About this project
"Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland: The Saga of Empire Pictures" is an ALL-NEW feature documentary about the rise and fall of Empire Pictures, the most ambitious B-movie studio in the 1980's.
While other independent film companies were targeting the growing home video market, producer Charles Band ("The Pupper Master" series) was releasing low-budget horror and fantasy features to drive-in's and multiplexes around the world. The early runaway box office success of films like, "Re-Animator" and "Ghoulies", paved the foundation for Empire's wildly imaginative slate of motion pictures. But what led the youthful studio to crash and burn upon the sticky floors of empty movie theaters?
The thrilling saga of Empire Pictures is told through the eyes of the innovative team of filmmakers and film professionals who worked together to reinvent and reinvigorate the independent film industry in the 1980's. The documentary also features never-before-seen footage, production stills, and rare glimpses at the motion pictures that were in development when the studio was dramatically seized by the bank.
"Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland" is the brain-child of producer/director Daniel Griffith of Ballyhoo Motion Pictures. Over the past seven years, Griffith has produced and directed award-winning documentaries for Shout! Factory’s popular “Mystery Science Theater 3000” DVD sets. His other feature productions include, “Let There Be Light: The Odyssey of Dark Star”, “The Flesh And The Fury” and the upcoming documentary on the history of American International Pictures, "It Was A Colossal Teenage Movie Machine".
We need your help to complete this epic production! While we have been granted incredible access to the Empire vaults and interviewed the legends behind this story, we have a number of additional expenses, including digitally transferring rare behind-the-scenes footage and commissioning renowned Empire Pictures composer Richard Band to score the film.
Scroll down for more DETAILS about the documentary!
The main reward for your contribution is "THE DOCUMENTARY". For a pledge of $40, you will receive a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack containing the final documentary, "Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland: The Saga of Empire Pictures", with hours of bonus features (the documentary and the features will be the same of both discs)! You will also receive “THE MANDROID” button set (seven collectable buttons) and a “Special Thanks” in the end credits! Release date TBD.
For a pledge of $100, you will receive a LIMITED EDITION Blu-ray/DVD/VHS Set! The LIMITED EDITION Blu-ray/DVD/VHS Set is packaged in an EXCLUSIVE, newly created ‘BIG BOX’ VHS case featuring the alternative “DECAPITRON” artwork. Each copy is numbered and signed (by the director)! You will also get “THE MANDROID” button set and a “Special Thanks” in the end credits! Release date TBD (Limit 150)
Scroll down for more EXCLUSIVE rewards and collectables!
Scientists. Psychopaths. Aliens. Mutants. Cyborgs. Trolls. Valet Girls. Sorority Babes. These are only a few of the extraordinary characters that populated the cinematic universe of Empire Pictures, the short-lived film studio founded in the 1980’s by legendary B-movie producer Charles Band (The Puppet Master series). While other independent studios were targeting the growing home video market, Band was producing low-budget horror and fantasy features for multiplexes worldwide.
But, while Band ambitiously exclaimed “2,000 movies by the year 2000”, his newfound studio was rapidly crumbling beneath him. His unbridled passion for motion picture marketing and distribution clashed with scandalous banking practices, largely due to a turbulent relationship with the infamous Crédit Lyonnais. But what really caused the youthful film company to crash and burn upon the sticky floors of empty movie theaters?
From the immediate box office success of “Re-Animator” and “Ghoulies”, to abysmal failure of “Eliminators” and “TerrorVision”, this unique documentary chronicles the epic journey of Charles Band's Empire Pictures. Beginning with his childhood spent on the set of his father's productions, and ending in the controversial aftermath of his first motion picture company, "Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland" reveals the true origin story of one of the last surviving B-movie producers in Hollywood!
THE FILMS FEATURED IN THE DOCUMENTARY:
Empire Pictures was known for its wildly fantastical approach to motion picture entertainment. Their film releases explored everything from video game warriors to talking re-animated heads. Their catalog includes: "The Dungeomaster" (1984), "Ghoulies" (1985), "Trancers" (1985), "Zone Troopers" (1985), "Re-animator" (1985), "Troll" (1986), "Eliminators" (1986), "TerrorVision" (1986), "From Beyond" (1986), "Dolls" (1987), "Necropolis" (1987), "Creepozoids" (1987), "Valet Girls" (1987), "Prison" (1988), "Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama" (1988), and "Robot Jox" (1989), just to name a few!
Visit the official documentary website to view trailers for many of these films!
But "Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland" also explores Charles Band's earlier films, like "Laserblast" (1978), "Tourist Trap" (1979), "The Day Time Ended" (1979) and "Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn" (1983). The documentary will also explore the history of Wizard Video, Band's pioneering home video company, and its Atari counter-part, Wizard Games.
The Empire Pictures documentary delves deeper behind the scenes by exploring the visual effects wizardry that went into each film. Many of Hollywoods leading Visual Effects technicians worked for Charles Band during the Empire and Full Moon era. Randy Cook, for example, handled the stop-motion animation on several films for the company and would later win three Academy Awards for his work on Peter Jackson's "TheLord of the Rings" trilogy. And effects artist David Allen was nominated for an Academy Award for "Young Sherlock Holmes" while directing the stop-motion animation for "Robot Jox".
"Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland: The Saga of Empire Pictures" is the sixth feature-length documentary from producer, director, and editor Daniel Griffith. Over the past seven years, Griffith has produced and directed award-winning documentaries for Shout! Factory’s popular “Mystery Science Theater 3000” DVD sets. His other feature productions include, “Let There Be Light: The Odyssey of Dark Star”, “The Flesh And The Fury” and the upcoming documentary on the history of American International Pictures, "It Was A Colossal Teenage Movie Machine".
More recently, Griffith directed an hour-long documentary on the history and legacy of “The Twilight Zone” for Image Entertainment/CBS Films. Current reviews for the documentaries Griffith produced and directed for Scream! Factory’s blu-ray release of “From a Whisper to a Scream” state that they are “easily the best making-of pieces Scream! Factory has released.” (Dread Central)
Griffith's interest in Empire Pictures dates back to a childhood spent renting films, like "Ghoulies", "Re-Animator" and "Eliminators", at his local 'mom & pop' video store. Over the years, he would collect material for what he hoped would be the ultimate documentary about the trials and tribulations of a thriving mini-major in the 1980's. After several false starts, Griffith officially began production on this 'passion project' in 2013 while filming material for other documentaries.
Griffith is the owner/operator of Ballyhoo Motion Pictures.
Griffith's production team includes Danny Bilson, who began his career as a writer at Empire Pictures. During his time with the company, he co-wrote “Trancers” and “Eliminators”, and directed “Zone Troopers”. Bilson and his writing partner, Paul DeMeo, went on the scribe many successful films, television series and video games, including “The Rocketeer” and "The Flash". Bilson and DeMeo serve as Executive Producers on the documentary.
Visit Danny Bilson's website to learn more about his current productions.
Griffith's production team also includes screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner. Joyner has been a writer for film and television for more than 30 years. His work includes "From a Whisper to a Scream" starring Vincent Price, the Empire Pictures film "Prison", and the new series, "Wanted". In the world of fiction, he has created the western mass market series "Shotgun" for Kensington Books and his new adventure novel "Nemo Rising", which will appear from Tor/Forge for Christmas, 2016. Joyner is also an Executive Producer on the documentary.
HERE'S WHAT THE ORIGINAL EMPIRE FILMMAKERS HAVE TO SAY:
"This is the documentary fans of my films have been waiting for. Daniel has delved deeper into the Empire and Full Moon vaults than most of the creatures I have created over the past 30+ years!" - CHARLES BAND (Owner of FULL MOON ENTERTAINMENT)
“CELLULOID WIZARDS isn’t just the chronicle of Empire Pictures – it’s the saga of all the indie companies that thrived after the home video explosion. I was on the front lines, and Daniel Griffith’s doc will expertly capture the wild ups and downs of genre filmmaking in the 80’s.” - C. COURTNEY JOYNER (writer of PRISON)
"Daniel Griffith is the only documentarian that I know of that could tackle the gargantuan task of creating a documentary on Empire Pictures. He has been given special access to people who have the inside scoop on their insane movies. I've revealed stories about working for Empire that i've never discussed with anyone. It's going to be an amazing documentary" -DAVID DECOTEAU (director of SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-A-RAMA)
"For quite some time, I have been consistently impressed with the work of Daniel Griffith. His exhaustive research and incisive vision make him not only a good documentary filmmaker but show his true love for the horror/fantasy/sci-fi genres. Now he's turned his attention to Empire Pictures, a company I worked for in various capacities, I can hardly wait to see what he produces." -KENNETH J. HALL (special effects on GHOULIES II)
HOW CAN YOU HELP:
Ballyhoo Motion Pictures and award-winning documentarian Daniel Griffith invite you to JOIN THE ADVENTURE and help bring the electrifying story of Empire Pictures to the screen! Over 90% of the interviews and location footage has been filmed using our own resources. We have also uncovered hundreds of 'never-before-seen' photographs, as well as hours of home video footage, documenting the making of the Empire films. We have included a few examples below. We intend to share more with you as the Kickstarter campaign continues!
But, in order to re-animate this documentary into the thrilling saga we know it can be, we need to raise a minimum of $25,000 to complete the film. These funds will be used to secure travel for additional interviews, digitally transfer rare ‘behind the scenes’ film elements and theatrical trailers, commission an original film score by renowned Empire Pictures composer Richard Band (richardbandmusic.com), employ award-winning illustrator Paul Shipper (paulshipperstudio.com) to craft an original theatrical one-sheet campaign for the documentary, and pay for legal fees!
While the $25,000 will cover these essential elements, we hope to raise more than our initial Kickstarter goal and expand the Empire Pictures story even further. This will include recreations of various historical events, as well as producing live-action sequences of ‘unfilmed’ Empire projects (more information about this will be made available if we reach our initial goal).
We also hope to utilize this ‘additional’ funding to further promote the final documentary at major film festivals and ‘limited’ theatrical engagements, ensuring that audiences around the world will be able to experience the Empire story!
ABOUT PAUL SHIPPER:
Inspired from a very young age by the one sheets in the cinema lobby and collected on his bedroom wall, Paul Shipper fell in love with the craft and beauty of the illustrated film poster. He has since been devoted to creating film poster art on a self proclaimed mission to bring the beloved 'old school' illustrated movie poster back to the cinema... and beyond!
Paul's illustrations have been appreciated and praised by some fine folks in the film industry, including J.J. Abrams, Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, Tom Hanks, Tom Tykwer, Duncan Jones and the Wachowski's.
When you JOIN THE ADVENTURE, you will not only be supporting our epic production, but you will be given the opportunity to show your support to the world! In the spirit of the 80’s, we have designed merchandise that specifically reflects the era!
Each pledge amount has its own promotional reward! Each item is exclusive to the “Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland” Kickstarter Campaign and are not available anywhere else! But that’s not all! Each pledge will also receive a “special thanks” end credit in the documentary itself.
Here’s a sneak preview of the items you will receive (based on your donation amount):
MAIN #1: "THE DOCUMENTARY" - A Blu-ray/DVD Combo containing the final documentary, "Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland: The Saga of Empire Pictures", with hours of bonus features, both new and archival (the documentary and the features will be the same of both discs)! You will also receive “THE MANDROID” button set (seven collectable buttons) and a “Special Thanks” in the end credits! Release date TBD.
MAIN #2: "THE DOCUMENTARY COLLECTORS SET" - A LIMITED EDITION VHS, Blu-ray and DVD combo set* packaged in an EXCLUSIVE, newly created ‘BIG BOX’ VHS case featuring the alternative “DECAPITRON” artwork. Each copy is numbered and signed (by the director)! You will also get “THE MANDROID” button set and a “Special Thanks” in the end credits! Release date TBD (Limit 150)
*The VHS contains the documentary ONLY. The Blu-ray/DVD combo is the same as the $40 pledge version.
REWARD #1: "THE WHISTLER"- A “Special Thanks” in the end credits. (No Limit)
REWARD #2: "THE MANDROID"- A collectable set of seven Empire Pictures 2.5” buttons and a “Special Thanks” in the end credits. Buttons include: TRANCERS, RE-ANIMATOR, TROLL, ELIMINATORS, GHOULIES, ZONE TROOPERS, and PRISON. (Limit 150)
REWARD #3: "THE SORORITY BABE" - A DVD copy of "SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-A-RAMA" and a big box VHS copy of "DREAMANIAC", both signed by director David DeCoteau, plus a “Special Thanks” in the end credits. (Limit 10)
REWARD #5: "THE DUNGEONMASTER" - A collectable “EMPIRE PICTURES ’86” T-Shirt (sizes M, L, XL, & XXL), plus the “THE MANDROID” button set and a “Special Thanks” in the end credits. (Limit 100)
REWARD #4: "THE PUPPET MASTER" - A blu-ray copy of the Special Edition of "TRANCERS" (featuring Daniel Griffith's documentary) and a blu-ray copy of "THE PUPPET MASTER", both signed by director Charles Band. You will also receive a "Special Thanks" end credit.
REWARD #6: "HERBERT WEST’S LABORATORY" - Select one (1) of four original Empire film T-shirts (TRANCERS, RE-ANIMATOR, PRISON or ROBOT JOX), plus “THE MANDROID” button set, one 2" MEDIA VIDEO button, and a “Special Thanks” in the end credits. (Limit 100)
REWARD #7: "JACK DETH'S BADGE" - A set of original 8in x 11in Empire Pictures promo-cards, one for TRANCERS and one for ZONE TROOPERS. Both are signed by screenwriters Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo. Also includes a "Special Thanks" end credit in the film. (Limit 3)
REWARD #8: "CORPORAL MITTEN'S TROOPERS" - An ultr-rare 'original' 16in x 22in advance promo-poster for ZONE TROOPERS, signed by screenwriters Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo. Also includes a "Special Thanks" end credit in the film. (Limit 3)
REWARD #9: “CHARLIE FORSYTHE’S ELECTRIC CHAIR” - A copy of the "PRISON" script signed by screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner (with an exclusive introduction) and a "Special Thanks" end credit in the film. (Limit 5)
REWARD #10: “THE VIDEO WIZARD” - An exclusive “WIZARD VIDEO ‘87” T-shirt (sizes L & XL) in collectable ‘big box’ VHS packaging (box randomly selected from 5 original designs) with three 1” mini VHS sticker buttons, one 2" WIZARD VIDEO button, one 2" MEDIA VIDEO button and a “Special Thanks” end credit in the film. (Limit 150)
REWARD #12: "THE DEAD ZONE” - An exclusive set of three “UNFILMED EMPIRE” mini-posters (12in x 18in) featuring the original concept artwork and signed by the directors assigned to each film, plus “THE MANDROID” button set and a “Special Thanks” end credit in the film. (Limit 50)
REWARD #13: "THE KILLER BIMBO" - An original set of the ultra-rare Empire Pictures stamp collection (featuring artwork and films never released), a reprint 12in x 18in mini-poster of the unfilmed Jack Kirby artwork for MINDBLASTER, a reprint 12in x 18in mini-poster of the Empire Pictures space capsule campaign. Plus "THE MANDROID" button set and a "Special Thanks" end credit in the film. (Limit 3)
REWARD #14: "THE PULSE POUNDER" - A limited collection of all 5 exclusive Empire Pictures T-shirts (EMPIRE '86, TRANCERS, RE-ANIMATOR, PRISON, and ROBOT JOX - in L, XL, or XXL), the official “Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland” documentary one-sheet (24in x 36in) featuring original artwork by award-winning artist Paul Shipper and signed by producer/director Daniel Griffith, "THE MANDROID" button set, and a "Special Thanks" end credit in the film. NOTE: The shirts will be delivered on or before Feb. 2016. The poster will be delivered on or before May 2016. (Limit 6)
REWARD #15: “THE ROBOT JOX” - Attend the LA premiere of “Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland” in style with two night accommodations in Hollywood, CA, a private dinner with select cast and crew members from the Empire films (for you and a guest), and VIP seating at the premiere (for you and a guest). Also included is a “Very Special Thanks” end credit on its own title screen and Empire Gift set featuring an official poster, seven Empire buttons, and an Empire Pictures T-shirt (to be delivered in Dec. 2015). That’s not all! You will also receive your own DVD or BLU-RAY copy of the final documentary when it is released. Premiere date and time TBD. Flight and other expenses are not included. (Limit 2)
If you cannot donate funds to the Empire Pictures documentary campaign, but still want to help support the production, please spread the word to at least 10 of your fellow Ghoulies! Share this campaign on your Facebook and Twitter page! Invite your friends and colleagues to JOIN THE ADVENTURE!
Risks and challenges
Thus far, "Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland: The Saga of Empire Pictures" has been completely self-funded by Ballyhoo Motion Pictures and documentarian Daniel Griffith. We have already filmed 90% of the Empire story.
Now, we are asking you to rise up and JOIN THE ADVENTURE! Help us celebrate the history of the most daring B-movie company in the 80's! With your support and dedication, we can break through all barriers, outwit all obstacles, and deliver a truly nostalgic documentary experience! Our time has come!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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