Friday, July 3, 2009

Indie Film Crusaders-An Interview with the team behind Dead Harvey: A site that is a gold mine of resources for indie filmmakers everywhere.

One of the aims of Indie Movie Masters is to help bring a spotlight to exceptional individuals and organizations who are effectively advancing the world of indie film. We are proud to bring you the two guys behind Dead Harvey, a fantastic indie film site that not only features an extensive, regular series of interviews with indie filmmakers, but also has excellent articles, reviews, and a great archive of material for the indie filmmaker who is serious about developing a viable career.

Available on the site is the Dead Harvey Film School, which has a ton of real world information gleaned from their many interviews with indie filmmakers who have released projects. The savvy indie filmmaker can pick up alot of hints and insights that are not readily taught in film schools.

Information on screenwriting competitions, distributors, film festivals, and alot more is available within the considerable amount of content on this outstanding site. The site design makes it easy to navigate and find information. The primary emphasis is on the horror genre, but the information and lessons within this site apply to filmmakers in all genres.

One of the things that makes Dead Harvey particularly special as a resource is that it is focused on helping indie filmmakers make a viable career out of their passion. They pay close attention to emerging distribution models and opportunities, and discuss many varied aspects of the business side of indie films. This is gold for the indie filmmaker, available for free because two guys with a love of indie film put their heart, time, talent, and effort into Dead Harvey. There is always new material, their already substantial archives grow by the week, and all of this is available 24/7 to the indie film community with a click of the mouse and a little time invested.

So let's visit with Brad and Ted, the two guys that are the motor of the Dead Harvey street racer. When you are done, visit the site, bookmark it, and visit it regularly. On behalf of indie filmmakers everywhere, I want to thank them for what they have developed and provide for indie filmmakers.

Brad and Ted are definitely two guys that deserve, and have earned, stars on the Indie Film Walk of Fame.

-Stephen Zimmer for Indie Movie Masters, July 4, 2009

SZ: When did Dead Harvey begin, and what was the original vision for the site?

Ted: Dead Harvey started around 2 years ago and the vision has always been the same, but the site has obviously evolved. Very simply, I wanted it to be a resource for indie horror filmmakers and fans. There were lots of sites that concentrated on horror from the perspective of the fan, but very few that catered to the filmmaker. Indie horror filmmakers have very few places to
network, share stories and help each other out. So, in our own little way, we try to help out in that void.

SZ:Where does the name come from?

Brad: Ted told me it was from a teacher in high school named Harvey. He and a friend used to draw pictures of the teacher dead with a bunch of cute bunny rabbits and rainbows in the background. I asked Ted why he hated the teacher so bad and he said something to the effect of, "I didn't. He was a really nice guy. I was just bored in his class." I laugh every time I think of that.

Ted: I plead the fifth on this.

SZ: Who are the main contributors to Dead Harvey? And how much time do you spend on it in a given week? You certainly have a ton of independent film related content on the site.

Brad: It's pretty much 90% Ted and 10% me. I do and interview here and there, nerd out of movies and write the occasion blog on my filmmaking misadventures but Ted does and always has done a massive amount of the work.

Ted: Just to add to that, we've also had guest posts and articles from filmmakers and other industry types. Notably, we had a great article written by indie filmmaker and Troma-vet, Frankie Frain, and a few posts from indie composer Tony Longworth. I'd also like to add, if there's any people out there who are interested in contributing, shoot us an email!

SZ: Referring to the last question, tell us a little about your main contributors backgrounds and interests?

Brad: I love pretty much every genre of movie except chick flicks. Although, I find them funny from time due to all their unintentional humor. I love Italian horror movies, comic books, video games, pulp novels, a lot of things people would consider makes someone a nerd. I don't care what people think. I wear my nerd badge with honor. My favorite authors are Joe Lansdale, Jack Ketchum, Stephen King, Edward Lee, Edgar Allan Poe, Jack London, Richard Matheson and Roald Dahl.

Ted: As for background, I think we all share a similar background in our love of film. I mean, we met each other in film school. As for film interests, I really dig horror, sci-fi and action... I do enjoy the occasional comedy, depending on the subject matter, and I can handle a drama here and there. Chick flicks, no chance. As for interests, hobbies... I do write, direct and have a few horror projects on the go, but my actual day job is in marketing and advertising. I'm also a bit of a gadget freak... I love technology.

SZ: What do you look for in a good independent film, bearing in mind the limitations that an indie film has to deal with in terms of resources?

Brad: A good script and a good cast make the movie. I see past a lack of budget instantly as long as those elements are there. The chances of a movie turning out any good without a good script and cast are far less without these elements, regardless of how much money they have to buy their way out of problems.

Ted: As Brad covered off script and cast, I'll add that I love to see indie films that push the envelope in some way. This is obviously just my opinion, but I find that too many indie filmmakers try to emulate Hollywood. They think they need to make PG-13 pablum for the, so they can cater to a wider audience. The truth is, I think a good indie film goes further than a Hollywood film can. I'm very entertained by films with 'out there' concepts or that offer a new take on something. Something that makes you think, "They're not going to go there... are they Oh my God, they went there."

SZ: What are some of your thoughts about the future of indie film and distribution opportunities? Will it just be a lot of outlet/channels that dont garner much in return? Or will new media/distribution options make it possible for indie filmmakers to develop viable projects for potential investors?

Brad: Ted's been tracking these trends quite a bit recently, so he's really the one to ask about this. Personally, I think there's going more options for indie filmmakers to make money and not get ripped off by distributors but it's going to take a few years. Everyone has to figure out how they're going to get paid through the internet first.

Ted: Technologically, everything's in place for indie film to flourish in the digital age. Right now, there's tons of ways to deliver a film to your TV instantly, but there's two problems. One - how do we all make money? Two -how do people find your film? Netflix, Amazon and like-minded sites have really helped indie film by tapping into 'The Long Tail'. Meaning, they use search engines that analyze our viewing habits and suggest smaller, niche films that we may enjoy, but haven't heard of - this is the golden goose for indie film. Once those kinds of search engines are implemented into VOD and streaming services AND the casual viewer actually uses VOD and streaming, I think you're going to see indie films becoming viable, money making projects.

SZ: Do you see some negatives in the fact that cameras/software are so readily accessible and affordable, in terms of a flood of very poorly produced material drowning out awareness of projects that have involved a serious effort to produce a quality production?

Brad: I see nothing but positives here. The availability of affordable technology levels the playing field. Now, if people don't have money, they are forced to rely on talent and ingenuity. The market has always been over-saturated. A film's budget makes no difference to me. It's what the filmmaker does with what they have. There have been great movies like "Tape" where it's just two or three people in one room talking.

Ted: I do think that there's a lot of crap being put out due to the fact that anyone can shoot and edit a film now, but the positives do outweigh the negatives. For every piece of shit that gets released, there's also a quality, entertaining film that was made on no budget... and would never have seen the light of day had cameras and software not been so readily accessible and affordable.

SZ: What gave you the passion for indie/independent films in particular?

Brad: Having the dream to make movies and not having money to make them. That coupled with Sundance and guys like Rodriguez, Smith and Linkletter in the early 90's independent filmmaking boom who proved to people you could be an average Joe with no money and a dream and be able to get your work out there and realize your dream.

Ted: Without really knowing it, I've always been into indie horror. I loved early Troma films, like "Surf Nazi's Must Die" and "Toxic Avenger", which made me seek out similar films. When in film school, I realized that a lot of my favorite films, "Evil Dead", "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", etc... were, in fact, indie films. I've always appreciated the underground, low-budget guerilla
filmmaking style. Rodriguez, Hooper, Raimi and even Henenlotter were big influences.

SZ: curious, what are some of your favorite films from the pool of more mainstream or theatrical releases (major independent or larger)?

Brad: A few of my all time favorite movies are: Back to the Future, Star Wars (4-6), The Lost Boys, Sex, Lies and Videotape, Reservoir Dogs, The Toxic Avenger, Heathers and Clerks so it's a mix. This year, I've seen some really good movies at the theatre lately. I believe this is because Hollywood feels they have to try much harder now to get people to spend their hard earned cash, due to the shitty recession we're in. In a way, this is really good thing. Especially since I didn't find myself feeling this way last year. Now, I feel optimistic about the future. My favorite movies in the theatre this year have been Star Trek, Drag Me to Hell and The Hangover, all of which I enjoyed a great deal. I'm not a trekkie by any means but Star Trek was the best movie I've seen in the theatre so far this year. They put forth a great effort, nailed the cast and tone, were faithful to the Captain Kirk character, had a great script and pacing and all the characters jumped off the page.

Ted: Favorite mainstream films of all time? Off the top of my head, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Scarface, Mean Streets, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the Nightmare on Elm Street series, the Friday the 13th series, Conan, Commando... recently? This year, I enjoyed Drag Me To Hell, I actually didn't mind the Friday the 13th remake that much. Star Trek was great. Watchmen, The Hangover.

SZ: Dead Harvey looks to have quite a few resources for independent filmmakers, one of which (Dead Harvey Film School), draws heavily from the extensive interviews that you do. Tell us more about this part of the site and how it can be a
fantastic source for indie filmmakers.

Brad: There's no better way to learn about making movies than by hearing stories from the trenches of indie. filmmakers. All have different backgrounds. Some are older and giving it one last shot. Some are just starting out. Some live in their parent's basements, some have put out a second mortage on their house. All are consumed and risk or sacrifice a great deal to do what they want to do. School doesn't teach you this. You have to go out and live it. Hopefully, our
readers will learn from the lessons indie. filmmakers have given us on the site and learn how to avoid the traps and roadblocks that lie on the road to making your own movie. And, hopefully they'll pick up on what equipment they used and learn filmmaking tricks as well. There is so much good information in the interviews we have with the filmmakers it's like a film school in and of itself: hence the title.

Ted: Brad said it perfectly

SZ: Tell us about some of your other resources, such as those involving screenwriting competitions, distributors, and film festivals.

Ted: Well, although we're hoping to develop it all a bit more, we do discuss film festivals, distributors and screenwriting competitions. I'd also like to get into music, special effects and things like that. Put it this way... we recently compared indie filmmaking to being like a dark forest. Filmmakers walk into the forest, then almost instantly trip and fall... then they end up
scrambling, on all fours, trying to get through the whole process. Meanwhile, other indie filmmakers wander in and, generally, just start tripping over the same things that other indie filmmakers tripped over. Shortly after that, you have a pile of indie filmmakers, laying all over the place, just scratching their heads. What we hope to do is help out a bit, maybe light the way by telling stories of where those pitfalls are and what other people have gone through. Really, if we can help even a few guys navigate the process a bit better, I'd consider it a success.

SZ: Have you been able to see some growth in traffic and usage of all the resources that you make available?

Ted - Yeah, the site has grown and we're getting more and more traffic every month. The most popular sections are definitely the film school, the distributors and the screenwriting festivals.

SZ: Besides the website, give people an idea as to where they can connect with you elsewhere, such as MySpace, Facebook, etc.

Our site is at

SZ: What else would you like to say about Dead Harvey to folks that may not yet be familiar with your site?

Brad: Dead Harvey is primarily a site to promote independent filmmaking. It's a celebration of independent film. It's a place to share resources and information and provide a sense of unity for the independent filmmaker. It's not a place for angry, bitter blogs, etc. It's a place where those who go out there and make their own movie get the promotion they deserve and where all indie. filmmakers band together and help each other out. God knows in the time we're living in, we all need all the help we can get.

Ted: I agree... and if anyone wants to help contribute, wants their film reviewed or is looking to promote something, we're always happy to help out.

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