After getting to know Scott Swan when he was working on unleashing the beast known as "Maskhead" upon the world with Toe Tag Pictures. We formed a friendship with the man for a number of reason but also because he has a lot to offer the horror world, and we wanted to make sure we could do what we could to help spread the word. Sure enough, he's back with his second directorial film, "Big Junior", and naturally we had to find out what kind of sick-thrills he was planning this time.
As a bonus Scott was kind enough to let us share with you the EXCLUSIVE and ever-so racy poster art for "Big Junior". Let's just say, it's the perfect poster art for a movie that sounds like it's going to be a filthy exploitive cinematic treasure. You'll find this badass artwork at the bottom of the interview.
Hello Scott. What have you been doing since our last interview?
I've been busy. I wrote another MASKHEAD script. Not because anyone asked for it, but because I had to get it out of my brain and onto paper. It's about 150 pages and it's a sprawling GODFATHER PART II meets THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK kind of sequel. More plot driven than the first movie and has lots of new characters, origin stories, and shocking revelations. But before you get too excited, it probably won't get made because the cost is way too prohibitive. To give you an idea how prohibitive it would be, there's a big fight scene between Maskhead and a new villain inside an elaborate set, and the set itself would cost more than the entire budget of the first film. So I guess I wrote the script for me, just to amuse myself. I also wrote an unusual historical thriller which plays somewhere between Oliver Stone and David Lynch. There's also three horror movie scripts on the pile. Oh, and I almost forgot, I wrote something called BIG JUNIOR.
Can you tell us a bit about your new film?
BIG JUNIOR is a very tiny movie that contains some really big, crazy moments. It's probably the lowest budget feature ever made in the history of movies, although I haven't verified that. And by big, crazy moments I mean clinically insane moments that make you say, "I can't believe I just saw that shit." The character Big Junior is a fella from Texas who comes to Los Angeles with a bunch of heroin. He sets up a meeting with a drug dealer named Skip Fawn. The deal goes off without a hitch, but the rest of the evening goes extremely wrong, in like a Biblical wrong kinda way. Skip brings his whore girlfriend along, so there's quite a bit of nudity and sexuality. As the evening grinds on, the brutality, sexual horror, and real-world evil doings become almost unwatchable. I'm taking this movie so extreme that I will most likely never be able to top myself. But I will probably try at some point. It's just one location and four characters, so it's sort of like a stage play. It could easily be adapted into a stage play, which is a neat idea. It's extremely intimate and feels more like a documentary at times than a work of fiction.
Would you draw any similarities between "Big Junior" and "Maskhead", other than both being two extreme underground films?
MASKHEAD and BIG JUNIOR are totally different types of movies. They don't even exist in the same universe, genre-wise. The Cowboy comes the closest to the characters in BIG J, but he almost doesn't count because he's sort of my "every man." But if you combine two of the characters from BIG JUNIOR, Big Junior and his accomplice Angel, the result is a character that's cut from the same cloth as The Cowboy. But the two films overall are extremely different.
After having worked on "Maskhead" with Toetag Pictures, what would you say is the biggest piece of knowledge you're bringing into "Big Junior"?
I'm really lucky to have made my first underground movie with Toe Tag. Not only are they the authority on "spreading the sickness" through art and what I like to call "personal cinema," but they're also some of the most generous folks you could ever hope to meet. Fred, Shelby, and Cruise have been at this game for a while and I learned so much from them in such a brief amount of time that it's kinda hard to narrow it down to just one big lesson. But probably it has to do with the creator-fan relationship, how to maintain it, nurture it, and continue to expand it. I made MASKHEAD with them because I wanted to connect more with the underground horror community. And that's exactly what I got.
Is the film budgeted from your own pocket or do you have producers outside of Wayne Burgess that have shown interest?
Just Wayne and I are producing BIG J. We have a secret backer who wants to remain anonymous because he's a big-shot member of "respectable" Hollywood. He asked me what I was doing next and I told him about the film. He asked how much the budget is and if I had money. I told him how much and said no. Then without hesitation he said, "I'll write you a check for that right now." I was shocked. Right up until the moment I deposited the check and the funds cleared, I thought he was screwing with me. But the check was good and I'm grateful.
Are you stepping extra careful with this film as it is officially the first movie you direct alone (with "Maskhead" being a co-op in many ways)?
No. At the start of the process, I thought about that for one second, then experienced such an amazing wave of horror and self doubt that I had to shut it completely out of my mind. Thinking like that only leads to second guessing and creative doom. This is just another movie for me. That's all. I can't afford to think otherwise.
If there was one thing I would've wanted to have more of in "Maskhead", it would have to be this little thing called nudity. Will "Big Junior" bring us any?
I get that a lot. "There wasn't enough nudity in MASKHEAD!" I like nudity and sexuality in film as much as the next guy or gal. With MASKHEAD it just didn't seem right to Fred and I at the time to fill it with gratuitous bare butts and boobs. Perhaps we felt this way because we knew that the end of the movie featured a vicious, bloody vagina-tearing rape with a spiked 2x4. MASKHEAD was an odd balancing act in every scene. Fred and I were simply trying not to disturb the balance. With BIG JUNIOR one of the first decisions I made, maybe even subconsciously, was to include a ton of nudity and frank sexual situations. There are sex acts in BIG J that you are gonna swear are real, but of course they're not -- I'm not a pornographer, despite what's been said about me in AICN Talkbacks. But, in some ways, BIG J is way sleazier than ninty-nine percent of porno out there (excluding the stuff from Germany). At the end of the day it's all about fun, though. BIG JUNIOR is a fun movie, with lots of violent sexual abuse.
Sex seems to play big part in your movies, in any way and form (gay, straight, you name it. just look at Maskhead!). Why the preoccupation of bizarre and alternative sex?
Sex is a universal pleasure and fear, and I'm fascinated by how much of a double-edge sword it can be. It's effective on many levels in film. I enjoy examining gay and alternative sexualities because it immediately puts most viewers on shaky ground. And when you're making a horror or dark genre movie, every little bit of edge helps. Gay sex in film is still a very big taboo, sadly. But I'm willing to exploit the viewers sexual fears in order to illicit a strong reaction. Plus it's fun. I'm having fun with sexuality the same way John Waters has been having fun with it for decades. I try not to repeat the same stuff over and over again, though. The original script of BIG JUNIOR had some gay prison style sex in it, but the shooting draft has nothing overtly gay in it. I modified this so that it doesn't seem like a rehash of the fisting scene from MASKHEAD. But there is a lot of sex in BIG JUNIOR, much more than MASKHEAD. There's a lot of nudity, frank sexuality, and very disturbing sexual abuse. This is a darker film, sexually, than MASKHEAD. Much darker. And I'm not sure what influenced me to take such a dark ride this time.
Can you give us some saucy insider info on Big Junior, or perhaps a taste of what's to come in it?
BIG JUNIOR is what I like to call a "filth noir." I actually invented that category. It has a lot of the trappings of classic noir, but the filth factor, meaning the seedy characters and the shady dealings going on, are way beyond a normal definition of filth. The closest comparison I can make is early John Waters, but even then those films are rather quaint by today's standards. The most shocking stuff in BIG JUNIOR deals with savage prison-style rape and sadistic torture involving human waste. I better not divulge too much, but trust me, it's just plain wrong.
Who is set to handle the effects in the film?
I'm doing all the makeup FX, just like Peter Jackson The Early Years. When I was a kid I must have watched Scream Greats Vol 1 Tom Savini about four hundred times. I learned how to make fake blood and fill condoms with it. I've also played with latex and other makeups. Obviously I'm no where near the level of Toe Tag's Cruise and Vogel, but I know enough to get messy and have fun.
Any particular films that have influenced you on "Big Junior"?
My influences for BIG JUNIOR aren't really specific movies. What influences me most are people who make movies. I try to approximate an actor's cool, or his badass attitude in scenes. A director's body of work will also affect me when I'm putting a script together. For this one the list goes something like this... Lee Frost, John Cassavetes, Roman Polanski, John Waters, Paul Verhoeven, Sam Fuller, Peter Bogdanovich, Roger Corman, Lee Marvin, Steve McQueen, Chuck Connors, and Richard Harris.
How has the production of the film been so far? Have you ran into any big issues?
So far so good. But that's mainly because I decided to take it easy on myself this time. What I mean by that is: I wrote a script that is more than manageable on a tight schedule and an extremely tight budget. There's no wiggle room on this movie, so I knew I had to write the most streamlined movie imaginable. At the very start of the process, I made the decision to make this a one location movie, like a one-act play, and limit the number of characters. I ended up with four. The upside to this, aside from making it easier to shoot, is I was forced to make everything as heightened and as strong as possible. Nothing is lukewarm about this flick; It's either freezing cold or so hot it melts your face off. And since I was only going to have four characters to keep your attention, I knew I had to make them very striking and allow them to dominate their end of the spectrum. I also decided to keep the action beats as simple and yet as effective as possible. Basically, this is the most ideal micro budget genre movie I have ever written. But I'm constantly looking for ways to improve the recipe.
It's very early to say I'm sure, but how long do you expect "Big Junior" to be?
BIG JUNIOR will be around 80 minutes, which is the perfect length for a super low budget exploitation flick.
Why have you decided to release this film in a limited run of 1000 pieces and what's special about it except for the limited run?
I decided to do a limited first run on 1000 DVDs to make it something very special for collector's of underground cinema. This is something I learned from Toe Tag. You have to love your audience and give them a reason to want to own an original copy of the movie. This first release is a limited, hand-numbered, 1000 copy run. Any special features on the disc will be unique to this release, and this particular cut of the film will never be available ever again in any format or medium. After the 1000 copies, this original cut of the film will shelved forever. That's it. The first 250 DVDs ordered will include a unique, ultra-rare numbered/signed 4x6 print photograph taken on set by the director. Once each one-of-a-kind picture is printed, the original source will be destroyed. 5 lucky random DVDs ordered will come shipped with an actual prop used in the movie, along with a certificate of authenticity. We haven't sold out of the first 250 yet, so purchase your copy today, damn it.
If you made this film in the late 70's, what other films would you like to see this double-billed with in a drive-in or perhaps a grindhouse?
I need to be careful here, because I don't want readers to think I'm full of myself. These aren't movies I think BIG JUNIOR is as good as, or even similar to; They're just movies I would be privileged to be on a double bill with. The list, by no means complete, goes something like this... REDNECK COUNTY, VAN NUYS BLVD, THE ITALIAN STALLION, THE PENTHOUSE, GUYANA: CULT OF THE DAMNED, and BOSS NIGGER (which I would love to remake someday).
10 years from now, what do you think, and HOPE, "Big Junior" will be remembered as?
Ten years from now I hope BIG JUNIOR is still selling, and I hope new viewers are constantly discovering it. I hope the movie gets dated fast, so that it plays like something out of a demented time capsule, like PINK FLAMINGOS and THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. And I hope it is remembered as a genuine work of art. That's asking a lot, I know, but it's my hope.
What is your goal with Evilflix?
With Evilflix I hope to create a strong voice in the world of underground/true independent cinema. In twenty years I want to look back at one hundred movies and experience the satisfaction and knowledge that all of it wouldn't exist if I hadn't decided to start a tiny little nothing of a movie production company back in 2010. And every movie will be well outside the mainstream concept of a "proper" movie. Evilflix will strive to deliver entertainment that is always unique, daring, extreme, original, and completely insane. I hope to earn the trust of the fans of this type of cinema, and continue to deliver the goods with every title. So BIG JUNIOR had better do well, or else never mind what I just said.
Was it an idea that came to you recently, or has it been developing in your head for a longer time?
A couple years ago I created a blog called Evilflix. My goal was to review horror and genre movies and not run any negative reviews. I wanted it to be a friend to low budget genre movies. For example, even the worst genre movie ever made has interesting aspects you can recommend about it. So that was my intention with the blog: find those interesting aspects and recommend them. Then late last year I hooked up with an old high school friend, Wayne Burgess. He saw Maskhead and was impressed by the production values we at Toe Tag achieved on such a small budget. He asked if I was going to make another movie like that and the conversation grew from there. We decided to steal the name Evilflix away from my blog because it's such a wicked name. Wayne is now my partner in the company and he is producing BIG JUNIOR. He's also a respected magician. I've been warned to never trust magicians, but so far he's been good.
With Evilflix, do you intend to only produce films yourself, or would you consider going the Troma way and release other people's productions as well?
For now, Evilflix is just a production company that releases its own product. But who knows what the future will bring. Perhaps we will release other people's movies. I'm curious which way the wind will take us.
Thanks for taking the time with the interview. It has been great as always to catch up with you. Anything you would want to add to our readers that we haven't covered?
It's been my pleasure. I guess the final thing I'd like to add is this: Support independent cinema. Real independent cinema. The kind of movies that don't cost millions of dollars to produce and don't have corporate dictators sucking all the grit and originality out of them. If you don't purchase BIG JUNIOR, I will be sad, but please make an effort to buy another independent movie, like one from Toe Tag. Their latest movie, SELLA TURCICA, is marvelous... a lot of artisrty and passion went into it. Or buy REVENGE IS HER MIDDLE NAME by Anthony Matthews. There are so many fantastic, original "underground" movies out there just waiting to be discovered. So please, discover them, and support independent cinema.
Again, thanks to Scott Swan for taking the time to talk to us again and allowing us to unveil the new-exclusive and very provocative artwork for BIG JUNIOR. Enjoy!
(click to enlarge)