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Welcome to the news section! Stay up-to-date with the latest with Derek's creative endeavors.


January 12, 2024

Happy New Year!  2023 ended its final chapter on a high note with the Season One release of THE BOOK CLUB FOR MEN with Derek directing episodes 2-6.  2024 has much to offer with VIATICUM and ALIENS EXPANDED in post-production.  Also, look for Derek later this year in Tara Wood's comprehensive four-part Tim Burton Documentary series.  


February 15, 2023

Fifteen years ago, The Minor Prophets and I convened to film our first collaboration, 4th and 99. It marked the beginning of a long and storied creative relationship. Today I’m proud to share our eighth effort, Awkward Endeavors. This short is based on a scene from a feature screenplay written by David Amadio, Gil Damon and Steve Kuzmick. Our original intent was to shoot the full-length film this past year, in and around our Delco roots, however the pandemic halted those plans. We opted for the next best thing and selected a sequence that showcased these lonely male leads and the bizarre relationships between them. A few special shout-outs – To Kathleen Kozak, for bringing the heart, soul and music to this project. To Nicole Py for joining the shoot after a last minute invitation, ensuring everyone looked fabulous. To Holly Kempf for her AMAZING poster design. And to Leah Gallo, for her patience through piano rehearsals with Des, filming in our home over the July 4th weekend, MULTIPLE viewings while in post-production and for your wonderful behind the scenes photography during the shoot (I’ll be posting photos in the coming days). The Minor Prophets and I are still eager to film the feature version of Awkward Endeavors, but until that day, I hope you enjoy this deep dish slice.


February 9, 2022

Animal Logic confirmed today that the feature musical adaptation of Toto: The Dog-Gone Amazing Story of the Wizard of Oz will be the next project produced out of their animation studio in Vancouver.

The family film will connect audiences from all ages and Toto will not only appeal to fans of the original film, but it will introduce the story to a whole new generation. Told from the perspective of Dorothy’s beloved companion, the screenplay was written by John August, with two-time Tony nominee, Alex Timbers, attached to direct. The film will be produced by Derek Frey, who previously headed-up Tim Burton Productions.

Pre-production has begun on the animated feature, with Timbers currently meeting key creatives and producers in Vancouver and recruitment of artists and practitioners ramping up over the next few months.

Toto is the latest addition to an already prolific partnership between Animal Logic and Warner Bros., spanning more than 20 years. The Vancouver studio is currently in production on an animated film based on the DC Super Pets franchise, directed by Jared Stern and set for release in 2022.

Known internationally as a digital hub, particularly for animation, Vancouver’s strong talent pool has allowed the studio to continue its growth and success alongside their Sydney headquarters.


January 16, 2022

Blackpool and its main attractions have played host to a wide variety of filming and photography shoots throughout their history. 

Few however have involved stars as well known as the Killers, Tim Burton and Winona Ryder. 

Those parties, as well as Submarine and The Fundamentals of Caring star Craig Roberts, brought the town a worldwide focus when they used landmarks including Blackpool Tower and the Pleasure Beach in the band’s video for single ‘Here with Me’. 

Brandon Flowers and co joined their Hollywood counterparts in the town on a cold night in November 2012, filming at locations including the tower’s iconic ballroom and dungeon, the Horror Crypt and the Pleasure Beach. 

In the video, the band are seen performing in the ballroom as the video intercuts to scenes of a love story involving Roberts’ character and a waxwork of Ryder’s. 

Early on, Roberts is seen purchasing a ticket to see Ryder’s performance and Ryder is seen autographing and taking pictures with fans, while Roberts gazes at both Ryder and her wax mannequin.

Seeing the resemblance in the wax mannequin, Roberts decides to take her and embarks on several dates with her, filling the apparent emptiness he feels of not having the real Ryder beside him. 

The surreal date scenes include trips to the beach and a slow dance and the video ends Roberts is seen lighting a candle wick on top of Ryder’s wax mannequin and his own head. 

Filming took place while the band was in the UK for a tour but the location was actually selected by Burton, who is best known for films like Nightmare Before Christmas and Batman Forever but had also directed another of their videos. 

Explaining the choice, he said: “The first time I saw The Killers perform live was in Blackpool, U.K. shortly after completing work on our first collaboration, the music video for Bones. When I heard the song Here With Me I remembered seeing a wax figure of Winona in Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks in Blackpool.

“The concept of the video is inspired by the 1935 film Mad Love, starring Peter Lorre, as well as the works of Mario Bava. It was a pleasure to film in Blackpool and to work with The Killers, Winona Ryder and Craig Roberts.” 

The night before filming, the band were spotted by fans as they watched James Bond film Skyfall at the nearby Odeon cinema. Cinema manager Samantha Sinclair, was quoted at the time as saying: “It was really exciting. 

“They were happy to have photos taken with locals… They were really nice, not very chatty but I know they had to cancel their gig on Tuesday because Brandon lost his voice.” 

Producer Derek Frey gave more insight into the location choice in an interview with Little Black Book. 

He said: “Blackpool actually has many traits that typify Tim’s aesthetic. Most of his projects over the last ten years have been filmed in the UK, including Alice in Wonderland and Sweeney Todd, both of which are set in the UK and include seaside locations.

“Blackpool has a very non-descript, yet haunted feel. Filming in November provided a very desolate feel which heightened the emotional impact of the video.” 

On the logistics of the shoot, he added: “The majority of night shooting was contained to the Blackpool Pleasure Beach which had closed for the season just a week prior to filming. 

“This made the filming process relatively easy. The most challenging aspect of the production was the preparation time for the shoot. 

“Things came together extremely quickly in the days leading up to the shoot and the limited time allotted to film made for a long couple of days and nights.” 

Blackpool’s reputation for a filming location returned in recent weeks with many of Netflix hit Stay Close filmed in the town and other parts of Lancashire.


Tim Burton's 10 Most Frequent Collaborators - Over his 40-year career, visionary filmmaker Tim Burton has built a team around him who help transform his unique style and voice into movie magic. BY LEIGH BICICA

June 29, 2022

Tim Burton's upcoming Netflix series Wednesday marks a move into new territory for the director and producer. Yet the television show will be undoubtedly Burtonesque - and that's not just due to Burton. Over a career spanning 40 years, the filmmaker has built up a team of incredible talent, from actors and writers to producers and editors, who aid him in creating his unique fantastical worlds.

Burton consistently has extensive praise for his collaborators. In interviews and commentaries for his films, he comes across as humble and down-to-earth, never hesitating to point out a great wig or beautifully-crafted prop. Even though he ultimately decides what ends up on the screen, he clearly loves and trusts the artists around him, and wants to support them as much as they support him.

10. John August, Screenwriter.  John August has written five Burton films, starting with 2003's Big Fish (which resulted in a BAFTA nomination). He is particularly skilled at adaptation, with most of his screenplays being based on novels, television series, or previous Burton stories or shorts.  

His best script for a Burton film is arguably Big Fish; it's sweet, whimsical, and profound without being too sentimental, and it has a sweeping, unorthodox narrative. 2005's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with its surreal tone, offbeat humor, and satirical one-liners, is also a stand-out.

9.  Ve Neill, Make-Up Artist.  

Make-up artist Ve Neill is behind some of the most striking looks on film. She has collaborated with Burton six times between 1988 and 2007, and received Academy Awards for her work on Beetlejuice and Ed Wood and was nominated for Edward Scissorhands.

Neill has a talent for fantasy films, and always knows what feature to emphasize on characters to better help audiences understand them. This is best seen with bombastic Betelgeuse's raccoon-like eyes, shy Edward's tiny black lips, and childlike Ed Wood's slicked-back hair.

8.  Richard D. Zanuck, Producer.  

The late Hollywood legend Richard D. Zanuck produced six Tim Burton movies, starting with 2001's Planet of the Apes and ending with 2012's Dark Shadows, his final film.

Zanuck's storied career is laid out in this New York Times article. The famed producer had a keen sense for knowing if a script had blockbuster potential (Jaws is one of his earlier credits) and believed Burton had universal appeal - with good reason. Alice in Wonderland (2010) made over a billion dollars at the box office.

7.  Helena Bonham Carter, Actress.  

Oscar-nominated actress Helena Bonham-Carter worked with Burton seven times, from Planet of the Apes in 2001 to 2012's Dark Shadows. Once a couple, the pair split in 2014, making any future collaborations unlikely. Bonham-Carter has since returned to her period-piece roots.

With her doe-like eyes and ability to portray characters who hide hurt behind hardened demeanors, it makes sense Burton returned to her again and again. This is best seen in her Golden Globe-nominated performance in Sweeney Todd; her Mrs. Lovett is gritty and cunning yet deeply vulnerable.

6.  Johnny Depp, Actor.  For a long time, it was a given that Johnny Depp would star in every upcoming Tim Burton project. Their partnership began in 1990 with Edward Scissorhands. They worked together another seven times, with 2012's Dark Shadows being their eighth and, so far, last collaboration.  Depp is known for being an extremely versatile actor whose on-screen presence is striking and charismatic. His naive, sweet, and fidgety Ichabod Crane is uncomfortable in his own skin, while aggressively wrathful Sweeney Todd, sobered by an unfair world, is bodily menacing.

5.  Colleen Atwood, Costume Designer.  

Four-time Oscar-winner Colleen Atwood won one of them for Alice in Wonderland and was nominated for Sweeney Todd and Sleepy Hollow. She has collaborated with Burton 13 times, including the costumes for the upcoming Wednesday.

From Edward's black patent leather jumpsuit to the pop-punk garbs of Alice, Atwood is masterful at using clothes to give audiences information about characters. One of the most romantic moments in a Tim Burton film occurs in Sleepy Hollow when Ichabod discovers Katrina, who reveals herself by pulling down the rose-lined hood of her silvery cloak.

4.  Derek Frey, Producer.  

Derek Frey has been the head of Tim Burton Productions since 2001. One of his duties is overseeing the famed traveling exhibition The World of Tim Burton. Before producing nine of Burton's films, he worked as an assistant on four of the director's earlier projects.

During this interview on Youtube for Dumbo, he talks with great enthusiasm and joy for Burton's art. It is clear he is a natural promoter, someone who genuinely loves the movies and can speak about them and the filmmaking process with eloquence and expertise.

3.  Rick Heinrichs, Production Designer.  Heinrichs and Burton's creative partnership is the oldest on this list. They met while working together on 1982's short Vincent and the original 1984 Frankenweenie when they were both Disney employees. Their most recent collaboration was 2019's Dumbo, giving them 13 collaborations.  Heinrichs is highly skilled at taking Burton's sketches and turning them into full-on film sets. He won an Oscar for his production design on Sleepy Hollow, taking the 18th-century setting and giving it a spooky twist with gnarled trees, a smoky atmosphere, and a desaturated color palette.

2.  Chris Lebenzon, Editor.  

After editing 1992's Batman Returns, Chris Lebenzon has edited all of Burton's films, including the animated ones. They have worked together 15 times. Lebenzon has a talent for editing pop fables, usually fantasies or action-thrillers, and was nominated for Oscars for Top Gun and Crimson Tide. 

One of the best modern-day fairytale movies, Edward Scissorhands, showcases Lebenzon's eye for storytelling, and his instinctual understanding of Burton's vision. The film has brilliantly executed cutting - particularly the scene of Peg determinedly putting make-up on the displaced Edward.

1.  Danny Elfman, Composer.  

This Emmy and Grammy-winning icon has worked with Burton a whopping 18 times. Their collaboration started with 1985's Pee Wee's Big Adventure; Elfman has since composed music for all of Burton's feature films (with the exceptions of Ed Wood and Sweeney Todd).

Elfman is noted for his stylish, jazz-inspired scores. His music immediately sets the tone of the director's films, and his songs are an indispensable part of Burton's storytelling. The fruitful collaboration continues - Elfman composed the music for all eight episodes of Wednesday.


Remembering Former Quad Advisor Walter J. Fox

 SEP 27, 2021

Walter J. Fox, professor of Journalism and American studies at West Chester University, passed away on Aug. 8 at the age of 89. He advised The Quad for 15 years. He has impacted many students’ lives in the past and continues to do so due to his role in keeping our student newspaper alive. To honor this impact, I have collected some memories and reflections from his former students below.

“Professor Fox was a great mentor and advisor to the Quad,” said Bryan Redding, Sports Editor from 1995–1999, “He led us through some very rough patches with his usual grace, insight and knowledge. Personally, he is the reason I stayed at WCU rather than transferring and I can credit him for much of the journalist I am today. While he and I did not stay in touch, I thought of him often over the years with fondness. I’m sad to hear of his passing and the world is certainly worse off.” 

“Professor Walter J. Fox had a deep appreciation and understanding of the power of words and encouraged students to use them,” said Derek Frey, Co-News Editor of The Quad from 1994–1995. “He inspired me to find my voice through writing and insisted that I work for The Quad. Navigating tough deadlines and a few conspicuous stories, Professor Fox was always a guiding force of stability and reason. Professor Fox also saw an existential threat to the printed newspaper and how that could erode the quality of journalism. The core of his teaching was upholding the principles and ethics of news writing. Although my career ultimately took a different path, I’ve always adhered to those values in any writing I do. One of the highlights of my time at WCU was when Professor Fox organized a trip to The Washington Post for members of The Quad. It was illuminating, and only reinforced my heroes in the realm of journalism: Bernstein, Woodward and Fox.” 

“I will remember Walter Fox as a kind man who was always prepared to answer a question or provide a recommendation to his students,” said Karl Nyce, Managing Editor of The Quad from 1993–1995. “His passion for teaching and journalism was reflected in his actions. He furthered my love for writing and inspired me to be the best writer I could be, even if I was just providing a small blurb in the sports section. He will be truly missed.” 

Caren Hefner-Pauling, Features Editor of The Quad from 1992–1993, said, “Mr. Fox was an incredible professor who encouraged me as I considered pursuing journalism as a career. I keenly remember him helping me with a Features piece that ended up being submitted for my first newspaper job (which I got!). He was a legend of his time and I feel incredibly blessed to have learned from him during my years at WCU.” 

“Walter Fox was a smart and caring educator. As our advisor, he supported the newspaper and its endeavors without fail. He would always have a kind word about your work and advice for improvement,” said Mark Doloughty, Managing Editor of The Quad from 1991–1994.

“I certainly learned quite a bit about news writing in Mr. Fox’s classes,” said Dylan McGuire, Editor in Chief of The Quad from 1989–1992. “He had a certain dedication to the field of journalism and the things I learned from him about writing and communications really helped prepare me for my career as a writer and content creator.” 

John Wells, Entertainment Editor of The Quad from 1988–1990, said, “Mr. Fox was a very good mentor and always brought forth the best of what The Quad strived to be, which was a sounding board for the University and to be as diverse as possible as it related to issues both light and involved. I learned quite a bit about how to write well and look at things in a well-rounded way to encompass all views. Since I worked on the entertainment side, I learned from him that criticism was to be taken seriously and that people believe what they read and that should be taken into account when writing. He will be missed and his legacy will be felt with every person who wrote for The Quad.”


In Search of Tomorrow: A Journey Through ’80s Sci-Fi Cinema is a five-hour love letter to 1980s sci-fi movies and the definitive documentary on the genre.

March 28, 2022

IN SEARCH OF TOMORROW ~ is finally complete!  It's truly the definitive '80s Sci-Fi Doc and what a list of stars we've assembled. Super proud to have helped produce this ambitious tribute to the films and actors that inspired me as a kid.

Here are some more details and stay tuned for more info on upcoming screenings and events: 

If you’re a fan of 80s sci-fi cinema, this is the film you’ve been waiting for! It’s the be-all, end-all of documentaries on the genre. It would probably be better for this to be a documentary series. Instead, it’s a documentary of almost five-hours long.

It’s a film that celebrates our favorite movies while discussing and breaking down their impact on the world today. Unfortunately, the only way you’ll be able to watch the film is by pre-ordering it. 

There are over 70 interviewees in the film ranging from actors, directors, producers, writers, visual and special-effects masters, composers, production craftspersons, film critics, authors, and notable experts in the field. Everyone brings something important to In Search of Tomorrow. Whether it’s breaking down a film in question or its impact on the future, no stone goes unturned. Theatrical releases are not the only films up for discussion in the film. There’s also a look at the straight-to-video movies.

Everything is discussed in a chronological basis in terms of what year a film is released. If you aren’t feeling the nostalgia by the end of this movie, you’re watching it wrong.


'Toto': Animated Feature About Dorothy's 'Wizard of Oz' Dog Sets Release Date
Warner Animation Group sets premiere for February 2024. By Chiara Elena Romero for Collider

December 17, 2021

Whether you have watched the Wizard of OZ a million times, or have yet to even see it, you are probably familiar with Dorothy (Judy Garland) and her dog Toto, who are transported from their home in Kansas to the magical land of Oz. In this 1939 American classic, they have to travel the yellow brick road to meet a wizard. And along the way meet Scarecrow (Ray Bolger) that needs a brain, a Tin Man (Jack Haley) missing a heart, and a Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr)who wants courage.

Now this classic story will be told from Toto’s point of view in the animated feature Toto which will be released on February 2, 2024. It is not only based on the classic film, but it is also based on the book Toto: The Dog-Gone Amazing Story of the Wizard of Oz by Michael Morpurgo and illustrator Emma Chichester Clark.  

Alex Timbers, the veteran Broadway director, who co-created and executive produced Mozart in the Jungle will direct. The screenplay was written by John August, who is known forAladdin, Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Nines. Jared Stern is set to executive produce, alongside Derek Frey who will produce.


Warner’s ‘Toto’ Animation Gears Up.  By Tom Grater for Deadline

February 9, 2021

Warner Bros’ feature musical animation Toto: The Dog-Gone Amazing Story Of The Wizard Of Oz,based on the Michael Morpurgo book, is heading into production at the Animal Logic studio in Vancouver.

Alex Timbers is directing the film from a screenplay by John August – the story is a re-telling of the classic tale from the perspective of Dorothy’s beloved companion. It will be produced by Derek Frey, who previously headed-up Tim Burton Productions.

Pre-production has now begun, with the recruitment of artists underway. Animal Logic and Warner have been teaming for 20 years, and are now in production on an animated film based on the DC Super Pets franchise, directed by Jared Stern and set for release in 2022.


Watch The Frankenweenie Short Captain Sparky Vs The Flying Saucers.  By Helen Armitage for Screen Rant.

November 17, 2021

Captain Sparky Vs The Flying Saucers continues the adventures of Frankenweenie’scanine Sparky, and here’s how to watch the short film online. Bull terrier Sparky is the brainchild of filmmaker Tim Burton and made his debut in the director’s 1984 short film Frankenweenie. The black-and-white, Disney-produced live-action movie pays a parody-filled homage to James Whale’s classic 1931 sci-fi horror Frankenstein and tells the tale of a young boy named Victor Frankenstein, who is a budding filmmaker and scientist who brings his beloved pet dog back to life after he’s hit by a car and killed.

In 2012, Frankenweenie got the feature-length treatment with a black-and-white, stop-motion-animated movie again helmed by Burton and produced by Disney, which received largely positive reviews. The film expands on the storyline of the 1984 short and follows Victor Frankenstein - not the James McAvoy movie - as he’s blackmailed by his classmates into teaching them how to raise the dead after resurrecting Sparky. Unfortunately, Victor’s not-so scientifically inclined classmates mess up the process resulting in their hometown being overrun with mutant undead pets – including a cat-bat hybrid named Mr. Whiskers, a mummified hamster and a gang of giant Sea Monkeys.

When Frankenweenie was released on Blu-ray in 2013, it was accompanied by several bonus features – one of which was a short film titled Captain Sparky Vs The Flying Saucers. It’s directed by Frankenweenie animation supervisor Mark Waring (whose other credits include Corpse Bride and Isle Of Dogs) and is written by Frankenweenie co-producer Derek Frey. The latter also released the short via his Vimeo channel a couple of years ago. Watch Captain Sparky Vs The Flying Saucers below.

Frankenweenie fans might remember that its protagonist Victor Frankenstein is an aspiring filmmaker as well as a science whiz and Captain Sparky Vs The Flying Saucers takes the form of a home movie Victor has made with Sparky. As its title suggests, the home movie is a sci-fi affair that follows Sparky as he tries to save the world from a hostile alien invasion. The short film also features the return of fellow Frankenweenie character Mr. Whiskers, although in his regular feline form rather than his cat-bat hybrid shape.

It’s actually a wonder the Tim Burton movie Frankenweenie and its mini-sequel Captain Sparky Vs The Flying Saucers were ever even made. After Burton made Frankenweenie in 1984, he was fired from Disney for wasting the studio’s money by making a film too scary for its young audiences. Thankfully, notions of what was once deemed too dark for impressionable young minds have since changed which led Disney to collaborate with the filmmaker on not just the feature-length Frankenweenie and Captain Sparky Vs The Flying Saucers but other Disney-Tim Burton movies like The Nightmare Before Christmasand James And The Giant Peach too.


LA Times: Exclusive test footage of Nic Cage suiting up for Tim Burton’s never-made ‘Superman Lives’

Jul 02, 2015

We’ve got an exclusive look at the “holy grail” of superhero footage from the development of the Tim Burton Superman movie that never was. Titled “Superman Lives,” the late 1990s project may be dead, but the Burton Superman shall live on forever in our hearts and minds in this video of Nic Cage doing stretches in his tight, shiny Superman suit.

The footage is from the documentary “The Death of ‘Superman Lives’: What Happened?” created by director Jon Schnepp in hopes of finding out what derailed this legendary unmade film. Schnepp interviewed (just about) everyone associated with “Superman Lives,” from costume designer Colleen Atwood and the director’s assistant Derek Frey (both seen in the above clip) to director Tim Burton. The interviews, combined with exclusive concept art and the amazing behind-the-scenes footage of Cage in Superman mode, paint a pretty good picture of what could have been, and it would have been insane. But that good kind of Burton insane. Probably.

“The Death of ‘Superman Lives’: What Happened?” isn’t all just Cage doing super calisthenics; the documentary also puts a lot of long-held “Superman Lives” rumors on blast. For example, the lightning super suit (seen above) was not going to be used for the entirety of the film. There would be no rainbow lightbrite Superman -- a fact that Schnepp clears up. According to the documentary, that suit was made for a singular moment early on in the film. 

And as you can see, the suit Cage is punching abou in is a slightly darker shade of blue from the traditional suit, similar to the actor’s long, black hair. A darker Superman, if you will. Emo Supes. 

“The Death of ‘Superman Lives’: What Happened?” will be available on DVD, Blu-ray and video on demand on July 9 only through the documentary’s website or at booth #3915 at San Diego Comic-Con. So check it out and get the whole story from the actual people who worked on the film. Including screenwriter Kevin Smith.

Meredith Woerner

Meredith Woerner is the former editor for Hero Complex. She previously worked as senior reporter for, Gawker Media’s science fiction and futurism site. A graduate of University of Missouri, she has penned a vampire guidebook, witnessed Harrison Ford fight aliens (twice), and booped Rocket Raccoon’s prop nose when no one was looking on the set of “Guardians of the Galaxy.”


'Superman Lives' costume test footage of Nicolas Cage in bodysuit is truly super.

By Ethan Sacks  for the New York Daily News

Jul 03, 2015

Previously unseen costume test footage of Nicolas Cage from the never-made "Superman Lives" movie is circulating the web faster than a speeding bullet.

Debuting on the L.A. Times' Hero Complex site, the clip from the upcoming documentary, "The Death of 'Superman Lives': What Happened?," shows a 1997 test in which the actor donned a gunmetal blue latex body suit over his surprisingly muscular frame.

"You were saying it feels looser the more I wear it?" Cage asks costume designer Colleen Atwood as he stretches out his costume.

"This is great, look at that," he marvels.

Though her super-suit would never make it to the big screen, the three-time Oscar winnng Atwood will ultimately get to wade into the super hero genre after having designed the duds for CBS' upcoming series, "Supergirl."

"(The costume test footage) is the holy grail," "Superman Lives" director's assistant Derek Frey says in the clip for the documentary.

The clip also gives a glimpse of what might have been had screenwriter Kevin Smith and director Tim Burton been able to get "Superman Lives" up, up and away. With it's sculpted muscle-padding, the costume looks a lot like the Bat suit that Michael Keaton wore in Burton's "Batman."

Director Jon Schnepp's documentary examines why the high-profile project never made it to the big screen in a single bound.

"The Death of 'Superman Lives': What Happened?" will be available on DVD, Blu-ray and video on demand on July 9 on


Hilo rock band Professor T and the East Side Shredders gets political with new EP and music video
Big Island Music

Professor T and East Side Shredders are back with a new EP and video entitled Ratshit Weasels. The record was produced by guitarist/songwriter Trever “Professor T” Veilleux and recorded by Rob Abe at The Spider House in Volcano, HI. The band includes Jesse Shatternick on bass and Zach Var on drums. Musically, Ratshit Weasels draws from a variety of influences from reggae to blues to funk all played with a heavy rock edge.  

Previously, when making a record, Trever would have all the songs written, demoed, and rehearsed prior to going into the studio. But this time when the band got together in the studio, he only brought some loose sketches: riffs, chord progressions, and a few lyrics. The actual song forms took shape while the band jammed in the studio giving the record a spontaneous live feel.  The improvisation and musical interplay of these accomplished musicians are evident throughout.  A music video for the title track was directed by Derek Frey, whose recent credits include producer of Disney’s Dumbo (2019).  

Director Derek Frey’s comments:

Trever shared the EP with me at the end of April.  I was struck by the ferocity of “Ratshit Weasels,” “Hesitation Frustration” and “Revolution Time.” It’s a rousing listen.  In mid-May, he messaged asking if there was any way to do a quarantine, low budget video for the title track.  The song fired me up and I was excited to have a creative outlet in the midst of the pandemic lockdown.  

Trever’s songwriting has always transitioned well into the visual realm.  Each song I’ve had the privilege to create visuals for has been a gift, and the vignettes of social injustices presented in “Ratshit Weasels” provided ample creative fuel. 

Over the course of our many collaborations for Professor T and the East Side Shredders and Technical Difficulties, we’ve covered the genres of horror, adventure, comedy, fantasy, and romance.  A work focusing on the difficult challenges facing America seemed like a natural, and perhaps overdue, progression.  Aside from depicting these deeply rooted issues I was eager to showcase the sheer ineptitude, ridiculousness, and danger of Trump and his administration.  

 I was in the final stage of setting up for filming when news broke of the murder of George Floyd.  It was a surreal and intense experience creating this video as events were unfolding in real time around the country and world.  I channeled my energy and frustration with Trump’s continued failure to address these issues into the final cut.  It was challenging to lock the edit because the plight of so many continues to play out.  

 Our two previous collaborations were “Come in the Water’s Fine” which was set in and around Green Lake, followed by “Pangea”, which showcased a volcanic eruption.   Both works predated the 2018 lower Puna eruption.  Now with Ratshit Weasels, we have a nation seemingly on fire.   Just a bit of a warning if Trever next dreams up a doomsday song.  Hopefully, if enough people get behind songs like “Ratshit Weasels” we can help stave off the apocalypse.

Veilleux on the new EP:

Lyrically the EP includes themes of social injustice and power to the people. Songwriter Trever Veilleux says, “When writing these songs, I could not have imagined that this record would be released during a time of such civil unrest, but these songs were inspired by those same atrocities that inspired thousands to take to the streets.”

The EP is being offered for “name your own price” with all of the band’s proceeds going to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. Veilleux says “With the Black Lives Matter movement and the pandemic happening now, it doesn’t feel like the right time to be charging for music.  Releasing it this way allows people to get it for free if money is tight, and at the same time allows those that are able an opportunity to contribute to a great cause.”


Hilo Rockers Return With New Music Video – Come In (The Water’s Fine) -
Big Island Music

Hilo rock band Technical Difficulties has surfaced with a new music video titled Come In (The Water’s Fine). Directed by Derek Frey, the video features footage from Frey’s 2016 award-winning horror film Green Lake. Come In showcases TD’s leads Trever Veilleux and RaVani Flood telling the story of a group who venture into Green Lake, encountering a seductive Mo’o creature.  Havoc ensues, turning their once tranquil vacation into a slaughter.

Director Derek Frey’s Commentary:

Last January I rang in 2018 at a property on the Kapoho bayfront.  It was a memorable time, months before the June 2nd destruction of Green Lake and over 700 homes in and around the Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland communities.  

All locations from my 2016 film Green Lake were effectively destroyed, as well as the property I stayed at in January.  Sitting unedited from a trip in 2015 was footage of Trever Veilleux and RaVani Flood for a film clip-based music video for Come In (The Water’s Fine)by Technical Difficulties.  I have a long-standing creative collaboration with Technical Difficulties and the shoot provided an opportunity to return to the Hawaiian Paradise Park property where I filmed my first music video for TD, Sex is Easier, in 2001.  Flash forward to 2015 while I was editing Green Lake, Trever Veilleux dusted off a concept he had for a song years before, which he thought was a good fit for the film. Technical Difficulties is no stranger to contributing songs to film’s I’ve worked on, having lent a track, along with my video clip, from their song Mr. Quiet to Tim Burton’s 2005 film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I find their music to be sonically cinematic, which is why I was drawn to their music in the first place.

Songwriter Trever Veilleux’s Commentary:

I had this song, originally titled “Siren Song” kicking around for years, but for some reason I couldn’t figure out how to finish it. It had parts that I really liked, and that stuck with me, but something essential was missing and I eventually gave up on it. Then years later I was present for the filming of a few scenes of Derek’s film Green Lake, and I thought that the mood and lyrical content of Siren Song would be perfect for the movie. I sent Derek a demo of Siren Song and he apparently heard some potential there and encouraged me to finish it. The film Green Lake was the inspiration I needed to complete the song. I remember going swimming at the Wai O’pai tide pools with my daughter (which sadly no longer exist due to the same lava flow that destroyed Green Lake) and finishing the song very quickly while sitting on the lava rocks looking at the ocean, singing parts to myself and bouncing lyric ideas off my daughter.


Technical Difficulties – Facebook:
Technical Difficulties – Vimeo:

“Come In (The Water’s Fine)”
Song by Technical Difficulties
Available on the album A Big Distraction


Upper Darby adds names to Wall of Honor.  By Kevin Tustin for the Daily Times

November 12, 2018

UPPERDARBY >> The accomplishments of eight Upper Darby High School alumni earned them permanent placement on the school’s wall of fame Friday.

Distinguished Upper Darby Royals of the graduating classes from 1962 to 2000 that includes filmmakers, scientists and athletes, were formally inducted into the honorary wall of achievements during a special ceremony at the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center.

Here is the list of 2018 inductees to the Upper Darby High School Wall of Fame:

- John “Jack” Shingle, Class of 1962, was a truant officer for the school district for 20 years, headed the high school football team for seven seasons, coached CYO sports for 45 years and represented the fourth district on township council for 20 years. Shingle was inducted posthumously. He died in February 2016.

- Dr. Edward Bedrossian Jr., Class of 1969, is an ophthalmologist who teaches at Temple University and is an attending surgeon at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Willis Eye Hospital. Bedrossian is also the director of ophthalmology at Delaware County Memorial Hospital. He has established a scholarship for Upper Darby and Temple and does humanitarian work in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

- Harry Havnoonian, Class of 1976, is one of the top ten cycle masters in the country. He learned to fix and build bicycles by working with his father and created his own HH bikes. His bikes have contributed to 100 U.S. National Championships, seven world titles and a silver medal-winning run at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens. Havnoonian owns Cycle Sport in Media,

- Derek Frey, Class of 1991, is a director of films, short films and music videos and is a major producing partner for Tim Burton. Frey was an associate producer on Burton’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” executive producer for his “Big Eyes” and is a producer of Burton’s live-action remake of “Dumbo” scheduled for release next year.

- Thomas Bernhardt, Class of 1991, is a professor at Harvard University’s department of microbiology and immunobiology. Bernhardt is working on antibiotic resistance and his research lab studies how bacteria build the tough cell wall that surrounds and using that information to develop new antibiotics. He received a doctorate in biochemistry and biophysics from Texas A&M;

- Christine Coldwell, Class of 1995, works for the National Security Agency in Hawaii. She received degrees in engineering from Princeton University focusing on optics and optoelectronics. When Coldwell was a student at Upper Darby she won first place in physics at the Delco Science fair and outstanding achievements by the PA Society of Engineers, The Franklin Institute and Yale Science and Engineering Association.

- Lisa Capriotti, Class of 1998, earned her doctorate in chemistry at the University of Delaware and was commissioned as an unrestricted surface warfare officer in the U.S. Navy’s engineering program before landing a teaching job at Citadel Military College. Outside of the classroom Capriotti is a third-degree black belt in judo, winning gold at the US Senior Nationals and the IJF Veterans World Championships in 2016.

- Williametta “Willie” Simmons, Class of 2000, came to America in the mi’90s to escape the Liberian civil war. She started to attend Upper Darby schools in 1995. Simmons earned a doctorate in psychology with over 10 years of experience in the mental health. She does humanitarian work with the Liberia Medical Mission to provide health care services to people in Liberia, Ghana and Sierra Leone.

Six of the inductees were on hand to collect their induction plaques and to give inspiring words to hundreds of students who were in the Performing Arts Center at the wall of fame ceremony.

“There’s one big difference between high school and college,” Capriotti said. “Here, you are learning how to learn. When you go to college you won’t have teachers. You’ll have professors that are really good at professing what they know. They will not teach you; you will need to know how to teach yourself. That’s the pathway you’re all on.

“That’s part of becoming a successful adult. If you can grasp that early on you’re going to be very successful.”

Simmons was motivated to figure out the “why” of her life after emigrating from Liberia and trying to find her purpose in America.

“Entering this new country I knew there was a reason I survived, but I didn’t know my ‘why,’” she said.

That journey to find the answer started at Upper Darby High School where she excelled in sports, and then she realized that she wanted to touch the lives of those around her and the world at-large.

She wants the students to find their “why” through deep aspirations and people who love them and support their dreams.

“If you discover your ‘why,’ you can pretty much bare almost any ‘how,’” said Simmons.  Bedrossain said Upper Darby has had an impression on him because of the teachers he had in school. The impression you have on others, he said, was one of the most important things a person can ever do.

Havnoonian, Frey and Coldwell were the other honorees in attendance.

Dot Shingle collected her husband’s plaque in his memory and Helen Bernhardt accepted on her son’s behalf.

Since the first wall of fame induction in 1979, 70 names have been added including people of all professions including Emmywinner Tina Fey, Upper Darby Police Lt. James Reif and Upper Darby educator Wayne McCallister.



September 26, 2016

While fans of Tim Burton are waiting with burning anticipation for the release of his latest, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” one of the celebrated filmmaker’s closest collaborators has another look at the film in a most peculiar way.

In the new book “The Art of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” (Quirk Books), photographer/writer Leah Gallo documents the making of Burton’s new adventure fantasy. In addition to a myriad of behind-the-scenes photos and portraits of cast members, the book features an introduction by Burton as well as a foreword by Ransom Riggs, the author of the best-selling novel that the film is based upon.

“Ransom is such a genuine, down-to-earth human being, and he just brings a lot of enthusiasm to everything he does,” Gallo, a Pennsylvania native, recently said in a recent phone conversation from London. “Just being around him, it’s contagious. It’s always fun to hang out with him. We did photo shoots on the film, including Belgium, and he was a lot of fun to take photos of because he was game for whatever.”

Like she did on her last book on a Burton film, “Big Eyes: The Film, The Art,” Gallo doubled her chores by writing the text as well as taking on many of the photographer duties. While on-set photographs from the making of the film were taken throughout the shoot, the most intensive period of work on the book in terms of the photos and writing took place between November 2015 and May of 2016. Joining Gallo on the book was her longtime collaborator Holly Kempf, who was in charge of design.

Gallo’s “The Art of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” was unique in that the idea of Riggs’ novel was borne out of photographs, assembled from the author/filmmaker’s collection of unidentified vintage portraits that he assembled through trips to flea markets, antique stores and the like. Many were mysterious, if not eerie photographs of children, which led Riggs to conceptualize them in writing as “peculiar” with supernatural abilities.

As a result, Gallo created similar vintage portraits of the characters in the film, which in effect placed her in a parallel universe, effectively, by recreating the original photographs.

“We wanted to keep the vibe of the original photos as much as possible. Whenever we could, we tried to be true to the essence of the photos and the ways the subjects posed in Ransom’s book,” Gallo said.

But unlike Riggs, Gallo said she doesn’t collect old, unidentified photographs of people — nor has she ever had the desire to.

“Whenever I see those old photo bins, I just feel a sense of sadness in a way,” Gallo said. “It’s like they’re pieces of orphaned history that creates a mystery. ‘Who was this person?’ It creates limitless possibilities. That’s why I think Ransom did a great job of curating his collection for his book, and choosing ones that were very striking, intriguing and creepy. I certainly appreciate them and find them compelling, especially in the way he’s constructed the narrative around them.”

“The Art of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” includes dozens of interviews with cast and crew members from the film, including executive producer (and Gallo’s husband) Derek Frey, and of course, the filmmaker behind the peculiar vision that fans will see on the big screen when it opens across the country Friday.

Gallo recalled the first time she talked with Burton about what inspired him to make the film.

“The photographs from Ransom’s book are what attracted Tim to the project,” Gallo said. “He found them compelling and mysterious. They were a huge part of why he wanted to do the film. I think that’s he was attracted to doing the story of these peculiar children. There’s a similar narrative in a lot of his films, of the misunderstood.”

While she’s collaborated with Burton for 10 years, Gallo said it’s always fascinating to talk with the filmmaker about his newly realized big-screen visions. Essentially, no matter how much she thinks she knows Burton, she always ends up learning so much more about what goes into bringing those visions to life.

“Whenever I interviewed him for the book, he always had answers that surprised me,” Gallo enthused. “The depths in which he thinks about every little detail is amazing.”

Tim Lammers is a nationally syndicated movie journalist and the author of the ebook Direct Conversations: The Animated Films of Tim Burton (Foreword by Tim Burton).



January 27, 2015

Director Tim Burton's acclaimed new film "Big Eyes," of course, tells the strange but amazing true story of famed big-eyed children paintings artist Margaret Keane created and her fight to reclaim her identity. And thanks to the sharp lens of Burton's longtime photographer, Leah Gallo, the film and Keane's portraits are being examined more in-depth.

New on store shelves and with online retailers Tuesday, "Big Eyes: The Film, The Art" (Titan Books) several features behind-the-scenes and photographs by Gallo during the production of the film, which recently earned Golden Globe nominations for stars Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz, and songwriter Lana Del Rey ? and a win for Adams in the Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical category. In addition, Gallo includes several of Keane's original paintings, as well as rare, behind-the-scene photos of the artist at work.

Gallo, a Pennsylvania native who first worked on "Sweeney Todd" in 2006 and officially started with Tim Burton Productions in London in 2008, said while companion books have been produced for all of Burton's films since the film about "The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," there was a burning creative desire to make sure "Big Eyes: The Film, The Art" made it to shelves.

"We thought 'Big Eyes' was a very special film, and while it's not as fantastical as 'Alice in Wonderland' or 'Dark Shadows,' the film reflects the interesting history of Margaret Keane's life and artwork, so there was a lot to say and show with the book," Gallo told me in a recent call from London. "About half of the book is about the making of the movie, and the other half is her actual artwork. It's the first time her artwork has been published since the '60s."

Gallo, who previously edited and wrote "The Art of Tim Burton" (Steeles Publishing) in 2009, said "Big Eyes: The Film, The Art" was very much a "hurry up and wait" process, while she and Tim Burton Productions designer Holly Kempf need to line up a publisher and take care of other business matters. Amazingly, Gallo, who also co-edited the book with Kempf, said the production of 192-page tome was completed in very intense two months.

Starring Adams as Margaret Keane and Christoph Waltz as her husband, Walter Keane, "Big Eyes" reveals a complicated time in Margaret's life in the 1950s and '60s where Walter scammed the public and art world into believing he was the creative genius behind the art of the big-eyed children, until Margaret found the courage to expose the hoax to the world.

A 10-years-in-the-making passion project for screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (who also co-wrote Burton's "Ed Wood"), the film also stars Krysten Ritter as Margaret's best friend DeeAnn, Danny Huston as San Francisco newspaper columnist Dick Nolan, Jason Schwartzman as a snobby art dealer and Terrence Stamp as a pompous art critic. Margaret actually appears in cameo in the film, too, sitting on a park bench in an early scene while Adams and Waltz "paint" nearby.

"Big Eyes" once again has personal meaning for Gallo in that it's executive produced by Derek Frey, her husband who has also been a collaborator of Burton since "Mars Attacks!" in 1996. The book captures Burton in a very unique environment that the filmmaker hasn't visited for 20 years -- a small-budgeted movie -- and Frey believes the intimate atmosphere brought out something unique in the filmmaker.

"It's probably the smallest movie Tim has ever made," Frey told me in a separate interview. "He kept saying, 'I've made a movie for this budget before, but that was "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" in 1985.' Because of that, 'Big Eyes' was a very different approach for Tim as a filmmaker. It was like he cleared out of his life all the big Hollywood franchises and all the movies that came with extra baggage, like a remake or a reinterpretation, and took on something that he could make his own and run with it. I'm really glad he did it."

Behind the 'Eyes'

Gallo said the book features interview excerpts from Adams and Waltz, naturally, as well as Burton, whom she sat down with on a couple different occasions to discuss the film. And while talks with Burton all the time as one of the core members of his office, interviewing him for the "Big Eyes" book was fun and unique because she discovered little tidbits of information from him that she never knew before.

"In 'Big Eyes,' I found out there's a little bit of (famed Italian horror director) Mario Bava in the film. It's subtle, but you can see it in some of the lighting, it's really interesting," Gallo said. "It's fun being reminded again and again how deeply Tim thinks about things. It may not seem so obvious, but he thinks these things through a lot. There's a lot going on in his head."

As Gallo found out, she wasn't the only one fascinated by the untapped corners of Burton's mind. Among the cavalcade of creatives she interviewed that have worked with Burton on many occasions -- including costume designer Colleen Atwood and composer Danny Elfman included -- the common theme she encountered that was that his collaborators keep working with him because they want to access those untapped corners, too.

"Getting perspectives of Tim in the interviews really made me aware of how admired he is. It's easy to forget that when you work with somebody every day that they're a creative genius," Gallo said, laughing. "And then, after interviewing people who have worked around him before who've been in the film business for a long time, and hearing about their awe and admiration of him and illustrating all of his creativity, it reminds me that he's pretty great at what he does."

Tim Lammers is a nationally syndicated movie journalist and the author of the ebook Direct Conversations: The Animated Films of Tim Burton (Foreword by Tim Burton).

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