Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bones Brigade

I used to skateboard, in middle school and high school. I wasn't anything near great, probably not even close to good, but I strongly enjoyed it. I spent more time in empty parking lots than I did in skate parks, however I did frequent the parks from time to time. More than anything else, I just liked to pop a cassette in my walkman (often special skate mix tapes I made) and shred around. All this came to an end in 2000, when I was 15, after a serious skateboarding accident (skull, meet concrete). I skated here and there afterwords, but it's safe to say my mom wasn't the most excited about me being back on a board.

I still have two boards, even rode them a few times in 2012, probably more than I have in the last ten years combined. Even though I hold no place in the skateboarding community, I'm still connected to it, still like it. A lot, actually.

Tonight I was in the mood for a documentary, wasn't really feeling the ones I had in my Netflix instant queue. Scrolling through other titles available, I saw Bones Brigade: An Autobiography, and knew my searching was over. I knew who the Bones Brigade were, seen the videos, knew the skaters, but I wasn't aware there was a documentary coming out, let alone that it was directed by Stacy Peralta.

110 minutes later, I'm floored. Without a doubt, the best docu I've seen all year. Yes, I'm drawn to the subject matter, I have an interest in it, but this is put together so incredibly well, and the story is told just perfectly. Not by our own fault, but we take so much in our lives for granted. We don't always think about how something came to be, or how monumental an achievement/moment/idea was when it wasn't already established. I'd go as far to say that my knowledge of skateboarding history is decent, not academic by any means, but sufficient. That knowledge was acquired through magazines, books, videos, and other skaters. Hearing it from the voices that lived it, the ones that wrote the book, if you will, is remarkable.

Find out for yourself, seek this one out.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

We Dine On Visions With New Eyes

After working all day at the legendary (okay, maybe it's not exactly legendary, but it will be!) House of Heroes Comics and Games Day After Christmas Sale, the staff feasted at Red Robin for a post-sale celebration. For those that might not know, Red Robin is a loud sit-down burger joint, framed posters and photos covering every inch of wall space, unlimited steak fries, and you can substitute veggie patties on any sandwich for free (huge bonus). Anywho, it's a common restaurant, usually is quite occupied, and they play a plethora of friendly tunes through the loudspeakers. That last part is key here.

As we're mowing down on our burgers and fries (and I'm on my umpteenth iced tea), pop hits from the '80s serenade the establishment. Think of any radio pop song from the decade, chances are it played. As one song came to its end, the first note of the next started. From that very note, I thought, "What, The Misfits?! No, can't be." The song continued, "No way, it's not. Nope." Next thing I know, I'm mouthing the opening line, "This street we walk upon…"

I was in complete and utter disbelief. Cough/Cool was indeed playing at Red Robin. After those two minutes and a few seconds seconds of musical bliss, we went back to regular scheduled programming, with something like Duran Duran.

Moral of the story; if you go to Red Robin, you have a chance of hearing The Misfits. Even the smallest chance is better than none, right? Unreal.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


I co-wrote/directed a film, Dead Weight, that was released earlier this year, if you didn't know. We've been traveling the country promoting it at cons and festivals. In fact, we've even won some awards and received other nominations. Check 'em out!

Best Feature - Madison Horror Film Festival 2012
Best Writer - Madison Horror Film Festival 2012
Best Cinematography - Madison Horror Film Festival 2012
Best Editing - Elvira's Horror Hunt 2012
Juror Award - Central Wisconsin Film Festival 2012

Best Feature - New Orleans Horror Film Festival 2012
Best Actor - New Orleans Horror Film Festival 2012
Best Horror - Great Lakes Int'l Film Festival 2012

I'm (still) super proud of everyone who worked on this film. Mega congrats to the entire Dead Weight family!

Still haven't seen this award-winning film (boy, that's so weird to say)? Well, now's the best time to order; we're running a sale on all Dead Weight merch until the end of the year. All you gotta do is pop over to the Head Trauma Productions store!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Inspiring Scares

Fellow Wisconsinite horror gurus, Slasher Studios, put together a series called Inspiring Scares, where each day of October they have an indie horror filmmaker discuss what inspired them not to be just a horror fan, but filmmaker as well. They were kind enough to include me in the series, along with thirty other fantastic individuals, and you can read what I had to say here! I'll give you a clue, it involves water and a cabin. No surprise there, right?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Milwaukee Will Feel The Weight

Three years ago this month, Adam and I began causally discussing what would become the script now known as Dead Weight. This morning the news broke on something that is beyond humbling and flattering at the same time.

Dead Weight has been selected to screen at the Milwaukee Film Festival.

The MFF is an international festival, featuring titles from all over the world. Some contain household names, and most have budgets much bigger than ours. Yet, by the power of Greyskull, Dead Weight is among these films. This is a huge achievement for all of us in the Dead Weight family, and the state of Wisconsin. I am extremely proud of everyone single person who gave their all to make this film a reality, and thankful for everyone who supported it in anyway over these last three years.

We've spent months traveling around the US to take Dead Weight everywhere we can. In September, we bring it back home.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dead Weight Ramblings at Chicago Comic Con

While promoting Dead Weight at Chicago Comic Con, The Walking Dead Fan Club pulled Adam and I aside to let us give some insight on the production of Dead Weight. And, like total goobers, we simultaneously nod when given the thumbs up to start. Check it out for yourself if you don't believe me.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I Didn't Come Here To Die, Did You?

A few years back, my first film, Better Off Undead, screened at the Wildwood Film Festival in Appleton, WI alongside other Wisconsin made projects. One of those projects, an incredibly over the top and fun action short, Stache, caught my eye. As it turns out, Bradley Sullivan, the writer/director, went to high school with my girlfriend at the time.

Skip ahead to late 2009/early 2010. Suddenly I catch wind of a new horror flick, I Didn't Come Here To Die, making a huge splash on the festival circuit. Off to youtube I went to catch the trailer, and low and behold, Bradley Sullivan's name is attached as writer/director. No shit?

When it came time to schedule the second Oshkosh Horror Film Festival, I reached out to Bradley about screening IDCHTD. As luck would have it, not only did we screen it, but it was also the Wisconsin premiere. Yay, Oshkosh!

Now, thanks to Level 33 Entertainment, I Didn't Come Here To Die will finally be hitting selected theater this October. I'm super pleased and happy for Bradley and company, and strongly urge everyone to support not only this film, but all the original and independent film as you can.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Things Are About To Get Nerdy

Over at Kitley's Krypt, they have a little something called Cinematic Crosswords, where four fanatics (along with a special guest) discuss a horror flick that seems to divide fans. This time around, they not only tackled a personal favorite of mine, Cabin Fever, but asked me to join in the conversation. Get happy on the link to see five nerds verbally battle over all that is Cabin Fever. And yes, things get quite wordy.

Sit in on the cinematic circle jerk (of sorts)!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Smaller City That Could

This time around, I'm going to touch upon a topic very dear to me. Something I am very proud of. Something I fight for. Something I'll ramble on and on about it if you ask me to. Something that, on certain days, I want to write off, but can't because my love is way too strong for it. That something is the place I call my home, and that place being Oshkosh, WI.

I was not born in Oshkosh, rather Myrtle Beach, SC. However, shortly after my birth, my father got a job at Buckstaff Co., one of the last remaining lumber mills in Oshkosh (if my facts are correct, I believe Oshkosh at one time had somewhere around twenty-six in the early 1900s, earning the nickname "Sawdust City"). So, the Patas, with my mom being from Chicago and my dad from Cleveland, moved to Wisconsin in 1984. I don't remember Myrtle Beach whatsoever, my earliest memories are from Oshkosh, which makes it kind of weird when people ask if I am originally from Oshkosh. Yes? No? Maybe? Perhaps, better yet, it's complicated.

Let's look at the city of Oshkosh, WI for a minute now. With a population of approximately 65,000, Oshkosh is located in Northeastern Wisconsin (even though it's much more eastern than north, but that's besides the point), as part of the Fox Valley. For those who don't think Oshkosh is part of the Fox Valley, yes, Oshkosh is. The FOX River runs through the city, basically splitting it in half, ending in Oshkosh. The Fox Valley is named that because of the Fox River, see how it works? Anyway, we are about 75 miles due north of MIlwaukee, and 50 miles south of Green Bay. That explanation usually works, seeing how most people have heard of the Brewers and the Packers. 

Oshkosh has the third largest Wisconsin university (enrollment being approx. 16,000), appropriately named the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, which is where I graduated from. We are located on the western shore of Lake Winnebago, the largest inland lake in the country (outside of the Great Lakes). Oshkosh was once known for Oshkosh B' Gosh (which I was a child model for, thank you very much), but sadly, the overalls aren't made in town anymore. Yearly, Oshkosh hosts EAA's AirVenture, a week long gathering and convention for Experimental Aircrafts and Aviation. During the week of AirVenture, the once used Wittman Airport becomes the busiest airport in the world, due to the amount of air traffic. America's oldest independent record store, The Exclusive Co., resides in downtown Oshkosh, alongside other fantastic local businesses. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Confessions of a Comic Book Nerd

Many years ago, on a routine visit to the illustrious House of Heroes (I know I'm biased, but seriously, it's one of the best comic book stores ever) in downtown Oshkosh, I happened to notice the first issue of a comic book sitting on the shelf, The Walking Dead. Hmm. I grabbed the issue, flipped through it. Hey, it's a zombie book. I like zombies. Wow, this black and white artwork fucking rules, though. Alright, I'll give it a shot. 

Holy shit, the artwork was amazing. Seriously, these are some of the best looking panels I've ever seen. Who the hell is the artist? Tony Moore… Who the fuck is Tony Moore?!

Being a new name to me, I had to find more from this guy. Then I discovered Battle Pope and Brit. That was pretty much enough to seal the deal, I had me one hell of a nerd boner for this guy's work. 

In August of 2005, fellow comic nerds and myself ventured just outside of Chicago, Rosemont to be exact, to attend Wizard World Chicago, three days of nothing but comics, friends, foxy girls dressed up in costumes that I was too nervous to talk to (but would pose like an idiot to get a photo taken with them), and more people crammed into one hotel room than humanly possible. Now, if memory serves me correctly, it was Thursday night, the night before the con opened, and we all arrived at the hotel, checked in, and headed to the hotel lobby with our coolers in tow. 

This is when things got really nerdy. 

I was aware that some of my buddies knew Tony from the cons, and there was going to be a good chance I was going to meet the guy. Oh, boy, what am I going to say? It was just like when you think you are going to see the girl you have a crush on, and finally decide you are going to talk to her. You get all nervous and flustered. Talk about pathetic fanboy, huh? All of us are hanging out, being childish and shit (like we normally are) when Tony and his girlfriend (now wife), Kara, arrive. I know this sounds ridiculous as shit, and I don't even care. I really started freaking out, but was doing my best to keep my cool. I don't get "star struck", or nervous to talk to anyone really (except for said girls in costumes), but this guy was, essentially, an idol of mine. As I stood a solid twenty to thirty feet away from him, I was talking to a friend about what to do. I didn't want to geek out on him, "Oh my god, I fucking love your work! The way you pay attention to detail is absurd! Your grey tones are outstanding!" You can't say that, that's lame and generic as shit. 

Mr. Moore and myself during that magical weekend.
Around this point, Kara walks up and, keep in mind this is my first time meeting her, and finds out how I'm having an nerd overload. She's all, "Just go talk to him." I'm all, "I will, I will… In a bit". What does she do? Grabs my arm, drags me over and pushes me right in front of Tony. "Tony, this guy is freaking out cause you're here", she says. Oh, fuck. No getting out of this now. Shit, shit, shit. What to say? Think, John. Think!

"Hey, I really like your art."

You total fucking idiot! Really?! Good one, dumbshit. Tony replies, "Cool. I like your shirt" (I was wearing a Leftover Crack shirt). How do I respond? "Yeah, I like them." Palm, meet face. I eventually gathered my composure and was able to have "normal" conversation, yet I was getting pretty fanboyish. 

Through all of this, somehow Tony wasn't creeped out/annoyed and actually willingly talked to me. And it didn't end once the con was over, either. We exchanged info, communicated through email and over the phone, and then saw each other yearly at the con. Over the years, I got to know Tony and Kara quite well, actually, and am super proud to call them both friends. 

Where am I going with this? Why am I blatantly drawing attention to the fact how much of a dork I am? If it isn't obvious by now, I am a enormous Tony Moore fan. He is, without a doubt, my favorite comic book artist. Not just comic book artist, but artist as a whole. I buy books just because he does the insides and/or covers. Original Battle Pope pages hang in my office. I have his artwork tattooed on me. Hell, I even wrote a paper about him for a figure drawing class in college. Wow, I am just making myself sound even more pathetic now, aren't I?

Regardless, as you can imagine, when I opened the email containing Tony's artwork for the variant cover of the Dead Weight DVD, I lost my shit. I've received the artwork over eight hours ago, and I continue to look at it. Over, and over, and over. Even though we are friends now, and have been for years, one thing hasn't changed; I am still a fucking nerd for Tony Moore's artwork. 

Seeing this, and knowing it was created for the film myself, Adam, and many of my favorite people in the world made… I don't even know what to say. It's surreal beyond belief. Surreal and nerdgasmic.

Find out about Tony's awesome artwork here!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

It's Been So Long

People of the blog world! Well, of my blog world, I suppose... That is, if anyone reads this. I have neglected you for far too long. As the total completion of Dead Weight nears (about a week away, friends!), 100% of my time has been spent editing, rendering, encoding, exporting... Yeah, you (hopefully) get the idea. What I am trying to say is that life's been hectic as hell lately, and I haven't been compelled to blog because, chances are, I would just have been bitching about how stressed out I am. No one wants to read that, right?

So, here's my promise to you (if anyone cares). Once these DVD masters are sent out, I will be posting much more frequently. Especially once we get Dead Weight out there, I am going to be traveling a whole hell of a lot, and I expect my journeys will provide me with much to share. Not only that, I hope to be not as stressed and bogged down. Time will tell, I suppose.

In the meantime, be sure to watch this news segment. It's important to stay informed on the crazy turn of events, or events that will be happening all too soon. As in March 30th.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Palmer Failed

I love The Thing. Now, I know people say "I love" all the damn time, and it usually applies to impracticable things. However, I can't stress it enough, I love The Thing. What if The Thing was told in two minutes, would I still be as into as I am? Throw some crazy aspect, like, oh, claymation in the mix, and who knows what's could happen. What's that? Oh, yeah, your right. The Thing told in two minutes, in claymation, is below!