Monday, June 6, 2011

The Ghostkeeper Commentary

Well, I finally had my first commentary track on a movie.

It started with the distributor who will be re-issuing the 1980 version of Ghostkeeper, the "supernatural thriller" that I wrote and directed and produced through my company, Badland Pictures. 

The movie made some money then disappeared into obscurity, as most of you who read the blog know already, so I won't expand on that. Just maybe a reminder how it resurfaced around 2005 among horror/suspense fans in England and Europe. While the fanbase was small, it was fun to contact them and talk about the movie. Good for the ego too, of course.

I often said that it just goes to say that if you hang around for long enough, someone is bound to say something nice about you. And at least half of the amateur reviews were nice, even good.

Then I got the call from a distributor in Seattle, called Code Red, who specialize in horror/suspense thrillers. They had found 2 35mm prints of the movie in storage in New York. I had lost track of the 35mm prints over the years and since nobody was asking for them, I forgot all about it.

This all changed with Code Red's interest.

The guys at Code Red hunt around for obscure and lost thriller movies and I would take it that they call every lab or other place where a movie print, long gone, exists. That's how they found Ghostkeeper.

So, after 30 years, I was standing inside a recording studio called Private Island Trax, somewhere off Pico not far from Sony. With me were Riva Spier who played the lead and Murray Ord, an old friend, who played her boyfriend. I see Murray,who  lives in Calgary, often as I go there to visit friends and family. But I hadn't seen Riva in many years.

Murray and Riva hadn't seen each other in 30 years.

It was a great reunion for them and me and we spent the week-end hanging out and talking about the movie. In the years that followed, and the fanbase that was created, the movie got better for me, although some of the dialog is quite bad and I cringe at some of the lines I wrote.

But hey, it was my first feature script.

The commentary, for any of you who have never seen how it's done, is quite simple. We sat in a small recording studio, along with Jeff McKay, who was there for Code Red and who was ready to ask question if we left empty spaces of talk.

A great guy, Jason, handled the audio boards, all digital of course. Inside the studio we had mics for each of us, and earphones to listen to each other as well as the soundtrack.

On Friday I got the three of us together to look at Ghostkeeper at my place. The interesting thing here is that everyone had a different take on the whole thing, wanting to see the movie, not wanting to see it, interrupting each other, changing ideas and thoughts until it began to sound like total confusion. Opinions flew as to how it should be done. Finally we abandoned the screening and went out to a local bar.

But Sunday, we were ready.

It took maybe five or so minutes to "get it", a little bit of apprehension, but in no time we had it rolling. Since I knew more about the production side, I tended to say the most, dealing with camera issues, schedules, locations and other details. Murray really enjoyed it as did Riva once she got into it.

Riva probably spoke the least, considering that while she was the lead, she was pretty much a stranger in the production, as 99% of the cast and crew were from Calgary as was I and Riva came from Montreal at the last minute. Aside from myself and Murray and one or two other crewmembers, she was pretty much by herself.

The whole experience went well and at the end, everyone was still pretty excited, that lasted for several hours as we celebrated over again at Outtakes, a great little restaurant in Studio City.

It continued to have an air of unbelievability in some ways, a reunion for a lost and obscure movie made  years ago and a new lease on life for the movie through strange coincidences including 20-somethings who found poor quality copies of Ghostkeeper and passed the word around.

This most likely would not have happened in a pre-internet era. And of course, I'm not the only one who's movie has been discovered by horror/suspense fans, there are a lot of them.

Ghostkeeper is far from perfect, but it seems to resonate more now, maybe age has matured it, one advantage of our location  is that it isn't dated in the sense that there are no cars or cell phones in it and the snowmobiles that we used look pretty much the same as they do now.

But all three of us continue to be amazed at how this all came about and it's something that can't be taken away.

In addition to the commentary I'm getting an interview with John Holbrook, who filmed it and Georgie Collins, who wonderfully played a crazy woman. Georgie, incidentally is now 86 and when I spoke to her about the sequel, she said "I think I'd like to take on that old bird again".

Georgie will be in the new Ghostkeeper 2.