SC: Trash Palace and collecting films has been my lifeline, the one thing that has kept me passionate about low-budget film making. So I don't spend a lot of money on the films that I buy. I've been buying these films for the last eight years - the Super 8s I've been collecting even longer, but I'm much more intrigued by the 16mm because they can be projected further and it can be hooked up properly to a sound system. I can get 16mm bulbs and belts for relatively little, so it's not that expensive of a hobby. I have something like 15 or 16 feature films and then a bunch of shorts. I'm very picky about what I purchase. And I have enough films now that it's time to share it.
I have a studio space. When I first moved in, I built a wall (in the middle of the room), so there wasn't enough room for me to screen a 16mm film and warrant charging someone money to watch it. But on a whim, three months ago, I was looking at that wall and I wondered, 'why did I build that wall? I got this space in order to show movies. Fuck this, I'm knocking it down. I'd rather knock down that wall and put a hammock, so I'd have somewhere to lay down when I'm tired.' So that's exactly what I did. An hour later that wall was down, dismantled, and out the freight elevator and into the fucking garbage. And someone owed me some dough at a place where I wholesale shirts out of, and I told them, 'don't pay me this time, give me one of your Mexican hammocks.'
So I put up a fucking hammock. And I pulled out my projectors and did some fucking tests and realized I had an eight-foot wide screen on my bare wall. So painted the wall and did some test screenings for friends and they were like, 'what are you going to call it?', and I said, 'I don't know, I gotta think about it'. Because my house is very clean, my wife likes a clean house and I like going home to a nice clean house. But my studio - I think it's nice and neat, but to outsiders it's full of trash. I go to Mexico City and purchase old Mexican wrestling masks and wrestling lobby cards, so I have all kinds of stuff in my studio. I take it out and I have a museum of the stuff I've collected over the years. The term Trash Palace has been used before, but I think it's an amusing term. It's trash, but it's my fucking palace, man. It's dedicated to all my film stuff. And I owe it to all the directors and actors that have ever been in these films that no one cares about.
And I mean it's the same with my film. If you IMDB my film, 'Enter...Zombie King!', eight people will have reviewed it - three think it's shit and the other five think it's genius. And that's just the nature of these films. It's like, what did you expect for $200 000? I mean, shut the fuck up and make your own movie - fucking critic. Make your own fucking movie. You have no idea. So to reinforce that concept to myself, I show these films and I get to defend them. And by defending them, I get myself back into the mindset of making my own films on my own terms. So Trash Palace is about defending the films that I love and getting myself ready to get back into the ring and make some more films.
KE: Well, you've managed to cover off quite a few of my questions already. This is good - it's much easier when someone else does all the work.
SC: Well, I didn't just wake up yesterday and think to myself, 'I'm going to start up Trash Palace'. This has taken ten years. Ever since I bought my first film at ABC Books, I was like, 'one of these days, I'm going to show this to somebody, I'm not going to sit by myself and watch them by myself, I'm going to share them with people because they'd be tossed out otherwise. I love it. The first screening we did was 'Sugar Hill'. We had eleven people. For 'TNT Jackson' we had six people. For 'Schizo' we had 22. For 'Force on Thunder Mountain' we had seven. I don't care if there's nobody because I have the films, I have the studio, I have the equipment, and this needs to be done.
I don't want people know where the studio is. And there's a couple reasons why I'm doing that, why I'm having it as a secret. One, I find it amusing, that I'm forcing people to go to Suspect Video to buy a ticket for a screening that they don't even know where it is. I just find that funny. It's my studio - if I want to have some fun at someone else's expense, that's fine. What I like are the people who go and get the ticket and show up and are like, 'this is fucking cool, man'. And I'm like, 'thanks'.
As a poster designer who is all about promotion, I get to make these posters and hand bills. I hand print them all. If and when you come by the studio, you'll see all the work that I've done. They're always on this stock of paper, they are always just one or two colours. I just enjoy making stuff.
The studio is only so big. I say that there is seating for 50, but that's with standing room only. Really, there's seating for 30. I don't want a line up. I don't want people waiting outside my building.
KE: Is that because you want everyone to be able to enjoy the film?
SC: Yeah, I just don't want it cramped in the studio. I want it so that everyone has a good time. It's a small experience, not a big experience. I don't know what's going to happen in the future. I have a few ideas of where it's going to go in the future, but I don't want to talk about that just yet.
All I know is that I marketed this 'Force on Thunder Mountain' screening all wrong. I called it the wrost film ever. I tried to screen it on two different occassions in my past but people just told me to shut it off because it was too boring. But in the Trash Palace, it's one of the greatest films ever. It blew my mind, and the seven people that were there were like, 'you are so wrong, this film is great'. And I was like, 'you know what, you're totally right, this is totally awesome'. I can't believe all the things you can enjoy about these bad films. Like, you just start wondering, 'what was the director thinking?'
And it's funny, because there are all sorts of film fans out there - some screen movies like this, others like this. I screen films like this. So when I'm changing reels, I throw on some garage rock and say to the audience, 'let's talk a little'. You know, serve a beer and, out of respect for the film, let's just sit back and enjoy the movie.
Going to the theatre now isn't the same. There's no movie experience I've had with which I've been a thousand percent satisfied. The Trash Palace is kind of like the way I want to watch movies. I want the projectionist to say before the show, 'I've got three short films - one's about this, one's about this, and one's about this. Which one do you want to watch?' You know, include the audience. I have two friends that help me - an MC and a snack bar guy. I don't do much talking - I'm rocking the projector. But between the three of us, it's like a fucking comedy act. It's just fun, funny and weird.