Pizzolo during Transmedia panel at San Diego Comic Con 2011
|Born||Long Island, New York|
|Occupation||director, screenwriter, playwright, comic book writer, actor, producer|
Matt Pizzolo (born on Long Island, New York) is an award-winning film director, screenwriter, producer, comic book writer, playwright, and entrepreneur. His early works were created in New York City's Lower East Side, where he lived for eight years before moving to Los Angeles. Best known for his work as creator of the transmedia franchise Godkiller, organizer of the Occupy Comics project, and writer-director of the indie movie Threat, Pizzolo also directed music videos for Atari Teenage Riot created DiY-Fest (the touring carnival of Do-it-Yourself mediamaking - which was eventually integrated into the Van's Warped Tour), founded Kings Mob Productions with filmmaking partner Katie Nisa, runs indie film studio HALO 8 Entertainment and the upcoming comic book publisher Black Mask Studios with partners Brett Gurewitz and Steve Niles. In addition, Pizzolo writes under a variety of pseudonyms.
Pizzolo was recently selected by Wired as World's Most Wired Comics Creator. In the profile titled "Evil Genius Plots to Blow Up the Comics Universe" , Pizzolo described the state of comics creation after Warner Brothers integrated DC Comics into the movie studio and Disney acquired Marvel Comics and Lucasfilm:
|“||Now that the lion’s share of the 20th century’s pop-cultural capital has been consolidated into the intellectual-property libraries of two Hollywood studios, it’s time to wipe the slate clean and rebuild comics from scratch: new ideas, innovations, business models, blood and modes of storytelling.||”|
Pizzolo is known for mixing new technologies with film, previously unveiling a still in-development, non-linear film format called EtherFilms at San Diego Comic Con. Wired posted the slide deck from Pizzolo's presentation of the in-development format which adds transmedia and hypertext to film.  
According to The Huffington Post, Pizzolo is organizing the Occupy Comics project featuring dozens of comics pros including Alan Moore, David Lloyd, Ben Templesmith, Molly Crabapple, J.M. DeMatteis, Charlie Adlard, Steve Niles, Amanda Palmer. 
For distribution of Occupy Comics, Pizzolo joined 30 Days of Night writer-creator Steve Niles and Epitaph Records owner/Bad Religion guitarist-songwriter Brett Gurewitz to form Black Mask Studios with the mandate of developing new ways to support creators and reach broader audiences beyond fandom.  
Pizzolo is currently working with Anna Muckcracker Wieszczyk on the second part of the Godkiller trilogy Godkiller: Tomorrow's Ashes (following 2010's Godkiller: Walk Among Us). The new comic book series debuted in January 2012. 
Pizzolo's artistic and entrepreneurial works are reflective of his DIY ethos and belief that a subversive artist can only maintain creative control of a project if he or she also controls the business aspects including production, distribution, and marketing.
A lifelong straightedger, Pizzolo brings a unique hardcore punk approach to his projects, both in terms of content and execution. He has referred to himself as "more agitator than artist" and appears more interested in provoking his audiences than entertaining them. Threat, for example, has attracted controversy for allegedly glorifying violence and class conflict. When Threat opened at Montreal's Cinema du Parc, the Montreal Film Journal stated:
"Films like La Haine, Menace II Society or Fight Club also portray people raging against the machine, but they ultimately show that violence doesn't solve anything. Whereas Matt Pizzolo's flick openly glorifies murderous revolt, literally telling the audience to go out and beat up random people, just because."
|“||Yeah, I came at it from an angle that class is really the ultimate divider in our culture, beyond even race or gender. And the thing these kids in the movie all share is that they're at the bottom rung of the class system and they're pissed about it. But it's not just about being poor, it's really just about being average in a world where decisions are made by a super wealthy minority. You may be white or black, male or female, but if you're not super wealthy or from the right family then you don't have any say.... You go to war when they tell you to go to war. And the violence in Threat is about how we in the trenches are so angry, but we take it out on each other instead of taking drastic measures to make change.||”|
Pizzolo was 21 years old and living out of a backpack in NYC's Lower East Side when he wrote the screenplay for Threat. He wrote the radical, transgressive story of class struggle and youth violence while working at Kim's Video and Tower Video with the intention of shooting Hi8 footage of the principal characters and intercutting their dialogue and reaction shots against footage stolen from obscure films, creating a unique project built on film sampling (a common practice in the indie rock music of the time). As the project built steam, Pizzolo discarded the sampling format and instead directed it on 16mm film as a traditional independent film despite the fact that its massive scope of location and action was quite ambitious for no-budget indies of the time which generally focused on a single-location, talking-heads format.
Threat went on to tour the US and Europe several times. After screenings, Pizzolo and filmmaking partner Katie Nisa would teach DiY Filmmaking Workshops for aspiring guerrilla filmmakers. Over time, the filmmaking workshops became a focus of the events and Pizzolo invited local independent media-makers to teach various DiY-instructional workshops. This developed into DiY-Fest, the "touring carnival of Do-it-Yourself mediamaking" with contributions from notable independent artists including Ian MacKaye, Ani Difranco, Howard Zinn, Jello Biafra, Jim Jarmusch, Jem Cohen, Sarah Jacobson, Abel Ferrara, and many more.
Pizzolo was invited to give a lecture on DiY media at 2600 Magazine's H.O.P.E.: Hackers On Planet Earth conference. He titled the lecture "Open Source Mediamaking" and articulated the need for independent media by contrasting the relatively tepid news coverage of the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle against the provocative and incendiary documentary footage shot independently by activists on the ground inside the protests. The radical band Atari Teenage Riot invited Pizzolo to create a video for their song Rage and utilize the documentary footage in the hopes of spreading it to a wider audience. Pizzolo incorporated footage from the WTO protests in Seattle, the World Bank protests in Washington DC, and the May Day protests in Berlin where members of Atari Teenage Riot were arrested (footage was provided by pickAxe Productions, Big Noise Films, Re:Generation TV, and Philipp Virus). The video played numerous festivals including the Chicago Underground Film Festival and was later included in Buddyhead's Punk Is Dead music video compilation DVD.
In 2005, Pizzolo formed HALO 8 Entertainment, a production, distribution, and marketing company devoted to counterculture films, punk rock cinema, and alt-lifestyle videos. Although the company was partly devised as a distribution infrastructure for Kings Mob's productions, HALO-8 quickly grew into a thriving indie studio with various shingles including horror movie/cult film sub-label UnitShifter Films and alt-lifestyle sub-label DiY-Fest Video. Pizzolo also created a best-selling franchise for each sub-label: Slumber Party Slaughterhouse: The DVD Game for UnitShifter and Fitness for Indie Rockers for DiY-Fest.
One of the first films Pizzolo championed at HALO-8 was the controversial and embattled Your Mommy Kills Animals, a critically acclaimed documentary about the animal rights movement. Although widely praised for its unbiased approach, the film drew the ire of Washington lobbying firm Center for Consumer Freedom, who waged a costly legal campaign to block release of the film. Despite Amazon.com, Netflix, and numerous other retailers, film festivals, and movie theaters' decision to drop the film when faced with legal threats and intimidation, Pizzolo stood by the film and continued its distribution despite fierce, ongoing opposition.
Godkiller: Walk Among Us
In February 2009, Pizzolo announced his next film would be an illustrated film called Godkiller: Walk Among Us, adapted from his graphic novel that was illustrated by Anna Muckcracker. Set in the future after an economic collapse, a nuclear holy war and an alien invasion, Godkiller: Walk Among Us follows orphan Tommy as he searches for a new heart for his ill sister, Lucy.
When Fulle Circle asked about the inspiration behind the transmedia franchise Godkiller, Pizzolo stated:
|“||I thought it would be fun to design a new mythology for fuck-ups and misfits. My goal with it is to present heroes that don't behave heroically because it's their job to maintain the status quo or because they're bored and want to rescue a princess, they act heroically because they're regular misfits who are trying to do the best they can for each other in an unjust, fucked-up world."||”|
The illustrated film format Pizzolo developed with producer Brian Giberson for Godkiller merges sequential art with 3D CGI, motion graphics and dramatic voice performances in the style of a radio play.
Pizzolo developed the concept of an illustrated film with his producing partner Brian Giberson, mixing elements of anime, radio drama, video games, and motion comics. Utilizing the original artwork from the comic book, the illustrated film adds motion animation, visual effects, elaborate sound design, music, and voice-acting performances. Explaining the decision to develop the new filmmaking format, Pizzolo told Bloody Disgusting:
|“||When we decided to make an anime adaptation of the comic book, I couldn't see how a traditional animated approach would do justice to Anna's incredibly lush and detailed illustrations. It made perfect sense to adapt the medium to suit her art, rather than vice versa."||”|
Pizzolo clarified further in an interview with Horror News:
|“||There are lots of reasons [Godkiller was made as an illustrated film], but I think the most important one was really being inspired by Anna Muckcracker's gorgeous artwork. Brian Giberson (my partner at Halo-8) and I had been experimenting with the illustrated film format for a while, but we might still have gone with traditional animation for Godkiller since it's really risky to experiment with a crazy story and a new filmmaking format at the same time. But once I saw Anna's art I knew that no traditional form of animation could do justice to the grimy, textured, surreal aesthetic she created. It was really an artistic choice, because from a business point of view it's just so risky.||”|
|“||In illustrated films, we drive the pace of the storytelling with the dramatic voice performances and the sound design, so that allows us to showcase the illustrations in a way where you can really take a moment to absorb the art in the same way you can when reading a comic book... Motion comics are closer to a form of limited animation that uses comics as source material. Illustrated films are closer to the experimental cinema of Ralph Bakshi’s work, Chris Marker’s La jetée or animation like Liquid Television.||”|
Pizzolo gave Bloody Disgusting additional thoughts on differences between motion comics and illustrated films:
|“||The simple answer is illustrated-films are an attempt to merge comic book sequential art with cinematic storytelling, whereas motion comics seem more intent on re-purposing comic books into cartoons. And I don't mean to sound like a dick because I think motion comics are cool, these are just different. On first glance, they look very similar... and people might say 'it's moving comics on a screen, that's motion comics,' to which I say 'just because Seinfeld is moving people captured on 35-mm film doesn't make it the same thing as Full Metal Jacket.' On one level you could see motion comics and illustrated films as siblings like comics books vs graphics novels or TV shows vs feature films, but there are deeper distinctions. Basically, we're filmmakers so we're bringing a cinematic sensibility to this.... We animate motion in the frame, but the need for motion is different in film.... It's not like Michael Madsen bounces around the frame in Reservoir Dogs the way Wakko does in Animaniacs.||”|
According to Fangoria, "Lance Henriksen, Bill Moseley and Tiffany Shepis are the genre stalwarts lending their vocal talents to the project; also on board in that capacity are underground cinema queen Lydia Lunch and singers Justin Pierre (of Motion City Soundtrack) and Davey Havok (of A.F.I.)."
Pizzolo and Giberson unveiled a preview clip of the Godkiller illustrated film during the "Comic Books & Indie Movies" panel at Comic-Con International's Wondercon in San Francisco on February 28, 2009.
According to Shock Till You Drop, "Danielle Harris (known for her turns in the Halloween franchise), Katie Nisa (Threat), and Nicki Clyne (Battlestar Galactica) have joined previously announced cast members Lance Henriksen, Bill Moseley, Tiffany Shepis, Justin Pierre (singer of Motion City Soundtrack), Lydia Lunch (Richard Kern's 'Hardcore Collection'), and Davey Havok (A.F.I.) in the cast of the 'illustrated film' adaptation Godkiller, written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Matt Pizzolo (Threat) based on the comic book he created with illustrator Anna Muckcracker."
Pizzolo, Giberson and actresses Danielle Harris and Tiffany Shepis presented two exclusive preview clips of the Godkiller illustrated film at Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors in Los Angeles on April 18, 2009.
Immediately following the preview clip debut at Weekend of Horrors, Fangoria posted the first exclusive online clip of Godkiller on its website. The official trailer followed soon after.
The illustrated film was initially slated for a unique release model of limited-edition, bi-monthly episodic DVDs starting September 29, 2009, followed by a theatrical run of the full feature in January 2010 and a DVD/Blu-ray release of the full feature in March 2010.
Due to overwhelming retail demand far beyond studio expectations, the first episodic DVD's street date was delayed a week until October 6, 2009 so enough DVDs could be manufactured to supply stores including Best Buy, Hot Topic, Borders Books, F.Y.E., Suncoast, Wherehouse Music, Newbury Comics, Amoeba Music, Rasputin Records, Dimple Records, Waterloo Records, J&R Electronics, Silver Platters, Zia Records, and many more. Due to retail holiday conflicts, this delay rescheduled the entire release to: Episode 1 Oct 6 2009, Episode 2 Jan 26 2010, Episode 3 Mar 30 2010 (with day & date theatrical release of full feature), Complete film on VOD May 25, 2010.
Once released, the first episodic DVD quickly established itself as its distributor's all-time fastest selling release.
Following the release of Godkiller, Pizzolo announced a slate of new illustrated film productions. During Halo-8's panel at WonderCon 2010, Pizzolo unveiled a first look at his giallo animation The Long Knives, which had recently begun production. Two weeks later during Halo-8's panel at C2E2, Pizzolo confirmed his collaboration with Tim Seeley on Loaded Bible and then unveiled two new projects in development: Medusa: Year One and Ben Templesmith's Black Sky. A teaser-trailer for Black Sky was released in December 2010.
Godkiller: Silent War
In August 2009, it was announced the Godkiller: Walk Among Us DVDs would include serialized audiobooks of the prequel urban fantasy/speculative fiction novel Godkiller: Silent War. Set in the near future, Godkiller: Silent War tells the story of Joe Junior, a 17-year old draft-dodger who is recruited by an armed cult of populist assassins and thrust into a secret world of international cabals, alien conspiracies, and the countdown to Armageddon.
Pizzolo explained the dramatic structure to Dread Central:
|“||Godkiller is split into two periods.... There's the pre-nuke world of Silent War and there's the post-nuke world of the graphic novel and illustrated film Walk Among Us. So Silent War is only a prequel insofar as it happens beforehand, but its events drive the Walk Among Us story, and many of the same characters appear in both. I'm super excited that the two stories can roll out together in this integrated way--everything about this project is unorthodox and crazy, hopefully everyone will enjoy the ride.||”|
In July 2009, Pizzolo and Giberson combined their respective blogs Hollywood-2.0: musings from a field of falling giants (about the demise of business-as-usual) and VideoCinematic (about changes in the entertainment biz from a producer's perspective) into news-style website Hollywood-2.0, which features regularly updated blogs as well as a Premium pay-section for "actionable information on how to effectively Develop, Produce, Distribute, and Market a project."
The Long Knives
During Halo-8's panel at WonderCon in April 2010, Pizzolo announced production of The Long Knives, an animated Giallo film and homage to Dario Argento. The comic book and illustrated film will be illustrated by Ana Ludeshka.
According to Dread Central, "I wanted to do a gritty realism horror with a dark-hearted toughness like the first Mad Max, which totally kicked me in the nuts when I first saw it as a kid," explained Pizzolo, "but I didn't want the over-the-top visuals to fall into torture porn so it seemed like an awesome fit to do this in a giallo style and tie in the stylized horror of my faves Mario Bava and Dario Argento. Ana Ludeshka's ethereal visuals and extreme use of color are a perfect fit, and I was super excited to discover her for this."
Though not an official prequel, Pizzolo has indicated that The Long Knives takes place in a shared universe with Godkiller and deals with several key Godkiller characters during the breakdown of society that precedes Godkiller: Walk Among Us.
Ludeshka told Bloody-Disgusting, "I was very shocked when I first read the Long Knives script. And not only because of the blood and the gore. There’s no mercy in this story. It burns like cold things burn."
Tim Seeley told Bloody Disgusting:
|“||You know the thing about Godkiller was that it was made for [the illustrated film format] so they had enough length for it to be a feature length film. You know 3 double sized issues of Loaded Bible would be about 60 minutes or so, not feature length, so Matt and I were talking...we need to put out another Loaded Bible book. So we'll get another book out and that will be the last part of the feature story..||”|
As far as the blending of the comic and the illustrated film Seeley had this to add:
|“||We didn't design it to be (an illustrated film). Ben [Templesmith] is doing a project designed specifically for the format itself, and this we thought about doing it afterwords, so it will be a little bit of an experiment I think. You know I trust Matt though with what he'll do. I'm totally fascinated with how it will work out. It will be a learning experience for both of us. We may sit down and we may go 'you know there's still not enough content' and maybe we will go ahead and do something new to make it work out. You know he's a crazy bastard, he liked the idea of the book, and I really want to do an illustrated film version of it. It's not a type of story you're ever going to see an actual movie made out of it. They're just never going to make a movie about Jesus fighting vampires. This is a great way to do it and give it to a new audience without having to worry about how you are going to offend everybody.||”|
Medusa: Year One
According to UGO:
Pizzolo frames his new project as, "A twist on the Medusa origin-story kind of like Wicked, but mixed with a big epic romance like Titanic, but way less corny. And it's gonna be a blast to animate those snakes."
Halo-8's president also acknowledged the departure Medusa: Year One is from his more recent work like Godkiller.
"Most of my recent stuff has been pretty edgy and racy, but I'm changing things up a bit with this dark epic romance."
Pizzolo later went into greater detail with Bloody Disgusting:
|“||It's a re-envisioning of the Medusa origin. The starting point is Ovid's version of Medusa where she's a beautiful Greek maiden unjustly toyed with and cursed by the gods, not simply a monster from the start. So she's the protagonist, and even though it will be a tonal shift from my recent stuff it's still gonna knock you on your ass. It'll mix the vengeful aggression of Braveheart with the doomed romance of Titanic... but y'know if Titanic was bad-ass and Kate Winslet was tearing people to shreds and throwing them overboard. This will deal with Medusa's defiance of the gods and the love story of two regular people fighting back against a corrupt power structure. Most of the stuff I've been doing lately is really racy and edgy so this will change things up a bit, but since it's all about defying gods it's a pretty straight line from Godkiller and Loaded Bible... even The Long Knives with its tagline 'God hears your screams, he just doesn't care.' Apparently I have god issues.||”|
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- Hollywood-2point0 newsblog site by Matt Pizzolo and Brian Giberson