This weekend is the forth annual H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival-LA (Sept 27-29) taking place at the historic (and beautifully Art Deco) Warner Grand Theatre in downtown San Pedro, CA. I am very excited that Macabre Fantasy Radio Theater has been asked back to the festival. This Friday night we will be performing another classic weird tale in the style of “Old Time Radio”, and one of my favorite of Lovecraft’s works, The Temple. Set during WWI our story follows the tragic adventures of the doomed crew of a German submarine as they face madness and death below the sea.
Then, Saturday afternoon, is the World Premiere of a short film that I directed (my first) called Total Party Kill. It tells the tale of a group of friends playing a table-top RPG as the world of the game crosses into the reality of the players. Watch the trailer!
If you are able and so inclined please Buy Tickets and join us this weekend! Also, if you can’t attend in person you can purchase a “There In Spirit” pass that will give you access to the LiveStream (watch our “radio” show!) as well as the Short Films!
Wow, it’s been over a year since the last post… A lot has happened since then.
I’ve been working on various projects that I will update on as they’re ready. But I wanted to share a new project that I’ve been working on. For the last year or so I’ve been working on setting up an audio drama in the style of “old time radio”. I am now happy to inform you that my little show, Macabre Fantasy Radio Theater, is launching this month with a LIVE PERFORMANCE at the upcoming H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival (Sept. 28-30, Warner Grand in San Pedro, CA). We will be performing an original adaptation of Lovecraft‘s “The Statement of Randolph Carter” as though it had been produced for radio in the 1930’s.
I recently finished work on the poster art for this year’s HPLFF that will be held in San Pedro at the historic Warner Grand theater. My friend, Aaron Vanek (writer, filmmaker, and resident professional booze-hound), who ran last year’s Los Angeles HPLFF is back at the helm with what is shaping up to be another fantastic run of Mythos inspired cinema.
For the poster Aaron wanted two things: 1) a 1930’s movie poster style & 2) Cthulhu attacking a Los Angeles landmark.
With those two points of direction (1930’s, big scary monster) the first thing I thought of was the classic King Kong poster.
And knowing that the festival would be held at the Warner Grand I figured why not have Cthulhu attacking the theater.
I did a quick thumbnail to give Aaron an idea of what I had in mind…
and with his apporval began work on the final drawing.
First, I did a quick sculpt of what I wanted Cthulhu to look like so I would have something to work from.
This was the first draft of the poster. Much more pulpy and violent than what we ended up with…
After a few more tweaks and edits and a little over a week of not much sleep I took the final painted image and got it professionally scanned.
The original art is sitting on a shelf in my living room right now. I have yet to come up with a suitable bit of text for the sign that poor sandwich-board guy is wearing but I plan to fill that in with something cool…
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”
— H.P. Lovecraft
So, I have the good fortune of being friends with some truly awesome people. One such awesome friend is Collen Kennedy who, among other creative musical endeavors, teaches a Children’s Choir in Canoga Park. Each year she puts together a “retreat” day for the kids, getting together a group of people to lead the kids through a wide range of activities. This year’s retreat day (which ran last Saturday) included a Super Hero themed live game (run by Andy Ashcraft), a drum circle (run by Richard Becker) and, lastly, a drawing/painting visual arts project that I ran.
This was the second time that I have worked with these kids and led them through some kind of painting/drawing project. The group consists of about 16 kids ranging from 8-18 years of age and a wide range of experience and comfort with expression and some of the various mediums of visual arts. Last time, not knowing the kids or their abilities I tried something kinda weird – I played a range of songs (jazz, r&B, metal…) and had the kids interpret the sounds and lyrics into pictures. I laid out a bunch of different art supplies (acrylic paint, watercolor pencils, crayons, pastel, charcoal) and some different types and colors of paper and just let them use whatever they wanted. It ended up working out very well and the kids and I had a lot of fun.
This time I wanted to try something more structured so I pitched the idea to them that since it was getting on to Halloween how ’bout drawing some monsters? And not just any monsters but creatures from the writing of H.P. Lovecraft‘s Cthulhu Mythos. Now, only two of the kids (the older ones) had any knowledge of who Lovecraft was or had read some of his stories. So, I was able to introduce the kids to these creatures pretty much fresh with no previous imagining of what these monsters look like.
I hoped, and was glad to see, it work out that with general descriptions of the shapes of these monsters the kids could come up with some really wonderful interpretations adding their own imaginings to the descriptions and creating a fantastic body of eldritch artwork.
The Great Race of Yith from The Shadow Out of Time – In the bodies they inhabited on the Earth, they were tall and cone-shaped, rising to a point with four strange appendages – two terminating in claws, a third in a “trumpet” shaped organ, and the fourth, a yellow globe, ringed with eyes, which functioned as a sensory organ.
The Elder Things from At the Mountains of Madness – Monstrous barrel-shaped creatures with eyes on the end of each of the five points of their star-shaped heads. With five bulging ridges running vertically along torso. In furrows between ridges are wings that fold up and spread out like fans almost seven feet in length. At the base of their bodies there is a ring of tentacles.
Shoggoth from At the Mountains of Madness – A terrible, indescribable thing – a shapeless congeries of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming and un-forming.
Great Cthulhu from The Call of Cthulhu – A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings… It represented a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind. This thing, which seemed instinct with a fearsome and unnatural malignancy, was of a somewhat bloated corpulence…
Here are some pics of the kids at work, thanks Colleen!
As I told the stories the kids would continue to draw and paint their monsters often incorporating more details from the stories (like the little man dreaming of the Great Race of Yith, or the Mountains of Madness and the “cube shaped things” or the Shoggoths) and frequently telling each other to “shut up and let him finish the story!”. They really got in to the fun of the horror and I certainly had a blast trying to scare them!
Now, at some point, I promise to post about non-Lovecraft related projects :)
So, Thursday the 16th, my friend, Aaron Vanek (writer, filmmaker, and resident professional booze-hound) contacted a bunch of his artsy friends with a request for help in creating some sort of monster costume for a H. P. Lovecraft themed LARP that he and some friends were going to be running at the West Hollywood Book Fair this past Sunday. I guess I was the only one foolish enough or with nothing else going on to volunteer for the task… Anyway, I sent Aaron a sketch of an idea that I figured we (I) could get built in time for the event and with his approval we set out the following day to acquire the requisite supplies to make a tentacle monster.
In full disclosure I had never made anything quite like this before (several years ago I made a costume based on the Typewriter Man from the Sesame Street cartoons, but nothing like this) or had ever played around with some of the supplies that my design called for. But I wasn’t going to tell Aaron that. I figured it would all work out. Besides, I was basing my idea for the monster off a posting Propnomicon had written last year on making inexpensive tentacles and figured the same technique could work for making what effectively ended up being a sort of Shoggoth/Flying Polyp/Formless Spawn/misc. Lovecraft monster with lots of tentacles, eyes, and mouths.
The base was made out of two sheets of upholstery foam we purchased out in Vernon at All Size Foam & Fabrics. The bottom was 1.5″ thick and the top was 1″ thick. I shaped it to be rather uneven and lumpy then added surface detail, cut and shaped the multiple mouths, added eye holes (that would eventually be filled with sunglass lenses), and mounted the half-dome large eyes (some of which lit up with little LED lights mounted inside). All told the cost for supplies was about $160. After finalizing the design I began cutting and gluing the foam Tuesday night and did most of the assembly and painting over Thursday and Friday (with the much appreciated help of my very lovely and talented girlfriend, Sarah) with some additional details Saturday afternoon before he was picked up by Aaron Saturday night.
I also created a sound file that was to be played while the monster attacked the book fair. Just a fun mix of several free monster sounds I pulled from the interwebs and added some cool effects and delays to. Who knows what a Lovecraftian monster would sound like, but this at least was enough to scare an 8 year old boy! -check it out here-
And the monster’s name, in case you were wondering, is Tim. For a very silly reason. But it stuck so, there you go…