Thursday, February 14, 2013

That Which Does Not Kill You Makes You Awesome: The Making of Bloodsucka Jones (Part 1)

That Which Does Not Kill You,
 Makes You Awesome

The Making of Bloodsucka Jones (Part 1)
by Aaron Allen 

The phrase "blood, sweat, and tears" gets thrown around quite liberally these days, but it has never been so apappropriate as to describe the making of the hilarious new vampire comedy Bloodsucka Jones.

The World Premiere of Bloodsucka Jones this Friday at Fright Night Theatre in Hamilton marks the end of a long journey for writer/director Justin Armao, producer Andy Cauble, and producer/star Preston Gant. What began over 13 years ago on another ill-fated project became an April Fool's commitment in 2008 to bring the legend of Bloodsucka Jones to life. But this April Fool's promise was no joke. Five years later, Armao's crazy little idea for a movie has finally become a film -- a film financed by blood. Literally.

Find out how three men doing the job of twenty find an impossibly supportive cast that's willing to shed blood, survive broken families, suffer broken bones, and make some last minute hail-Mary moves to bring the tale of Bloodsucka Jones to the big screen.

More after the jump, or skip to PART TWO


Bloodsucka Jones Rises: The Long Beginning

Horror in the Hammer: Where does the story of Bloodsucka Jones begin?

Justin Armao: We actually tried to make a movie 13 years ago. We tried to make a movie called The Unfortunate Cookie . . . just a straight-up comedy...  

Andy Cauble: Which I think we should make.

JA: It had a $1,500 budget, and we were halfway through shooting and what happened was I have a daughter and I'm a single Dad, and her mom left and abandoned her when she was five. I had to dedicate everything to her, so we just stopped shooting and we just put it on hold and never went back. But I promised myself I'd make a movie one day. We just met Preston before that. We were filming a commercial for a chicken place and fell in love with Preston...

Everyone's got to start somewhere
 AC: Charo Chicken!

HITH: Are we talking Charo as in "Coochie Coochie" Charo? 

AC: No, but I think that joke was made an incessant amount of times.

JA: You don't know how happy we are that someone from Canada just made a Charo reference.

AC: Someone from life made a Charo reference.

JA: So, we were excited we were making it [The Unfortunate Cookie]. It was the same type of stuff: pretty girls, stupid jokes, and while we were making it, I got inspired by him [Preston], and he's got a good deep voice and everything, and I thought of the idea of Bloodsucka Jones while filming and started writing it. I still remember shooting this 17 hour day, and it was like three in the morning and I said [to Preston], I wrote this thing for you. You're like this vampire hunter, and he goes, "Oh yeah, and he'll have that long hair like Eddie Murphy."

AC: [laughter] Like Vampire in Brooklyn

JA: And I think I said, "Fuck you, you'll have an afro."

Bloodsucka Jones (Preston Gant) and Vanessa ( Maria Canapino)

Preston Gant: Yeah, he did. That's exactly what he said.

JA: That was 1999, and we stopped in 2000. So yeah, we stuck it in a drawer and I raised my daughter. I just promised, hey, one day when she's old enough and I don't have to watch her every two seconds and spend all my money on her, we'll make a movie. In 2008 on April Fool's Day, at midnight, I said, "I'm going to fool myself. I'm going to make a movie." I got up and started a Myspace page for Bloodsucka Jones. I rewrote the script and worked on it for a long time. I finally saved up enough money and started to do it.

HITH: What was your filmmaking philosophy?

JA: We believe in a "If you build it, they will come" kind of thing. If you just start doing it, and you're not ready, it will force you. It will start pushing the snowball down the hill.

AC: Our theory was do it with enthusiasm and do it with a good attitude, pretty much, not going into it all hardcore. You know, trying to make it a friendly atmosphere.

HITH: Preston, what was it like coming in in the Bloodsucka Jones costume?

PG: Oh, it was awesome. I was really nervous, but once I had the costume on, I became Bloodsucka Jones.

Director Justin Armao starring on the other side of the camera
HITH: Where does that character come from, for you?

PG: Justin called me in the middle of the night and all day long and just made the character. He put it in my head: how he's going to talk, and how he was. We started out getting the cool costume...

AC: As a side note: you know the movie Blacula, right? There's a sequel to Blacula called Scream, Blacula, Scream. We were reviewing the script at Justin's one night. Preston's costume is from the hero in Scream, Blacula, Scream. I told Justin, that's got to be Bloodsucka Jones's costume!

JA: [Travis Woods, who plays Tony] came over to help...

PG: Travis coached me a lot.

JA: ... to bounce stuff off him just to get the character down for the first day. We just rehearsed it a bunch of times.

AC: [to Preston] But so much of it is you.

Turning it on.
JA:  He just turns it on!

PG: Like I said, once I put on the costume...it just kind of....

JA: He's just so likeable in real life.

AC: Honestly, Preston is -- I know he's sitting right here and this sounds like something you'd say behind his back -- he's the nicest guy I've ever met in my life. And he's the nicest guy anybody ever meets in their life, so it's hard not to just like him right away.

JA: People always say he's so nice, and we have to say, "You know. He's not that great." At Comic-Con, he gets more attention that any other person there.

AC: The first year we went it was, "Oh Black Dynamite!", "Oh Shaft!" But by the third year we went, people are now screaming, "Bloodsucka Jones."

PG: It surprises the heck out of us. It surprises the heck out of me. Wait a minute, that is me!

JA: Somebody knows our name! Well, his name. It sucks. Me and Andy have to walk around....

AC: Like his cronies! Like, Justin's got more scenes than almost anybody, but pretty much nobody knows who Justin is. Preston's created an icon.

Blood Money

HITH: What did you do for day jobs while beginning the making of Bloodsucka Jones?

AC: I did work at an AV place, but I just quit. Now I do cartooning and logo design and stuff like that from home.

JA: I'm a buyer of medical equipment. The company I work for makes hemotology and chemistry machines. So, that's another way I raised money. I gave blood 127 times at work.

Some filmmakers bleed for their art
AC: No shit. No lie.

JA: You can give blood at work to calibrate the machines, so take that Robert Rodriguez! But it's good; whenever I go in and ask for a raise, if they argue with me, I go, "I literally fucking just gave blood."

PG: I'm a skycap at the John Wayne airport, and on the side I do photography.

AC: [On set], it was three people doing 20 people's work. At times it felt like it just wouldn't fucking end.

PG: But we did it!

AC: You did it! I mean, there were times I couldn't believe how much you ran around. When I came home, I was exhausted beyond exhausted. We're still working normal jobs. [Preston's] got to get up at three in the fricking morning and we're shooting for 14 hours on your off day. Oh my God.

HITH: Sounds like it was quite the strain on your day jobs.

JA: We're all doing stuff from work and after work.

AC: I was pulling all the cabling and all the stuff we got at the AV place I worked at, I got all that stuff for free.

JA: We actually killed Andy behind his work.

Tomorrow in part two the Bloodsucka Jones team describes how they kept up their good spirits and good humour to survive scheduling delays and on-set injuries and the horrors of filming a bikini car wash.

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