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Indie Filmmaker Tony Masiello Champions the Shot-on-Video Style and Plans to Preserve the Rich History Within the Sub-Genre with SOV: The True Independents!

Filmmaker Tony Masiello’s love affair that began in video rental shops and was ardently elevated by stacks of shot-on-video madness is now being channeled into what is apt to be one of the most vital video era chronicles ever to be endeavored. With his current collection of content proving too massive to contain into a single feature, Masiello is branching out with his website in order to capture SOV’s expansive story, planning to regularly stack the site with tons of SOV obsessed reviews, film histories and in-depth interviews with the folks that made the shot-on-video era come to low-budget life. Tony’s decided labor of love is set to spotlight the filmmakers who were rich with passion instead of pesos, and along the way completely changed the game of independent filmmaking. Read on, my fellow Videovores, and learn all about Mr. Masiello’s ongoing journey to preserve the legacy of SOV filmmaking...

The initial poster design for SOV: THE TRUE INDEPENDENTS. Gotta hand it to 'em with this one.

LM: The title says a lot, but can you give an overview of the project? What’s SOV: THE TRUE INDEPENDENTS setting out to do? TM: SOV: THE TRUE INDEPENDENTS is a web series and documentary film that aims to tell the true story of the often under-appreciated shot-on-video horror genre. Being a fan of the genre for many years I felt that this was a story that needed to be preserved. Not only for its significance in where we are now with the digital video revolution, but also to showcase the dedication and heart put into these movies. Many of these movies have been clouded in mystery and false information that spread like wildfire online (e.g. Chester Novell Turner’s death rumor) and I want to try and preserve as much of the real history of this genre as possible before it's too late.

Some genuine SOV insanity about to "go down" in Chester N. Turner's BLACK DEVIL DOLL FROM HELL.

What inspired the project? Do you have a background in filmmaking / production? Well, I have been a fan of horror films since I was a young kid. My mom used to drive me around to various video stores in San Diego seeking out new horror films for my impressionable mind. One membership led to 2, and then 3, and then 10. Eventually, as I dug deeper into the genre I found my true love: SOV movies. At first seeing a movie shot on video tape was quite jarring, and honestly, I dismissed them as cheap amateur exercises. But as I watched more SOV's I started to really get into them and started seeking them out. The SOV genre was not safe; you never knew what was going to happen. It's the only genre where it seemed filmmakers would take real chances. I mean where else can you see a woman get raped by a puppet and like it? I also started to see the heart in these pictures, something I think most studio pictures lack. These were movies made by people who loved movies and the genre and who wanted to make their own and actually did it. It is one thing to have a dream but it is another to follow that dream and see it through to the end. SOV's made me realize that anyone with enough dedication, drive, and a little bit of money could make their own movie, and they helped me realize that I could do it too. I eventually picked up a Hi-8 camera myself and started making shorts with my friends… backyard epics like CANNIBAL VAMPIRE CALL-GIRL HOOKERS FROM OUTER SPACE. I then went to college and got a degree in Video Production and from there I started working in the industry. My first job was working on HOBGOBLINS 2 with cult director Rick Sloane; I even had a small acting part in the film as a Doctor that get's car-jacked. After that I pretty much started working regularly on micro-budget films mainly doing Visual FX and DVD authoring. I've worked with a ton of my idols which is pretty surreal… people like Todd Sheets, Brad Sykes, Ron Bonk, Chris Seaver and Brett Kelly. It's funny because in the daytime I work for a company that does 3D conversion on major Hollywood films like MAN OF STEEL and by night I am usually working for free on micro budget horror films, which is my true passion. The idea for the movie came to me originally in the early 2000's. Around that time "Independent" became the new movie buzz word unfairly used to describe multi-million dollar films produced by sub divisions of major studios. It made me think, what of the true independents and the people behind all these shot-on-video movies that I loved so much? To me these are the true independent filmmakers, people who made movies for the love of it, not to line their pocketbooks. I sat on the idea for a while but once I decided to make my first feature I knew this had to be it; I knew I had to tell this story.

Tony hangin' loose with BLOOD LAKE director Tim Boggs. Dig the shirts, dudes.

What are some of the films, actors, directors you’ll be focusing on with the doc? Who have you already worked with and got in the can? So far I have about 50 interviews in the can with various people who have worked within the SOV genre. Some I have shot myself while others have been kind enough to submit their own interviews. Some of the people who will be featured in the film are Christopher Lewis, Gary Cohen, Tim Boggs, Donald Farmer, Hugh Gallagher, and Mark Polonia. There are many more as well but I want to keep some of the names under wraps. Many of these people have never done interviews about their work before and I think fans of the genre will be quite surprised to see some of the faces that turn up.

This man can bring the hammer down. This should read "THE KILLER (BEARD)".

What has the process been like gathering all the info and interviews? I imagine a lot of these filmmakers are excited to talk about their work again? As a fan of the genre it really has been great getting to meet a bunch of my idols and hearing their stories. As they say the making of the movie is sometimes more interesting than the movie itself and just seeing the passion and drive these people have not only in their movies but in their lives has been truly inspiring. A lot of the filmmakers actually have been shocked that people are even interested in these movies, some are embarrassed while others stand tall and proud about their work. Overall, it has been a great experience.

Super-rad poster art from the mind of Ryan Fortney. DIG IT.

I had thought this was originally set to be a full-length documentary, but it looks like you’re going to take the episodic route now? If so, what inspired that change of direction? Well, I still plan on making a feature version of the film but a while back I realized I had way too much footage to cram into one 2 hour feature. My main goal in this project is to preserve the history of these films for future generations and I figured a web series would be a great way to do it. This way the content is online for free so the true fans of these movies can enjoy them and maybe even get inspired to pick up a camera themselves. This project has never been about making money; in fact, I have been funding everything myself because I believe this history needs to be preserved. In a sense, I see myself more as a film preservationist then a documentary filmmaker. The feature version is going to happen but I really don't want to put a date on it. The feature will focus mainly on the history of SOV and how it has led to where we are now with the Digital revolution. The web series will focus more specifically on the making of specific SOV movies and all the crazy stories that go with that.

This one's up on the site, and it's REAL GOOD. Is that blood? Tastes like blood.

What is it about SOV horror that gets you excited? Why do you think SOV horror films are so important to the history of filmmaking? SOV movies for the most part are films made with a lot of heart. Yes, there are some that were made with the idea of just making a quick buck, but most were made by people who really had a passion to tell their story and worked really hard to do so. Regardless if the movies end up bad or not, they accomplished their goals. The good ones are where you can really see the heart they put into them. There have been some truly great filmmakers to come out of the SOV scene and I think it's a shame many will never have a real budget to work with… please, someone give Tim Ritter a million dollars! SOV movies are important in a film history perspective because they led to the digital revolution we are living in now. They were people who realized that the technology and equipment was there and if you wanted to make a movie you could, and you could also share your movie with the world. People do this every day now, it has become even easier for people to make their own movies and share them. I think the difference though is in the SOV days it was a lot harder, the technology was still in its infancy, home video distribution was in its infancy and the whole thing was just a wild frontier. Today people can do all this on their phones. SOV also predated the HD digital revolution… these were the first people to embrace video and digital video as a medium, not George Lucas. I think overall SOV is really significant in the history of the digital film-making movement and that this is history that really needs to be preserved.

The awesomely 80s artwork for Tony's short film to appear in the upcoming HI-8. This guy is stoked!

Do you have a timeline as to when everything is set to be completed? Should we just stay glued to the site? As for the doc, I'm really not sure when it will be completed. I have a ton of footage to chop up and there are still more interviews I want to get to tell the full story. The site is going to be an ongoing thing so new episodes of the web series will be up once a month as well as a ton of other SOV goodness. I have a great team helping out with adding the content to the site such as SOV maniac Matt Hill (screenwriter for Hi-8) will be doing in depth written reviews, Johnny Dickie (Slaughter Tales) will be doing video reviews, and Brandon Bennett (Well Hung Pictures) will be handling written interviews. Also artist Ryan Fortney has been creating original artwork for each episode of the web series and is doing a killer job. The first episode "The Hammer Will Fall: An Interview with Sledgehammer Killer Doug Matley" was posted just a few weeks ago and the response has been great. I also just finished the second episode "Beyond the Ultimate Climax: An Interview with Hugh Gallagher" which will also be on the Mongrel DVD release of GORGASM. There should be a new episode up at least once a month and new content added to the site weekly at And, of course, you knew this was coming: is this going to be coming out on VHS, mang?! I'm sure eventually the documentary will get a VHS release, I have had some interest from some distributors to release it on VHS. I'm a big fan of the format and that is how these movies were originally seen so I think it would be really killer to have a VHS for peoples' shelves.

The official poster for the upcoming HI-8 featuring an army of truly indie filmmakers. THIS IS GONNA RULE.

You also recently worked on a project called Hi-8: Horror.Independent.8 Filmmakers can you tell us about that? HI-8 is a throwback SOV anthology film that I directed a short for. It also features shorts from Brad Sykes,Tim Ritter, Todd Sheets, Donald Farmer, Ron Bonk, Chris Seaver and Marcus Koch. I feel really honored to be a part of this amazing project and thank Brad Sykes and Tim Ritter for taking a chance and letting me direct one of them. It was really great getting to work on a project with a bunch of my idols, truly a dream come true. My segment THE TAPE is a tribute to the SOV genre and it's about a guy who finds a lost SOV VHS and his descent into madness to get it released. THE TAPE is my love letter to the genre and there are many references to SOV's as well as a cameo from SOV veteran Andrea Adams (BLOOD LAKE, THE RIPPER) It also features tons of practical gore effects from Paula Remele Rusconi and Johnny Dickie. We pretty much shot the entire movie in one small apartment (like they did in Sledgehammer) and had to build all the sets ourselves, my favorite being the video store the main character Tim works at. The movie recently had its premiere in LA and the response has been great. I think SOV fans are going to love this movie and should look for it hitting DVD and VHS sometime in 2014.

Tony sittin' pretty with Andrea Adams from BLOOD LAKE and THE RIPPER. Dig that analog dream.

Anything else you’d like to say to all the Videovores out there? I just want to thank everyone who has helped and contributed to this project. All the people who have submitted interviews and helped me out on the way. I especially want to thank my good friend Matt Hill who has helped in so many ways I don't even know where to start. Matt is a true SOV fanatic and has been in the trenches with me seeking out these interviews and I can't thank him enough. We have a Facebook page for the doc called SOV: The True Independents. It's a nice forum for us fans to talk about these movies we all love as well as to get updates on the site and the web series / movie. Also check out "The Return To The Quadead Zone" doc I did for the Massacre Video release of Black Devil Doll from Hell / Tales from the Quadead Zone DVD which is available now. I was so excited when Louis asked me to help out on this (I adore Chester's movies) and we will be collaborating on more stuff with him in the future. I am also working with the guys from Mongrel Video on creating bonus features for some SOV releases they have coming up. Also HI-8 has a Facebook page you can check out called Hi-8: Horror.Independent.8 Filmmakers. Last but not least, please go to and bookmark the site. We will be adding new content weekly and new web episodes once a month. Also, thanks to everyone out there in video land for keeping SOV alive. All hail the true independents!!!

All hail, indeed, Tony! Man, what an amazing analog-oriented project, huh? Tony’s efforts are just about as analog exciting as it gets, Tapeheads, and it seems the work he’s doing mirrors the very essence he is marveling at, and intending to preserve for posterity. And that’s pretty groovy. Don’t forget to rewind on over to Tony’s super-rad SOV obsesssed website and stay tuned to all of his amazing analog-oriented projects. With peeps like Tony fighting the good fight, magnetic magic and all its joys will never cease to be.

Groove and Groove and Don’t Stop Till You Get There.

Josh Schafer

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