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March 17, 2011

Interview: Ryan Nicholson

By James DePaolo



1. What was your childhood like? Also, what kind of kid were you in school?

I moved around a lot when I was growing up...Canada to the USA and then back to Canada...horror was the one grounded thing in my life. No matter where I was, I had Michael Myers, Freddy and Jason. My best friends! I was pretty quiet in school. I would read Fango over and over in class and on breaks. Very few students shared my horror interest. In fact, only one guy in school was obsessed with horror like me and that was Grade 9, 10. I didn't like school. I thought it was a waste of time because I knew what I wanted to do when I was older and school didn't really factor in. But this was mid-80’s to early 90's. I would suggest to young film-makers today to finish school and get some post secondary film education. There wasn't that opportunity for me when I was younger.



2. Lets face it, you have been a part of make up for over a 100 films, and how did you get your start on X Files?

The make-up effects designer for the show, Toby Lindala, gave me a chance to work at his studio in Vancouver. I only helped on a couple of episodes but it was a blast! I actually got to do an episode of Millennium too with Toby. He's a great guy!

3. Was the transition to director a easy one, did you have this planned out for a while?

It really was an easy one because I always wanted to make my own stuff and I played around with video cameras and stuff when I was younger. I also wrote many songs, so writing was always in my life. I still do make-up effects but I teach how to do it to students and take on only projects that I am really interested in, usually my own!

4.Why the change in title from Star Vehicle to Bleeding Lady? And we might of well just say this, beside the title, there are some other changes and dare I say this film shows a more mature Ryan Nicholson. Then the Gutterballs, Live Feed and Hanger Ryan. Did you feel the need to change for the fans, or did you just want to see if the fans could accept maybe a different vision with some similarities?


The distributor suggested a name change because "Star Vehicle" wasn't as lurid or sleazy as they liked. I was opposed to it at first but I'm not a distributor so I trust their judgment. They know how to sell movies, that's what I they do. I fully back there name change now and other countries will still carry the original name anyhow. "Bleading Lady" is a different movie for me for sure. It's a co-production, which was a first as well. But I still made the movie I envisioned. The producers trusted my script and my ideas I put on the table. It was a smooth shoot and I enjoy the finished work. The score by Gianni Rossi kicks ass! And of course, Dan Ellis steals the shows. I think fans of my work will dig the movie. The writing is typical Nicholson stuff. The colors and wardrobe, the effects and music...it's all very much in the same vein as our body of work. I can't really fit it in the "gore" trilogy that had "Live Feed", "Gutterballs" and "Hanger" but I think it could be the start of a new trilogy. I have my new one "Famine" in post production now and it is a funny yet very nasty piece of work with a ton of gory kills!

5.Do you think when your films are labeled " torture porn" or " offensive", it really is fair or as a film maker is this what you are shooting for? Do you think your vision is understood?


I don't mind the labels. I think it's probably a fair assessment of what we do. I make movies that have very subjective content and don't really follow the normal formulas of horror film-making. My viewers get what I'm doing. I don't think the mainstream gets it at all. At least not yet!


6. Do you think critics get you? Also in the same breath, do you think because the fans are so fast to label your films this or that before they even see it, that it hurts you trying to make a mainstream film like Bleeding Lady happen?

Critics seem to understand my library now that I'm five films in. If you watch "Bleading Lady" and then watch "Live Feed", "Live Feed" would make far more sense now as just watching it as a stand alone film, without being familiar to my other work. I think “Live Feed" was generally accepted poorly but that's my style of film-making and it needed more explanation. After making "Gutterballs" and "Hanger", viewers are now like "Ohhhh, I see what this guy does". I like the underground community and wish to stay here as long as the viewers dig the stuff I do. I would love to make a bigger movie and I'm working towards it but it takes time. This is certainly no overnight success we're talking about. I'm still striving to be successful, I'm only half way there.

7. In all seriousness, have you ever watched a film that offended you? Or a film that you thought went too far?

I think "A Serbian Film" got me, with the baby stuff. It was a stomach churning scene and I'm rarely offended. Toe Tag's "August Underground" gets me. It's so vile, I love it! Real snuff gets me, all the internet footage of decaps and nastiness, I can't watch it. It gives me a headache.

8. What can you tell us about Famine? That seems to be the next vision, is it going to be more of the mature new Ryan Nicholson?

"Famine" looks amazing. We shot the whole feature on Canon Mark 5's, with Matt Leaf as the Director of Photography. He's a great guy who loves extreme horror and knows his shit... and the look he brought worked very well for us. It's another co-pro with New Image Entertainment and after "Bleading Lady", I was very excited to work with them again. "Famine" has more in common with "Gutterballs" and that type of one setting movie. It's all in a high school, after hours, students getting snuffed out one by one by a mascoted killer. It's a very very gory movie, again more in line with "Gutterballs". I think it will show a growth in my directing style. It was a co-writing project with Jeff O'Brien, who has penned a few indie horror pics himself and it was great working with him! Fans won't like to hear that Dan Ellis is not in this one, but it would've been too similar to his stuff in "Gutterballs". It's best just to wait for "Gutterballs 2" for that work again!


9. Do you think films like Hostel, helped or hurt the genre and why?

It helps the genre. Big successful films create a marketplace for little indie stuff. I also think studios start producing more horror when there's a successful one that opens big. It gives the opportunity for them, the studios, to discover some fresh talent. And you never know, it may be the little guy they pick one day. Eli Roth also produces a lot now and gives other film-makers a chance to show what they got! The success of "Hostel" is great for horror all around.

10.You are outspoken about award shows and magazines that do awards that they are blind to the true extreme films, why would a magazine like Rue Morgue or Fangoria or for that matter Scream Awards, just totally bastardize the genre ( and for that matter the sub genre as well)in light of PG 13 horror?

11.I mean let’s be honest, if you watch the bonus features of a RN movie, you will see these guys are not millionaires, you exist for the fans, on word of mouth and dvd sales. My question and this is easy, why do your films seem to get leaked months and months before a release date, do you have a mole in the company that is selling them your unfinished prints or posting them on torrent sites? There were reviews for Star Vehicle that started popping up In September and October.

Those reviews were based on a German heavily edited release that had temp credits and wasn't the final mix. I don't mind the leaks because they're usually heavily cut versions of my stuff and the viewers know that. But at least those leaks give the viewers a taste of what's to come. My first movie "Torched" was leaked onto the net and became a cult film because of that leak. I can see how leaks can hurt a big studio film but for us little guys, it can only help.


12.Lets look at this " mature" and " Ryan Nicholson". You know a lot of fans and critics will see those words and have their minds set already. Do you read all the press? If so, does the bad get to you?

"Live Feed" was critically bashed and it was tough to read the bad press after all the work that went into it but I started to use the bad press to my advantage. I really do think that the old adage there's no such thing as bad press is true! I grew a thick skin after that and don't get into debates about my movies. If I don't read reviews now it's because I don't have the time.

13. When you work on the set of a movie like Ghost Rider, do you get to hang out with the crew or is someone like Nic Cage off limits?

I saw him on the soundstage but I didn't go up and talk to him. I shoot the shit with stars if I'm working with them directly. I still get a bit star struck when I see big stars but I don't let it show.

14. Do you watch a show like Face/off? If so, if you were getting your start would you do a show like this? Also, would you hire a VH1 Scream Queen for a film?
I
f I was a newbie I would for sure do a show like that to get exposure. I hope some of my students try to compete. It's a great idea. I would hire a VH1 Scream Queen if she was willing to do what the scenes required. Nudity and all!

15. Have you ever worked on a movie set and you knew the movie was crap, and wanted to say something and were told to just to do your job and let the director handle it?

I have witnessed some bad camera angles and effects shot poorly but it's not my place to say anything unless I'm asked. For the most part, most movies do it right but I've been in situations where I'm thinking "what are they thinking?!"

16.Do you think the MPAA would be fair to a Ryan Nicholson?

They weren't fair to "Live Feed". They kept making us take stuff out each time we submitted it. Like they'd give us their notes, we'd make the cuts and then they'd say "okay now cut this" and "now cut that". It got to the point where we cut five minutes out they were still giving us notes. They finally passed it with an R-rating. My stuff since doesn't go to the MPAA. Image "Hanger" or "Gutterballs" in front of the MPAA! I'd love to be a fly on the wall in that screening!

17. Speaking of Question 16, you worked on the set of the Wayans Brothers Scary Movie which was the film that the critics went all insane about wondering how the MPAA missed this or that. Also, Hostel was another. Do you think these films are safe for a R rating or that maybe someone got paid off to look the other way?

I think the MPAA is more generous with studio films. They really only go after the little guy. At least from what I've seen. They seem to be far more lenient with violence than they are with sex. Look at the new "Rambo"! Holy shit! Movies don't get much more violent than that! Videogames have it much worse I think. There are more issues there with violence.

18.Are you a fan of 3D? What about blu ray?

I'm a fan of movies that are shot in 3-D. I can't stand post conversions. As for Blu-ray, I love it!! I thought "Bleading Lady" would come out on Blu-ray because it was shot in Hi-def...but there's no plans yet, only a standard def release.

19.Do you think its fair for fans and the studio, that say when a film comes out like Watchmen. You know the die hards are there first day to buy. Then, they release 2 other versions over time. Do you think this is a good practice, and you are a fan of film like me? What if you bought Bleeding Lady first day cause your RN biggest fan, and you know you have a lot of them. And, then Breaking Glass says a week later, well fans we have the extreme cut coming out for 7 dollars more. Then, a blu ray..



I think the studios are double and triple dipping all the time with rereleases but the collectors love it. If there's more stuff to be had at a later date, you bet that collector will be all over it. I personal do my research and find out just how much more is on a rerelease before I make a purchase. In some cases it's worth it to pass on a rerelease and in other cases, it's a must have. Usually the title is not ready, the Director's Cut or what not. Like with Watchmen, they fast tracked a release on DVD but the Director's Cut was months away. I, like probably most fanatics, bought both. I enjoyed the movie that much.

20.I have to ask, did you lose any respect for Public Enemy when Surreal Life and Flavor of Love became so huge and Flav whored himself out? What about Ice Cube when he has every family film coming out? What about Cool J in Deep Blue Sea?

I don't lose respect for an artist because they choose to make more money. I don't watch Ice Cube's family films but I still listen to his new music, which is awesome! I don't see Chuck D doing crazy shit like Surreal Life so I think Public Enemy never got bastardized. Flavour Flav is a character and I'm sure he just wants that check. LL Cool J stopped rapping so what he does now, I'm not interested in.

21.What is easier for you Ryan, working on a movie set doing make up or this or that, writing, directing, producing or acting?

Doing make-up effects is a different beast. It can be very stressful. But writing, directing for me is a different kind of beast. I like the all encompassing experience of seeing the movie through conception to completion. It's more satisfying for me to be the machine than just being one piece of the machine.

22. Any news on Gutterballs 2-balls deep? Do you still have the passion for this type of filmmaking, or do you want to branch out?

It will happen. The script has been done for a year or so now. I need some money behind and I'm still paying off the first "Gutterballs" so I can't do the second one until I've completed paying back investors from the first. I want to bring the whole cast and crew back for Part 2 and it will be extreme as all Hell. I love extreme film-making but I don't think just making the same movie one after the other is creatively satisfying.

23.Do you think a internet critic has the right to criticize a film and be taken serious, what about a blog? Or do you think the internet give too many people a voice that really do not need one?

That's a great question. With the invention of YouTube, everyone is a critic. I think it's a good thing. I think all opinions matter, just some matter more than the rest.

24. If you never got involved in films, what would you be doing for a living?

Serial Killer maybe? Just joking! I'd be in the police force in forensics or working in a morgue somewhere. Criminal behavior and forensics have interested me as long as horror has. My Grandfather was a beat cop who worked his way up in the police force. I thought about going that route.

25.I have to ask, what is the most embarrassing cd you still listen to? What about the one movie you watched recently that would shock your fans that you liked it?

I still listen to Prince "Purple Rain" lol. But fuck man, it's a good cd!! I watched "Easy A" and laughed...it's a guilty pleasure for sure.

26.Ryan, this one is for you..Plug away..Tell the fans what is coming up..And thanks so much..

"Bleading Lady" on dvd UNCUT in North America March 29th, 2011..."Famine" will premiere sometime in 2011 more than likely at a film festival TBD. "Gutterballs" rerelease coming out late Feb. It's a special "roughie" version. Currently filming "Transmitters", an STD slasher film..."Murder Mack" is in the wings to film as is "Gutterballs 2". For more info, join our forum at www.plotdigger.com and you can find me at www.facebook.com/plotdigger Thanks James!! It's always a pleasure!!


This is where the interview was supposed to end..But I started thinking of other things I wanted to ask as well...It is mother fucking Ryan Nicholson, so here are some side questions..


1. The character of Riversa Red was fun, I noticed this is Sindy's first film, how did you discover her?

Sindy was a friend of a friend. She had been in a feature before, a bollywood rom com...her work ethic was good and she did whatever the roll asked for. She is a very kind person with a good heart. It was a tough roll to play and she did a great job with it.

2. About the 30 minute mark, there is a narration that tells fans that so far the film is sort of a calm before the storm hits, what was the meaning of this? Also do you think you needed it?

We put in a narration that didn't really make the final cut except for that part. The narration worked in theory but it was an afterthought and inserting it in only worked well on black as opposed to over top of imagery. That's pretty much there to say...and now it begins. "It" being the mayhem, the carnage.

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