Category Archives: director’s commentary

Love them DVD extras!

Those who know my viewing habits know I love DVD extras. If the movie speaks to me, I will devour those deleted scenes, commentaries, etc. Call me a movie geek. It’s a title I’ll wear proudly. (It’s why so many of the movies one my 100 films to watch list a few months back were Criterion releases. Criterion knows extras!)

Because of that, I like to make sure my own releases are loaded with extras. The Broken Side Of Time coming out on May 20th has 90 minutes of extras, including:

But even some extras fell to the cutting room floor. Here’s a little NSFW extra extra that did not make it onto the upcoming DVD release of BROKEN SIDE OF TIME…it’s goofy, and more safe for work than not.

And please order the DVD by clicking HERE.

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The FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) interview…

Some questions and my answers to a little interview I did recently for FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS):

Poster designed by Sarah Hajtol

1. What would you say to someone sitting down to watch this film for the first time, knowing nothing about it?

To please put all preconveived notions about what sex and romance should be, to crank up the volume, and get ready to laugh and be turned-on…

A scene from FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) filmed at Cafe 9 in New Haven

2. What was the inspiration for writing the story for this film? Is it autobiographical at all?

Well, yes, back in my college days, I had a few long-term friends with benefits, of course, we called them fuck buddies back then. Which was the original name for the script, when I first penned it back in 1999. But I was finding that none of my actors wanted a film called fuck buddies on their resume. I’ve always felt it was an interesting aspect to any friendship, especially male/female friendships. How can you not want to be with a person with whom you have a lot in common?

A scene from FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) filmed at Willoughby's Coffee & Tea in Branford, CT

3. How did the project come together? Was it difficult to get this film off the ground and into production? What were the major challenges?

The biggest challenges are always fund raising and casting. I raised about half the money pretty quickly, based on the script. I found matching funds from a group interested in also putting the film out on DVD. A win-win, until they started giving me script notes. I’m beyond the point of taking script notes from investment bankers and accountants. My feeling is, you want to invest in the film, great. But you have no say. Life is too short to deal with assholes who think because they have money they know anything about story development. So, the minute they brought up script notes, I told them what they could do with their matching funds, and moved on to the lower budget I had already prepared. (I always have backup lower budgets.)

Anne Petersen, Margaret Laney, Lynn Mancinelli

4. How was the casting process? Any surprises in the cast you finally got together?

Well, Margaret Laney was onboard first…she was friends with Jake Alexander…who knew Brendan Bradley…who knew Anne Petersen. Then Jake remembered an old friend from Boston, Alex Brown. So that was 5/6 of our lead cast. It was the final role which took a while, and eventually went to Lynn Mancinelli. The leads rocked. It helped that a number of them knew each other, but it also helped that we rehearsed once a week for going on 6 months because filling shooting. They all seem like good friends. The chemistry is there. I couldn’t ask for more. And likewise, there’s no one else I’d picture in the lead roles. They own them. But, as always, finding supporting players was a lot harder. No real surprises, except for perhaps Tara Stiles, who plays one of the webcam girls. She’s an uber-famous yoga instructor now. She rocked that small part. Wish we had seen more of both her, and the coffee shop girl, played by Rooney Mara.

Alex Brown, Brendan Bradley, Jake Alexander

5. How was Rooney Mara to work with? What do you think of her casting in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?

I’ve been friends with Rooney for a long time. I originally cast her as the Ilona, the Daughter of God, in the intended film version of my first novel, The Second Greatest Story Ever Told. In fact you can see her on the cover of the paperback reprint. But when I walked away from $2 million in funding (same reason as above), I moved on to FWB. But Rooney looked too young at the time to play any of the lead roles. I think she’s going to kick ass in Dragon Tattoo. I’m proud of her. Can’t wait to one day get Second Greatest Story off the ground.

The band: START MISSING EVERYBODY

6. Any memorable moments on set?

It was a tough shoot. We had a lot of locations and only 18 days. And there are many times I’m a 20-take director. So we don’t have much down time. Scratch that, we have no down time. But that said, my favorite day of shooting was the, well, without giving away too much, let’s just call it the orgy scene. It was very tight quarters. We shot that in an attic, so the ceiling where we placed the camera and crew was about 3 feet high. It was in the 90s, that day. No A/C. And yet, there’s one particular shot in which that scene all comes together. It wasn’t planned. It was as if the god if indie films was shining down upon us and it all just clicked. But you’ll know it because what you never expect to happen, happens.

Adrian Correia, Gorman Bechard

7. Are there any particular scenes you like the best, or that you’d like audiences to really take note of?

I have two favorite scenes in the movie that still to this day give me goosebumps because they feel so real. Both are between Chloe and Owen. The first is the kiss on up East Rock park, when they first talk about what they want to be when they grow up. The other is the dance at their senior prom, when he puts his jacket around her shoulders. The looks they give each other are beyond perfect. I made the film and yet I believe in those moments they are in love.

A scene from FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) filmed at East Rock Park in New Haven, CT

8. How about any scenes that were particularly challenging to shoot?

The East Rock scenes…on those nights it would either be raining, or freezing, or both. NEVER shoot exterior scenes in low budget films. It’s suicide. Also the bar scenes. 21 pages in about 22 hours, with band performances, shooting overnight for two nights while the bar (Cafe Nine, in New Haven) was closed.

Poster used in film.

9. What would you say is the overall message you’d like people to take away from the film?

Sex is something different for everyone. We all have our kinks, whatever they might be. Instead of discriminating against people because of differences, we should learn to embrace and enjoy those differences. It might just turn you on like you’ve never been turned on before.

You can watch FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) now on Fancast or Babelgum. Or you can purchase the DVD (with tons of extras) at Amazon.

Happy Holidays to all…

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The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 8

Now I had tried indiegogo.com before for another project. It’s a place where you put your project online, and seek backers. NOT investors. Backers. People who donate money to your film in return for a dvd, a poster, an associate producer credit, a day on set, a role as an extra, anything you can think of really. But unlike investors, they do not own any part of your finished film. They own no part of the profits. They will never be paid back. And likewise you do not have to register with state banking commissions, you do not need a securities lawyer. (Filmmakers, if you’re looking for investors, be careful and check with the laws of individual state. Fines are not fun.) If you can find people who believe in your project this is very much the way to go. But to be honest, I had no luck with indiegogo, and I think most people who tried them at the start were in the same boat. Checking their site now, they seem to have completely changed format, basically copying the much more successful KickStarter.com.

When I first put up COLOR ME OBSESSED on KickStarter back in October 2009, it was mostly an exclusive club. You needed either an invite from one of the people who had projects on the site, or from one of the site’s founders. So I sent said founders an email, explaining who I was, and what I was making, and within a few days received an invite to make CMO a KickStarter project.

You can see the original CMO KickStarter page here, including the listing of what I was offering backers at what price. As you can see it proved tremendously successful. And I knew that when time came to find Mats fans outside of the tri-state area in which I resided, I be able to pack up my crew and go.

As an aside, I can’t say enough great things about KickStater. Everything about it is professional, well thought out, and easy to use. They truly have some amazing projects, and have helped many artists like myself achieve goals which might have otherwise been out of reach. KickStarter rocks!

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The making of FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) – part 3

In the commentary to my film YOU ARE ALONE, I said that making a movie was the hardest thing to do.  Period. 

Though there’s hardly anything simple about it.  Dealing with the egos, the tantrums, the hysteria that goes with no sleep, no food, too much coffee, stress, stress, stress.  Sorry.  There are few things in life of which I’m certain, but this IS one of them.  Directing a film is the most difficult task a human can perform.  Any if you’re reading this and shaking you’re head, well then, you obviously have never directed a film.  So, you really have no clue.

If you’re nodding, going, HELL, YEAH.  Then read on . . .

Protein.  Yeah, that was one of the big complaints on the set of Friends (with benefits).  Despite the more seasoned pros on the set claiming we had the best food and coffee they’d ever had on ANY movie set.  (I do believe in feeding people well, especially when I can’t pay union wages, and in many cases Pas are working for little or less, good food and coffee is the one thing I CAN and WILL provide.)  There were the very vocal few who felt there wasn’t enough protein during breakfast.  Of course, in most cases these were the people who did the least amount of work.  Why is it that the most useless people complain the most?  Do they have nothing else better to do?  Obviously.  They’re not really working.  They’re just looking to create drama.  That is what they do best. 

These are the people that need to be stepped on like bugs on a movie set.  I don’t care if they’re your friends.  All they do is breed hostility.  They make what could be an otherwise happy set, miserable.  And why?  Because they need some fucking protein in their breakfast?  No, because they’re lazy assholes to begin with.  GET RID OF THEM.

One of the worst “problems” on the FWB set was a young woman who claimed to be vegan.  Who complained at every meal.  Who never once asked nicely if we could perhaps have something different for breakfast.  (Asking nice goes a LONG way.)  But instead spread her nasty attitude like a virus through the set, even infecting the cast.  She was worthless on crew.  And because of her attitude, I absolutely refused to even listen.  Then one day I saw her eating a plate of scrambled eggs.  The vegan eating eggs.  Snagged.  You know what she could do with her protein complaints from that point forward.  

Don’t get me wrong, I love most of the filmmaking process.  Especially writing and editing.  My least favorite part would be the actual filming.  Mainly because of the one or two rotten apples that spoil it for everybody.  Every set has them.  I wish I knew how to get rid of them.  All I can do is report them to a few line producers I know after the shoot.  (I do, believe me . . . and yes, there are list of “unhirable” people out there, both crew AND cast)  It’s a small community.  Eventually word gets around.  And word really gets around with it’s a department head who’s causing the problems. 

Unfortunately, because you’re shooting for just a few weeks, and usually not dealing with unions, finding a quick replacement is impossible.  (Especially if you’re not in New York or LA.)  So, do you cut off your nose to spite your face?  (We did that a few times on FWB, and usually the work would fall onto either my shoulders, or more often than not the shoulders of Ashley McGarry, who shared the writing, editing and producing credits with me, and who ultimately ended up also earning the title of Production Manager, because she, well, managed the production when those that were hired to do so either didn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t, whatever.   She did what was needed to get the film made.  I did likewise.  But there’s only so much two people can do.)  So, no.  You try to ignore the morons, hope they get a tiny bit of work done, that their department heads actually whips them into shape, and focus on the task at hand: making a movie.

And there are bright sides.  When all goes well during a day of shooting, it’s becomes the greatest day of your life.  Hands down, it’s one of the greatest highs.  Despite the exhaustion and stress, you are flying. 

And don’t get me wrong, this entry is about the FEW, the not so PROUD.

Seventy-five percent of the Friends crew were stellar, hard working professionals, who did a great job, and rarely complained.  Really, in addition to the aforementioned Ms. McGarry, who went above and beyond and probably deserved another dozen titles, my dream crew would certainly include Adrian Correia as my cinematographer, Dave Groman as my sound recordist, Jodi Baldwin (one of only two people I asked over from the You Are Alone crew) on costumes, Stefani Rae Fisher and Mara Palumbo on makeup and hair, to name just a few. 

It’s the other twenty-five percent I’m ranting about.  Actually…it’s the really just the bottom ten percent: protein girl, vomit guy, wrong contract dude, and those who can’t schedule or telephone extras (etc., and so on) despite the fact that it’s their job.  (If you EVER find a first AD that you love…when the film ends, keep them chained in your basement and never let them go.  Great Assistant Directors are the holy grail of the independent film world.)

It’s that ten percent which, in a perfect world, would be sacrificed to the Gods at the wrap party.  Burned alive at the stakes, as we danced around the fire, drinks in hand.  I’d gladly light the fire.  It would be our gift to other independent filmmakers.  Freedom from ever having to work with these certain few. 

(I mentioned the You Are Alone crew.  I guess that only two people from YAA were asked to come work on Friends With Benefits pretty much says it loud and clear.  The rest is on that DVD’s commentary.  But yeah, that would have been one huge fire.)

Next time I’ll address what makes a great crew member, a great collaborator, in this most difficult artform.

P.S. Wanted to proudly point out a few rave reviews of the new PSYCHOS IN LOVE dvd.  Click HERE and HERE!

ALSO…the official Friends (with Benefits) site has tons of fun new links (DELETED SCENES!!!)…and it’s even iPhone compatible.  Also check out the Gorman Bechard site, my personal site, for everything on the books and films, if you haven’t already.

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The making of FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) – part 2

Friends (with benefits) shot for a total of 18 days, beginning on April 18th, 2007.  So, we’ve really been editing it, tweaking it, playing with the song selection, and score, and titles, and color correction, for going on two years now.  (The original assembly was 125 minutes without end credits, the final cut runs 94 minutes complete.)  Doesn’t seem like that long has passed, but then again perhaps it does.  I think once you see the film, you’ll understand why so much time was spent on editing.  We tried to do something a little different here.  (The producers rep who ultimately took on the film called the editing “ground breaking.”  And while I don’t know about that, we’ll certainly take the compliment!)

           

As a novelist (my website, GormanBechard.com has all the info you could possibly need on that), I thought we’d bring a little of that feel to the film, thus in my mind it’s “a novel with moving pictures.”  While all films on DVD are broken into “chapters” I thought we’d take that one step further and actually break the film down into real chapters.  But no one wants to watch a book.  So, how to make it move fast . . . real fast? 

 

Well, originally I wanted the film, especially the dialog, to movie at a breakneck speed, like “His Girl, Friday.”  But there are two truisms in film.  The one that fits here is, and I’m paraphrasing: “There’s the film you write, the film you shoot, and the film you edit.”  Anyone who’s ever directed a film knows they are three very separate beasts, each with a mind of their own.

 

So, while that breakneck pace seemed great in concept (and even in rehearsals), the realities of casting and filming got in the way.  Until editing, that is.  We threw out the rule book.  And decided that we would not allow the audience time to blink (at least for a part of the film…when need be, as a director I am a big believer in giving the performances room to breathe.)  

 

(FYI: I never used the rule book when writing my novels, hell, I flunked English 101 in college, and likewise, for any of you who’ve seen my last feature YOU ARE ALONE, you know I don’t “do” the “master/over-shoulder/over-shoulder reverse” coverage.  It’s boring, it’s lazy, it shows not one iota of originality or belief in your script, or your ability as a director…it’s movie-of-the-week.  Really, just put a bullet in my head and shoot me now.  So, yeah, I certainly wasn’t going to start following the rules now.)

 

The Friends (with benefits) secret weapon?  Split screens.  If two stories were happening concurrently, why not show them?  Adjust the timing here and there, and let the characters on the right answer the characters on the left.  It was just an experiment at first.  Tried it in one bar scene where two male characters are conversing about the same subject as two female characters.  What do you know?  It clicked.  It worked.  Jokes came faster.  You didn’t have time to blink and you were laughing again.  Or in a few cases, the inherent sadness of a friendship perhaps destroyed was given an even greater emotional impact.

 

Watching and using the split screens, co-editor Ashley McGarry and I just knew in our guts this was right for the film. 

 

And that’s what it comes down to for me.  That gut feeling.  Whether holding on someone’s expression for a beat longer than you might think necessary, because in reality sometimes we need that extra moment of reflection.  Or inserting a list of “rules” as a text scroll to make a scene go where it needed it to go.  Or dozens of other little examples in this film.  (Some big examples: cutting a huge emotional scene down to one line because I felt the rest made one character just a hair less likable, cutting scenes because I found an actors blocking distracting, sacrificing a few amazing shots that ultimately did nothing to move the story along, or reducing characters down to a few lines because either the story wasn’t really about them, or I felt their performance distracting.)  You go with your gut.  In the end, as director, it’s your name signed at the bottom of the canvas.  And after a horrible bigger-budget filmmaking experience back in 2002 (read the blog entry titled “Just say no to Billy Zane” from September 2008), I promised myself I would never again sign my name to a film or book I wasn’t proud of. 

 

Well, I’m ready to sign my name to Friends (with benefits).  Come see it at the Seattle True Independent Film Festival on June 12th, and you’ll see why.

 

P.S. An aside.  OK…I did not sign my name to my last novel UNWOUND.  It was published under the pseudonym Jonathan Baine.  But not because I wasn’t proud of the book.  I actually love the book.  The name change was quite simply to trick the computers at Barnes & Noble.  See, the big chains, like B&N, preorder copies of your new book based upon the sales of your last book.  Now, most of my novels have had a first printing of between 5,000 and 20,000 copies.  The first printing for UNWOUND was going to be 146,000 copies. Thus the publisher wanted the B&Ns of the world to order a lot more than what they ordered and sold of my previous titles.  Smile.  You just learned something about the publishing business.

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The making of FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) – part 1

As both the completion of my newest feature, FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) …and the start of its film festival run nears, I thought now would be a good time to turn the main subject of this blog over to the making of my newest film.

 

I start with BRAD’S RULES.  Or at least 99 of them.  The rules were not a part of the original script.  They were born out of necessity, when during the editing process we needed to get from point A to point F in a very long scene that was just slowing down the first act, and do so in a way that was both organic to the script and also funny.  And since Brad, one of the main characters in the film, was always mouthing off about his rules, we thought inserting those rules into the film might just work.  Thus the actual list of 100 rules was born.

 

You’ll have to judge for yourself, but I think they provide one of the biggest laughs in the film. 

 

But here now are the rules…live by them, and life will be good (which I guess is a rule in and of itself):

 

100. Friends don’t let friends fuck ugly people 

99. Try everything twice, the first time you might have been doing it wrong 

98. Fat girls give the best head because they’re always hungry 

97. Cologne: overrated…Deodorant: a must 

96. Blondes are usually too dumb to realize they’re having more fun 

95. After puberty, that’s not “baby fat”

94. ATM = the Holy Grail 

93. All hippie chicks deep throat, but few vegans swallow 

92. Women like shoes. They will look at yours; purchase accordingly 

91. BBBJ or why bother? 

90. Women cannot parallel park 

89. If you wanna fuck it, you’ve got to be willing to lick it

88. Ass, stomach, legs, boobs – in that order 

87. If it’s not dirty, you’re doing something wrong 

86. If a friend’s apartment is running low on toilet paper, you’re required to use it all 

85. Cheerleaders are overrated 

84. Under no circumstance may two men share an umbrella 

83. Never allow a conversation with a woman to go on longer than you are able to have sex with her 

82. Other than in February, the 14th of every month is Pizza and Blowjob Night 

81. Dogs are better than cats…period 

80. Bigger is never better when they’re fake 

79. Don’t leave the house if you’re not camera ready

78. A period does not equal a week off from sex 

77. Mustaches and hunting are gay 

76. Sucking your best friend’s dick, that’s priceless 

75. You are not accountable if you bring ugly people home, unless you fuck them again in the

morning 

74. If her mom isn’t a MILF, chances are she won’t be one either 

73. Fake orgasms count, as long as they’re not yours 

72. The G-spot does not exist 

71. There is NOTHING sexy about pregnant women 

70. Persistence gets you laid 

69. Never give yourself a haircut while drunk 

68. No panties = a good night 

67. Drinks hard liquor = a great night 

66. Tongue piercing = God loves you! 

65. Saliva isn’t always the best lubricant, just the most fun to apply 

64. White cotton panties and knee socks.  Enough said!

63. Never lend money to friends 

62. Never lend books, CDs, or DVDs to anyone 

61. The month you finish paying for your car, it will break down 

60. Elvis is not dead 

59. Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone 

58. What’s good for you does not always taste better.  Example: processed peanut butter vs. the all-natural kind 

57. People who don’t use turn signals deserve mandatory prison sentences 

56. Never let a girl shave your balls 

55. Porn saves lives 

54. Republicans are better at…well…nothing 

53. If you’ve never had New Haven brick oven pizza, you’ve never had pizza.  There is no pizza in New York or Chicago.  Don’t argue, you’ll just sound foolish 

52. Old country = cool  Alt-country = really cool  New country = sucks 

51. Condition your hair once a day 

50. Masturbate twice a day 

49. Eat three square meals every day 

48. Women should never cut their hair, unless they’re going to play for the other team 

47. Crying is blackmail 

46. Your choice: spay or neuter your pet…or yourself  

45. If she sleeps in your bed, sex is a given 

44. If a girl leaves her dirty panties lying around, she wants you to sniff them 

43. There’s no such thing as giving 110% 

42. Halloween is the only holiday that matters 

41. Sympathy sex trumps make-up sex 

40. Body hair just gets in the way 

39. Rip bread, don’t slice it 

38. Every man should learn how to dance, but no other man should know he can 

37. Men have no right to speak on the subject of abortion 

36. Every decade gives us only one great double album: The White Album, Exile On Main Street, London Calling, Being There, and Cold Roses. 

35. Chivalry is not dead, but she has to earn it 

34. Watch Carnival Of Souls at least once in your lifetime 

33. If your pubic hair is blond or red, shaving is optional 

32. You can cheat on girls with hairy legs 

31. If they don’t answer, it means yes 

30. Never turn down a chance to sleep with a celebrity 

29. Sex is better in warmer climates 

28. Emo guys = gay; emo gals = easy marks 

27. Never trust people who don’t drink coffee 

26. Springsteen really is The Boss 

25. If there’s a problem, talk it out 

24. If you can’t talk it out: fuck, then try again 

23. Never lease what you can buy 

22. Never break up using a post-it note, her biker friends will hurt you for it 

21. Never say “no” to a green-eyed girl 

20. Live life as if The Catcher In The Rye were your bible 

19. Don’t lie, you will get caught 

18. Admit that the 1986 Mets were the greatest baseball team of all time and life will be easier

17. Know the legal age of consent in every place you visit 

16. Wild animals belong in the wild, not in zoos, fairs, or roadside attractions 

15. Pussy farts are charming 

14. Only wear a bra if you’re going to offend me 

13. Beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder 

12. It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye 

11. Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups 

10. When in doubt, mumble 

9. Masturbation is overrated 

8. Small boobs are misunderstood

7. Better to be feared than loved, but even better to have your love feared 

6. Handcuffs are the ultimate sex toy 

5. If you can’t convince them, confuse them 

4. Quiet girls are the most likely to toss your salad 

3.  Women do not understand remote controls, there is no exception to this rule

2. Never overthink 

 

Of course, if you want to know the number one rule, you’re gonna have to watch the film.

 

The official website is: www.FWBmovie.com 

 

Check back often for more stories from the front lines of making FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS)…

 

Friends (with benefits) POSTER

Friends (with benefits) POSTER

 

P.S. Remember my horror/comedy PSYCHOS IN LOVE will be released on DVD (complete with a boatload of extras) next Tuesday, April 28th.  You can get it at BestBuy, Netflix, or preorder it here at Amazon.com

 

I guess in a way, PSYCHOS IN LOVE had its own set of rules:

 

I hate grapes.

I can’t stand grapes.

I loathe grapes. 

All kinds of grapes.

I hate purple grapes. 

I hate green grapes. 

I hate grapes with seeds. 

I hate grapes without seeds. 

I hate them peeled and non-peeled. 

I hate grapes in bunches, one at a time, or in groups of twos and threes.

I fucking hate grapes.

 

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List of Extras on the PSYCHOS IN LOVE dvd…

 Just wanted to update everyone on the long awaited US DVD release of my film PSYCHOS IN LOVE. Besides this being a pristine and beautiful transfer of the film, this DVD is LOADED (scream “LOADED” from the rooftops) with extras.

Here is the complete list:

Feature Commentary with Gorman Bechard (from 2009)
Feature Commentary with Gorman Bechard and Carmine Capobianco (from 2005)
Original Trailer
Alternate Opening
Making Psychos in Love
Photo Gallery (make that a HUGE photo gallery)
Extended Scenes
Highlights from Psychos in Love: The Stageplay

As well as three of my short films:
Bartholomew the Strangler, Short Film (1983)
The Only Take, Short Film (1983)
Objects in the Mirror are Further Than They Appear, Short Film (2003)

Trailers from my last two features:
You Are Alone, Trailer (2005)
Friends with Benefits, Trailer (2009)

And a very cool video promo for my last novel:
Unwound, Promo (2007)

Not bad for under twenty bucks!

Pre-Order the film HERE
Visit the offical PSYCHOS IN LOVE website HERE
And please remember: grapes do kill people, because we kill people who eat grapes!
Original promo card.

Original promo card.

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