'ABCs Of Death' Exclusive Interview: 'Metalocalypse's' Jon Schnepp Talks 'W Is For WTF'
Twenty-six directors devise terrible ways to die, from A to Z, in the horror anthology The ABCs of Death. And in his first foray into the horror-film world, TV animation veteran Jon Schnepp (Metalocalypse, The Venture Bros.) dives headfirst into chaos with "W Is For WTF," a stoner's fever dream that mashes zombie clowns, a mysterious chem trail, animated depravity, and Schnepp himself into the most random and, yes, WTF-inducing segment of the bunch.
Movieline spoke with Schnepp about his "W Is For WTF" (behold the exclusive image above!), how he lobbied producer Ant Timpson for the slot, why he poured his own money into his ABCs of Death short, and what he learned from his time editing Adult Swim's Space Ghost Coast To Coast at the start of his career. He also updated us with the latest on Grimm Fairy Tales, his ambitious Heavy Metal-esque animated project. (Interviews with all 26 ABCs of Death filmmakers will be available to read on The ABCs of Death Tumblr page.)
Your name stands out among the two dozen mostly genre filmmakers because you come from a slightly different world. How were you approached to take part in the ABCs of Death?
I actually contacted Ant [Timpson]. I had heard of The ABCs of Death as I was working on Metalocalypse, and I’ve done a bunch of live-action television shows but they’ve mainly been comedy. After I did those I got into the world of animation, and looking for things outside of animation to do, and that one sounded really cool. I just sent a cold email saying, ‘Hey, this is Jon – I direct Metalocalypse…’ He wrote me back pretty quickly saying ‘I love your work, but we’re totally staffed up. We have all the directors. But I’ll keep you in mind for the future.’ Cut to five months later I get an email from him saying, ‘Hey – one of our directors dropped out and you’re at the top of the list. Do you want to do it?’ And I was like, ‘Fuck yeah!’
It’s nice to hear that in this town sometimes it doesn’t hurt to reach out to a stranger.
I strongly advise it! I think if you do it in a cool way and you’re not weird… it comes with a caveat: It doesn’t hurt to ask people, but make sure that you can back that shit up, and also that you’re not crazy.
Just how hard is it to come up with a concept like “W is for WTF” when you’re tasked with creating something with such specific yet wide open guidelines?
I came up with a bunch of ideas that weren’t fully formed, like “W Is For Wake,” or “W Is For War” and as I started to write them I [realized] I wasn’t sold on them myself. I sent a ton of these ideas, the dumbest one I could possibly think of was “W Is For Werewolf.” Then somehow that devolves as people devour this chem trail and everything they’re thinking comes to life.
Is that your actual production staff acting in the short?
No – actually it’s the company I work at. They were cool enough to let me shoot there. And that’s my office and my friend Tommy [Blacha] who I work on Metalocalypse with. Because the budget is so minute. I ended up spending like $9,000, which sucks [each director was given a $5,000 budget], but at the same time was totally worth it because you want it to be awesome.
I guess that’s what happens when you factor in all the decapitations, and eaten faces and eyeball-chewing.
I come from this school of, I pay everyone I work with. I’ve never liked the idea of free anything.