Jeff Heimbuch is the director of The Ties That Bind, Leeds Point, and Fast Zombies Suck, and one of the founding partners in my film production company, Drunken Tentacle Productions. He’s also just written a book — It’s Kind Of A Cute Story — that will appeal to Disney-philes young and old. He’s here to tell you that, and the truth about me…
Brian Keene changed my life.
It sounds like he paid me to say that, but it’s true (the life changing, not the paying me to say that part).
In the past few years, he’s gone from an author I enjoyed reading to a great friend whose sage advice, whether solicited or not, has helped me become a better person.
I first met Brian at the release party for the first issue of his run on Marvel Comics Dead of Night: Devil Slayer at Comix Connection. I drove 3 hours, from NJ, to the wilds of York, PA, in order to hang out with like-minded individuals (read: horror nuts), and to get to meet the author of some books I really enjoyed.
I emailed him earlier to ask about doing a film based on one of his short stories, and he suggested we talk about it after the release party. So, the release party came and went, and a bunch of us wound up at a hotel bar nearby for some drinks. It was in the dark and dank bar that I first got a glimpse at not Brian Keene, the author, but Brian Keene, the person.
He took his time to thank each person for coming individually, and really got to know his fans. That, to me, showed how much he appreciated their support. Hell, he even bought everyone a round. Knocking back a few brews with a mid-list horror author? Sounds like a good way to spend the evening.
(As an aside, that was also the night I first met some folks who wound up being some of the best damn friends I could ever have: Matt Blazi, Mike ‘Gorebeast ‘ Antonio, and Mike Lombardo. It was that very night, in the lobby of the Holiday Inn at 2AM, that the beginnings of Drunken Tentacle Productions began to form.)
When we began to talk about the film, I could see the fire in his eyes begin to ignite. This was about the time that the film version of The Rising had so many false starts that it was beginning to dishearten him. But, he was kind enough to take a chance on a wide-eyed Jersey Boy, and let him run wild with one of his creations, to see if some low-budget filmmaker could do what Hollywood couldn’t: make a Brian Keene movie.
Within a year, Brian Keene’s The Ties That Bind was completed, and the foundation of our friendship was solidified.
Now, for those of you who follow Keene’s non-fiction works, whether just here on his blog or the Hail Saten collections, you know he is a pretty outspoken guy when it comes to the topic of his career. He dispenses some fantastic advice to writers, both newly blossoming and seasoned veterans, that really should be heard.
But to me, it is his unspoken advice that is really the most invaluable. You see, in coming to know Brian, I began to see how he acts in both his professional and personal life. I’ve seen what makes him tick. I’ve watched him in action during some of his highest highs and his lowest lows. And the thing I took away from all of that is this: Keep moving forward, because things will get better.
No matter what life has thrown at him (heart attacks, divorce, Dorchester, break-ups), Brian has thrived by not dwelling on the past, and continuing to do what he loves best.
That’s not to say “what he loves best” doesn’t change day-to-day. One day it could be writing. Another could be spending time with his boys. And yet another could be a quiet night at home. But no matter what it is he is doing, the same principle applies: he lives the life he wants to lead, and does what makes him happy.
That’s some pretty goddamn profound advice, if you ask me.
Now, a lot of you may know me as a “horror” guy. I’ve directed, or been involved with, numerous horror films the past few years, like the aforementioned Brian Keene’s The Ties That Bind and the upcoming Drunken Tentacle Productions film Fast Zombies Suck. I’m at every horror convention on the East Coast that I can get too. I watch horror films constantly. I read horror novels. I pretty much am a horror guy.
But aside from all the horror stuff, there is another part of me that will probably surprise you: I’m a total Disney freak. Seriously. I’m obsessed with the Theme Parks, the films, and the history behind everything. I visit Walt Disney World at least once a year, if not more. I write 2 columns every week for one of the largest Disney fan sites out there. I do a weekly podcast, called Communicore Weekly, which explores the history behind the Parks. And now, the cherry on top of all that, I have a book being released today that helps tell the life story of someone whom I admire greatly, who helped create the Parks that I love dearly.
By now, you’re probably asking yourself, “Horror and Disney? What the hell? Talk about two opposite ends of the spectrum!”
You’re right about that.
But a little birdie once told me, through his actions and not his words, to do what I’m passionate about. And I did. I’ve done so ever since. Life has thrown me some curve balls along the way, too, but I continued to do what I love, and I’ve always come out on top at the end.
Monkey see, monkey do.
You see, Brian is more than just some guy who writes about giant, people-devouring worms and sexually active satyrs. He’s a damn good friend, and without him even realizing it, a damn good mentor.
Sure, we may poke fun at him most of the time, but the bottom line is this: I honestly don’t think I would be doing what I am doing today if it wasn’t for the actions of Brian Keene. I wouldn’t be following my dreams so feverishly if I hadn’t seen him do the very same for himself. Hell, I wouldn’t have some of the best damn friends I ever made if it wasn’t for him.
So, my advice? Listen to Brian Keene. That asshole certainly knows what he’s talking about.
ABOUT THE BOOK: It’s Kind Of A Cute Story is the story of one of the most beloved Disney Imagineers, Rolly Crump. Covering his long and varied career, including designing some of Disney’s most famous attractions and working with Walt Disney, Jacques Cousteau, Steve Wynn, and many other pop culture icons, Rolly’s stories weave into a lighthearted yet riveting narrative of his life and accomplishments. Packed with over 200 photos, many of which have never been seen before, It’s Kind Of A Cute Story is a tribute to the life and work of a true original.
Limited Edition Signed Hardcover: http://bambooforest.storenvy.com/products/678052-it-s-kind-of-a-cute-story-limited-edition-hardback
Hurricane Sandy Fundraiser: http://www.gofundme.com/communicoreweekly