Thursday, April 30, 2009

Horror Anthology Project: Paul Walther

One of the coolest parts of filmmaking is that it is a very collaborative medium, so you get to work with tons of talented folks on all the various parts. On our upcoming horror anthology, BOUQUET OF SHADOWS, we have a couple ringers on our team for the writing part. One of them is a horror writer from Minnesota, named Paul Walther.

Paul has had stories published in tons of magazines, both paper and online, and in 2008 his story "Splitfoot" appeared in the prestigious annual anthology The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, edited by genre legend Ellen Datlow. It was also one of five nominees for best short story of 2008 by the International Horror Writers Guild.

"Splitfoot" is a real doozy, and I fell in love with it the minute I read it. An amazingly creepy, ambiguous nightmare of a story that starts smack dab in the middle of a really bad situation and features characters and setting so well-drawn that you get sucked right into the nightmare. For horror geeks, like me, it's heaven!

I took a chance upon reading it and looked up Paul's website, (which besides being a cool author site, is also responsible for making me a fanatical reader of Cake Wrecks and the adventures of Action Squad). I ended up writing an e-mail to Paul, asking if he might be interested in collaborating on a low-budget short horror screenplay, and weirdly enough-- he was! Woo Hoo!

Now it's several months later and Paul is about halfwayish through that script, and it's shaping up quite nicely. It tells the decidedly un-heartwarming story of a bunch of hardened-but-not-necessarily-real-bright criminals, a farm where they are attempting to make a last score before disbanding, and a BAD THING that may or may not be happening. It is going to star our version of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt-- Kristin Beckett and Tom Szymanski, and I am REALLY excited about how it's turning out.

Paul is a hell of a writer, with a voluminous knowledge of horror literature and an inspired way with character, inference and suspense. If we don't mess it up by shooting it funny, I think this section of the anthology is gonna RULE!

Check out Paul's site, if you are interested. It's got a previously unpublished story, his entire bibliography, a guestbook, etc.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Horror Anthology Project

This summer, we will be embarking on our most ambitious project, a horror anthology feature called BOUQUET OF SHADOWS. That's why I've been posting lots of creepy stuff on the blog lately, because I'm trying to get into the mood as much as possible...

We'll have more details for you soon, but for now I can tell you, generally, that the feature will be comprised of three longer shorts, and one shorter one (which will act like the wrap-around to get us from one story to the next). This time, we have brought in some new faces to help with the writing, and the screenplays are really shaping up...

I am huge fan of good horror films and stories, and speaking as an uber-geek, can't help but notice that 95% of the stuff produced in the genre is pretty bad. I'm not gonna knock anybody who makes a movie, because it's tons of work, but I do think that sometimes folks get too carried away with the visuals and don't spend enough time on character and story. That's certainly been something I've done (don't tell anybody, okay?). Many of my favorite filmmakers, musicians and writers say the same thing:

Make stuff that you, yourself, would want to check out as a fan.

Pretty simple, huh? That's our guiding principle on BOUQUET OF SHADOWS-- to make all decisions based on what we'd most like to see, and the stories we most want to experience. It'll be interesting to see, in a year or so, if it worked!

Look for more details in the next few weeks, as we begin the pre-production process on the first short: "Door to Door". Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dear Beautiful -- Another Amazing Short (We Wish We Made)

Here is a short film by artist Roland Becerra, called Dear Beautiful, which uses an amazing combination of digitally altered photography and animation techniques to tell an extremely creepified story. It's pretty intense, so be forewarned. If you like it as much as I do, then you will be happy to know that it is currently being turned into a feature length piece, utilizing the same style. This is some visionary stuff...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

One more...

Oh, and while we're on the subject of great music videos, check out "What's a Girl to Do?" by Bat for Lashes. Scary good...

Speaking of Creepy...

Have you seen the "Driving" video for the French electronica duo Zombie Zombie? Where they use G.I. Joes to recreate John Carpenter's version of "The Thing"? If not, then you are in for a treat. The Thing is one of the greatest horror films ever made, in my opinion, and this homage is amazing...

Small & Creepy Films

If you have seen Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Secret Garden, Black Beauty, Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, or City of Ember, then you have experienced the work of Caroline Thompson. She is a screenwriter, director, published author and co-owner (with her husband, producer Steve Nicolaides, and filmmaker Peter LeBow) of Small and Creepy Films, a totally awesome website dedicated to, um, non-large and macabre movies...

I went to the site after reading an inspiring interview with Caroline, and immediately fell in love with it. There are some impressively twisted shorts on the site, and a serialized version of "The Hills Are Alive", which is a feature-length horror movie that Caroline and Steve made with a small crew in the hills of Ojai, California. Yum! If you are more comfortable in the world of YouTube, they also have a channel there:

I highly recommend checking this site out, if you are a fan of weirdness and do-it-yourself filmmaking like I am. It's a virtual smorgasbord, I'm telling you...

Here's the first episode of "The Hills Are Alive":


Edenwood Talk at BGSU Art School

On Thursday afternoon, April 23rd, Jen and I drove down to Bowling Green, Ohio, to give a talk at the university to a bunch of art students and faculty. The topic? The making of our latest epic, the surreal cowboy comedy about conspicuous consumption, EDENWOOD. It was a grand ol' time...

Jen is an art professor by day, and quite an accomplished artist, so she was right at home with all of the young creative types we hung with. About 30 seconds after meeting the students who had invited us down, she was already talking "mark making", giving insightful critiques and suggesting artists for the kids to check out. I was feeling a little in over my head, but once we got to the auditorium and started the talk, it all went well.

Jen spoke about how Edenwood was a logical extension of her latest body of work, even though she had never visualized herself as being a narrative filmmaker. It was cool getting to see the slide show of her past few years' artworks and seeing how it had all developed and intertwined and led to this odd movie. I talked more about how collaboration is so important in movie making and how it was cool that Jen and I together make things that neither person would make by themselves. Overall, it was pretty fun and also interesting to show footage from Ewood to a complete group of strangers for the first time. It went over well and we had a blast afterwards eating pizza and talking art and movie-making with some faculty and students.

I learned what "Machinima" is, that there is a group of parents who are majorly creeped out by Build-A-Bear Workshop, and that the chicken and cheese stuffed breadsticks with barbecue sauce at Pollyeye Pizza are like sex for your stomach. Hmm, maybe that's not the best way to put that?

In any case, we took the show on the road and it survived the intense furnace-like gaze of ART. Phew! On May 1st, we will be announcing the grand premiere of Edenwood in all its finished glory, and we're getting excited...


Welcome to the Lion Belly blog...


My name is Brian Lillie and I am a co-founder of Lion Belly Media, which is a small group of movie makers in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area. We are made up of lots of creative folk from many different backgrounds-- including professional musicians, actors, art professors, writers, graphic designers, photographers, etc. We have joined our talents together to make movies and music. Woo Hoo!

So far, we've made a few shorts, a few longer-shorts, and an hour-long monstrosity which will be unveiled soon. Our goal is to learn, learn, learn by making, making, making, and to meet cool, like-minded souls in the process. We believe that it's creativity and perseverance that makes for good movies, not big budgets. And thank goodness for that, cuz we ain't rich!

This blog exists to talk about our projects as they are made and released, as well as other people's work we admire. We will try to put up as many helpful hints as we can for aspiring movie makers, and will be inviting talented guests to share their insights with us.



Brian Lillie