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The Making of Cannibal! The Musical, by Jason McHugh


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Chapter 23 - Post Production and Festivals

We started the editing process while we were still shooting our final scenes in the spring. By now the hardest parts were mostly done; we survived the shoot without killing each other or getting hit by an avalanche, but I must say we did come close to killing each other and we nearly got hit by a major avalanche driving over the Ouray Pass. By the time May hit, we had experienced plenty of amazing adventure, drama and intrigue.

For starters, Trey got kicked out of school for missing classes and was totally broke. Many crew members got Dís and Fís in this film history class as a result of missing classes due to the shoot. The Film Studies people clearly didnít like the Film Production people and there was this major inter-department rivalry so we took a beating on this one. There were specific Film Studies professors who liked to fuck with the production students, just ask Andy Kemler, he was the goat for many a film studies teacher. Sometimes you just get no respect as an Executive Producer, but Andy was able to graduate despite Film Production Major Status and he was able to heckle those same teachers years later from his South Park Office.

At this point of the production, if not way sooner, the producers had split into two different camps and this was a source of major drama during this general time. There was Trey, Matt and I who were the meat-eating politically incorrect dudes and then Ian and Alex who were these free-thinking, PC vegetarians from the suburbs. We clashed on many issues. I could write a chapter on our fights alone, but I won't right now.

The good news is that some of our disagreements helped the comedy. For example: Frenchy Cabazonís line "Get out of my personal space" was a quote from Alex during one of our blow outs. When I read the rewrite of this fight scene with the Trappers and the Diggers for the first time, I lost my shit. I couldn't believe how perfectly Trey adapted our real life scenario directly to a scene in our movie. It worked perfectly and he's been doing that kind of thing in his writing ever since.

By now we had also secured our final investment, which would allow us to purchase our Video master many months later. We were lucky to get our final investments in a timely fashion, so we never had to stop the creative and emotional flow needed to make a good movie. There is also no doubt that, by this time, we were really creating our own luck. The amazing thing about this project is that every aspect of it led to the next, meaning that one situation or effort set forth the next and we were able to create a rhythm of action that propelled us in motion. Each producer was able to push the other producers forward and then the project truly gained its own momentum.

The press that we had received by now was more than we could have imagined and that was a huge push for us too. We got picked up on the AP wire and had numerous small articles appear in newspapers across the country. Then we had several local TV news crews do coverage, radio stations took interest, and even a local morning TV talk show. The major victory was getting the MTV coverage because this would lead to our very first Hollywood break, as well as making Trey giddy with excitement that the Al Packer line, "This is my horse Liane," had made it onto national TV broadcast. To our amazing luck, this woman named Pam Brady who worked for Fox Lab, a division of Fox Television, was watching MTV the day the story about our production aired on MTV's the Big Picture with Chris Connelly. She saw the story about our production and wanted a meeting with us; she immediately called our department and tracked us down. Some time later, we finally took the meeting with her and this led directly to our first deal to make a pilot with Fox! More on this topic later.

In the meantime, our Indian scene seemed to be cursed during our re-shoots and pick-ups. Amazingly, we were able to cut those scenes together despite using eight different locations over the course of six months. We had so many problems around shooting these scenes, mostly weather- and location-related. We worked really hard to get some of these final scenes, which we cut shortly thereafter. There was a whole B storyline about the Indians inventing skiing that got cut. It was funny but needed to be cut, which was too bad because we went to a lot of trouble trying to get our Japanese actors to ski on makeshift planks. Most of our Indians were played by Japanese exchange students who really didnít speak very much English at all, which was perfect for the part, but still a directing challenge.

By midsummer, our re-shoots were complete and we had our first rough cut of the movie and thatís when we realized that we had an epic on our hands. The first cut of the film came in with a running time just over two and a half hours, which was way longer than we had expected. Trey had no intention of making a historical epic like Lawrence of Arabia or Gandhi, so he was ready to make major cuts to the movie. Ian was editing and he resisted making these major cuts because it meant cutting out lots of good stuff including some amazing lines by my character and the infamous ZZ top beards scene where the diggers draw straws to see who will get eaten next. The hardest scene to cut was certainly the Shatterproof musical number, because it was a great song, a funny scene, and it was one of our hardest production days for sure. Trey did all these fight scene stunts with a hairline fracture in his left hip from getting thrown from his horse in Grand Junction. I think it was a twenty-two hour shoot with a four hour turn around the next day. Super gnarly, but we had to get it done.

Somehow Trey cut the movie down to 93 minutes and we started our color correction at this place called Cross Point in Denver with a large and talented guy in a Hawaiian shirt named Wendell. Our post-production effort then led directly to...

FESTIVALS AND BEYOND (The Next Exciting Chapter!)

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