by Michael A. Hoffman, guest contributor to The Video Graveyard.
Greetings from Mike and Meghan, located at the fine establishment known as the Intown Suites in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Now, you might be asking yourself, “who the Hell are they”, or “why are those losers sending us a greeting?”. Well, here’s a short, pointless and possibly boring background.
Mike Hoffman’s my name, and I’m an independent filmmaker. Born and raised in South Florida, I’ve had my share of ups and downs in this God forsaken industry. I directed and co-wrote Scary Tales and Scary Tales: The Return of Mr. Longfellow, as well as being the bitch-boy on the set of such hit films as Dirty Cop No Donut and Truth Or Dare: Screaming For Sanity. My tale is a sad one. It deals with betrayal, lust (not for me), and sacrilegious incantations (okay, I’m going too far on that one).
My poor girlfriend, Meghan, who at the moment is sitting on the bed and writing with a pen I dropped in the toilet (but didn’t tell her - as she chews on the cap), was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and never dreamed she’d move to the Sunshine State and meet a handsome, statuesque, talented fellow like me.
In fact, Florida is where this tale begins.
After 2 days of begging this beautiful girl to date me, she finally gave in from the brow-beating and (slight money exchange) said “yeah - whatever - just leave me alone”. A partnership was born (in Hell). We laughed, we cried, we wrote screenplays together. People said we were crazy (and who was to argue?), yet our luck was about to change - FOR THE WORSE.
Michael, Meghan, Jason Daly & Joel D. Wynkoop
Meg was at a bar one night, with a few friends - as I was sick at home with mono (you know, the fucking disease). It was there she met a beret-wearing pervert (who’s name we can’t reveal) we’ll call Ass Blaster. Now, Ass Blaster, in the hopes of seeing a boob, said he was involved with the film industry and had rented Scary Tales while in Texas. So, Meg, in a drunken stupor, called and put Ass Blaster on the phone with me. Bedridden, I answered and said “who the fuck is calling me from Meg’s phone?”. Well, Blaster said “I’m a big fan and would love to have a meeting with you”. This is when the story really begins (or ends, if you’re bored and don’t feel like reading further). Blaster then stated that he had a movie idea he would like to see scripted. Long story short, we comprised a screenplay, to his specifications, within two weeks. Blaster then disappeared to parts unknown, taking our script, and hopes for a pay check, with him (he still owes us $1000 bucks). That’s when I became “Mike Hoffman, Private Investigator”.
You see, Blaster had handed us a separate screenplay (unrelated to any work we’d done) written by a paraplegic, with name and city attached. In comes the “Pittsburgh Connection”. We located the writer of this script, who informed us that Ass Blaster was, in fact, a con artist. Hmmm. We should of seen the signs -- The fact that he lived in a rented house and worked off his floor (with a Pentium 1 processor).
Well, the person we contacted (who we’ll call “Care Bear”) informed us she was able to walk, and wasn’t bedridden, as Ass Blaster has stated, and invited us to Pittsburgh, were she was starting a film production company with two other associates. This took convincing, as Meg said “No - not Pittsburgh - it’s COLD!”.
Hurricane Ivan began to approach the Florida coast - and it took a $4,000 loan to get the hell out and move to Arm-Pittsburgh. In the interim, I had put Care Bear in touch with a friend of Jason Daly, my filmmaking associate. It seems this individual had connections with the Dominican Republic Film Commission, which could save Care Bear tons of money in Production Costs.
Well, Meg and I finally arrived in Pittsburgh, after a 5 day journey - (in which we sat in traffic as evacuees of the hurricane repeatedly honked horns and exercised the “one finer salute”). Being the Florida boy I am, I was excited at the opportunity to see snow. Meghan, upon hearing this, informed me that it doesn’t snow in September. Broken hearted and dismayed, I carried on, and continued to our new home in McDonald, Pennsylvania. Of course, we were living in Mayberry - where the local convenience store was also the pizzeria and sub shop. Good food, though. As things often do with business partnerships, the budding young production company we came to join began to faction in alternate directions.
Meg and Myself were left under the care of “Rambling Alcoholic” - who’ll we’ll now refer to as “DoucheBag”.
DoucheBag made promises as high as the sky. We completed different tasks and works from; writing an entire screenplay (based upon his idea), making press kits, hiring cast and crew - and PLAYING BABYSITTER. That’s right. DouceBag, in his late thirties, was a drunken coke-head who not only didn’t pay us, as promised, but actually took our money for hookers and booze.
In the interim, Hurricane Ivan approached Pittsburgh - and flooded our apartment, forcing us to evacuate (again). We ended up at a seedy, escort-ridden motel in Ohio.
Back to our apartment. The ceiling had began to leak onto my immortal, personalized autographed photos of washed up celebrities. We were forced to leave, and enter Hell (woops, sorry - downtown Pittsburgh). The landlord kept our deposit.
You see, DoucheBag was the member of a barter system which allowed him cheap hookers and even cheaper accommodations. We were now living in Oakland, Pennsylvania, which consists of drunken college co-eds and homeless charlatans, on his account. Meg and I quickly found that the surrounding streets were liveable, but we ended up in “Sub-Basement Z”, located on Cannery Row.
Meghan and two guys you might recognize...
I know at this point we’ve taken up a lot of your time - so the next few events we will summarize.
1. DoucheBag managed a clothing store from which he was stealing. He later evacuated Pennsylvania and moved to my home town in Florida - telling us that “if we didn’t make if back down - all bets were off”.
2. Meg and I were forced to leave our new apartment as DoucheBag was delinquent in paying the rent and electric bill. At the time, we lived in a “power free” facility, in the middle of winter, forced to escape to the boiler room to microwave soup. Needless to say, there was no heat, and a frozen cup of water greeted me each morning.
3. Care Bear was having “relations” with our contact from the Dominican Republic and SOMEHOW managed to raise money for a project - WHICH WE STILL HOPE TO HEAR ABOUT!
4. Meg and I were forced to take demeaning, low-paying jobs. She was laid off - without notice - two weeks before Christmas – While I worked for, what turned out to be, shall we say - unsavory characters (no lie) who never paid me. We were later called in by the authorities for statements. This story would be an article in itself. Trust me.
5. On New Years Eve, Meg suffered a “soft tissue” injury as a submarine sandwich she engulfed included a piece of porcelain, which LODGED in her throat and almost killed her (the restaurant KICKED US OUT - claiming we placed the piece in there on PURPOSE!!!). We still have medical bills on that one.
6. Our apartment was taken over by friends of DoucheBag – ILLEGAL RUSSIAN IMMIGRANTS who were selling drugs. We eventually ended up shacking with Meghan’s ex-manager, who was also laid off.
7. Bambi assaulted Meghan, by running into the side of her jeep (which, at the moment, is still awaiting repairs). The incident happened in October.
8. Scary Tales 2 was picked up for distribution by another unsavory character - who had us spend our last dollars flying out to Vegas (for NAPTE), where we supposedly had a table to promote ourselves. We arrived, finding this promise to be erroneous - and the “distributor” to be a falling down alcoholic.
Okay. Those events may sound ridiculous, but we assure you - they’re true. Onto the good and current.
Now, remember how we said the upstart production company had two partners (besides Care Bear). Well, partner number three landed us a writing job for Corbin Bernsen (L.A. Law, Major League, The Dentist) which we recently completed. It was for a horror film, tentatively titled “The Clown”, due for a 2006 release.
Meg and I ended up meeting a venture capitalist, at Kinkos - of all places, who formed a distribution/production company with me called Arcana Entertainment, LTD. I have a three picture deal, and am currently negotiating with associates of Best Buy (for Scary Tales 2) and Lions Gate Entertainment. The Scary Tales may now have a future in the $5.50 bin at your local, corporate video mortuary.
We are set to depart for Dallas, Texas in two weeks.
However, in the interim, due to unfortunate events - Meghan’s ex-manager went insane (from unemployment) - and kicked from our current abode. We now reside at a “pay by the week” motel.
Of course, this story may sound like a lot of hooey - or complaining - but we swear - on our newly formed alcoholism - that every word we write is true; and should be used as a cautionary, yet hopeful, tale for every struggling, or optimistic, independent filmmaker. Take from it what you will...
...And again, greetings from Pittsburgh.
(P.S. - Pabst Blue Ribbon rules!!!!)
Michael A. Hoffman is the creator of the Scary Tales anthology movies and an avid Pabst drinker.
Images are © by Michael A. Hoffman