I’ve long felt that the book trailer is one of the most underdeveloped promotional forms we have, in terms of reaching out to smart people who love cool shit, but have no online incentive to suggest that reading is as cool as movies, TV, music, video games, or just yelling at each other interminably.
And this personally bugs the fuck out of me, because great books are frankly the coolest; and the more you read them, the both cooler and smarter you get. A double-win, by any standard.
A couple of months back, I did Part I of this enquiry, featuring original trailers for Devora Gray’s HUMAN FURNITURE, Laura Lee Bahr’s LONG-FORM RELIGIOUS PORN, and Danger Slater’s I WILL ROT WITHOUT YOU.
Now we’re launching a psychedelic video mind-bomb I directed in celebration of Autumn Christian’s extraordinary bizarro sf/horror collection ECSTATIC INFERNO. It’s a project I’ve spent nearly six months developing — a little bit here, a little bit there — in an attempt to visually and sonically capture the full range of Autumn’s unique voice and vision, in one minute and seventeen high-velocity info-packed internet-friendly seconds.
It’s one thing to tell people how amazing she is — calling her “the gene-splice baby of Philip K. Dick and Poppy Z. Brite” is the quickest verbal shorthand I’ve come up with so far — but quite another to spike your psyche with an instant deep dive into what it’s like to actually read her profound, multi-leveled, genuinely mind-bending prose. Excitingly unveiling the ingredients, in much the way a movie trailer seeks to entice you with snippets of its coolest scenes. So that you will want to see it.
Or, in this case, read it.
As a filmmaker who also writes, publishes, and loves books, it strikes me as a moral imperative to give cool, Fungasmic literature as much motion picture zazz as I can possibly conjure.
So real quick — before I go on — please soak yourself in ECSTATIC INFERNO. (And if possible, CRANK UP THE VOLUME HARD!)
Now you may be asking yourself (or me), “Where the fuck did you get a million dollars to make that thing, as a teensy-ass small press?” But the fact is, we didn’t. It was made entirely out of pocket change, sweat equity, and creative friends who threw down out of friendship and love of the art. Plus a shitload of excellent stock footage, available online for remarkably reasonable prices.
For me, it started by sifting through countless hours of stock footage to find images that connected directly with Autumn’s themes and unbridled soul. Natural beauty and terror. Rural ruin. Deep space veracity (that’s the ACTUAL Space Station). And the trippiest hallucinomania I could find.
When Autumn came to LA in April, for AWP (a major literary convention), I picked her up at the airport, then dragged her to cinematographer/editor/renegade filmmaker Charles Pinion’s house. He took a big piece of cardboard and carved out a space the size of her face, affixed to the wall by clamps that held it steady. And she gamely stuck her silent movie star face through the hole while I directed, and Charles shot. She did her own makeup. Took maybe two hours, tops.
Next step was to hook up with old bandmate and brilliant programmer/producer/ musician Greco Rossetti. When I told him about the project — and Autumn’s love of dubstep and southern gothic country music — he laid down an amazing foundation which we then broke into beats and dramatic pauses. I laid down the central melody on keys, chanted, and played the trippy slide guitar at the end. Marc Levinthal provided the country slide guitar, and engineered Laura Lee Bahr’s unearthly vocals (which you might not even recognize as human as they play). And Greco killed it, integrating each layer every speck of the way. All the grooves and electronic textures are easily 87% him.
At which point, I went to Travis Flournoy, a brilliant visual digital artist I met when both of us threw down on Daniel Rosenboom’s jazz/metal onslaught BURNING GHOSTS. As it turned out, he already had 90% of the stock footage I wanted, plus some extra shit besides. Together, we narrowed down the shots we needed. But he was too over-booked to dance past that, for the moment.
So then it was back to Charles Pinion and me. Taking the music and meticulously layering the visuals over it. Background first, to tell the story. Then Autumn’s face, floating ghostly over the footage. Split-screening her as necessary, to get the enormity in. Scrupulously building every layer to precision strength.
Then, and only then, did Travis comes back to CGI finesse it to its ultimate form. Where all our teamwork paid off.
This may seem like an insane amount of work for one minute and seventeen seconds of art-o-tainment, in support of a book. And should you think such a thing, you of course would be right.
But if it makes you want to read Autumn’s insanely brilliant book, then it all will have been worth it. And even if it doesn’t, that’s entirely your loss.
It is, at the very least, the MOST WE COULD DO to make you wanna go there. NEED to go there.
And is only the latest in a Fungasmic campaign we’re already deep into. And will elaborate further upon, in Part III!