The suffix "-ploitation"—blaxploitation, sexploitation, Holmesploitation (free Katie, now more than ever!)—is a favourite of film wankers, but did you know that the term "grindhouse" covers all of that too? (We did not.) Shown mostly in tiny American dollar theatres from the late '60s through to the '80s, featuring plots, actors and production values of the skankiest variety, grindhouse films had lots of zombies, splatter, boobies and swears. Master genre revivalist Quentin Tarantino has partnered up with indie cult colleague Robert Rodriguez for Grindhouse, an umbrella title for the film each director made (Rodriguez's is Planet Terror, Tarantino's is Death Proof) in homage to the genre. It's out April 6, because Good Friday is all about that shit.
Back in February, Rodriguez announced a contest to run in conjunction with the South by Southwest festival, which has a film component in addition to being a huge music showcase. Create a grindhouse trailer, send it on in, you'll win something to be determined.
Dartmouth filmmaker Jason Eisener (you might remember him from his DP work on local hits The Teeth Beneath and Fists of Death), along with cohorts Johnathan Davies and Rob Cotterill, created Hobo with a Shotgun (the title works like Snakes on a Plane—it's about an avenging hobo with a shotgun), posted it on YouTube and watched the hits pile up. (As of press time the clip had been viewed over 90,000 times in four weeks.) Last Wednesday Eisener got a call from Sandra Condito, an executive producer of Grindhouse. By Sunday he was down in Austin, Texas, sitting on a panel next to Rodriguez and Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News, being crowned the winner of the trailer contest.
"A bunch of people were already hounding me to do something for this show On the Lot," says Eisener, back home after a whirlwind weekend down south, of the Steven Spielberg-produced reality show, "but when I heard about this I thought it was way more up my alley. And it just sounded cooler." He laughs.
The team shot over six full days and nights, then spent five days editing ("we shot enough to make probably two more trailers without having to re-use any of the footage"), completing the final cut the day before the deadline.
"The very first shot we had the guy who was playing the hobo and he was shouting out lines," says Eisener, "I knew we had something special, he brought so much charisma to the screen. At that point it hadn't become about the contest, it was we did this thing and we were really proud of it. We put it up on the internet in the hope that some of the other trailer creators could see it and the response was just beyond what we expected."
Eisener received some high-end editing software and "they hooked me up with this new laptop they've developed and I guess I'm their first test subject," he says of the computer, which was developed by the tech team that works with Rodriguez, Spielberg and George Lucas. "They developed it for you to be able to edit on set. That was pretty rad."
And the future is bright for that hobo and his shotgun. "Once the panel was over I was thrown into a bunch of interviews with magazines," says Eisener, "and legal people from Dimension"—the Bob Weinstein shingle that produces horror films and is releasing Grindhouse —"talking about possibilities—they want Hobo for their Grindhouse DVD, and future things for Hobo."
While his plans for film domination are worked out via lawyer, Eisener is prepping his feature Streets of Domination, which he directed, shot (on a Panasonic DVX 100), edited and co-wrote with Davies last summer, for a summer 2007 release in Halifax. Watch Hobo with a Shotgun over and over, you dirty cop, online at: www.myspace.com/jasoneisener
The Chutzpah! festival has unleashed another big name in addition to Olympia Dukakis—author, host of Wiretap, freelance star and your boyfriend Jonathan Goldstein presents Being Jewish—literally! on March 28 at Ginger's. Twelve bucks gets you in and the swooning starts at 9pm. For info and tickets related to all Chutzpah events, hit www.ticketpro.ca
Will seeing J.G. make you all verklempt? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org