Monday 6 October 2014
Astron-6's Adam Brooks
Astron-6 is, as they say on their website, "the rest in genre cinema." Some years ago, five filmmakers from Winnipeg, Matthew Kennedy, Connor Sweeny, Adam Brooks, Jeremy Gillespie, and Steven Kostanski, forged a pact that would eventually assure them a place in the Canadian genre/cult cinema hall of fame. Their low-tech/low-budget/high(ish)-concept movies delight festival audiences and revel in a unique blend of genre nostalgia and absurdity.
I ran into Adam Brooks outside the Ryerson theatre at TIFF. I remember it well; I was standing next to a garbage bin and it was very late. The Editor had just blown away the Midnight Madness crowd, most of whom were now outside excitedly chatting with and taking pictures of the Astron-6 guys. I made an appointment to speak with Adam after the festival season to ask him a few questions about movies and whatnot.
Zombots!: How has the festival circuit been treating you? The Editor played well at TIFF and then you were in Austin for Fantastic Fest.
Adam Brooks: I just got back from VIFF, the response has been incredible!
Z: How did The Editor come about? As I understand it, the story was made up for an *exhibit showcasing movie posters for fake Canadian horror movies, but I might be wrong about that.
AB: I was losing my mind editing Father's Day, and joking around with Matt about the premise of an editor who is losing his mind and maybe killing everyone. Matt, having recently rewatched House by the Cemetery started improvising lines in the familiar cadence of dubbed Italian cinema, and the idea was born. Shortly after that [Rue Morgue's editor-in-chief] Dave Alexander asked me if we might have something to contribute to his art show in which he teamed filmmakers with poster artists to create posters for non-existent Canadian horror films. I immediately saw this as an opportunity to get a free poster for a future project and the rest is history.
Z: Take us back to the beginning. You guys started out making short films in Winnipeg and then what? What brought you together to form Astron 6?
AB: The five of us were friends. We decided to assemble like Voltron and viola - Astron-6.
Z: Follow up question: What exactly is Astron 6? There are only five of you.
AB: The sixth member is you, the viewer.
Z: Let's talk a bit about Father's Day. I heard that was quite an experience, working with Lloyd Kaufman.
Z: About Manborg, that was something else altogether. A completely different kind of movie from Father's Day.
AB: I agree. Manborg came first. It's really Steve's baby. We shot it almost entirely in his garage with no money on a standard-def DVX video camera. It is to early 90's vhs/sci-fi/action what Father's Day is to 70's grindhouse films.
Z: Across these three features, we see three different homages or send-ups to different styles of filmmaking, but all a united by a similar look and feel—I'd describe it as a kind of nostalgia, a fondness for genre film from an earlier time. Was that always the plan? Your short films showcase this same aesthetic.
AB: Yes, it was always the plan, and seven years ago it felt new and exciting but I think this kind of nostalgia is old news now and I look forward to doing something else.
Z: I'm particularly fond of Lazer Ghosts 2: Return to Laser Cove.
AB: Glad you dig it!
Z: Last question: Can you give us a hint about what's next for you?
AB: Whatever project we can get financed is what's next. That's the hard part you see - the money. Whatever it is, I'm excited to try something new!
Z: Last last question: Does Steve only have that one shirt? Every time I see him, he's wearing red plaid.
AB: Yes Steve only has one shirt and he's very sensitive about it so be nice! He spends all his clothing allowance on FX supplies.
Many thanks to Adam for this interview. And thanks and to the rest of the guys for so many hours of entertainment. The short films can all be watched on the Astron-6 website.
*If They Came From Within: An Alternative History of Canadian Horror Movies