Feature: DeadWax interview with Graham Resnick

by Jonn Nubian

DEADWAX is a mind-bending neo-noir set in the obsessive world of vinyl collecting.

Etta Pryce, a vinyl tracker, is hired by a rich collector to hunt a legendary rare record that has driven its owners mad and killed anyone that has dared to play it. The show stars Hannah Gross, Evan Gamble, Ted Raimi, Dohn Norwood, and Chester Rushing.

After the screening of the first episode at the Tribeca TV Festival, YRB asked the writer and director,Graнaм Rezηιcĸ about the show, collecting vinyl and coffee.

YRB:  Vinyl records are projected to sell 40 million units in 2018 , towards $1 billion dollars. Aside from your love of vinyl, was this new boom amd interest instrumental in coming up with this story?

graнaм rezηιcĸ: The new vinyl boom was a factor in my pursuing and pitching the story for sure – though I’ve been a pretty avid collector since high school.Beyond just vinyl, audio and music have been passionate obsessions of mine for a long time, and weaving a story around vinyl collecting became the perfect vehicle for the deeper themes I’ve wanted to explore.I don’t know if I’d have been able to get the show made a few years ago, before the vinyl resurgence, so it turned out to be good timing.

YRB: What is the rarest vinyl record that you own?

graнaм rezηιcĸ: Good question; I’m not sure.I have some bootlegs of my dad’s from the ’70’s that run the gamut from rare to common (some Neil Young stuff, some Stones, one of the versions of The Beatles “Get Back”… ), and a few test pressings that are rare but not the most exciting or valuable (for example, a test press of the Blade Runner orchestral score – not the original Vangelis synth version).While I was shooting a scene for Deadwax at Permanent Records in LA, I found a copy of La Monte Young and Marion Zazeela’s THE BLACK ALBUM.The mysterious power of that record, and the power of sound expressed and explore by Young (like his Dream House installation) were huge influences on me as well as on the way I approached Deadwax.

One of my favorite ‘rare’ records I have is a ’45 copy of DIE BEATLES – the single The Beatles cut in Germany with She Loves You and I Want to Hold Your Hand sung in German.It’s not really actually that rare or valuable but it’s certainly an oddity and a good one to pull off the shelf to show guests. 

YRB:  How big is your record collection?

graнaм rezηιcĸ: Off hand I think it’s between 2,000-2,500, not including the boxes and boxes of ‘junk vinyl’ I used to collect at garage sales which are now collecting dust in my parents’ attic.I’ve been very slowly cataloging the proper collection to my Discogs account but I’ve only gotten about 500 or so up so far.It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole of figuring out exactly which pressing you’ve got from which year from which pressing plant on which coast in which country and I can spend hours looking at the deadwax numbers and label typsetting trying to figure that all out for just a handful of records.

YRB:  Is there a record that you have been looking for but not able to find?

graнaм rezηιcĸ: I think every collector has at least a couple holy grail albums.Discogs has made that kind of crate-digging almost obsolete in the sense that if you’re looking for something, chances are you’ll be able to buy it on Discogs… for a price.Sometimes that’s the way to go, but I like to keep a few wishlist things off my radar on Discogs so that when I go digging through stacks I’ll still have specific things to look for.And of course, then I’ll be pleasantly surprised when I find something else totally unexpected along the way. And, good quality re-issues have made some of my holy grails seem less of a priority.I was looking for an original Akira soundtrack forever and then the reissue last year is such incredibly good quality there’s no longer any reason for me to look for an original pressing! 

If I had to pick just one, though, that’s been on my mind lately, it’s the score for the film JACOB’S LADDER – it was only released in Europe on vinyl.I love Maurice Jarre and that’s a fantastic score of his.I could buy it on Discogs for $50 but I’m still holding out hope I’ll find a used copy somewhere out in the wild.It’s kind of superstitious, but I just know the second I buy something on Discogs I’ll find it in the next store I walk into.This just happened to me with Ted Hawkins – Watch Your Step.I was looking for it for years, then I finally caved and bought it on Discogs, and then immediately started seeing it in New Arrivals bins all over the place for half the price I paid online.

YRB:  How long did it take to get the series from your idea phase to finished product?

graнaм rezηιcĸ: The idea had been cooking for a long time, but I pitched this version of it almost two years ago and we’re just putting the final touches on it.Took about a year to get through the initial development and screenwriting process, then we started pre-production in January and shot in March and April, then the past six months has been post production.Which seems like a long time for a traditional show, but, post production on this has been primarily myself and Neal Jonas (my co-editor / vfx supervisor).Doing a lot of the post myself gave me more control and was easier on the budget, but a lot more time consuming.

YRB:  You’re also a music producer , did you have certain music in mind for specific scenes during the writing process?

graнaм rezηιcĸ: I did.As a director, I try to think of the cinematic experience holistically – no single part is more important than any other in terms of making the whole thing greater than the sum of its parts.So when I have an idea, or I sit down to write, I’m usually not just thinking about plot or characters or dialogue, I’m trying to think about mood, tone, edit pacing, shot direction, sound design possibilities, score, costumes, production design, etc.Everyone has a different process; this is the way that works for me.I wrote most of the score for the show while I was writing the screenplay – it helps me focus the tone and feel and then I have something to listen to while I’m brianstorming or writing that’s right on point with what I’m going for.Not all of that music makes it in – if I write 20 tracks then I might get to the edit and realize 10 of them are completely useless to cut to – but they helped me get it to that point.In addition to my stuff we have some special guests who contributed music throughout the series, but I can’t reveal them yet. And ere are some very specific sequences, later in the show, with licensed music that I chose because it weaves perfectly into the themes and mythology of the show… but I’ll let that be a surprise…

YRB: You mentioned this was more of a pilot for a  bigger idea for Deadwax-do you imagine as a ongoing series with multiple seasons or is there a way the story ends already?

graнaм rezηιcĸ: I have a rough map of where the story goes after season one, the first two hours.There are a number of ways I could shape it from there depending on if we get picked up and what the scope of the show continues to be – but yes, there’s definitely more story after this season ends.Which isn’t to say this season can’t stand on its own.If we never made any more episodes, I think this would be a satisfying arc with a tantalizing underlying mystery.But I hope we get to keep it going because there’s a lot more up our sleeves…And I do have a definitive end in mind but the route we take to get there is very much in flux.

YRB: Will the music from the series be released as a soundtrack on vinyl?

graнaм rezηιcĸ:  I can say, officially, is, stay tuned…!

YRB: Besides Deadwax, what else are you working on?

graнaм rezηιcĸ: I have a lot more music in the pipeline, hopefully to be finished up and released next year now that Deadwax is in the can.And in terms of film, it’s hard to say much officially other than there’s quite a bit in the works; hopefully some of it will happen.I’m also finishing up an interactive live-action narrative series about a sleep study that goes terribly wrong, called RAPID EYE, produced with Eko / Olive Bridge / Haven / Sony.Sort of a choose your own adventure with some neat interactivity mechanics. We shot last year but finalizing the post was delayed a bit because of Deadwax.It’s super fun and I can’t wait to finish it and get it out there. 

YRB: How do y; ou take yor coffee?

graнaм rezηιcĸ: Black, and in enormous quantities.

For more information about DeadWax, visit shudder.com

Jonn Nubian

Editor-in-Chief -YRB Magazine Internationally known, Nationally recognized, Locally respected.

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