The Hollywood Press Corps recently got a chance to interview music video director and comic book creator Jason Alacrity. Jason is an artist who is known in the music world for his directing. As a hobby, Jason has a project called the ALACRITY which recently toured in Japan. As an artist, he is well versed in directing, producing and editing music videos for bands such as Skinny Puppy ( “illiSit” ) and COMBICHRIST ( “Maggots At The Party” and “My Life, My Rules” ). Jason Alacrity got the attention of Nivek Ogre from Skinny Puppy when Jason produced and directed the short film, “ASTRID”.
Hollywood Press Corps (HPC): What inspired you to become a director?
Jason Alacrity (JA): I originally wanted to be a special fx make up guy. When I was a kid I bought legendary make-up artist Tom Savini’s “Grand Illusions” book and studied it cover to cover. I’d spend days working on things in my basement and then test the makeups and kill gags on my little brother, while filming them on our crappy VHS camcorder. To justify the kill gags and monsters I’d make up little stories, and then as time went on I became more interested in the storytelling than doing the make up.
HPC: Who are some of your key influences with how the videos look?
JA: Depends on the project, but a few consistent influences are “Suspiria”, Richard Stanley’s “Hardware” and Jodorowsky’s “Holy Mountain.” Some of that is visible in ASTRID, especially with the shot choices and art design. This new “COMBICHRIST” video is in black and white, so with that I was going for more of a Universal Horror meets silent film look like HAXAN: Witchcraft through the ages.
HPC: What is your favorite Industrial band?
JA: My favorite band of all time is Skinny Puppy, which is why it was such a mind blowing experience to work with them and be a part of their legacy, all be it by proxy.
HPC: Are you happy?
JA: Most of the time I am. Although I don’t know how much happiness matters in the grand scheme of things. Seems that we put far too much emphasis on “happiness” when it’s so fleeting. I think being “satisfied” is far more important. To that point I’m satisfied in what I’m doing with my life and work right now.
HPC:Is there room in dark underground music for happiness?
JA: God yes. Or at least I’d prefer to think of it as “humor”. Humor is probably the most important element of life and art. Without it things tend to be too “one note”. Its great for movement and texture. Ironic how serious I just sounded talking about humor…the irony!
HPC: Your short film, “ASTRID”, seems to be an important point in your career. How did you decide to make this short film?
JA: I was moving out of an amazing building in downtown LA and was itching to shoot something there before I left. DTLA has a massive homeless population of forgotten people, half of which are suffering from untreated mental illness. So I came up with the idea of telling a story that was a “day in the life” of a girl with a deadly power. A girl that is growing insane under the weight of her power. And I really wanted to melt a face off.
HPC: Your comic version of “ASTRID” is called, “VESNA”. Can you talk about how you and artist Megan Hutchison decided to make this comic?
JA: I had to change the name to “VESNA” unfortunately because of all the luck another book this year is beating us to the punch with the name. I wrote a feature script for “ASTRID” and it became too expensive to finance. Over a few million dollars, and that’s a bridge too far in terms of independent financing. For me anyway. Megan is a friend of mine that I met on set many moons ago while she was doing art direction for commercials and features. She had just released her book “Will O’ the Wisp” and I was blown away. I had always known she was an amazing art director but I had no idea she was such a talented comic illustrator. Then it hit me, we could make a book, a storyboard essentially and use that to raise money for a feature or TV series. So I showed her the short, pitched her the feature idea and she was in.
HPC: Is “VESNA” a comic or a graphic novel?
JA: Ooo good question. I believe its a graphic novel that thinks it’s a comic book.
HPC: When is “VESNA” expected to come out?
JA: Hopefully by September of this year.
HPC: What is your process like when you’re making a music video for a band like COMBICHRIST?
JA: Every band is different, but with COMBICHRIST, it all begins with an idea from Andy (LaPlegua). For this video he gave me a call and said his idea for the video was simply “I think it should open on a shot of a pile of bloody bodies. Then I crawl out from beneath, covered in blood. I find clothes somewhere, put them on and the blood seeps through the shirt. Then we go and do a performance somewhere. Oh and it should be in black and white.”
He then sends me the song, and I take those ideas and string together a narrative. Try to make a cohesive structure out of it. For this one I had to figure out how we end up with a pile of bodies? So I thought how about a ritual murder. OK cool, what kind? Well we are shooting in Georgia…and then the idea of the snake handlers and faith healers came to me. I then write a script and go back to Andy and he approves it. We work well together, usually on the same page pretty early on.
HPC: Can you tell us about shooting the “My Life, My Rules” video?
JA: Haha oh should I really answer that? Just kidding, It’s everything you’d think from a COMBICHRIST video. Strippers, drugs, booze, porn stars and dangerous snakes. What people might be surprised about though is how great everyone is. This is my second music video with these guys and everyone is super cool. All the locations we shoot at (this video and the Maggots) are donated for free, and most of the crew and all the talent are friends pitching in. Andy has a great community of friends in Georgia that are always game to pitch in for a video. It’s always a lot fun.
HPC: What is one thing that would surprise our readers to know about you?
JA: I grew up in a tiny farm town in the middle of Iowa. It had one stoplight, and was small you could walk from end to end in 15 minutes.