Pizzolo during a Transmedia panel at the 2011 San Diego Comic Con
Long Island, New York, United States
|Occupation||Film director, screenwriter, playwright, comic book writer, actor, producer, entrepreneur|
Matt Pizzolo (born on Long Island, New York) is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, comic book writer, playwright, and entrepreneur, best known for his work as creator of the transmedia franchise Godkiller, writer-director of the indie movie Threat, and director of music videos for Atari Teenage Riot.
He is the organizer of the Occupy Comics project, creators of DiY-Fest, co-founder of Kings Mob Productions with filmmaking partner Katie Nisa, and also runs indie film studio HALO 8 Entertainment and the comic book publisher Black Mask Studios with partners Brett Gurewitz and Steve Niles.
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.
Pizzolo was 21 years old and living out of a backpack in New York City's Lower East Side, and working at Kim's Video and Tower Video when he wrote the screenplay for Threat, a radical, transgressive story of class struggle and youth violence. He intended to shoot Hi8 footage of the principal characters, and cutting 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 developed, 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.
Threat attracted controversy for allegedly glorifying violence and class conflict. When Threat opened at Montreal's Cinema du Parc, Kevin Laforest of 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."
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.
HALO 8 Entertainment
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 and "Illustrated films"
In February 2009, Pizzolo announced his next film would be an illustrated film called Godkiller: Walk Among Us, adapted from his graphic novel of the same name, which 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 an orphan named Tommy as he searches for a new heart for his ill sister, Lucy. Pizzolo explained the inspiration of the story thus: "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.
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.
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 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 series debuted in January 2012.
Godkiller returned in 2014 as a comic book series.
In November 2014, it was reported that Godkiller would be rebooted as an animated feature film trilogy directed by Pizzolo.
The Long Knives
During Halo-8's panel at WonderCon in April 2010, Pizzolo announced production of The Long Knives, a comic book illustrated by Ana Ludeshka and animated Giallo film homage to Dario Argento.
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.
Pizzolo organized 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 and Anna Wieszczyk.
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.
In October 2014, it was announced that Pizzolo would executive produce the in-development TV series adaptation of Frank Barbiere and Chris Mooneyham's comic book Five Ghosts for Syfy and Universal Cable Productions. The pilot is being written by Evan Daugherty. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Pizzolo hosted Five Ghosts at his San Diego Comic Con table when it was just a Kickstarter comic, before it was picked up for publication by Image Comics.
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.
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