Wicked Channel Interview-Joston El Rey Theney (Axeman and Adam K)

If the first interview was “ the calm”, this has to be seen as “ the storm”. I am just at a loss for words on this one. The man opened up way more than I thought he would. A huge thank you to the man himself, Joston El Rey Theney. I want to say one more time, this man did not hold anything back. If you do not get this interview online, go buy the next issue of Newsweek. I am sure they will publish this one.

1. Joston, there is so much to discuss. Last time (August) we spoke. “ Adam K” was all set for a blu ray release by the holidays. We are now in February, and there has been silence. Is there anything on a release? Are you releasing the full uncut version?

The film was finished and all set for a Halloween release when Green Apple Entertainment jumped in front of the bus and expressed interest in picking it up. Up til then, I had planned on testing the viability of a self-distribution model I’d been toying with. Josh over there shot holes in my strategy the way a good sales/acquisitions guy would but I still wasn’t swayed – at least not until he slammed a deal down on the table that was too sweet to pass up. Big, HUGE apologies to the fans who’ve been following us all this time and to you and the rest of the media who helped spread the word about it’s release. We were set to go but this new deal provides us greater visibility and the audience a greater accessibility. Green Apple has a 2nd quarter release set but dates for individual platforms are still pending. I’ll know something soon (officially) and will be able to share.

2. So we finish our last interview. We even made mention of Farrah Abraham being in some of your films and how she was to work with. Right when we posted the interview, here is Farrah on TMZ making some controversial remarks about how she views dating members of the opposite race. What was your initial reaction? Do you feel the press are sometimes too hard on her or does she do this to herself? Most importantly, you are on the spot…you asked for this…Is Farrah a racist like Blac Chyna and others seem to claim?

Farrah is a fucking genius. If you think she’s a vapid, racist, whorish, emotionally/psychologically abusive mother/daughter and more – consider yourself duped. She took notes from the Floyd Mayweather school of “heeling.” If you can’t get people to love you, get them to hate you – both provide an astounding amount of press coverage. Farrah is one of the best and most effective self-promoters I know. But that comes at a cost: the press AND society take stabs at her whenever they can, rubbing salt in her wounds whenever they find one. Society and the press LOVE to vilify, and she makes it easy. Sometimes too easy. And I see when it gets through her thick skin. I’m not here defending anything she says or does, but I know her – she’s sweet, she’s warm towards me and she’d be there to help me out at the drop of a hat if I needed it – and it sucks that others don’t really get to see that side of her. Anyone who has worked on my films with her will tell you how vastly different she is from the public persona. Do I think she’s racist? Nope. Does she like controversy? She’s financially dependent on it, so shit-yeah!

3. I just watched Axeman 2-Overkill or did I? How is this possible? It seems that the film does not exist? Can you help my confusion? The film exists but it doesn’t.

We took it from concept to completion and it’s ready for distribution but the hang up is real simple: I own the film but the executive producer signed paperwork as if he did. I brought it to the attention of the sales agent, who sided with him possibly because he (the executive producer) could invest in their films and I’m a tougher negotiator – when a sales agent has a crappy deal signed by a guy who doesn’t understand the industry very well and it greatly benefits them, they aren’t going to give that up easily. The executive producer then brought in an attorney who informed me that he intended to file his own copyright – a fraudulent copyright – to make his agreement with the sales agent valid. I put an end to all the nonsense with a cease and desist letter and the film has just sat. I’ve tried a ridiculous amount of times to bring everyone back to the table and find an amicable solution, but unless it involves me bending over, it just can’t be resolved. And I don’t bend over for nobody. The executive producer lost his money. The sales agent lost their time. But I gained a lot of practical and creative experience on the project that I take with me into the next Axeman film. Plus, I get to send the Axeman II: Overkill screener out and get unbiased criticism from respected journalists like yourself to see if I’m really moving the franchise in the right direction – if it’s really improving with each installment.

4. Let’s talk about this film that I think I just watched. Joston, I liked it. I felt it took the concept of the first film and expanded on it. Are you happy with the final product? The dialogue alone is pure gold.

Thank you! Very glad to hear that you liked it, especially the dialogue. The Axeman universe has a language of it’s own and I’m pleased that it’s one that resonates. Am I happy with the film though? I think it did improve leaps and bounds beyond the first installment. I was able to keep the executive producer out of the writing room while I composed it and, with the exception of him showing up on the date we shot the blood masturbation scene, the executive producer stayed off the set which gave me the ability to really keep the film’s voice consistent throughout. It had brisk pacing, I thought. The kills were brutal. The characters leap off the screen. The body count was high. The one-liners were awesome. The story was engaging. But I did feel I let the comedy in too much. I should’ve really pulled back on that. There’s a fine line between a horror with comedic moments and a horror/comedy, and I feel I was flirting with becoming a horror/comedy. So next time out, I’ll really keep an eye on that. Outside of that, it felt right. The 80’s elements didn’t clash too much with the modern stuff. It had a lot of balance. And we were able to open up the Axeman universe more and expand on him, the folklore versus his real history and the truth behind the town of Cutter’s Creek.

5. Let us address a controversy that is plaguing most indie films. The “ Kings of Horror” page on youtube. It seems that the small studios are putting your films on there for free views? Did you know upfront this was going to happen to your film? Also, do you get any kind of compensation on views? So, the industry is claiming to fight fucking piracy but they put movies for free on youtube? It seems counterproductive.

Interesting dilemma “Kings of Horror” presents. They acquire a license to air your film on YouTube and split the AdSense revenue with the distributor, who is then supposed to allow some of that money to trickle down into your account. But the truth behind the YouTube model is that thousands of views equal pennies, so really what is the upshot? All of these small distributor/sales agents – the Acort Internationals and Midnight Releasing of the world – they aren’t worth shit to be honest. And if you need proof, head over to Kings of Horror on YouTube to find out. They actually think its a viable use of licensing to place the film there. Once it’s up there, why would anyone seek out a dvd, blu-ray or digital download? Why would anyone visit Redbox? Netflix? The value of your film plummets. If I’d known it was even a possibility the film would end up there, I wouldn’t have wasted my ink and paper printing the contract from Acort International. My views on piracy are well documented, lol. I feel most people are decent and do the right thing, purchasing or renting or streaming from approved sites. But there will always be pirating pieces of shit who will steal things they could easily afford, and they will always find ways to steal just like all thieves do. Kings of Horror themselves are just guys who realized that there were inept “distributors” out there who had no idea what they were doing, and KoH took advantage. I don’t see them as being bad guys – they legally obtained licenses from a group of goobers and placed the films on their “network.” And they split what little money comes in. But I assure you, the faucet isn’t running – it’s barely trickling.

6. Most small films hit the festival circuit. Do you feel the festival circuit is fair to indie horror films? Do you think being on a festival would add to exposure?

You know, if you’d asked me this a few years ago you would’ve gotten an emphatic “screw festivals” but I feel different nowadays. I used to believe that it was foolish to pay someone to show your film to an audience who had already paid THEM to watch it. Something is inherently wrong with that model unless it’s Sundance or Telluride or TIFF – someplace where big wigs show up to scout young talent and acquire films. But as I close in on finishing up production of my upcoming film WATCH US KILL, I feel a little different. This is a project where the talent is incredible and the performances are outstanding, and dammit someone needs to see this shit and award them for it. Even if it’s from some entity that is practically baseless, haha, at least audiences saw and appreciated and acknowledged how talented my actors and actresses and make-up department really are. I think that is the reason you should pursue festivals, to get instant feedback on your project – test it – see what works with the audience. And get the work of the artists involved recognized. Indie horror doesn’t fair well at the bigger festivals and I don’t know why. I saw the Duplass brothers’ film PUFFY CHAIR at Sundance and thought the production values to be around the same as low budget indie horror films but theirs got so much love while my brethren got shut out. It’s weird. But luckily there are tons of indie horror festivals out there hungry for programming. And if you go in with the right frame of mind – not expecting distribution but rather feedback and recognition – they make sense.

7. What is easier for you…Dealing with a questionable personality on a movie set or dealing with a ego fueled personality on social media after they find out you cut them out of the film?

Ooooh. Good question. Hmmm…. Since I’ve had both, I’d have to say ego-fueled personality on social media. When dealing with questionable personalities on the set, it can lead to cast and crew feeling uncomfortable. Plus, everyone can put their spin on it based on whose side their on. But if it’s on social media, you can handle it publicly and squash the beef objectively or decide to completely ignore it. Social media gives someone the ability to start a fire but if you don’t fan it or feed it, it’ll die out.

8. Let’s be honest, this is the internet age. If anyone says or does something wrong, it is going to spread fast. There are some people you worked with, who have a toxic reputation and think they are better than everyone else. Do they bring this attitude to your movie set? Also, do you talk to them in advance that some things will not be tolerated? Basically do you have to talk to a grown adult like a 5th grader?

I’ve worked with some people who have public reputations for being toxic. I’ve worked with some people who have public reputations for being likable and sweet. Just about each of those people proved to be contrary to their public-facing personas. I have an open heart and welcome everyone and all I ask is that they never lie to me on-screen – I want to believe every line of dialogue they deliver and every moment they spend in front of the camera. What they are like when the camera stops rolling – we feel that out as we go. But I don’t tolerate yelling at or demeaning anyone for any reason – creating an uncomfortable workplace. And everyone who has worked with me knows that I won’t hesitate to fire ANYONE. No “one” is worth more than the whole. Hell, I fired the lead of one of my films with only two days left in principal photography for creating an uncomfortable work environment.

9. I heard a rumor, I have to ask. Are you doing a remake of MacBeth? Is there any details you can share yet?

I have two Macbeth-themed projects. One is THE LETTER RED, the other is a film I’m currently in production on titled WATCH US KILL. The Letter Red is a modern homage to Macbeth that is centered around defense weaponry manufacturing and government contracts. It’s currently in post-production. It’s a film I was hired to co-write and direct, so I don’t have very many details on the post-production and distribution of it. But the film Watch Us Kill – boy oh boy – there are so many details involved in this production that I can’t wait to share! So, last year I started growing my business a bit more, acquiring other indie films but also doing something else behind the scenes that hasn’t been done in quite a while – signing contract stars. So now I have these two wonderful actresses who’ve demonstrated through the years that they are extremely talented, collaborative, hard-working, career-minded artists that I can truly depend on to always turn in incomparable work. And I quickly signed them to star and co-star in my upcoming projects. Their names are Constance Brenneman and Linda Wong (love you guys!). If you don’t know them, get to know them. They are awesome!!! And this is the first film we are all under contract with and planning to shoot two more before the year is out – one of the other films being AXEMAN 2.5: EVE OF DESTRUCTION. Watch Us Kill is a suspense/thriller about a defamed journalist chronicling the production of a philosophical snuff film by two charming psychopaths. Rounding out the cast are Rick Williamson, Alisha Seaton, Sarah Nicklin and many more!

10. In addition, you are working on a TV movie? I have seen the violence and horror you bring, how do you plan on toning that down for a television movie? Any details you can share yet? Also, Sarah Nicklin is one of the best actresses on the scene right now, what a huge coup for your film.

Sarah Nicklin is outstanding in every sense of the word. Can’t say enough great things about her. TALE OF TWO FACES is the project that’s listed as a TV movie however it’s actually a VR narrative film. It’s a film that marries the worlds of two iconic slasher villains Ghostface from SCREAM and Leatherface from TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and has them face off while trying to kill some naughty early 20-somethings. It’s a very fun flick. We are just fixing some stitching issues with it and then we’re off to the races. And since it’s not a tv movie, no need to worry about the blood and guts, it’s all still there, lol.

11. I would say this is the end for this month. I have a feeling in 4 months or less, you are going to be on this page again talking about things. I have to say this, since 2012 when we first talked, I am always honored that you seek me out when you want to vent or speak out. Thank you for your time.

I’d rather thank you for your time and always being a good sounding board. This industry is one based on make-believe and playing pretend; there’s rarely a real word spoken but I know when I reach out to you – whether it’s good, bad or indifferent – you’ll always tell me real deal. I’m honored to be able to seek you out and know that I’ll have an objective ear. You’re awesome, Dr. DePaolo and I look forward to chatting with you again – in 4 months or less, lol.

To Be Continued…..Stay Tuned…