Director Adam Green Talks Holliston

There’s nothing more likeable than a guy who gives back to his fans. Since making a name for himself with his 2007 horror hit, Hatchet, director Adam Green has been constantly connecting with and giving back to the dedicated horror community. The director was nice enough to speak with me about his upcoming FearNet sitcom, Holliston, and give me some details about the upcoming Hatchet 3 as well as his involvement in Killer Pizza. And yes, I did giggle like a giddy little school girl while speaking to him and you probably would too.

Me: What made you take the leap into television? 

Adam Green: Well, I kind of consider TV and film sort of the same thing. They’re both extremely exciting outlets to tell stories and they’re both vastly different in a lot of ways. When I made my first feature it was called Coffee and Donutsand it was essentially what the first episode of Holliston is—it’s basically the movie condensed into one episode.  That movie was what really got me attraction in Hollywood…we spun it into a TV series because there were so many places we could go with it and it was one of those ideas that was right for TV. I had no idea it was going to take 13 years to actually get it into fruition but like people say, I think everything happens for a reason and I don’t think the show would be what it is today if it didn’t happen then.

Me: How would you compare working in TV versus Film? Do you prefer one over the other?

AG: I don’t necessarily prefer one over the other but the one thing about TV is things move a lot faster. Once the show is actually going, it just goes. Features, they take years to actually get going and they push and they wait and then when you’re done sometimes it’s like a year or a year and a half before they actually come out. Also with features, especially if you’re doing independent  features, the climate has just changed so much where you used to be able to get your money back on DVD sales…and now with bit torrenting and all the ways that people get their hands on movies without paying for them, DVD sales are down 40% across the board, which has really crippled the industry. So, that’s a huge challenge but with TV it’s not about an opening weekend or a about first week in sales, especially when you’re on a new network, and it’s a cable network. There’s time to build and time for word of mouth and time for people to find the show. So, that’s definitely a huge plus.
On the work side, normally with a TV series like this, like a sitcom, if you’re the creator and the headwriter and the showrunner, you create the show and you usually write the pilot and maybe one other episode but you have a staff of like, twenty comedy writers that are helping you do everything but in this case, I wrote every episode myself, I directed every episode, I starred in every episode so I’ve literally killed myself over the past year. I only have two more weeks to go before the shows out and if I make it across the finish line alive, I’ll be really excited to do a second season if we get one.

Me: With your busy schedule, did you ever hesitate to cast yourself in the series?

AG: No, not with this because even when we made the feature I played myself. The character’s completely based on me so it’s not a huge stretch to just be myself.The President of the network approached me in saying I want to do something with you in it. He’s seen all of the different short films and all the different acting work I had done and since it’s a horror network, he just felt like that was a very cool idea. And when I approached him with the the set up for Holliston and how that would fit on a network like FearNet, even though it’s a traditional sitcom that could be on a major network, he was just elated with the idea so there was never any hesitation there or anything. 
Normally with the movies I don’t even consider myself for any actual roles or anything like that because I just stay behind the camera for the most part but it has been interesting how this has sort of started to open doors and lead to acting opportunities that I’m not necessarily sure I want to take. It’s one thing to play myself in Holliston, but I don’t want to lose focus on the work that I’m doing by taking all of these roles and getting tied up in acting in other people’s things.

Me: Do you see yourself working on several seasons of the series?

AG: Hopefully the show just  kinda keeps going. I mean, this has been by far my favorite and most personal thing that I’ve ever worked on so I would love for this to go for fifty years if we could. I don’t really know how that would work, if people would still watch us if we were like 70-80 years old, but maybe we could be like the Golden Girls. But yeah, I do want to continue doing this and doing features. Already, I’m in production on Hatchet 3, which is sort of overlapping with this and I’m working on Killer Pizza for MGM and Chris Colombus, so all that stuff has been happening at the same time which is why I can’t ever sleep or get a day off, but it’s a good problem to have. The one thing with future seasons is I probably wont direct anymore.

Me: Do you have any ideas for future seasons?

AG: Oh yeah we have like fifty episodes that we had come up with for this season and then we had to narrow it down to six. The hard thing with TV is you always have to know where you’re going way ahead of the game; it’s not like you can sort of just make it as you go and be like ‘oh, okay we got another season, now what do we do?’ There has to be a plan and that’s also what’s sort of heartbreaking about it because with a major network, sometimes you get cancelled after your first night out because you didn’t pull enough viewers. With this, we don’t have to answer to something like that because it’s a brand new network and it’s a network that there’s still a good portion of the country just getting and so they’re not interested in that; they’re not sitting here saying if you don’t pull 8million viewers  on night one you’re out. On  a major network you don’t get that chance.
There’s so many places we’re going to go, especially with the relationships between the characters. We’re ready to go forever if need be, especially since the main core four characters are all based on the people playing them. Just on our personal stories and struggles from that time in our life alone, everybody’s got  like 100 really funny and really interesting stories. So we have a ton of places to go with this.

Me: What segments of the show are you most excited about the fans seeing?

AG: It’s hard to pick just one because each episode sort of has those one or two moments that I’m insanely proud of but really, I think the season finale was something  that when we saw it finish, it really struck us  with a lot more heart than I think we even realized was there. I don’t want to spoil it for anybody but essentially, Adam and Joe finally make their trailer for Shinpads,their undead soccer movie, and they get the trailer in front of John Landis to see what he thinks and in real life, you don’t always get the answer that you were hoping you’d get. So as much as it was written for comedy sake, what happens was funny but when you actually see it happening, it hurts and it’s really devastating.
What I love about it is what people are taking away from it–they walk away from the show really optimistic and that’s really my goal with it. One side, we’re showing the struggles and the bad times but the overlying message of all of this is that if you can keep at it and hang in there, it will get better. I think the last couple of minutes of the season finale will really ring true and I think it’s been really great to hear the reaction from people or to even see people feel something from watching a sitcom. Those are the aspects of the show that I’m most excited about—those moments of heart that sneak up on you when you’re really not expecting it in a show that has an alien in the closet and a mechanical retarded cat, and exploding heads.

Me: The show seems to be more of a comedy than horror. Why do you think that it appeals to horror fans?

AG: This is one of my favorite questions because the answer’s so obvious but, I mean if you back up, the show’s about two guys who are trying to become horror directors . Right there it’s a horror show. All of the references, the nods that we make to horror movies; we have things like exploding heads and scenes like Poltergeist where I tear my own face off or that we allude to the fact that my character is a cutter who whenever he’s upset about something, he’ll slice his own chest open. There’s so many horror cameos throughout it. There’s our whole objective this season, trying to make a trailer for an undead soccer team movie , the season finale takes place at a horror convention, there’s a whole episode about building makeup effects for our trailer. I don’t think it could be any more horror, to be honest, but it’s a sitcom and that’s what makes it special–it hasn’t been done before. Normally, horror shows are always the same exact thing: a horror anthology, or it’s like an X-Files type thing. Nobody has ever taken the medium that we’re so familiar with, that we all grew up with, of a sitcom, with a laugh track and the whole thing, and made it about people who do horror. That’s why it’s also a horror show.

Me: Do you think the “horror sitcom” will become popular after Holliston premieres?

AG: I have no idea. You never know but it takes somebody to do something first and the way that Hollywood works is that if it works, then yeah, you’re going to see like fifty of these because everyone is going to try to knock it off and do their own thing. But it’s going to be pretty hard to rip this off without people knowing because it is that unique, but I don’t know if I’ll see more horror sitcoms or not. There’s definitely been horror comedies. So when we came out with this idea, a lot of the critics response was ‘really? Why are you doing a sitcom? These are dead.’ And that’s what they said before the Cosby show happened  and that’s what they said before Friends happened. Everything in Hollywood is always dead at one point and then somebody comes back and does it in a new way and ‘oh yeah, it never went away. It was always here.’
Sort of like when I made Hatchet. When I made that movie, it came out  at a time when the genre had become nothing but remakes and torture porn , or pg-13 movies that were pretending to be horror but had no horror in it. So when Hatchet came out, the reaction in the industry at first was ‘this is never going to work. Nobody cares about slasher movies anymore.’ And now we’re on the verge of part three

Me: What was it like premiering the series in your hometown (Holliston, MA)

AG: I don’t even know how to describe it. I’ve gotten to do some amazing things from  two movies that both premiered at Sundance–which is like the biggest and best festival in the world–to sold out screenings in London, and red carpet screenings at Mann Chinese theater in Hollywood. You know, these huge things, traveling internationally to Germany and to Spain and the difference is when I am there, I’m Adam Green the filmmaker, but then you go home and you’re just the kid from 718 drive; I’m nothing special. I’m just somebody else from Holliston and I was really excited that we were able to do that screening because I’ve never done that before in my hometown, but it felt like the time was right because the show is set there and called Holliston.

So we planned this, but there was very little notice. I think there was only about a week’s notice for the most part and the main way for which people keep in touch with what I’m doing is through my website, which got hacked and went down two weeks ago, still isn’t back up yet, so I was convinced that there was going to be nobody there and so as the day was progressing and I’m showing the cast around town, I was getting really nervous. I never get nervous for these things , probably because I’m playing a character usually, and I’m Adam Green-filmmaker—and they’re asking me ‘why are you so nervous’ and I’m like ‘I guess because this [Holliston], more than anything, I really want their approval. I really want to make them proud. I want everyone to like it.’ Normally I don’t care…it was really becoming important to me as the day went on and so as we were getting ready for the screening, which we had to set up ourselves because we had no crew or anything, which made it even more special. I couldn’t believe how many people showed up so I think what made it so special was that the whole day I felt like I didn’t belong there anymore and  I felt like I’m now Adam Green from Hollywood—I don’t have a house there anymore, my family doesn’t live there anymore,  I was staying at a hotel in Milford, and I’m like ‘Why did I do this? Why did I come back here? I don’t even know anybody here. All my friends are gone. Why did I do this?’ And then you walk out in front of all those people that are so excited and so happy and so proud and you realize that you are home and it will always be home. That’s still what’s most important. Not the fucking red carpets and the money and the limos.

It came at exactly at the right time in my life, when I needed something like that to happen, and it completely renewed my faith in who I am and what I’m doing. So in a lot of ways, that little town hall screening was the biggest screening and the best screening that I’ll probably ever have.

Me: Has the “Real Corri” seen the show or had any reaction to it?

AG: The real Corri’s name isn’t Corri, but she saw the movie when I made the movie version back in 2000 and was very proud of it. I don’t know –I don’t think she came to the screening in Holliston and like hid with a hat on and ran out afterward and didn’t say anything—I don’t think she’s seen it yet but I’m confident that when she does, she’ll really like it and she’ll be proud of it. It was very, very important to me  that that character be portrayed extremely favorably and have her be extremely likeable. And testing the show and having the screenings, everybody loves Corri and that was really important to me. In real life, back when Hatchet came out, I did actually reconnect with her and have closure to the whole thing and I’m married now and I don’t know if she’s married yet or not, she might be, but we both have these amazing great lives and it all worked out for the best, and I think she’ll be very happy for me when she sees the show and I also think she’ll be happy for the way that she’s portrayed and how sweet of a story the whole thing is.

Me: The show is named after your hometown and you reference the New England area a lot in your work. Why do you think it’s important to include those pieces of your past for your fans to see?

AG: When I first did that it was literally because like, ‘OK, I need the name of a town’ or I need the name of a person, so I just put in someone’s name that I grew up with or I put in the name Holliston.  But after a few years of doing it I started to realize that that’s sort of what keeps everything grounded  and keeps it real for me. It’s important to remember where you came from  and I’ve seen a lot of people in the business—people who haven’t even had the success I’ve had—forget about that really fast. It’s easy to… I think by incorporating my childhood into everything I do…when I watch it back or show it to other people, I’m still able to see who I am and I really, really haven’t changed.[At the screening] I was literally wearing the same clothes that I wore back in high school twenty years ago. So on one hand it’s great because I haven’t changed and on the other hand it’s great because I can still fit into the same exact clothes that I wore twenty years ago [laughs].

Me: Can you give any details on what fans can expect with Hatchet 3?

AG: I hate the word “trilogy” because it’s not necessarily a trilogy but if you think of it as one giant movie, because if people saw the second one I start them on the same exact frame  as the other one ended and they just keep going, which is something I think makes it a little unique and fun to watch, because eventually you’ll be able to sit and watch them all back to back and it’ll just be one long movie. In this one, we’re not going to do anymore flashbacks—If I have to watch another Hatchet flashback, I will stab myself. Now we know what the curse is but how do you really get rid of the curse…There’s a lot of anger and gore and blood and honestly, sometimes I’m worried that I put BJ [McDonnell] into a corner….

The second one was so much bigger than the first one. The first one had 7 on screen kills but the second one had 17…[In Hatchet 3] I think there’s one scene  that kills 12 people in 2 minutes, or something. It’s just non-stop but that’s what the fans want at this point and it’s going to be considered the climax of the story, which Dark Sky hates when I say because they do not want this to end, and it won’t. There’s always a way to bring him back and there’s always a way to keep going. We already have plenty of ideas where we could go but I like approaching each one as if it’s the end so that if there isn’t another one I feel like I finished the story and had closure.
This one is completely insane and off the hook, especially now after what happened with the second one getting yanked from theaters and problems the Hatchet series has had with the MPAA. We’re not going to start with that shit this time…we’ll do a couple of theatrical screenings of it, where we can play it, but we’re not editing the movie for them. We’re not changing anything and we’ll get it out on demand or DVD or whatever we have to do to get the fans the version they’re supposed to see without having to jump through hoops. This one is really going to be out there.

Me: Are you ever planning on making another Chillerama movie?

AG: At this time, not really. The first one, as fun as it was, was for me one of the worse experiences of my life. My segment was an absolute joy and one of the reasons I think I’m still directing because Hatchet 2 was very hard to make and it wasn’t supposed to be. Hatchet 2 was supposed to be the victory lap which I had put off for like five years so I could make other movies. And then it was like, ‘Now we’re getting the band back together’ and we’re going to do this for the fans,  and then I think it was so ambitious for the budget, it was so hard to make. We got hit with the swine flu, everyone got sick and was throwing up on set…it was misery. So coming off of that, I was like ‘I need a long break from this’. And then Chillerama came around and it totally reminded me of how fun this is and how much I love it but unfortunately, the process of dealing with four different directors and their schedules and when things are actually going to get done, that was really hard to do and just some of the personalities involved …it was just unbelievable. My shoot was four days and we only worked half days , everybody was having a blast. Some of the other ones were a disaster or a nightmare and ultimately, we did pull through and I’m happy with the fact that people like almost all of it—I think that’s great. I don’t know about doing a second one though. The idea was always that we’d get four new directors to do it and that would be the thing that does make it happen. It has been very successful, and I’m sure if we wanted to do another one we could but I don’t think anybody is necessarily jumping up and down, racing to do it. It really beat up all of us pretty bad. Remember too, with that movie, nobody got paid anything. That was completely a labor of love, for-fun project and I think that’s why we all got so beaten up over it because it was supposed to be just for fun but it dragged on for two years. If you’re going to do something for fun, it should be a couple of days, not two years.

Me: Can you give any details about Killer Pizza or explain how you got involved with the project?

AG:  I had been developing different projects for 1492, which is Chris Colombus’ company, which was a huge deal for me because Chris was the reason why I became a screenwriter in the first place. When I first saw Gooniesand Gremlins I remember as a kid thinking ‘Oh my god, these kids actually talk like I do.’ Normally in movies it was never the case; it always felt like an adult writing how they think kids should speak. So that’s what made me start studying screenwriting. I’ve loved everything that Chris has ever done so when they first responded to my material–which I think was probably Hatchet–and liked it, I started meeting with them—that was exciting. Then they sent me this book called Killer Pizza which was apparently a very popular children’s book. It was written for 8 year olds so there wasn’t too too much going on but the idea and the heart was so massive and there were so many opportunities there, so I went back to them with my take on how I would do it as a big blockbuster movie and when they called back and said you got the job, I couldn’t believe it. The first time I turned in a first draft, I was so nervous because I was like ‘Chris Colombus is going to read this, oh my God, what’s he going to say, what if he likes it, what if he doesn’t like it’ and he called me personally the next day to say how happy he was with it, and that was one of those moments where you hang up the phone and call your mom right away to tell her. That was amazing.  So I don’t know what’s going to happen with it. MGM bought the project so now I’m in the process of doing all the various studio rewrites, which sometimes can destroy a project but so far, so good. The people at MGM have been awesome and I think it really helps when you have a guy like Chris producing it because obviously he knows what hes doing and everybody’s really appreciative of that. So far so good. Then again, it’s a studio movie and they take forever to move.

Me: Is there anything else you’d like to say to the fans?

AG: Please watch Holliston and please watch it legally. I know not everyone has FearNet yet but they can call their cable provider. There’s a phone number, 877-FEAR-247, and you can demand it from your cable provider. If enough people demand it…if half the people who know about this show call Comcast or Time Warner or whoever and say they want to see it, they’ll get it. It’s not that hard to have them add the network  but in the meantime if that doesn’t happen, we’re working on getting it to iTunes as fast as possible afterwards. There’s just something more fun about watching it on TV as it plays rather than watching it after the fact on a computer screen so hopefully, people can see it on TV and eventually of course there will be the DVD and blu ray set and all the other stuff, but that’s not going to be for a while.

Holliston premieres Tuesday, April 3 at 10:30 on FearNet. Read my review of the hilarious horror-comedy here. Make sure to keep an eye out for the third film in the Hatchet series which is currently filming and Green’s other project, Killer Pizza.


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