by Lily Spellman
Normally when I review a film I talk about the film, it seems kind of par for the course no? Well too bad, this time it's gonna be a bit different! This time the film is very much the director and vice versa and for that reason, I would like to focus on Josh Stifter.
Josh comes across as a quiet and humble guy but when you get to know him he's very much an excited and passionate person who very much wants to create. Working on projects such as animating for Kevin Smith, a television show with Robert Rodriguez, 2 independent movies with a 3rd seemingly in progress as well as a comic book spin-off of one of his films and a sequel to the same film Josh has been honing his skills for a VERY long time and it shows. Things that with the same budget would look and feel the price end up becoming works of art in his hands and his ability to work with what he has to create a realistic and believable atmosphere in even the most unbelievable of scenarios is nothing short of spectacular.
Greywood’s Plot is the culmination of Stifter's filmmaking passion and nack for dialogue showing us a Clerks-esque look at the horror world, not because of the black and white aesthetic but because of the heavy focus on dialogue, running jokes and witty banter. Focusing on a down on his luck paranormal cyber sleuth the film brings us on a hunt as our hero is joined by his lifelong friend who is just now getting fed up with chasing the dream. They investigate a mysterious cassette they are sent and delve further into the depths of madness as they hunt for the cryptid that just may give them their big break, the plot doesn't shy away from themes of loneliness and failure, it showcases the motivations, sacrifices and sometimes downright horrible choices that desperate people can make and I feel it does an amazing job of further showing off Mr.Stifter's talent and eye for the art.
Currently, the film is only available through Josh's Patreon but there is a special event on May 31st, tickets are available digitally through https://www.joshstifter.com and MutantFam has some special goodies for a few lucky boils and ghouls! Check out Mutantfam.com or @mutant_fam on Twitter for more details and we hope to see you there.
Supporting this film ensures that more folks will step up and live their dreams. Maybe write a movie or a book. Maybe make a flick of their own. The point is that when you support Greywood’s Plot you’re supporting independent film and possibly inspiring others to follow their own paths.
Below is an interview with Josh about the film, some behind the scenes shenanigans (as expected with him) and the trials of being an indie filmmaker.
Josh is proof that "aspiring" is a bullshit word. check it out.
I know this was a bit different, and we WILL get back to normal soon, I just thought that it was important to speak about the man and let you experience the film.
Stay spooky as always mutants.
BONUS: KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR A REFERENCE TO "THE GOOD EXORCIST!", TAG ME AND JOSH IF YOU FIND IT :)
GREYWOOD’S PLOT: INTERVIEW UNEDITED
Lily: When and how did this unique project come about?
Josh: The idea of making a Frankenstein doctor makes a woods of zombies and creatures have been with me forever. There was this 1959 movie called Terror is a Man that was based on H.G. Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau. I always thought it would be interesting to remake that... But I started down this path of trying to come up with a monster that I would really like to do. What would my Dr. Frankenstein/Dr? Moreau make? I wrote out this idea that was all about making a spider man. I grew up terrified of spiders and there was something about facing that fear and turning myself into a spider that was really interesting.
Then I got a job working on Kevin Smith's movie TUSK. Kevin Smith always says stuff like, 'go make your own movie or podcast! Go do the thing that I can't do.' I realized how close Tusk was to my idea and how I could bring my own voice to this weird concept of a doctor making monsters, and I decided I had to do it. At the time it was still a spider man, but as we started filming, the whole thing kind of naturally evolved and shifted to what it finally became.
Lily: You're very good with your budget and tho you've already sort of stated on your twitter feed how much did the film end up costing?
Josh: I seriously have no idea. I make jokes about the fact that I could boil it down, but then it would be embarrassing because a fifth of the budget would be booze. A fifth would be food.... it would look like we actually spent no money on the actual movie! Which is kind of true? We used what we had and we learned to be as frugal as we could. Nathan Strauss (Igor/Flyman in the movie) learned how to make the dog man mask. We had gotten quotes for the dog man cowl, but they were like $3-$6k! I had planned to spend no more than $5k on the whole movie (I spent far less than that when all is said and done). I like to tell people 4 friends spent 4 years making a $4,000 movie. That's not really true, but it's fun to say :)
Lily: The plot is clearly a labor of love, why this story lol what stood out for you
Josh: It's weird how something that starts as a stupid idea can become something you're so passionate about or speaks so profoundly to you. This whole thing basically started with me asking Daniel (Degnan, producer/writer/actor), "what if we make a movie where one of us is a mad scientist and the other becomes his Frankenstein monster to get famous?" But as we filmed, as I rewrote, as I edited - I just found this really important story about friendship, the divorce and growth of a friendship, and the dark nature of finding yourself. In a weird way, it's a coming of age story for Dom. A very, very strange coming of age story. HAHA. I also thought it would be fun to write something nearly polar opposite in tone to The Good Exorcist or almost every other no-budget film. I went back to old movies I loved, Universal Monsters movies, Ed Wood movies, The Brain that Wouldn't Die, Terror is a Man... the real campy, late-night movies I'd watch, and I tried to figure out what I liked about them. While I didn't set out to make something "bad", I really wanted to try to infuse into this movie what DID work about some of those films.
Lily: The monster is...quite a thing, where did you get the idea lol
It was supposed to be a spider man originally, like I said. That was actually the intent the first time we attempted to film it 3 years ago. But after finishing The Good Exorcist, and deciding I wanted to revisit this story, I started analyzing it. Like Beautiful Mindstyle paper and connective string all over the wall Haha. And I realized this is a movie about friendship. Keith and I had just done improv in this one scene sitting on a hay bail and he said at one point his favorite animal is a dog. Then we had filmed the scene where I'm strapped to the tree with the dog collar (that chain was actually grown into the tree on the property and we just made it up as we went). That serendipity struck me like a ton of bricks. It just clicked. Doug is looking for someone to connect to. Dom is looking for someone who understands him. It all just made sense and I just started writing like crazy. The entire second half of the script came together in one day of writing besides a few moments. Also, Daniel was as always on point, how much was him being him and how much was your script
Josh: Daniel asked how big he should go and I told him just to go wild with it. The first time he did that northern Minnesota accent, I burst out laughing. I thought he was joking. We stopped filming and I was like, "You really want to go with that??" And he just said, "Dude. Trust me." And that's the kind of relationship we have. We make bold choices and try to shock each other. Being in front of the camera but also trying to direct, I often had to just let Daniel go and give him complete freedom. And dude did not disappoint. But Daniel is great at infusing himself into the character. He brings a little of his own sensibility in, while also just running with it and trying to be whatever character he's trying to be.
Lily: if you could change anything what would it be?
Josh: Nothin'. It's a flawless movie.
Hahaha. Of course, I'm kidding. There's a lot I'd love to redo but at a certain point, you just have to kick your baby bird out of the nest and hope it flies. There's a shot in the movie where Doug looks back at the cabin near the end of the movie... originally I was going to have a monster (let's call him batboy) crawl up onto the roof. I think that shot could've been rad, but I don't think it doesn't work without it.
There are beats in the movie that don't play as well as I think they could with more time. Jokes that don't hit as hard. But all that - that's the stuff you learn from.
Lily: How much of the film was improvised and how much was scripted?
Josh: That's a tough one because to me it depends on your definition of "improvised". Very little was planned. A lot of the dialogue was made up on the fly or changed as we went to make it feel as natural as we could. There were whole conversations we just kind of riffed.
Then there were scenes we filmed that we had no idea where they'd go. That intro shot of Doug covered in the flies? We just filmed that because the fuckin' cabin was infested one day with flies. We didn't want to film there that day but Daniel was like, "Hey! I'll sit in this chair and film me. It'll be nasty!"
My favorite improv line though is when Doug says, "A few!? Looks like a fuckin' six-pack!" That line wasn't scripted and was just Daniel being a goof. It made me laugh so hard I couldn't cut it from the movie.
Lily: If this movie taught you one thing what would that be
Josh: This movie taught me to give away control. At one point I was lying on the freezing cold table (it was below zero outside and not much warmer in the garage we turned into the surgical room), I was near-nude on the metal table, and I was supposed to be acting and directing the scene. At a certain point, I couldn't do it all, at least not well. I had to just give up and let Daniel, Strauss, and Keith worry about camera and audio and just hope they got good shots and could decipher my stick figure storyboards drawn minutes before. I also learned that a few people will actually watch the weird crap that boils up in my brain. I was terrified this movie and these concepts were just too strange - but I put myself out there, went for it, and I've loved hearing the reactions to it.