Q&A: Adam Green on the Second Season of “HOLLISTON”
Following two HATCHET films, his co-directed thriller SPIRAL and the gruesome FROZEN, who would have anticipated Adam Green to turn to sitcom television for his passion project? And yet now, with two seasons under his belt, HOLLISTON is going strong, bringing together both horror and comedy fans in FEARNET’s first original series.
With tons of horror references, genre icon guest stars and a solid cast that includes frequent collaborators and cohorts Joe Lynch, Laura Ortiz, Dee Snider, Corri English and the late, great Dave Brockie, HOLLISTON’s Second Season is now available on Blu-ray, courtesy of Image Entertainment. Green spoke to FANGORIA about the genesis of the series, his process and where the show may go from here…
FANGORIA: First off, I’d like to say thanks on behalf of the magazine for the multiple references that we get throughout the second season of HOLLISTON.
ADAM GREEN: Oh, you’re welcome. I obviously love FANGORIA; I’ve been a lifelong fan of the magazine so it’s our pleasure.
FANG: HOLLISTON obviously gets a slew of great horror icons to guest star on various episodes, some even playing as versions of themselves. When writing the series, do you prefer to give these actors characters to play or would you rather they play with their own image?
GREEN: Well, even when they play themselves, so to speak, they’re playing very heightened or disparaging versions of themselves and I think that’s really what attracts them [to that dynamic]. Not only do they get to make fun of themselves, but a lot of these people, like Kane [Hodder] or Tony Todd, never thought they’d get to be on a traditional three-camera sitcom, performing against a studio audience laugh-track.
So in having that experience, HOLLISTON gives them something they never had the chance to do. But after Season One came out, we were getting inundated with people asking to get in on it and asking if they could do an episode. So it’s just been amazing to see how much they love doing comedy.
FANG: As one of the leading creative forces on the show, do you drive the narrative with a mind towards episodic situations or more so to the character arcs?
GREEN: It’s a sitcom like any other sitcom, like THE BIG BANG THEORY or FRIENDS, but it has my sensibilities and the subject matter that I’m interested in. HOLLISTON took 13 years to get made the right way. Normally, as it was set up at various networks over the years, one of the things they would want me to change was the fact that the main characters wanted to be horror film directors.
The networks thought that the broader audiences in America would not respond to that, and I think THE BIG BANG THEORY really helped change that. Sure, those characters are into geek culture and that kind of stuff, but it’s still a funny show regardless. You don’t have to know what they’re referencing to understand the characters. That’s really one of the pivotal things about HOLLISTON: you don’t have to be a horror fan to appreciate the story, the struggles, the character relationships.
That’s really what’s first and foremost, though it’s never like we shoehorn in the horror stuff. We’re not trying to make horror references, we’re trying to be organic to who these characters are and what they might say. So it’s just like any other network sitcom, but it’s just that people like us, who don’t really watch sitcoms, can find something that’s appealing.
But HOLLISTON is not just for horror fans, as some of the fan mail we get is amazing and it goes beyond just, “I love the show,” “I love this character,” etc. We get full-on, ten page long “thank you” letters. If there’s anyone that can feel our struggle, or have felt rejected, or have felt like they’re kinda stuck and not going anywhere, it’s the horror community, and that’s a reason why we are a community. Every other genre is just there, but horror fans are a family.
FANG: For a project that’s been in development so long, how long has the core group that’s currently behind HOLLISTON been involved?
GREEN: I think the core group has been together since probably 2009. When I had first set the show up as COFFEE AND DONUTS at UPN in 2003, I had already wanted Dee Snider and Dave Brockie to be a part of it and I was just trying to remain open on who would play Adam and Joe’s love interests; or even who would play the Joe character, because I didn’t really know him back then.
Over the years, I kept developing the project specifically for these people once I had gotten to know them, and that’s why everyone retained their real name on the show. I know the characters don’t have last names on the show, as we always get around having to say what their last names are, but when I pitched the show to a different network in 2009, I said that it had to be those six actors or I wouldn’t do it. The network wanted to go for it, but they wanted to change the tone of the show and scale back the horror stuff, so I backed out of it.
When FEARNET came together as an actual television network, that’s when it all clicked into place. They embraced the cast instantly, and it was never “Let’s audition other people and see who else we could get.” What helped us with that was that we already had stuff written and worked together on it as a group. So when we did the table read for the network, they had gotten it instantly, like “Of course, this is the cast.”
That’s one of the main reasons for doing this at FEARnet. Not only do they get the horror things and let us do what we want to do, but they also saw the value in keeping a cast that was close in real life. That translates to the show, because the chemistry is already there and we really are that close.
FANG: On the other side of that coin, in going to FEARNETover a traditional horror network, was there more pressure to keep the comedy horror-centric?
GREEN: They were fantastic and really trusted our sensibilities. What’s unique about HOLLISTON over other TV shows is that we’re essentially an independent program. Those don’t normally exist, since normally you have to go through the development process and do a pilot first. With FEARNET, HOLLISTON is their first show and they weren’t designed to put out original programming, so the budget was scraped together from all these different avenues.
So Ariescope [Pictures], my company, owns the show. So technically, we don’t have to do anything that they would ask us to do. We obviously welcome and encourage their suggestions and notes, and in Season One, they were a little more involved because they hadn’t seen the show yet. But in Season Two, they weren’t involved at all and they trusted us, and normally, the second season of anything is always better because you don’t have to spin anything off anymore. Everything is already off and going by then, so the audience knows the characters and the tone, and you can just go wild. Which is great.
FEARNET has never meddled with anything, except once. The only time was on the Christmas Special, which was very unique for the show and sentimental. There was a scene at the end that when it was first screened, people started crying. FEARNET was kind of concerned about that, because they have a brand as a horror network and it’s already weird enough that they have a sitcom; now there’s an episode that’s getting really emotional. So the version that aired on TV had a lot of that emotional stuff cut out of it.
On the Second Season Blu-ray, we reinstated the full version, which is far superior to the version that aired on television, but we understood that the people from FEARNET weren’t expecting to make their audience cry. But the fan response to that episode was amazing, and not only do I think that’s our best episode, but that was really the episode where the show came into its own. It’s perfect that the Christmas Special was the transition between the First and Second Season.
FANG: Where are you and the rest of the HOLLISTON group currently in regards to the Third Season?
GREEN: Well, we have a third season planned out creatively, but we’re in the process of figuring out a way the show can be available to more people instantly. The problem now is that FEARNET unfortunately goes into only so many homes, and while we hope they continue to grow, we’re hoping to figure out a way so that the night that an episode airs, it will be available on every other platform. So that’s been one thing that’s been holding it up.
The other thing was that we had two working directors and two rock stars who were busy doing other stuff. It was hard for us to come together at the same time to work on HOLLISTON. That’s kind of where we were at and we were just getting to the point of planning the third season, and obviously, with Dave’s passing, that changes things. I’m not even at a point where I can even think about what we’re going to do about that, and I know Dave would fucking kill me if I stopped.
But that doesn’t mean I’m ready to do it, so we’ll see what happens. But I know for the rest of this year, I have more movies that I’ve signed on to do, so I think the earliest we’d be putting a third season together would be at the end of the year. That also gives us more time to accept that Dave would want it that way.
HOLLISTON: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON is now available on Blu-ray from Image Entertainment. You can find out more on the series at Green’s official website.