Exclusive Interviews Only Found Here at MetalCore!
I have known Bill Zebub it seems forever and now that is doing DVD releases as well as his magazine I thought it was time for a new chat to see what he is up to and here is his answers to the questions I posed to him:
MC: Bill I see you're now directing movies. How many movies have you put out and do you have a favorite one that you have done so far?
BZ: I've put out over 30 movies. The most fun I ever had was when I shot "Assmonster" and it's not just because of the fact that Gina Lynn was in it. Pretty much all of the filming of that movie was a total blast. My favorite movie is one that will come out later this year, called "Zombiechrist." It's a lot of hard work but I think it will be worth it. That one might put me on the map.
MC:: How did you get into the whole movie thing. Is it harder or easier than you thought it would be? About how many Dvd's have you sold so far?
BZ: Well, you probably remember that I shot silly skits and Jackass-type-of-stuff ever since I had my first video camera. After I started my magazine I advertised VHS tapes of that kind of material, and the die-hard fans supported me. One day, as a challenge to myself, I decided to make a full-length movie. I bought a book about screenwriting that was written by Syd Field, and "Metalheads" was the result. If you never wrote a movie before, don't do it unless you read about screenwriting. I had to admit to myself that I needed to learn that skill. Writing silly little skits is a lot different than writing a movie. Anyway, when I made "Metalheads" I only planned on dubbing VHS tapes and selling them to my readers. All of a sudden a movie company asked me if I would sell them the rights, and every movie that I have ever made since then has been picked up by one company or another. As far as it being harder than I thought it would be, I would have to say that, at first, no. But that's because I had no clue, ha ha. Ignorance is bliss. When I figured out that my movies are being watched by people outside of metal I decided to actively learn about movie-making, so I am constantly trying to learn more and more, and to invest more and more money into it. The weird thing is that the more I learn about how to make a movie, the harder it becomes to make a movie. When I made "Metalheads" I didn't know anything about audio, so I would shoot scenes next to loud refrigerators. When I made "Assmonster" I had to stop the film whenever I heard an airplane of a car horn or any other sound that wasn't supposed to be in the movie. It's really a lot of hard work now. And as for how many movies have sold, I don't have an actual figure because I just get royalties, but if you add up all the titles I would say it's definitely over 100,000, and a lot of my stuff is on Netflix and Blockbuster.com, so I have no idea how many times those movies get rented because I don't get any money from that.
MC: How do you come up with the ideas for each movie and how do you find the actors/girls/band members etc?
BZ: Coming up with ideas is super easy. In fact, I have too many ideas. Right now I have notes for 8 more movies. It's sometimes irritating because when I'm shooting a movie I am thinking of other movies to write. All those years of watching people and enjoying the antics I see have resulted in quite an active imagination. As far as finding people, I shot my friends in the early days, and as I got more professional I started finding actors through the usual film industry talent searches. The bands who appear or who let me use their music are actually my friends. Publishing a metal magazine has its advantages. I supported them and now they support me.
MC: What type of budget do you have for these movies and do you do everything pretty much in 1 take?
BZ: Budgets are at least $5,000, and if I shoot a horror movie it gets much higher. In the early days I usually shot 2 takes of each shot. One take was called a "safety" and I shot a safety because I was using a digital video camera. The tape could fail for a number of reasons. There could be an audio dropout or some visual artifact. These days, when I am shooting horror, I usually ask for at least 5 takes, and I try to shoot from different focal points. Sometimes I need to change a close-up into a far shot. If I wasn't smart enough to shoot it, then I am screwed.
MC: Are you at all surprised at the reaction and reviews to your movies?
BZ: I think you are referring to the bad reviews. The mainstream will never embrace me. Most people who review movies on sites like imbd.com are fans of the big budget movies. When I was 16 I saw a movie called "Desperate Living" by John Waters. It was the craziest thing I had seen in my life back then and I loved it. I had no idea that it was ultra low budget. What that means is that I loved indie film without realizing it. There are some people who say they are into microcinema just to sound cool. Not me. I had a real love for it, and maybe that's why I make movies like that. I can't make a movie that looks like something from Hollywood. I don't get a budget awarded to me - I pay for everything. So I provide what Hollywood can't - racial jokes, blasphemy, gratuitous nudity, metal, and offensiveness beyond imagining. The only time I was surprised by reviews and reactions was when I shot my "Stereotypes" comedy. I tried to see how far I could go and I actually played the part of a negro. Yes, I was in blackface. I expected to get on the news, but instead of people getting pissed, I was hailed as making an anti-racist movie. Magazines like Steppin' Out and The Aquarian wrote reviews like that. So instead of getting known for controversy, I was respected for being socially aware. Very disappointing.
MC: Would you like to get into directing full time some day?
BZ: As of February of last year, that is what I have been doing. I have been offered to do some special movies, but I have to get some ideas out of my system first before I direct something for an investor. I don't want the investor to lose money, so I wouldn't do the things that I normally do. I also want to wait because there are a few more lessons that I am trying to nail down before I embark on projects for strangers.
MC: Would you ever be into directing a serious type of move one day?
BZ: I have notes written for that kind of stuff, and I think I will release it under a different name. It's out of respect for my fans. After all, don't you get pissed when you are a fan of a band and you rush to buy their latest record and they have betrayed you by completely changing styles...
MC: Let's talk a bit about the magazine. How often does it come out now?
BZ: I may have to overhaul the whole thing because Tower went bankrupt. I am wondering if I can sue them because they ordered my mag after they knew that they were going to declare bankruptcy. Tower was the last bastion of the offensive magazine. If I want to get carried by the bigger chains then I can't have pictures of crucified women and all that good stuff. So as I wait to figure out the future I have commissioned some professionals to re-vamp my site and make it an experience unto itself. Until now I had only considered my website to be a no-frills archive of the magazine, but now it will be the ultimate metal experience. Wait and see.
MC: I know you are now past newsprint. Where do you get the mag printed at and how many copies do you print now?
BZ: Sore subject. When I was printing in newsprint my print run topped at 40,000. I could have printed 80,000 copies of issue #23 but I decided to print glossy instead. You know how much glossy costs. But I figured that the mag would change. It wouldn't be free anymore. I had enough fans who would buy the glossy at stores. I didn't get picked up by stores for almost two years because every manager considered the magazine to be too extreme. I had regretted the change for a while, but the party would have ended anyway because of all the people who download music. The music labels lose money, and they don't have the big budget to advertise anymore. Plus, the people who work for the record labels are often social rejects. They don't know what's cool. They get their noses pierced and indulge in all of the latest gay trends, all of which are distinctly non-metal. So you can't tell a fool about how effective an ad in a true metal publication would be because those retards only look at very standard criteria. I don't fit any of that. Thus I die.
MC: How do you decide which girls would go in what issue? Do you still get a lot of music to review?
BZ: My evaluation procedure is a closely guarded secret, heh heh. But to answer the question about music, yes, I get even more now than I did when I printed 40,000 copies. It may be because of how much traffic my site gets. I pretty much don't even need to print, to be honest.
MC: What do you like more, directing or doing the mag?
BZ: I like both, but I have stopped being active in the mag because of the fake people from labels and because of some stores shutting down. But I love metal more than anything else, so I experienced a sort of rebirth. I started listening to albums out of pure enjoyment, not out of work - you know, I didn't have to sit down for hours and decide which CD's get reviewed and which get thrown at cars. It's a great feeling to be reminded of who I am and what I truly enjoy.
MC: Would you ever consider starting up your own record label?
BZ: Never. It's suicide. Too many people are stealing music. In the old days we traded tapes but it got us more deeply involved in the scene. The people who are burning entire CD's and things like that aren't being assholes on purpose. They just don't realize the damage that they are doing. There have always been cheap bastards out there - that can't be helped. What's different now is that burning CD's is so common that nobody even thinks of it as being cheap. Well, then again, if your entire music collection is on CDr, then your friends probably call you gay.
MC: Has any band ever threatened do bodily harm to you?
BZ: It's more the fans of the bands that get bent out of shape. I get threatened every day. In the early days I was a bit more concerned about it. You remember. Whenever I walked into a club I checked out where the exits were and I did a walk through so I could figure out where the fight would best take place. Pretty much anyone who has been in the scene for a while knows that my attitude is comical, not malicious, and they know that most readers or viewers don't take the stuff seriously so there's no harm done. But there are new virgins every day who feel the need to stamp out my life.
MC: Do people still not get the humor of the mag?
BZ: Big time. Avantgarde Records in Italy calls me the king of idiots. One of the reviews called their sublabel "Wounded Buttock" instead of "Wounded Love." The German label, Prophesy Productions, is still feeling mighty gay about past reviews. To people like them I say, take a look at me. My movies NEVER get a positive review. In fact, most of the reviews say "DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THIS SHIT!" It hasn't hurt me, has it? I don't go around crying about bad reviews. In fact, I save some of the most insulting ones and put them in a photo album to cherish.
MC: Do you still go to a lot of live shows and what has been your favorite in the past few years?
BZ: I love going to live shows but I just get too tanked. I'm usually crippled by the time the band comes on, and I hardly remember anything about the performance. My latest choices of venue are BB King's in New York and Starland Ballroom in New Jersey. The staff at the Starland Ballroom are really very cool to me. I can't name a particular show that is my favorite because I can't really remember one specifically. The usual thing that happens is that I wake up nauseated and then I check my answering machine to hear about all of the embarrassing things that I did the previous night, and sometimes I have to lay low and hope that people forget.
MC: How long do you see yourself doing the mag?
BZ: With the re-vamped site I am pretty sure that it will be forever. But people keep telling me that I will not live forever.
MC: I know you have some websites, tell us the urls and what people will find when they go there.
BZ: Right now my mag site isn't up. I'll personally give you a sneak peek. When it's up it will be www.thegrimoire.com - Now you can interact. If you don't like a review, you can post a response. Same thing with interviews. There will also be forums. My movie site is a bit no-frills for now but it's also going to undergo extreme change. It's www.billzebub.com
MC: Do you still talk to "grimiore girl" Felicia and would you like to get her in one of your movies?
BZ: I haven't talked to her in a while. She was supposed to be in an earlier movie but that didn't work out. From what I last heard, she has been studying very hard to be a mortician and will probably stay on that career path.
MC: Do you think you will live in NJ all your life and any plans on getting married sometime soon?
BZ: I'm pretty sure that the only woman who will marry me is one who already is independently wealthy. I have nothing to offer, financially. I give every spare cent toward my movies and my magazine. I don't have any personal luxuries and my furniture is basically milk crates. Women don't find that very endearing. Women also tend to think that they should be the only focus of personal sacrifice. That's why my relationships don't last very long. But I would like to move back to the Czech Republic. I would like to spend my final days there.
MC: Did you think when you 1st started doing your mag that you will still be doing it now and are any back issues for sale or are they all gone?
BZ: You remember the old days, don't you? When I started out, the Grimorie was a photocopied newsletter. I never imagined that it would last more than a couple of months, especially because of the criticism from other fanzines at the time. Everyone assured me that I would fail and that no one wanted to read my retarded writing. It's silly, isn't it. Every success I ever had has been unplanned. Imagine what life would have been like if I actually tried to succeed. But money, it seems, has never been my object of lust.
MC: Bill thanks for the time I have always enjoy the mag and the movies I have seen so far. Any last words?
BZ: I have last words, but I will only utter them after hearing "Bill, you are dying." I have prepared something for that day.
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Clifton NJ 07011