Charles Band - Creator of Full Moon PicturesI was a little nervous to interview Charles Band, founder and main dude at Full Moon Pictures.  See, we’ve interviewed some very cool guys here at IoM – the Zenescope guys, Mac Carter, Michael Murphey from iVerse, Mike Bullock of The Phantom…but I’ve been trying to set up something with Charles Band since we started IoM.  I’m a HUGE fan, and have been for twenty years now (wow…I’m old).  So, as you can probably tell from the good number of Full Moon stories lately, plus the fact that we’re now a Full Moon affiliate…I’m a big fan.

We bounced back and forth the other day on the phone a bit.  I mean, let’s be honest, the dude is SUPER busy.  He’s trying to get his next film, Evil Bong 2: King Bong completed for a premiere by April 20th, and he just got back from Italy literally days before our interview where they filmed TWO movies.  Still, as the hold music came on and I realized it was the theme from Puppet Master, I was all set to talk to the man himself, Charles Band, and we had a pretty great interview where I learned some stuff I’d NEVER heard before, including some news on the next iterations of Puppet Master and Subspecies!

Check out our interview after the jump!

Hey Paul!

Hey! How’s it going?
It’s going!  (laughs) No, everythings good.  I was gone for almost a month, and a lot of things pile up even though we’re in this world of email and internet and, in theory, communication.

Trust me, I understand…it makes it easier to get behind too.
(laughs) Exactly!

So you went to Italy, right?
Uh huh.

Full Moon in 2009!
Full Moon's slate of upcoming films, the return of many popular properties.

What were you filming there?
I’ve shot literally hundreds of movies off shore in my crazy career so far.  We shot a lot of movies in the 80’s in Italy in a studio there, over 100 in Romania where I had a studio in the early to mid 90s. I hadn’t shot a movie in Italy in years.  We went to this amazing location, this large medieval castle, and we shot 2 films.  We shot, finally, after god knows how many years, a sequel to Demonic Toys just called Demonic Toys 2, and then a new film that I directed called Skull Heads, which is an invention of ours and I hope people who love these movies will love this one in particular.  It’s also populated by these little 16-inch strange mythological skull characters, on these skeletal bodies, and I’m not a big CGI guy.  It’s all organic, on set, raw puppetry and there will be some stop-motion animation.  I’m excited to always approach the effects that way because, again, I’m not a big fan of CGI.

We’ve actually talked about Skull Heads on Ideology of Madness, just from the poster that came out.  It’s a pretty great poster.
Thank you.

Skull Heads!
Knowing Robin Syndey is in a movie about floating Day of the Dead skulls makes me a happy man.

So that’s one I definitely wanted to get more information on.
We’ll have probably in a week or two some screen grabs and photos.  I literally just got back, so we’ll piece together some material that will be useful.  The picture probably won’t be out until October, but we’re starting to post [produce] it.  I’m really proud of the story, which I think is pretty twisted and unique and, again, less is more in these movies, so we don’t have an abundance of these characters running around the castle, because every shot is tricky, but we’re pretty much in the spirit of Puppet Master, where the puppets are there and when they are, they’re really there, on set, not posted in later.

Very cool.  You actually just mentioned Puppet Master, so I figure this is a good time to bring up – at one point there was the Puppet Master: Axis of Evil that was announced.  is that still in the cards?
One hundred percent!  Yeah, making the next Puppet Master film is ambitious for us, because our world the world of independent films has shrunk for a bunch of reasons, and budgets are far less than they used to be.  Of course that ratchets up hopefully the ingenuity factor, and Puppet Master is just a very tough film, especially the script we wrote, to pull off on our current budget, so it’s probably something well be shooting later this summer and out early next year.  I would have liked to have shot it now but I was not able, basically, to pull that off.  It takes place in LA, and it takes place in World War II and it deals with the Japanese and the Nazis and the whole shebang, and all the puppets, so it’s ambitious and definitely a wonderful script.  I’m really happy with it.  We have an even more ambitious script with Subspecies.  This would be, basically, Subspecies 5, that spans a thousand years and it’s the back story, the origin of Radu. So that one…God knows when we’ll make it because it’s much bigger even than the Puppet Master show but Puppet Master: Axis of Evil…late summer/early fall we’ll be shooting it.

Puppet Master is coming back in Puppet Master: Axis of Evil
The puppets are set to return in Puppet Master: Axis of Evil and Puppet Master 3D

So with the Puppet Master 3D film that’s been announced, is that something that you’re involved in?
Yeah it is.  It’s my project and, you know, that’s something I have no control over.  It’s out there and there’s a lot of interest and this would be, I’m going to call it a remake maybe.  It’s a reinvention of the franchise, but it’s going to be a theatrical release in 3D and that’s what we hope will happen, but it’s got to be the right marriage of concept, writer, studio, director, you know…it’s not easy to pull that off and I have no control.  There’s some really interesting people that have expressed an interest to be involved and I can’t really talk about it yet because none of it’s real but it’s definitely a film that will get made.  Probably unlikely that it’ll get shot this year, but maybe in the next three to six months, we’ll have a deal done and we can at least announce who’s involved, and the timeline that it’s gonna be.

Evil Bong 2: King Bong
Evil Bong 2: King Bong

Very cool!  So what’s next?  Is the next one supposed to be Evil Bong 2?
It is.  Really happy with how that turned out. I just got delayed looking at more of the effects that we’re creating for the show, but I think anybody who enjoyed the first one – who enjoyed the humor and the silliness and the stoners who get into their misadventures – will really love this one.  They go to the jungle, they get involved with this King Bong, who has another more awesome, more ominous bong, that actually did some wrong to the Evil Bong, and he’s protected by a tribe called the Poon Tang tribe.  Need I say more?  Between the Poon Tang tribe, the jungle, the King Bong, the Evil Bong and the kids, it’s really very funny, and we’re trying to have a sort of premiere here on April 20th.  The film won’t come out till July, we’re just now setting the date and that’s the time it takes from when it’s finished to when it actually hits the street and will be available day-and-date on video, pay-per-view, VOD, iTunes, all that stuff.  But we’re going to have a local premiere, and the reason for 4/20 is that it’s National Pot Day.

Oh yeah, that makes sense.
So we’ll see if we can make that date.

Very cool.
Yeah, so that’s the next release.  I’m trying to have, if not every month thereafter, pretty close to that, a Full Moon film out every four to six weeks.  The next one will be Skull Heads, then Demonic Toys 2, and then there’s a whole slew we plan to shoot between May and August, so it’s hard to ratchet up to that number, but I’m sure we’ll get close.

So you directed Skull Heads and Demonic Toys 2
I actually didn’t direct Demonic Toys 2.  Billy Butler directed that and I produced both of them in Italy.  But Billy directed Demonic Toys 2 and I directed Skull Heads.

The most fun you're likely to have involving naked women, puppets, and bongs.
The most fun you're likely to have involving naked women, puppets, and bongs.

Oh, okay…so, obviously given the stuff coming up, you’re going to be busy.  You’ve already said that there’s no Full Moon Roadshow this year…
Yeah, as much as I enjoy that, maybe next year, that’s just a full immersion event.  You can’t phone it in.

Yeah, I actually went to the one in Charlotte [North Carolina].
Oh you were at that one?

Yeah that was a great time.
There have been so many, I think I’ve done seventy over the three years, so I don’t know…I have to look at my notes to remember the venue…was it okay?  I forget?

I thought it was a great time.  I think it was at some type of event/party place.  One of the girls who went up on stage – you asked her if she was okay with nudity, and she said “Does anybody have a problem with scars?”  she had no problem with the nudity.

But it was a great time.  I really loved it, and I brought some friends who were more familiar with the Puppet Master series, you know, the nineties output, so it was cool seeing them get involved.
That’s great.  You know, it’s funny, the shows have been really successful and we get a pretty good crowd.  It ranges from sort of a 100/150 on the light side, and then we have a few cities where we have 600/700 people show up, and I was just amazed.  I don’t know what we did different in those cities, or maybe some local person did a better job.  WasCharlotte a lot of people or just a handful?  We had a few where it was just one hundred people and three hundred seats and…people just seem to really like the show so I’m really happy about that.

Yeah it was a good time!  You know, you mentioned the premiere of Evil Bong 2 in Hollywood…has there ever been any talk of touring the movies like you do with the show?
You know, not really.  It’s been suggested and, you know, there’s only so much you can do. I mean, I have some good people that I’m friendly with, depending on what the event is or the project is, and of course I have no problem making the movies. I have plenty of talented crew people I work with over the years, but as far as doing something like a tour that involves taking a Roadshow centered around a movie or something…that’s a whole deal to set up and I’d have to either do it myself, which I can’t do this year because I’m trying to get a movie done every 4-5 weeks.  I don’t know, it’s a great idea, I just don’t know how to set it up.

I can imagine.  Well, I guess I have more of a couple of business related questions coming up.

Dangerous Worry Dolls, the next step in Full Moon Entertainment!
Dangerous Worry Dolls, the next step in Full Moon Entertainment!

Full Moon … you film your movies digitally or on film right now?
Well, until very recently, I was a die hard film guy, and then I got sort of won over by a combination of a look that finally made some sense.  I shot a movie called Dangerous Worry Dolls.  That’s one that a lot of people missed just because, you know, that’s the way it goes.  You don’t have the same PR on every film.  I’m really proud of the film.  I mean it’s a show I did, I think it was the most recent release.  It was about three or four months ago.  Anyway, I’m proud of the film.  It’s something we put together and it’s also part of a strange franchise, “day of the dead” thing I’m sort of doing, that Skull Heads belongs to as well, but anyway, this film was shot with a digital HD camera, a Sony camera.  It’s not a super high end one, it’s one that I actually looked at a lot of tests, and the end result finally looked like it was back on dvd, so you really get an even playing field.  I really like the look that these cameras generated, and then the other thing that was impressive was the ease and the speed at which we can move, because you’re not moving around big, heavy film cameras and it was just…it makes the whole effort lighter and easier.  You have to know how to light, and what the media is sort of good for, and what the shortcomings are, so you kind of design your project around that knowledge.  So we’re getting better at it.

Some of Full Moon's best films are available in the Full Moon Classics box sets!
Some of Full Moon's best films are available in the Full Moon Classics box sets!

I think the result of Dangerous Worry Dolls, to pick a more recent one, is that it’s good enough to keep on this track.  You know, I love film and I’m more of a film guy, but you know there’s a savings too.  But beyond the savings, it’s more the speed at which you can move.  And again, if you approach it with the same training – like you’re shooting a film, and there’s no shortcuts, and your shots are set up the right way … it’s a strange alchemy and people can tell if a movie’s been, not so much shot on film, but if it looks like a real movie or it looks like some digital film or if it looks like it’s been made by amateurs.  Little things tip off the viewer even though the viewer may have no technical expertise or experience.  They know if they’re watching something that looks like a real movie, or if it looks like sort of a home movie.  You have to apply all that towards this new technology, and if you’re in the hands of the right DP, and the right gaffer, the results are realy very good, and I finally had to face the fact that the end users for my movies right now, they’re either watching it on a download, or from a rental on a dvd, or they bought a dvd, or it’s pay-per-view, but somehow, somewhere they’re watching it on a screen.  They’re not looking at it in a movie theater.

Yeah, so it’s skipping past that.  I’m shooting all this film, and spending all this money on a slower process in developing the negative, and doing the transfer.  And once you get it to the digital media you’re there anyway. So as of Dangerous Worry Dolls, pretty much we’re shooting everything in digital on HD.

So we’re short on time … thanks for spending some time with us…
Yeah, I wish there was more!  Definitely check out Dangerous Worry Dolls. I think if you look at that film, I feel that it’s a, you know, it’s not the most amazing film I ever made.  It wouldn’t even be in my top 10 necessarily, of the films I’ve been involved with, but I think it’s a really good example of a well-crafted, well-executed, small movie done with some intelligence and talent and on a budget.  I think if you look at it…it’s just, I see so many films I get.  We don’t really pick up movies here, we’re not in that business, but for a thousand and one reasons, I’m looking at people’s movies every week, either giving them advice or just, you know, helping them place it somewhere.  God knows how many I’ve seen in the last four or five years, because this new digital medium…the price of entry now is zero.  You know, in the old days, to make a movie was not so easy.  You had to raise a certain amount of money to shoot a film, and it was just definitely not that easy.  Today, with a few bucks, a digital camera, and the right computer, you can spit out a DVD and say hey, “here’s my movie.”  But the trick is to have, not just the talent, but the training, to know how to put together what really does feel like a movie and doesn’t feel like something else. In the case of Dangerous Worry Dolls, I just think the little ingredients that you hope pay off blended well, and it’s a movie that few people would imagine we shot it in so few days with so little money, because it’s just a good ride for a small film.

Dark Angel, Demonic Toys, Dollman - 3 of the best!
Dark Angel, Demonic Toys, Dollman - 3 of the best!

You know, I used to work at a video store back in the nineties.  My father owned it, so we’d got the screeners for the Full Moon films, the Trancers series and stuff, and that’s when I started really getting into the films, when you’d do crossovers and things like that.  And I’ve just kind of followed them in the various incarantions that came and went in the early 2000’s and up to today, so once I finally got a website going I really wanted to, one of my main goals, was to talk to you and find out about the upcoming slate with a lot of the returning properties and honestly, just help get the word out on the films.
I sure appreciate that and keep in touch and I’m sure there’ll be other things coming up here real soon.  You know, I definitely want you to check out Dangerous Worry Dolls. I think you’ll enjoy it on the level of, you know, this is what can be done on a very modest budget that can be done with a group of people who know what they’re doing.  It’s just so hard to watch some of these little independent movies for me…I did have some formal training.  You know you have a lot of people, with a lot of guts and bravado, who talk an amazing game, but at the end of the day, unless you really have some background, you’ve worked with actors, you’ve worked in theater.  It’s really hard to just jump down, knowing how to operate a digital camera and a compuer and just make something that people watch and go, “oh, that’s a movie.” And that’s the world we’re in.  It opens the door to so many people.  It’s definitely a lot of opportunity, but in a weird way, it’s kind of hurt B-movies.  There are a lot of reasons that B-movies are kind of inexpensive films, or having a hard time, and one of them is just that there’s a gazillion of them and they all kind of look like, “oh wow, that looks like a movie,” and the know, I really could go on and on about this.  (laughs) Bottom line, stay in touch and I’m sure we’ll be talking soon.

All right man, take care.  Good luck!

Thanks very much!

So it sounds like, according the Full Moon official site, the premiere of Evil Bong 2 on April 20th is going to happen.  I wasn’t able to get to half of the questions I had for Charles Band, but there’s always a next time.  Either way, I’m really excited about some of the stuff we talked about, and definitely about the films coming out this year!  Keep your eyes peeled here and to Full Moon’s site for more about the films closer to their release dates!