Rest in Peace, Dan O'Bannon

In all the hubub of the holiday, the sad news of Dan O'Bannon's passing was lost in the shuffle. Which is, in a way, characteristic of what happened to O'Bannon throughout his career. He was never a celebrity, and perhaps that's because he was truly one of "us". Just another geek. 

I don't say that to marginalize him in any way. I say it with pride, to claim him as one of our own. He made it in the industry, able to channel all that passion and knowledge into a formidable career. And if he can make it, so can any of us. In fact, we may all want to consider striving to be more like Dan O'Bannon than Steven Spielberg or George Lucas.

I'm sorry to say I had never even heard of him until my Dad gifted me with the deluxe box set of Alien a few years ago. I'm a special features junkie, my whole family has always craved behind-the-scenes info, so when my Dad saw the box set, he passed it onto me quickly.

When Dan O'Bannon popped onscreen, I thought I had kind of died and gone to geek heaven. He was so blissfully uncool, relating his harrowing tales of trying to make it in the film industry. Sleeping on friends' couches, living with frustration while his freshman efforts were scoffed at, and continuing on no matter what criticism or trouble he faced. 

Because what he loved more than anything in the world was the idea of getting a reaction out of an audience. There was nothing arrogant about him, he shared credit. He had no shame when talking about weeping the first time he saw Alien on the big screen. He was so incredibly easy to love.

Only later did I find out that he was also responsible for another one of my kinder-traumas, the apocalyptic sci-fi horror film, Lifeforce. He also did the surprisingly well-done Invaders from Mars, which seems like it should be silly now simply because of the time and budget with which it was made. But it lives on like the kid's version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. In fact, movies like The Faculty borrowed heavily from that film, even if by accident just while embodying the genre.

O'Bannon was charming and down-to-earth. He was the perfect example of why "geek" is a way of life. Geeks can never become cool, but they can become successful and respected and well-loved. When one of us breaks through the way Dan did, there's just no looking back. Dan was grateful for his success and gracious about it.

He was a master of tension and suspense. He consistently payed homage to the comics and films that he loved as a child, never willing to separate his work from his inspirations and therefore never creating anything he needed to be ashamed of, whether something he worked on became a timeless hit or a cult classic.

He will be sorely missed and I'm truly sad I never had the chance to sit down and talk with him about any of his work or his life.

Dan O'Bannon


Zombie Girl - Interview with Co-Director Aaron Marshall


As the year draws to a close, I'm still cleaning out ye olde freelance closet. That means some
articles written for publication that hit the floor are getting a second life here on my blog.

This one was written in August and due for publication around Halloween...

It's an interview with the co-director of the endearing documentary Zombie Girl. I call it a must-see for any film geeks, fans of the zombie and documentary genres or aspiring filmmakers. Consider watching the trailer first (if you've never seen the documentary) before reading the interview.


Interview with Aaron Marshall

You may have heard of the documentary Zombie Girl. It’s the Austin-based film about a 13 year old girl who set out to make a full-length feature film. A zombie movie she wrote called, Pathogen. It’s gaining notoriety in the public eye after winning a handful of awards and making a memorable appearance at Comic-Con this July. (The Zombie Girl screening was completely full.)


Vikings, Sea Monsters and Mel Gibson...no, seriously.

This week's script news over at fivesprockets.com. Read it and weep. Oh, how I LOVE you Universal monsters...but especially you Gill Man. In fact, my second ever freelance writing assignment was a eulogy for Ben Chapman, the original Gill Man himself as seen in this picture. In fact, I can remember watching the original, "Creature from the Black Lagoon" as a kid, and between that and, "African Queen", and seeing, "Jurassic Park" in the theater at the age of ten, my love of the jungle adventure genre was born!

On a random note...it's just occuring to me how often I write eulogies...weird.


Director of Confessions of a Superhero Responds to Dennis Interview

Matt Ogens, the director of the captivating and entertaining documentary, Confessions of a Superhero, sent me an email after I posted my last entry. He wanted to let his side of the story be known, and of course, I am more than happy to oblige...

Here is what Ogens had to say to me via email regarding his relationship with Dennis and the others regarding contracts.

"Read your blog about Confessions of a Superhero. I'm the director and one of the producers. I'm happy to comment on Chris Dennis's accusation that we would not let him out of his contract.

His portrayal of what happened is less than accurate to say the least. We gave them agreements for their story rights as we intended to make a film or tv series based on them, which would have been in collaboration with them. They also would have rec'd backend points. Of course they would be able to act in other projects...but after much complaining on their parts I agreed to release them from their contracts free of charge. I sent them the agreements releasing them and they never signed them...so not sure what they are thinking at this point."

And one more email, "Chris's take on the situation could not be any further from the truth. We offered to obtain their life rights (for a small amount of money plus backend percentages if we sold it that would guarantee more). We are independent filmmakers without deep pockets.

Chris and some of the other characters jump at every opportunity - for example we had exclusive rights to our characters for the doc, which is normal. Why would we want them to be in other documentaries while we're still making ours, yet Chris, Max, and Joe were each in 2 other documentaries that started being filmed after ours.

While they breached our trust and agreement we moved forward in good faith. We planned on attempting to sell a feature or unscripted television project based on the documentary, however, I was getting so many complaints from Chris and Max I offered to release them of their rights at no cost whatsoever.

Any other information you were given by them whatsoever is a fabrication. FYI - the rights we obtained would not have prevented them from acting in any project (as Jenny has many times).

I think a big issue, understandably, for a couple of the characters is once the film was sold it was out of our hands. And I moved forward onto other projects. Some of them expected the ride to last forever and for me to get them work, agents, et cetera, which I have no idea how I could have done. Additionally, they think we made millions of dollars of this film. It's a documentary. We're still out of pocket."

So there you have it, the follow-up to the Christopher Dennis interview. For the record, I can see both sides of the story and much like Switzerland...I'd like to remain as neutral as possible at this point.


Catching up with Superman - Christopher Dennis of the documentary Confessions of a Superhero

I did this interview with Christopher Dennis last May. It was slated for publication in Geek Monthly this summer, then again most recently for the Digital Subscriber's issue in November. This was, hands down, my favorite interview. Dennis was a genuine joy. Sincerity is a quality sorely lacking in today's world. He and his colleagues have it in spades.

Speaking of which, the article will also catch you up on a few of the other superheroes from the documentary. Please enjoy. Heaven knows, the world needs a Superman.


If you’ve seen, Confessions of a Superhero you already know the name, Christopher Dennis. If you haven’t seen the quirky documentary about struggling actors in Los Angeles, perhaps you’ve heard of The Hollywood Superman.

You may have seen him on Jimmy Kimmel Live as part of a troupe of performing superheroes. You may have seen him posing for photographs with tourists in front of the iconic Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Then again, maybe you’ve never heard of him at all.