INFINITE BREASTS (Pt II)
Click HERE for Part I of INFINITE BREASTS: An Over-Sized Interview with John Skipp, Andrew Kasch and Cody Goodfellow About Their Short Film ‘Stay At Home Dad’
AK: I’d say it’s fairly equal. Skipp & I are usually of one mind when it comes to creative decisions, and we plan so much that when we finally get on set, we can divide and conquer when we have to. Having two directors on a low-budget set is actually a blessing because you’re usually spread really thin.
JS: It’s a really amazing case of playing to each other’s strengths. I’ve got the story shit down. Andrew’s got the technical end down. And directing is the balance of the two. We both are obsessive movie freaks, understand what makes them work, understand each other’s disciplines, and have a broad palette that runs well beyond genre to choose from when discussing how to attack any given scene.
Past that, he’s a really fun guy to work with. Like Cody and all great collaborators, he’s a throw-down guy, and plays well with others. We have a fucking blast.
CG: There was some friction in the early stages, admittedly. . . Skipp and I have collaborated on so many projects that we locked horns a bit on the script, which I was pretty hung up on keeping my skidmarks on, at least until I handed it to them to shoot. All of it came to a satisfying end, though, because every choice that any of us consciously made had to be a strong one, or the other two would kill it.
AK: Overall it was pretty smooth. We all respect what’s on the page (otherwise what’s the point?) but at the same time, nobody was overly precious about things. Directors and actors need to have room the play and explore – otherwise it’s just a dictatorship. . . and who likes those?
How did the creature designs come together?
AK: That was mostly Mike Dubisch, Cody’s illustrator friend and fellow Lovecraft enthusiast.
CG: Mike Dubisch sweats monsters. He keeps a notepad and just designs hideously deformed and awe-inspiring creatures effortlessly and unstoppably, all the goddamn time. He was working at the time on the artwork for All-Monster Action, so I asked him to do it, and he whipped off the designs we went with on one sheet of paper in less time than it took for me to describe what we wanted. In return for this, I wrote an introduction for his Black Velvet Necronomicon collection (which is pretty fucking incredible, by the way.)
JS: From there, Lindsey Peterson took the reins, designing and sculpting. We suggested. She delivered. She in now our incredible go-to girl.
The dream sequence?
AK: We originally shot a different version of the dream sequence which was an extended conversation in the doctor’s office with Diane Goldner. It was originally supposed to end with the castration but as Skipp & I were putting it together, we realized it wasn’t nearly surreal enough and hurt the overall pace. So we concocted a crazy Ken Russell-style dream sequence with some Lovecraftian imagery so the big reveal wouldn’t come out of nowhere. Cody brought over some of his monster masks and we shot a bunch of wild stuff on a green screen in my living room. Then were lucky enough to nab music video director/VFX master Phil Mucci and my pal Michael Granberry (who did all the amazing stop-motion scenes in Never Sleep Again) who put together 30 seconds of visual weirdness.
CG: Skipp and Andrew got those guys. I still can’t believe that shit, myself. Felix Gelman, the gigantic orderly, should be the Rondo Hatton of our times. I was the monsters in the masks. The knives turned up in the free books box at Iliad Bookshop.
And the breasts prosthetic?
AK: Yikes! First, the application process for Matt (our lead actor) took about 2 hours. The breasts were loaded with condoms to get the sagging effect and were rigged with tubes that shot out rice milk (the crew would get squirts in their coffee cups in between takes). But the tubes leaked the milk into the prosthesis that caused the breasts to smell like month-old rotten eggs.
They would literally give off “breast farts” that would send the crew running from the room. On the plus side, it was easy to get the baby to cry at the beginning of the movie
CG: Yes, I still have them. But I’ve had to steal them back from Matt Holmes twice.
SAHD already won an Audience Award (Bronze) at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Where else have/are you taking it?
AK: That was really cool because Fantasia is my favorite film festival in the world and I used to spend my summers in Montreal just for that. So it was a dream come true to get accepted. . . and downright surreal when we actually won something.
CG: We’re pretty proud of that. It offsets all the Certificates of Participation quite nicely. But we always intended for SAHD to be the class clown at any festival, rather than the award bait.
AK: We’re on the interwebs now! Free for all on YouTube!
CG: We’ve concluded our festival run, unless anyone asks to run it. It’s on YouTube because that’s where anyone can see it for free. We just want to freak people out.
I was surprise by how many festivals rejected the film outright. . .
Apparently, a lot of tastemakers feel that horror films shouldn’t be funny. At least not intentionally so. . .
JS: We also won Best Short at Crypticon in Seattle. And Matthew Currie Holmes took Best Actor at the World Horror Convention. We also played H.P. Lovecraft Film Festivals in Seattle and L.A., as well as Shriekfest and a couple of others. I’ve screened it for audiences at CG’s Comics and Collectibles in Manitou Springs, CO, and the legendary AK Tavern outside Seattle. So it’s definitely gotten around.
What’s reception been like?
AK: We get two different reactions: “I loved it! It’s so twisted!” or “What the fuck was that?!??” Either one makes me happy.
JS: I’ve seen crowds laugh their asses off, and seen them sit in stunned near-silence. It differs from room to room. Ya never know. But the one thing I love is that people talk about it after.
CG: Audiences generally got a kick out of it. It’s a lot funnier than it is scary, and the best parts of watching it with an audience is hearing a huge group deal with stuff like the sex scene. As it goes wrong and just keeps escalating and these beautiful people are not only comfortable with but turned on by something so unacceptable, the audience is screaming in repulsion and disbelief as much as laughing, or both at the same time. And that’s the reaction we made this film to get.
So that’s Cody’s daughter playing Zoe. . .
CG: (Speaking not as her dad but as her personal manager), Madeline is uncannily bright and articulate and small for her age. so she should be an ideal child actress, if we were going to throw her to the wolves and live off her trauma. . . but she doesn’t want to act, at all. Doesn’t need or enjoy the attention of strangers, bless her heart. The shoot would’ve been impossible if Madeline didn’t fall in love with Andrew. She was totally charmed by him, and so what she does on screen is pretty much her reacting either to him or to her mom. The day he went to Hollywood, Sears Portrait Studio lost one hell of a child photographer.
JS: We’ve got to give a lot of credit to Matthew Currie-Holmes, as well. They did the most acting together. And it was Matt’s insistence on multiple takes that gave us the footage we needed to pull a great performance out of her. Especially in the naptime scene, which I think we did fifty takes of. (You wouldn’t believe how much gold never made it to the screen.)
AK: W.C. Fields was full of shit: Babies are awesome! Madeline (Cody’s kid) was a complete joy and we had no problems with her. For some reason she really latched on to me and triggered some crazy paternal side of me I never knew I had. She was so thrilled to be in the movie that after her last take, she puked on me.
And then there’s Mark Shostrom, which is where my inner teenager goes apeshit. He’s one of those legends that’s not only had some real heavy-hitters on his effects team at any given point, but also has his fingerprints on so many iconic films/film series. What was that like?
AK: Mark was another Elm St alumni I befriended on Never Sleep Again and the man is a total legend – I mean look at Evil Dead 2, From Beyond, Elm Street 3 or any other great make-up FX movie of the 80’s. That was the golden age! He generously hooked us up with his incredible team, Maria Anaheim and Lindsey Peterson who completely knocked it out of the latex park. Mark was away on a gig but came in at the end of the shoot and helped out on set. There was a moment when I was walking down the hallway and passed the make-up room to see Mark working on our actors, and had a total nerdgasm. It’s like seeing Michelangelo painting your house. Those inner-kid moments are the best thing about making movies!
CG: It was excellent and Mark was thrilling to work with, but our principal artists were Maria and Lindsey, for most of the process, and they were awesome. They did our casts of Alisha and sculpted the monster.
Mark was on-set for Ricky’s death and did up this blood squib that was supposed to burst on the back of his head when Zoe knocks him down. Mark was on-set for that, and we were totally geeked by the moment: Mark Shostrom was pumping our blood, we were making a fucking MONSTER MOVIE. And then the damned blood wouldn’t fucking come out. Too thick, even when we diluted it, and we had to move on to the next thing.
I would’ve liked to see a lot more blood, but there was worry about getting the equipment messy and there was some concern about messing up the house, which was silly, it’s the reason we shot it in my house. . .
JS: Mostly, we ran out of time. We still had the whole rest of the ending to shoot that night!
Richard Grove and Trent Haaga!
CG: I am lucky enough to hold down a bookstore counter with Ricky, who is the most wonderfully real, unassuming guy I know, way more so than your average citizen, and yet I walk by him and I hear the twangy theme song I did for him, and get that strange dreamy flash when you see something you’ve only seen in the movies. I’m sure he thinks I’m secretly in love with him.
And pairing him with Trent was a masterstroke. Ricky’s classically trained, and Trent is a Troma vet, so they instantly went to work and extruded these lovable fuckups out of a couple undercooked dialogue exchanges. If we do another film like this, I want it to be about those guys.
AK: I’ve wanted to work with Trent ever since I saw Terror Firmer in college! He’s a genius at physical comedy and has the single greatest deer-in-the-headlights expression I’ve ever seen on a human being. And he’s just an all around nice and knowledgeable guy who is always down for anything. When you’re in the trenches of no-budget filmmaking, you want to be around people with that same “Viva la cinema!” indie spirit. . . and Trent is one of those types. And of course, I was delighted when Ricky came aboard because I’m a huge Army of Darkness fan! Those two guys had a great rapport!
JS: But let’s not forget Alisha Seaton, who kills as the go-to-work mom. Or Diane Goldner and Kat Harris, who bring the boobs and snip the nads in sterling fashion. Or baby Madeline, who’ll not soon be forgotten. Not to mention Matt, our star. . .
Were there any scenes that got cut out, either in editing or scripting?
CG: No scenes were wasted. . . Skipp and Andrew were very thorough in lining up the shots and we’d been over everything in the script, so we just got what we needed. With more time, we just would‘ve goofed off.
AK: The majority of the doctor’s office dream sequence as mentioned, a few lines here and there for pacing reasons. . . but we stuck remarkably close to the script.
JS: Lots of little moments got lost along the way, usually replaced by better moments. What actually happened was, we added the opening breakfast scene and love scene. The first for setup and relationship grounding that wasn’t there, and needed to be. The second because the day Matt and Alisha met, and we established their chemistry would work, they said, “We totally need a hot sex scene!” And they were right. So we whipped it up. And boy, are we glad we did!
AK: As a filmmaker, there’s always things you think you could’ve executed differently or better. But the script is pretty much there on film.
JS: I know Cody wished there was more blood, and I agree. Past that, though, everything went well past my expectations.
CG: More Zoe. . . We had another appliance made for Matt for a false ending to the nightmare sequence. . . an American Werewolf thing where he wakes up a withered husk, sucked dry by Zoe. We just ran out of time.
What was the most difficult sequence to film?
JS: Ask Andrew, but I think the hardest thing to shoot was the little girl watching Steven breastfeed Zoe in public. I wasn’t there – I was helping set up the doctor’s office – but I heard that shit got tricky.
I think everyone will tell you that the hardest thing of all was getting Madeline to say, “EAT DADDY!”
AK: The doctor’s office scene was the toughest because that was our first day, we were in the only rented location and short on time (not to mention we were competing with a band recording in the next room). So it was hustle, hustle, hustle in a cramped location. And you never ever feel like you’re on your game the first day of a shoot.
CG: I don’t know what they’re going to say, but the bookstore shot on the first day of filming was my most aggravating experience. I didn’t know I was supposed to bring the bra, and had to go bra shopping at Target first thing in the morning instead of eating all the doughnuts and trying to sneak copies of my books into the shot.
No, the aforementioned blood-squib shot is my Newlywed Game answer.
Any plans for future collaborations, perhaps an expansion into a feature-length film?
JS: STAY AT HOME DAD is exactly as long as it needs to be. A feature would just be sticking an air hose up its ass. But hell YEAH, we have a lot of future films in the works! Cody and I have some insane stories going. And Andrew and I will not stop directing till the world gets around to blowing up.
AK: Skipp & I have a whole slate of projects we want to get going but the closest on the horizon is an adaptation of The Long Last Call as well as Rose: The Bizarro Zombie Musical. But I think it’s safe to say that we want to spend the rest of our lives making movies.
CG: There’re a few film projects we’re all in on, if they ever get financing, and Skipp and Andrew have a bunch of projects in the hopper. Skipp and I are still working and playing together, but probably not on a novel anytime soon. I’ve got more to write than I’ll be able to finish in my lifetime, and I have a way lower threshold of frustration with the film business. It takes so much money and so many people to just get a chance to make a film, and you’re basically mounting a campaign of total warfare on reality to get it to do what you want it to. To just write words on a page and let the reader make the movie in their heads. . . that’s where my head and heart will always be, when I’m not making dreadful techno covers of obscure 80’s songs.
CG: My latest collection of Bizarro creature feature stories, All-Monster Action is loaded with interspecies sex and psychotronic violence, and fits easily in a stocking or a tailpipe.
JS: I’m releasing an insane 99 cent e-short story next week, called Art is the Devil, through my Fungasm Press. And my newest book is a triple-bill of fucked-up fem-o-centric horror screenplays called Sick Chick Flicks. So if you want a peek at some of the next films we’re up to, here’s your big chance!