An Interview with Elias – By Brian Morton

 If you prowled through last issue (and if you didn’t why not??), then you might have seen my review for the bizarre and eclectic movie, LovecraCked The Movie, a strange mix of horror and comedy featuring some great shorts tied together by a documentary style narrative by Elias. Elias is the brains (and most of the other organs) behind BiFF JUGGERNAUT, an up and coming Production Company that’s poised to put out some interesting movies. Since LovecraCked was such an interesting movie mixing comedy with Lovecraftian shorts, I had to speak with Elias about BiFF JUGGERNAUT, his love of comedy and horror, his future and any advice he might have for anyone out there who wants to BiFF a little JUGGERNAUT of their own.

* * *

BM – What exactly is BiFF JUGGERNAUT?

E – BiFF JUGGERNAUT is BiFF JUGGERNAUT Productions, which is me. The name was chosen through a process of random selection to represent our film and video endeavors. Another interviewer recently asked me what the name means… it didn’t really have an ascribed meaning when we came up with it, and I think it’s best defined by what’s produced, which tends to range from the furthest reaches of horror to the wackiest extremes of comedy.

BM – Since LovecraCked is a combination of horror and comedy, which do you find your self more drawn to?

E – That’s a good question. I have a great deal of love for both genres and some of the memorable offspring they’ve produced, such as "Dead Alive" and "Evil Dead II". There’s a lot of room for extremes in both genres, whether it be the subtlest humor or the most over-the-top horror, and that’s definitely an appealing aspect of both. If I had to pick one I guess it’d be horror, though, because I feel like that’s the genre that offers the most room for creativity and in my opinion can utilize aspects of most of the other genres, even including comedy to some degree. There’s very little that you can’t do with horror (except maybe win an Oscar for best picture;), but I don’t think the full potential of the genre is always tapped into as much as it could be. It’s not just about gore, or scares or teenagers fucking in the woods without protection… it’s about the unknown, fear of oneself, fear of others, survival, loss, extreme situations that test the characters within them, pushing these people to their limits and beyond… It can be the ugliness of humans distorted to extremes, or plain and simple without any exaggeration, but no less horrifying.

BM – I thought the idea of combining the short films with the comedic wraparounds was a great one. Do you know all the filmmakers? How did you select the films you put into LovecraCked?

E – Thanks for the kind words! I appreciate you saying that, as comedy can be a tough sell – let alone comedy/horror – and the running comedic narrative was my contribution to the project. I do know all the filmmakers involved, though many of them I have yet to meet in person as we live on different continents. The selection of the films basically took place over the course of 6-8 months, during which time I spent many a night hunched over my computer keyboard posting our call for shorts anywhere online where filmmakers congregated. Folks could submit already completed shorts or they could start from scratch as long as they could have the completed film to me by our deadline for entry. I received a decent turnout of submissions and a lot of filmmakers were interested in participating. It was definitely a challenge to find a collection of films that could work together thematically within the construct of an anthology and were Lovecraftian enough as well. At one point I actually wrote and shot an additional short segment of my own when it seemed there might not be enough suitable submissions to complete the anthology. We ended up with a group of great films in the end, and I feel like they mesh in with the wacky running narrative quite well. I’m also planning on cutting the aforementioned extra segment together and include it as part of an extended cut of the film or at the very least a DVD extra. It’s just too cool a piece for people not to see it!

 BM – What’s next up for Elias and BiFF JUGGERNAUT?

E – I’m currently developing the story/script for a trilogy maybe even quadrilogy of films, which I’m pretty excited about. I can’t say much about it yet as we’re still in development, but I will say that it’s going to be psychological horror and deals with some pretty uncomfortable subject matter. My wife, Anna, came up with a lot of the basic story, and I’m looking forward to having more time soon to flesh out the script and begin pre-production.

BM – You’re comedy style is very Monty Python-esque. Are you a big Python fan? If so, who was your favorite Python?

E – Indeed, I am a huge Python fan and very honored by the comparison! My favorite one of the boys? No!!! I can’t choose! I can’t!!! Oh, the agony!!!! Well, if I had to… I suppose I’d say it’s something of a tie between Cleese and Palin.

BM – How did you get started making movies?

E – I always loved movies, and when I was 14 or 15 I decided I wanted to be an actor. I also enjoyed writing as well so I spent a lot of time auditioning for local community theater productions and writing short stories and scripts. The expansion into filmmaking really came out of the acting and writing. I wanted to do it all, to broaden the stage so to speak, and to make my own luck a bit more as well.

BM – As an independent filmmaker, what advice would you offer someone who was thinking about making their own movie?

E – As frequently happens that could easily be a book in and of itself! The illustrious Lloyd Kaufman not only wrote a book on that subject, but then released a box set of DVDs for would be filmmakers as well. Making Your Own Damn Movie certainly entails a lot – short or feature. Having a strong script is usually the most important initial step. After that, I’d say don’t rush into production, make sure you’ve laid the groundwork sufficiently in pre-production. That initial planning and organizing is going to play a very significant factor in the end result. Dropping the ball in pre-production usually is apparent, especially in a lot of low budget productions. I know the feeling well of wanting to just barrel ahead into production and shoot the fucker rather than wade through what seems like so many endless often tedious details in pre-production, but for the good of the flick, it’s best take things step by step rather than sacrificing quality for efficiency. That’s my take at least. Don’t get me wrong, efficiency is still important, and if it takes 5 years to see every film completed… well that’s hardly ideal either. There’s a right timeframe for every project I think. Other things to consider… Less is usually more, especially when dealing with dialogue. Leaving a little extra action/dialogue at the head and tail of each shot when shooting will really come in handy once you reach the editing room. And have fun as often as you can, things will go a lot smoother that way – on set and off.

 BM – The hardest part of being an independent film maker is raising money. How do you go about that?

E – So far all my productions have been funded primarily out of pocket. We will be pursuing outside funding for our next feature, though, so I’ll be in a better position to answer that question soon, but for now it’s mostly theory. There are different ways to do it that’s for sure. Some filmmakers have shot trailers or shorts and successfully raised funds to produce features that way. There are a lot of ways to reach the end goal, but I feel like success is often probably going to rely upon the commercial viability of the proposed film, one’s ability to pitch/sell the idea, and the production track record (if any) that’s brought to the table. There are a lot of companies out there that our looking for projects to invest in and they often have very specific guidelines as to what they’re looking for in a potential film. Whether pursuing funding from film production companies or from independent financiers it’s obviously going to be tough, especially if one’s just breaking in. Myself, I try to produce scripts that can be shot for a very low budget without hurting the quality of the film. The less money needed the better, especially in the beginning.

BM – If someone wants to see LovecraCked! The Movie, how can they get a copy of their own?

E – Funny that you should ask! There’s actually a limited edition DVD of the film out now, which you can buy direct from us at BiFF JUGGERNAUT.com or at select online retailers such as Amazon.com & Film Baby.com. Also on the disc are about 1.5 hrs. of extras, including – yes, even an Easter egg. Thanks for the interview, Brian! Rogue Cinema, you rock!

BM – Thanks, Elias, you rock too, or maybe you roll, it’s hard to tell from here!

Elias is a filmmaker who isn’t afraid to look a little silly in front of the camera, and it’s that fearlessness that should make anything he does in the future entertaining and interesting. I can’t wait to see his next project! If you’d like to check out Elias and all the fun of LovecraCked, you can run over to the BiFF JUGGERNAUT LovecraCked Page and check it out for yourself! And from all of us here at Rogue Cinema, good luck, Elias and keep in touch!