12/19/11

Infinite Santa 8000: The Interview and Christmas Giveaway!


A few weeks back I got a chance to talk about Michael Neel's film The Drive In Horror Show, but Mr. Neel also has another project that is near and dear to my heart, the Infinite Santa 8000 web series. Last year's 13 episode arc saw cybrog Santa reawaken in a post-apocalyptic future and have to deal with mutants, killers, and mad scientists. All of this without a single plate of cookies. Now Neel and Co. are hard at work getting ready for the next installment in the Infinite Santa. So I sat down and talked to the director and got him to pony up a couple of prize packs. So read on to find out what's in store for robo-Claus, and then check at the end to find out how to win a sack full of goodies!


T L Bugg: Infinite Santa 8000 was your first animated project, but you started out in documentary film making. Can you tell me a little bit about how you made that leap from non-fiction to fiction projects? 

Michael Neel: Well, I studied film at Vassar College and did some animation there, some stop motion, as a cinematographer and assistant animator. It was crazy. I interned at an animation studio right after I got out of college and thought I might get into it, but it's--- It's just really rough. It's kind of different the way we do it, but stop motion is just so time consuming. So I kind of fell into documentaries for years because that's what pays around Boston. I did a documentary with Greg Anton who co-created Drive In Horror Show with me, and together we decided to try to get out of documentaries and make a horror film. Because even with the best documentaries, it's hard to get an audience. So we figured horror would be a good way to go. I mean, there aren't any romantic comedy conventions. The Horror audience is known to be supportive and, if they like something, to give it a life of its own.

So when we were done with Drive In Horror Show, we didn't have any distribution, and we were trying to figure out how to get it out. While we were waiting and trying to figure it out, we wanted to do something that people could see, like instantly. So we thought, well, let's do a web series. In Drive In Horror Show we had two skeleton customers that complained about everything, and when we did it, I thought it was the stupidest thing we'd done, by far. We were like, this is never going to work, but it's become one of people's favorite things. So of Infinite Santa, I said, well, let's try and do the stupidest stuff we can. I've always wanted to do a Christmas...something. I've always loved the genre, and it comes around every year so there's always a market. I don't know where it all really came from, but Greg came up with this huge back-story about these characters. We kind of fleshed it out, and the scripts came pretty quickly so we just started doing it.

I don't know when we decided it would be animated. The two guys that did a lot of the art and effects for Drive In Horror Show (Ed. Nick Flanagan and Jeff O'Brian) are both tattooists who have tattooed me and Greg and bunch, so we knew they could do it, but I think we had pretty low expectations at first because we really hadn't done anything like this before. This was nothing like what I had done in my stop motion days at all, but once we saw how good the art was and fed it all into the computer to see what we could do with the lighting. Because it's all in there like a little set,  and it adds an extra level. I think Greg and I were both shocked with the production value that we could get. We never thought it would turn out like it did. We've been very pleasantly surprised.

TLB: So Infinite Santa ended up as a thirteen part web series. Did you always have a plan of where it would begin and end as the ending is a bit unresolved?

MN: This has always been planned to be Part 1 of a 3 part arc. The idea was to do these first 13 and see where else we could take it. We'd love to do the next ones, but we needed to make sure there was going to be enough support for it. The format was definitely, you know, Greg, when we first started writing, the only thing I said was that every one should end up as a cliffhanger like the old serials. Because we really wanted people to come back and watch them week after week. Now they're all up together and you want people to want to see the next one, but especially for the people who watched them as they came out, we wanted them to really want to see that next episode. For out early fans, they really told us that.

But the format, writing and making these three minute shorts is a different kind of animal than doing something bigger, and it did allow us to grow and kind of figure it out as we went. With each one being so small, we were learning by doing, big time.

TLB: So you've been gearing up to start work on the next portion of the Infinite Santa saga. I’ve heard some talk about Evil Easter Bunny vs. Santa. So what can you tell me about it? Does it pick up when the last series left off? 

MN: No, unfortunately. I know some people have asked for it. We thought about condensing the stories into an half hour and then doing a movie, but the format doesn't really lend itself to that. Then we thought about doing Santa's back-story as a movie, but we want to keep that how we wrote it for the web. So actually this next portion will be set 100 years after the web series, so the same characters are around, but there have been some changes. For the careful viewer, there are maybe some clues as to what's been going on. We don't want to give too much away because we think of this as a timeline with 6000 years of history.. or, I don't really want to say when Santa was created, but this whole world was changed by something between now and the year 8000. I don't know if that answers your question it was kind of meandering I think.


The Evil Easter Bunny is a part of the marketing of it, and he's a character in the next installment but definitely not the only one. Santa and Martha are living on their own, and they get found by Shakleton again so things take off from there. The Evil Easter Bunny is by far the most formidable opponent that Santa has faced so far, and there are a lot more robots in this one. We felt like in the web series we introduced a lot of weapons and mutants we didn't get to pay off. They just come in and then they leave. Part of it was that in the script it called for a ton of mutants, and then we got them and we had no idea how cool they'd be. So we're paying better attention to that this time.

Aside from that, there are bigger action scenes, Santa has a new sleigh, new weapons, all this cool stuff. So we just tried to push as much as we can. One thing we found with the first web series was every time we did something really silly with the design, like Santa's chopper with the candy cane handlebars or the snowflake throwing stars, people love things like that. So we tried to put as much of that into the sequel as we can.

TLB: So when can we hopefully expect to see this new adventure from Santa?

MN: Hopefully a year, maybe longer...

TLB: So Hopefully Christmas 2012

MN: Hopefully, but maybe Christmas 2013. We'll definitely keep people posted. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook and stuff and we'll make sure we let people know how it's going.

TLB: Sounds great. Well while I've got you here I thought I'd ask you a bit about your favorite Christmas movies. Let's leave horror out of it for a moment and just talk straight up Christmas movies. 

MN: Well, my favorite by far is Christmas Vacation. Hands down. It's just so good. My family and I watch it every year. I think I can quote over half of it. There's a line from it that actually subliminally got into Drive In Horror Show. In "The Meat Man", the Dad character says, "It's a quality item." which is something Randy Quaid says in Christmas Vacation. A friend of mine pointed it out to me, and I think they're absolutely right. That's where that came from.

I like A Christmas Story, but I haven't seen it quite enough to fall in love with it as much as everybody else. I like Elf a lot. I haven't seen Miracle on 34th Street in a long time, but I remember liking it. Does Die Hard count? I'd say those are the big ones. Oh, and It's a Wonderful Life. That's just flawless.

TLB: Alright, well how about Holiday Horror? What do you like there? 

MN: For my money my favorites are Christmas Evil, Jack Frost, Black Christmas, and Santa's Slay. All of different reasons. Jack Frost is one of those movies. It's so cheap. So cheap, but I just love it. It's so low budget and they got creative with how to do things. I was just watching the clip of the woman who gets tied up to the Christmas tree. It's so obviously fake arms just swinging around and the lights being loosely tightened around her neck. So goofy, but it really works. As an independent filmmaker it's really inspiring.

I want to thank Michael Neel for sitting down and giving me the inside story on Infinite Santa's future, and now I want to make a few of you thank him as well. If you haven't seen Infinite Santa 8000, then click over to Mr. Neel's site or look them up on YouTube to check them out. Or maybe win one in the Christmas giveaway!


Contest Entry and Rules

Here's what you get as a prize:

1- Infinite Santa Poster signed by Michael Neel
1- Infinite Santa DVD containing all 13 episodes
A Pack of Infinite Santa Cards suitable for sending next Christmas!
A Drive In Horror Show Soundtrack & DVD of Music Videos


Plus Two more contestants will get a copy of the DVD!

How Do You Get it?
Easy peasy lemon squeezie. Just leave a comment here, on this post, with your e-mail and the name of your favorite Christmas movie. That's it. The contest runs from now until New Years day when I will pick three names at random out of a Santa hat. The first name picked will get the mondo prize pack I listed up top, and the other two will get a copy of the Infinite Santa DVD.  Contest is open to residents of the US of A because I'm too cheap to spring for international postage, and only one entry per person please. 





2 comments:

  1. This sounds like a kick butt prize pack! Good post as well. Like to put my name in the hat.

    mda4life@yahoo.com

    fave Christmas Movie
    Santa's Sly!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sweet Action!

    Email: mike@cadaverlab.com
    Favorite Christmas Flick: Scrooged

    ReplyDelete

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