Revenge is Only the Beginning: A Q&A with Astron-6’s Adam Brooks

Based out of Winnipeg, Astron-6 is a five-man filmmaking collective that is about to enter the Canadian genre film fray with their debut feature, FATHER’S DAY. Unlike any Canadian film before it, this Troma-produced horror/exploitation/revenge epic is about a serial rapist named Chris Fuchman who sodomizes middle-aged dads in front of their children (yes, really!). It may be a wild premise, but it’s not too surprising if you’re already familiar with Astron-6’s boundary-shattering, self-funded shorts and fake trailers. Their past work, which includes Lazer Ghosts 2, Cool Guys and Goreblade, reveals a deep affinity for low-budget trash of the VHS era along with a willingness to skewer any remaining cinematic taboos.

Founded in 2007 by Adam Brooks and Jeremy Gillespie, Astron-6 also includes filmmakers Matt Kennedy, Conor Sweeney and Steven Kostanski, who all take turns writing, acting and directing the group’s work. FATHER’S DAY, largely directed by Brooks, originated as a fake trailer shot in 2010, but has now been expanded to become the group’s first feature film. FATHER’S DAY makes its premiere on October 21, 2011 at the Toronto After Dark Festival in a co-presentation with RUE MORGUE magazine. In this brief interview, Adam discusses the genesis of FATHER’S DAY and offers his frank assessment of the state of indie genre filmmaking in Canada.

Canuxploitation: Tell us a little about the history of Astron-6 as a group.

Adam: This is the boring question that starts every interview we do. We all made short films on our own, and every year entered them in the Winnipeg Short Film Massacre. We were competitors who decided to join forces.

Astron-6 has done lots of shorts and trailers in the past. But how hard is it to stretch out high-concept ideas to a feature-length script?

It’s not hard to make a feature-length script, but it IS hard to make a feature-length script that follows a trailer that you made up as you went along with no intention of ever making a real movie out of it. Such was the case with FATHER’S DAY. We were really stumped at first–we didn’t want to make an obvious extrapolation because, after all, the ending was given away in the fake trailer. So we jammed in every kind of movie we wanted to make and made sure that nothing was spoiled by any trailers (before or after making the feature).

Raping fathers is a unique plot twist. How did you come up with it? Was it just a cool never-been-done-before idea, or were you hoping to tap into a little gay panic in audiences?

All the credit goes to Matt and Conor for this. They have had a lot of problems in life. I just hope this project comes from a place of healing and not anger.

What can audiences expect from FATHER’S DAY?

Expect the unexpected. This movie is unpredictable, I promise! It’s more of a goofy adventure than a horror movie, but there is lots of sex and violence too, if you’re into that sort of thing.

FATHER’S DAY is being distributed by Troma EntertainmentHow did you get involved with them?

I asked Lloyd Kaufman to do a promo for Astron-6 and his assistant said he would do it for a few hundred dollars, so I paid him. Shortly afterwards we received the promo, Troma said they would give us a ridiculously low amount of money to make a feature-length version of FATHER’S DAY and sent us a contract that required us to risk our lives and break the law. And the rest, as they say, is history.

What’s it like working in Winnipeg? Your aesthetic seems a little bit outside the usual Winnipeg Film Group sensibility.

It sucks making a movie in Winnipeg because douchebags like [Winnipeg’s Film and Special Events Office manager] Kenny Boyce and [Winnipeg Film Liaison] Kevin Uddenberg do their best to fuck up indie productions with red tape and bureaucratic bullshit because they consider them nothing more than a liability. They exist to kiss the asses of any big productions that want to come to town.

All the local casting/talent agencies were dicks to us too. I asked for them to send me actors and didn’t get a single one! Guy Maddin saved the day though and sent me a shit ton of actors. I have no personal relationship with Guy but he has been nothing but kind and supportive to us.

ACTRA is a pain in the ass because they threaten to fine their actors if they work on an indie movie like FATHER’S DAY unless you do everything their way, allow them the right to audit you, and give them any income the film makes to distribute amongst cast and crew however THEY see fit. I understand the point of a union, but a great actor in Winnipeg is only going to get a two line part at best in any big studio movie that comes to town, and they’ll only get that part so the movie fills its quota of local workers maintaining their eligibility for the tax credits.

The Winnipeg Film Group has never been especially nice to us… our work is too commercial to get artsy respect or grants, and too artsy to get any commercial money. You should see the short films that have been getting film group grants! They may have a budget four times higher than FATHER’S DAY, but that money’s not on the screen. That’s theft, if you ask me.

The GOOD thing about shooting in Winnipeg (finally) is that you can steal pretty much any kind of location you can think of.

There’s been something of a resurgence of genre filmmaking in Canada recently–Generally, where do you think the future of Canadian films is heading?

I just hope it gets better. I am tired of saying “Canadian” when I really mean “shitty.” We’ve got to stop trying to do American-wannabe movies, because we can’t compete, and our attempts are garbage. We’ve  got to get back to stuff like THE FLY and VIDEODROME. I wish I could say that HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN was the beginning of something great… but I dunno yet. HOBO wasn’t very good except for Rutger Hauer and the Plague.

What can we expect from Astron-6 in the future?

Our film MANBORG played Austin’s Fantastic Fest already and will be playing at Toronto After Dark a few days after FATHER’S DAY. It’s an hour long and we shot it two or three years ago. FATHER’S DAY is way better and way more ambitious. Plus I have a fat-potato face in MANBORG, so maybe I’m biased.

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  1. Withnail says:

    Adam Brooks is a living god.

  2. jd says:

    This movie better be amazing after this degree of shit talk.

  3. […] more about Father’s Day in the pages of Rue Morgue, but in the meantime, check out this no-holds barred interview Paul Corupe did with star/Astron-6 frontman Adam Brooks over at […]

  4. Jeb says:

    When you call out all Canadian filmmakers and say they suck – get ready to never work again in this country. Wow.

  5. Josh says:

    “ACTRA is a pain in the ass because they threaten to fine their actors if they work on an indie movie”
    NO. they don’t actually. When you’re not an asshole to the union, they work with you. I’m doing an indie film and have 4 union actors on it. You just have to get the right paper work, and DO some actual work first, before crying like a bunch of babies that don’t get their way.

    You guys are huge douche bags, and everyone in Winnipeg knows it. You’re entitled, rich, losers and your movies suck, even though you think you’re making the next Citizen Kane – it’s not matter if you make them in winnipeg or BC, it’s YOU. No one wants to help you cause you’re biting the hands that can feed you, when you call them out in interviews like this. You’re a one note, flash in the pan, and it’s hilarious to see 4 “directors” share credit on your boring ass movies.

  6. Josh says:

    Also, when you look at their rating on rotten tomatoes, it’s calculating from 7 votes. SEVEN. But I bet they feel super proud of that.