Full Moon Interviews Stuart Gordon About Nevermore and Kickstarter
On October 1st, director Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator, From Beyond, The Pit & The Pendulum, “Masters of Horror”) and actor Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator, From Beyond, Castle Freak, The Frighteners, “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”) launched a Kickstarter to fund a feature film based on their one-man-play about the life of Edgar Allan Poe, Nevermore. Full Moon had the chance to catch up with Stuart Gordon for an exclusive interview about the Nevermore Kickstarter campaign. Read what the director had to say below:
Full Moon: Fans have been waiting years for Stuart Gordon and Jeffrey Combs to collaborate on a feature film again. Nevermore would be that film. Could you discuss why this is the right movie to reunite the two of you?
Stuart Gordon: Jeffrey and I have been building up to a feature about Edgar Allan Poe ever since we did THE BLACK CAT for THE MASTERS OF HORROR in 2007. That project led us to develop NEVERMORE as a one man stage-play in 2009 for Poe’s bicentennial. Now thanks to Kickstarter, we have the opportunity to open up the play and turn it into a feature film.
FM: Why is telling this story of Edgar Allan Poe so important to you over, say, another historical figure? Do either of you feel a personal connection to Poe?
SG: Poe was a man much misunderstood during his short life. Only six people attended his funeral. Now he is the most popular American writer who ever lived. He believed in the “imp of the perverse” the tendency to screw things up when they are going well, and could often be his own worst enemy. I think we can all certainly relate to that.
FM: Jeffrey Combs obviously has experience playing Poe, both from “Masters of Horror: The Black Cat” and the Nevermore stage play. As the Nevermore feature film would be taking the portrayal to another level, how does Combs plan on preparing for such an intense performance?
SG: I’m not sure how he does it, but Jeffrey seems to actually channel Edgar A. Poe. He is no longer Jeffrey Combs the actor but literally becomes the troubled writer.
FM: Fans who know you best from such special effects-heavy horror movies as Re-Animator and From Beyond might be wondering how you can make a movie about a real life American writer exciting. What will Nevermore have that will grab ahold of horror fans?
SG: Poe’s life was as bizarre and tragic as any of his strange tales. Finding excitement should not be a problem.
FM: It may be too soon to say, but have you given any thought to other casting choices for Nevermore besides Jeffrey Combs as Poe? Who would be some of your dream casting choices?
SG: I can’t imagine anyone other than Jeffrey Combs playing Poe. I’d love to see Barbara Crampton play Poe’s fiancée Sarah Helen Whitman and Paul Giamatti play the stage manager.
FM: What are your plans for Nevermore after it’s produced? Do you foresee a theatrical release or some other form of distribution?
SG: I’d love to see the film get a theatrical release. But the important thing is that it be seen by as many people as possible. It could be a valuable teaching tool in the schools.
FM: On October 1st, you launched a Kickstarter to finance the Nevermore film with a goal of earning $375,000 in 30 days. Why did you decide that this was the best route to raise money for this movie?
SG: I’ve been fascinated by Kickstarter since I first heard about it, and NEVERMORE seemed the ideal project to test the waters.
FM: Before you launched the Kickstarter, did you meet with any film studios about financing Nevermore? If so, what were the reasons they gave you about why they didn’t believe the film would work?
SG: No, we haven’t approached studios about producing a film version of NEVERMORE. Historical dramas seem to be a very hard sell and even Steven Spielberg had a hard time finding financing for LINCOLN.
FM: Many moviegoers may not understand the relationship between film studios and directors. They might think that studios give directors money to make a film and then let them make whatever movie they want. Any filmmaker knows that it’s not nearly as simple as that. Could you explain how having your audience finance Nevermore directly will allow you to make a better movie than if a studio funded it?
SG: I’ve been very lucky in that, with the exception of FROM BEYOND which was savaged by the MPAA, I’ve always had control over the content of my films. But Kickstarter allows the artist total freedom in achieving his vision.
FM: At the launch of the Kickstarter, you offered a variety of incentives for contributors, including some unique items related to Edgar Allan Poe as well as the previous films and television shows the two of you have done. Since then, you’ve added more incentives like signed soundtrack CDs, DVDs, and an autographed Baltimore Ravens football. Can we expect even more new incentives in the coming weeks?
SG: Finding incentives for NEVERMORE’s Kickstarter campaign has been fun, as once you start looking, you see Poe’s influences everywhere. What other poet has a championship NFL team named after one of his creations?
FM: The Nevermore Kickstarter campaign has a strong social media presence, with the NevermoreFacebook and Twitter accounts working in conjunction with Stuart Gordon and Jeffrey Combs’ personal Twitter accounts to help spread the word. Both of you only started using Twitter relatively recently; what do you like about using social media to promote Nevermore or just in general?
SG: I was very resistant to trying Twitter but am now enjoying it greatly. I like hearing from people who are fans of my work and particularly like reading the tweets from the people I now am following.
FM: What would you say to fans who are thinking about contributing to the Nevermore Kickstarter but are hesitant to pledge money toward a movie they haven’t seen yet?
SG: If they have ever enjoyed my films or delighted in reading the stories and poetry of Poe, I would urge them to back NEVERMORE. It will be a lasting tribute to this greatest of American writers.
FM: As this is a Full Moon interview, we’d be remiss if we didn’t use this opportunity to ask you about the films you’ve made for Full Moon. What are your fondest memories about the Full Moon movies you’ve made? Which one is your favorite? And finally, could you see yourself ever doing another Full Moon movie if the project was right?
SG: I loved making THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM for Full Moon. We were able to shoot it in the small Italian town of Giove using the 13th century castle owned by Charles Band, and with very little art direction were able to transform the town back to the way it looked 500 years ago.
FM: Any last words, about Nevermore or anything else?
SG: Thanks for your questions. With the help of you and our fans at Full Moon I’m sure that we’ll make our goal.
once upon a midnight dreary, while i pondered, weak & weary, over many a quaint & curious volume of forgotten lore– while i nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, as of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. “ ‘tis some visitor,” i muttered, “tapping at my chamber door– only this & nothing more.”
ah, distinctly i remember it was in the bleak december, & each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor. eagerly i wished the morrow; –vainly i had sought to borrow from my books surcease of sorrow, sorrow for the lost lenore for the rare & radiant maiden whom the angels name lenore– nameless here forevermore.
& the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain thrilled me, filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before; so that now, to still the beating of my heart, i stood repeating “ 'tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door– some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; this is it & nothing more.”
presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer, “sir,” said i, “or madam, truly your forgiveness i implore; but the fact is i was napping , & so gently you came rapping, & so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door, that i scarce was sure i heard you,” (here i opened wide the door) darkness there & nothing more.
deep into that darkness peering, long i stood there wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before; but the silence was unbroken & the stillness gave no token & the only word there spoken was whispered word, “lenore?” this i whispered, & an echo murmured back the word, “lenore!” merely this & nothing more.
back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning, soon again i heard a tapping something louder than before. “surely,” said i, “surely that is something at my window lattice; let me see, then, what thereat is & this mystery explore– let my heart be still a moment & this mystery explore; 'tis the wind & nothing more.
open here i flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt & flutter, in there stepped a stately raven of saintly days of yore. not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he, but, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door– perched upon a bust of pallas just above my chamber door– perched & sat & nothing more.
then the ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling, by the grave & stern decorum of the countenance it wore, "though thy crest be shorn & shaven, thou,” i said, “art sure no craven, ghastly grim & ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore– tell me what thy lordly name is on the night’s plutonian shore!” quoth the raven, “nevermore.”
much i marveled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly though its answer little meaning, little relevancy bore; for we cannot help agreeing that no living human being ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door– bird or beast upon the sculpture bust above his chamber door, with such name as “nevermore.”
but the raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke only that one word, as if its soul in that one word he did outpour nothing farther then he uttered; not a feather then he fluttered– 'til i scarcely more than muttered: “other friends have flown before– on the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.” then the bird said, “nevemore.”
startled at the stilling broken by reply so aptly spoken, “doubtless,” said i, “what it utters is its only stock & store, caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster followed fast & followed faster 'til his songs one buren bore– 'til the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore of 'never- nevermore.’ ”
but the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling, straight i wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bust & bust & door; then, upon the velvet sinking, i betook myself to linking fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore– what this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt & ominous bird of yore meant in croaking, “nevermore.”
this i sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing to the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core; this & more i sat divining, with my head at ease reclining on the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er, but whose velvet violet lining with that lamp-light gloating o'er she shall press, ah, nevemore!
then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censor swung by seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor. “wretch,” i cried, “the god hath lent thee– by these angels he hath sent thee respite– respite & nepenthe from the memories of lenore! quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe & forget this lost lenore!” quoth the raven, “nevermore.”
“prophet!” said i, “thing of evil! prophet still, if bird or devil! whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore, desolate, yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted– on this home by horror haunted– tell me truly, i implore, is there– is there balm in gilead? tell me, tell me! implore!” quoth the raven, “nevermore.”
“prophet!” said i, “thing of evil! prophet still, if bird or devil! by that heaven that bends aboce us, by that god we both adore– tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant aidenn, it shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name lenore– clasp a rare & radiant maiden whom the angels name lenore.” quoth the raven, “nevermore.”
“be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” i shrieked, upstarting– “get thee back into the tempest & the night’s plutonian shore! leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul has spoken! leave my loneliness unbroken! quit the bust above my door! take thy beak from out my heart & take thy form from off my door!” quoth the raven, “nevermore.”
& the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting on the pallid bust of pallas just above my chamber door; & his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming & the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadows on the floor; & my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor shall be lifted– nevermore!