Tim Sullivan Talks CHILLERAMA and WEREBEAR!
[With I WAS A TEENAGE WEREBEAR playing film festivals and CHILLERAMA set to debut later this year, Tim Sullivan writes up the first of two parts, regarding his experiences bringing this unique film to life! --DQM]
As I write this, I am sitting in my hotel room in Honolulu, one day before the world premiere of my Chillerama segment, I Was a Teenage Werebear at the Rainbow Film Fest.. It’s been a long journey to get to this point. I am grateful to so many who supported my journey, and even more grateful to those who did not, for they only strengthened my fortitude to be true to myself, and to my artistic vision. Hawaii will be followed by a 3 month tour on the LGBT film circuit, before Werebears joins its companion films as part of Chillerama late summer/early fall. (I cannot WAIT to tell you what me, Adam Rifkin, Joe Lynch and Adam Green got planned for THAT!!!!)
With the ocean breeze wafting through the balcony windows, I find myself in a reflective mode. For those who don’t already know it, let me just spell it out. I’m gay. Yup. G-A-Y. GAY! Feels weird saying it so bluntly and to such a large audience after spending two and a half decades in the proverbial closet my first 25 years. Between being a monster kid and a closet case, it was kinda tough living secretly in a world where no one would blink twice at a really good ‘fag’ joke told round the holiday dinner table, or your High School gym coach would generate laughter in lieu of reprimand for calling you ‘queer’ just cause you excelled more at writing horror stories then catching a baseball.
Long before the days of Facebook and Glee (lol), I had zero success when it came to finding others in my “tribe”. And so- I delved deeper into the world of my beloved monsters, relating deeply to the classic creatures like Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Phantom, Quasimodo, King Kong, The Creature from the Black Lagoon—Monsters not by choice but by rejection. Rejection for what they looked like, who they where, who they dared to love. Think about it. Of course I would relate to Frankenstein’s creation- rejected by his creator in the same way I faced rejection by religious Bible thumpers telling me MY creator, G-O-D, rejected me for my very soul. Of course Frankenstein’s monster would turn ballistic and force his creator to give him a “mate”. And then The Phantom, poor shunned Eric. Disfigured in flesh, but within his heart, the music of love and passion begging to be accepted and shared by another. Only by hiding his face and living in the shadows could he bestow his gift upon his muse, Christine- only to have her give that gift instead to the bland but “normal” Raoul. This is how I felt about every guy I ever had a crush on- yearning from the shadows, my feelings hidden behind a mask of “straight”. And then, absolutely hell yeah, Count Dracula and his vampire brethren held a particularly hallowed place in my heart. What gay boy or girl has not fantasized being a vampire, able to “turn” mortal into vampire with a single bite? Ah, if only a single bite could have brought me companions those first lonely 25 years.
It’s a new era now. And I find myself blessed as a filmmaker to actually be able to contribute to the roster of ‘famous monsters’ that inspired me. Having come out of the closet as ‘gay’, and out of the coffin as “horror geek”, I make it a point to not hide any more. And that includes my art. My films. So far, whether it be the openly bisexual Ricky (Brian Gross) in 2001 Maniacs, the not so open Falcon (Trevor Wright) in Field of Screams, or Driftwood‘s storyline of a youth prison haunted by the ghost of a murdered gay inmate, I have not shied away from this aspect of my personality. That being said, such themes and characters in my films have only been elements- not the main focus.
Gather round, kiddies. We bring you Chillerama! Yup- an homage to the Drive-In flicks that we all grew up with, Chillerama is a love letter written by myself and my creative partners in crime, Adam Rifkin, Joe Lynch and Adam Green. For the last two years, the four of us have been working on this baby quietly and in between all our other projects, and now it’s almost ready to be unleashed! Upon YOU!
Back in 1998 during post-production on Detroit Rock City (gotta say it- years before Grindhouse), Rif and I dreamed up the ultimate anthology movie we, ourselves, would want to see (check out Brad Parker’s 1999 promo art above). It was originally gonna be called Famous Monsters Of FIlmland: The Movie, but when the rights to the magazine fell through, we changed the title to Chillerama, briefly setting it up with Gene Simmons as a pilot that never got made at MTV. Cut to ten years later, me and Rif are grabbing burgers with Joe and Green at The Rainbow Room on Sunset Blvd, and we start telling them all about Chillerama when giant light bulbs explode over everybody’s heads all at once. Rif and I look at each other with big smiles- Who better to make Chillerama with then Joe Lynch and Adam ‘fucking’ Green! Both these guys embody the down and dirty Indie spirit of filmmaking. Both absolutely LOVE the cheezy flicks we are paying homage to. And so- there on Sunset Blvd, a horror “supergroup” was born.
The idea behind the project was for each of us to make our own “solo album” like KISS did back in the day when each member went off and did a very personal record of music they more then likely would not have done as part of KISS. We also wanted to push the envelope and make a movie we knew traditional Hollywood would never let us make. Thank God for producer Mark Ward, who produced Green’s Hatchet and Frozen while at Anchor Bay, and who now is at Image Entertainment and believed in us and Chillerama and got Image behind it before cameras even rolled. This film is by the fans and for the fans. And it is from our collective hearts. And in keeping with that, the other three guys encouraged my to embrace the “gay”! I cannot tell you how amazing it is to have three people I respect as both artists and human beings, successful working filmmakers in the genre, who INSISTED that I go full guns in what would be one fourth of a mainstream genre flick. Quite ground breaking, I must say. So kudos to Adam Rifkin, Joe Lynch and Adam Green for supporting me. In fact, it was Lynch and Green who came up with the concept of the titular Werebears- the idea being that my segment would be about closeted pretty boys who transform into bestial leather daddies. I think the below pictures pretty much say it all.
END OF PART ONE!
NEXT TIME, CHILLERAMA CONFIDENTIAL PART TWO!
Till then, check out the FIRST EVER SEEN FOOTAGE from I Was a Teenage Werebear on this week’s edition of SNR TV below. It’s a clip we pulled for the Festival circuit, a little tease to wet the ol’ appetite with MUCH MORE to come the approaching weeks.
THIS WEEK ON SNR TV: FIRST FOOTAGE: Tim Sullivan’s I Was a Teenage Werebear!
Created for the LGBT Film Festival circuit where it’s currently making the rounds, this musical clip from I Was a Teenage Werebear (Tim Sullivan’s segment of the upcoming horror comedy anthology Chillerama) mashes Grease and Twilight as Scream Queens winner Gabby West learns the hard way her angst ridden fella Sean Paul Lockhart (aka Brent Corrigan), doesn’t exactly have eyes for her. Don’t Look Away!