There are very few things that make me weak in the knees. Furry creatures, accents, and... apparently Zack Ward. For one, I'm dealing with arguably the most famous bully in the history of bullying, so right away, there's some reason for hesitation. However, I think my stumbling had more to do with the idea that I've spent nearly every Christmas with the guy. And, this time, the screen is finally talking back. Man, I gotta stop doing drugs. I mean, if you really think about it, I've known a skewed version of Zack almost my entire life. Perhaps I built up this interview a bit more than I needed to, but if there's anyone who'd make me forget that I'm actually 29... it's Scut Farcus. Scut Farcus is immortal, and I'm okay with being a bit shaken by a vampire. So, if I seem a bit timid in the audio portion of this conversation, it's because I am. Personalism at its finest, folks.
Jessie Hobson: So you were on CSI, so you’re like a millionaire, right?
Zack Ward: That's how it works, do one TV show and you're automatically a millionaire and your gifted, you never pay tax again and actually you chose whatever house you want in Beverly Hills and you just take it.
JH: Just messing man. I got a chance to watch your new movie recently, so obviously I'm just gonna dive into that.
JH: How did that project come about?
ZW: Restoration? How did it come about?
JH: Yes, sir.
ZW: It came about... I was working on another script, and another movie that I'm writing, this one's kind of passion project, and my head was kind of getting up my own ass. I was trying to get one of the leads on it and I went to see a friend’s movie and to be honest, I was inspired. I realized I was letting perfect be the enemy of good, so I decided to move forward and I knew that I had to direct a feature film. I’ve directed short films, I’ve directed spec pilots, but I hadn’t gotten the credit of a feature film underneath my belt, and I realized I was kind of stalling and I needed to kick myself in the ass and get the job done. So, I called up James Cullen Bressack, my producing partner, told him what my intentions were, he said alright and I reached out to investors that I knew, and that I had already brought to the table for another project. I told them what our plan was, to do two films back to back, and then we reached out to Uncork'd, the distribution company, Keith Leopard over there, and talked to him about what was interesting him in the marketplace and he told us haunted house movies, and so we came up with ten different ideas, pitched them to him and he picked four, and then we picked to out of those. Then James and I wrote Restoration over Christmas 2014 - 2015 in a period of like five days, seventeen hours a day, and then we slept for about a week and a half, and then we wrote Bethany in about a week. The goal was to make a film that we could do at a specific budget point to guarantee that it had the best recruitment opportunities possible on a business sense. Story wise we wanted to make something that travelled well internationally, for international sale and had the widest appeal. Also, what our goal was was to take that genre take that, take that those requirements and then make something Goddamn good for the audience. Do something different, do something interesting. You know, I believe that it was Oscar Wilde who said amateurs speak in terms of art, artists speak in terms of finance, and it’s a very interesting razor’s edge to walk to have to balance out your responsibilities to the people who put up the money to make the movie, because you know I’m not at a studio, this wasn’t financed by Universal or Fox or DreamWorks. This is good people who worked hard and pulled money out of their pocket. So, out of respect for that process I want to get them their money back and I want to make them some profit. So, I have to take care of them, I have to take care of my distributor, and I had to take care of the audience. And, I had to take care of myself to make sure I'm proud of what I’m doing. So, that was the motivation, the impetus, for the film-making process. I think we did a pretty good job, I'm pretty happy with it.
JH: Yeah, I totally agree. I know, obviously you and James are working on Bethany, but what is, outside of picking the stories and then winding it down to two, what is that collaboration process like between the two of you guys.
ZW: It's a lot of fun. I mean, think about it this way, you ever sat around with your buddy, had a beer and talked about what you would do if you had super powers?
ZW: Of course you have, you're a grown ass man and of course being a grown as man means you were a dumb little kid and we're still doing that dumb little kid things, we all want to have super powers. So, imagine if I told you, alright let's have conversation about a haunted house, let’s get into it. And then we do, but the reality is at the end of that conversation we are writing it down going alright this is good enough for a movie.
JH: Got ya.
ZW: Is it good idea or is it stupid? Ah… that idea was pretty stupid, some ideas suck, that’s okay.
JH: Okay. Alright well that definitely makes sense. So, keeping that in mind this is your first feature film, I know, like you mentioned I know you had done short films in the past. What made you want to move from in front of the camera to behind the camera?
ZW: You know, I’ve been acting for a day or two... over the last thirty, how long have I been doing this now? Thirty-six years?
JH: Oh, wow.
ZW: Well, it’s almost like forty years. So, being a part of it, the difference is my mom's an actress, I grew up on stage, back stage or on set, surrounded by people in the industry and... from the age of five onwards. So, I’m forty-six years old so that means, I’ve been surrounded by it for forty-one years. When you’re surrounded by it, as opposed to the kid in a small town in the United States, and you want to come out to L.A to make it big either went to his high school play, or maybe he studied drama in college. The difference is that this was the world I always knew. So, it wasn’t about the red carpet, it wasn’t about getting famous it was about the process and the work and the enjoyment of it. As I continued to get older, much against my will, I’ll be honest, the problem is you start noticing, it’s an incredible opportunity to work with directors like Michael Bay on Transformers, or Steven Spielberg on High Incident or a Cameron Crowe on Almost Famous. Just amazing directors and it’s a gift and a pleasure to work with them. But, honestly, it’s really inspirational to work with the shitty directors. The really crappy directors who for the love of Christ there’s no reason they should have gotten this opportunity. And for example, Uwe Boll comes to mind and Victor Salva, both… straight out of the racket. They both suck. They suck immensely, they are horribly lazy people and then you see them gifted with millions of dollars. I shot this movie with Victor Salva, it was like two and a half million dollars and he did no prep, walked up on set, didn’t know where the shots were going to be, had no clue, had been there for six weeks and done nothing to prep for a scene, which means, you know, and remember trying to translate this to the audience, time is money...
ZW: So, the second you hit that set you need to be up and running baby, because the faster you are, the faster you’re prepped, the faster your legs are going, the more prepared you are, the more time your actors have in front of the camera to land a great performance. It’s their movie in it… and the more time the crew can get other things organized and hey, you finished your day on time, you know don’t go over it, you don’t go overtime. So, you have more money to do other things. It’s a balance you know, it’s a beautiful ballet of cash, time and art. So, like working with directors like Victor Salva and Uwe Boll, it's really inspiring because it makes you realize fuck yeah I can do that and I can do it better than that idiot.
ZW: So, that was one of my big incidences. So, that guy is a fuckin moron. So, thank you so much Victor Salva, thank you so much Uwe for teaching me the ways that I can better myself. That was really what drove me, was I love film-making, I love watching people take a moment. And let’s be honest dude, if I give you two and half fucking million dollars to make a movie you'll probably shit your pants and cry. Then tell all your friends whilst crying and you’d be so happy you wouldn’t be able to sleep for a week. You’d just be like, oh my God! You’d be so grateful for that, and then it's… oh you’re gonna get paid for it. So, here’s two and half million dollars to make a movie and I’m going to give you fifth-teen hundred dollars to write the script and I’m going to give you one hundred thousand or one hundred fifty thousand to direct it. You would crap yourself.
JH: You’re, totally right.
ZW: Dude, so am I, that’d be fucking awesome.
ZW: Fucking huge, and then to watch someone get that opportunity, speaking specifically about Victor, and then walk through it like a lazy piece of shit. And his sole interest, waltzed on set, was the little boys he thought were cute, which is not appropriate because he’s a known pedophile who went to jail.
ZW: I’m sorry dude, I can do better than that.
ZW: You know what, I can do better than that and I guarantee, brother. We did not have two and half million dollars on this movie. I did not get paid fifty thousand dollars to write that script and I did not get paid two hundred and fifty grand to fucking direct the film. This is a low budget indie film but you know, fuck it, I think we did a damn good film and we were able to do that on no money, imagine if I get a budget.
JH: So, keeping that in mind though, you’re not Uwe Boll you’re not Cameron Crowe, like how close were you, cause they have like people that go out and you know scout cast and things like that. How close were you to the casting process to this particular movie?
ZW: This was… intimately. Emily O’Brien, James Cullen Bressack brought on Emily O’Brien. James worked with Emily on Pernicious, a film directed and shot in Thailand. And, I had the pleasure of meeting Emily a bunch of times before and I got to be honest with you, Emily is amazing. Like I told my girlfriend, I have a platonic crush on Emily. She’s beautiful, she’s sweet, she’s kind, and she’s half Persian and half English.
JH: Oh, wow.
ZW: Yeah. she’s really elegant. She’s kind of like a sexy Mary Poppins, if that makes sense. There’s just something, there’s something classy about Emily. When she speaks to you, she’s got this subtle English accent, she’s always lady like but fierce and strong and she’s a brilliant fucking actress. So, I was just ecstatic that she was willing to come onboard for our budget. Then let’s see who else, we had Keith Jardine, that was James. James tweeted Keith Jardine. Do you know which one Keith Jardine was in the film?
JH: Yeah, actually I had no idea he was acting until I saw this, and I noticed him and I was like hell, he’s making the best of his screen time, I just had no idea he was even acting. It was pretty great.
ZW: Yeah, dude, for the audience who doesn’t know, Mean Green, was it? Mean Keith Jardine? Keith Jardine, The Dean of Mean, right. He was the MMA champion who knocked out Chuck Liddell, so he’s a he’s a big big man. He's a very intimidating human being. James tweeted him, got in touch with him and then we met him over at a diner and pitched him the character, honestly I lied to him. I lied to him about the character because originally he didn’t really have much going on but once I met Keith, the second I sat down and he opened his mouth, he’s such a sweet genuine guy, but what I loved about him was the expectations of what he looks like that he’s going to be this, hey brother how’s it going man, like a biker on a Geilo commercial or something, but when he opens his mouth... hey, how’s it going? Nice to meet you, I was reading some poetry... you’re like, what? So, I love the juxtaposition of his thoughtful demeanor against his terrifying physique.
ZW: So, right off the top of my head, I lied to guy and I said, started explaining the character that I hadn’t written into the script and I pitched him on that, and he dug it, and then I went back to the office and I rewrote it to make him more of a character, more of a balance.
JH: Fair enough. And like I said, I really enjoyed him on screen, I went looked up his IMDB later and he’s done quite a bit. This is probably about like his fifteenth role maybe?
ZW: What’s that?
JH: This is like his fifteenth role, like I mean, it's quality stuff.
ZW: What’s that, he really did a big movie, what’s that really cool one with the director, if you got your computer in front of ya, it’s on HBO right now.
JH: He did Jurassic World, John Wick, Inherent Vice…
ZW: Yeah, that’s the one I’m thinking of, Inherent Vice. He was in Jurassic World? I didn’t see him in it, I didn’t see him in it.
JH: Yeah, well it has him listed.
ZW: As a what?
JH: It has him listed.
ZW: Well anyways, yeah he was fantastic, Keith was great. A little of my inspirations, filmmaker I love, I know this is going to sound trite but I love Hitchcock. I think Hitchcock’s amazing and there’s a great example of Hitchcockian style, one aspect of it. The hands, how much they tell about a person. There’s a ton of analysis to this, in Rope and all these other movies, but one of my favorites is in Strangers on a Train. You know, you do my murder, I’ll do yours. Crisscross, crisscross, right? The guy A goes to see guy B after guy B has killed Guy A's wife and or whoever the fuck it was, he walks across the room and goes to put his hand out for a handshake and the other guy just stares at his hand, like go fuck yourself, but he can’t say it because he’s at a party, so he’s standing there wanting to scream at this dude for the shit that he’s done, he can’t say a thing and just stares at his hands and looks him in the eye. The guy's hand is staying outstretched waiting for a handshake with nothing coming in towards it. It’s such a remarkable, it’s such a statement of disgust, without saying a Goddamn thing. I love stuff like that, I love those moments of tension that are created without having to say anything.
JH: Yeah, I mean, well there was a lot of it throughout the movie. I mean like as soon as the movie starts, I mean, it’s literally tension, like and I think that’s what kept me ultimately watching all the way through. It may be tension like a little bit too strong but at the same time there was a mystery behind it so if you were going for like a Hitchcock vibe, ultimately, then I mean I truly believe you, you succeeded especially on a budget.
ZW: Well, thank you and I wouldn’t be so arrogant as to say I was going for a Hitchcock vibe, cause I mean, he’s a fucking master.
JH: Of course.
ZW: And I’m a schmuck. You know the truth is we steal from the best.
ZW: Armatures borrow, professionals steal. My process in this film was to steal every great idea I could from everybody I respect and loved their films and then try and make it my own.
ZW: And you know what I mean? And do something hopefully with some originality in it. Hopefully with some character value where audiences connect to the acting. How did that work for you by the way?
JH: Like how I connected to it?
ZW: Yeah, what did you think of the performances?
JH: Oh the performances were great. Like I said, I really thought Jardine made the best of his amount of time on screen. Emily was also very great, I had never seen her prior but I definitely felt for her because she was distressed in and outside of the home. I felt like it was almost, like she was attempting to balance. We all know, eve a move can be so hectic and it was literally her entire life was in distress and what was going on behind the scenes wasn’t helping the case.
ZW: Yeah and then, what’d you think of Adrian? I thought he was awesome.
JH: Adrian was good too, but I really do think that Emily outshined him a bit, she stole scenes, I felt like, when she was on screen, but there’s one particular scene where he’s kinda like walking through the house and he happens upon her and like, I really like that particular scene, kind of Paranormal Activity-esque. I’m trying to skate around, like giving stuff away.
ZW: Right, right. But you know with Adrian, like literally going through the casting process and Adrian got hired. I met Adrian through a Facebook post from a friend of mine and he had another film coming out called Dirty and I went to go see through his film premiere and I watched this film and I got to be honest, he’s best in the movie and I met him afterwards and we started talking and I was like you… got the job, offered it to him on spot. And the thing I loved about Adrian is, Adrian is very much an everyman, you know he’s not Brad Pitt gorgeous, but he’s a good looking guy, he’s a handsome guy. You dress he up, he’s a pretty man, but he’s not standing there like a fucking rock star you know with twelve pack abs and looking unrelatable. And that’s the thing I wanted in that character, is I wanted somebody to be out here like… yeah it’s a guy, got a beautiful wife, why are they together, he supported her through this, that and the other thing, they got a good relationship. I can see me being that guy, I could see me making those decisions. Yeah, seems like a real person.
JH: Totally, he’s a man most of us can relate to.
ZW: Exactly, yeah. So many times especially in the genre of horror, like people just fall into stereotypes and then I just stop giving a shit that they exist. Ya know, oh there’s a trail of blood leading into the woods, I should follow it while showing my... you know what I mean?
JH: Yeah, yeah.
ZW: I was writing the script, rewrote the script and we designed the film after people we would think we would want to hang out with. So as oppose to the wackadoo on a Jerry Springer show be like... yeah, that there house is haunted. Which, you basically think, okay... you were huffing too much moonshine, so get away from me. One of the things about real people that if they got exposed to this, it would pretty much fuck their lives cause so many different things come into play as to what your value system is and how you perceive the world without going over the fucking rails on it, you know?
ZW: So, I was really proud of Adrian you know. He just did a fantastic job.
JH: I have, I’m gonna have to watch this Dirty film. I have that pulled it up, but he’s also apparently going to be in, apparently there’s going to be another ABC's of Death coming out, so he’s busy. He has a lot coming out this year.
ZW: He’s got what coming out?
JH: ABC's of Death.
ZW: Oh, ABC's of Death, oh good.
ZW: I did not know that, good for him.
JH: Yeah, so let’s kind of jump back into the movie real quick, without saying too much, there is a fight scene in the film...
ZW: Yes, there is.
JH: Okay, did you choreograph that cause that scene was badass, man. Do you have background in MMA or anything?
ZW: Oh yeah, yeah.
JH: Cause I wasn’t aware of that.
ZW: Oh yeah, I have multiple black belts and I used to be of a competitive martial artist back when I was young and pretty. I was a fight choreographer before and the goal on that scene was, I wanted it to be realistic but sassy. You know the characters who were in the fight scene, not giving anything away, but the characters in the fight scene, I thought it would be, you know like I said the whole film is, it is grounded in a certain level of reality, so that when shit hits the fan it actually feels like it could happen to you. So, it would be ridiculous if in that same world somebody turned around and say did like a Neo from the Matrix like under control, you can’t suddenly be an action hero out of nowhere. Whereas like the two characters are fighting, one character does not really have a background in martial arts or in fighting technique and the other one does, the other one enjoys hurting people. The other one has done it many many times, and he likes getting hurt. And, you think about that, like you know you started this off with if you had superpowers question. So, it’s just like one of them is kind of like Deadpool because he doesn’t give a fuck, so he’s laughing through it, it amuses him. You know what I mean?
JH: Yeah, yeah... that’s actually a great like example cause now that you mention it, that made perfect sense like... yeah.
ZW: Thanks man, I’m glad you dig the fight scene, cause that was like how you put that together and make it sexy and make it interesting and not turn it, you know make the whole movie just seem ridiculous at that moment and have it be connected to the rest of the shooting style and the rest of the story value and the characters and still make it a sexy fight sequence when everybody watches movies and everybody seen kick ass fight sequences and this budget makes sense. The thing is like not giving too much away, Captain America Civil War is what, a three-hundred-million-dollar movie, two-hundred-million-dollars... something like that. The Force Awakens was three hundred million dollars, something like that. The Force Awakens at three hundred million dollars is roughly fifty thousand dollars a second. A second! That’s insane! That’s awesome! It’s retarded and amazing! I say that in less than six seconds, way less than six seconds, they covered the budget for both our movies. So, we sure as fuck did not have the opportunity to spend a week on a fight sequence.
JH: Well, I mean, watching it, I mean it definitely stuck out for the right reasons, so however much money you did put into it, I would definitely say it was worth it.
ZW: Thanks man, I appreciate that.
JH: That’s without me even knowing you had the background, for what it’s worth.
ZW: That’s pretty sweet! You know, let me push my elbow up so I can pat myself on the back. Thank you very much.
JH: So, Grit Film Works, you guys obviously have Bethany coming out as well. Outside of those two flicks though, I mean James is kind of known for horror, you, you’ve been involved with horror. Is that a sign of things to come from Grit? What should we expect?
ZW: Well, here I’m going to burst everyone’s bubble and talk like a businessman for a second. Even though, everyone wants to hear that people just wake up looking sexy, that movies are solely made for the love and joy, bullshit! So, the reality is when you're making films your job, like I said, is to respect the investment and respect the audience. Horror films travel the easiest around the world because culturally everybody gets scared by boo. You understand what I mean?
ZW: You say booga booga and everybody goes... oh my God, it’s scary. Those are the easiest to recoup on. There’s literally specific genres of film that make easier to get back your investment, horror films are number one, kids films are number two, action films number three, and they travel really well. So, if you have a talking dog movie, you can do it, it’ll sell in the United States, it’ll sell in Germany, it will sell around the world. If you have a movie where someone kicks each other in the face repeatedly and they use a nice style, everybody wants to see that. Tony Jaa from Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior. It’s a Thai movie it’s all in Thai, fucking awesome movie because of the movement dynamic. Yeah, Tony Jaa is a fucking God, right?
ZW: So those are the key aspects you go into when you’re making a business model for making films. Again, inside that, you try to do something that elevates the genre, because that’s your opportunity as an artist. Now there’s other things I enjoy doing. I love comedy. I loved doing the TV show, Titus. I learned so much about it. I love being funny, it’s the greatest joy ever to make people laugh. I'd love to be doing comedy as well, but in the beginning our goal is to make the best movies we can, the best price point, make everybody and make them money. So, I’m sure there’s going to be a bunch of horror coming out, but I don’t want to qualify it. I think that nomenclature limits the scope of what we are attempting to do because, like I said, the art form is in balancing out the art against the finances and our goal is to make something bigger and better than is expected, but already wanted. So we’ll see, we’ll see what happens with Grit. But we know we’re going to be grinding it out.
JH: Excellent man, I mean, I’ve only seen one under the name so far and I’m very excited about Bethany as well, so...
ZW: Oh yeah, Bethany is great, that’s James’ baby. Yeah he brought in Shannen Doherty, and he brought in Tom Green and Tom Green is actually doing a non-comedic role, which is awesome.
ZW: That’s one of the great thing about James, motivation. A lot is done by James. James handled it, he just called people, hit ‘em up and they’re like sure, I’d love to come and work with James Cullen Bressack. James Cullen Bressack is awesome. Who’s this Zack Ward dickhead? Okay, fine we’ll have to suck it up. So, James is that, when it came to Bethany, he had met Tom Green plainly, and basically he’s like hey man let’s put you in a movie. So, he talked to me about it, I met Tom, and then we sat down discussed it, rewrote the script to really work for Tom’s strong points and to help him with his first serious role and I think that’s one of the benefits of being a writer director producer team, is that we talk about it holistically. As opposed to the directors fighting with the producer to get what you want, then the writer fighting with director to get what he wants or all of those positions between two guys. So, we can sit there and be like, we got Tom green? Fuck yeah, that’s awesome. Let’s meetup with Tom, see what he’s about, da da dee, see what he sounds like when he talks. Okay, okay, let’s go rewrite the script. Fucking awesome! I’ll say let’s drop him into that scene, let’s put him into that scene, does it work with the story flow, yeah? Great, let’s make sure that all those scenes fall into place, so we can save time, don’t move him around, can have him in and out, like two days. Fantastic! So yeah, that’s been a real pleasure to be able to do that. Bethany should be coming out September they say. I think it’ll be a limited theatrical release.
JH: Excellent. Yeah, I actually heard an interview from you I think it was in 2013 and you were talking about working with James back then so it’s interesting to see how far you’ve came in those three years.
ZW: Oh yeah? My God, yeah, if you think about it we’ve come fucking miles, man.
ZW: We met in a sushi bar in 2013, in the summer. I was having sushi with my girlfriend, and I was doing a weird voice from, it’s a cartoon from the I think 70s, Mr. Peabody and Sherman, you know that cartoon?
ZW: So, I had auditioned for the film like… hey, Mr. Peabody! You know that stupid voice? It ain’t shit.
ZW: So, I was doing that with my girlfriend, and practicing the voice enough for the audition and some random guy behind me is like, hey you do really good voices, do you do them professionally? Well, I audition a lot, I just hadn’t got hired for shit. And, then we start talking, and we went out to a bar called Skinny’s in North Hollywood, and we kept talking, talking, talking. Then he screwed off and went to Thailand to do Pernicious and then, after that, we did Blood Lake: Attack of The Killer Lampreys together. I mean, I was an actor on it, that was our first time working together. And then, we started developing some projects and writing some ideas. I did a pilot called The Lab Coats and what else, then we wrote some stuff for… we wrote some music videos together, we wrote some short films together. He did a music video for I can’t remember the guy’s name he’s one of those trance DJ dudes, Zombie Unicorn Apocalypse remake which was awesome and then we started getting into the films.
ZW: So yeah we’ve been beating the feet since we hooked up.
JH: So, I have a couple more questions man and I’ll let you go. We’re going to jump to kinda someone, you were speaking about Uwe a little bit earlier. We’ve actually already interviewed him twice so I’ll spare you that line of questioning, however I do have to ask, have you had to tell anyone to suck your dick since Fantastic fest?
ZW: Why? I told them to suck my dick at Fantastic Fest?
JH: No, no, no… there’s like this video, I guess like a highlight video or like there’s this interview after the movie you guys did together, don’t remember which movie it is off the top of my head. But you guys are sitting there and I think you’re a little tipsy in the video, and you tell the bloggers that are like watching you guys or questioning you guys to suck your cock like a couple times.
ZW: Oh, I don’t remember that.
JH: Yeah, I guess, Tim League posted it.
ZW: I mean, that’s 2007, so that’s nine years ago, so I apologize if I don’t remember everything I said nine years ago.
JH: It’s all good.
ZW: I don’t know, depends on the camber of the interview. Some interviews, you know, it’s meant for a G rated audience, so I curved my swear words and I talk in a way that is friendlier to a widespread audience and then I’m understanding from your questions and the way we’re talking yours is probably… it’s a red banner.
JH: Yeah, totally yeah.
ZW: Right, so I don’t want to treat people who adult enough to hear curse words and then treat them like little kids and say gosh darn it, I freaking didn’t like that so. So, I would say that probably that podcast or whatever it was a red band as well.
ZW: You know, Uwe and I met up… hey, can you hold on like two seconds?
ZW: Yeah, sorry about that.
JH: It’s all good.
ZW: I’ve seen Uwe since, you know, once or twice, I think he actually got out of film-making.
JH: Yeah, like we have a guy that works with our website that’s actually pretty close to him and normally we are able to get in touch with him whenever we need to. This most recent time, whenever he kind of announced he was done with film-making altogether, we haven’t been able to get in touch with him, you know, at all.
ZW: Yeah, I mean, you know, gotta say Uwe is a sweet sweet man, he’s a really nice guy and he’s very emotional, and very passionate. He’s just not a good filmmaker. And he’s become a better and better one since like Postal and Blood Lake with him. But yeah, I think he got out because basically the margins are so small now.
ZW: And he was making movies at the two to eight-million-dollar pledge point, and those movies would have the German tax incentives but they weren’t making any money. So there wasn’t enough for him to be doing it, and honestly you know making movies, the reason why I made this film is to get my director’s card. It’s so that I can go, yeah I’m a feature film director. There. See what I did… with this, basically no money and you see how good it is and yeah give me a job let’s go do the next one. Uwe already done that I think he kind of hit the point where he’s like… eh I don’t wanna do this anymore, but he’s a very sweet man like if you get a chance to meet the dude, he’s a very nice guy.
JH: I mean it seems like he is. I feel kind of bad for him seeing all the things that I have seen you know he’s had to go through and ultimately you know he’s just trying to push his art, but you know obviously sometimes…
ZW: Yeah, here’s my problem with that. I did Postal with him and I stared in Postal and it was like his quoted as an eight… four-million-dollar budget. I’m pretty damn sure it wasn’t that, but he just didn’t spend time as a filmmaker. He didn’t really invest himself in the film-making process. He’d be sitting at the Video Village on his laptop with his dog talking to his investors from Germany while his first AD was calling the shots, and then first AD would walk over be like Uwe okay we cut… we finished the scene he’d be like, okay yeah, cut, play it back. Okay, this is right full throttle. It’s just one of those things like again, you get the opportunity to make this shit you got to be in it, you got to be committed to it. Drive you actors no matter what it is, you drive your actors and your team with your preparation and your passion, and if your basically playing Tetris on your phone while your actors and your crew are doing the thing well then they know you don’t really give a shit, so you’re not going to get the best out of them, see what I mean?
JH: Yeah, I had heard somewhere, I think you had said it in the past about how you had someone else cut the film or you cut the film yourself and gave it back to him and he didn’t release it or something like that?
ZW: Yeah, what had happened is I got the I got what I thought was the assembly edit, the first cut of the movie, and the comic timing of Postal was off, all over the place, and again remember, this is right after quickly after couple years after I’d done Titus, so I mean I spent three years doing comedy, I did fifty-four episodes, I’m surrounded by comedy writers and onset doing funnies for a living.
ZW: At a national level that is getting really good numbers. So, when someone puts something in front of you and is like yeah, this funny, no it's not. You actually hired me to be the star of this thing because I’m funny and I’m good at this so let me do my thing. So I had re-edited the scene just with the footage that I had available to me, which me as I didn’t have any of the shots that we really would have needed, but I was able to show how comic timing could land better and no one payed any attention to it, which is why I think Postal could have been a great fucking movie and as it is… eh, it’s okay.
JH: So, let’s jump to like a more celebrated movie, obviously you know I can’t let you go without bringing up your film debut. How many times do you turn it on during the twenty-four-hour marathon? The Christmas Story…
ZW: Oh, I don’t turn it on at all.
JH: Don’t turn it on? Okay, I’m gonna add…
ZW: The reason I don’t turn it on is typically when it’s the twenty-four-hour marathon I’m on the road, going to different towns, signing autographs, raising money for different charities, so I’m surrounded by it all the time and it’s on in the background somewhere all the time or I’m going to theaters where they’re doing screenings and then I’m doing Q&A’s afterwards. You know, so I’m surrounded by it. And, I mean, I love the movie A Christmas Story is brilliant, I think it has very little to do with me, we had Bob Clark. Bob’s the writer, Darren McGavin. I mean, everything that done in that movie is spot on. There’s not a moment where you go… eh, really? No, every single shot of that movie is perfect. I call it the Shawshank Redemption of Christmas films.
JH: I would totally agree with that. But like even though it is so loved, this over saturation of the film do you think that it will affect it over time?
ZW: No, I don’t.
ZW: I don’t because it’s a very interesting paradigm in that movie. One thing that Bob Clark did is, if you watch the movie, and by all means scrub through it quickly, you notice that the camera is at Ralphie’s height so the whole movies from the perspective of a child, not first person POV, but it’s from his height. It’s the way he sees the world, and that is really a very smart thing to do because as new people, like how old are you?
ZW: Twenty-eight, right? Where did you first watch the movie?
JH: Where or when?
ZW: Where and when.
JH: I watched it at my childhood home, I think I was about ten.
ZW: Okay and your mom is like… how old is she like twenty or thirty years older than you?
ZW: And they put it on the television, yeah?
JH: Yeah, actually I opened it up on Christmas day and we watched it. I mean yeah it’s timeless.
ZW: So, someone gave it to you as a present?
ZW: Wow, was it a family member that gave it to you as a present?
ZW: So that’s the thing that’s amazing, because your twenty-eight, we did the movie thirty-three, thirty-four years ago. So, that means this family member had either seen the movie in theaters or grown up watching it on VHS, it had been passed around then it started hitting the tipping point of the twentieth anniversary, and was on TBS and twenty-four hour marathon, it became something as the thing that they loved and associated with Christmas and then they gave it to you, a child, because to them it’s like, oh this is like when I was a kid and the you at ten years of age, that’s eighteen years ago, so literally we are talking about the year 1998. So, you did not grow up in the 1940s obviously, but you were able to watch the movie and it related to you. Right?
ZW: It felt like that was kind of the bullshit you went through as a kid. Right?
JH: Yeah, exactly.
ZW: But that’s the genius of Bob Clark and the writing and Jean Shepard, it’s like it’s relevant to a kid in 1998 even though the story takes place in 1942. Sitting there, and I’ve been amazed watching little kids from from the ages of five and twelve sit down and nonstop watch this movie. And it’s not Disney, there’s no talking snowman, there’s no cute speaking kettle or some crap like that. It’s people, no animation, nobody is flying, there’s no Quidditch. I mean, It’s just real stories and yet it grabs kid’s attention. That’s why I think it won’t ever die because the conversation keeps on getting renewed with the next audience member because of the family relationship to the project, to the film, and the fact that everybody feels like it’s their film.
ZW: It’s their Christmas moment. So, I don’t know man, I think that movie will outlive me because no matter what I do, unless I get an Oscar which I really don’t see happening. When I die…
JH: You still got time.
ZW: Yeah, I know the Hollywood system a little better than you and I’ll take a wild shot and say… not gonna happen, but I’m pretty sure that when I die it like be like, and today the bully, better known Scut Farkus, passed away in his north Hollywood home. He was a shut in and a recluse, hated everybody and shaved his cat, but you know he was beloved as Scut Farkus the bully in A Christmas Story. I’m pretty that’s gonna happen.
JH: I mean, it doesn’t sound impractical.
ZW: Here’s the honest point dude, people ask me do I get tired of it. You know, no. It’s, I got lucky, I got really fucking lucky at a young age to be part of something beautiful and it really set a standard for my life that I’ve tried to live up to. I would be, fuck Academy Awards, like I give a shit, but I would love to honor Bob Clark’s memory by making a movie that is as good and as lovingly crafted as Christmas Story was. That’s my goal. It doesn’t have to be a Christmas film it just has to be, I wanna do something really fucking good because it doesn’t happen every day and I guarantee, you know, I did Transformers in 2006, there’s no way in thirty years they’re gonna be like... hey, let’s all sit around the TV and watch Transformers together, it’s not gonna fucking happen, dude.
JH: Yeah, that’s true.
ZW: It just isn’t, so you get to be a part of lighting striking, you just got to be grateful.
JH: Excellent. Well hey, I definitely appreciate your insight man, as well as your time, and I’m definitely looking forward to Bethany, as well anything else Grit Film Works puts out. So anyway thank you for your time man.
ZW: Oh, thank you. My pleasure and by the way we’re number eight on iTunes top horror picks.
JH: Yeah, I saw that I think I saw that either yesterday or today, I think a couple days ago you were number nine, so that’s great that it's bumping up, man.
ZW: Well dude, to be honest, it’s an indie film, we know we need all the love we can get so by all means everybody who’s listening and yourself please go on iTunes and post reviews of how much you love it, cause there are some trolls out there who are trying to ruin our happy day and help us push this monkey up the hill, so we can keep on making good films for people.
JH: Will do man. I appreciate it, Zack. You have a great day man and I’ll push it as much as I can, bud.
So, although I spent nearly an hour stroking Zack's Hitchcock, pun intended, it was nice to finally know the true voice behind the yellow eyes. So, help me God, yellow eyes! I'm done, promise. Anyway, last I checked Restoration has slipped a bit from the top of the iTunes charts, but it's listed under "New and Noteworthy" in the horror section. So, while maybe my communication skills lacked when I had Zack's attention, perhaps you guys could make up for it and check out the film HERE. While it isn't exactly a ground-breaking piece of cinema or anything, it still does a lot of things right and it's definitely worth a look. Be sure to follow Zack Ward on Twitter HERE, and stayed tuned to CineDump.com for all of your uncomfortable interview needs.