Rob Zombie, who has directed movies like Devil's Rejects and two Halloween films, was uncharacteristically uneasy at first with the idea of crowdfunding a movie. But that went away once he realized it was a quid-pro-quo tradeoff. On Thursday, the director launched a campaign to fund his next movie 31, offering the sorts of rewards he knows his fans want. "People have come up to me over the years and asked, 'How can I get these props?' 'How can I come to the set?'" he tells Rolling Stone. "So I realized a crowdfunding campaign is not a guy on a street corner with a hat asking for money."
Over the next two months, Zombie is looking to raise funds for the film via his new website RZ-31. The director is offering up a variety of high-quality rewards to people who want to support the movie, including autographed posters, a chance for Zombie to follow a winner on Twitter, a winner's name in the credits, a lifetime laminate to see Zombie on tour at any show and a gig as an extra in 31. Zombie will also offer selected props from his movies, including Halloween masks and giant crosses from House of 1000 Corpses.
The movie tells the story of five people kidnapped in the five days leading up to Halloween and how they must fight to survive in a place called Murder World playing the game "31." The game's rules require the kidnapped person to kill his or her opponent – a group of clowns called "the heads" – in 12 hours to be freed.
"I've noticed with all of the movies I've made that so many people get tattoos from the movie," Zombie explains. "When you love something so much, you just want to be a part of it. And that's what I think about this crowd-funding campaign – you can be a part of it." Rolling Stone spoke to Zombie about 31 and coming around to crowdfunding.
How did you get the concept for 31?
I was reading this statistic: Halloween is the Number One day of the year when people go missing for some reason. I thought, "What an interesting premise for a film." This is five people that go missing on each day leading up to Halloween and what happens to them on the 31st.
Clowns are a big part of that, apparently.
In some fashion, yeah. Very horrible, disgusting, violent, despicable clowns, which people seem to hate.
Are you scared of clowns?
Maybe when I was a baby or something. I remember seeing this Super 8 footage that my parents made of me at the grand opening of McDonald's or something. I was a little older than a baby and Ronald McDonald was there, freaking the fuck out of me. I didn't even know it was a clown. It was just a guy with a white face and bright red hair, and a stranger. So I was not too happy. [But] I've never had a fear of clowns. I find clowns fascinating. On one level, they're very entertaining and on another, they're incredibly repulsive.
You've said you want this movie to be gritty. Why gritty?
With each film, I try to adapt the style that I feel is applicable to the story. A gritty approach didn't fit the story of my last film, Lords of Salem. I wanted to do something that was a little more grand; a little cleaner cinematically. For this, I feel like a very nasty, gritty, guerilla-style approach to the filmmaking fits the story and the vibe of the movie.
How far into the production are you? Is the script done?
Yeah, that's done. We're going to start location starting in about a week. We're moving along. Movies have only two speeds: painfully slow and "now you're behind schedule." Right now, we're in the slow phase.
Do you have a cast?
No, we haven't started that yet. But we'll get on that pretty soon.
What is the coolest reward in the crowdfunding campaign?
Getting your name in the credits. If there was a time where someone told me, "Your name can be forever in the credits of Star Wars," or whatever, I'd be like, "Fuck yeah." That's pretty rad.
You're offering masks from your Halloween. How many of those did you make?
They're from one scene in the film, and I don't know how many were made exactly. Maybe there were a couple hundred. Each one was one of a kind. They're all handmade. At this point, some were destroyed in the making. Some were lost. I gave some away to people, because it was a cool parting gift when we ended the movie. But there are about 50 that I have left over.
You're also giving away some big cemetery crosses from House of 1000 Corpses. Where do you store those?
I have a huge warehouse, because I need a place for my stage shows from the tours. We were cleaning it out and I found this huge crate filled with these crosses. They've been sitting there since 2001 at least. It's a cool thing to get. If I was a big fan of, say, Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and someone said, "We just found the original chainsaw. Anyone want to buy it?" it would be like that for me.
Another reward is a painting you did of a clown. How much painting do you do?
I went to school for painting when I graduated high school. I paint now more than ever. I've just been doing a bunch of clown designs and trying to work out the makeup.
Beyond the movie, are you working on a new record?
Yeah, I'm in the studio right now. I got off tour a few days ago, and right now I'm already working on the new album, which we'll have finished this year. I want to have it done before the movie starts. I don't want to come back to the record after the movie. It's too long of a break. We have a ton of stuff written and, little by little, we're finishing them up. We're more than half done at this point.
Lastly, are you at all concerned about giving away a lifetime laminate to your concerts?
It does sound funny, right? "Lifetime Laminate." I see so many people who come up to me and say, "This is the 25th time I've seen you guys." I figure that makes sense. We still have many, many years left of touring. You can go, "Hey, why rush to buy a ticket? I'm getting in anyway. It's sold out? Not for me!"
What band would you want a lifetime laminate for?
Well, at this point with the ticket prices, the Rolling Stones would be nice.