The Company of Shadows
Back in November we here at HorrorHomework.com were one of the first, if not the first, to bring horror fans an exclusive interview with Paul Gerrard about his new, exciting, and innovative pitch trailer for his vision of Hellraiser: Origins. A lot has happened since then and word is beginning to circulate about Paul’s first art book, “The Company of Shadows”. So I decided I’d sit and have a chat with Paul via Skype about his new kickstarter campaign for his art book and the current state of Hellraiser: Origins.
Death by Stereo: So can you tell us what’s happened with the original Hellraiser: Origins project since we last spoke?
Paul Gerrard: As you know, we’ve geared up to pitch to the studio and the news that there was going to be a remake kind of killed us dead really. So at the moment there were plans to convert it to a graphic novel, but that fell through because Boom were doing their own version. So what we plan to do is, long term, turn the whole thing into a new IP from scratch. We will be hopefully be shooting a short sometime early next year and go from there.
DBS: That would be fantastic. So is The Company of Shadows all Hellraiser based or is it a collection of all of your creations?
PG: No, there’s about ten characters from Origins that are in there and their stories. There’s a big section about Hellraiser, it’s about 90 percent new characters. There’s character from other movies as well.
DBS: I know you mentioned that the news of the Hellraiser remake blew you dead out of the water. I agree with what you had said in our last interview that there is no reason the two should not be able to coexist with one another. Do you feel like the production company just wasn’t ready to get rid of the tiring formula that the franchise has used so many times? Or do you feel there were other reasons involved?
PG: I think it purely comes down to money. I know for a fact that Dimension has no further plans to make any Hellraiser movie. But the plans they had initially, it would’ve had to have been a pretty low budget affair. So they would’ve wanted to do the same thing as they did with Evil Dead, contain it within a small house. But it’s been done, I don’t see why you would want to sit through that again. It’s such a massive franchise.
DBS: So talk to us about your new kickstarter project. Did this originally evolve from the Hellraiser: Origins project?
PG: Yeah it did. I was almost ready to give up with a lot of this stuff. A lot of movies and this kind of world. It wasn’t until I put it out there to the fans of Origins, a lot of them were just saying, Do your own thing. Take Hellraiser, make an art book from it and so I have. I looked at all the artwork I have created. What I want to do is showcase them the way I see them and not just as illustrations. So I started to put it together and it just exploded. I got obsessed as usual and as often happens. It has mini stories with every character that nobody normally sees and all the notes that I make that people don’t usually get to see online or on Facebook.
DBS: That’s great. Speaking solely of the Cenobites in your Hellraiser world, what is the most difficult thing about designing these odd and grotesque looking characters?
PG: Knowing where to stop I think. In my mind they could be anything. They could be part tree, they could be insect, they can be anything you want. You’re dealing with kind of an off-shoot of a god creature in different realms. The way I saw it was, what you see in the movies is only like ten percent of what could be the Hellraiser world. You’re seeing just a tiny fraction of that human element and when it comes to Cenobites, they could be anything. Then you have to balance it with whether you decide to go down the route of contemporary, or not. The contemporary side is what sells. Where as the stuff I want to do, probably isn’t. So it’s just trying to get that balance.
DBS: Absolutely. I know you like to incorporate symbols and things of that nature into your characters. Where did this idea come from?
PG: It’s the way I work. The characters stem from the symbols. I’ll explain my process for creating any character, whether it be my own stuff or with movies. I’ll consume the information first. Whether it be aliens or whatever. Read all the information they give me and I’ll do some research on imagery. I sleep on it and just see what kind of comes out. I’m a great believer that the subconscious mind is more powerful than your conscious mind. If you figure out a way to make your subconscious mind work for you, I think that’s a better way to work, in my opinion. The symbols thing is taking that a step further in that, I’ll consume the information, wake up and scribble the first symbol that I’ve got. The way I see it, that symbol represents the information that I’ve consumed. Then I’ll base the character on that symbol. So it kind of makes sense in a round about way.
DBS: So you really see, in particular, the Hellraiser world as kind of being limitless in that aspect.
PG: Yeah. If you look at the Pinhead that’s been redone, my version of Pinhead, you can break it down into symbols. There are triangles, one representing femininity and one representing the afterlife. You have symbols on the head representing the marella, which is a medieval child’s playing game. If you look all down the body, it’s the same thing. Each Chakra point of the body, there’s a symbol that represents a certain element in time, even a certain historical symbol. It’s just the way I like to work. I think your mind, even though you don’t understand them, your mind still picks them up and goes, I recognize that symbol, I recognize that shape and it draws you in.
DBS: It’s almost like you’ll see something new every time you see the image.
PG: The Illuminati have been doing it for decades, so if it’s good enough for them ya know…
DBS: You told us about how you go about using symbols in your characters by using dreams. Do you use any other methods such as meditation?
PG: I don’t do full meditation anymore like I used to. The place where I live is unsavory. I believe that the environment you’re in affects your meditative state, so I don’t do that as much. But what I do is more quiet meditations. Maybe just a little music to help clear your mind and then you can allow the images to come through after that. It’s just a way to filter your mind of all the shit so all the pure imagery can pop in there.
DBS: I read some info that you plan to take the movie shorts and plan full features. Are you speaking of full length films?
PG: Yeah, full length films. The guy I work with, Paul Griffith who’s a screenwriter. Together we are doing shots first and then make them into a full feature. We’ve got one that is about a month away from full script. But like anything, you’ve got to do the first steps first. We’ll get the shots done, we’ll get them out, and then we’ll start pitching the full features.
DBS: Excellent, I can’t wait for that. What can we as fans and viewers expect from your film shorts?
PG: I would say if you look at early Clive Barker and early Cronenberg, its like imaginative body horror. So it would be terrifying body horror like Videodrome, but with more of the fantastical creatures of Clive Barker. That’s the stuff I love, the stuff I grew up with. It would be a mix. If, if I use CG you would never be able to tell it was CG, it would be more used for the background. Mostly I will be using prosthetics. I think that’s just the way to go.
DBS: I couldn’t agree more. I think CG is overly used a lot of times and nothing beats the practical effects.
PG: I’m just a huge fan of the blood FX guys and what they can do.
DBS: Absolutely. I recall there being a view counter on the official Hellraiser: Origins website for the pitch trailer you created. How did the final number coincide with your expectations? Were there more or less views than you had actually expected?
PG: There’s a lot less because we really relied a lot on the press and I had interviews lined up with about four different, huge magazines and online. All the little guys, all the little independent horror sites backed us fully. But I think in order to get those views from the mainstream, we needed those magazines. As soon as news of the remake popped up, they just dropped us dead. Which is understandable because you don’t want to make a two page spread on some random guy’s pitch, when Clive Barker is going to do his. It was just bad timing.
DBS: And it was unfortunate. It was just bad timing. You guys just both came to the table at the same time.
PG: And who’s going to argue with Clive Barker and the Weinsteins ya know (laughs)
DBS: What are your thoughts on the current state of the Hellraiser franchise?
PG: I think it’s dead and buried personally. I don’t think they are going to do anything with it. If they do, I very much doubt it will be anything new. Not because of the creative people involved, but because that’s just what the studios demand of it. That’s what the studios will pay for. There’s no way in hell that anything I do is going to be studio based from now on. If I get to a point to which I am ever looking or being in a position to pitch stuff, it won’t be to studios. No chance.
DBS: Cant blame you there. The studios have totally trashed more than just the Hellraiser franchise and its all become a money game and a rights game.
PG: I think eventually all films will be digital and downloadable and your big studio films will all be along the likes of The Avengers 7 and Spiderman reboot 9. That’s all you’ll get.
DBS: Yeah. Everything that’s already been done.
PG: I read somewhere that “B” movies have died off because their publishers can’t get them out quick enough. Which is a shame because I grew up with “B” movies. I’m hoping that will change. Get to a point where you can just delete the publishers and do the whole thing yourself. I hoping that way of working will come back.
DBS: Definitely. I think you would see a lot more originality that way. Let’s talk about your art book The Company of Shadows a little more. How many characters would you say you have designed specifically for the book?
PG: For the book, somewhere around fifty I’d say. I’ve had a few projects on the go that I’ve said to the people, well I’ll do your project for you, if you allow me to put them into the book. So I’m doing that, but yeah around fifty just specifically for the book. Which has been fun because I don’t have to answer to anybody. It is just purely my own. Plus it allows me to be a bit more warped. I don’t have to hold back.
DBS: Sure, there’s nothing wrong with that! Can you tell us a little more about what your plans are moving forward, assuming the kickstarter project reaches its goal?
PG: Yeah. Assuming that it does, we would spent at least three months on pre-production on three of the shorts. That’s three months just full out, nothing else, as many hours as I can. Then we will take those and hopefully have enough behind us to get one into post production. That’s the plan.
DBS: And how do you feel about the current dollars you have received so far, without even reaching out to the press yet?
PG: It’s been good. I already hit something like ten percent already. The first six days were slow because what I had written about the product on the page, I think was too confusing. People reading it didn’t know whether it was an art book or a Hellraiser book. So I sat down and rewrote it. It’s a concept art character book. Since I’ve rewritten the description sales has gone up a little bit. Like you said it hasn’t hit the press yet either.
DBS: Exactly. Well, I can’t wait to get my hands on it myself. And I think when the word gets out, and the contest/giveaway we plan on doing with you on www.horrorhomework.com, when the word really gets out there, things are going to skyrocket.
PG: I hope so. Fingers crossed.
DBS: So are there any current or future project you’re working on you would like to tell us a little about?
PG: I’m working on Chinese horror/sci-fi movie part time, which I can’t talk too much about. I’m also working on a big budget remake of Videodrome. That should kick off again in about four months. It’s one that I started last year, they went through rewrites, and stopped and started again type thing. I’ve read the script and it’s fuckin awesome. Everybody worries about Videodrome being remade, don’t touch Videodrome, but honestly it will be worth doing. I’ll be doing the creatures so there ya go.
DBS: Well then we can’t go wrong with the remake.
PG: I hope so.
DBS: Well that’s all the questions I have, is there anything else you’d like to add or tell us about?
PG: Only that, in the book, even though it’s predominately all concept art, as in it’s all characters, you will get a lot of short stories. The shorts we are doing, the foundations for them are within the book. If we made these shorts and features, the book would act as sort of a prequel, you could look back and see all of the characters. All the artwork I’m giving away for free as part of the promotion, are all the same characters.
DBS: So the shorts we’ve spoken about, are they based on a variety of different characters from the book, or will they be more Hellraiser driven?
PG: Different characters and there will the Hellraiser as a new IP, which will be based on about six of the characters. But three of the other shorts will all be based on one character each. Some of them are kind of walking, talking characters. Some are inside peoples minds and some will be what the lead actor will become.
DBS: When will these shorts be available?
PG: As soon as we get them done. Hopefully we can get them on the circuit and the film festivals, do it that way.
DBS: Are they something that will be available online?
PG: They’ll be 100 percent online. That’s the way we’ll do it. What we’ll try to do is do the short distribution. Instead of going through studios, we’ll do it through fans, maybe through another kickstarter, and through social media. I think it’s just the best way to keep control over what it is you want to do.
DBS: Absolutely. Everything is in your hands and nobody is going to tell you, you should do a little more of this, or a little less of that.
PG: No one is going to tell you that the leading actress has to have perfect teeth or a certain size.
DBS: Alright Paul, well if there’s nothing else, I appreciate you talking with me. I appreciate your involvement in the contest for horror homework.com. We will get the word out there and we’ll get this book made, we’ll do it.
PG: Well thanks for your help. With it being horror and with it being kind of a niche market, it’s so hard to get it out there and every little bit helps.
DBS: We back you 100 percent and we will do anything we can to help you out.
PG: Thanks a lot mate.
Paul has posted numerous pictures on his facebook page of his characters, only some of which you will see here, directly from The Company of Shadows. It’s yet another ambitious project from a very talented artist and one of the most original in the business.
Be sure to donate for this excellent cause.
You can own PDF and hardcover versions of the book, original black and white or color sketches of a “cast,” prints, even busts of “Placenta Boy” or the “High Priest,” and so much more! Certain pieces are in very limited runs, so act fast!
Watch our HorrorHomework.com facebook page for a giveaway to win an original piece of art from Paul Gerrard, painted just for this promotion, along with a signed book upon its release.