After a career of writing about films, Eamon Hardiman decided to walk off the sidelines and onto the field of filmmaking. He has since produced dozens of short films and a few features as well. He is a cinematic sponge, using influences from John Hughes, Korean comedy, Jason Vorhees, Sam Raimi and Disney Channel made-for-tv films about magical jersies. The result is PORKCHOP, and it’s here to own some ass. Eamon also fought a bear one time and killed it with only his hands… just sayin’.
DAILY GRINDHOUSE: So let’s start the same place we do with all our guests; what was the first film that changed your life?
EAMON HARDIMAN: ARMY OF DARKNESS I wasn’t a big horror fan as a kid and I remember seeing the trailer for it run over and over on TV. It stuck with me for years and eventually I picked it up on video and loved it, only to learn there were two prequels. The rest was history; I had become a hopeless horror addict.
Talk to us a little bit about how you began to appreciate film growing up.
I remember my father had an old Super 8 camera and all the equipment: lights, the little splicer thing, etc. He used to film us running around the yard and on trips and we’d all gather around in my grandparents’ house and watch the projected films together. Later on that film splicer became a great torture device for GI Joes. One day I managed to get ahold of a camcorder (also my dad’s) and began filming little stop-motion movies and walking around the neighborhood shooting here and there. I started to realize that the stuff I was shooting was crap and that there must be a lot of effort going into real movies, so I started to watch everything I could over and over again to try to learn how to create that difference between backyard shit and Hollywood magic. I still have no idea.
Do you remember particular films or directors that resonated with you or moments in particular when you started to see those films in a new way?
I had watched all of the John Hughes flicks a LOT growing up but had never really paid any attention to it. I remember watching Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in High School and it just hit me “Holy Shit, they actually got all of those people to stand around all day and sing Twist and Shout. How did they shoot this? How did they get that really high shot while he’s on the parade float? What is a crane? WHAT THE FUCK IS A CRANE?!” I watched Ferris Bueller at least twice a week the whole time I was in high school. And I still can’t properly pull off a crane shot.
Who are some of your favorite directors and what kind of genres do you tend to lean to?
I’m a massive Michael Davis fan. SHOOT’EM UP and MONSTER MAN are brilliant movies in their respective genres but his earlier teen rom-coms 100 GIRLS, 100 WOMEN and 8 DAYS A WEEK contain some of the most intelligent comedy writing I’ve ever come across. I watch those all the time. It’s weird. I love horror and make horror but I mostly watch everything else, even romantic comedies. Also lots of those really awful Disney Channel movies where a kid becomes a leprechaun or someone finds a magical jersey or something. I’m fucking weird. I was on a kick there for a while watching Korean romantic comedies. Obsessed with them. The Koreans turned it into an art. Lately I’m almost exclusively watching documentaries. I saw one about ventriloquism that made me openly weep. I’ve tried to make documentaries before and failed miserably. I don’t see how these people do it, much less turn it into a moving piece like that.
Don’t feel too weird. I once watched an entire Olson Twins movie and wept at their moving struggles to cope with being placed on the wrong soccer team. Comedy is really universal and it’s pretty interesting to see comedy from other countries, I have to admit though that I have never seen a Korean comedy. How would you describe those to someone like me who has never seen them?
Well you probably have. I’ve watched a lot (don’t ask me for names…they’re all bizarre like ‘My Boyfriend is Type B’ and ‘My Sassy Girl’) and after a few minutes I go “hey wait a minute…this looks familiar” and it turns out an American rom com completely ripped it off down to even exact SCENES. They tried to make an American adaptation of ‘My Sassy Girl’ and it just didn’t work. They’re really weird. They’ll be filled with gross-out comedy but usually the romantic relationships are incredibly pure. You’ll watch a whole movie of two people going out drinking and dancing and checking each other out and they may declare their love for one another at the end or come to terms with it but they won’t even kiss. Or ALL they do is kiss. Or hold hands. It’s kind of beautiful to watch romance unfold on-screen without having to rely upon sex. This is coming from the guy who just made a four-titty picture.
Speaking of documentaries, one of my favorite films of all-time is AMERICAN MOVIE from Chris Smith. It really gets to the heart and soul of independent filmmaking. Have you ever checked that out?
LOVE that film although such a depressing tale. Sadly that’s pretty much the way it is. These things are hard to do with no budget and it takes insanity and real dedication to make them happen. If Hollywood wants smaller budgets they need to hire guys like the dude from American Movie to make their films. “Real movie sets” waste SO much money it’s insane. These people who’ve been working in the business for years are spoiled babies. I worked on a music video once where the D.P. had a head cold and refused to shoot a frame until a specific type of soup from a specific restaurant was delivered to him. There’s a level of hard-work and just plain “giving a shit” missing from Hollywood today and Robert Rodriguez figured it out, tried to save the studios money, and wound up getting a career and his own film company out of it. More people need to think this way. We need to get all of the guys out there busting their asses making indie horror flicks in their backyards directing these films. We’ll have far more creative movies and they won’t cost the studio shitloads. You can think your way out of any problem on a movie. Most of these people just throw money at it.
You wrote about film for a while before deciding to make films yourself, what was the moment when you decided you were ready to make your own films?
I always felt I was ready, it was just figuring out what to do and when to do it. Back when it was still cool to make a backyard zombie movie, a bunch of us got together and made a 30 minute flick. Awful movie but for some reason people liked it, I guess I saw that we were able to make a film entertaining (to some people) regardless of the budget or skill we actually possessed. That got me excited, so we tried to make a feature-length zombie movie. Everyone hated it. We then made VAMPIRE WHORES FROM OUTER SPACE and people seemed to dig it. I knew we were on to something. We didn’t make another movie for four years. That led to PORKCHOP.
When did you first get the idea for PORKCHOP?
Sometime in 2008. I believe PORKCHOP FX artist Chris Woodall and I were sitting around with a friend talking about making another movie. He spouted out some bullshit nonsense about a creature called THE GOB SHOW that apparently came out of creeks or something and killed teens. It didn’t make a lot of sense. Chris or I said that pigs are scary and started talking about the pig head scene from MOTEL HELL. “Well what if that was like a WHOLE movie?” So we quickly wrote the script. Zack Bassham (THE GOB SHOW guy) did a little script polishing and added in some jokes and we were ready to make it happen.
The biggest hurdle any independent filmmaker has in front of them is how to fund the project. Walk us through how you financed the film.
We raised a little bit of money with Kickstarter and the rest was all from my paycheck every week. Brandon Raker, the producer, kicked in some cash as well and we basically just bankrolled whatever came up.
What kind of challenges did you face during production?
Actors quitting on us, actors just not showing up, horrible weather, generator noise, traffic noise, being stalked by rednecks in a pickup truck at each of our locations, our hippie VW driver getting nearly arrested while all of our equipment was in the vehicle, nearly killed an actor with a tombstone, nearly got myself killed by a lawn dart, and a severe lack of crew. This is all just week one.
Did shooting take as long as you expected it to?
No it took forever. We shot an initial week and then it was every weekend for months. We started in the summer and by the end it was snowing. Do not do this. Weekend movies are for idiots and hobbyists.
It looks like you picked up distribution relatively quick, how did you pitch this film and how did you get picked up so fast?
It took a lot longer than you’d think. We made the film in 2009 and had been showing it around with screenings late that year and selling DVDs on our own. We finally locked down a distribution deal in 2010 (I think) but it didn’t come out until late 2011.
PORKCHOP was a bit of a throwback to classic slashers, similar in a sense to Adam Green’s HATCHET. However, there was a strong comedic undercurrent which separates it from your run-of-the-mill hack ‘em up. Is it tricky combining horror with comedy?
Not really. We made the decision long ago that the horror and the monsters are just a wrapper around the comedy. For some people it’s the opposite and that works for their films but I’ve always felt that I’m primarily a comedy writer and I just wouldn’t feel entirely comfortable making a 100% serious horror film. My favorite horror films are the horror comedy flicks like EVIL DEAD, RE-ANIMATOR, SHAUN OF THE DEAD, SATURDAY THE 14TH, etc. These are the people who’ve figured it out. I’m not sure if we’ve figured it out yet but we keep trying.
Like many slashers, PORKCHOP has its share of stereotypical characters: the nerd, the jock, the outcast/punk, the princess, the prophetic hermit, etc. However, you throw everybody a curveball with the inclusion of some oddball personalities, like the bickering hicks who run the general store. Was it your intention to stay true to your roots, but at the same time, give convention a slight spin?
We have very few recurring characters in these films and Burt Fleming and Teddy are in almost every one of our films (at least Burt is). Whatever the story is, Burt has always had to be there in some form. That scene in the store is one of the first moments where we wanted the audience to see that this movie is clearly tongue-in-cheek. We could have just made a straight slasher film with all of the stereotypical characters that you mention but it would be boring. Most indie slasher films are completely unwatchable because they take their material too seriously or try to be “the scariest movie ever made.” Slasher movies were never really about that, at least not the good ones. They were about titties and comedy and then suddenly everyone’s getting stabbed. When people forget about the comedy that’s when it all falls apart.
Easily one of the highlights of the film, tell me how the wisecracking, perverted robot came to pass. And how did you propose the robot sex scene to your star?
Movies like SPACE CAMP and REVENGE OF THE NERDS and Saved by the Bell all had these 80s robots in them. I’d written a bit of a script back in the day that featured a handicapped character that had an angry perverted robot caretaker. We decided to bring that into PORKCHOP and it worked wonders! The character really didn’t come together until Danny Hicks agreed to do the voice. That was the moment when everything clicked. Erin wasn’t originally cast in the film. She came in after another girl didn’t show up and was 100% down for everything. She was excited about the sex scene and really gave it her all. One of the easiest experiences I’ve had shooting a sex scene.
Outside of adding another killer (or killers, as the title PORCHOPS implies), how do you keep the material fresh for a sequel? Are we looking at another comic/horror hybrid?
PORKCHOP is a little more dark but with a bit of strangeness still in there. It’s just such a different story. Set in the modern day, it’s kind of John Hughes meets Halloween but with a WV backwoods spin on it. There is a musical sequence. Also we wanted to make sure to improve the movie drastically on the technical side so there are tons of crane shots and it really looks gorgeous. It was a matter of refining everything we’d done with the first one.
How was it working with Danny Hicks? He has instant geek credentials given his work with Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell.
We actually never met. Chris Watson and Mike Kallio made that happen for me. Luckily I was finally able to meet Danny at a horror convention last year and he was pretty excited about how cool it was to be in someone’s movie having never met them in person. He’s a great guy and has always been one of my favorite actors. It’s always refreshing to meet one of your favorite people and have them NOT be a cock-sucker. It rarely happens.
What’s next on your plate?
We are finishing up PORKCHOPP 3D right now so that will be done by July and ready for screenings.
Right now the PORKCHOP mask is up for sale on eBay:
Donate money to help complete PORKCHOP 3D:
Special thanks to Eamon for hanging out with DG the next few weeks. Keep your eyes peeled for a special Top 10 list coming for the man himself in the next few days.
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