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Corin Nemec

Wingman Wednesday

Corin Nemec

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Having grown up somewhat alongside Corin Nemec – he on our television screens, we sitting in front of them – the Arkansas-born actor has entertained us for decades. From the ahead-of-its-time “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose” to the small screen adaptation of “The Stand,” as well as some of our favorite episodic science fiction, “Stargate” and “Supernatural,” he has surprised us with his versatility time and time again. Perhaps no role has been more surprising however than the half man/half bunny of “Rottentail,” the new horror/comedy mashup that is sure to become a cult classic. Based on the graphic novel by David C. Hayes and published by Source Point Press, the film is available now in select theaters.

We recently sat down with Nemec to discuss career longevity, where he is most at peace, and why he hopped at the opportunity to play the film’s title character.

TrunkSpace: You’ve been working in the industry for decades. What would be the biggest surprise to 10-year-old Corin if he was able to sort of catch a glimpse of how your career has played out? What would the younger version of you be the most psyched about?
Nemec: Well, the fact that I’ve been in the industry for over 30 years and I’m still working.

TrunkSpace: Did you have a long-term plan in place when you were first dreaming of becoming an actor?
Nemec: It’s tough to say. This industry is such a roller coaster, you know? Like I answered before, it’s pretty amazing that I’m still working consistently year after year because there’s plenty of actors that started when they were kids at the same time that I did who never worked again once they became adults, much less in their 40s. It’s just a huge blessing that I’m still able to compete and continue doing what I’ve always loved to do. There’s ups and downs – it’s rare that there’s real consistency. Even with people with huge careers, there still can be major ups and downs.

TrunkSpace: Was it a matter of putting yourself in the right place at the right time?
Nemec: I think that a lot of it is because at a certain point in my career, when many other actors would probably not audition as much, I realized that it was more important to put ego aside and be willing to audition for films, television shows or whatever else in order to continue working on a regular basis and to compete for jobs that wouldn’t be offered to me. I think that that had a lot to do with it because there were other actors with careers similar to mine, and they were more thinking that they should be in “offer-only” kind of situations for parts. For me it was about always being willing to compete for a role, win or lose. I think that that was a big part of my longevity throughout my late 20s and into my 30s. I think that since then it’s also been relationships that I’ve made as I’ve gotten older, with producers, directors and casting directors. I’ve made some decent relationships with a number of them over the years that I end up working with on a semi-regular basis.

TrunkSpace: Would you say that you still enjoy working in the industry as much today as you did when you first started out?
Nemec: Oh yeah! It’s strange. I feel more at home and more at peace… and more in my own skin… when I’m sitting in a trailer in-between scenes or on a set than I do anywhere else in my life. It’s just I feel that I’m participating in what it is that I love to do. It’s a great blessing, and I certainly do not frown upon it at all. I know some people in the industry who they just have oddly bad attitudes even when they’re working, and even when they’re not working. When I see people with bad attitudes on set it’s like, “Do something else.”

TrunkSpace: From what we understand, you’re a big comic book fan. Did that play into your initial interest in “Rottentail” seeing it started out as a graphic novel?
Nemec: Although I hadn’t read the graphic novel, I was familiar with the graphic novel previous to getting the job. It was a bit of a cult hit. I do a lot of conventions – Comic Con-style conventions mostly – for my work on “Stargate” and “Supernatural.” I end up hanging out with a lot of the comic book artists and stuff like that. I usually pop by all the comic book stands, where they have everything set up, and have a chat and check out what’s going on. I’m an artist as well. I’ve drawn my whole life, and I was totally addicted to MAD Magazine and Heavy Metal magazine. Those are my two favorite magazines, and the art in both of those is always really great. I was also into the regular comic book stuff, and then later on, checking out some of the graphic novels. I always loved the idea of translating graphic novels into features because there’s some just amazing stories in a lot of those graphic novels, especially with the more avant-garde publishing companies. Not everything is DC and Marvel, let’s be real here. There’s just far more content out there than DC and Marvel.

So I was very excited when I heard about it. I got a copy of the graphic novel and I was like, “Oh wow! This is hilarious!” And then I got a hold of the script and met with Brian Skiba and had a chat about it. I was just excited that it was going to be a horror/comedy because I think that if we had gone straight horror with something like “Rottentail,” a half man/half rabbit – without the funny in there – I don’t think that it would have come across nearly as well as it has because it’s so ridiculous. Without that comedy I don’t think that people would have believed in the world as much.

TrunkSpace: They comedy certainly helps viewers suspend belief. When we first watched, because of that comedic side to it, we thought, “This has the potential to be a cult classic.”
Nemec: Yeah, it definitely is in the running to be a cult class. Absolutely it is.

TrunkSpace: Is that something that you consciously think about when you see a concept like this, which while not for everyone, you know there will be a certain segment of movie fans who will get it?
Nemec: Yeah, I think we knew once we did the makeup test and did a mock up of one of the scenes. William McNamara came out and we did a little piece of one of the scenes just to see how everything played and what the character was like. I think that was the real “Aha!” moment for Brian Skiba and I. It was like, “Oh yeah, we definitely have something here.” The makeup looks absolutely amazing. The character came together right away and it looked great on film. Once that happened, the excitement level and the enthusiasm definitely went up. The budget on this is under $300,000 and we spent over $60,000 of it on special effects makeup. If you do the math, you can see how much was left for principal photography and we only had 16 days to shoot it in. This script was not a slice of life film. There is a lot happening in it. Brian Skiba, being the great director that he is, was able to pull it off. I think a lesser director would have just collapsed under the pressure.

TrunkSpace: It reminded us of something like “Bubba Ho-tep” in terms of its cult classic potential.
Nemec: Yeah. I think that it’s similar to how maybe the first “Chucky” movie was, although I think “Chucky” took itself even a little bit more seriously than we’re taking things. There’s a lot of great one liners… a lot of great comedy to it. It’s a character that isn’t really taking itself too seriously. I really think that for the genre and for the budget that we had and the shooting schedule… I really think that we knocked it out of the park. Our hope is that it does well enough to get us another, a “Rottentail 2,” which of course we would preferably have a real budget for so we can show people what we can really, really, do.

TrunkSpace: Rottentail is such a memorable character, but you’ve played a lot of memorable characters on screen over the years. Who is a character that you wish you had more time to explore further?
Nemec: I would definitely say the role on “Stargate” was cut short in a way that was unexpected and I really think that it was unfortunate that that character wasn’t utilized a lot more in the episodes after the character was written out of the show. I was pretty surprised that they never chose to bring the character back again or figure out what happened when he left. “Is there anything else?” There was just zero follow up. They wrote the character out and never returned to visit it.

Rottentail” is available in select theaters now.

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Deep Focus

Brian Skiba

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In our ongoing column Deep Focus, TrunkSpace is going behind the camera to talk with the directors, writers and producers who infuse our world with that perennial pop culture goodness that we can’t get enough of.

This time out we’re chatting with Brian Skiba, writer, director and producer of the new comedy/horror mashup “Rottentail,” based on the graphic novel by David C. Hayes and released by Source Point Press.

(Be sure to check out our chat with “Rottentail” star Corin Nemec here!)

TrunkSpace: “Rottentail” is based on a graphic novel. Did adapting a concept from a comic change up the creative process for you at all?
Skiba: Yeah, it definitely does. Typically you only have a script to go off of or it’s an idea and we develop the script. It was really nice to actually have something that was tangible and that we know already has a little bit of a fan base behind it. I enjoyed the process. I thought it was great. It allowed for us to take an existing source and expand upon it, which was a lot of fun.

TrunkSpace: Did having that tangible item make it easier in terms of securing the financing to physically make the movie?
Skiba: I don’t know. Source Point did the financing. I would think so but I think a lot of the financing came a little bit late in the game. We had some guys up front that got us going and then as we got into it, budgets tend to swell. I think he used the graphic novel mixed with what we had shot to finish off the budget, which was, obviously, very low to begin with.

TrunkSpace: Was there anything in that process, by way of budget or time constraints, that put writer Brian and director Brian at odds with each other?
Skiba: Yeah. Budget always dictates the war between writer and director Brian, for sure. Writer Brian is a 100 million dollar Marvel movie. Director Brian is like, “Oh shit, I only have 50 bucks.” (Laughter) There’s always that constant battle. On this one, going into it, I knew what I had when we started. The initial script was written by David Hayes and then I came in and did a rewrite on it. I already kind of knew where we were going to be at. For me, I went into it with the idea of, “Okay, this is obviously going to be a B movie.” It suits that genre because it is about a bunny man. If I went out and I tried to make “Logan” or I went out and tried to tell a super serious story about a guy in a bunny suit, to me it wouldn’t have worked. It wouldn’t do the book justice because the book is also very funny and tongue in cheek. So for me, I went into it thinking, “Okay, this film is going to be that VHS tape that you tucked away in the ‘80s or ‘90s and you haven’t seen in 20 years. All of a sudden you’re going through your stuff and you’re like, ‘Oh yeah, I remember this film. Let me pop it in.’”

TrunkSpace: And that played with us. It was like the movie we wanted to rent from Blockbuster back in the day, but our dad wouldn’t let us, so we went to our friend’s house and their dad let us.
Skiba: Yeah, that’s exactly what we were going for artistically, and as far as looks go, I think it’s been a success in that because it definitely screams that that’s what it is. At the same point, mainstream critics just don’t get it. They just want to harp on, “It’s low budget!” It’s like, “No, dude, it’s a genre piece. It’s an art piece.” Yeah, we didn’t have millions upon millions of dollars but this is a VHS tape exactly like you said… the kind you couldn’t rent but your friend’s dad rented. That’s what we went into the film wanting to create.

TrunkSpace: Is there something to be said too with a micro budget where, as a filmmaker, it forces you to think outside the box and maybe land some gems that you wouldn’t have if you went into a production with a limitless budget?
Skiba: Yes and no. I’ve done multi-million dollar pictures and had all the toys. When it gets that big it becomes a lot of chefs in the kitchen, whereas something like this it was kind of liberating to not have six executive producers behind me from a network constantly poking the bear, so to say. It was liberating to be able to go and say, “Hey, Corin, let’s just try something crazy right here and see if it works.” Corin would come to me and say the same thing. “Hey, man, you mind if I riff a little bit here?” “Nah, go for it.” It was liberating and we found lots of gems, so yeah, I think there’s something to be said about that. Granted, the filmmaker in me would love to have all of the toys on the planet, but I feel like for what we were given and the time we had, we put out something that was entertaining and that’s ultimately the goal.

TrunkSpace: With that in mind, what are you most proud of with the film?
Skiba: I’m most proud that we can make people laugh. We can make people smile. We’ll take them out of their everyday lives for 90 minutes and entertain them and let them reminisce. I think the greatest thing about this film – and what I’m seeing from everybody that’s starting to see it and what they come back with – is the same thing that you felt. It’s reminiscent of when we were kids… when we were kids in the ‘80s and ‘90s and this Grindhouse VHS kind of genre that’s been lost. Everybody these days is trying to be 8K and super clean. I personally kind of like the 16mm look. I like my film a little bit dirty and not seeing everybody’s individual pores like crazy. There’s definitely a nostalgia kind of feeling that goes with that. I think that’s something that we all accomplished.

TrunkSpace: One of the things we noticed in looking over your career as a whole is just how many holiday movies you have had a hand in, and considering this one is coming out at Easter, we can’t help but wonder if this was a purposeful career path you set yourself on or if it has been by chance?
Skiba: Yeah, the Christmas movies kind of just happened. It (“Rottentail”) is kind of my revenge on having to do so many of these Christmas movies I guess. I fell into Christmas. I did a couple thrillers, a couple horror films, and then a guy came to me and said, “Hey, look, if you write a Christmas movie I could sell it.” So I wrote “Defending Santa” and sure enough, the guy sold it. Then I met the network execs and the producers and I just kind of got into TV as far doing the TV movies. Since then I’ve done 17 TV movies. It’s been a great education and a the same time, it’s been a great career. I enjoy doing them. I have one coming out in October, but this time it’s a little step up. It’s for Universal Studios. I’ve got an actual studio release in October with Denise Richards, Patrick Muldoon and Barbara Eden called “My Adventures with Santa.” That one is a lot of fun too. If you enjoy “Rottentail” you’ll enjoy “My Adventures with Santa” as well just because it’s a fun kind of throwback feel Christmas movie.

Rottentail” is available in select theaters now.

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