The phone call I got late in 2005 will forever be etched in my brain.
As many movies as I hopefully do, I fear none will come close to that phone call… “You’re #1 at the box office!”
Here I am, 26 years old, and my very first movie, the second film in the Saw franchise, is referred to as a “blockbuster” within the first week.
Fuck. Is this really happening?
But luck was on my side. I received the same phone call two more times—in 2006 and 2007. Three movies; three times at the top of the box office. Life is good, but am I at the top of my game at 28? Is everything downhill from this point? Where do I go from here?
I know: I should go out and make a rock opera starring Paris Hilton and Sarah Brightman… and have the entire movie done in song and dance! That will surely rule the box office yet again!
The sad fact is, no matter how great Repo! The Genetic Opera is, my reign as the box office champion is about to fall.
The good news is that I have not only accepted this, but embraced this fact as a new challenge: Take the tricks I learned on Saw and apply them to a little indie film that has about .000001 percent of the awareness of the last three movies in which I was involved.
I used to think that having a large budget, a great brand name and an “event” release day was all one needed for success. But I have come to the realization in the last year that that is not the case.
Repo! The Genetic Opera is a rock opera featuring the singing talents of Paul Sorvino, Anthony Stewart Head and Alexa Vega, among other unique and crazy cast members.
But why? Why Repo!? Why now? At a time in my life when I should be capitalizing on the success of this major horror franchise I helped create, why play Russian roulette with my career?
The answer is simple: It’s why I got into making movies in the first place—to take people to places where they normally would never go… A world of organ repossession set to song and dance is something I have never seen—and it’s a trip on which I would like to go!
I vividly remember the conversations we had on an almost daily basis amongst the students when I was in film school: If ever given the chance, we would break the mold of these cookie-cutter, factory-made movies that are churned out and pushed on us every week. We’d show everyone that there is a place for unique, outside-of-the-box movies.
Go open the paper or log onto Moviefone. The majority of movies out right now are carbon copies of ones we have all seen over and over and over again. While they might have a new name and be repackaged in new boxes, the majority are nothing more than stale copycat movies we have all seen… numerous times!
Ahhh, how young and stupid we were. What we failed to realize was the reason so many of these carbon copy movies are made is that they make money! And we must not forget we are in the movie business. For me, Repo! is a plea to movie fans like myself.
While the majority of the Hollywood population gauges the success of a movie on the opening weekend box office (God knows I did), I think success can be found another way.
Getting Repo! made has been the hardest obstacle of my life. It’s a little movie with a small budget and no marketing dollars to promote it—and for good reason. Who really wants to see a rock opera? A true, 21st-century opera? All singing, all the time?
Well, I do, for one.
That began the drive. With the success of the last three years, I had an opportunity few moviemakers do: I had the chance to make something different. Something insane. Something, dare I say it, unique.
But how can Repo! be successful if it’s only playing in a handful of theaters? This, readers, is where the fun begins.
Repo! has become my life. I eat, sleep and bleed this movie. From grassroots and the ground up, we are spreading our little infection. Here comes the kicker: People are catching it!
No money, no marketing budget, no problem!
We have something the “business” part of the movie business forgets about: Passion.
It’s all about who you surround yourself with, so the creators and I have surrounded ourselves with the greatest crew and actors in the world.
Three months ago, no one really knew anything about Repo! Now there is an army of loyal Repo! fans.
We have had a couple of early screenings where people show up dressed liked the characters, singing songs from the movie and dancing in the aisles.
A little movie. A passion project for all those who made it. It doesn’t have Saw money or Saw marketing dollars, but somehow we are proving that we can break the mold.
How does one judge the success of his or her movies? Well, my opinion has changed. In the case of Repo!, just getting the movie made is a success. Everything else that is about to happen is just icing on the cake.