Monday, October 17, 2005

Eleven Questions with Jay Edwards

Jay Edwards is the director of Stomp! Shout! Scream!, which makes its world premiere at the Austin Film Festival this coming Friday. Jay, who also edits and produces Aqua Teen Hunger Force for the Williams Street Studios at Cartoon Network, took time away from his busy schedule of watching the Encore-Love Channel to answer a few questions for Blue Glow.

The monster in your movie is a skunk ape. What's a skunk ape?

Skunk ApeI grew up in Florida and went down to the Everglades to go fishing with my Dad every summer. He would always tell me stories about the Skunk Ape, things like, "See that tree and the way it's bent out over the water? Skunk Ape did that." "Ew, smell that? That's the Skunk Ape." Mostly stuff that makes no sense, but as an 8 year old, you never forget it. There have been several Skunk Ape sightings in the last few years right around Bradenton where we shot the movie, so obviously he's still out there.

Who was that in the skunk ape costume?

Ned Hastings, editor and producer at Williams Street. You might know him as "your host, Ned Hastings" from the Aqua Teen episode called Super Trivia. I cast Ned for a couple of reasons. As he puts it, he's "the largest mammal I know." At 6 foot 6 or something, he fills out a gorilla suit quite nicely. He's also a walking encyclopedia of film and just a great person to have on set. He's also someone from my every day life and I needed that to keep me from becoming a crazy person while we were shooting.

Did the suit make his dancing better or worse?

Yes absolutely.

Jay Edwards

Why would Adult Swim fans want to see "Stomp! Shout! Scream!" ?

Uh, not sure. I really made this for myself. It's a movie that I'd really want to see. It's not that I didn't have an audience in mind, I just wanted to do something that I'd be able to enjoy all the way through the process. So there's garage rock, monster, girls... all the good stuff. The film is described as a beach party rock and roll monster movie about an all-girl garage rock band and the legend of the Florida Skunk Ape. I think people will know right away whether that is something they would want to see.

(ATHF fans should also take note that in addition to Ned Hastings as the Skunk Ape, Dana "Master Shake" Snyder has a brief cameo in a Dodge Dart.)

What's the mind-altering chemical of choice at Williams Street?

Comedy. The Onion. Cigarettes. Most of Williams Street is out of their 20's, married, with a mortgage and some even have kids. We're not in the party crowd as much, but we can remember when we were.

What beach party movies did you most try to emulate in this picture?

I watched all the Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon AIP ones from the '60's-- Beach Party, Muscle Beach Party, Bikini Beach, Beach Blanket Bingo. They're supposed to be comedies, but they're painfully not funny anymore. I really just took the parts that I liked the look (bright, super-saturated colors), the extended live music scenes, and that moment late in the movie where Annette walks the beach singing a lonesome lament.

Which of the three main actresses has the best scream?

They're all very talented scream queens, amazingly so. Claire Bronson, the lead, was really the best. She's kind of reserved, kind of serious, but then when the time came, she just about broke the microphone.

Who did the film's music, and where can I get a copy on CD?

The songs played by the band in the movie were written and recorded by Atlanta band Catfight! ( The Stomp! Shout! Scream! soundtrack is tentatively scheduled to come out in January on Austin label Chicken Ranch Records. The other songs on the soundtrack are mostly previously released by the bands: The Woggles, The Hate Bombs, The Evidents, The Penetrators, The Vendettas, and Johnny Knox & HI-TEST. The score was written by Atlanta composer John Cerreta.

Where'd you get those great vintage cars?

It's amazing, but there's only 4 vintage cars in the whole movie the band's station wagon, John's Ford Fairlane, the Plymouth Police Car, and the Dodge Dart Swinger that's in only in one shot. The wagon belongs to TK, one of the grips on the shoot. The beautiful Ford Fairlane was borrowed from a retired St. Petersburg man who we found through an on-line Car Club. The police car is owned by the St. Pete Police Department and they loan it out for movie shoots. The Dart is from a friend of a friend of somebody who let us borrow it for the day for free. Production Designer Lisa Yeiser did an amazing job, especially considering our budget.

Jay Edwards with some of the set pieces from Space Ghost Coast to Coast

Be honest: how much of your "on location" shoot consisted of just enjoying the beach?

Zero for me. All the actors had a day or two off while we were in Florida, so they had it pretty good. I was on set all day everyday for the 5 days we were in Florida. The worst day? Leaving to shoot at Sarasota Jungle Gardens at 7 AM, shooting driving scenes that afternoon, then shooting in a St. Pete motel room until after 3 AM that night. Plus, I don't really like getting sandy and sunburned.

Will there be more monster movies from Jay Edwards?

Stomp! Shout! Scream! is the first of a Skunk Ape Trilogy. The next film will catch up with the main character, Theodora, five years later, 1971. Shes stuck in the Midwest, bartending at a honky tonk and playing in a country band. She falls in love again, but the Skunk Ape returns to terrorize her. In the third film, Theodora has escaped to Los Angeles. Its 1978 and shes in a punk band. The Skunk Ape tracks her down and terrorizes her once again. I'm working my way through all my favorite music genres. And its kind of the Sam Raimi school of film making. Make the same movie over and over again (i.e. Evil Dead, Evil Dead II) until you get really good at it.

Stomp! Shout! Scream! premieres at the Austin Film Festival on Friday, October 21st at 10:15 p.m. An encore screening will be held on Tuesday, October 25 at 9:30 p.m. Both screenings will be held at the Landmark Dobie Theater.


Blogger Nicholas said...

Here's a quick "small world" comment for you. One of the members of Catfight! is Jennifer Kraft (though she may have changed her name after marrying), a Decatur High School grad. I graduated with her sister Sarah.

6:46 PM  
Blogger Nicholas said...

Note: She's still Jennifer Kraft.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Christopher said...

Wait - that's THAT Jennifer Kraft?

8:57 PM  
Blogger maryk said...

What's weird to me is that there's 2 people on the same small film with the last name Kraft, with a "K." And we're not related. I'm Mary Kraft, and I was in the band--bass. Is Jennifer Kraft the bass player for Catfight?
would be even weirder.....


10:57 AM  
Blogger Stomp! Shout! Scream! said...

Hi Chris, Hi Mary-
Jennifer Kraft is married and now Jennifer Leavey and she plays guitar in Katfight!, er, Catfight!


1:42 PM  
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