Festival run ends for “VHS Massacre Too” & “MacLeod” & The Webby Awards!

There is a lot to talk about here. I just finished judging the Webby Awards for the first time. I found it to be enjoyable and I’m proud to now be an associate member of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. This was an interesting path to get to this point. I have been in the industry for over 20 years working at various acronyms IGN, CBS, NBC mostly as a shooter/editor. In 2017 I was able to enter the Telly Awards (something I had wanted to do for years in my CBS News days) with my feature length documentary VHS Massacre. I won the Silver Telly Award in the low-budget category. Winner of the silver awards are invited to apply to be a judge for the following year. I applied and to me delight I was approved. So I’ve been on the “Silver Council” for four years now! For people in broadcast the Telly Awards are well known, established in the 1970’s as a sort of answer to content that fell outside of the regional Emmy Awards. Anything from documentaries, news, local TV shows, commercials branded content and more. As television changed they adapted to celebrate streaming content and now everyone from HBO, PBS to popular You-tubers enter every year. So the Telly Awards tend to be known by people in the business and the Webby Awards seem to have more name recognition on the average person. I think both awards competitions give people a shot at winning something and that’s a good thing.

VHS MASSACRE TOO & MACLEOD NEWS!

After two years in the film festival circuit with over 32 official selections, several nominations and 23 wins it’s been a wild ride for VHS Massacre Too. There so many highlights like being on a panel with Joe Bob Briggs, Debbie Rochon and Lloyd Kaufman on Shudder’s Mid May Massacre! Screening at Horror Hound Weekend and getting a positive review in their magazine! Or winning at Chicago Horror, Requiem FearFest, Vancouver Horror Show or San Fransisco Indie Fest’s Another Hole in the Head.

I was lucky enough to kick off the film festival run at New York’s Anthology Film Archives in January of 2020 with an in person screening. Recently I was able to attend a screening at Film Noir Cinema in Brooklyn in person and do a Q & A a few months back so that was a nice bookend to the festival run. The actual last screening before the Blu-ray release on January pre-order here with be a double feature (with both VHS Massacre films) at the Bastalavista Film Festival in Germany. This is particularly a treat me, the idea of a theater playing two of one’s feature films is so cool. They knew my work, that’s a rare and wonderful thing to have happen. I don’t know if the festival circuit translates into a large awareness of one’s film but it’s an exciting thing to wonder about. I hope that all of this will translate into some kind of “fame” for the films.

MacLeod Nominated for Best Short Documentary at Toronto Independent Film Awards

So the film I completed for my M.F.A. thesis was MacLeod. Kevin MacLeod is a film composer who has created over two-thousand songs and offered them free to the world. As a result people use his music in their web content and he has been heard more than the most contemporary pop singers, yet almost no one knows who he is. How can one of the most listened to composers in history be a total mystery? Featuring John Brennan (Last Drive-in) Lloyd Kaufman (Troma President) Stephanie Perez (@yeahfoodbeer) and composer Tim Kulig! So I made the film with Tim Kulig who is my best friend and I’ve known since I was a teenager. He really is the one who convinced me to try to take the documentary MacLeod to the film festival circuit. It did really well getting into top film festivals. It won four awards for Best Documentary including Cannes World FF and WorldFest Houston. The film was also nominated at the Toronto Independent Film Awards and is Official Selection of the NorthwestFest International FF and New Haven Docs at Yale University! Toronto really closed out MacLeod’s festival run with over a dozen official selections! Not bad, more news to come.

Tom Joins the Webby Awards to Judge this year!

Some very cool news. I (Tom Seymour) was invited to judge the 26th Annual Webby Awards as part of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. I will be judging in the Media and Film/Video categories. This is a real treat for me. I’ve been on the Silver Council for the Telly Awards as a judge for a number of years now and I really enjoy seeing such wonderful broadcast content, documentaries and so on. I was looking at the other members and Darren Aronofsky is a judge! Man, his first feature PI, I thought was incredible. It was such a great film, made for so little money that I think it convinced a lot of my generation that we could make films like him…well we couldn’t, but it at least got us to where were were going and that is not a bad thing.

As someone who works full time, moonlights as an independent feature film director/producer and is a dad, I really have to pick my battles in regard to how stay within the film industry. You always want to feel like you are making progress in life. I’m trying to plan out my next documentary feature but I can’t really visualize it yet. More needs to happen in the “low-budget feature” film industry for me to have something to create. I do think because of media consolidation and the pandemic that it will be interesting to see what production/distribution companies are still standing and I hope I’m not saddened by what I find. That being said you have to keep moving forward in whatever way possible and I feel like judging the Webby Awards is a positive contribution to my field. You do what you can, wherever you can. More news to come!

“VHS Massacre Too” Blu-ray now available Pre-orders and CHFF win!

VHS Massacre Too recently won Best Documentary at the Chicago Horror Film Festival. A big win that meant a lot to me personally. The film will also screen as a double feature with the first VHS Massacre at the Bastalavista Film Festival in Germany to end it’s two year film festival in November. It’s been a strange few years but I’m happy how the documentary has performed. The Blu-ray is coming out and that will be the only way to see it for a while. So pre-order now for the January 18th release date! There are a ton of extras including a full twenty-minute interview with James Rolfe the Angry Video Game Nerd himself! It’s been fun to see the film on websites like Target and High-Def Digest.

Here are some other sites to pre-order VHS Massacre Too as well.

Blu-ray.com

Grindhousevideo.com

Target

High-Def Digest

FYE

Movies Unlimited

Armadillo Music

Double Feature at Bastalavista Film Festival!

Some very cool news for folks who liked the VHS Massacre Documentaries. The Bastalavista Film festival in German is going to play both VHS Massacre and then VHS Massacre Too in November, dates to come! This put a smile on my face, VHS Massacre Too started it’s film festival tour early January of 2020 and the film is still in festival currently streaming now at Chicago Horror Film Festival (which is also an amazing honor). This is a subject I talk a lot about I think because it seems like something I did finally worked after literally decades that consisted of occasion victories.

It’s also a huge surprise to me when people know my work and it was wonderful to hear that BFF wanted to play the first film as well. Recently my wife took me to The Found Footage Film Festival which is a really wonderful night of comedy and random VHS viewings. I was delighted to hear that some people we were talking to actually had heard of my work. It only took 25 years to have a festival hit, better late than never right?

AMERICAN EXPENDABLES: THE FILMS OF NORTH AMERICAN PICTURES

I began preproduction on my new documentary American Expendables but I’m starting to question whether it’s worth pursuing. I may release a larger podcast soon but if you want to hear why I’m questioning whether to make the film give a listen here!

“MacLeod” Nominated at Toronto Independent Film Awards!

The results from the Toronto Independent Film Awards came in and we received a Best Short Documentary Nomination for MacLeod. This is really wonderful news. It’s really an honor to get recognition from this festival. Most folks don’t really care that you had no budget for your film. There is just so much “content” now that people seem to be overfed in regard to video, film and television. For a lot of filmmakers who put literally years into some of their films it can be a tough pill to swallow when no one even wants to play your flick.

If you think about it, even some of larger studio films people don’t enjoy and they had hundreds of millions of dollars and years to get the film right. The audience seems to be so much pickier these days and you have to wonder if immersive video games will just take over. People are so picky that they need a custom experience to like something. I think story telling will always be around, but you have to wonder how A.I. will change things. Kevin MacLeod the subject of my documentary believes A.I. will be able to score whole films relatively soon and that the A.I. will be exceptional at it. I think about this sometimes. If A.I. can create music that’s makes us feel sad, can it make us music that will make us suicidal? At some point maybe it could and do we really know our limits in this way, how we can be emotional manipulated? Can A.I. make music that makes us fall asleep, fall in love and what happens when A.I. has unlimited intelligence at a nearly unlimited rate of growth.

During these strange times, it does make you wonder about the future. I spent so much time trying to make my mark in the industry and to some degree I’d say I did in the last few years, people for the most part know my VHS Massacre films and that’s a good feeling. VHS Massacre Too is screening at the Chicago Horror Film Festival this month! This is another amazing goal met to screen at one of the most important horror film festivals in the nation. VHS Massacre Too also screened multiple times on Shudder’s Mid May Massacre. I was on a panel with Joe Bob Briggs, Debbie Rochon, James Richardson and Tim Kulig. So far it was a highlight to my film career. It would be nice if I can top that but it’s a tall order.

These last few years have pulled the veil back on the entertainment industry, you realize that the people who are celebrities are isolated people who have a hard time trusting or truly knowing anyone. They lose their anonymity and most seem miserable spending large sums of money simply to be by themselves. I’m glad I never got famous but I’m glad that some people know my work. That’s probably the best scenario. There is this David Bowie music video with Tilda Swinton The Stars are out Tonight, in the video the famous musicians and celebrities fantasize about being average citizens and even spy on regular folks, acknowledging the lives they could have led as regular citizens. This probably happens, lots of famous folks probably debate the trade-off in privacy and the need to keep working to maintain a lifestyle that keeps them from dealing with the mobs. The money I’m sure they enjoy but frankly if they don’t constantly keep working they seem to be bled dry by agencies, managers and staff. It honestly seems like a casino ride, it may be better to get out on top or risk losing it all.

It makes you think about things. I hope I can keep making feature films that I care about but in the end my family is more important than anything in this world. The pandemic really put that into focus. I think it’s good to aspire to do great things and make meaningful art. Career is important too but as life kicks your ass more and more, even if you get that great job or promotion it’s just never really enough, where as family can be. It can make you feel like you have a life and a real purpose above all else. I don’t know what’s in store for me but I have some optimism. I’m starting preproduction on a new documentary and that seems to be gaining some momentum. More news to come!

“MacLeod” to Compete at the Toronto Independent Film Awards

Some very exciting news! Our film MacLeod will compete in the 2021 Toronto Independent Film Awards. The short documentary about composer Kevin MacLeod has been nominated and the winners will be announced in August 28th! The TIFA competition was started over a decade ago to celebrate Independent film both in Canada and International as well. This mean a lot to me personally, I’ve entered this festival before and it is all the more rewarding to be in competition now. More news to come soon!

Photos from previous Toronto Independent Film Awards

Pre-production on my new feature American Expendables: The film of North American Pictures.

I started taking baby steps toward starting my next film. It will be in preproduction for a long time. I have permission from Troma Entertainment to make a documentary about the films North American Pictures. A fascinating catalogue of films ranging from Maniac Cop, Basket Case 2, TC 2000, Tiger Claws and Red Scorpion. I started a new show on my podcast network entitled VHS Massacre Project Lab. It will serve as kind of think tank. I need to discover what is important, profound or true about these strange films. These action films starring Cythia Rothrock, Billy Blanks and Jalal Mihir are important to me for some reason. They were an important part of the Video Store era but it’s more than that and I need to investigate them further. I’m recruiting Tim Kulig, Debbie Rochon, James Richardson and Thom Demicco from Troma to talk shop. The first episode of the podcast is about the film TC 2000 and I recorded the show Solo but last night I recorded a second show with Tim Kulig that I’ll put out later this week. The podcast will be a good way to organize our thoughts and document our impressions. Episode here, we discuss the legacy of action star Cythia Rothrock! Last weeks episode is below about Billy Blanks as well.

My last film VHS Massacre Too is still competing in the festival circuit, winning 20 awards to date and has an upcoming screening at the famous Chicago Horror Film Festival. I mention this because it’s the best festival performance I’ve had in my entire career and it seems like I’ve finally stumbled onto some kind of success. Sure it’s in the middle of a pandemic but I’ll take what I can get. So in constructing my next feature I just want to make sure it’s not a huge misstep. There has to be a story in all of this for the film to be interesting. I know that I want to interview the folks at Troma and talk about how they came to acquire the films so I may shoot that in mid to late September but beyond that I’m still feeling things out.

One concept that might be interesting to explore is that the modern viewer no longer sees a film as a work of art. The don’t want to interpret it that way. They see it as a content often viewed thought an ideological or political perspective rather then looking at the film as art. For example, did it accomplish what it set out to do? Did it entertain in the time it came out and why was it celebrated then? Is it well constructed is the story sound, whatever it may be? Another mistake the modern viewer sometimes makes is to put 2021 ideals or morals on to an older film. Rather than appreciate the film as an artifact they view it as a booked to be burned or a film to be omitted from a streaming site. It’s an idea to consider at least. More news to come!

VHS Massacre Too & MacLeod Updates

Amazing news! VHS Massacre Too is now an Official Selection at the Chicago Horror Film Festival. Screenings begin September 17th! This official selection really means a lot to me personally. This is a top horror film festival and one of the longest running in the nation. For much of my career I just couldn’t seem to crack top horror film festivals. I’m proud to have made some progress here.

In addition my documentary “MacLeod” is now an official selection of New Haven Documentary Film Festival at Yale University! This year they will add some online screening that starts August 10th! A few years back Ken, Carmine and I got to speak at Yale University in the Whitney Humanities Center Auditorium. We were screening the first VHS Massacre Documentary. In hind site, it was a pretty big deal for all of us and although Carmine is no longer with us, I know that wherever he is now, that he is having a blast!

Yale University, Whitney Humanities Center, NH Docs. VHS Massacre Q &A with Carmine, Tom Ken and Gorman Bechard!

MacLeod and VHS Massacre Too with Q &A Video!

A few things have happened since the last update. My short doc MacLeod picked up awards from the Cannes World Film Festival, WorldFest Houston and the 42nd Annual Telly Awards. MacLeod is also now an official selection of the Jecheon International Music&Film Festival giving us ten official selections and three wins. It’s a good start!

A few Saturday’s back we had a screening of VHS Massacre Too at Film Noir Cinema in Brooklyn. It’s a cool Independent film venue. They were still at half capacity but it was a great turnout! It has a little video store in the front! Video here! Filmmaker Dwayne Steeler also recorded the Q & A here! Befriend him on Instagram! I should having a piece coming up in the next Exploitation Nation and also on Tongal! Stay tunes for more updates on the summer Bluray release of VHS Massacre Too!

MacLeod and VHS Massacre Too updates.

My short documentary MacLeod is now an official selection of the Cannes World Film Festival. The film is about the king of royalty free music Kevin MacLeod. I wasn’t sure how the film would resonate but it seems to be performing well so far in the film festival circuit. It’s also scheduled to played at the oldest documentary film festival in Canada Northwest Fest in early May.

VHS Massacre Too will screen and have a Q&A with Joe Bob Briggs, Debbie Rochon and Lloyd Kaufman at the Shudder Network’s  Mid May Massacre  4pm Eastern on Saturday, May 15. Also VHS Massacre Too will screen at Saturday June 4th at 7pm at the Film Noir Cinema in Brooklyn! This is exciting news! To some degree it shows that VHS Massacre Too is resonating with the horror the convention communities. I’m happy about this. I still remember renting out my first booth at the Fangoria convention over twenty years ago to promote my film Thrill Kill Jack. A terrible film that we made on VHS. There I met Lloyd Kaufman, Clint Howard and John Russo. My parents bought me a book on filmmaking when I was younger, it was John Russo’s Making Movies, so I was exciting to meet him. I was barely out of my teens so I really didn’t know what to say and the meeting didn’t go as well as I had hoped but his book was thorough and I learned a great deal. Night of the Living Dead, Dawn and Day became very important to me as a filmmaker. Coincidentally I would go onto work with Lloyd and Clint literally over a decade later. Also I grew up watching Joe Bob Briggs as well so it was a treat to be able to interview him for my films so many years later.

I don’t know what this all means to me now. I’m happy that anyone is watching my films but I supposed all of my childhood dreams are for the most part gone. After directing eight narrative feature films that really didn’t go anywhere, I really can’t see making another one. VHS Massacre Too is my second feature length documentary and my 10th feature as director. It could be that I make another doc but I don’t really need to right now. I don’t really aspire to be famous either. I think the last few years have been sobering. Family and friends are really what’s important. I have a compulsion to make films and I’m sure that I’ll be working on something in no time but it’s really more of a hobby at this point, I’m just thankful to have Troma to distribute my films. I really like being a part of a company that has started the career so many famous directors! I did my time at the major networks and studios and it’s no fun so I think I’m going to stick with Troma.