Saturday, February 23, 2013

Interview With A Snob

Brad Jones a.k.a The Cinema Snob
By: William G. Muir
Welcome to day number two of the Cinema Snob weekend. Not much for me to say here so let us get straight to the interview.
1. Did you start off as the Cinema Snob, or was there any other personae that predated the Snob?

Well, before I started The Cinema Snob, I made a few full length exploitation movies. I did a serial killer film called "Freak Out," a movie about snuff films called "Cheap," and an 80's cop thriller called "Midnight Heat." The Cinema Snob was my first attempt at making comedy, since any of the acting or writing background I had before was all very dark and centered in drama (with the exception of a couple of short films made in high school).

2. Where did the idea for the Cinema Snob character come from?

I sort of wanted to try out an online video series, since the movies I made weren't really going anywhere. This was 2007 and at the time there wasn't really a lot of comedic material online centered around horror films. I had written some funny reviews for a couple of websites, so I thought maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to turn that into a video show of some kind. It always struck me as funny whenever a very high brow, stereotypical snooty critic would try reviewing exploitation, because it was obviously something they didn't understand or at the least just wasn't for them. The Cinema Snob very much comes from Roger Ebert's review of "Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter" in which he goes on a huge, angry soap box about what the movie teaches teenagers about life and how the filmmakers are sadists and hate women and blah blah blah. It was insane to me, so the idea for The Cinema Snob came about. I've always been a horror guy and an exploitation guy, so this was a perfect opportunity for me to spotlight some little seen movies from my collection in a funny and satirical light.

3. For those readers who may not be aware of the genre, what exactly are exploitation films? Are they still being produced today?

Exploitation is certainly still made today, though it's long past it's golden years. I love working in the genre, because it pretty much gives you free reign to do whatever the hell cool thing you want to do, in terms of violence, sex, language, all the rough stuff. Exploitation just simply means you're taking certain sub genre aspects, taboo subjects, and completely running with it. It could be crime, sex, raunch, race, violent subjects, zombies, amazon cannibals, nuns, any kind of niche genre and doing whatever the hell you have to do to entertain and titillate the audience.

4. What is it about the horror and exploitation genres that catches your interest?

Like I said, I like the free reign the genre has, I like that the better filmmakers involved with the genre will do whatever the hell they want to make an entertaining film. I also love just how many genres it covers. Much like horror, it can spread across to comedy, action, anything really. When done right, it's entertaining as hell and incredibly well made and beautiful to look at, in terms of both camera work and music cues. Many people write it off as low budget dreck, but there is some really beautiful and different style filmmaking that can go into it.

5. Do you prefer doing independent movies; or if a big time Hollywood studio threw money at you and said go make a movie would you accept? If so what would be the movie you would make.

I prefer doing independent movies. I wouldn't know what to do if I had a huge budget like that, or had to work for someone else or meet another person's demands. I'd probably have a nervous breakdown. Being a commercial director has always been the farthest thing from my mind. I like telling my own stories my own way, without anyone else butting in. I like having full control over the movies that I direct, because it's my script and my vision, not someone else's. If the movie turns out good, then fantastic, that's what I wanted. If it turns out bad, then it's completely all my fault, as it should be. But, there have been a couple movies that I wrote but didn't direct. "Paranoia" and "The Cinema Snob Movie" were both directed by my great friend Ryan Mitchelle. "Paranoia" was an old script of mine that I wrote in high school that I gave to Ryan to do what he wanted with. That script was never a pet project of mine, just something I wrote as an experiment. "The Cinema Snob Movie" was directed by Ryan because I know my limitations as a director, and I wanted The Snob Movie to look more professional than I could offer it. Ryan is a better director than I am. I was however a huge producer on the film and had severe control over what I wanted and didn't want with the film. Now, if a Hollywood Studio threw money at me to make whatever the hell I wanted without them butting in, I'd make my 80's post apocalyptic film, but that would never happen.

6. Your friends play a part in your website. Was it difficult convincing them to help you out? Do you have any friends that you would like to get on camera but for whatever reason they have turned you down.

It wasn't difficult at all, we've been making videos together for well over 10 years. Sarah, Jake, Dave, and many of the people you see on the site have all been involved in the movies I've made dating all the way back to "Freak Out." In fact, Jake has been in every single movie that I've written. So, by the time I started making web series' and started the website, we were all already used to working together. I have plenty of friends who aren't in videos, but that's just because it isn't their thing, or they're too busy. I wish I could have gotten Bianca Queen to return; she played Donna Diggs in "Midnight Heat" and Sally in "Game Boys," but she's pretty much retired from acting and is busy raising a family. I tried getting her to return for "Midnight Heat 2," but unfortunately she couldn't do it, so her role is now played by Samantha Allen who has been in "The Cinema Snob Movie," "Paranoia" and "The Hooker with a Heart of Gold." Bianca is however returning as a voice in "Game Boys: The Animated Series."

7. What has been your favorite movie to review, both as the Snob and your current movie reviews. What is the worst.

As the Snob, that would have to be "Caligula," since it's my favorite movie of all time. It was pretty great cracking some jokes and poking fun at my favorite flick. The worst I've ever done on the show is "Nukie." It was so bad that I couldn't even watch it all in one sitting. I had to hit pause and go outside and walk off my anger. I've never seen something so mind numbingly incompetent and cringe inducing. Watching that thing was a form of mental torture, I cannot believe that thing actually exists. When I watched the rest of it the following day, I was still enraged while watching it, and I felt very very sad about my life in that moment. Lets just say I was in quite a sour mood. Even Jillian could tell that I wasn't a happy camper after watching that. As someone who has made movies and who has both written and edited, that movie offended me on an artistic standpoint, and whatever other standpoints of movies you can think of.

8. What led to the creation of 80's Dan.

80's Dan was meant to be a one off character. In the "Caligula" episode of The Cinema Snob, there are cameos from all the other shows I had at the time, and I thought it would be funny if there was an appearance from a character who didn't even exist. 80's Dan came to my head first, basically as just a spoof of Linkara's 90's Kid character. But the audience really loved it, and I think half of the feedback I got on the episode was about 80's Dan. So I thought maybe I should atleast make a pilot or a handful of episodes featuring this character. I wanted it to be different from the usual review type show, I did not just want it to be exactly like The Cinema Snob, only with an 80's guy talking about silly movies. The idea of having it be a sitcom spoof came to me, and I really liked that idea. I wanted to give it the usual tropes of a cheesy sitcom, as in the cranky neighbors, an object that shouldn't talk but does, a "will they/won't they" relationship with the roommate. Anymore, I actually love doing the plot based episodes way more than episodes where they're talking about a movie or a video game. It gives me plenty more room to explore these characters and get more situational comedy out of them. Personally, I think it's the best show on the site.

9. You mentioned Linkara who happens to be one of your fellow contributors on the That Guy With The Glasses website. Do you think your affiliation with TGWTG has affected your carreer in any specific ways?

It's certainly brought me a very large fanbase, which is great, I love that more people have discovered my stuff and are taking a liking to it. I've also gotten to meet and work with some incredibly talented writers and performers, and I've also made some really great and lasting friendships out of that affiliation. It hasn't affected my work style at all, or how I write and how I direct my projects. I'm still the same person now as I was years ago when I started, and if anything I think my work has gotten better over the years. But I still make the same kinds of things that I've always wanted to make. I have goofy stuff like "The Cinema Snob," "80's Dan," and "Brad Tries," but I also have much darker stuff that I like to do to, such as my full length movies, and I'll continue making both comedic material and serious material. Honestly, even a lot of the comedic stuff I do such as "The Cinema Snob Movie" has a lot of dark elements to it.

10. What is the weirdest thing you have been asked to try/been sent to try for Brad tries? Is there anything you refuse to try. What is worst thing you have tried, what is the best?

I'm not sure what the weirdest would be, since none of it surprises me at all. I've been sent some nasty things, but it's always something that I've been aware of or am atleast unphased by it's existence. The only way I would ever refuse something is if it would kill me. If it doesn't kill me, I'm fine with it. The worst thing I've ever tried is the Brussel Sprouts soda. It came in one of the Jones Soda holiday themed packs, and it tasted like warm, melted, carbonated butter. It's the closest I've come to actually throwing up because of the taste. I did throw up in the Candwich episode, but that wasn't because of the taste, it was because it was stale and didn't mix well with the energy drink I tried. Energy drinks give me stomach aches anyway. The best would probably be the Not See Cola, since it was like having Crystal Pepsi back again. It was delicious and it warmed my heart to have a new clear cola. 
Brad Jones with a 2 liter of his favorite drink, Crystal Pepsi

11. Would you ever consider moving beyond trying food and beverages for Brad Tries. Would you consider doing physical stunts such as bungee jumping or sky diving, for example?

Ha! Probably not. I don't like heights at all, I'm terrified of flying, and I don't even go up in tall buildings over 30 floors or so. So, I'm definitely not the right guy for that, you couldn't talk me into it ever. But as far as drinking a 30 year old beverage goes, I'd much rather do that, even though it's technically more dangerous.

12. You have posted on your website that you will be attending this years Wizard World St. Louis in March. Can you tell the readers what it is like, for you, to attend these conventions?

I absolutely love going to conventions. It really is like a vacation for me. I get out of town for the weekend, I get to be amongst all the things I love in the genre, plus I get to meet and hang out with a lot of fans who are really cool people. We shoot the shit about horror flicks, new movies, old movies, lots of stuff. I tend to hit up a convention every few months or so. We went to conventions about every month last year to promote "The Cinema Snob Movie," and it was a blast.

13. What advice would you give to anyone that wanted to have a career in the entertainment industry? Would you advising going the independent route?

It really all depends on what they wanted to do with their career. If they want to do their own thing, such as writing their own work and creating their own films based on what they've written, I would highly recommend going to Independent Route. It may not get noticed for a while, but atleast you're doing what you love in the way that you want it to be. With that being said, it's extremely important to know your limitations. Don't overreach and try to make something that's completely outside your budget means or your capabilities at the time. My first film "Freak Out" was a thriller that mostly took place all in one location, because that's what I had to work with at the time and it was within my budget. Now that I'm more experienced and have much more funds and tools to work with, I can create things on a much bigger canvas while still remaining very low budget and within my own writing and directing style. If you want to be a commercial director, a Spielberg/big budget filmmaker type, or if you're in it more so for the tech side of things, I would certainly recommend going the film school route. It just wasn't for me, I wanted to write and produce my own things, my own way, and that's definitely where you want to go the independent route.

14. When you are not working, how do you relax?

Good question, lol. I'm kind of a workaholic. I feel that if I'm not working on something, I'm just wasting the day away. Since I work from home, it'd be like going to work and not doing anything; I get bored when I'm not working on something. I feel like with what I do for a living, I'm like a shark, and if I don't keep swimming, I'll die off. That doesn't mean that I'll just put out any crap I can think of pass it off as entertainment, I wouldn't do that. I put a lot of effort and care into the things I write and direct. If I didn't, then I wouldn't want to do this for a living. I'm just constantly working on something. But that's kind of easy for me, since I'm a movie guy and an exploitation guy anyway. I would be going to the theater anyway to see movies, it's just that now I talk about them on camera afterwards. If I didn't have The Cinema Snob, I would still be watching exploitation films and horror films, it's just that now, I have a show based around them. Many of my shows tie in with my own personal tastes and what I love doing, so that helps me continue to put out material without getting burnt out or severely drained. I do take breaks though, and hang out with my friends at different times during the week. My nightly tradition to wind down from the day and relax is to get a little zen going and watch "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson," one of my favorite shows on television. It puts me at complete peace and makes me ready for the next day.

Be sure to join us tomorrow when I review Cheap.

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