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An Interview with Paul Solet and Jake Hamilton Print E-mail
Written by Elaine Lamkin   
Sunday, 25 September 2005

"Means to an End” is about the lengths two SFX artists will go to get THE best special horror effect they’ve ever done. I know I saw things done that I have NEVER seen in a horror movie and as disgusting as they were, they were also SO funny!!

"Means to an End" won its category at Dragon Con Film Festival in Atlanta. Lloyd Kaufman from Troma and actor Dean Stockwell presented the award. Kaufman has since posted declaration on the Troma site that "Means" was his favorite flick at the fest.

The two filmmakers are also on a panel at the upcoming Fango Weekend of Horrors on Sunday, September 25, if you care to check out JUST how sane they truly are. They are also screening in Boston at the New England Film and Video Festival on Saturday, October 8th in the 9:00pm block. I highly recommend you check this little film out as these two guys are imaginative and talented!

First up, let’s get The Paul Solet Story and The Jake Hamilton Story for those who might be unfamiliar with you gentlemen.

Jake Hamilton: I spent most of my childhood shooting FX driven VHS movies with titles like “Insane” and “Curse of the Dead”, and scribbling ballpoint sci-fi and horror comics in 5 subject notebooks. In high school I started writing music and became interested in scoring. About that time, my friends got sick of being guinea pigs in my horror-movie special effect experiments, and I started concentrating on a sci-fi comic, doing colors and CG effects, for what later became a graphic novel distributed by Diamond. After publishing, it evolved into screenplays & storyboards, but we never went forward with production. During that time, I worked as an assistant art director in Boston, and scored some local indie projects. Then, just when it seemed things couldn't get any worse, Paul Solet showed up.

Paul Solet: I’m 26, born in Newton, MA, raised in Cambridge. I’ve been obsessed with movies since I was a tot. I’d watch horror movies and terrify myself to the point of developing obsessive compulsive routines around them, and I’d always go back for more. I commandeered the family’s giant Panasonic VHS camcorder and set to work torturing everyone I knew on tape. When I was about eleven, I went to day camp and ended up meeting an eighteen year old counselor named Eli Roth. I was the only camper toting around a Fangoria, so I rapidly fell under his tutelage. He schooled me in seventies and eighties horror. I’d get off the bus home and run straight to the local, pagoda shaped, video hut and ravage their horror and cult sections until that well ran dry. When I watched all the twisted movies he was making with his brothers and friends, it occurred to me that it was actually possible to have a career making movies. I wrote my ass off through high school, then took off to film school. When I graduated, I kind of went on assignment for Eli. He gave me an outline for a pet project of his, and let me take a crack at it. I learned a tremendous amount working on that, doing research, scouting locations, and writing. I met Jake not long after, and we hit it right off. We were both obsessed genre freaks, and we were both frustrated with the state of horror, so we decided to get involved in trying do whatever we could to be part of the solution, instead of just sitting around and bitching. I’d been behind the computer, just writing scripts for almost two years, so the idea of getting back on set was awesome. Within a couple months, Jake and I were in pre-production on "Means to an End".

Where did you get your film education?

Paul Solet: Everything I ever needed to know, I learned from "USA Up All Night". When I was a kid, I watched a whole lot of HBO, and hit up every video store within bike riding distance of my parent's house. I went to a couple different creative arts programs when I was a little older and learned to shoot film and do stop motion. I ended up going to Emerson College for a Bachelors in Film and Psychology, and then went back to Emerson to study screenwriting.


Jake Hamilton: Education... well let’s just say thank god for director's commentaries. I always watched tons of filmmaking documentaries and spent every moment I could studying what went on behind the scenes, reading about indie filmmaking, splatter effects and make-up illusions. I took some classes on stop-motion, 8mm, creative writing, film analysis, photography… Whatever I could get involved with, I did. Everything else I’ve learned has been through good old fashioned DIY experimentation. I have the scars to prove it.

How did the two of you first hook-up and discover you shared a similar “aberrant” interest in the macabre?

Jake Hamilton: I think some horror fanatics have a sick, sixth sense about one another. Or maybe it was Paul’s “Fulci Lives” tee shirt.

Paul Solet: It didn’t take us long to realize we were both quite sick.

How did “Means to an End” come into being?

Jake Hamilton: We challenged each other to come up with a more compelling premise than all the mediocre PG-13 stuff coming out. Since we had limited time and resources, we decided to play the leads ourselves. What drives them is basically what drives us. The mutual mutilation is just these guys answer to the same question you ask yourself every time you have to miss your day job to finish a shoot, or get fired for getting fake vomit all over your work’s bathroom: “How far would you go for your dreams?”

Paul Solet: We just wanted to make something we would actually like to watch. If only to earn our bitching rights back. I was still in Boston at the time, but moving to LA in a few months. We thought it would be a cool little challenge to get something written, produced and shot in that time. It started as a snuff flick, and then that morphed into a kind of mutual snuffing concept. We pretty much just inserted caricatures of ourselves into the roles of Pete and Jasper, and let them dictate the story’s direction. Once the idea was in place, we banged out the script pretty quickly.

What sort of budget did you have to work with and how long did it take to shoot?

Paul Solet: We had Jake’s credit card. All told, our budget was about $3,500.

Jake Hamilton: Better than money, we had a talented, motivated bunch of psychos who showed up every morning for four, blistering hot, eighteen hour summer days. I believe we paid them in salty snacks from the convenience store location.

Since you did you own makeup FX, is there anyone working today in makeup FX that you admire?

Paul Solet: Actually, our friend Matt Morgan came on board to do effects. He’s been at it since he was a kid. He had another shoot that week, but he read the script and loved it, and agreed to come on board, anyway. As for effects guys, we admire: Giannetto De Rossi, Rob Botin, Aldo Gasparri, Shinya Tsukamoto’s stuff, Kurtzman, Berger, and Nicotero. Those guys know how to keep it moist. The stuff that really got me excited about effects, that really made me want to do them myself, though, was Troma stuff and other lower budget flicks, like "Basketcase".

Jake Hamilton: I grew up admiring the hell out of Savini, as much for his effects work as for his larger than life personality. He was accessible to me in a way that a lot of the more mainstream guys weren’t. Still, Stan Winston’s work is pretty great. But, yeah, the Italians really know how to make you sick.

Paul, you’ve written a number of excellent scripts.  Are any of them ready to be filmed? Or are you already into your next project?

Paul Solet: In addition to the "Means to an End" feature, which Jake and I are honing, I have a script called, "Heartland", equal parts serial killer film, political thriller, and cannibal story, that will go out as a spec in a couple weeks. It’s gotten a good reception so far on the festival circuit. It was a winner this year at VisionFest, in New York. I’ve also got a feature called "Grace" that will go out within a few months. I’ve gotten some bites on that one, too, but I really want to get it to people who are really into it. I may shoot a "Grace" short in the not so distant future, then take that on the warpath to raise funds to shoot the feature, myself. I also have a body horror script, called "Repetition Compulsion", about a savant bike messenger attempting to perform a grand reenactment of his life’s trauma’s by physically merging with his bicycle. That’s another one that would be really fun to shoot. Wouldn’t cost too much.

How did you manage to collect all of the horror movie posters that are shown in “Means to an End”?

Jake Hamilton: What kind of fanatics do you take us for? All the posters, tee shirts and other memorabilia shown in "Means to an End" were excavated from our collective adolescent bedrooms, basements, and attics. When we say we are these guys, we’re not kidding!

What are some of your favorite horror movies?

Jake Hamilton: I like the ones where a menacing alien, lunatic, zombie, infant or animal threatens to slaughter the more sympathetic, or at least attractive characters, and through a suspenseful and terrifying course of events, proceeds to do just that, with wonderfully gruesome results. I’m sorry, were you looking for titles?

Paul Solet: You want titles, I got titles: "Rabid", "Shivers", "Deathdream", "Black Christmas", "Dellamorte Dellamore", "The New York Ripper", "Phantasm", "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre", "Last House on the Left", "Hostel", "Prince of Darkness", "Alien", "The Slug and the Snail", "Basketcase", "It's Alive", "Cannibal Holocaust", "Night of the Living Dead", "Omega Man", "Cronos", "Audition", "Dead and Buried", "The Hitcher", "The Thing", and "Brotherhood of the Wolf". Oh, and "C.H.U.D." Everybody loves "C.H.U.D."

Do you have any favorite horror writers and if so, who are they?

Paul Solet: I really dig old David Cronenberg, Roman Polanski, and John W. Cambell Jr. I’m a huge fan of Larry Cohen, too. Alan Ormsby is awesome. With the literature, nobody does horror mythology like Lovecraft and Clive Barker. I’m still a big Stephen King fan. Richard Matheson is my favorite, though.

Are there any movies coming out soon that you are especially looking forward to seeing and why?

Paul Solet: I got to see Eli Roth’s new movie, "Hostel", in the editing room, and it blew me away. That was on a little screen, without visual effects. It’s seriously disturbing. And I am not squeamish. I’m also psyched to see the whole "Blood Drive II" DVD. I’ve seen a couple of the other shorts on there, and they were awesome. Adam Barnick’s short, "Mainstream" will leave you hollow and soulless. His sound design is fantastic.

Jake Hamilton: I haven’t come up for air from "MTAE" for so long that I feel completely out of touch. One film that we saw at the last festival we attended entitled, "I’ll See You in My Dreams" was killer cool. Made in Portugal. Best horror/sex sequence I’ve seen in a while. Not that that kind of thing actually turns me on. Because it doesn’t.

Which horror directors do you admire?

Jake Hamilton: I’m partial to directors who spend excessive amounts of money and go for a PG-13 rating to sell more tickets.

Paul Solet: Don Coscarelli, David Cronenberg, Larry Cohen, old Carpenter, Stuart Gordon, Takashi Miike, Guillermo del Toro, Sam Raimi, Bob Clark, George Romero, Jörg Buttgereit, Frank Henenlotter, Peter Jackson, Fulci, Deodato, Lenzi, Mario Bava. But I really go for anything where the majority of the movie is CGI, or the editing is REALLY FAST.

What are your long-term goals in terms of horror and making films?

Jake Hamilton: I look forward to many years of creating films that make people happy… and nauseous. Happy and nauseous.

Paul Solet: To put the "ho" back in horror. No, wait...

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you with regards to being in the horror business?

Jake Hamilton: At a hotel lounge in Chicago, one of my idols, Tom Savini approached me and said, “You’re one of the guys in the room next to mine that kept me awake all fucking night last night! How about you shut the fuck up!”

Paul Solet: Someone once told me attitude is everything. He said the guys who get the jobs are the guys who can stand in the pouring rain for thirty days straight yelling action and cut, and not complain. Another guy told me, ‘Pain is temporary, film is forever,’ and proceeded to jump off a roof to get a shot. That made an impact.

Is there anything you would like to add that I haven’t asked?

Jake Hamilton: Yes. To the readers, if you’re enjoying the insightful, intelligent and mature discussions you have found in this interview, check out the "MTAE" website: even more sophomoric violence and updates on where and when we will be shamelessly promoting our disgusting film at a festival near you. And check out the new Fango, I think we should be in there.

Paul Solet: Keep your eyes open for "Blood Drive II". You can rent it on Halloween, or come check us out at the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors, September 22, in New Jersey, where clips will be screened. We’re on a panel, tentatively scheduled for Sunday the 25th at 4:00PM. You won’t miss us; we’ll be covered in blood, wearing orange prison jumpsuits.

What is one thing people should know about Paul Solet and Jake Hamilton that they probably don’t?

Paul Solet: Between us we have suffered the following injuries: 5 broken noses, a fractured patella, a broken leg, total of 8 staples in the head, a broken wrist, a slashed achilles tendon, a torn lip, nerve damage of the foot, a lacerated ass cheek, a chipped tooth, at least one hernia, a dislocated shoulder, several serious hand and arm lacerations (one with nerve damage), a sliced forehead (through a windshield), a torn ACL, an ear-to-ear slashed open scalp worth 21 stitches, and a broken finger nail. That one was Jake.

Jake Hamilton: Oh yeah, one more thing: Pain is temporary…

Paul Solet: Film is forever.


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