Source: Tori Stafford/The Whig-Standard
If your dream is to become the next big name in filmmaking, there are no better footsteps to follow than those of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.
Kingston native Peter Strauss is doing just that, after writing and directing a project that is getting him international recognition. Strauss entered a fake movie trailer competition for the chance to have his trailer run before the feature film — and his entry, Van Gore, won. The feature film is Hobo With A Shotgun, an internet sensation that became a feature film after winning the same kind of competition. The makers of Hobo With A Shotgun entered their fake trailer into a competition for a spot in theatres with Grindhouse, by Rodriguez and Tarantino. Two feature-length horror films written by Planet Terror and Death Proof, were put together as a two-film feature, which was accompanied by fake movie trailers. One of those trailers was for Hobo With A Shotgun, which shot to internet fame, garnering over a million views on YouTube. Its creators, Rob Cotterill, John Davies and Jason Eisener, decided to pay it forward when the trailer was being made into a feature film, hosting a competition paralleling the one they entered.
“That contest opened a door for us to show people our talent,” said Eisener, director of Hobo With A Shotgun. “We wanted to create a similar opportunity for other filmmakers.”
Cue Strauss and his friend Keith Hodder, two Ryerson University students with a penchant for all things cinematic.
From there, the two came up with the idea of a psychotic painter whose creations are often the result of deadly encounters. “We had two weeks to come up with a concept, cast everyone, get a location, shoot it, edit it, and then release it,” Strauss said. “There were a lot of sleepless nights.” Strauss and Hodder put ads online for an open casting call, and, in a matter of days, were working with The Little Chop Shop, a special effects company based in Barrie. “The most difficult part for me was getting the effects right, because in these types of movies, there’s a big emphasis on practical effects, and that’s a really important part,” Strauss said.
“(The crew from The Little Chop Shop) came down and they just did a great job. It was very relieving because that was kind of a make-it or break-it kind of thing.” Make it turned out to be an understatement. Not only did Van Gore win the competition, it is now going to be shown before Hobo With A Shotgun on the home release DVD and blu-ray editions.
“The top thing that made it stand out for me was it felt like it could actually be a movie,” Eisner said of the winning entry. “It didn’t feel like it was made by a group of young guys using their friends. It felt like it could have been a movie I picked off my VHS shelf in the 80s, which is awesome. It felt like it was ready to watch!” Eisener said the judges were in almost unanimous agreement and with a panel that included Joe Dante, Brian Trenchard-Smith, Kat Shea and an online public vote, their victory isn’t one Strauss is taking lightly. “We are excited about the attention this short is getting,” he said, noting that producers have already approached he and Hodder about making the trailer into a feature. “We had a lot of confidence our trailer would place high but the win was almost entirely due to the amazing support from people not only in Kingston and Toronto, but all over the world.”
Strauss said he is unsure of what the future holds, but the possibilities that lay before him have only grown since winning the competition. “We are, of course, very open to the idea of expanding Van Gore to feature length,” he said. “At the very least we hope this victory will allow us to meet some great people, and it already has, so we’re off to a great start.”
Watch the trailer: