicited screenplays, pitches or screeners at this time. I simply have too many ideas of my own that I need to exploit. This site will be updated regularly so visit often. There will be new items in stock at the store soon, early 2012, we are just finalizing t-shirt designs, etc. Dvd’s priced at 19.99 will now have shipping excluded. We have essentially been selling selling dvd’s for 10 dollars because shipping was never attached within the Paypal orders. We cannot continue to sell products without attaching proper shipping costs.
All orders to date, Jan. 01st 2012, have been shipped. We thank-you for your continued support of Plotdigger Films and the work of Ryan Nicholson. Without you, we are just another indie shit stain in the world of underground horror. With you, we are Plotdigger Films and you are all family. Let’s kill it in 2012!! Insanely, Ryan
Ryan Nicholson’s “Star Vehicle” takes New Image acting students on a horrific trip
Star Vehicle, the latest shocker from the infamous Ryan Nicholson, is a comedic nightmare that’s part Taxi Driver, part Friday the 13th, and all brutality. Starring Dan Ellis (Nicholson’s Gutterballs and upcoming sleaze-o-rama Hanger),Star Vehicle tells the tale of a frustrated Teamster driver, abused by spoiled Hollywood stars and arrogant film students, who becomes a ticking time-bomb of revenge. Films-within-films and a sense of self-awareness lend comedic bite to this tale of madness and murder.
As a co-production between New Image College of Fine Arts and the fiendish fear-mongers at Plotdigger Films, Star Vehicle combines the talents of our current students with the expertise of a seasoned cast and crew. A crew of nearly fifty has been working on location in Maple Ridge, where they’ve turned several rural homesteads into the isolated, blood-soaked setting of Forest Grove Lodge.
On set we spoke to Nathan Durec, a talented young actor who spent four years in a theatre conservatory before joining New Image’s Advanced Acting for Film & Television course. In Star Vehicle, Nathan plays Luke, a hotshot director filming a slasher opus in the deep woods, leading his young crew to cross paths with disturbed driver Don Cardini (Ellis) — who has his own ideas about what makes a good gorefest.
“It’s been eye-opening, even compared to our other projects,” says Nathan, contemplative after finishing his final scene of the shoot. “We’ve worked on short films and plays before, but until now, nothing of this magnitude. Our classroom experience is set up to be as truthful as possible, but nothing beats the immediacy of a real set and seeing how it all actually works. It’s very intense with our tight schedule.”
No doubt the tight schedule is made tighter by a shoot that’s almost entirely outdoors, during a wave of record-breaking sunny heat punctuated by sudden rainstorms. “I like the fact we’re filming in an actual location as opposed to a sound studio,” says Nathan. “It definitely contributes to the reality of the film, and makes acting much easier.”
Dealing with nature is always unpredictable, as any filmmaker or actor can attest. “We’re here twelve hours a day,” says Nathan. “We get sunburned, we tread through disgusting water, we get eaten alive by bugs.”
Emotional tensions can run high when filming an intense scene, especially in 35-degree heat, but Nathan remains upbeat. “For the most part it’s been very positive. It definitely helps to hang out with the cast and crew beforehand and spend time getting to know one another. In a film with this many extreme emotions, you have to be comfortable with people.”
The acting itself, says Nathan, was an intellectual challenge as well. “I come from a heavy theatre process, and I’m attached to the idea of rehearsal, which makes for a pretty easy transition into film.” Nathan tells us he has the entire script memorized — although constant alterations have forced him to think on his feet. “Ryan is very into improvisation. He’s incredibly open to new ideas and improvements on the script. On breaks, we often bounce ideas around with him and the other actors. It’s all great, but it means I have to be adaptable.”
Ryan’s ad-libbed dialogue is well-known amongst horror fans; Gutterballsis reputed to have the single most f-words (600+) of any fiction film ever made. Star Vehicle‘s dialogue is certainly more structured, but the improv is a challenge all the same. Nathan seems more than capable: “School’s a place where you discover your limitations — and how to break through them.”
For New Image students, every day on set is a powerful learning experience. “Usually on the ride home, I think of elements I wish I could’ve incorporated,” says Nathan. “I’m of the school of thought that you never stop learning, and every day is a new avenue for it. In the end, I’m still just a small part of a large project. At the end of the day, I’m very happy with my part.”
Plotdigger Films’ other releases are underground hits amongst hardcore horror fans, and it’s possible that Star Vehicle will expand the Plotdigger audience. As for Nathan’s expectations, “I just like to see a good story done well. I’d love to see it on the big screen with all my friends and all the people I’ve worked with. Anything else is icing. I’m just happy that the film gets made, and happy for the opportunity to do what I love.”
Would Nathan do another slasher horror? “Yeah I definitely would,” he laughs. “It’s not my usual genre, but it sure is fun!”
Sept. 26, 2009 — New Image College of Fine Arts interviews make-up and gore effects artist Jeanine Chau on the set of Star Vehicle.
Ryan Nicholson’s “Star Vehicle” gives New Image make-up students a crash course in bloodshed
Few films are more intensive, make-up wise, than horror films. Not only must a make-up artist create stunning and sexy looks for living actors, but they must also create convincing looks for these same actors during, and after, their untimely deaths.
And ‘untimely death’ may as well be Ryan Nicholson’s middle name. Nicholson, the director of underground horror hits known for their shocking violence — including Live Feed, Gutterballs, and the upcomingHanger — has partnered with New Image College of Fine Arts to create an all-new feature entitled Star Vehicle. The film combines the talents of our current students with the expertise of a seasoned cast and crew, working on location in Maple Ridge to turn several rural homesteads into the isolated, blood-soaked setting of Forest Grove Lodge.
It requires a vivid imagination and a strong stomach to run the gauntlet of gore. On set, we spoke to Jeanine Chau, a student of our New Image Make-Up for Film & TV course. “It’s really good experience, very educational and fun,” says Jeanine, a lifelong horror fan. “The most important elements in movie make-up are patience and teamwork. Not to mention speed… everything is on a tight schedule, so you have to be quick.”
Jeanine was responsible for make-up on three of the male leads, with full applications of film make-up including dirt, bruises and blood when necessary. “Male makeup is all about subtlety. Guys shouldn’t look like they’re wearing makeup.” This is true even in the case of Kris Michaleski, whose character (the neurotic actor Jordan) sports a unique paleness that makes him the butt of endless jokes. Jeanine worked with Kris extensively to perfect his vampiric look. “I’ve worked on photo shoots with models before,” she says, “but still photography tends to be more forgiving. On film, you don’t have the luxury of Photoshop!”
Jeanine worked under close supervision of her teacher, make-up master Michelle Grady. She also helped Michelle with creating body molds for the actors — molds which were used to create the ultra-realistic mutilated corpses seen onscreen. “Michelle’s a really good teacher,” says Jeanine. “Despite how busy she is on set, she always makes time to help me out personally and she’s there when I need her. Like me, she’s really into the horror genre and her passion is really great to see.”
The close-knit nature of a small film production led to a lot of cross-talk, Jeanine noted. “I’ve met all kinds of great people, from the script supervisor to the production assistants to Janet [Ross], our wonderful craft services lady. It definitely helps to be social on set and keep each other entertained.” Jeanine also learned to employ her other talents on set: in addition to makeup, she also designs the gothic outfits for Jenny (Paige Farbacher), a sultry goth-girl, alongside wardrobe designer Rosalie Herrera.
Yet even on the most busiest film set, there tends to be some downtime for the crew. The value of keeping up a good rapport with colleagues, explains Jeanine, can’t be overstated. “Interacting with the actors and the other crew is a blast. I learned a lot. There’s never a dull moment with the boys. Dan [Ellis, who portrays disturbed driver Don Cardini] was hilarious and friendly. I think I’m pretty easy to get along with, too… I like joking around.”
As a fan of Nicholson’s previous films, Jeanine is excited to see the final cut of Star Vehicle, and she looks forward to making a bloody splash in the industry after graduation. “It’d be awesome to do another horror film,” she says. “I’d love to work with Ryan again, too. He’s a great guy and it’d be incredible to help create the kinds of special effects he does. I love his motto when it comes to gore: Less isn’t more. More is fucking more!”
Mar. 13, 2010 — Wildside Cinema interviews Ryan on his special effects career, the making of Gutterballs and more
Archived from Wildside Cinema. Please visit the site for more interviews like this.
Wildside Cinema: Ryan, thanks for taking the time to do this. Many horror fans will probably know you as the filmmaker behind Live Feed and the recently released Gutterballs, but you’ve had your hand in many pies. Among them: X-Files, Smallville, David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ, Lake Placid and even Ghost Rider. How long have you been in the business?
Ryan Nicholson: I’ve been building dead bodies and monsters one way or another since I was a pre-teen but my first foray onto a real movie set was around 1994.
WC: X-Files. That show was great until David Duchovny needed to be closer to his woman in L.A. Did you work any of the great episodes like Home, one of the Eugene Victor Tooms episodes or the one with the Flukeman?
Ryan: I was working for the guy that did the X-Files FX for a few months only but I got to do a couple of really cool episodes. The Stephen King one about the giant doll and also the William Gibson one, I forget the titles but they were both very interesting episodes. The ones you mentioned were very well done but that was before my time at that fellow’s studio. Interesting note, the guys that wrote “Home”, James Wong and Glen Morgan, went on to do “Final Destination” which was one of my first big movies that I was in charge of the FX on.
WC: You’ve worked on movies featuring Charlize Theron (yum yum), Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jude Law, Willem Dafoe, Lance Henriksen, Ben Affleck, Danny Trejo, Tim Robbins and Michael Rooker among many other very big names. Were you ever on set to meet and work with these guys, or were you clustered away in a studio doing effects and props?
Ryan: I had Ben Affleck in my shop to cast his head, I still have the cast. Same with Danny Trejo. I lent a hand molding Jude Law and was also around when Dafoe got molded for “eXistenZ. I was onset with Rooker and Henriksen. But I didn’t meet Theron, Van-Damme or Robbins. I’ve been around many stars but it’s hard to approach them on a fan boy level if I’m working on the movie. I wanted to approach Rooker and be all “Henry” this and that, but I didn’t. If I work with a star long enough, I’ll get the feeling sooner or later if we’ll talk about his or hers roles or if it’s something they don’t want to chat about. I met Christopher Lee in Rome while doing the “Pope John Paul II” mini-series and I couldn’t hold back! I was like “Man, I loved you as Fu Manchu!” He was great, he talked a lot about Jess Franco and told me all sorts of cool things. I was in fanboy heaven!
WC: Live Feed, released in 2006, is probably the first thing people will know you for. How did it come about? It must have been a huge undertaking to do—going from effects guy to doing it all.
Ryan: I had made a short film “Torched” a couple of years earlier, just to see if I could make a movie on time and on budget. “Live Feed” came to mind when I was in that very same porno theatre checking out “rumors” of live sex shows. I didn’t think that existed anymore and was sure to find out if it did! I went to the theatre and sure enough, I saw a bunch of dudes and a hooker getting it on. I thought to myself, “this is just too weird”. Then I started thinking about all the missing prostitutes in our city and the fact that this theatre could be their last place on Earth or “The Gates Of Hell”. It was so sleazy and scary in this theatre, I knew it was a perfect setting for a horror movie. They also had these couples rooms, these VIP rooms that locked from the outside! You’d be locked in by management until your time was up! It was so bizarre. Making the movie there, in the actual theatre was even more bizarre. We shoot from the time they’d close until the time they opened. It was grueling and very disgusting. Imagine going into a porno theatre at closing time! The place is sticky man! And not from spilled pop! It was a massive challenge to pull it off and looking back, I wonder how we ever did it. The theatre is now gone, demolished to make room for condos. I kind of miss it. The nostalgia of it all.
WC: I love the line delivered by the Asian butcher from Live Feed “You good with cleaver. You kill dog before?” Was that a line you scripted?
Ryan: LOL! I love that line to. Yes, it was scripted. For the most part, the actors in “Live Feed” didn’t stray too far from the script. There’s a lot of funny lines in “Live Feed”. It’s really more comedic than horrific. On “Gutterballs”, actors were coming up with all sorts of funny dialogue, most of it was kept in the movie.
WC: In Live Feed, the possibility of a real snuff movie is put forth. Do you think snuff flicks exist in real life? That the events portrayed in your movie could be happening? And do the perps in Live Feed sell copies of the killings?
Ryan: I think the closest thing to a “snuff movie” is evidence locked away by police, taken from real-life serial killers Leonard Lake and Charles Ng. They filmed their crimes and these tapes were evidence against Ng in his trial. Lake killed himself by swallowing a cyanide capsule as soon as he was caught. Ng fled to Canada, caught shortly thereafter and extradited back to the US. As for “Live Feed”, that’s a good question about the “selling of the tapes”. I had it in my mind that everything was live. They watch live sex and murders on the big screen. It’s a sick form of entertainment for the cliental. I do think that people have for sure video-taped their murders, but for their sick use, not for public viewing. That would increase the chance of these people getting caught.
WC: While watching Live Feed, the viewer knows you’re not going to pull many punches: by the two minute mark, you show very full nudity. Yet in Gutterballs, your newest release, you may have gone further. Is the sex real?
Ryan: The sex is real in the sense that it is portrayed how sex really is. How’s that for a non-answer!?
WC: I must admit I have a gripe with Gutterballs: the swearing. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard the word “fuck” uttered that many times in a movie before. To quote from Live Feed, “there’s no need for fucking profanity!” Do you think it was at all distracting from the sex and violence? That words can be more powerful than actions?
Ryan: I think that everything in “Gutterballs” is way over the top. The swearing being one of those things. Looking back, I think if we had stuck more to the script, there would be way less swearing. But when you’re shooting in the middle of the night and you’re sick and tired, people have a tendency to say “fuck” more than they normally would. It’s just how it turned out. There’s a drinking game on how many times “fuck” is said and how it is said, etc…I’m not lying! I don’t know if that’s an honor or an insult!
WC: Gutterballs is a throw back movie: it’s set in the 80′s, it has a great score of 80′s oldies and unabashedly features sex and lots of blood, violence and gore. Hell, even the poster DVD art is an homage to 1980′s Maniac. What was the reasoning behind the retro setting?
Ryan: I think bowling is very retro. The clothing is retro, the shoes, etc…I think to place characters from nowadays in a bowling setting would be less interesting than to place characters plucked straight out of the 80′s and stick them in this huge modern facility, which is essentially what we did. I also think the look lends itself to the kills. They’re very much modeled after the great slashers of the 80′s. “My Bloody Valentine”, “The Prowler”, “The Burning”…they all work so well. “Gutterballs” needed to feel like you were in a time warp. From the reviews thus far, I think we achieved it.
WC: CAT III films and Japanese pinku films feature a lot of rape scenes, and they try to make them “sexy”, yet you went the other way. Was the rape designed to repulse rather than arouse?
Ryan: For sure. My intent was to provoke sympathy. I don’t like to hear people getting off to this stuff. If defeats the purpose of making this movie. It’s a rape/revenge movie. You need to feel sickened and repulsed by the actions of the bad guys to really want to see them killed so violently and so brutally.
WC: Two goofs happened during this scene: 1) The actress was supposed to be going commando (a term I don’t believe was invented in the 80′s) but she was clearly wearing underwear. 2) One of the characters was instructed on which end of the bowling pin to rape her with, but still messed up—but was told he was doing it correctly. Am I nitpicking here?
Ryan: No, you’re pointing out some continuity issues. Things slip up when shooting so late. The rape was shot over two nights. The actress wore panties when she didn’t have to due nudity. Some things we miss while editing. I know which part you’re talking about. She’s being man-handled before she’s thrown onto the pinball machine. I always thought that was part of the elastic from her skirt, the white string you see. But it could be taken for panties. As for the pin, the character “Steve” orders “Patrick” to use the “big end” and “Patrick” argues “it won’t fit”. My intention for the next line was to reveal “Steve” was only joking when he says “No shit it won’t fit…just make it deep”. So “Patrick” uses the small end again. I guess it’s all in how you interpret how the character says this or that. As for the “commando” line, your guess is as good as mine. I don’t know if that was around in the 80′s but I haven’t specifically set the movie in the 80′s. It could be early 90′s or nowadays with this cast of characters wearing retro clothing which is the trend or so it seems.
WC: Gutterballs features some very interesting and graphic deaths. You’re an effects guy at heart. How much of the movie is just a setup to kill people in an interesting fashion?
Ryan: The movie was a huge set-piece to kill of the characters with inventive deaths. The “Wax-O-Matic” was written in the script just so I could wax someone’s face off. There’s no denying the strongest parts of the movie are the kills. Just setting the movie in a bowling alley gave us so much to work with. The pins, the balls, the ball returns, behind the lanes…the possibilities for creative death scenes were endless.
WC: I can’t tell you how much I laughed at the 976-3845 phone number. I’m sure a huge chunk of your audience saw it, knew it was from the old movie directed by Robert Englund (976-EVIL) and enjoyed it as well. Another chuckle I got was the “Loonies Only” condom dispenser sign. Nothing says made in Canada like a Loonie.
Ryan: That’s funny, I wondered how many people would catch that! The “Loonies Only” will probably confuse a few people who don’t know much about Canada’s currency but I had to leave that in there. I’m proud to be Canadian and I won’t change things or “Americanize” them just to sell the movie to a certain market. Believe it or not, some distributors wanted less “eh” because it’s too Canadian?? Go figure…That’s why I have that great shot of the “Canadian Beaver” right in the opening scenes. Gotta love Canada!
WC: Live Feed is widely available in rental stores. Will Gutterballs have the same saturation?
Ryan: Absolutely! TLA Releasing’s “Danger After Dark” label is huge when it comes to getting product on the shelves and better yet, they’re only releasing it UNCUT in North America. No “R-rated” version to confuse yourself with. Although other countries will in fact be releasing two versions. The “edited” version is nearly 15 minutes shorter!
WC: Another of your films, Torched. A Story of Rape & Revenge. I really want to see that sucker! It seems like everybody who’s seen it, has loved it, but I can’t get my hands on a copy. I hear that I may finally get my chance with a re-release of it.
Ryan: Plotdigger Films is actually releasing the “Torched: The Director’s Cut” in the Fall. It is the first “official” stand alone release of “Torched” and will be longer, gorier and sexier. Not the rape is sexy by any means, but there’s a couple of sex scenes in “Torched” that have nothing to do with rape. I’m excited, I get to cut it together over the Summer. It’ll be the first movie I’ve actually edited myself, hence the “Director’s Cut” tagline.
WC: I read a while back that Live Feed will be re-released as a CAT III cut, with possibly some new scenes, or pick up shots added. And what’s this I hear about a possible Live Feed 2?
Ryan: Indeed! As with “Torched”, I’m also doing a “Live Feed: Cat III Edition” with more gore, sex, etc…a new sound mix, new special features and it may actually be released on Blu-Ray. It will also have a teaser for “Live Feed 2″, something to whet the appetite but I still haven’t shot the movie, just a teaser for the movie I will eventually shoot, if that makes any sense!
This interview was conducted by Vaughn Drake for Wildside Cinema. Wildside Cinema and Vaughn Drake would like to thank Ryan Nicholson of Plotdigger Films for taking time out of his busy schedule to conduct this interview.
Mar. 17, 2010 — Sean Decker of DreadCentral interviews Ryan on the subject of Star Vehicle, Famine and future projects.
Archived from Dread Central. Please visit this site for more interviews like this.
Ryan Nicholson of Plotdigger Films, the writer and director responsible for the 2008 sadistic rape/revenge feature Gutterballs, chatted with Dread Central regarding his next horror ventures, the in-the-can feature film Star Vehicle and his soon-to-shoot slasher flick Famine.
Produced by John Craig and Chari Van Dyke and set for a European DVD release this spring by Cult Movies Entertainment (North American distro is in the works at present), Nicholson’s fourth feature, Star Vehicle (see exclusive production stills below) presented by New Image Entertainment and Plotdigger Films, follows “the downward spiral of movie driver Donald Cardini (actor Dan Ellis), a self-professed movie buff with a penchant for explosive violence when provoked.” Said Nicholson, “Driving the stars of low-budget movies along with their fragile egos to and from locations in the middle of nowhere pushes Don’s buttons – in all of the wrong directions.”
Those suffering the wrath of the driver include “Luke (actor Nathan Durec), a young and self-absorbed filmmaker who challenges the driver’s authority,” revealed Nicholson, as well as, “the movie’s Scream Queen starlet Riversa Red (actress Sindy Faraguna), who to her dismay finds herself the target of Don’s obsession. With his encyclopedic knowledge of her ‘body’ and of her body of work, the driver worms his way onto Riversa’s good side, who then finds herself at the center of a cyclone with both the driver and filmmaker vying for her attentions.”
As for the twist, Nicholson said, “A mysterious hotel bellboy (Nick Windebank) and an unknown ‘watcher in the woods’ lend themselves to the growing suspense as the cast and crew hole up at Forest Grove Lodge, although after two grueling days of principal photography, the driver becomes unhinged and finds himself fired from the production. His dismissal from the project comes with a price, though, as he returns to the set with a loaded 9mm the next day and forces the film’s cast and crew to act in his own home movie. Those who make a stand are dealt a deadly hand, and those that await their fate wish they never stepped into the ‘Star Vehicle’.”
“I wrote the movie based on experiences I’ve had with movie drivers,” said Nicholson, who previously helmed 2006′s Live Feed and last year’s Hanger, of his inspiration for Star Vehicle. “Those guys can be in very bad moods. They work the longest out of anyone, and they share the limelight the least. But they’re the hub of information. They know who’s doing who!”
This scribe wondered if such a film-centric subject will be inaccessible to a portion of the film’s audience (people may watch “Entourage”, but box office results for industry-related flicks have historically been less than reliable), and Nicholson expounded, “I wanted the main character ordinary because I didn’t want him to be alienated from the viewers. I wanted the audience to relate to an ‘everyday’ kind of guy that is pushed and pushed to the breaking point and finally snaps. I think viewers outside of the film industry will relate because Don is like the weird uncle you see at Christmas every year – and that’s once too much!”
With FX provided by Michelle Grady (she who conjured the nastiness on display in Gutterballs) and music by Steve Moore, aka ‘Gianni Rossi’ of the electro-synth duo Zombi (he who provided the aural candy for Gutterballs), Star Vehicle was shot on the Panasonic HDX-900, and Nicholson said, “It’s the first movie I’ve had the chance to upgrade to better resolution. The movie was shot outdoors, and the results are amazing.”
As for Famine, Nicholson’s next venture, the film is currently in pre-production with a start date for principal photography scheduled for this July in Vancouver, Canada (Dread is slated to be on-set so expect in-depth coverage this summer).
“Famine will be directed by me from a script written by Jeff O’Brien, who wrote Insecticidal,” Nicholson told us. “John Craig and Chari Van Dyke will produce, and Michelle Grady will provide the gruesome murder effects. We will be shooting on the Red Cam more than likely.”
As for the plot of Famine, which the filmmaker referred to as an “80′s school slasher homage,” Nicholson said, “Two years after a prank with a Bunsen burner a la ‘Slaughter High’ which send a popular male high school teacher to the critical burn ward a la ‘The Burning’, the culprits – and graduating class – of the high school set up for a 24-hour ‘famine’ in the gym. It’s a big party with a DJ, some dancing, and their nasty demise as one-by-one they are knocked off. In the end the killer is revealed to be … a surprise!”
“Fans of Gutterballs will dig Famine in the ‘kill-scene’ department,” said the filmmaker, who’ll commence casting for the flick in May. “As with the bowling alley in Gutterballs’, this high school location will lend itself to some amazing set-pieces. It will also have a retro vibe to it with wardrobe, music, and props; and the violence will be extreme.”
Will the fornicating be just as extreme as seen in Gutterballs, we wonder?
“As for the sexual content, I will leave the depraved sex for Gutterballs 2,” teased Nicholson, “which goes into production spring 2011.“
Apr. 2, 2010 — Cary Conley of Rogue Cinema interviews Ryan about the triumphs and trials of low-budget filmmaking.
Archived from Rogue Cinema. Please visit this site for more interviews like this.
Writer/director/producer Ryan Nicholson burst onto the film stage with 2004′s Torched, a gruesome rape/revenge short. Since then, he has written and directed three more extreme horror films, each topping the last one in outrageous violence and black comedy. Cary Conley, another fan of extreme horror, recently interviewed Ryan about his filmmaking experiences, his influences, what he loves and hates about making films, and how to deal with those hateful comments on Internet message boards. CC: Ryan, you have an extensive list of makeup and special effects credits stretching back 15 years. What first got you interested in movies and special effects?
Ryan: My Father, Roy Nicholson, was a huge fan of horror and sci-fi movies back in the day. I remember he took me to see David Cronenberg’s “The Fly” and I freaked out! He was a fan of the original “Fly” so it’s like full circle because now I take my son, Taylor, to see remakes of movies I saw when I was younger like “My Bloody Valentine” and “Friday the 13th.” My interest in horror movies led me to do special effects, as I saw it a way into making movies. But I always wanted to make my own stuff.
CC: You are clearly a horror and exploitation fan. What filmmakers and films have most influenced you?
Ryan: Italian horror was a big influence and still is. David Cronenberg, David Lynch, John Waters and Abel Ferrara’s work was big for me. Certain movies just stick with you… “I Spit On Your Grave”, “Ms. 45″ and “Street Trash” were very well-worn VHS tapes in my collection, as was “Bad Taste”, “Zombie” and “Driller Killer”. I also fell in love with the work of Joe D’Amato and Jess Franco at a young age, along with Umberto Lenzi, Lucio Fulci and Ruggero Deodato. American directors like John Carpenter, Tobe Hoober, and Wes Craven are huge inspirations as well.
CC: Why did you decide to make the move to directing films?
Ryan: I felt that I was always more interested in the mechanics of film-making and that my goal was to be the machine rather than a part of the machine. I wrote many songs for a couple of different bands I had when I was younger and writing is more of a creative outlet for me than make-up ever was. Actually coming up with shots and sequences came pretty natural after being on numerous film sets. Directing actors and working with all the different departments to achieve something good is just damned cool.
CC: You wrote, directed and produced all of your pictures. Which of these three aspects of filmmaking do you like the best, and why?
Ryan: All three of those elements are rolled into one on any of my movies. Dealing with little money means being very creative. When I write, I know what is feasible and what’s not. Financially, I try to keep things within some sort of reach. Producing is the most stressful job for sure because it involves budgeting money and stretching the dollar. I’d rather have someone else deal with that aspect and I try to delegate most producer duties to my partners.
CC: Your movies tend to be extreme in nature, both in the depiction of sex and nudity as well as with your use of violence and gore. What interests you about extreme cinema?
Ryan: I like the taboo nature of these movies. I can’t stand it when filmmakers cut away from showing the “goods” and in our business, the goods are sex and violence. Certain images have stuck with me and left an impact. Like the scene in “Deliverance” when Ned Beatty gets assaulted. I was thinking, “He’s not going to do that! No way!” and then it happened. And the scene in “Re-Animator” with the infamous severed head between the legs. It takes more balls than brains to show things viewers will take offense to. Balls say, “Fuck it, show everything in a close-up,” but the brains say, “You’re cutting your distribution down 75 percent! Are you crazy!?”
CC: Has the content of your films made it easier or more difficult to find distribution?
Ryan: Most distributors shy away from our content because certain big rental outlets won’t stock it because of that said content. The upside is that the distributors we go with know the audience very well and promote our movies the right way.
CC: I know some of your films have been released in both unrated and R-rated forms. I’m interested to know what kind of relationship you have with the MPAA. Did you make precuts to the films or just send them an uncut version and let them make suggestions?
Ryan: The only movie of mine that received an official MPAA rating was “Live Feed”. This was because MTI, the distributor, has a good relationship with Blockbuster in the USA and Blockbuster needed an R-rating. Thankfully, MTI released two versions of the movie. My other films have been released Unrated in North America simply because there would be no way to appease the MPAA. In other countries, specifically Germany, they release two versions of all of my stuff but the cut versions are quite short, so the end credits run really slow for a real long time to top out at 80 minutes. My movies don’t just have frames trimmed, they have entire scenes removed! The censors are very heavy-handed with my stuff. To be honest, it doesn’t bother me because the audience that knows me knows they can find the uncut versions fairly readily.
CC: Gutterballs has a very long and brutal rape scene. As uncomfortable as that scene may be for the viewer, it must also be pretty uncomfortable for everyone involved in putting it on film. How did you deal with filming this scene in a way that would put everyone at ease?
Ryan: It was tough to film. The bowling alley didn’t know we would be filming a rape scene. I sold it more as a “fight” to them. But in the end, one of the owners of the alley came up and was like, “Wow, that scene was very well done.” I guess he had watched a live feed from a security camera! The actors had trouble unleashing on our first attempt so we reshot the entire scene and it worked very well. Candice Lewald, the victim, was very good at keeping her composure. The villains were all very good as well. It was tough for all of us.
CC: Working in independent films, I’m sure you are faced with many challenges. What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in making and marketing your films?
Ryan: I think blowing your load to make the movie and then having very-little-to-no money left to market the movie, to even shop it properly to distributors is our biggest challenge. The first couple of movies, “Live Feed” and “Gutterballs”, took awhile to get out. Word of mouth takes time and that is really the best marketing, but it’s not overnight. Now, with our fourth feature “Star Vehicle” coming out, people know to look for it. It took four movies to get noticed—and that’s okay–Rome wasn’t built in a day. Finding a reliable cast and crew is also tough when people make as little as 50 bucks to 100 bucks a day. It’s tough for people to commit to three weeks of low pay. I’ve been lucky thus far with my regulars but I’d like to be able to afford to pay everyone what they’re really worth one day. I’m sure they’d like it too!
CC: I’ve read quite a few reviews for each of your films as well as the message boards on IMDb. The criticism has sometimes been savage. How did you learn to deal with the criticism—or do you ever learn to deal with it?
Ryan: At first I was very insulted, sad and then angry. I called out a few critics and got into verbal sparring with them. They bait you. I learned fast and hard not to fall for it because a filmmaker cannot win that argument. When you make a movie, you have to accept the negative comments and reviews. I grew a thick skin after “Live Feed”, which was very poorly received. I still think it’s a solid effort, all things considered. When “Gutterballs” came out, I responded to negativity with positive feedback. Like “You hated it, well maybe you’ll give my next one a chance, if not, thanks for your feedback anyhow.” I learned to appreciate all reviews and even get a kick out of the really scathing ones because the writing can be very creative! I remember when Rue Morgue reviewed “Live Feed”. It wasn’t positive and I was crushed because I love that magazine and its contributors. I went on the boards and called them out and I lost an all-out war of words which I think caused them to overlook my second feature, “Gutterballs”. Almost everyone reviewed that film, but they didn’t comment on it. I let it be and kept buying Rue Morgue anyways. I actually bought a recent issue and the reviewer that didn’t like “Live Feed” reviewed my last movie “Hanger” and give it a positive review. It was a pleasant surprise to say the least. I think that you can’t force something down someone’s throat. If they choose to discover it, so be it. That is the way of ultra low-budget film-making.
CC: I’ve also noticed that you are one of the few filmmakers—even of independent features—that take the time to read the message boards and engage both fans and critics in dialogue. Why do you take the time to do this, and do you feel like it helps those who are critical of your films?
Ryan: I’m a horror fan at heart and I’ve been lucky to have certain filmmakers respond to me and the questions or praise I may have had for them. It’s very important to treat your fans as your family because in horror, we are one big family. I count on my viewers to buy my movies so I can make more for them. Interacting with my audience is the best way to find out what they like, don’t like, and to find out what they’d like to see. My audience and I share the same tastes in movies. I consider my viewers to be my friends because certain viewers are damned cool and have indeed become my support group when I’m so critically raped. I’ve met some awesome people and hope to continue to do so. Anyone can get in touch with me and shoot the shit about anything. I’m easy.
CC: I’ve seen all three of your features now, and it seems to me that they all have a great deal of humor to them, albeit a sometimes dark and politically incorrect sense of humor. How important do you think humor is when dealing with the extreme subject matter you work with?
Ryan: Humor is what gets us through the sadistic violence. I’m not a mean-spirited person. I consider myself level-headed and a good person. I’m the kind of guy that will stop on the highway and help a woman fix a flat tire, not rape and murder that person! There’s nothing wrong with make believe violence and/or violent fantasies if they stay fantasies. When you have trouble deciphering fantasy from reality, then it’s time to seek professional help. The humor in my movies is really how I view everything in life. The world is so fucked up you need to find the humor in it to get by.
CC: I guess a case in point would be films such as Cannibal Holocaust, In a Glass Cage, or even Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom. These three films are so bleak, so nihilistic, and so humorless as to really be pretty grueling for the viewer to watch. But I found myself laughing—sometimes in disbelief—at some of the offensive comments your characters made or some of the situations within the film, even though I was also disgusted. Was this your intention?
Ryan: It’s true… some scenes are so violent, you can’t help but laugh at the cruelty because it helps you know that you are still human and not totally fucked up. My intention is to take viewers back to these kinds of movies, the movies we loved in the 70′s and 80′s. But put my own spin on it. You can’t take these movies seriously, they’re too unbelievable. I’m speaking about my own stuff. It’s violent fantasy horror.
CC: I think that all of your films have generally had fairly high production values and better-than-average acting than many indie films, especially low-budget horror films. What kind of budgets have you worked with on your three features? Do you have any money-saving tips for other aspiring filmmakers who may be reading this?
Ryan: Thanks for that kind comment! We try very hard to make our shot-on-video movies look good on your TV set. We don’t do all that film look bullshit, we simply do hours on end of color correction to bring out the vibrant look and bring a certain quality to our stuff. I will be going back to “Live Feed” to get that look. It was almost there but “Gutterballs” and “Hanger” really captured what I’m going for. Cartoony elements. “Live Feed” will look fantastic once we treat it with what we’ve learned since. A new soundtrack and edit will help as well. The shooting budgets have been generally the same. I usually go into a film with about 25 thousand for FX pre-production and wardrobe… and then another 50K to 100K for shooting. Post-production is expensive with budgets ranging from 25 K to 50K for post, when dealing with picture edit, sound edit, mastering, etc., and finally marketing monies which all depend on how extensive you want to extend yourself. For instance, “Live Feed” and “Gutterballs” both had the North American Coast to Coast Fangoria Weekend of Horrors tours. This wasn’t cheap for us. We went to three or four cities for each movie and each city would generally put us out minimum 5k for expenses. Then you have merchandise you need created to give away, which isn’t cheap. I remember printing up hundreds of full color “Live Feed” t-shirts and giving them out at these Fangoria shows, forget the fact that printing each shirt was expensive, shipping the shirts there was costly, too. Add website construction on top of this and P and A expenses on top of this and your marketing costs can easily reach five figures.
My advice to filmmakers is Do NOT BORROW MONEY unless you are fully prepared to pay it back or ruin friendships. I’ve been paying back one loan for 20 K and it’s killing me, taking a long time to get it down when my movies aren’t giving me the return I expected. I also have a smaller loan for 10 K . One of my longtime friends and contributors put 8000 dollars into one of my movies and because I simply couldn’t make the minimum payment on time, he told me to go piss up a rope and refuses to talk to me, choosing to pay that loan back himself than be affiliated with me. Things don’t always go as planned in this business and it’s tough to lose a friend over money issues. I’m very open about my costs of film-making. But again, heed my warning… do not borrow money unless you want to pay it back from your day to day job. If you make that commitment, be prepared to live broke until you can break even. I’m not well-off by any means and I put myself in the poorhouse to make cool shit for others to enjoy, but that is the path I’ve chosen. I still have a day job teaching FX, which is pretty cool because the school I teach at also offers acting programs. I can check out new talent and it’s at our disposal if need be. Another thing to remember is that getting a deal is great. You’re all excited, your movie will be released to the public, etc., but you need to know that the distributors will also take everything the movie makes first, to pay back their costs to market the movie, pressing up the dvd’s, etc. So be prepared to wait until their costs are paid off before you see monies that go towards paying your own costs down it’s a long, hard road.
CC: Clearly you are influenced by exploitation subgenres that many of us know and love, such as the slasher film and the rape-revenge film. But as a writer, after you come up with a basic idea you want to work with, do you have a specific process that you use to flesh out the storyline?
Ryan: Once I have an idea, I expand on it like writing a play. I devise three acts and within those acts, chapters basically. I then flesh out a screenplay. I’ve had many treatments go by the wayside because I came up with something more interesting. I do go back to some of these ideas. Some I shelve. I like to see elements from some of these other ideas incorporated into stuff I’m filming. The slasher formula is pretty simple. The most fun I have is writing the death scenes because that’s where we excel. I’m proud of that fact. I don’t claim to be a well-versed writer, but I do hold claim to some very kickass murder sequences.
CC: There’s not really a question here, but I have to say that while both Live Feed and Gutterballs had many “gross-out” moments, I must say that Hanger was even over-the-top for you! It seemed like you threw in every vile and disgusting set piece you could think of. It had me both cringing and holding my bladder because I was laughing so hard. I could almost feel the sense of glee you must have had while filming. Do you have any comments about this observation?
Ryan: I was fuming at the world when I wrote “Hanger”. Many people were pissing in my cereal so it’s a big fuck-you-with-a-cherry-on-top kind of film. I loved shooting the movie. It was very challenging with all of the make-ups. Time wise, it was brutally long days but the cast and crew were up for it and pulled through. It’s an odd movie that plays out more like an adult comic book. That movie we shot in sequence for the most part and the weather was cold, snowing… you can see the snow falling in some of the junkyard scenes, but we get away with it because it looks like ash from the fires burning. We actually have a prequel comic in the works and you can preview the first few pages on the “Hanger” page at www.plotdigger.com.
CC: With Live Feed you created, for lack of a better description, a film in the “torture porn” subgenre; Gutterballs was a throwback to the heyday of slasher films as well as a rape-revenge vehicle; and your latest film, Hanger, was really a straight up revenge film. What’s up next for Ryan Nicholson?
Ryan: We have “Star Vehicle” coming out this Spring. It’s an outdoors revenge kind of thing with some twists in it. It has some of the best production value we’ve had. We upgraded to true Hi-Def cameras and the resolution is fantastic. I think the main character, “Don Cardini,” played most awesomely by Plotdigger regular Dan Ellis, is a very likable character. This is different than most of what I’ve written because Plotdigger Films don’t have super likable characters. This isn’t intentional; it just works itself out that way. “Star Vehicle” changes that up and you really root for “Don” when he snaps and goes bonkers! We also have a high-school slasher flick we’re shooting in the summer called “Famine.” It’s a nod to school slasher flicks with some very creative kill stuff… it’s a whodunit type of movie with a giallo vibe. After that, I really want to shoot “Gutterballs 2: Balls Deep”. The script is done and it’s a fun ride. It’s similar to the original in the depravity department. I’d shoot it sooner but I need more time to let people discover the first one. It is still building an audience and there’s many people left to discover it. I have a few original stories that I’d like to do as well, but making movies takes time and money. And you need both at once. “Live Feed” will be re-released at some point with a new capture, edit and sound. I really like that movie and feel that it needs to be seen again in a different light. It deserves a second chance in my opinion.
April 2010 — Tim Masson of Vault of Obscurity interviews Ryan about Hanger and future Plotdigger projects.
March 17 2010
Archived from Vault of Obscurity. Please visit this site for more interviews like this.
Welcome to the Vault, and thanks for agreeing to this interview, Firstly why don’t you tell us about yourself!
My name is Ryan Nicholson. I’m the creator of Plotdigger Films. I write and direct extreme horror movies and exploitation films. I’m located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
How and why did you get into the business?
I first got involved in motion pictures as a special make-up effects artist. I worked on crews doing some cool creature fx and also formed my own company, Flesh and Fantasy Inc. where I designed and created make-up effects for big budget Hollywood movies like ”Scary Movie’, ‘Elf’and ‘Final Destination’. I operated the studio for a decade before making the move into producing my own movies and teaching make-up FX as well.
What are your aspirations?
I really love horror movies. My tastes range from Jess Franco to Lucio Fulci to John Carpenter to anything in between. I give every horror movie a chance regardless of budget. The cheaper more diy films tend to be the ones I watch more often these days because the less money you have to work with, the more creative you need to be. I know that firsthand!
Who are your idols, and/or influences?
David Cronenberg is a big influence. Being Canadian, it seems natural to be influenced by another Canadian!
Tell us about your movie, What Should we expect from it?Any comparisons to similar movies?
“Hanger” is a very unique viewing experience. It’s really a Father/Son tale…an unlikely friendship forms after a brutally fatal abortion where the Mom dies and the fetus lives…it’s a very dark story with some comical undertones. All of my stuff has humor mixed throughout the gory mayhem. It’s just the way I write.
What where the best, worst, and hardest parts of making this movie?
The best is seeing your film get distribution because if you can’t share your movie with horror fans, it makes it nearly impossible to continue making movies without the resources. The worst is having to rush post production to meet the distribution you have agreed upon. The hardest part is paying for the movie after you realize the movie won’t be putting the money back in the bank as quickly as you thought. Making a movie doesn’t stop once you have it on the shelf in video stores…you have to actively promote it…it’s an ongoing process.
Did you enjoy making it?
I had a blast making “Hanger”! It was the no “holes” barred kind of film-making that I enjoy the most…when I can shoot what I want, how I want.
Any unique/interesting storys about making the movie?
Having Lloyd Kaufman fly into Vancouver and arrive for a cameo on the first night of shooting was a great experience. Lloyd has seen it all so I tried to make it a unique time for him. Debbie Rochon was totally awesome to work with as well. I usually work with the same group of actors so bringing in some fresh faces for their sake as well as mine was a good thing to do…shakes it up a bit. A unnerving thing happened on the day of the coat-hanger abortion shooting which I’ve never shared until now…I was reading the paper that day before set and the first thing I see is an article about abortion! I was like, is this some crazy sign? Anyways, pretty strange stuff.
Any upcoming or past projects you think may interest of readers?
I have a few ideas cooking. I’m shooting a high-school slasher type movie in the Summer called “Famine”. It’s really a nod to those 80′s school slashers that are always fun…like “Massacre at Central High”, that movie is in dire need of a dvd release! I’d like to focus on building our website and store into a place where horror fans can visit often and find cool stuff. With Blu-ray dvd out now, my latest movie “Star Vehicle” stands a good chance at being released on blu-ray. We shot true HD so it will look great!
What are some of your favorite Favorite Horror, Sci-Fi or Action movies (your own excluded)?
“Street Trash”, “Driller Killer”, “I Spit on Your Grave” and “The Warriors” to name a few. I dig the more exploitation style of movie…lots of nudity and gore. Italian horror is great as well. Giallo movies and gangster stuff that came from Italy in the 70′s and 80′s is fantastic.
This movie contains what is probably the most graphic abortion scenes ever filmed, can you shed some light as to how that scene was accomplished.?
We bought a very expensive pocket pussy, a casting of a pornstar and rigged it with blood/gore tubing, repainted it and punch some hair…made it look totally real. We bought a realistic newborn baby doll and did the same thing basically…with enough lubrication, the fetus pulled out of the silicone sex buddy really well. Sometimes keeping things this simple work better than sculpting, casting brand new stuff. I’m pretty notorious for all of the fake dicks I put in my movies so it was nice to switch it up.
Gutterballs was more or less a satire of 80’s slasher cinema, Hanger has a more unique and original story, was there any specific inspiration for it?
80′s slashers for sure. There’s also some 70′s nods in there. A big one too “Halloween”. But there’s subtle stuff like nods to “The Howling” and “Porky’s”, as well as a few sex comedies of the 80′s. I’m a product of that era so it was very cool to make that movie that way.
While where on the topic of Gutterballs, plotdigger.com, your company’s website has a mention of Gutterballs 2, can you confirm that project, and if so, tell us a little about it?
It will happen…not until 2011 though…I’m too busy with other projects and I also want to give the original some more time to get around in horror circles…I still have people saying “I just saw Gutterballs!”…it’s still being discovered and that’s a good thing. Dan Ellis, who played The Janitor, will be back…yes his head is blown off but there’s a spin on his character we created. It also won’t take place in a bowling alley…as scripted now it takes place at a water park but we’re still deciding on the location.
Any chance of a Hanger sequel?
There is for sure…I’ve thought of doing one and it is a very real possibility. As with “Hanger”, it would be a quick and dirty shoot. It’s crossed my mind.
Thanks, for participating in our interview, I greatly appreciated it, is there anything else you would like to add before we go?
This concludes the our interview with Mr. Nicholson,who is quickly devloping a reputation for being a modern day master of exploitation horror. For more info on him and his movies, please visit his company’s website www.plotdigger.com, and please check out my review of “Hanger” here on the Vault!
Archived from The Liberal Dead. Please visit this site for more interviews like this.
I’m not going to lie, Ryan Nicholson is one of my favorite directors. He has the balls to do a lot of things that other people in the industry would never do. Nicholson’s films have developed a huge cult following, and rightfully so. There is some real talent that goes into making these movies, and the fact that he’s as big of a film geek as we are, makes it the perfect storm of depravity.
Ryan’s films include “Torched” a short rape/revenge style film that was featured in the anthology “Hell Hath No Fury” in 2006. “Live Feed” a comedic survival horror film, which was also released in 2006. “Gutterballs” is THE best homage to trashy 80s slasher films that has ever been made. “Hanger” is Nicholson’s depraved take on the rape/revenge film, and is one of the nastiest movies that will ever make you laugh your ass off. This year, Nicholson, through his company “Plotdigger Films” will release “Star Vehicle” which is said to follow Dan Ellis on his trip into madness.
Ryan has spent a lot of time doing FX, and make-up for various projects, including several SyFy original movies, as well as some big name TV series, such as Supernatural, The X-Files, and Stargate: SG1. If you glance at his body of work on IMDB, It’s actually quite impressive.
Mr. Nicholson was cool enough to let us ask him a few questions about his work, as well as some other things. This is another thing that makes him one of my favorite directors. He keeps his finger on the pulse of the community, and makes himself accessible to his fans. We, here at The Liberal Dead, want to thank Ryan for doing this, even though he’s one of the busiest people in the industry right now. We also would like to wish him a long, and prosperous career. Enjoy the interview, and make sure to visit plotdigger.com, and pick up some merch.
LDead: Since this seems to be the hot button issue in the horror community right now, I thought I’d ask you a question in relation. If a big studio offered you an obscene amount of money to remake an obscure 80′s slasher, say, “Maniac” would you do it? And if so, What would you do to make a film like Maniac marketable to this generation of horror fans?
Nicholson: I would jump at the chance to work on a studio picture. I feel that if given the chance, I could make something cool for a larger audience, even if it meant doing a remake. There’s been some remakes that have worked really well. “The Hills Have Eyes”, “Last House on the Left” and “The Crazies” were some notable ones that stood out as quality. With something like “Maniac”, it would be a challenge because the original “Maniac” was all Joe Spinell. It was his performance and Lustig’s direction, that really made “Maniac” a cult hit. The FX were killer too! To be honest, I don’t really mind remakes. I like to see what the new generation of horror directors can bring to the table when taking on one of the classics. I’m a big fan of Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” redux. He put his own stamp on it. I admire him for that. And who can argue that his “Halloween 2″ didn’t have some of the most brutal onscreen murders you’ll have see in a multiplex? It was vicious.
LDead: Danny Ellis seems to appear in all of your films. Have the two of you been friends for a long time? What’s it like working together, do you have to do a lot of “directing” with him, or does he usually get your vision without much coaching?
Nicholson: Dan and I are like Brothers. We both love horror and more importantly, we both love film in general. I’ve known Dan since he read for “Gutterballs” in 2006. We have stayed tight because we both share the common goal of making bigger pictures one day. And it takes dedication and hard work. Nerves of steel help as well! Dan knows what to expect when working on one of my movies. It’s cool because he’s like the veteran on our sets. Any time a newbie actor is about to get killed or bitches at the blood being poured or sprayed on them, Dan and I just laugh because they really don’t have a clue. It makes it easier liking the people you work with and I dig Dan, he’s just a cool guy, plain and simple. He’s very determined to try and bring out better performances from his cast mates too. He thrives on an actor that has some chops. He really enjoyed acting opposite of Debbie Rochon because she has some serious skill and range. Dan’s the king of improv so I just let him go and he delivers.
LDead: Your films are all similar, in that they remind the viewer of ’70s and ’80s exploitation. Do you make these types of movies because you felt there was a lack of decent homages to this era of film? Or is it just what you grew up watching, and what you wanted to be known for as a film maker?
Nicholson: I think it’s an area that I excel in moreso than straight up horror. I am not one for the “scares”. I love scary movies but when I make movies, I just can’t help making them campy. No matter how straight-up I write a script, it always starts to twist into a 42nd St. kind of movie. The more outlandish, the better. I don’t know how to do anything different and I don’t really want or need to. My fourth feature “Star Vehicle” is about as “dramatic” as I’ve ever gone but in post production, I’ve been trying to bring it into the realm of my other stuff. The continuity is there, it’s just tough when you write something one way and you can’t help but film it another. It’s the story of my life. I always come full circle and my circle is a sleazy one.
LDead: Hanger may have been one of the most disgusting films I’ve ever seen. It also made me laugh, even at it’s most disgusting. Where did you get the idea for such gags as the “tea” and the “poop sack” ? Did these scene gross people out while filming?
Nicholson: The colostomy bag was a part of “Hanger” and the damage he obtained while being aborted. I knew that “hole” and “bag” would and could play into some sickness big time. I think people in general have many fetishes. Some are more slippery and smelly than others. Russell’s “Tampon Tea” seemed like a logical fetish. After I wrote that, I actually came across some Asian fetish porn with tampons and tea! “Hanger” dabbles in reality and what people do when others aren’t looking. The movie to me, is a guilty pleasure. It was something I needed to make at the time. As people discover it, they are really surprised at how different it is than “Live Feed” and “Gutterballs”, but those two movies are very different than each other as well. I don’t want to keep remaking the same thing. I like to switch it up a bit. Explore new orifices!
LDead: There never seems to be a lack of cocks in your movies. Are we seeing authentic “man meat” or do most of the gags involve prosthetic penii?
Nicholson: I will never tell! But I think you can tell the real ones from the falsies. The only real one was “Sam’s” in “Gutterballs” and we cut that in half! Kidding. But seriously, I would rather to shoot real cocks… but men are very timid on film, way more than women. The women on my shows have more balls than the guys. Because the women get naked and don’t make it a big deal. The guys are like “dude don’t shoot my ass, I may be famous one day!” It’s cool, all my cast are great and I respect their boundaries even though I give them a little nudge here and there.
LDead: One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard with Gutterballs were the characters. Personally, I felt like you were aiming for the audience to hate the characters, in order to make their deaths fun. Would this be an accurate assumption?
Nicholson: It’s true, I wanted the audience to hate the characters. That’s why the rape seems to relish in the violence. It’s the characters enjoying it. Therefore, logically you’d hate the bad guys. I think overall it was the ample swearing the got to most viewers. But I do find it amusing that we have the most “F” bombs in any movie ever made other than the documentary “FUCK” which is on the word “fuck”. Someone actually counted and it beat everything. It beat “Goodfellas”, “The Devil’s Rejects” and anything else for that matter. We should have an award for that! It wasn’t intended but it’s kind of cool.
LDead: I mentioned this to you on Facebook, but would you ever consider shooting a spaghetti western, casting Dan Ellis as a sort of “Man without a name” type of character? If so, what would you call it? Going over your body of work on IMDB, it seems like you spent most of your career working on Special Effects on various Television shows and films. What was the greatest special effects job you’ve done, and what would be your advice for someone that wants to get into the business of special effects?
Nicholson: I would kill to shoot a spaghetti western, as would Dan for that matter. I’d call it “Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump”… which is actually a historical site in Canada where the Natives use to herd the buffalo off a big ass cliff, where the buffalo’s would fall to their death. And the BBQ would begin! It’s also an SNFU punk rock song… I think it’s a perfect name for a spaghetti western starring Dan “Big Horn” Ellis. As for Make-up Effects, I really enjoyed all of the ScFy channel creatures movies I did. Because I did them with my partner Michelle and my Father, Roy. It was just us three for a few of these “Creature of the Week” type shows and it was fun as all Hell. When you do the big Hollywood stuff, it’s not as hands on, because you run a crew and spend too much time in production meetings. I like the more intimate jobs I’ve done.
LDead: What can we expect from Star Vehicle? Will it top Hanger’s gross-out factor? And what can we look forward to from you and your crew beyond Star Vehicle?
Nicholson: “Star Vehicle” is more straight ahead and less crazed like my other stuff. It has some violence in it but it’s not over the top. It’s me restrained. “Star Vehicle” is a co-pro with “New Image Entertainment” and they were the producers. I held back. I’m not ashamed I did because I think Dan Ellis has a break-out role. I think it’s the most character driven show I’ve made. I focus a lot of time on Dan as “Don Cardini” and has mannerisms. His dialogue and the overall script is not as campy as my other stuff. Is there dick violence though? Yes there is! Are there titties, yes there are! Is there full frontal? Yes! Is there gore? Yes! BUT it’s all done more straight-up and less campy for sure. I mean after “Gutterballs” and “Hanger” where do you go? It’s hard to top those movies for onscreen depravity, skin and blood… but don’t worry, “The Murder Mack” is up next and we go into some very dark depraved places with that one!
LDead: Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some of our questions, is there anything else you’d like to say to anyone that might read this interview? Is there anything you’d like to plug? Website? Stores? Merch?
Nicholson: Come and visit our forum over and start some threads at www.plotdigger.com and www.starvehiclemovie.com as well as our Facebook fan page, Plotdigger Films. We want some good conversation going on between us and our friends out there in the horror community. Our webstore also carries all of our movies and even some out of print items. Our new one “Star Vehicle” will be out in the Fall of 2010. We film “Famine”, our school slasher movie this August and “The Murder Mack” in between everything else. Should be a bloody good time!
There you have it. The man, the myth, the legend. Ryan Nicholson. Below you will find some pics that he has supplied from both “Hanger” and “Star Vehicle” be sure to check them out, and watch the film this fall. Thanks, Ryan, for your time, and keep making weak stomachs uneasy.
Archived from Fangoria. Please visit this site for more interviews like this.
Plotdigger Films, the Canadian outfit behind LIVE FEED, GUTTERBALLS, HANGER and the upcoming STAR VEHICLE (which we previously covered here), is planning still more mayhem to outrage audiences. Its latest project is called THE MURDER MACK, and co-star/first-time producer Dan Ellis got in touch to tell us about it.
Ellis, who appeared in all the aforementioned Plotdigger flicks save LIVE FEED, will play Larry in the film, opposite writer/director Ryan Nicholson as Roy. And who are Larry and Roy? According to the official synopsis, “Larry and Roy have been friends since they met in prison, and shortly after Larry is released, the two reconnect at Larry’s halfway house. It doesn’t take long for them to realize that they have needs to be met and the house is full of worthy candidates, as well as the community. Once the wheels are in motion, none will be spared in this all-out orgy of murder, mayhem and torture.”
The project came together shortly after STAR VEHICLE wrapped. “We had been going back and forth about ‘what’s next,’ ” Ellis tells Fango, “and how we were itching to shoot something, but we wanted it to be really brutal and dark. Ryan came up with the idea to do something related to serial killers, so we started tossing around ideas and finally he came up with THE MURDER MACK. It’s the classic tale of ‘brains and brawn’ and how they mastermind some very gruesome murders. We both wanted to get back to the real in-your-face kind of horror and have some fun with this one. The characters are really entertaining, in a sick and twisted sort of way, and the practical effects that Plotdigger Films is known for will play heavily in this one.
“There are lots of people who really dig our films,” he continues, “and we decided to do something special with them in mind! We are really excited to be working on a project together again, because as the tagline says, ‘Sick minds think alike’!”
Ellis further notes that STAR VEHICLE is targeting a fall release, and Plotdigger is also busy preparing FAMINE, a co-production with New Image Entertainment. For more on the company, check out its official website.