It’s been several years since I’ve written a “love letter” blog post and I thought now was a perfect time for this one. 2016 has seen the culmination of a 15 year relationship between a struggling character actor (moi) and a emerging mock buster production studio (The Asylum).
But it starts in 2002 between me and two Davids. David Michael Latt and David Rimawi. I met them at their old Hollywood location to audition for a genre film sequel called “Killers 2.” It was one of their first films under The Asylum banner. I was cast opposite David Latt’s wife, the dry-witted and talented Kim Little.
During the week long shoot I got to know The Davids™. They were not like your typical LA producers. They were actually genuinely nice and funny. Remarkably so. Latt also directed and was a joy to work with and be gently abused by. He never lost his cool and was always up for a giggle.
This film is partly why I thought to write this post. Next week The Davids™ and I will be doing a commentary track on “Killers 2” for ConTV. Kind of tickled it’s getting a second life online. I figure I should write something nice about them beforehand so they’re not giving me stink eye in the studio. 😉
In 2003 I reached out to David Latt (i.e. begged for work because I was with an agency that lost my number under one of their lattes) and he put me in a small role in “Scarecrow Slayer” with the Candyman himself, Tony Todd. At this point, The Asylum was figuring out how to maximize production while on a night shoot. It was a little bit frenzied but still great fun. I mean, how often do you get thrown into the air and then decapitated? Not often.
I’m not sure when it was, but awhile later David reached out to me about a film and I think I had recently suffered a stroke because I pulled out the “I’m not really doing the horror film thing anymore because my TV career is getting better.” I think this was the same time I said to voice over casting people “yeah, not doing anime dubbing anymore. It doesn’t really pay well and no one cares about the roles I do…”
Sigh… Life lesson: you’re nobody until you’re not. Take paying work if no animals are harmed.
Well, having said that, The Asylum still cast me in a “cameo” role for “666: The Beast” with a very young Booboo Stewart (pre-hot stud muffin).
Another four years went by. Then, in the middle of a tax audit and my tea party pseudo-controversy™, Latt called me out of the blue and said, “Hey! I see you’re in the middle of a shit storm. Wanna come be the captain of the Titanic?” I thought he was being ironic, but no. He meant it.
It was then I realized The Asylum had become a well oiled mock buster machine. They had moved to Burbank and expanded their offices. They had deals with several other companies and were cranking out 12 films a year or more. I was blown away and happy for them. And happy they still remembered me. As an added perk, I got to work with Dick Van Dyke’s two grandsons and have a few scenes opposite Bruce Davison.
For the first time, an Asylum film I was in actually played to a large audience with Syfy airings. And, for the first time, I had to answer for my performance to strangers on the internet! (The hats were just big, people! They weren’t metaphors for big headed people!)
Next thing I knew, The Asylum had struck gold with “Sharknado!” I remember asking myself, “Wait, The Asylum? Sharks in a tornado? Popular?!” Followed by a sudden urge to prostitute myself to them with as much gusto as I could muster!
I think I emailed The Davids™ 47 times begging to be in “Sharknado 2.” They never once asked to be removed from my whoring list. When I heard principal photography had wrapped in New York, I figured my chances were done. But then, again, Latt emailed me out of the blue and asked if I’d like to do a small role in it for pick-ups. I said ‘Hell YEAH!” He said, “Be in Buffalo in 4 days.” Ahhh, Asylum…
That one film appearance got me more old friends coming out of the woodwork than anything I had ever done before – film or TV. It was amazing how many people saw it! (It’s also the only film I’ve done where fans at conventions pay for a signed photo from it.) And I have The Davids™ to thank for that – and for not getting annoyed by my groveling!
Having felt like I might have used up their goodwill, I decided to be like all other actors in LA and audition for their next film. I submitted to and auditioned for a sex comedy they were doing. I booked it. When Latt found out, he asked, “Why did you audition?” That was a sweet moment. Sweet because I felt like a member of their Asylum family. Like the annoying second cousin with a possibly contagious skin rash, but family nonetheless.
The film was “Alpha House” and it was written by Jacob Cooney and Brandon Trenz, with Cooney directing. I really dug working with these two guys and had a blast doing the role.
It was during production that three of us discovered our zombie connection. They liked writing zombie films and I liked acting in anything that made my fan base happy. So we decided to pitch an idea to The Asylum.
In that meeting I met their third partner who had come aboard at one point in the last decade while my head was up my butt. Paul Bales. This love letter is for him, too, though I’m sure that makes him a bit queasy. It was Paul who, after hearing me talk about my “Resident Evil” fan base, said I should be considered for a guest spot on their new zombie series, “Z Nation!”
So, out of that meeting, we were given the green light to move forward on a script for what became “Isle of The dead” as well as landing me a recurring gig on “Z Nation!”
“Z Nation’s” season 3 begins this Friday. About a month later Pa Kettle returns for two wild episodes…
And, of course, “Isle of The Dead” debuted on Syfy last month and trended for a short time on twitter. It will soon show up on some VOD services and you can rest assured knowing I’ll be pimping that sucker when it does.
That final gift they gave me – letting me pitch a film, perform as the villain, and have it shown on Syfy – was the ultimate for me. It was huge. Not sure they realize that. But I do.
Combine that with 15 years and 8 projects? Yeah, a basket of crackers and wine doesn’t quite cover it. I hope this love letter does a little bit. Thank you, Asylum and The Davids™ + Paul.
Now come over here and give me some tongue, boys… C’mon!
PS: If you are moved by this, send David M Latt some inappropriate affection on twitter.