Monday, September 04, 2006

Head Trauma: Get Hammered This Week...

I've been sitting on this for weeks, and it's time to lock & load -- Lance Weiler's feature film Head Trauma is finally rolling out. As already reported here numerous times, Lance was co-director (with Stefan Avalos) of the pioneer digital feature film The Last Broadcast, and back in 2004 he invited my son Dan and I do work up some comic art for use in Head Trauma. Dan and I did so, and what began as a prop in the movie gradually assumed a more vital narrative role in the film -- for which Dan and I cooked up further artwork, linking the imagery integrally into the narrative via the screeners of rough edits Lance mailed me to view.

Thus, the comic -- a faux Christian comic tract entitled "Nothing But Grief", in the style of those we've all seen in real life, but different enough to avoid litigation -- was tied into the fabric of the film in a way rather unique, by my experience. Because Lance was shooting the feature as we turned in panels and pages, and rough-editing some sequences, we were able to organically weave the imagery Dan and I was drawing into Lance's tapestry quite imaginatively. We were sometimes designing panels to echo images Lance had already shot, which in turn prompted Lance to shoot new material to evoke links with specific panels already rendered and delivered. The end result was the most satisfactory creative experience I've had working with a filmmaker to date (in terms of some aspect my comics work being involved), and quite pleasurable.

Dan and I weren't the only cartoonists involved, mind you. Part of what makes Head Trauma's integration of comics and cinema so unusual is the fact that there's a second narrative thread involving comics -- the creation of comics, rather than the reading of comics. One character reacts to the disturbing events unfolding by drawing his own comics pages, internalizing and interpreting what might be going on via a continuity he entitles, "Cursed!".

These comics pages look and feel quite different from those of "Nothing But Grief", the faux Christian comic tract. Lance engaged local Pennsylvanian cartoonist Reiner Clabbers to draw these pages in various stages of completion -- roughs, pencils and inks -- thus creating two parallel tracks (tracts?) for Head Trauma's interlocking narrative threads to explore. Reiner's evocative splash page for "Cursed!" subsequently served as the cover art for the alternative soundtrack CD (see below for more info).

Also note that Head Trauma star Vince Mola, who plays the troubled protagonist George Walker, is also a filmmaker and popular radio DJ. Lance introduced me to Vince years ago, as Vince was hard at work on his debut digital feature Bald (2001)

If I may be so bold (having seen no less than three edits of the film), I'll add that Head Trauma is a corker of a psychological thriller on its own terms, comics components aside. I don't want to go into any detail about the particulars, as it's a film best experienced 'cold' -- the less you know about it, the better. Trust me: Check it out!

Lance and Head Trauma have already toured the western states, and sorry for those of you reading this blog from out there that I didn't post this info and these links sooner, but I decided to wait until it was local news.

Well, now it's local news -- I'll be introducing the Friday and Saturday night showings of Head Trauma at the Latchis Theater in nearby Brattleboro, VT this Friday and Saturday -- and Lance will be introducing the Latchis screening next Wednesday.

Then, on Thursday, September 14th, Lance and I will be debuting the film at The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Jct., VT -- seating is limited, so get there early! Times to be listed here in the coming days, with reminders.

More to follow in the days ahead, including peeks at the artwork Dan and I completed... but be sure to check out the movie, whatever you do.

Here's a slightly-abridged presentation of Lance's overview of the current tour info, along with the particulars on the upcoming DVD release (streets Sept. 26th!).

Take it away, Lance...


The first phase of the theatrical release took the movie to Portland, OR, Tucson, AZ and Albuquerque, NM. The audience response was amazing - in some cases people came more than once to see the movie! Big thanks to everyone who helped to make phase one a success.

Next up is phase two of the release which will have HT opening on 3 screens the weekend of Sept. 8th:

Endless Mountains Theatre - Scranton, PA 9/8 to 9/22 (a two week run!)
Grand Cinema - E. Stroudsburg, PA 9/8 to 9/14
Latchis Theatre - Brattleboro, VT 9/8 to 9/14
Center for Cartoon Studies special screening - White River Jct., VT 9/14

Then phase three will see HT open on 8 screens the weekend of Sept. 15th:

Red Vic - San Francisco, CA
The Grand Illusion - Seattle, WA
The Admiral Theater - Seattle, WA
Paramount Theater - Rutland, VT
CCS - White River Junction, VT
The County Theater - Doylestown, PA (limited run visit
[Note: CALL THE THEATER for advance ticket sales to ensure seating]
Ambler Theater - Ambler, PA
Bryn Mawr Theater - Bryn Mawr. PA

Phase four of the release consists of a number of special screenings:

NYC - Independent Film Week / IFP - special screening 9/20 (see below for details)
NYC - special screening 9/27 details coming soon
Philadelphia - special screening 10/7 details coming soon
Montréal - special screening 10/17 details coming soon

The HEAD TRAUMA DVD will be released nationwide on Tuesday September 26th. If you're interested in pre-ordering the following sites are taking orders.

Audio commentary by director Lance Weiler Six featurettes:
- Cast interviews
- Blowing up a car on a tight budget
- Shooting in the house (working in a haunted condemned structure)
- Johnny Magdic and his Amazing Flying
- Comics veteran Stephen R. Bissette and son Daniel Bissette discusses the art of HEAD TRAUMA
- Behind the music of HEAD TRAUMA
A special collector's edition eight-page booklet with original art by
Bissette and liner notes by GRUDGE screenwriter Stephen Susco;
Trailers: HEAD TRAUMA and Weiler/Stefan Avalos' THE LAST BROADCAST; plus: An Easter egg or two

Interested in pre-ordering the HEAD TRAUMA DVD? The following sites are taking orders.
diabolik dvd - click here 14.99 (support the independent retailers of the world) - click here 17.99
barns & noble - click here 15.98 - click here 14.99 - click here 16.75
For more details on the HT DVD click here

THE LAST BROADCAST special collector's edition

A re-release collector's edition of THE LAST BROADCAST will also be released on Sept. 26th and can be pre-ordered via the sites listed above.
  • Two audio commentaries by Weiler and Avalos
  • Behind-the-scenes documentaries on the production, postproduction and distribution
  • Exclusive interviews
  • "Fact or Fiction!": rare clips from the infamous public access cable show.
  • "Gallery of Gore"
  • Jim Seward Alive and Well (2 folk songs)
  • 12-page booklet

(PS: Steve back again, interrupting with some additional information. Hey, my son Dan and I have artwork in the following CD package -- one of Dan's key pieces, inked by yours truly, graces the back cover, and a couple of my Head Trauma renderings are part of the inside-packaging and CD design. And -- I did a spoken-word vocal for the alternative soundtrack CD, too. So, Bissette fans, check it out:)

CURSED the HEAD TRAUMA movie project

CURSED the HEAD TRAUMA movie project is an alternate soundtrack, a natural extension of the HEAD TRAUMA narrative. A number of musicians contributed to the soundtrack, which is intended to be played at the same time as the DVD. By syncing the CD and DVD to a special start point the viewer / listener can experience an alternate soundtrack to the movie.

The alternate soundtrack will be coming out on Oct.10th on Park the Van records. We’re currently working on putting together a couple of shows that will feature some of the bands on the soundtrack accompanying the movie live. The soundtrack features performances by:

Bardo Pond
The Capitol Years
Bitter Bitter Weeks
Dr. Dog
The Novenas
The A-Sides
National Eye
Awol One
Marshal Allen and Jamie Harrar
Greg Weeks (Espers)
Steve Garvey (Buzzcocks)
and many more…

[Post truncated due to technical difficulties; I'll try to restore or repost the information later!]


[post restored! Here's the rest of the info:]


September 17th to 21st: IFP FILMMAKER CONFERENCE - this year's IFP market has a new section called the Filmmaker Conference. I'll be speaking on two panels and also doing a special "all digital" screening of HT during "Independent Film Week" Click here for info on the Conference
Click here for info on the Market.

Film Independent - Digital Series Night 6 - DIYstribution Alternatives: I'm on a panel about DIY distro. Here's a brief description:
"We conclude our series with a close look at the different exhibition and distribution options that digital tools offer today. From direct-to-cinema models, to the various alternatives via the internet and mobile devices, learn how you can reach your viewers, build audiences, and make money selling your own film!"

Click here for more info.

October 16th to 18th MONTREAL:
DIGIMART - I'll be speaking at the Digimart Digital Distribution Summit in Montreal. More details soon.

October 20th to 29th Mar del Plata:
HEAD TRAUMA will be screening at the Mar del Plata Film Festival in Argentina. More details soon.

Look for stories and reviews about HEAD TRAUMA in the following publications:
September issue of Philadelphia Magazine
Fall issue of Moviemaker Magazine
October issue of Flaunt
October issue of Fangoria
October issue of Millimeter
November issue of Rue Morgue
December issue of DV magazine

Here's some recent online HT coverage:

Nocturnal Admissions: DVD review and director interview - HEAD TRAUMA

Rogue Cinema - Head Trauma review

IFC NEWS - The Final Frontier of Filmmaking: Three Stories of Self-Distribution

FILMTHREAT - Head Trauma DVD review

10,000 Bullets - Head Trauma review Head Trauma - review

Review quotes, pulled from the film's tour thus far:

“Works its way under the skin, raising neck hairs while teasing us to pry open its psychological puzzle box.”

“A slick, original, attention-grabbing feature… pushes the medium to the edge of its artistic bounds.”

“Horror outing that revives the under appreciated monster of the id to great effect.”

“You know the ones: Jacob’s Ladder, 12 Monkeys, even Lost Highway. Head Trauma is a solid induction into these halls of creepy mindfucks.”

“Elicits effective creeps. A well executed haunted house exercise that treads the psychological vs. supernatural line.”

“Incredibly creepy… good re-creation of 70’s horror.”

“Fright classic… surprisingly effective chiller.”

“HEAD TRAUMA is completely pro. From packaging to film quality to the movie’s website, it seems like there was big money behind this film.”

“Unrelenting creepiness.”

A couple weeks back, I was interviewed by Indie Film Nation. IFN is a podcast out of Australia that covers independent film news from around the globe. To listen to the interview click here. HEAD TRAUMA is the last interview in the show.


For the most current updates on HT visit for Lance’s collection of all the blog entries and news links about HT from around the web.