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Exclusive: An In-depth Interview with Adam Green and Joe Lynch on All Things Holliston

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Exclusive: An In-depth Interview with Adam Green and Joe Lynch on All Things HollistonThe past month or so has been incredibly eventful for Adam Green’s “Holliston.” The show tragically lost one cast member, released Season 2 on Blu-ray, and then got the news that the network it airs on is shutting down…

Creator Adam Green and co-star Joe Lynch sat down with Dread Central recently for a massive interview all about “Holliston.”

Show creator and star Adam Green talked about his love for the “Holliston” series. “It’s my favorite thing I’ve ever done,” Green said. “It’s my best work to date, and I think a lot of the people involved in the show would say the same thing. If you like Season 1, I think Season 2 really blows it away. I think with any sitcom the second season is usually considered to be funnier and better than the first, mainly because you know the characters, you know the world, you know the tone. And as the writer of the show, I don’t need to spend any time setting up characters or explaining relationships. We sort of just get to hit the ground running this time.”

Of course there has been plenty to shake up the “Holliston Nation” lately, and the death of one of the show’s stars, GWAR frontman Dave Brockie (Oderus Urungus), was the biggest blow. Green discussed how Brockie’s death has affected “Holliston.” “I don’t know yet,” Green said. “It’s still so fresh that none of us have been able to think about that yet. It’s much more personal grief. What I can say is there obviously will be a way to go on without that character. No matter what, I’m not going to replace him. I actually saw something in the press that said, ‘They could technically just put another actor in that costume.’ That’s never going to happen. There was something planned in the third season where Oderus was going to be taken away anyway. He wasn’t going to permanently leave the show, but he was building up to a specific arc so all that’s going to have to change.”

Green discussed how much being a part of “Holliston” meant to Brockie. “There’s a behind-the-scenes feature on the Blu-ray where Oderus…Dave…actually breaks character for a second to the EPK camera and says, ‘This show is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me.’ And he always told us that every day. He loved the show so much. So obviously I struggled with, ‘Do I just end it at this point?’ That’s one of the first lines of defense of grief. It’s like, ‘Fuck it. I’m done. I can’t do this anymore.’ But he’d kill me if I did that. So eventually we’ll get around to figuring that out more concretely.”

The beauty of Dave Brockie on “Holliston” was the man would say anything. Anything. From the infamous Kurt Cobain line to telling Adam to picture a hot chick pooping before sex, he always had great lines, and although some of the show is improvised, all of Oderus’ lines were written by Green. A fact he’s very proud of. “Every single thing he said was scripted, and one of the great honors of working with him was that I’m the only other person he trusted to write that character,” Green said. “It was a little weird at first for him going into it because I wasn’t writing a character Dave Brockie is playing, but a character he’s been playing for three decades. So I think he was wary at first when he got the scripts for Season 1, thinking he was going to have to do a Brockie polish on all of them; but I remember after he read the scripts, he called me and was really excited. He was like, ‘This is great! I don’t need to change anything.'”

The loss of Brockie is a tremendous one for the “Holliston” family, both personally and professionally as he’ll be incredibly missed by the fans. “I was in the process of writing the first few episodes, and we were already starting to workshop those where the cast would get together at ArieScope and anybody in the main cast can say whatever they want or pitch jokes, etc. So we were already really starting to get into it. But now, unfortunately, this sort of puts me back to the drawing board with a lot of stuff. Not all of it, but there’s a very special thing that was happening with Oderus’ character in Season 3 where, in the end, he actually ends up getting taken away and brought back to his home planet and I learn he wasn’t in my closet because he was my friend; he’s in my closet because he has a death sentence on his home planet and he’s been hiding there for all these years. But they end up finding him and they take him away and kill him.”

“So that was the end of Season 3, and in Season 4 I actually go to his planet to try to save him. It sounds pretty huge and epic, but we knew how we were going to do it. What sucks is I never got to tell Dave how he gets rescued. He knew how the season was going to end and I never tell the cast what’s going to happen because I think it’s more fun for everyone if they have to wait, but he really wanted to know how I was going to save him. Unfortunately that’s not going to happen.”

Green continued, “The good thing is this isn’t an NBC show where the president of the network would call me and say, ‘I’m really sorry for your loss…Where’s the next episode?’ This is an independently made show and we do it when I want to do it. So I’ll take however long it takes to grieve and then I’ll come back to it when I feel like it and when the time is right. I think the earliest the cast would come together and start focusing on a third season would be the end of the year.”

In another sad piece of news, the original network home for “Holliston,” FEARnet, has shut its doors. Green discusses just what that means to the show. “FEARnet being closed down due to yet another Hollywood merger is a crying shame, and my heart breaks for all of my friends and family there whom I have had the privilege to work and create with, from the network executive team to the amazing team of talented writers who made their site such a unique and special place for horror,” Green said. “The promise was so obvious and we always imagined that in just a few short years FEARnet would have been an amazing source for all things horror if only they had been given some kind of resources to do their thing. Without FEARnet a show like ‘Holliston’ never would have gotten a chance, and in my 13 years of trying to get the show made this exact way, at some point in the development process it had always come down to removing the horror elements ‘to make it more mainstream’ whenever I had tried to develop the series elsewhere… a total deal-breaker for me.”

Green continued, “The sheer fact that FEARnet believed in what I was trying to do as far as portraying horror fans as real people with heart, compassion, and love for each other as opposed to cliché stereotypes, supporting characters, or mere sight gags proved to me that they really were one of us and not just a company trying to cash in on the profits that genre fare can statistically churn out. I mean, they helped make it possible for a sit-com about horror fans to exist. In what other universe does that happen? Never did they force my hand out of personal ego or the need to ‘put their stamp’ on my individual voice like what can happen all too often at so many other networks. They only supported me, my cast, and my crew as best as they could, even if it meant people like network president Peter Block putting his own neck on the line just to make the show possible against the incredible odds we faced.”

Green discussed one of the more disappointing aspects of working in television. “The saddest reality of this business is that the phrase ‘We’re not here to make friends; we’re here to make money’ is actually true in so many cases, which is the reason why ArieScope and I have stayed loyal to so many of the same artists over our 16 years in the business creating films and television shows,” Green said. “There actually is a way to do both. There actually is a way to operate in this insane business and still love going to work every day, even when everything seems to be going wrong or bad luck and bad circumstances just seem to plague whatever it is you’re trying so hard to do. I am incredibly honored and proud for ‘Holliston’ to have been FEARnet’s first (and now only) original series. I only regret not getting the chance to see what would have been next in line to air alongside my creation as I bet it would have been something I’d have adored and become a huge fan of.”

Holliston

However, Green sees a silver lining to this cloud. “On a positive note, the amount of talent and heart in FEARnet’s team is undeniable, and I have not a shred of doubt that each and every friend of mine there will land on his or her feet and only rise to the challenge they are now facing with this unfortunate turn of events,” Green said. “For the ‘Holliston Nation’ that quickly began messaging us upon reading the news, asking what this means for the show’s future, the fact that ‘Holliston’ is an independently produced and owned property means that this sad turn of events in no way signifies the end of the series or the possibility for future seasons. We have always been free to go wherever we want, though we took great pride in calling FEARnet our home and being the flagship program for what we believed would have been an incredibly successful network over time.”

But even with all this upheaval, Green did manage to talk about the actual show for a bit, some of the differences between the two current seasons, what fans will see on the Season 2 Blu-ray (review here), and what’s up next. First was the inclusion of true emotion and feeling in the episodes. “A big difference with Seasons 1 and 2 is that with Season 1… it’s a weird show in that it’s a sitcom tailor-made for horror fans, and we had no idea what the reaction was going to be and if people were going to be into it,” Green said. “So having gotten through Season 1 and doing the conventions and reading all the fan mail and all the reviews and seeing why people love the show, it gave me the confidence to make the show I wanted to make. In Season 1 I kind of held back a little on some of the more sentimental and emotional moments, mainly because I didn’t know if people would roll with that, but that was the aspect of the show that people always write to us about. The fan mail that we get, it’s crazy. It’s not like when you do a movie where you’ll get a two-page, handwritten letter about why they love the movie; instead it’s like prolonged thank you letters and people telling their own stories about struggling or not fitting in or feeling like a loser. A lot of personal stories of people telling about the girl they can’t get over or the guy they can’t get over. This time around I didn’t hold back on any of that, and I think the Christmas episode, which was sort of the in-between episode between Seasons 1 and 2, that’s the one I’m most proud of because I feel like that’s where the show really became the show that it is.”

“There’s a scene at the end of that, a scene in the hallway between Corri English and myself…” Green continued. “I had written lines for it but decided the night before that I was just going to throw that out. I told Corri I was just going to kind of improv whatever was going to come out so that way it was 100 percent real and she wasn’t going to know what I was going to say or be prepared for it [and] I wouldn’t be prepared for her reaction. I think that’s one of the best scenes so far in ‘Holliston’ because of that. But when we screened it for the network, that was a big problem for them. They kind of wanted to remove it from the episode. I can understand that; it was FEARnet, they were a horror network, and it’s already weird enough that they’re doing a sitcom as their first original show, but nobody expected to be that emotionally overwhelmed, and they didn’t think that would work for them. So the version that aired on television was missing not only that scene but a few other sentimental scenes that really make the episode. So I’m excited that now everyone who gets the Blu-ray [will] get to see the full version, which is much, much stronger than the version that aired on television.”


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Exclusive: An In-depth Interview with Adam Green and Joe Lynch on All Things HollistonJoe Lynch discussed the direction his character was taking as the season ended and where he is potentially headed in future episodes. “Essentially, Adam’s thought out six seasons ahead so I’m pretty aware of what happens immediately after the end of Season 2,” Lynch said. “I know the depths and dark places Joe goes. A lot of it concerns beard cultivation and a lot of couch time. It’s rough going for Joe.”

“One of the things I admire about how Adam wrote my character is that Joe is a character that is very dedicated and will do anything it takes to achieve his goals and dreams and passions, and aside from movies, his passion is Laura. He has a really beautiful, genuine relationship he’s cultivated. There was such a wonderful bond he’s started, and it’s almost like at the end of the first season, I had a feeling he was going to shake things up in Season 2. When we first came out and beat out the second season and he dropped that bomb on me, I felt both shocked and completely with it because I knew that this was part of the design the whole time.”

Lynch continued on how Joe’s current plight is just a microcosm for the entire show, “The show is about how we deal with heartbreak. How we deal with being rejected, being kicked in the balls, and how we always have to pick ourselves up again,” Lynch said. “It’s a common theme in the show. It’s a common theme in Adam’s work and in my work a lot of times. And this just felt like the next step where this character needed to go. For the longest time Joe has been the steadfast, ambitious guy with the blinders on and not worrying about any ramifications. So here was a moment where Joe had a plan. Obviously he was planning this and it backfired on him. It’s just another step in the long line of ball kicking we’ve been taking. This one hits close to home.”

Lynch discussed the powerful scene fans will certainly remember when he proposes to Laura. The anticipation of filming that particular scene was haunting Lynch throughout the season’s shoot. “That scene was obviously the first thing I thought of when Adam mentioned this arc and mentioned how we were going to do it,” Lynch said. “It was always ‘that day!’ I was always thinking, ‘My god, that’s going to be rough.’ The fact that I was saying this very emotional speech, which incidentally was Adam’s proposal to his wife, so now I had an obligation and a duty to make that feel real. Because if it came off hokey or false, I’m sure the directors would have told me. But I knew I had to nail it. So for weeks I was constantly saying that speech so I became even more invested in that scene because I believed every word of it.”

Another difference fans will notice is the length of the episodes, pared to a sharp 22 minutes for Season 2. “In the first season each episode was an extended length, and that was just because FEARnet didn’t have any other programming,” Green said. “So they were like, ‘If the episodes are longer, please do it! Make them super-sized.’ And Season 1 has been reedited to be 10 episodes from the six that were there. So people who watched on TV noticed a Part 1 and Part 2 for the episodes. There’s nothing new that’s been added in; the editing has just been shuffled around to turn them into two episodes. But having 22 minutes is not a lot of time so usually you have the A story, which is the main story, and the B story, that’s a smaller storyline. For instance, when Lance finds out he has an illegitimate son, that’s really the B story, and the A story was Adam dating an 11-year-old. And you always try to have the two storylines go together in a way. And I think that’s the reason the episode is called ‘Rock the Cradle.'”

Much of the beauty of “Holliston” has been the planning and preparation. Green always seems to know where the show is going, and it’s through this work that the project succeeds. “Everything that happens in Season 2 as far as their character arc is set up in Season 1,” Green said. “Season 1 was only six episodes so there was only so much you can do because we have to set up the characters and relationships, and if we set up those bigger things in any more depth, there would not have been much room left for the comedy and weird stuff. So we set the groundwork with Season 1 and with Season 2, especially since we had more episodes, were able to do a good balance of both of them. The beauty of ‘Holliston’ is even if you haven’t seen every episode, you can just jump in wherever you are and understand what’s going on and enjoy it. The show is planned out for many seasons. I already know what’s supposed to happen in Seasons 5 and 6, and all of that stuff is being set up.”

And knowing where you are and where you’re going and where you’re planning on ending up are equally important according to Green. “You’ve got to have an endgame and a much bigger picture,” Green said. “That’s what makes good TV. We’ve all seen shows where the show kept going because it became a success, but it becomes very obvious that the people writing it did not have an endgame in sight and they’re starting to go in circles and it’s not making sense anymore and they’re kind of struggling. With ‘Holliston’ it’s always been really planned out. Also, with television, you never know if you’re going to get to do more seasons. So even how Season 2 ends, people were, like ‘Holy shit! That was such a huge cliffhanger!’ Knowing what’s coming next, that’s the tip of the iceberg in terms of the bad shit that’s going to happen to those people. We didn’t know when we finished shooting if we’re going to get to do more. So I could have wrapped it up very generically just in case or roll the dice and did what I wanted to do. It was the same thing with the Hatchet series. When the first movie ended, a lot of people were like, ‘Are you fucking serious? That’s it? Cut to black?’ But I always knew what I was going to do. So, thankfully, it worked out, and hopefully with this it’ll be the same thing and we’ll be doing a third season.”

Lynch added that the amount of preparation that goes into the show makes a huge difference. “A lot of that comes down to the rehearsal,” Lynch said. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: This show lives or dies by all the prep that we do and the teamwork and the family atmosphere we always create. So Adam was kind of adamant (ha ha, Adam Ant) to make sure we were rehearsing as much as possible. We all got together for at least three or four days a week. And we would rehearse and rehearse and rehearse. I’ve never done so much rehearsing in my life. From a practical standpoint it got us very prepared, and from the comedy and timing standpoint – and this is the genius of how Adam and Sean [Becker] and even myself being there in some degree being a director as well – we were all able to evaluate all the timing of all the jokes and say, ‘This has to go faster; this has to go slower.'”

And Season 2 ties the episodes together so well. Lynch talks about how they wanted to have a common thread to do that and came up with the perfect idea. “It’s an inherent instinct that Adam has as a writer,” Lynch said. “He’s always said he’s a writer first. He’s a storyteller. He’s done eight or nine features before he stepped back into the TV world. In Season 2, while Shinpads was a through line in Season 1, it wasn’t as strong as we could have made it. That’s where we said, ‘This is where we can step up our game and have something that will affect as many episodes as possible.’ And the easiest thing for us, if we were going to be struggling filmmakers, let’s try, in one form or another, to show the process of making a movie. Like trying to go from script phase to production phase to editing phase and obviously the premiere at the end. We knew we wanted to have something at the end that would kind of be indicative of the efforts of all the previous episodes of that season. Like, ‘Let’s make it feel like a real climax the way it would normally be in a movie.'”

In addition to the more consistent feel of the show from episode to episode, the timing of the actors got better as well. “I think the greatest advantage we had, the greatest benefit, the greatest difference between Season 1 and Season 2, is the rhythm is so much quicker,” Lynch said. “It’s so much more ‘rat-a-tat-tat.’ The difference between ‘Parenthood’ being Season 1 and ‘Gilmore Girls’ being Season 2. Things just moved at a faster clip, and that’s all attributed to the amount of rehearsal that we did. Having those two months of rehearsal just made us well-oiled machines ready to rock comedy.”

Another new addition fans saw in Season 2 was the character of Dana, who is played by Green’s real-life spouse, Rileah Vanderbilt. Green talked about adding his wife to this tight-knit group of actors. “In real life she’s very close to everyone,” Green said. “Laura and Joe were in our bridal party, and Dee Snider married us. And Corri, until she moved to New York, was over all the time. So Rileah was pretty close with everyone, especially the crew because she worked on Hatchet, Spiral, Frozen, Hatchet II, Chillerama… she already knew everyone.”

We closed with a question that just needed to be asked…With his own film he wrote and directed entitled Frozen, how does Green feel about the animated box office juggernaut with the same name? “I think it’s great,” Green said. “It’s only going to help us. So many people have ended up finding my Frozen because of it. And I think that the way some parents sit their kinds down in front of the TV and order VOD, hopefully there are a lot of kids scarred for life because their parents weren’t paying attention. I take great pride in that. I think that’ll be very funny.”

Green concluded with a beautiful personal message to his fans. “Every artist likes to think they have the greatest and most loyal fans in the world, but the truth is that I am the one with that honor. To every fan that has posted online, sent a condolence card, written a deeply personal letter, or sent gifts… I love you. I absolutely and unconditionally love you, and I couldn’t do what I do without each and every single one of you.”

Holliston Season 2

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