Quantcast Paul Solet interview - GRACE

Paul Solet!!!
Who the hell is this Paul Solet character?! I'll tell you who! He's one of the 2 sick bastards (Jake Hamilton being the other) behind the hilarious, brutal short film 'MEANS TO AN END'. The short is about two struggling FX artists trying to break into the biz of horror film making. They decide the best way to make the ultimate genre movie would be to literally try to kill each other on film. 'MEANS TO AN END' has recieved praise from Eli Roth & Lloyd Kaufman and is also one of this years winners for the Fangoria Blood Drive. (You can check it out on the Blood Drive Volume 2 DVD) In the meantime, read on and introduce yourself to one of the many filmmaker's you should be keeping an eye on!!! - by Robg. 11/05

What are your earliest recollections of the horror genre? What was the first film you remember really scaring you or having an impact on you?

Jack Sholder's Alone in the Dark - that's the 1982 film, not the 2005 one - was the first horror movie I managed to sneak more than five minutes of. There's a scene where one of the killers is on a bed and the girl he's stalking is underneath and he's got this HUGE knife and he starts stabbing through the mattress. Nightmares for years. Aliens was the one that did me in, though. My cousin showed me Aliens when I was very little and it totally warped my brain. I was trying to be cool with the big boys so I made myself watch it all. I was so scared I developed obsessive compulsive routines around it. I was hooked right there. Even before that, I remember hearing older kids talking about Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and just the idea tortured me. Before I had even seen it, I had this window by my bed and I was afraid that if I didn't keep my legs curled above it, Leatherface would smash through the window and cut them off. So my earliest recollections? Terror. Utter terror. And I couldn't get enough. All I wanted to do was watch every horror movie I could find.

Can you tell us a bit about how you hooked up with Jake?

I thought he was a girl at a party and picked him up. Okay, no. That's not true. I knew he wasn't a girl. No, wait, the whole thing isn't true. I met him through a friend, and we hit it off right away. He came to my girlfriend's birthday party and we talked for four hours about horror movies. We drove everybody out of the room and before I knew it, the party was over, and I was getting yelled at for being inconsiderate.

I assume 'Means To An End' isn't your first short film. Can you give us a synopsis of your film history and tell us when your interest in making your own films became prominent in your life?

I can't remember not wanting to make movies. I got started as soon as my family bought a camcorder. We had this clunky Panasonic that I immediately commandeered. My main inspiration at the time was Blood Sucking Freaks, so I just started recruiting kids in grade school and torturing them on camera. I'd do the soundtracks by playing Judas Priest from a boom box next to the camera. I went to some awesome day camps during the summers, a couple of which were creative arts programs. I learned to shoot film and do stop motion there, and met some amazing counselors who were already heading toward film school. Eli Roth was my favorite counselor. I was the only eleven year old running around with a Fangoria, so we hit it off immediately.

He knew what he wanted to do and was already making awesome movies. I think that's when it really got through to me that one could actually do this for a living. I got more serious with writing and started really applying myself. I went to film school at Emerson for a BA, then went back for a graduate certificate in screenwriting. I got to play with some bigger cameras there and work with some motivated folks. Did a few shorts, insulted a few people. Coming out of there, Eli gave me a really cool writing opportunity that had me working for the next year and a half, and continues to percolate to this day. I wrote a handful of other features, honing my chops, over the next year, but I started itching to get back on set, so when I met Jake the time was right for some guerilla hyjinx.

How exactly did the idea for 'Means To An End' come about? And how much of it is fact and fiction?

Means basically came from Jake and I making a realistic assessment of what we had to work with. We had a couple months before I was moving to LA, Jake's credit card and some talented friends who were equally tormented by the horror virus. Our first thought was snuff. Of course. But there's so much snuff stuff already, it's become its own subgenre. One of our other assets was our own weird dynamic as friends and collaborators. We thought there might be some possibility that other people would find caricatures of us and our relationship entertaining, too, so that kind of combined with the snuff idea to become this new strain, mutual-snuffing. As for fact vs. fiction, Jake and I really are huge horror freaks, really do perform our own perilous stunts, and really do want to do our part to help raise the bar and keep this genre sick. Have I ever sliced off strips of my posterior with a cheese grater? Maybe.

Being that the characters are exaggerated versions of you and Jake, did that make writing this piece a bit easier on you or more difficult?

Easier, I think. Means was just a whole lot of fun, the whole way. We just encouraged each other to envision ourselves a couple cranks up on the insano-meter. We spend most of the time we spend together busting each others' chops in one way or another, so this was just more of the same. From a writing standpoint, I think I'm always writing myself in one way or another, so I don't know that this was incredibly different.

In the film, both your character and Jake's are make-up FX artists. Yet, you direct & also write. Which one of these do you consider your main gig or are you more of a "jack of all trades" filmmaker by necessity?

I love writing and I love directing. You get to do a lot more writing than directing as an independent filmmaker, but I really love being on set and working with cast and crew. Directing appeals to the same tendencies toward mania that got me sent to the principal's office when I was a kid. I'm very clear that my allegiance as a director is to making the best movie possible, and I think that's been helpful for me. If cast or crew has ideas, I listen. If they're better than mine, that's what we do. It's not my job to make the thing look like the storyboards, or demonstrate my amazing capacities as a leader. It's my job to tell the best story possible. I love to write, too. I always have, but I also do it to remain sane. It's therapy. Unless some other phase of production stops me, I write every day. When I don't, I feel shitty.

What was the budget for 'Means To An End' and how long was the shoot? What did you shoot on and was it a difficult project to set up?

The budget was Jake's credit limit. About 3000 beans all said and done. We shot in four days on a PD-150. Jake took more of a producer's role, so he and our AP Mike McCrae had more work on their hands than I did. My responsibilities were mainly directorial: shotlist, storyboards and rehearsals in preproduction, then actually getting the thing shot. Not too difficult to set up, but we did have the time limit of my moving to LA, so working just on weekends only wasn't going to fly. Jake's graphic design office basically became Option C headquarters. Much to the chagrin of his boss, I'm sure.

Where were the sequences in 'Means To An End' all shot?

The exteriors are all Newton, Mass. We got the location for Devlin's office through Mike McCrae. He was a professional poker player, so that place is actually the office of a bookie friend of his. Our studio was shot at my parents' house in Cambridge, so it has a pretty authentic, adolescent horror freak bedroom feel to it. We shot the Stoughton Slasher location at our PA, Erica's house in a nearby suburb. The bird's eye vomit-shot was shot at Jake's design office. Again, much to the chagrin of his boss.

We see tons of cool horror collectibles throughout the short. The ALIEN head-bopper. The Freddy lunchbox. And tons of posters, DVD's, and Fangoria magazines. I assume this is all from your personal collection thru years of hunting?

No. I don't have any horror memorabilia. Just romantic comedy memorabilia. I have an original, signed Sleepless In Seattle poster.

So, what's with the Olson twin poster in the background?

What do you mean? They're amazing actors.

The movie's very fun to watch, as I'm sure it was fun to make. Any personal highlights, hi-jinx, or stories you could share from the making-of 'Means To An End'?

I had to shave my ass to apply the latex for the cheese grater scene. Mike McRae actually shot b-roll of it. That's where the true horror of Means to an End lies. Jake actually cut an extra on our screeners called, 'Assshave'. I dare anyone to suffer through the entire thing. It was pretty hysterical for me to have an excuse to streak through Jake's parents' house naked while my ass dried.

Tell me a bit about the other actors in 'Means To An End'? Did you audition people to take part or were some of the people involved folks you've worked with in the past?

We had some people in mind for certain characters. The guy who plays the director rolled up to the set in a Mazarati. He was the guy for the part. We auditioned some people, but ended up going with our gut choices for most of the parts, anyway.

Is there really a script to 'Maggot Whore'?


'Means To An End' ended up being one of the winners of this years Fangoria Blood Drive. Did the Blood Drive 2 due date have any influence on the production - meaning was this intended for Blood Drive 2, or were you already making this short?

It wasn't directly intended for Blood Drive 2, but our discovery of the first disc was a major influence in our making the short in the first place. Once we had it in the can, it seemed like destiny. Fangoria played a major role in my childhood's corruption, so it's awesome to be able to give back by aiding in the potential corruption of more innocents.

This year's films on Blood Drive 2 are actually all quite good! Any personal favorites that stuck out for you?

Adam Barnick's Mainstream is excellent. His sound design reminds me of Kiyoshi Kurosawa, and he's got some awesome atmosphere. Ghormley is really well executed, too. There really aren't any stinkers on there. They're all really quite good.

Besides Blood Drive 2, you guys just won a slew of film awards! How's it feel to have such an overall positive response to the film?

We're delighted people are having such a good time with our humble little bloodbath. It's really validating sitting with an audience and seeing them really get it. The jokes, the kills, the scares and the gore. People really have a great time with it. The awards are awesome, too. We've been presented awards by Lloyd Kaufman and Dean Stockwell, and won some great stuff. We just took home best short and the audience choice from Rhode Island International. Those guys were very supportive, and very cool. Everyone's been awesome. The horror community is such a tight little crew. Everyone is really supportive of everyone else, we're all just fans. I'm really grateful to get the opportunity to travel around and meet all these like minded horror geeks.

You guys were both part of a Blood Drive panel at the NY/NJ Fangoria Weekend Of Horrors. What was it like to be on stage for Fangoria with the other Blood Drive 2 winners?

I came out of the fucking womb toting a Fango! It was fantastic! The Blood Drivers are a great bunch of guys. Super talented. I'm delighted to be a part of something like this year's disc. The panel was just gravy. Tony Timpone and Tim Hinsley have been incredibly supportive.
You also started bleeding all over the place in your wheelchair at the panel. Was this a planned thing, or a last minute prank? (or were you really bleeding?!)

We've been known to pull some live effects at festivals and conventions. It's what I'd want to see. We show up in character sometimes in our prison jumpsuits, suffering from various injuries. And, yes, sometimes we bleed out in front of large groups. But they're just effects. Okay Detective Eastman? Just effects. Not real.

Ok! Ok! You guys had a wild weekend at Fango's Weekend Of Horrors. Any highlights?

Watching Adam 'Romeo' Barnick charm the Fango TV girls was classic. Getting to meet the New York Icons of Fright Syndicate was awesome. So great to see that there are people just like you, doing what you're doing, and doing it because they love it. Getting carried onto the stage in the wheelchair and realizing that Tony Timpone thought I was really injured was priceless. And I picked up a signed picture of the Olson Twins in exchange for our autographs! We're worth as much as the Olson Twins!

What can you tell us about the script you have now for 'HEARTLAND'?

My manager would lose it if I went into detail at this point because that spec just went out, but I can tell you it's a ruthless thriller, the likes of which I have never before encountered. It's gotten nothing but good responses from every company who's seen it so far, so hopefully it won't be long before you can see it yourself.

So, although we already know the answer to this, can you tell our readers the Eli Roth connection?

He was my counselor at day camp when I was eleven and we became friends. I was the only camper who got his 'Ralphus' references to Bloodsucking Freaks. He would direct the campers in these epic, VHS slasher films with titles like, 'Sushi'. I was already tearing through every horror and cult video rack I could find, so we had a lot to talk about. He showed me the films he was making with his friends and schooled me in 70's and 80's horror.

He knew, without a doubt, what he wanted to do, and I watched him work his ass off through the years to get there. He's been a close friend and mentor throughout. He has always been totally unselfish about taking time out of his ridiculous schedule to show me the ropes. He even made it to my bar mitzvah. Eight days after I got to LA, he took me to Tarantino's house to watch Shaun of the Dead in his theater. That's just the kind of guy he is. He hasn't changed. And he works harder than ever, now.

With horror constantly in flux, between remakes & imports, what are your thoughts on the current state of horror?

I have a lot of hope for horror, right now. When movies as moist as Devil's Rejects and Saw 2, and soon, Hostel, are bringing in the kind of dough they are, things could be a lot worse. It's like those rare pockets in history where pop culture, for seemingly arbitrary reasons, happens to recognize real talent. Like when The Clash and The Specials are in the top ten. I had a conversation with a talented young filmmaker named Jason Bounds, who made an awesome, socially conscious feature called Day X, in which he pointed out that box office grosses for horror films are always highest in times of war. I won't get too academic, but, if there's anything good that might come out of a never ending war against an invisible ever changing enemy, it may be a new age of horror. People are fucking pissed, and the caliber of cinema we need to achieve that catharsis we crave keeps on growing. Look at 'A History of Violence'. How awesome is it that Cronenberg is getting so much praise on such a wide scale for such a ruthless film. And independent films like 'The Roost' are bringing back the old school, keeping it pure. As far as imports go, as sick as I am of lurching little girls with long black hair in their faces, this kind of cultural exchange, no matter what the motives, has radically changed America's ideas about what horror is. The fact that there's enough interest in Park Chan Wook and Takashi Miike to get their films US distribution and theatrical releases of any size, is pretty fucking awesome. It just makes me feel stupid for spending all my money on foreign DVD's and a region free DVD player. Or maybe we'll just get another decade of remakes, what do I know. I just keep trying to support stuff I love.

Thanks for talking to us, Paul. Keep it sick! We'll try to do the same!

Visit: www.MeansToAnEndTheMovie.com
and: www.GRACEhorror.com

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