Studio 666 is a horror-comedy that defies all expectations to make it into theaters after contending with the pandemic. Among Foo Fighters fandom, it’s sure to become an instant cult classic. Plus, anyone who loves 80s slasher films, exceptional rock music, and slap-stick comedy will find a good time watching Studio 666 together with friends. We sat down with the film’s producers John Ramsay and Jim Rota to hear what it was like filming during the pandemic, inside details on working alongside the band, and discussing the value of making band-films today.
FILMMAKERS ACADEMY: When did Studio 666 officially launch?
JOHN RAMSAY: It came out on February 25.
FILMMAKERS ACADEMY: Did the team get to have a premiere in Los Angeles?
JOHN RAMSAY: Yeah, we did a premiere on the 16th at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, which was super fun.
JIM ROTA: Can I start by saying it’s just a good idea, in general, to not make a movie during a pandemic? [Laughs.]
FILMMAKERS ACADEMY: I’d love to talk about the conception of “Studio 666” and merging reality with horror fiction… To me, it felt like Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band with the Bee Gees meets Friday the 13th. Can you tell me what sparked the idea to make this project and at what stage of the project were you brought on?
JIM ROTA: Well, John and I have worked with Dave since about 2010. As [Dave Grohl’s] producers for his TV and film projects, John and I did the Sound City movie, the HBO series Sonic Highways, and a movie called What Drives Us that’s available on Amazon. And honestly, we were kind of in the middle of finishing the What Drives Us doc, when we got the call that [Grohl] wanted to make a horror movie, which we talked about – I mean – for like, I don’t know, a few years. It was kind of like the concept for a low-budget easy-to-make horror movie that we could pull off, but the whole band will be in it and they’ll have to act.
I mean, I guess it started with a casual conversation. The band was finishing recording their album in that house in Encino. Dave actually rented the house a few years ago while his house was being renovated. So, he knew the place, and they went there to record. And, while he was there – his wheels are always kind of spinning – so he just was like, ‘We should make that horror movie we talked about now.’
JOHN RAMSAY: Yeah, that’s what really kind of kicked it off. He was in this big empty house, demoing all the tracks for the new record. He’s in there all hours of the night by himself and kind of getting a little creeped out. So, he emailed Jim and I and was like, ‘I had this crazy idea.’ And it was a pretty detailed outline about how a band moves into this house and he gets possessed by a demon, kills the band, and then goes solo at the end.
So, like two days later, we were out at the house, kind of walking around the place and talking about his ideas and figuring out fun, gross ways to kill all the Foo Fighters and then kind of reverse-engineering the story to fit around the location and the amount of time we had. It was really insane how quickly it came together from [Grohl’s] email. I think that was like September of 2019 and by February, we had a full crew.
JIM ROTA: We had the [un]lucky experience of first, shooting in Los Angeles – which is always a challenge – and then second, being shut down with a week left of shooting. So, that was awesome. The other thing to mention – that filmmakers will understand – is that the band kept saying, ‘We’ll do this run-and-gun, it’ll be a simple thing.’ And it’s blah, blah, blah. Then, John and I have to explain that there is no running-and-gunning in LA. Like, there’s no such thing as ‘I’m going to hold the camera and I’m going to shoot a movie, and no one’s gonna get mad at any union. No one’s gonna come after us at all.’ So, that was another – I don’t want to say challenge – but that’s just another factor in what John was saying.
I think we were three weeks out from shooting, and the funny thing was, we didn’t have a finished script yet. I’ve worked on movies like that before, but they’re a lot bigger and the money is there. So it’s like, sure there’s no third act in the script but it starts shooting, who cares? We’ll have the third act by the time you guys get there? And that’s what’s crazy is like, we didn’t have all the resources, but we wanted to make it look like a great movie. Your description is great. We kept saying Evil Dead meets Spinal Tap.
FILMMAKERS ACADEMY: How long was principal to shoot the film, and how many people were you working with in terms of crew size?
JOHN RAMSAY: The crew was about 75 [members], give or take. Our original schedule was five weeks of photography. We got through four of those, and then the whole world shut down. And so, we just had to fold and hold everything at that location. We’re renting this house, all this gear and we held that stuff for six months, through the pandemic. There were a couple of false starts over the summer where we tried to get back in July and August, but the labor unions weren’t quite ready to get their heads around what they would consider safe.
So we finally got back in starting in September. That last five days of shooting with all of the COVID regulations and whatnot took us a little over three weeks to film. It was torture. I mean, we were dropping anchors all day long. Like, you couldn’t have two departments in the same set, prepping at the same time. So you’d have to send the construction people in to do their build. Then, set deck comes in and then you’ve got to sanitize the whole room. Then, props people come in and then sanitize the whole room. And then G&E comes in and then sanitizes the whole room. I mean, it was torture.
JIM ROTA: I think 10 people on set at a time, right?
JOHN RAMSAY: Yeah, kind of depending on the size of the room, the COVID compliance officer would be like, ‘Alright, you can have 10 people in here at any one time working.’ And you’re like we need 50 people in here working at the same time. It was painful.
JIM ROTA: There’s the one scene where there’s intimacy, and they get, you know, their lives ended. We had rebuilt that whole bedroom in, basically, the large part of the driveway at that house.
JOHN RAMSAY: Most of those scenes were filmed in the actual guest house on that property. But for the big pay-off death scene, we rebuilt that room in the parking area of this house.
JIM ROTA: And then the pandemic happened and we tore the whole thing down. Then, we had a false-start comeback, and they rebuilt the whole thing. We didn’t get to do it. So, we rebuilt it again – like that kind of stuff. If this was The Avengers 12, that would have been fine. There would have been plenty of money. John has this saying he always says, which is, ‘Movies hate getting made.’ They fight you the whole time and this one was relentless. This was like the World Heavyweight Champion versus some high school boxer.
FILMMAKERS ACADEMY: The pandemic definitely threw a lot of productions out of the loop, but you, fortunately, came out on the other end with something to be very proud of. Now, from your perspective as producers, what really inspired you both to want to see this through?
JIM ROTA: I mean, everything [Grohl] does, like, it’s such a collaboration. John can, I think, attest to this, too. Like, everything he does at this point, and the guys do at this point, is for fun. And they’re lucky to be in that position and John and I are lucky to be able to jump on that plane with them when we get invited. The whole Foo Fighters organization – basically, management and all the people – have a very family-oriented kind of vibe. For John and I, we’re just lucky to be invited into that fold. So, anytime [Grohl’s] inspired, we get inspired.
JOHN RAMSAY: Yeah, he’s very excited and he just gets everybody else excited around him. And as Jim said, the motivation is always for all the best reasons. He just wants to make something creative and exciting and cool. And it’s just a great organization to be associated with because they just have amazing access to everybody and everything. And their reach is worldwide. It’s a dream to be involved in those kinds of projects. I mean, the majority of independent film toils just as much hardship and torture without any of the benefits of that access. Jim and I make jokes all the time. Like, step one to success: just partner up with world-famous international superstars. Piece of cake.
FILMMAKERS ACADEMY: So, you’re the producers who collaborate with the Foo Fighters primarily on all of their projects?
JIM ROTA: We’ve done a bunch of music videos for them. Usually, when the bigger projects come up, I think at this point, they just feel comfortable with us, John and I.
JOHN RAMSAY: It’s just there’s a different set of considerations when you’re working with a band. Like these big long-form projects that we’re doing with them are not the core business. And so, it’s important to just remember that and make combinations for that.
JIM ROTA: And going back to your question before we started, you said that you read on IMDb that it was a secret project. The whole point of this thing was supposed to be the band’s 25 years old. First of all, we’re going to put out the documentary that we were making simultaneously. That’s about being with your friends and touring in a van and why that’s so important to follow your dream.
That was going to move right into – and John, correct me if I’m wrong on the timeline – but they were going to do a huge 25th-anniversary tour with a giant festival kind of show in DC. Then, the horror movie was going to come out. So, it was all supposed to be centered around the band’s 25th anniversary. That’s why it was basically a secret. But then, you know, life happens. There was no secret to anything. It was more like, ‘All right, we made this thing.’
FILMMAKERS ACADEMY: Was there anything you collectively wanted to try to accomplish with this film?
JOHN RAMSAY: I mean, it’s always the same. We just want to work at the highest level and do the best we can because you don’t want to be putting out anything substandard for a group that’s this high profile. You bring your best all the time.
FILMMAKERS ACADEMY: I’m sure our readers would love to know about the practical effects and the gore element of the film. Who was the team behind it that brought it all to life? And what was the execution of the practicals like on the day? Did you have experience prior to this film, working with those types of set pieces and practical effects?
JOHN RAMSAY: Well, we had done a music video for the Foo Fighters a couple of years back for a song called Run. And Taylor, the drummer in the Foo Fighters, had this idea that they should all be dressed up like really old men. So, Jim said we should talk to the makeup effects company that did Bad Grandpa. Tony Gardner and his company are called Alterian. So, we did that music video project and it was super fun.
Tony’s just a great guy to work with; such a great collaborator. And so, when this idea came around, I think Dave asked Jim and I to come out to the big empty house where he was writing the record. We talked about the movie and the first thing Jim said was, ‘Oh, we need to call Tony and get him up here.’ And I think a few days after that, it was the four of us, Dave, Tony, Jim, and I like walking around the house. Just coming up with gross, fun ways to kill people.
JIM ROTA: Yeah, basically, Dave said to Tony, ‘Is there ever a way that you wanted to kill people in a movie that you’ve never been allowed to?’ And we worked backward from that in the script. That chainsaw scene is like Tony Gardner’s Stairway to Heaven.
JOHN RAMSAY: Yeah, he was so into the project. We all had the same attitude of wanting it to be a throwback to the 80s slasher movies. And we wanted the kills and everything to be as practical as possible. We just wanted to let Tony off the leash here. Like, here’s what we’ve got to spend. Go crazy. And I’m sure Tony went out of pocket on a bunch of stuff, just because he was having so much fun. He brought in amazing Academy Award-winning makeup artists. Just the people he pulled together for our little movie was just so impressive. And everybody worked for like low-budget union scale.
JIM ROTA: Because our director BJ McDonnell is also a camera operator – he’s like the Steadicam operator that James Wan calls – he’s been steeped in that universe for a long time. So, between our resources and his resources, I mean, it was like an A-list crew. I mean, it’s crazy, like John said.
JOHN RAMSAY: They worked for peanuts and they’re like all the best people. It was awesome.
JIM ROTA: For example, I worked on the Disney Lion King – the one that came out a few years ago – and the lead camera operator on that movie was our guy on Studio 666. Like, that’s the level of people that were like being so cool.
FILMMAKERS ACADEMY: It seemed like you had a crew that was extremely passionate to see this come to life. And obviously, a lot of people are big Foo Fighters fans. So just speaking logistics, how was it trying to pull off all of these set pieces? Did you guys run into any issues? Or, did it go smoother than you expected to?
JOHN RAMSAY: It’s like every movie, there are just issues on top of issues. Because of our budget limitations, but also kind of by design, it was a single location movie. So, we did everything on this property, except for one stage day. But, beyond that, everything was shot on the premises. It was basically this big property on the side of a hill. So, the logistics of figuring out where we physically have space to put trucks today? Oh, we have to build this basement set. Where’s that going? Oh, maybe we can reconfigure the garage down here – just those sorts of creative problem-solving puzzles. Like, if we move this scene over here, we can build it in the one parking area that we have. Then, we got nowhere to put G&E trucks. So, just that puzzle on a daily basis.
FILMMAKERS ACADEMY: What critical advice do you have for other producers that are walking into a project based on what you’ve learned from this film and prior projects?
JIM ROTA: I have this theory that the future of producing is not just going to be economics and budgets, but I think that it helps. John and I, first of all, have known each other since high school. So, we both have very similar views on how to do a lot of things. And John owns a post-production company and a production company, so that’s another little secret for filmmakers. If you want to get really good rates on post-production, you should buy your own production and post-production company. But anyway, I think John and I have really good technical knowledge about workflows and how to put things together, because, in my opinion, that’s where the wasted money gets spent. If you don’t have an efficient technical team and workflow, then it’s going to all take longer and cost more. Like, that’s the bottom line for me.
Just as a young producer, I mean, especially nowadays, where there’s a generation of people coming up – directors, actors, producers, whatever – that have always used the computer to do everything in their life. I think it’s going to be very important, especially, not to be ageist, but people our age have to be aware and concerned with that. Arm yourself with that knowledge.
JOHN RAMSAY: I would add, especially when you’re doing these bigger and more complicated scenes that involve special effects and special effects makeup. All these kinds of things like – you can very easily get into the situation where you feel like, ‘Oh, well, the cake’s already in the oven. We’ve just got to go with this.’ You can’t be afraid to blow up the schedule and move some big pieces around like Jim was saying. We built the set and had to take it apart and build it again. But like, just constantly driving the first AD crazy where we’re like, ‘Oh, you know what, maybe if we take this whole big section and we move this to the end of this week…’
I mean, there were big scenes that we moved around where we were able to wrap some actors two–three days earlier than we thought we would need to, saving several hundred thousand dollars. But having the courage to walk into the room after we’ve just shot for 10-12 hours straight, saying ‘Hey, we need to rethink our schedule three days down the road and we need to rejigger a bunch of stuff because if we get ahead of it now, we’re going to save ourselves a lot of headaches and money.’ Don’t get caught up with the thought that your change is going to totally bum out the production designer, so now we’re going to have the construction crew redo something. Just bite the bullet and make the hard decision. It’s chess and you’ve got to be thinking moves ahead.
FILMMAKERS ACADEMY: That’s a good analogy. What would you say out of all of the practical effects was your favorite?
JIM ROTA: I mean, Rami had to do a full-body cast. And then the other part about that scene that’s so awesome – and I have video footage of it – was Whitney Cummings, who played the neighbor. She has this comedy special where she had a robot built of her own body. So, she brings out this robot that’s [essentially] her. It’s like a whole part of her routine. It’s hilarious. But she had these full Whitney Cummings bodies like made. So, how many times have you ever sawed two people in half with a chainsaw and the one actor just so happens to have an entire cast of their whole body?
The night before she sent me security footage of her dragging her body out of her own house and putting our own body into her car, which was amazing. And then, Rami was a real sport because he did a full-body cast, you know? I mean, that was more work than people would realize. And then, of course, the best part about shooting that scene was the director screaming ‘More blood, more blood, more blood!’ because it was so crazy.
JOHN RAMSAY: Luckily, there were like hundreds of gallons of blood.
JIM ROTA: It was like everything in the movie – not everything – but if you look at the movie without giving too much away, there’s like a million little homage moments to all of these movies that everybody loves. Like there’s a Nightmare on Elm Street–Johnny Depp-blood-shooting-out-of-the-bed scene which we just talked about with the Rami and Whitney scene. We had an Exorcist shot. We had a shot from The Burning – just like certain little things. Since BJ is such a fan and we’re fans, it’s like we’re making this fun movie. We might as well do something for the real horror fans.
FILMMAKERS ACADEMY: Was this the first time you worked together with BJ? And as producers, what are your expectations when working with a director?
JIM ROTA: Both of us had worked with BJ’s camera operator before. He was introduced to us by another director friend of ours, Brandon Trost, who directed the Run video for us, and a video called The Sky is a Neighborhood that we did with the Foo Fighters, as well. And that’s how we met BJ. BJ is like a giganto horror fan – like I told you, he works a lot with James Wan and a lot of the big guys in town. And with BJ, it was just like, he was so meticulous about everything. He was so organized and super enthusiastic about it that it makes it a lot easier.
BJ just really stepped up plus the poor bastard was directing six non-actors. And, you know, there are a few times where all the non-actors are in the same scene together. I think that the guys did a great job acting but in large part, I think they would admit it and say it was because of the directing.
FILMMAKERS ACADEMY: It’s definitely a very thorough film. And then you have great comedy actors like Jeff Garlin, Whitney Cummings, Will Forte, being able to balance it out a bit. Was there anything specific that you and BJ did in terms of collaboration to just always stay on the same page as a producer-director team?
JOHN RAMSAY: We were up each other’s butts the whole time. I mean, it was relentless because the pre-production phase was so short. It went from notes on script with writers into a table read with the band. Like, everything was just so truncated and so short. It was like we were talking to each other seven days a week for four or five months –
JIM ROTA: Two and a half years. I’ve played in a band forever. That’s how I met Dave. And honestly, being someone who has to create something that someone needs to sell, there’s this inner struggle all the time, right? Where you’re like, ‘I want this to be a thing. I have it in my mind creatively what I want this thing to be – oh shit, I have this much money and I have this much time… And the hardest thing, I think, in that situation is if you’re not going to be somebody who respects and appreciates that process – I mean, listen, all of us have to be reined in sometimes, especially during the creative process.
But for me, I like to strike the balance of letting somebody do what they do, but kind of just be the guardrails. Because there’s gonna be things that people want to do that are just unrealistic, or that we can’t ask people to do whether it’s because we will get grieved by the union or because we don’t have enough money, or whatever it is. So, I just think it’s important to know the balance between fantasy and reality when it comes to expectations, but then let the creative process happen naturally.
FILMMAKERS ACADEMY: When did you find out about the pandemic?
JIM ROTA: I was under a tent In the middle of the rain that happened, which ended up being pretty awesome for the Garland and Dave fight scene. We were all in the rain, basically in chairs or standing under tents, and I just remember the moment when we heard this is it. Nobody’s at work tomorrow.
FILMMAKERS ACADEMY: That has to be deflating knowing that the finish line is in sight only to have months added to your production.
JIM ROTA: The funniest part and the ironic part about that was that the last shot of the movie was in the same location. And I remember Dave ran home because his house was up the street and he grabbed a bunch of booze, and was like, ‘I’m not leaving this set until I have a drink to celebrate it.’ So, by the end, everybody was feeling like they needed a drink.
FILMMAKERS ACADEMY: You mentioned before that the band had just recorded their album in that house. Was there actually some truth behind the way the instruments sounded in there?
JIM ROTA: Well, they recorded there because I think Dave liked the way the drums sounded in that room. I think that was true.
JOHN RAMSAY: It’s kind of an inside joke too. And people talk about the drum sound in a specific place. But yeah, I think Dave had mentioned in some other press about the actual record, like the record producer. When Dave was sending him the demos, he was like, ‘Wow, this sounds really good. Where is this?’ And Dave’s like, ‘Oh, I’m recording in this weird mansion in Encino.’ And he was like, ‘Oh, why don’t we just record the record there? It sounds cool.’
JIM ROTA: They were moving gear out from the record the same days we were moving gear in to make the movie. That’s 1,000,000% true.
JOHN RAMSAY: They finished the record and there were five weeks until they were going to start the big world tour to support the record. And those were the five weeks we had to shoot the movie. So, their expensive recording gear was going out and the cheap broken shit that we rented from prop houses was moving in. Set up in the same places and looked exactly how it was when they recorded the record.
FILMMAKERS ACADEMY: Were there any takeaways that you wanted the audience to walk away with?
JOHN RAMSAY: Yeah, I mean, we were all very clear from the beginning. Like, we just want to make like the most fucked up Scooby-Doo episode the world has ever seen. Like, that was always like the short elevator pitch. It’s like, Dave really loves the idea of like, ‘Oh, man, people don’t make band movies anymore.’ And there’s a long, great tradition of cool band movies. Like, let’s make a band movie. Let’s make a horror movie. We all love 80s slasher films, let’s just mix all this stuff together and just make something awesome so the fans can just get super high watching a movie and have a good time for an hour and a half.
JIM ROTA: A band movie is like – Pat Smear, of course, because he’s like, the wise sage of the band, honestly – he came up to me one day, like in the middle of shooting and he was like, ‘I get it.’ And that’s like how he’ll start a thing.
He’ll be like, ‘I get it.’ And you’re like, what? He’s like, ‘We’re making a cult classic.’ And you’re like, yes, that’s exactly what we’re making because it’s a band movie and that’s what band movies are. Like, band movies are the thing that get rediscovered every few years. And then everybody’s watching them again. Or, they become like a tradition for you, like, ‘Oh, I’m a Foo Fighters fan and it’s Halloween. What should we watch? I know what I’m watching again, for the 90 millionth time, and I’m going to say all my favorite lines and throw chainsaws at the screen or whatever.’ So that’s, again, in the spirit of fun.
I mean, it should always just be fun, like we chose to play pretend for a living. It’s not easy to play pretend for a living. It’s a lot harder than most people think. And if you can’t make it fun, and you can’t have a good time doing it, then it’s too much work. It’s too much work to do if you don’t enjoy it. That’s the bottom line. It’s just like touring. It’s just like being in a band. People think it’s awesome and it’s great and you get all this stuff and there’s free booze and whatever. And it’s just a big party. But you know, the reality is there’s a lot of work and not just for the artists. There’s a lot of work for a lot of people. I think that’s the whole thing. That was a big part of the motivation.
FILMMAKERS ACADEMY: As producers, what was the biggest lesson or takeaway for you that came from working on this project?
JOHN RAMSAY: Get all of the insurance. If there’s an option to pay a little more – like, we luckily caught on to a little clause in one of our insurance policies. A civil unrest clause which we were able to use to claw back a little bit of money because of the pandemic shut down. But I think our insurance broker said we would probably be the only production that successfully got that claim to go through. You’re just like, ‘Oh, man, this is so expensive, but you know, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Get all the insurance.
JIM ROTA: We were the first show back shooting in LA at least after all this stuff. You’re basically flying blind as the producers. Ultimately, you’re responsible for everyone’s safety. So, there’s that additional added pressure, right? These are human beings with families. And at that time, nobody knew what the hell this thing could possibly do. Nobody thought that many people would die from this thing. And it was just like, yeah, that’s heavy. For us, we take that very seriously. That responsibility is another thing. Like, you have to be willing to be able to take that level of responsibility. It was gnarly.
FILMMAKERS ACADEMY: What advice do you have for producers that are new to the craft or entering their first big project? Is there something that you could bestow to them from all of your years of doing this?
JIM ROTA: Go to law school instead. I’m joking. I mean, it’s like I was saying before, I was told early on in my moviemaking career that you’re just supposed to show up on time, early, if you can, only speak when you’re spoken to, and just be a good hang. I think all that stuff goes a long way. Like, kind of knowing your place early on is very important because in the business, you’re only as good as your next job, right? In other words, if you don’t do great on this job, nobody’s going to recommend you for the next job. That’s the advice I give to all people that want to start in this.
I totally am in this business by accident. It’s like, you all have to have the mentality that you’re all doing it together. But you also have to know what you don’t know, basically. John and I both have this really weird personality trait where if somebody tells us something that we don’t understand, we actually let them know that so that we can learn. And that’s another thing I think is very important. It’s like saying ‘I don’t know’ or ‘What the fuck are you talking about?’ goes a long way when it comes to – I think – being successful. It’s alright if you don’t know something. And chances are talking to somebody who’s done it a million times is way better than Googling it. That’s what I always say.
JOHN RAMSAY: Yeah, I think to Jim’s point, it’s like knowing what you don’t know. But in the end, as a producer, especially on low-budget, small indie things, the producers are accountable for everything. I mean, the minutiae never ends. With the prep work and the time, you sometimes have to climb up people’s asses and ask a million questions. If you don’t know something, you can’t assume that it’s being handled because so and so has done this a bunch of times before. You have to be accountable for everybody and everything.
Just to Jim’s point about being a good hang, you can’t be up somebody’s ass in an annoying way. You just have to find ways to have conversations to check up on you and the project, but I’m not checking up on you like your mom and nagging you. I’m asking you a question like, ‘Hey, can you explain to me what’s going on here? Why is this like this? Like, let’s have a chat about it.’ You learn a lot. You’ve just got to constantly be circulating and talking to everybody and interfacing like emails and texts. Like, you’ve got to go up into this person’s space, physically be there, ask the question, look around, and see what they’re up to. You’ve got to be up in all of it, all the time.
JIM ROTA: Respectfully.
JOHN RAMSAY: You’ll sleep when principal photography’s done.
FILMMAKERS ACADEMY: Seems like some of the core tenets to being a really solid producer, regardless of where you are in your career.
JIM ROTA: And there are department heads, so each department is going to have different levels of experience and different career paths. So, you have to be very respectful of a department head. But as John said, you have to have that self-awareness to know if there’s a prickly department head or if there’s a department head that’s easy to work with. You just have to learn their personalities.
JOHN RAMSAY: Yeah, you just ask them their advice. You’re like, ‘Here’s my problem that I need to solve today. You’ve done this a million times, what do you think? What’s your plan to solve this problem?’ And sometimes they might be like, ‘Oh, shit, I didn’t know that was a problem. Yeah, let’s fix that.’
JIM ROTA: Other times you’re saying that fucking costs too much. [Laughs.] There’s no such thing as making a movie alone. There’s no such thing. It’s not a thing. No single point of failure in a movie. And you have to make sure that all those not-single points of failure are not failing – if that makes any sense.
FILMMAKERS ACADEMY: Is there anything else that you would like to share about Studio 666 with our audience?
JIM ROTA: The one thing I just want to say about this particular movie is to go in with expectations that are realistic. Like, it’s not that I’m saying it’s not a great movie, because I think it’s a great movie – I think it’s a super fun movie – but it’s like when the Marvel movies get nominated for Academy Awards. I always say, ‘Yeah? Is that where this belongs?’ I think it’s important to always put everything into perspective. It’s like time, place, and circumstance has a lot to do with people’s opinions. You can watch a movie one day and hate it and see the movie three years later and think it’s great. And that happens. Like, I don’t know.
If that movie Jennifer’s Body, for example, all of a sudden has like a new life because people are just like, ‘Oh, this was actually a great movie that we didn’t realize’ – I don’t know if you’ve read any of that stuff or seen it? That movie is in the Criterion Collection now. But, you have to have realistic expectations when watching a movie like that. And that doesn’t mean it can’t be a classic, but it’s going to be a classic in its own way.
FILMMAKERS ACADEMY: Yeah, I think it’s very important, especially going into this film, for people to know that this is meant to be a B-horror film that’s really fun and in-your-face and you’re there for the ride.
JIM ROTA: My favorite genre movie – and this only makes sense to a very select group of people – I love watching old Italian films, or countries that aren’t necessarily known for filmmaking, when in the 70s and 80s, they made their versions of giant blockbuster American movies (like Alien), because you can feel the intent. Like, you can just feel it. I watched those movies – not for the kitsch factor – but I love to see the filmmaking. Because after you do it so long, you watch a movie like that and you’re just like, ‘I know what that person was trying to do. And I know the money that was given to them to do that. And it’s clear that they were trying so goddamn hard.’
The best part is when it actually makes something great, like the barbarian movies after Conan. Some of those Italian barbarian movies are fabulous. Don’t know if you’ve seen Eastern Europe barbarian movies. A very amazing genre. It’s pretty much any 80s VHS rental at your local video store before Blockbuster happened.
FILMMAKERS ACADEMY: John, is there anything that you’d like to add about Studio 666 or any upcoming projects?
JOHN RAMSAY: Jim and I are reading a bunch of stuff and looking for our next thing. But no, I think it’s obvious how much we love this movie. I just really hope that when people watch it, they get the same vibe, and go along for the same fun ride that we did.
JIM ROTA: Yeah, and I gotta say, too, people will ask us what the guys’ personalities are like off-stage. But honestly, this is one of the only bands I’ve ever been around – especially at their level where the guys are the real versions of what you see in their public personas. They’re all very real people and they’re all funny. They all – from the outside at least – seem like they all still get along and love each other. I think that comes across in this movie, too. And I think the fact that they were all willing to do this movie just shows that. How many bands do you know would put themselves in such a vulnerable position?
FILMMAKERS ACADEMY: It’s very true. I thought that it was very endearing how they all rag on each other, especially Dave’s creative egomaniacal character. I thought that was very well done. It was a perfect combination of horror and the Foo Fighters.
Watch the Foo Fighters’ Studio 666
Visit the Studio 666 website to see ways to watch the movie. The film is currently available in select theaters and you can stream at home via Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, and Redbox.