Wednesday, August 1, 2012

13 Questions With Phantom Troublemaker – James T. Warbington

Hi there and welcome to a new - hopefully ongoing – feature here on Needless Things.
I like talking to people and seeing what makes them do what they do. As I’ve established before, I am fascinated by folks who are creative and who work hard to express that creativity. There’s nothing I admire more than somebody who is doing something they love. Whether it’s making movies, writing, wrestling, or whatever; if you’re able to put time and effort into something you’re passionate about I think that’s the best thing ever.
What I’d like to do with these Q&As is shine a spotlight on people who are doing just that and bring attention to whatever it is they are doing. For right now I’m sticking with a standard format of questions that are easy for me and the subject to pass back and forth and then for me to post, but eventually I’d like to get into full-on interviews somehow or another. We’ll see how this goes. Hopefully it’ll do better than Phantom Who.
My very first subject is somebody near and dear to me – a guy who helped and encouraged my own creative pursuits way back in the day.
           James Warbington has been many things, but to me and many of my old friends he is best known as a mentor. I don’t remember how I met the guy, but I first knew him as Reverend Jasper of the Tone Deaf Pig-Dogs. He was a big, rough-talking redneck punk rocker.
James was the first guy I knew that was putting CDs together for local bands. His place was the first one where I saw a bunch of computers networked together to play DOOM. He was the first (and only, as far as I know) guy I met who decided against a career as a pro wrestler because he tried throwing himself off the porch a couple hundred times and decided he didn’t like it. It didn’t keep him out of the business, though.
James spent hours helping my band – The Irresponsibles – be a band. That’s a whole other story, though. Today I’m here to talk about James and the fact that this determined, nutso redneck has actually gone out and made a fucking movie. It’s a zombie movie called The Black Earth and what I’ve seen of it is ridiculous. I can’t wait for the premiere at The Plaza Theater in Atlanta on November 3rd so I can see the rest.
For now I’m going to turn it over to James so he can tell you about himself and his movie:

  1. Where  were you born and what is one way that place has affected you as a person?
Atlanta, Georgia- Northside Hospital- but it’s rumored I was born in a barn according to my family. I guess Banks County, North Georgia. I originally grew up in Chamblee, Georgia when I was kid, went from being the token white kid, to the token city kid. Either way they majority of people hated me, no one could ever give you a real reason. I remember being called a “Devil Worshipper” and a “Faggot” because I wore combat boots and Metallica T-shirts and Dead Kennedy’s T-Shirts. Hell even half the teachers were bluntly cruel to my face because I was an outsider. I learned how to fight and learned how to cheat…then I met Mike Nickerson- who over the years is a brother to me, no matter where we are in life or what different path we take, we still keep up with each other.
  1. What was your favorite toy when you were a kid?
SPACE 1999 ship of course I used Star Wars Figures in it… know it couldn’t make the Kessel Run in less that 12 parsecs….but who cares…..Chewbacca will whip yer ass….. 

  1. What is one album everybody should own?
Fuck that, you know me well enough to know I can’t give you one album…so here’s the top ten.
1.       TYR – By the Light of the Northern Star
2.       Social Distortion - Somewhere between heaven and Hell
3.       Rush – 2112
4.       Misfits – Legacy of Brutallity
5.       Danzig – Danzig
6.       Real McKenzies – Off the Leash
7.       Ween – Chocolate and Cheese
8.       Sloppy Seconds – Knock Yer Block Off
9.       Hank 3 – Straight to Hell
10.   Mojo Nixon – Gadzooks   
Or that’s the 10 I will say right now……I would toss Iron Maiden in there and a few others…but shit, you gave me one, I took 10 I don’t want to fuck ya over that bad….

  1. Is your current occupation a career?
  1. What are you working towards?
Granted my current job I respect, and try to do my best at (I work in a Optical Center), my job before was my career- Professional Hockey, but the market’s crashed, a lot of cut backs. Pro Hockey is very dangerous job from a career standpoint. Most hockey teams and their offices are full of Backstabbers, cutthroats and all a around evil people that think they should be the MVP whether they laced up a pair of skates or not- we’re talking the office side. Rarely these days you meet someone in hockey that is true to hockey- like Coach Rod Davidson or Coach Bob Ferguson, they help restore your faith in Hockey as a sport and a career, but teams I worked for like Manchester Monarchs (the Eisenberg era) really soured me on the sport. Same with like the Rockford Icehogs, teams that are run by people who have a sense of entitlement and don’t understand that the team is more important than a golf outing. So it’s a nasty business, less drama in pro wrestling, or strip clubs. SO now my true career is making films, because over the years I’ve learned how to do everything, from story concept, to storyboards, preproduction, to the actual filming, onto postproduction and the marketing. So I work for Family Curse Films to further that goal.

  1. Who is your favorite wrestler and why?
The Exotic Adrian Street- Because Adrian Street was the full package him and Abdullah the Butcher- and Abby only because I had met him a few times and behind closed door he was probably one of the sweetest guys ever. He would joke around and as a camera man, he still made me feel like I was part of the show. But in front of a crowd he was a monster, causing havoc and bleeding. So it was a real Hyde and Jekyll sort of thing. Same with Adrian. He was a marketing machine and knew how to get under the skin of the crowd. Still had that Wiggin style of beat your ass if he wanted to, while doing the whole “Perceived” as being gay, which is weird because Miss Linda his wife accompanied to the ring.  We actually (We being Chris Robbins and Myself) write films with the 7 deadly steps in mind and work a film script like a wrestling match. Shine the face, bring the heat, mount the comeback, false finish, bring heat, mount comeback, highspot, finish. It’s very wrestling orientated on purpose…..why? Because it works. It’s what people want.  Something wresting has forgotten. While on the set, sure we change stuff on the fly, like wrestling psychology, you gotta feel what is right. If we choose to change the  finish or the heat spot, we do it. So Wrestling plays a big part in our lives and career. I have the upmost respect for the profession and craft, probably more that most workers. I book WWE much better than a damn soap opera writer…because me and Chris we feel it, we know it. But that’s the problem they force feed you shit and expect you to deal with it, when the indy circuit is where the real future lies.  
  1. What are the best shoes you’ve ever owned?
Merrills. I like Merrills. Occasional Earth Shoe.

  1. How did you become involved with film?
Well, Shit. I was in a punk band for 10 years. It’s the natural progression of nerdy fucker like me. I learned music, engineering, and such. Played in a band, then wanted to do videos, then film, then…..I expect next I will want to either star in Bukkake films or do animations. Probably animations. Me and Scott Stripling, Atlanta artist did “Belligerent Nation” and animated pilot for adult swim that didn’t make it. However, following our animation about a heavy metal band and wrestling, Tommy Blancha put out a animated show about heavy metal and another one about wrestling….go figure. The business will ass rape you if you let it. Not sure if that’s what happened or not. I remember drinking with Dana Synder downtown a few times….so….hell who cares, as long as Adult Swim keeps me entertained, I am happy.
Long Live Unknown Hinson!!!!

  1. Which actor do you feel like you could sit and watch for hours no matter what they were doing and why?
Bruce Campbell, and I have. Because no matter what he does I remember him in EVIL DEAD. So if he fucks something up, it doesn’t matter. Hell I only watch Burn Notice for Sam Axe.

  1. What inspires you to do what you do?
Seeing it come together. I have worked in Bands, Wrestling, Films, Sports.  I Like being the Wizard of OZ. The guy behind the curtain pulling the strings. It’s what I live for. I have had folks work for me, who think well I am so this or that, but honestly, my ego tells me, without me, you ain’t shit. Then Again…I got a self loathing/god complex….so I hate me….but I hate you more….. 

  1. What is something you cannot wait to see or have more of?
Beer, Money,  Stickers, Stickers and Footage. As an Editor…never enough footage. As a promoter never enough stickers and posters, as a owner of Family Curse Films, never enough money, as a drunk never enough beer. 

  1. Is there a movie that should never be remade and if so which one?
All of them. That’s the problem. Hollywood is so fucking lame. They just did a film based on the Milton Bradley game Battleship- Really? They threw an ass of money at it and it’s pissed away at this point. But as far as remakes, why? Granted there are a few I enjoyed, but why ruin it, why ruin the history? Like the old Horror Genre- The magic of those films were the style, the slasher films had over the top gore, cheesy as hell in most cases, with this rough edge to it because the director probably didn’t know where exactly they were going, neither did the actors. Somehow they created an awesome film that stood the test of time or was viewed, and still is viewed today. So let’s take that and remake it….you don’t get the same movie, what makes a movie great sometimes isn’t the story, or the effects, it’s what you take from it personally at the time when you see it. Like as a kid, I saw Friday the 13th in 3d at a theatre- it was awesome, I have seen the film since. It sucks by today’s standards of “High Quality” 3d or effects or acting…but the memory I have of that film was one of the greatest films I ever saw in a theater. Now you tell me you’re going to re-do it and put it in a theater again. That kinda disgusts me. Why waste the money, use those millions of dollars on people who have original ideas, and maybe will create a whole new genre of film. But no Hollywood insist that Remaking The Three Stooges is a good idea…and give million dollar budgets- I love Will Sasso, I think he’s hilarious, but I telling me he’s going to play Curly, as Curly and not as a documentary style movie, is kinda slap in the face to Curly and Will Sasso. Remakes piss me off- Because some it means producers and writers are creative enough to write something worth a shit, so they try to piggy back on the success of previous producers, writers and films. There are plenty of ways to borrow from other films or do that style to help your creative process. Sam Raimi keeps saying they are remaking Evil Dead, but not as the same story, just in the vein of Evil Dead, that I get. But a total remake would be horrible. I got into films because of watching shit like Evil Dead, Bruce Campbell and that. Film Making has become a lost art- Pro Wrestling is the way we write and define our film ideas, me and Chris Robbins- Shine the Face, Get the heat, false finishes, it’s the same. Just like Wrestling Ring Psychology is a lost art, so is film making. We filmed Black Earth on a shoe string budget, because we believed in it and worked it like a wrestling match to get story arc where it needed to be. People are just being brought up in a  system, whether it’s wrestling or film making, that you are taught a, b, c they don’t know how to wing it. They don’t know how to call it in the ring. Half our script got chucked out the window when we were filming, but we kept the points that needed to be made, got through our spots and took it home when we felt it was appropriate. Films and Wrestling these days (Most films and Most Wrestling) don’t understand that anymore. You have to be a spontaneous crazy motherfucker and learn to go with the crowd and roll with the punches. Michael Bay is a spot monkey….for example. Sure it’s great to see a high spot match occasionally, but tell me a story, don’t just blow stuff up. So compare the current film making industry to that of the WWE farm system or tough enough. You gotta live it, learn it, work with the old timers to understand how it works. I work with Lloyd Kauffman, it was like a wrestler getting to learn from Ric Flair. But Hollywood craps on people like Troma Films and Kauffman? Why I will never know. Hell I think Roger Corman won an Oscar for Lifetime achievement award… finally someone got recognition. If you go and watch those films, they are a class room in themselves. Watch all the Edgar Alan Poe film stuff with Corman, or Toxic Avenger, or Russ Meyer films, they are like watching history and you can learn so much from just the way they had to film things due to budgets, and such. So should those films be remade? Hell No, they are priceless gems the way they are, flaws and all. 
  1. Closer   – can you sell me cold on your current project? Take as long as  you want.
Yeah. It was a group of Crew. All these films are made by the crew. The Black Earth was cast as the crew. The Actors doubled as crew, because they knew it. It was just fun to do it. The folks on set had fun, including myself. That usually means, from experience the movie is good. I mean I still stay in contact with them now. They are family. Other films, I could give two shits about them. This film, hell they are on the Christmas card list. We were writing on the fly. If you have to do 19 takes because the cast is laughing….then you got a solid film. And we Jim Harpered the piss out of this one. Besides that, Alex Traywick is one of the baddest motherfuckers to ever touch a camera….she was at the helm. Me, I played captain, she was the true captain. She is the queen of the pirates and made this thing happen. Not to mention Jeffery, Jon, Johnny, Chris, Corey, Fab, Kathi, Noel my gal, Sam, Stephanie, Jenny my girl, Sherri, and who could forget Mark Hartz and Quinn….now with the crew and cast of people we had….no way it would be bad. Most films are just a giant load of assholes who want to be catered to, actors fucking suck giant dicks and monkey turds. This group of folks, they wanted to make a fun film, so cleaning up when they weren’t on set, and helping with lighting and shit like that, was never beneath them. They did it, without permission. Just assumed the role. That’s what makes this the greatest cast I have ever worked with or for.  So as far as selling folks on it, honestly fuck them folks who need to be sold on it. These people are the cream of the crop, and I am proud to have worked with them. It’s the highlight of my career, and if this film takes a giant shit in the bed….don’t matter, because as long as I live those hard working motherfuckers will always be stars in my eyes. Of course, the film is funny as hell, I know I have spewed beer out of my nose 14 times during editing…yeah I am keeping track. It’s worth the gamble I would say to anyone to buy the movie of see it. It premieres in Atlanta, Nov. 3rd at the PLAZA. It’s a fun Horror/Comedy movie…I guarantee you will laugh…I will be there so you can punch me in the balls if you don’t laugh.

I’ll be there too, but I’m not going to take part in any ball-punching. What I will take part in is encouraging you to go and buy a copy of The Black Earth on DVD and help the Reverend finance this thing. The work’s all done, but the guy still needs cash so he can afford beer complete post-production.
If you like anything you’ve seen here today, go to the Indiegogo page and pick out one of the contribution amounts and all of the rewards it entails. If not, well – you can come back tomorrow and read about a guy with spikes all over him.


  1. Hey! You could interview me! I am a fellow Georgia boy that moved to Mexico! Monster Cafe Saltillo on Facebook. Had to open it up here in Mex because it is too frickin expensive in Atlanta!

    1. Sure - just send me your contact info at I'd be happy to do it for a future post!