Question #1: “What is the biggest hurdle you faced making your first film, and how did you overcome it?”

Hey Kids! As a filmmaker, there is a LOT of obstacles to overcome, especially if you are working with a no-to-low budget. You have to be prepared to handle anything and everything that could possibly be thrown at you. I could make a huge list off the top of my head and it wouldn’t be a fraction of the problems that you may face. Even if you have the biggest budget in the world there will still be problems, and in some cases it can be much worse than a low budget situation because there is a lot more money at stake. In shooting my first feature, “Punk Rock Holocaust”, there were a number of hurdles to face throughout the entire process. However, one of the biggest (and first) obstacles to get through is definitely the most important; the script. Make sure you have a complete and solid script before you start production! Read on and I will tell you why.

When we set out to make Punk Rock Holocaust, we had less than 2 months from the initial concept and approval from the Warped Tour to the time we had to go out on the road to shoot the movie. I had a full synopsis and treatment for the movie, and a bunch of concepts for death scenes, but not a completed script. I knew what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go with it, now I just had to fill in the gaps in-between. However, since we were in such a rush and I knew what elements were going to be in the film, I started pre-production before we even had a finished script. We got the crew and main cast together, designed and fabricated a costume for the Executioner, got sponsors and funding in place, figured out some of the bigger special effects we had planned and even started a PR campaign before we shot a frame of the movie. However, we still didn’t have a completed script and the time was drawing near for our bus to depart from Philadelphia to the first stop of the 03 Warped Tour in Boise, Idaho. I got as much of it together as I could and we set out, planning to finish it up while on the road.

We had a 3 day drive, should be easy enough to finish the script, right? I don’t know if you’ve ever lived on a school bus with 13 drunks, but it was IMPOSSIBLE. Whenever someone tells me they plan on editing or writing while on tour, I tell them they are crazy unless they have a soundproof room on their bus. I was also one of the main producers of our Backseat portion of the tour, which included a stage with live bands, a Backseat Film Festival screening room, and merchandise set up at every stop of the tour. There were a lot of factors that kept me from finishing the script, so we started shooting before the script was complete. It worked out for us in the end, but there were certainly some points during production where it was a problem.

Outside of the main plot elements that you see in Punk Rock Holocaust, there was a sub-plot with a number of characters that had to be nixed from the final cut. This happened because I had an open ended script. While I knew what the ultimate end to the movie was, I kept writing scenes for these characters to get them to that end point and it just went on and on. This coupled with the fact that we were already in production meant we were shooting scenes that frankly, I didn’t even know if they would make it into the final cut. However, we shot them just to keep things moving.

About halfway through the tour, I decided it was not going to work out if we kept going like that, so I cut out the sub-plot and focused on what I ultimately thought people should want to see this movie for; the death scenes. We put even more focus on killing as many bands and people as possible, which was the main reason I wanted to do this project in the first place.

We finished the tour and went through the footage; we had about 60 hours of footage and somewhere between 7-10 hours of that was footage from the sub-plot that we cut. Over the next year we did supplemental shooting in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and San Francisco to fill in the gaps left by the missing sub-plot. We killed more bands as they came through the towns we were shooting in and put the movie together as sort of a patchwork with all the elements from the different shoots. Ultimately I am really happy with the final product but at times during the production it was a nightmare.

In short, you should make sure you have a solid script before you begin shooting. This way you will know exactly what you are in for and what you NEED to get. I am all about improvising on-set and on-the-spot re-writes, and I think it makes for some great footage. But when you have a solid script you’ll be able to make sure you get everything you absolutely need to make the movie make sense, and then you can go off from there. It will save you a lot of time and money in the long run, because if you don’t know what you need to be shooting, your movie could go on forever! I didn’t listen to my own advice and we rushed to shoot Punk Rock Holocaust 2 in a more organized but similar manner and that took almost 4 years to finish! I swear to myself that this will not happen with Punk Rock Holocaust 3!

Anyway, hope that is a good answer to the first question…there are a LOT more hurdles to overcome as a filmmaker, but if you have your gameplan down on paper first with a solid script it will make every other step in the process that much easier!

Hopefully next time we’ll get a question that involves gore!

And for those who have already made movies, we’ve been working the final programming for the 6th Annual Backseat Film Festival (, which is going to take place in Mid-March in Philadelphia. Our final call for entires is Jan 31st 2008 so go to the website, download the entry form and get your entires in now!

It’s been over a year since I last wrote in this blog, the Alt-Film Festival was put on hold for a bit and I had a lot of different projects on my plate…so to give ya a quick update; Since I last blogged, we finally completed Punk Rock Holocaust 2 (nearly 4 years in the making) and had the World Theatrical Premiere at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Unitshifter and Halo 8 picked up the film for DVD release and now we’re getting ready for a whole new round of promotions as the DVD is release on Jan 29th! Also, Halo 8 picked up softcore versions of my Horror-porns, “Re-Penetrator” and “The XXXorcist” and those will come out on DVD on Feburary 26th. Between getting those ready for DVD release, we’ve been producing more movies, music videos and commercials and I’ve been doing a lot more Special Effects work on various films as well. Also to note, “The XXXorcist” got nominated for two 2008 AVN Awards, “Most Outrageous Sex Scene” and “Best Special Effects” and I couldn’t be more honored. Wish me luck! There is a lot more, but I will spare you the details, if you are interested you can stay up to date on my personal projects at

Until next time, Blood is law!


~ by dougsakmann on January 4, 2008.

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