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Hot Pink Jaysen

Nov 29th, 2011 | By | Category: Misc, News

Hot Pink JesusSelf-described actor, writer, director, producer, musician, drummer, model, and artist Jaysen Buterin burst onto the Greensboro film scene in 2006 when he and co-conspirators James Evan Wade and Jennie Prince founded Mad Ones Films so they could compete in that year’s 48 Hour Film Project. The result of their collaboration was the gory and sweet short Z-Day: A Fantastic Zombie Love Story. Since then the trio have created 15 short films ranging from Zombie PSAs to slasher/comedies. I was lucky enough to interview the filmmaker.

Where did the idea for Mad Ones Films come from? When did it get started?

The idea for Mad Ones Films was the loudmouthed libertine lovechild of a torrid two-day love affair between the 2006 Greensboro 48 Hour Film Project and a band of renaissance Gen-X gypsies known loosely as “the Mad Ones”. The genesis of the already overactive imaginations and the askew universe views of me and two co-workers (Jennie Rikkola and James Evan Wade), the “Mad Ones” were born through our lunchtime conversations and collaborations. It was during these midday machinations that all manner of pop culture was the dish du jour, and often ending with the phrase, “well, this is how we’d do it better.” So we decided to see if we could do just that.

Running like a bat out of hell before we learned to walk, let alone crawl, a last-minute change of cinematic plans propelled us to the finish line of the 48 Hour Film Project with a copy of Z-Day in hand, a film for which we were awarded an “Honorable Mention for Best Writing.” Adding fuel to an already frenzied fire we dove headfirst into making movies and have never looked back since. From that point on we became the “inmates running the cinematic asylum”. Five years later it has been a nonstop madcap adventure as we descend deeper down the rabbit hole in pursuit of the dark arts known as independent filmmaking.

 

What are some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on?

Hmmm, like any proud parent I should probably say that I love all my cinematic children equally, and that really is true, but some just can’t help but be a wee bit more fun than others. Flipper Stripper Vixens at the Inferno A-Go-Go!!! was just a bombastically badass set to be on but then, how could it not be, when you have a bevy of scantily-clad, body-painted, beautiful women holding giant guns and suddenly bursting into go-go dancing grindhouse goodness?

Heads were rolling on the set of The Decapitator, because not only did I get to direct the bloody brilliant deaths of several close friends, but we were able to pull together what would become an award-winning horror short film in just three days… oh, and we made my good friend Christian Exoo vomit up the cocktail of corn syrup and fake blood that we made him drink six takes in a row. Good times. But it’s been our latest project, the titillating, theorizing, tantalizing trilogy known as The Gospel According to Booze, Bullets & Hot Pink Jesus that has become my prized (diabolical) prodigal!

Anyone that knows me, knows of me, or has generally been within earshot of me knows of my profound predilection for tits and tacos. So for the HPJ Trilogy I created “Max Diablo’s Tits & Taco-Rama” which is, quite literally, a topless taco bar where anything and everything goes. Naturally this was a dream come true for me (and everyone else on set that night who went home with magic memories of mammaries and munchies, after being “forced” for hours on end, and without pay I might add, to eat tacos, listen to rock & roll and stare at a squadron of sultry swirlie-girlies sans tops.) It almost broke my heart to tell them that we’ll have to re-create that same wild world for a major scene in Act II… almost.

 

How do you go about raising money and gathering a cast/crew for your projects?

Oh we’re supposed to raise money… dammit, so that’s what we’ve been doing wrong! I’ve always felt that what makes Mad Ones Films unique in what we do is the spectacular sum of our parts. We have a lot of fun on set while working our collective arses off and I think that people see that positive (and perhaps prurient) energy, as well as the sheer professionalism of our end-product, and they want to be a part of that. There are a lot of kind souls out there who have donated their time, talent, locations, possessions (to use as props), and services because they believe in what we’re doing.

We have yet to figure out the whole “raising money” side of the business but as we get bigger and better with each passing picture we’re gaining more attention and more exposure, and dammit to hell, that’s just got to pay off! In many ways it already has. After Act I was filmed, we were blessed to find a patron saint that believed in me and the Mad Ones with such ferocity and faith that she helped us finance Act III and beyond. Now if we can just find 665 more sinners that want to donate to the cause, save their soul and guarantee their sainthood*, we’ll be absolutely aces!

(*Mad Ones Films does not actually, technically, guarantee that your soul will be saved, per se, but c’mon… every little bit helps, right?)

 

How did the idea for Hot Pink Jesus come about and how has it evolved since its first inception?

The idea for Hot Pink Jesus all started with a hit & run holiday with my wife in Phoenix several years ago. I met one of her friends who, mere moments later, bestowed upon me the gift of the original HPJ, a little plastic statue (they’re now covered in velvet) about 18-inches long with a magic 8 ball-like oracle in the bottom that she was convinced I should have. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with him but after a series of quite perplexing looks from the airport security wondering just what this messiah-shaped phallic device was in my carry-on bag, I brought him home where he adorned our mantle, patiently waiting, for his cinematic second coming.

We did the 48 Hour Film Project again in 2007, where I wrote a dark and twisted, gritty and witty noir comedy called Booze, Bullets & Hot Pink Jesus, (a story that would eventually be expanded greatly to become the final act of the trilogy). Tragically, and for reasons that still escape us (though I have my suspicions), we didn’t win anything that year but now that this little pink messiah was in my head, it was clear he was never leaving.

I’ve always had a lifelong love affair with The Twilight Zone, especially with how Rod Serling was able to write and create these cosmically surreal stories that would dance so close along the periphery of reality that one must ask, “what if it actually could happen?” So I’d find myself belly-up to a bar scribbling all sorts of napkin scenarios of various sundry settings, elements and characters coming into contact with this little pink idol that could change their fortunes, predict their futures, be the savior of their bad behavior. I soon realized that there were too many stories I wanted to tell so that one short film wouldn’t be enough… it had to be a trilogy.

Taking a cue from Mr. Serling, whose stories always had a poignant and powerful theme lying just beneath the surface, each act in this trilogy would center on its own theme – revenge, lust, and faith. I can only presume that the divine intervened because several months later an award-ignored short film had transubstantiated into a holy trinity of screenplays – each one a big bang in its own separate freestanding universe, but also overlapping in various capacities and characters to tell one hell of a gospel story.

How has filming for Hot Pink Jesus come along?

To say that the HPJ Trilogy has been a labor of love would be an understatement of biblical proportions, but then again, if we didn’t love it (and him) so damn much then we would just stop doing it. We started filming Act I: The Missionary Man back in November of 2009 and thought we’d be done in no time. Soon afterwards the lead “actress” (and yes, I use that term as loosely as the screws that were turning in her head) was let go due to “creative differences” (did I mention she was batshit crazy?). We took a bit of a hiatus to throw out the proverbial casting nets, soon found our new honkey-tonk heroine, and shooting started all over again.

We filmed Act I on three separate weekends over the course of four or five months and it turned out to be the best thing we’ve ever shot… until we got to Act III: Have Faith, Will Travel. Now you may be asking yourselves, “Selves, what the hell happened to number two?” and then you should giggle because you said “number two.” We fully intended to proceed directly to Act II (which is the biggest entry in the series, in every cinematic sense of the word) but another casting snafu threatened to derail us completely, so rather than sacrifice anything just for the sake of getting it done right now, we decided to do it right.

So it’s been almost two years and we’re just finishing up post-production on Act III for a world premiere early next year. Part of the problem, as it often is in real life, is real life. Since we don’t quite yet have the luxury of being able to properly pay cast/crew to take off work, we have to operate in the hazy, shady gray area of people’s “free time”. This means things might take just a little bit longer but with the collective mad geniuses that we have assembled, they not only exceed my expectations but they buy my expectations a drink and shag them six ways from Sunday. Anything worth doing is worth doing right and I think once people see Act III, they’re going to find their faith again.

 

What’s the film scene like in Greensboro?

The film scene in Greensboro and, to a greater extent, the Piedmont Triad (although I’ve found that calling it “the Devil’s Triad” is just much more fun to say), is quite impressive in its diversity and its vivacity. It really does span the entire cinematic spectrum, ranging from the proverbial no budget/low-budget DIY ethos of indie films covering every genre imaginable (even by Netflix) all the way to the major motion pictures coming in to town. While there are new players joining the game every day, it’s still a close-knit community where almost everyone who’s making a movie has worked on someone else’s set to help them make their own film.

For the most part I’d say it’s a very mutually beneficial collaborative environment where reciprocity and creativity run hand in hand, which also keeps the bar highly set for friendly competition as well as assistance. Filmmakers in Greensboro have quite an advantage because we also have organizations like the Piedmont Triad Film Commission and Triad Indie Film Network in our own backyard providing a tremendous amount of resources for filmmakers, regardless if you’re professional, amateur, some combination of the two, or just having fun.

 

What are some projects you have lined up for the future?

Oh, Mad Ones Films has so many wild and wonderful things to show you, dear world, you have no idea! Of course we have to finish up the HPJ Trilogy with Act II, which is on the slate for early 2013 so we can finally put our velveteen Nazarene friend to bed. I just wrote a lovely little campfire ghost story without the campfire that will be our horror homage to Creepshow/Tales from the Crypt that we’re hoping to film this spring. We’ve also got some rock & roll videos lined up for next year as well but a large part of 2012 (aside from hoping real hard that the world doesn’t go tits up) will be devoted to promoting Act III: Have Faith, Will Travel.

Beyond that, I’m researching a dream project with a good actor/director friend of mine, Michael Williams, that will be a feature-length grindhouse adaptation of a very classic, very bloody, very quixotic love story. I’m also working on another feature-length script that I’ve had on the backburner of my brain for many moons now – something that I don’t think a lot of people will see coming from the inmates running the cinematic asylum… a romance comedy (DUNH DUNH DUNH!!!) And we always have a slew of side projects going on with our various members too, so there’s always something in some stage of production at some point – no rest for the wicked, right?

 

Ideally, what kind of film would you want to make if money, resources, time, etc. wasn’t an issue?

Ahh yes, the intoxicating and liberating beauty of utopia… well, without the hindrance of the space-time continuum or such seemingly trivial yet slightly legally important and binding restraints such as money, budgets or investors, I would really love the carte blanche to do a period piece… well, several period pieces. As a faithful acolyte of the Beat Generation I’ve always felt that was a whole genre of literature just rife with cinematic possibilities that has only just recently begun to be explored with reverence and cadence to the canon.

Of course, since we’re playing in Imagination Land anyway I would also love to spend some time in Arthurian lore making a fantasy epic with an ensemble cast, budget and digital FX team that would make Peter Jackson slink back to Mordor in shame at never being able to dare to dream to rival it on screen. I would absolutely love to do a proper spaghetti western and then there’s my amaranthine obsession with Edgar Allen Poe – the man, his stories, his mysterious demise, so I’ve always wanted to open up a window into that particular world as well.

 

In a similar vein, what actors, directors, cinematographers would you like to work with? Doesn’t matter if they’re currently alive or dead.

Number one with a bullet – a bullet from another dimension, that is – has got to be Rod Serling. That man was such a profound and prolific storyteller, on so many different levels, I would do damn near anything for a chance to hang out on a Twilight Zone set. [Crosses arms and waits patiently for Faustian dealer, who should look like Burgess Meredith, to present himself.] I’ve had a big boy film crush on Robert Rodriguez ever since I saw Desperado and learned the story of “El Mariachi”, so he’s definitely up there. After that…

Rob Zombie’s been a rock & roll picture show hero of mine since the early days of White Zombie, but since I often get confused for his doppelganger, I’m sure there’s some sort of “same matter/same space” Timecop quantum theory that would prevent that from happening, but still… and then there’s Joss Whedon of course, Vincent Price, John Hughes, John Landis, John Carpenter (in 1978 on the set of Halloween), Bela Lugosi/Boris Karloff/Lon Chaney, Jr., Jim Henson, Stephen Moffat, the entire Monty Python troupe, Christopher Lee, Christopher Walken, Edward James Olmos, Danny Trejo, Tina Fey, Johnny Depp, George Romero, Broken Lizard, Jason Carter, Ed Douglas & Milla Jovovich.

If you want to contact Jaysen or follow him and his work you can use the following links:

www.madonesfilms.com

www.hotpinkjesus.com

www.youtube.com/madonesfilms

www.facebook.com/madonesfilms

www.twitter.com/madonesfilms

www.answermejesus.com

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