horror · interview · life, love, friendship

Interview 5 – MrMeathook

I got my love of horror from my cousin Daryl (YouTuber MrMeatHook.) Growing up he was obsessed with horror films, including the original Friday the 13th AND introduce me to the fan magazine Fangoria.  This eventually led me to become a horror writer and director – so this week I pay tribute to my cousin Daryl on Mimosas with Michael.

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1. So what is the inspiration behind your YouTube channel? Why that particular format/medium?

My inspiration is that I’ve always wanted to entertain, but I’m pretty reclusive and socially awkward. YouTube gives me the opportunity to express my creativity without having people stare at me while I’m doing it. It also allows me to edit out bits that are not funny or would be considered uncouth.

2. What is the reason behind the name ‘MrMeatHook??’”

Well I had a couple of other names previously, but none of them seemed to fit right. I chose MrMeatHook because when I do Halloween costumes my weapon of choice is always a meat hook. Also it worked well since my last name is Hook. It was like kismet.

3. What does horror mean to you? Why do people love horror?

To me Horror is an intense feeling of shock or disgust. I could add fear to that list, but movies don’t really scare me anymore… except for Hell House LLC… that movie is scary as hell, it just gives a feeling of impending dread the whole time. I’ve known several die hard horror fans that have actually had to pause the movie and go do something happy for a bit before finishing the movie. I don’t know if I can speak for why everyone loves horror, but I love it because it gives you the chance to see horrific death without having to be the victim or perpetrator. Writers and directors come up with some incredible and creative deaths these days. People also love being scared, but as I said, movies don’t really scare me anymore, I’m pretty desensitized.

4.  If you could be killed by any horror villain, which one would it be and why?

If I could choose which one would do me in, I would definitely have to go with Victor Crowley. At least my death would be over the top gory and super creative!

5. What is your favorite horror movie? What does it signify for you?

My favorite is actually Halloween III: Season of the Witch. You know the one most people hate because it doesn’t have Michael Myers. I love that it dared to be such a departure from the norm. Taking an established franchise and turning it on it’s ear and doing something different. To me It signifies part of what is wrong with people. They’re afraid to try anything new. This is also why most modern horror seems to be the same 6 movies remade with a different protagonist and name.

Mr MeatHook on YouTube

Mr. MeatHook on Instagram

Mr MeatHook on Twitter

book · interview · writer

Interview 4 – Bob Van Laerhoven

You know what goes good with a mimosas? A book! Check out our interview with renowned European author Bob Van Laerhoven and his new book ‘Return to Hiroshima.’

1. What was the inspiration for your novel ‘Return to Hiroshima?’

So many years after WWII, our world-wide collective memory still recalls the horrible “Übermensch”- experiments the Nazis conducted in their concentration camps. When, some years ago, I read, by coincidence, “Unit 731 Testimony: Japan’s Wartime Human Experimentation Program” by Hal Gold, it became clear to me that the Secret Service medical unit 731 of the Japanese Imperial Army went even further in their gruesome medical experiments, hidden in obscure parts of the continent, than the Germans. Obsessed as the Japanese society was with the “bushido-code,” the way of the warrior, the Japanese warrior had to be superior to all other living beings at all costs, and many experiments, some very esoteric, had to lead in the eyes of the fanatic unit 731, and its military mandators, to the creation of a super-race. This realization was the starting point for the novel.

2. How does your novel about WWII differ from the stories that your audience is used to?

Mind you, this is not a novel about WWII, in the sense that the action takes place in the nineties – when Japan faced a severe economic crisis – and, apart from a few flashbacks, not during the war itself. “Return to Hiroshima” is a novel about the dark recesses of the Japanese culture, which were intensified – and unveiled! – by the war. It’s also a story about a unique turning point in human history and its results on the human psyche. Since the nuclear bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, we realize that we are able to destroy our planet completely, which was not the case before. That total self-destruction aspect of the nuclear bomb has embedded itself deeply in our sub consciousness. “Return to Hiroshima” symbolizes that dark attraction to self-hatred and self-annihilation we hide in our hearts. The evil that penetrates the novel is the accumulation of our civilization, fascinated as we are by its Janus face. A good example is one of the novel’s characters, the Yakuza-boss with the nickname “Rokurobei” – a rare, male, demon in Japanese mythology – who suffers from his own unbridled lust for violence, while simultaneously using it knowingly in his relentless quest for what he calls “self-realization.” His madness is frightening and sublime at the same time.

3. Do you feel that being from Europe gives you a different perspective about the war?

You know, I’m sure that many Americans have heard from their parents or grandparents stories of how they came to rescue us Europeans from the German occupation. That must have given them a good feeling. But the stories we Flemings heard from our parents or grandparents were different. Not only the Jews in our society were deported by the German Occupation Forces, but also a lot of Flemish people suffered horribly in German concentration camps. But even more sinister was the chasm that the war created in our society: Flemings being a Germanic race, a part of our society reacted positively to the Nazi-German ideals of Aryan supremacy. Simultaneously, a lot of us were against the German occupiers which meant that in the same family a brother could fight his brother, or a father battled his children. This situation lasted for years and became a painful scar on our national psyche. Even now, it remains a bitter page of our history. No wonder that I, as a Flemish novelist, wanted to write a book about the consequences of the racist ideologies that dominated WWII and still exercise their power, in different disguises but on the whole with the same fundamentals, so many decades later… I picked Japan as a striking, but in the West less known, example of what extremist thinking can lead to…

4. What advice would you give to writers who are trying to write their first novel?

There is one mistake that almost every writer who’s “new on the block” makes: refining and editing what he/she wrote yesterday before getting on with the story. After 37 novels, I can say with unmistakably certainty: please, don’t do that. You can get easily caught up in eternally setting straight style, details, grammar, etc., in your text, while the necessary “juice” for telling your story dries up. In a first draft, get on with the story, go-go-go. Write your story, crystal-clearly knowing that the writing isn’t good, that there are far too many digressions, that the characters aren’t full-blown yet, and so on…You know all that, but this is not the phase in which you must correct it…Don’t worry, be happy, just write on and on and on… Until your story is egg-shaped and you have reached the end. And then, and only then, by all means, edit, refine, polish over and over again, feeling safe in the knowledge that the bulk of your story is finished. You have to behave like a sculptor: first, you must “see” the soul hidden in the stone, and then you start to sculpt and to refine, to make the soul beautiful, enticing, alluring…

5. Tell us more about your next projects.

I’m almost 65 now, and I have published a lot of books. I can feel my creative powers getting slowly exhausted. I have become known in some countries in Europe as an author who writes cross-over between literature and the suspense novel. I’ve used the noir genre to scout the dark recesses of the Human Condition, to search the reason why we are such a twisted and dangerous race, and I’ve done so for more than three decades. It’s strange, but for what could become my last literary endeavor, I would like to write a cross-over between literature and the fairy-tale, a tale with, perhaps, a bit more of light in it, of magic, of wonder, of yearning, and love… It’s slowly forming in me… I would like to call it, if I can write it, “Mary-of-Mice”…

Hiroshimafinalcover

BIO

Bob van Laerhoven was born on August 8th 1953 in the sandy soil of Antwerp’s Kempen, a region in Flanders (Belgium),bordering to The Netherlands, where according to the cliché ‘pig-headed clodhoppers’ live. This perhaps explains why he started to write stories at a particularly young age. A number of his stories were published in English, French, German, Spanish and Slovenian.

DEBUT

Van Laerhoven made his debut as a novelist in 1985 with “Nachtspel – Night Game.” He quickly became known for his ‘un-Flemish’ style: he writes colourful, kaleidoscopic novels in which the fate of the individual is closely related to broad social transformations. His style slowly evolved in his later novels to embrace more personal themes while continuing to branch out into the world at large. International flair has become his trademark.

AVID TRAVELLER

Bob Van Laerhoven became a full-time author in 1991. The context of his stories isn’t invented behind his desk, rather it is rooted in personal experience. As a freelance travel writer, for example, he explored conflicts and trouble-spots across the globe from the early 1990s to 2004. Echoes of his experiences on the road also trickle through in his novels. Somalia, Liberia, Sudan, Gaza, Iran, Mozambique, Burundi, Lebanon, Iraq, Myanmar… to name but a few.

MASS MURDERS

During the Bosnian war, Van Laerhoven spent part of 1992 in the besieged city of Sarajevo. Three years later he was working for MSF – Doctors without frontiers – in the Bosnian city of Tuzla during the NATO bombings. At that moment the refugees arrived from the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica. Van Laerhoven was the first writer from the Low Countries to be given the chance to speak to the refugees. His conversations resulted in a travel book: “Srebrenica. Getuigen van massamoord – Srebrenica. Testimony to a Mass Murder.” The book denounces the rape and torture of the Muslim population of this Bosnian-Serbian enclave and is based on first-hand testimonies. He also concludes that mass murders took place, an idea that was questioned at the time but later proven accurate.

MULTIFACETED OEUVRE

All these experiences contribute to Bob Van Laerhoven’s rich and commendable oeuvre, an oeuvre that typifies him as the versatile author of novels, travel stories, theatre pieces, biographies, non-fiction, letters, columns, articles… He is also a prize-winning author: in 2007 he won the Hercule Poirot Prize for best crime-novel of the year with “De Wraak van Baudelaire – Baudelaire’s Revenge.”

“Baudelaire’s Revenge” has been published in the USA, France, Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium. Russian and Italian translations are in the making. In 2014, a second French translation of one of his titles has been published in France and Canada. “Le Mensonge d’Alejandro” is set in a fictitious South-American dictatorship in the eighties. The “junta” in this novel is a symbol for the murderous dictatorships in South-America (Chile and Argentine, to mention two)during the seventies and beginning of the eighties. In The Netherlands and Belgium, his novel “De schaduw van de Mol” (The Shadow Of The Mole) was published in November 2015. The novel is set in the Argonne-region of France in 1916. An English translation of the novel will be available in the US in 2017.

“Baudelaire’s Revenge” is the winner of the USA BEST BOOK AWARDS 2014 in the category Fiction: mystery/suspense.

In April 2015 The Anaphora Literary Press published the collection of short stories “Dangerous Obsessions” in the US, Australia, the UK, and Canada, in paperback, e-book, and hardcover. “Dangerous Obsessions” was voted “best short story collection of 2015 in The San Diego Book Review. In May 2017, Месть Бодлерa, the Russian edition of “Baudelaire’s Revenge” was published. “Dangerous Obsessions” has been published in 2017 in Italian, Portuguese, and Swedish editions. Spanish and Chinese translations will follow in 2018.

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Visit Bob on Facebook or at his website

photo by Studio Schreve.

 

film · podcast · Producer

Episode 9 – Ray McCann

To open February and Black History Month I thought I would interview my good friend and President of SketchHouse Entertainment, Ray McCann. He was chillin with his home boy Donte Spears – and we talk to them about being young producers in Hollywood!

 

 

BIO

Raymond McCann President of Sketch House Entertainment has extensive experience in the entertainment industry. Coming from the TV Sitcom world he has worked under major producers like Bentley Kyle Evans (Martin, Jamie Foxx) and Jeff Franklin (Full House, Fuller House). This experience of working under seasoned showrunners has given him extensive business knowledge on how to prepare, package and promote a show.

 

film · interview · writer

Interview 3 – Stephen Kogon

Back in 2016 I worked on a film called Dance Baby Dance with Stephen Kogon, Beverley Mitchell (7th Heaven), Jim O’Heir (Parks and Recs) and Clare Grant (Robot Chicken, wife of Seth Green). I attended the red carpet premiere: Red Carpet Premiere and took a minute to follow up with Stephen on the process of creating his first feature film.

1. Briefly tell us what the journey with Dance Baby Dance was like.

A: Briefly?! What are you trying to say — I’m a windbag 🙂 Fine, fine, here’s briefly. It started with walks on the beach where I would listen to music to clear my head and get story ideas. At the time this story came about I was listening to a lot of old school soul (Stevie Wonder, Sam &
Dave) and for some reason I just saw myself tap dancing to them (even though I’d never tap danced before in my life!). And it made me smile and made me happy. So I started coming up with the idea of a tap dancer who was an underdog, because I’m a huge fan of underdog films (Rocky, Rudy, etc.). Once I outlined the idea, I wrote the script, did a crowdfunding (reaching our goal), raised the rest of the money — and started filming in March 2016. Circumstances forced us to do 2 three day pickups in May and August — then Post took a while due largely to the intricacies of tap dancing. But then we were done! And we had the premiere on 1/19/2018, where Michael from “Mimosas with Michael” showed up without any Mimosas!… Was that brief enough?

2. What was the most important lesson you learned while make this film?

A: It was something I actually already believed in, but in low budget filmmaking can’t always be accomplished. And that’s allowing yourself plenty of prep time — and budgeting for it. I believe 90% of a director’s job should be done well before ever stepping on set. That means in Pre-Production you work with your crew to go over budgets, discuss contingencies, and work out how you want everything done so that everyone is on the same page… And same goes with working with your actors. You should rehearse enough with them before filming so that everyone feels good about their characters and their scenes (this is especially important if you’re also acting in the film because you can’t act and direct at the same time — so being comfortable about what your cast will be doing during their scenes is vital).

So basically the lesson was re-learned: Prepare as much as possible before filming — and budget for it so you can pay everyone who’s working during Pre-Production. I won’t go in to deep detail about why we didn’t do this
— but it largely had to do with the challenges of having a low budget.

3. So you are writing a book to accompany the release of the film. What is your goal with the book?

A: I was a first-time director, producer and actor — and I learned some very painful lessons. But I also thought there were plenty of things I did well. So I wanted to write the kind of book that I wished I read before making the film. I’m hoping that for people who read the book, they’ll learn a lot about what it’s like to make a film (especially if it’s their first time) from A to Z. That means writing the script, writing a business plan, pre-building your audience, fundraising (starting with a crowdfunding), casting, location scouting, filming, and Post… And I include the shooting script with notes about nearly every scene (from what it was like to work with the actors, to what challenges were overcome, to fun behind the scenes info). And I did a Q&A with some of our crew members (like you) so that people can learn the roles of certain jobs on a set — and the best way a director should work with them to get the best results.

4. What advice would you give to any one who is taking their first journey into directing/producing a film?

A: To read my book! 🙂 But until they do that, the short answer is, like I said, give yourself plenty of prep time and budget for it — and then hire well. You want to find people who are good communicators, work hard (and take pride in their work) and have good attitudes. Those people do exist.
Find them.

5. What is next for Stephen Kogon and for Dance Baby Dance?

A: I’ll be putting just as much effort into promoting the film as I did in making it. Our distributor got us a week-long release in L.A. and will be putting it on all the VOD platforms (starting with Amazon — which is available now: http://amzn.to/2mYluPc). They’ll also rep us at Cannes for foreign sales… We’ll also separately aim to do select theaters around the country in which we’ll try to organize live dancing events after the movie. That way we can get local dance communities excited to see the film and feel a part of it all.

As for other projects, my background has mainly been as a writer and I write a lot. So I’ll want to get several of my other scripts off the ground (and help produce some of them), and I’ll soon start the process of trying to get another film of mine made where I’ll act, direct and produce it again. It’s a quirky comedy called, “Burton’s Invention” and is about an inventor and his eccentric family and the quest for that one great invention.

Trailer for Dance Baby Dance

BIO

Originally from Maryland, Stephen Kogon moved to Los Angeles and became a working screenwriter. “Dance Baby Dance” was his first feature film as an actor, director and producer. He also was a writer on the feature film “Boone the Bounty Hunter”, wrote, directed and acted in the short comedy film, “American Beauty Pie”, wrote the comedic young adult novel “Max Mooth – Cyber Sleuth and the Case of the Zombie Virus”, and once wrote a weekly satirical comic strip about the entertainment industry called “Studio Reader Stan”.

He has no pets but occasionally finds a dust bunny underneath his bed and befriends them.

horror · interview · writer

Interview 2 – Brantley J. Brown

For my second interview I wanted to introduce my good friend Brantley. I am always admired by anyone who drops everything to move across country to follow their dreams. I know it isn’t easy – and I know that fear can be debilitating; often times keeping people from pursuing the one thing that makes them happy.

So meet Brantley J. Brown:

1. So what made you pick up everything from Tennessee and move to Southern California?

I think that a lot of people, at some point in their life, stop and have a moment of reflection. They evaluate everything they’ve done and accomplished. Some find they are right where they want to be, and some find that they still have so much left in this world to do. I definitely am one who found that I hadn’t done nearly a fraction of things that I wanted to do in my life. I have been writing screenplays for a long time. I wrote my first script when I was 13, and I’m 33, now. That’s 20 years of writing. The problem is, I never really did anything with the work I was doing. Fear of failure played a big part in that, I think. I used to be one of those people that worried so much about what others had to say about me. I suppose I didn’t want to risk rejection. I had several opportunities to move out to California over the years, but I was always able to justify a reason to stay where I was.

One of those reasons was the state of health my Dad was in. In 2009, he nearly died, and I felt selfish even thinking about moving very far away. He pulled through and seemed to make a remarkable recovery. Eventually, I got a little more comfortable with the idea of striking out on my own, but I didn’t want to go too far. I ended up four hours away, in Tennessee. Some saw it as odd as to why I chose Tennessee, and maybe it was. I am one of those people who firmly believes that everything happens for a reason, and it was where I met the love of my life, so perhaps it wasn’t such an odd choice after all. Sadly, in April of 2017, Doctors found what they believed to be a cancerous spot in my Dad’s back. Further scans revealed that he was riddled with cancer. I don’t think I’d ever been so terrified of something in my life. This was that moment of reflection for me. I suddenly realized how brief life can be. I had always wanted to be able to really do something with my life and to make my parents proud. They knew how much I loved writing and how much I wanted to make movies. Suddenly, the idea of losing one of them was extremely real, and I had done nothing very worthwhile with my life. That’s how I felt, anyway. So, the idea of moving to California resurfaced, and this time I couldn’t think of a single reason why I shouldn’t. I didn’t know exactly when it was going to happen. I just knew that it was.

It was my fiance, Aj, and our friend, Darryus, who helped persuade me to make a quick move, as in by the end of the summer. It seemed a little hasty to me, especially with the uncertainty of what was going to happen with my father. In May 2017, any doubts were washed away when my Dad succumbed to the cancer in his body. I had to chase my dreams, if for no other reason than to honor his memory.

2. How has the move changed or affected your dream?

If anything, it’s like this move has put my dream on steroids. It’s just grown bigger and bigger. In a way, it seems less like a dream and more like something tangible. I have been extremely fortunate to have a great support system behind me since I’ve gotten to California. I had the great fortune of being put in contact with Michael Coulombe. For the those who don’t know him, you have no idea how great of a friend he can be. He has become a very good friend to me, and has given me some invaluable advice. He has worked on over 200 films, and he knows what’s going on. He is probably one of the coolest people I know, and I’m so very happy to have started what I’m sure will be a long-lasting friendship. Overall, I have made some of the most amazing friends here, and Aj and Darryus are like my own personal cheerleaders at home. I never like to give in to negativity, and I definitely feel very optimistic about the future here. I feel like a real screenwriter for the first time in my life.

3. You are a screenwriter. Could you tell us a little bit about your projects?

Currently, I am working on a rewrite of my most recent screenplay called “Chuckles”. It is a straight forward slasher, largely inspired by the horror films of the 70s and 80s. I think it is very very scary. I even find myself getting scared as I’m writing it! I was fortunate enough to have Victor Miller, the creator of “Friday the 13th” read the first draft, and send me notes on it. I’m still pinching myself over that! I have several other scripts in the pipeline. One is a supernatural thriller called “Autumn Falls”. I actually have one draft done of that one. It was written before Chuckles, and in many ways, it’s one of my favorite stories, but I know that it needs some reworking before I’m ready to do anything with it. I also have been laying out the basics for a new script, that takes the romantic comedy genre and puts a terrifying twist on it, called “Meet the Hatchets”. I’m really excited about that one!

4. What was the hardest part about moving? Do you find you had a lack of support?

The hardest part about moving was…everything! It’s hard to pick just one part that was the hardest. Saying goodbye to friends and family was very difficult. The 27 hour drive was, at times, downright awful. I suppose that the worst part was going through everything that Aj and I had accumulated over the years. We had decided to sell most of our things, so I found it more than a little hard to pick everything apart and figure out what was important and what wasn’t. To me, everything had some little bit of importance, be it big or small. Nonetheless, we had to narrow our things down to what we could fit it in two vehicles. We were going to be starting from scratch once we got to California. As to whether or not there was any lack of support with this move, I can honestly say no. Granted, there were some who worried about us, but overall I think that everyone around us wished nothing but the best for us.

5. What advice would you give to someone who wants to move and follow their dream, such as you did?

The best advice I can give to someone who dreams of striking in the world to follow their dreams is this : Don’t let fear stop you. Don’t be like I used to be. There are people who will doubt you. There are people who may reject you. In the end, none of that really matters. What you believe in yourself is what’s most important. Feed the fire that’s inside of you. Nurture whatever talent you have, because it’s what makes you special. Plan, as best as you can, for things that might come up in the move. If you can save some money, that’s great! It will help a lot. Most importantly, never give up. When you find yourself struggling with self doubt, just remember that you’ve got something special in store for the rest of the world.

Instagram:  Brantley J Brown

Facebook: Brantley J Brown

or email:  BrantleyJBrown@gmail.com

BIO

Brantley Brown is a screenwriter. He was raised in the small town of East Prairie, Missouri. With a population of less than 2,000 people, East Prairie was barely a blip on the map, with more farmland and more grain silos than there were stoplights; there were, in fact, two traffic lights, for those curious enough to know. With not much to do, and not much to see, Brantley immersed himself in reading and watching movies, horror being his genre of choice.

With a love of horror films deeply rooted at a young age, and a fascination with what went into making them, Brantley decided early on in life that he wanted to write screenplays. It started with fan fiction, at the age of 13, when he wrote a full length screenplay for an installment in the “Halloween” franchise. Family and friends found his writing to be quite entertaining, and Brantley found the feedback to be quite encouraging in his decision to become a screenwriter.

Since then, Brantley has never stopped writing. He has written several original screenplays that he hopes to see on the big screen someday. Currently, he is working on a rewrite of his most recent script, “Chuckles”, a love letter to the slasher films of the 80s that inspired him to start writing. Constantly writing, Brantley is determined to make his dreams a reality and to leave his mark on Hollywood.

In 2013, Brantley moved from Missouri to Tennessee, where he stayed until August 2017, when he decided to make the move to California. During his time in Tennessee, he met his fiance, AJ Allen. Currently, Brantley and AJ reside in Bakersfield, California with their friend, Darryus.

Review

First Podcast Review

SELRES_9e3d877e-dc2d-4754-9c75-c04cb9e235b1The Mimosas with Michael Podcast has received it’s first review…and it’s a glowing positive review! Thank you to Poppin Podcasts on Tumblr for the kind words regarding our podcast!SELRES_9e3d877e-dc2d-4754-9c75-c04cb9e235b1

https://poppin-podcasts.tumblr.com/post/169938739693/mimosaswithmichael-wow-ok-umm-yes-please-if

 

Also, wanted to say thank you to all of our listeners/followers. Your support and continual feedback makes the podcast better and better each day and for that I am grateful!