Q&A: Adam Green on “DIGGING UP THE MARROW”, Part TwoMovies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
With DIGGING UP THE MARROW, genre vet Adam Green closes a long-in-development chapter in his life, offering fans his first feature length directorial follow-up to 2010’s HATCHET 2 as well as his first leading role in a film. Yet DIGGING UP THE MARROW also opens doors for Green as well, posing several questions and building a monstrous world for Green to one day revisit. In the second part of our extensive chat with Green, the director talks what didn’t make the film, the changing distribution platform for MARROW and where his career will go next…
FANGORIA: In the four years it took to develop DIGGING UP THE MARROW, was there anything that you originally wanted to do in the project or was there anything you particularly struggled to not have to cut out?
GREEN: On the DVD/Blu-ray, there’s about 25 to 30 minutes of extended or deleted scenes, and each one has an on-camera intro from me explaining the reason why we had to cut it. I’m a big fan of having that because I feel, with most movies I’ve seen, they could benefit from being shorter, and it’s never like you walk out of a movie and go, “Man, that was too short,” and if you do, it’s rarely a good thing. This even applies as far as some of the awards season screeners I get, because almost every one of them is either two hours and fifteen minutes or two and a half hours.
Aside from CHILLERAMA, because it’s an anthology with four films in it, the longest movie I’ve ever made was FROZEN at 94 minutes. Everything else is under 90 minutes, and I’m really brutal when I edit as to make things as short as possible. If it doesn’t service the story and it doesn’t have to be there, I get rid of it. I think people will like the stuff we cut out once they’ve seen it on the DVD/Blu-ray but I hope they’ll agree that it didn’t have to be there.
But as far as the development of DIGGING UP THE MARROW goes, the first draft of the script is really close to what we actually shot. There were some things changed as per some people’s availability or convenience; in fact, the first thing we shot was the scene where Will and I travel up to Boston to go talk to the police officer. But we didn’t really go to Boston in real life; we were on our way to a horror convention and just thought it’d be a great opportunity to shoot that stuff.
That was really the only guerrilla filmmaking in DIGGING UP THE MARROW, too, because you’re not allowed to film in an airport or a plane. We had to be really stealthy about that. We also chose that flight because, normally, when I am a guest at an event, they’ll fly me first class, and I didn’t want to show us traveling first class. We really carefully tried to make everything as blue collar as possible, because it’s true and this is our lives. And if we were to show us flying first class, it’d be a little bit harder for the average person to identify with.
So there were certain scenes where I had to change some little stuff. For instance, in the convention scene, John Landis was supposed to be in Mick Garris’ spot. Thankfully, I was on two tours while filming DIGGING UP THE MARROW, one for HOLLISTON and one for HATCHET 3, where we were able to get the moments we needed to get.
As for the monsters, I’m not sure if there’s any that we didn’t make. I know with every single one, there was a point where we all felt defeated and that it wasn’t going to work. But everybody kept pushing each other, and that’s kind of a remarkable thing if you think about it. You have Alex, who is an artist and, as far as the monsters go, their creative force. Greg Aronowitz’s resume is ridiculous, and he’s an equally talented director. And then we have Robert Pendergraft who not only does makeup SFX, but has been Ariescope’s guy since the beginning.
The monster making process could have gone badly, and ego could have gotten involved, but the whole process went perfectly. It’s funny, to this day, Greg will sculpt things that Alex draws for no reason besides sending them to Alex because he likes doing it. It’s great to see how much we all worked, and we’d all love to work even more on that concept because DIGGING UP THE MARROW is only scratching the surface of a much bigger idea. What else is down there?
Maybe there’s a version of this story that is a $50 million movie that isn’t told in this style where you do go down there and you do see all of that stuff. One of the things Alex and I really bonded over was how much we like THE DARK CRYSTAL and LABYRINTH and things like that, which had true puppets more so than our monsters were. Ours were more realistic, but still, there’s something there that we would love to do more with at some point. I just don’t know.
Part of why this movie took so long is that we’re all so busy. During the making of this movie, I did CHILLERAMA, HATCHET 3 and two seasons of HOLLISTON, just to give you an idea of how much I did when I was actually doing this. It’s hard, and it was hard to get everyone’s schedules to line up and get the film done.
FANGORIA: One of the particularly interesting aspects of DIGGING UP THE MARROW is how the film addresses Dekker’s family life. Given the nature of the film, what was it like having to approach that subplot and your decision to show and hide certain things about Dekker?
GREEN: Well, this story had to exist in a believable world, as far as it can be. Obviously, when Dekker starts explaining his theories, they’re kind of laughable and in the movie, Will and I are sort of speaking for the audience in those scenes. So we just don’t instantly believe him, and I want to really badly, but I try to hide that from the people I work with that I’m dragging into it. The concept was crazy, but we had to ground it in reality.
DIGGING UP THE MARROW is closer to something like SPIRAL, which oddly enough made Ray Wise want to do the film since he loved that we didn’t answer every question in it and that it was a character piece. But when I met with Ray, I told him that there was stuff in the script that I left intentionally vague for authenticity. I knew the answers to that stuff, but I wasn’t going to tell him because I wanted him to come up with his own answers.
I also didn’t want him to tell me, like, “don’t tell me what’s in the storage closet, don’t tell me what your real past is, and don’t tell me about your son.” At the end of filming, we compared what our stories were, and it turned out we were exactly on the same page. So it’s one of those things where, if I came out and said what I thought it was, that makes it what it was.
But it’s so interesting when people come up to us after screenings when people ask us about certain things in the movie that I can’t necessarily answer. But I love that since people then talk about the movie afterwards as if it was real, and there’s something magical about that. So we don’t answer all of those questions, but I think, in terms of Dekker’s family, I think the answer is fairly obvious, although I’ve heard some theories that are so crazy. I think one of the weirdest ones was that Dekker was hiding his wife in the storage closet, and I was like, “Wait, what?!”
I mean, the holes [to the Marrow] are in the middle of nowhere, so Dekker has to be getting his information from somewhere. And there are scenes where Dekker is trying to have a private moment with something or someone that may or may not be inside that entrance. I’ll leave it at that, but there had to be an emotional connection to the Marrow for Dekker; it couldn’t just be some raving lunatic who found monsters.
There had to be a bigger picture to it. William Dekker needed an emotional core, and he’s also a sympathetic character even if he’s a little frightening and not necessarily trustworthy. But he’s sympathetic, and even villains in a movie, whether it be Frankenstein or Victor Crowley, need a level of sympathy to where they’re coming from. So that’s why we approached that particular subject that way.
FANGORIA: With the genesis for the monsters in DIGGING UP THE MARROW being somewhat human based, and the penchant for bending reality in the film, was there ever discussions about introducing alternate reality elements into the DIGGING UP THE MARROW tour? And if you were to explore more MARROW, would we perhaps meet more people like Dekker?
GREEN: It’s definitely been talked about, but even at the end of MARROW, Dekker’s story might not be finished. There’s a specific threat given at the end of the movie, and at every screening we go to for the film, there’s always an audience question in regards to MARROW that goes, “Now since what happened has happened, would you stop or would you keep going?” And the answer is that I would keep going; it’s dumb, but I’d want to keep going.
As for the tour, the film business is changing: people don’t go to the movies anymore, and they don’t buy DVD’s and Blu-ray’s like they used to. Whenever I announce a new movie, the first question I get on Facebook and Twitter is, “When is it going to be on Netflix?” That’s how people watch stuff now, and so you have to offer people something more.
Thankfully, at this point in my career, and with Ariescope, I have done enough that I have a fan base and they’re so loyal that they’ll drive 5 or 6 hours to a screening. They’re amazing; they buy the merchandise, they show up to the screenings and they don’t pirate off torrent sites. So the tour wasn’t just a screening of the movie with a Q&A with myself and Alex, since a lot of films do that: we brought the art exhibit, we displayed stuff from behind the scenes, we had exclusive merchandise there and we actually brought one of the monsters from the film that fans could take pictures with.
And to that point, we only charged $15 a ticket, which is actually less than it is to see a 3D movie in L.A, and it was very expensive to travel this stuff, especially in winter. If there was one snowstorm, the whole tour would have been fucked. But now the tour is over, film is coming out, expanding into cities, and I’m going to start doing conventions again after having taken some time off due to the awful 2014 that I had with Dave Brockie dying.
I like that people are going to be able to see DIGGING UP THE MARROW in many different ways, and I like the VOD model. It sucked when FROZEN opened on 100 screens, so it wasn’t playing near anyone and if it was, you didn’t know because there was no marketing for it. And if you wanted to see FROZEN, you had to wait 3 months before the DVD would come out, and this was all before “streaming” was a thing. So now, if you want to see this movie, you can see it. Of course, DIGGING UP THE MARROW is better on the big screen, as is any movie, but it’s also the kind of movie where you can invite your friends over and rent it and have a good time.
So it’s cool how the whole film came together and how it’s being released. But also, another cool thing is that normally, when a film comes out, it’s released and that’s it. But with the art component, we could sporadically do a live screening with the exhibit for years. So it’ll be really cool to see what happens.
FANGORIA: Now that you’re finished with MARROW, what’s next? I know you’ve been working on KILLER PIZZA for a while, but from what you’ve said on your podcast recently, that project might not be happening.
GREEN: I was hoping to have concrete news about HOLLISTON by the time the tour started but, unfortunately, we still don’t. If Dave dying wasn’t bad enough, right around the time that happened, there were places that wanted the show but it was under the condition that we started right away. I couldn’t do it; I just physically could not do it. So, of course, I walked away from that.
We want to continue the show, and the show has only gotten 10 times bigger since it was last on considering everybody is finding ways to see it, so we are positive that we’ll be back, but we were trying to do things a different way as an independently produced sitcom. They never existed, but they will in the future when you don’t need a network anymore. HOLLISTON only happened because FEARnet licensed it and took a gamble on the show, but they never owned the show or developed it so we’ve never really had a network.
But without FEARnet, the show would have never gotten made; a traditional network would have never let me put all of the horror stuff in and have Oderus in the cast. Now, we just want to make the show and put it somewhere everyone can see it instead of have it hidden on a network that so few people have and then, five months later, winds up buried in the H section on iTunes. So interest is there and offers are there, but we just have to figure out a way to do it right. Hopefully, that’s one of the next things that I do.
KILLER PIZZA is still alive, but it’s just a huge, huge studio movie. So those things take time, and it’s up to 1492, which is Chris Columbus’ company, as to when that actually happens. But right now, all I was concerned with was making myself available for the tour because that was an extension of DIGGING UP THE MARROW and I didn’t want to be in production on something while that was going on. Probably around March or April, I’ll be able to definitively say what I’m doing next, but it won’t be another HATCHET movie.
DIGGING UP THE MARROW is currently in select theaters and on VOD platforms from Image Entertainment.You can check out part one of our chat with Adam Green here.