Shawn Lewis has been clothing horror fans for years with his company Rotten Cotton, and 2008 will see him jump into the world of filmmaking with his ode to Blaxploitation, "Black Devil Doll." It's all in the title of the film, so read on to find out more about the man and this peculiar project.
Follow your dreams, stick to your guns, and fuck political correctness.
What was your first ever experience with horror? How did you get hooked?
I was raised on Creature Features, a late night SF Bay Area horror TV show hosted by Bob Wilkins. They screened horror films every Saturday night. My mother and I watched it religiously, so I guess you can blame this on her! I think my first horror film was "Night Of The Living Dead," and shortly after that "It's Alive". Both are burning into my earliest horror film memories.
You've been making apparel for horror fans for years with your company "Rotten Cotton," what made you decide to jump from clothing to making films?
I've always wanted to make films, in fact it did attend San Francisco State and was in their film program for a while but became disillusioned with the "attitude" of the students and teachers and dropped out. I was looked down upon for being into horror/exploitation films, everyone there was more interested in producing self-indulgent politically correct bullshit documentaries. I could not find one instructor or student interested in the horror genre, it was discouraging. So I left.
I had every intention of making my own films but it just never happened. The t-shirts were just a way to make money until I could make my own films and Rotten Cotton slowly grew into the empire it is now, and left me no time to go after my dreams. Then over the last few years my youngest brother Jonathan started film school and making his own films and our collaboration just seemed natural... Here we are today with "Black Devil Doll" and other film projects in pre-production.
If you had to describe "Black Devil Doll" in once sentence, how would you do it?
One sentence? Okay "A militant black puppet gets off on raping and killing innocent young white women with big tits."
What films would you say had the biggest impact on the film?
I'd say there are three genre's that inspired our film. Evil Doll/Puppet films, and 60's-70's Blaxploitation as well as Sexploitation films like Russ Meyer stuff... From the Doll genre, of course "Black Devil Doll From Hell" is our biggest inspiration. I'll never forget renting that classic when I was 13 or 14. At that age its the only film with nudity that DIDN'T give me a hard on, I think my dick got scared and crawled into my asshole for a week... I was shocked more by how bad it was than anything, it has got to be the worst movie of all time... Worst directing, worst acting, worst nudity, ect... But as bad as it is I never forgot it, I always loved Turner's concept, I just wish he had more resources and/or money to really make his vision come to life.
Other influences are of course "Trilogy Of Terror," "Meet The Feebles," "Childs Play," "Dolls," and some of the "Puppet Master" series. From the Blaxploitation and Sexploitation genre's our biggest influences are "Sweet Sweetback's Badass Song," "Dolemite," "The Mack," and Russ Meyer's entire career... you will see elements of all of these in our film... but most importantly for me, I'd like our film to be a viable contribution to the Doll genre, I love the doll genre, I collect them all, but there has yet to be a doll film that goes "all the way". Some doll films come close but for reasons of ratings, fear of being politically incorrect, or distribution they always wuss out. I think we have successfully made a doll film that actually goes all the way and then some.
Was it hard to convince the actresses to simulate sex with the doll?
Who said the sex was simulated? Just kidding... No, they read the script, in advance, they knew they were going to be raped and killed (not necessarily in that order) by a militant black puppet. The girls were all great for the most part, we had some problems here and there but nothing a little malt liquor and cocaine couldn't rectify.
I read that you're now in post production. Do you have an estimate as to when the film will be finished?
At the bare minimum this will be a trilogy.
What kinds of reactions have you had from the trailer?
The reactions from the trailer have been fucking excellent. People into these types of films are loving it, we've received more positive responses than we could have imagined, the trailer is ALL OVER the net and its been running at film fest world wide for the past month. But of course we have some snotty responses from stuck up film snobs and film elitist assholes. But the film wasn't made for those pricks anyway... you ain't hot if you ain't got haters so fuck 'em. I don't think there is going to be a middle ground with "Black Devil Doll," either you are going to love it or hate it, no in between.
Have you had any interest from any distributors?
Yes, quite a few actually. Synapse Film, Grindhouse Releasing, Wild Eye Releasing just to name a few. Plus a ton of overseas distributors. Not sure who we will go with yet...
If it's successful, do you think there's a chance of a Devil Doll sequel?
Yes, at the bare minimum this will be a trilogy. Part 2 is tentatively titled "Black Devil Doll 2: Black In The Hood" and is in pre-production now. And we are in the process of purchasing this bad ass camera from RED for the sequels so our fans can expect even better quality from the "Black Devil Doll" series.
Do you have any other film ideas kicking around that you might pursue?
Yes, we are in pre-production on a retro 70's female revenge film called "She's A Whore" with my brother directing again. It's in the style of "Ms 45" and "They Call Her One Eye"... It will have a million dollar budget and will be shot in Oakland California in late 08 early 09.
My favorite part of the Rotten Cotton site has to be the "Deadbeat" section. Have you ever had a deadbeat contact you about being featured in that section?
Yes I've had many people pay me what they owe and have their names removed, and some people that have bitched and cried but refused to pay up so their info remains on the site. Fuck 'em.
Have you ever had any copyright issues with the non-official shirts your company makes?
We've had legal troubles in the past and its the reason most of our stuff is now legit.
Any advice for aspiring filmmakers?
Follow your dreams, stick to your guns, and fuck political correctness. Oh and fuck George Bush too (just had to toss that in there)
Thanks for sitting down with us!
Thank you for the support!