In a series of exclusive columns for MTV, New Zealand filmmaker Jonathan King is taking us inside the making of his new horror/comedy, "Black Sheep." Last time, King described joining forces with Peter Jackson's creature shop, Weta. Today, we learn how he pulled together the perfect crew for his hilarious take on animal mutation.

Once we were greenlit for our ovine extravaganza, we had to take our crazy script and a pile of concept drawings and turn them into reality. Weta were, at the time, deep in a number of other projects, but determined to honour their commitment to help us make the film. They enlisted the help of Dave and Lou Elsey - an English couple based in Australia.

They'd been doing a TV show called "Farscape" there -- churning out almost a different alien each week -- followed by a little film called "Star Wars: Episode III - Return of the Sith." Dave was nominated for an Oscar for Make-Up for "Star Wars" while we were prepping "Black Sheep" and, in fact, he missed the first few days of shooting to attend the Oscar ceremony (as did our Art Director Simon Bright, who was nominated for a small New Zealand film called "King Kong"). Read More...

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Writer/director Jonathan King's new horror-comedy "Black Sheep" (read Kurt Loder's review here) has been generating buzz with its "Shaun of the Dead" take on animal mutation. In a series of guest posts for MTV, King takes us inside the making of the film. In this first entry, he tackles the initial concept of the movie and discusses working with Peter Jackson's world-famous special-effects shop, Weta.

So, I had this idea: a horror movie about sheep. From New Zealand. It was a fun idea that you could make anywhere. But New Zealanders have this, well...special relationship with sheep. I knew that people would enjoy the idea of combining those elements as much as I did: they made me laugh as well as relish the possibilities for splatterific mayhem.

One of the first people we told about the project was Weta Workshop's Richard Taylor. Once he'd got over the reminder of childhood sheep-related traumas, he laughed and said he'd love to help us make the idea a reality. Weta helped answer people's first question: 'Cool idea, but how do you make sheep scary?' Anyone who's ever seen sheep up close knows that it's no big leap: they have sharp hooves, lizardy eyes and hard bony brows. I always knew that if we could capture that on screen, we'd be halfway to making the idea work. Read More...

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Yesterday was one of the most incredible days of the 800 or so days of my life that have been dedicated to Unsettled. With no marketing budget and no staff except for my friend and co-producer Tony, we sold out three screenings and over 500 tickets to the New York City premiere, at the IFC Center (watch our exclusive coverage of the event here). Somehow it seemed like everyone I knew in New York came out -- friends from high school and college, summer camp and past co-workers (including a strong showing from the MTV crew -- thanks guys!) -- and they brought their friends, their parents, even blind dates. Read More...

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Eli Roth has been documenting the making of "Hostel: Part II" with a series of diary entries for MTV. Last time Roth discussed the rules of the "Masters of Horror" dinners. Today he talks about the healthy competition between he and the other elite horror directors today.

Right now we're at an interesting time in American horror. 2003 was the year that R-rated horror returned with a vengeance, starting off with "House of 1000 Corpses," followed by "28 Days Later," then "Freddy vs. Jason," "Cabin Fever," and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." The public was hungry for violent films, and in 2004 R-rated horror went even more mainstream, with hits like "Dawn of the Dead," and of course, "Saw."

The "Saw" phenomenon fired up all the studios to make grisly horror films, and there were many rip-offs that went into production, none of which captured what made "Saw" work so well. The guys who make "Saw" genuinely love these films, and like the other horror directors, are making films that we'd want to see. People in the industry also love to declare horror dead, which is completely ridiculous. I've been hearing that one for years. Horror isn't dead, crappy films are dead. If you make a bad film, people aren't going to see it, and if you make a great one that excites audiences and gives them an experience unlike anything they've ever had before, they'll come out in droves. Read More...

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Eli Roth has been documenting the making of "Hostel: Part II" with a series of diary entries for MTV. Yesterday Roth talked about how he and his peers came to be known as "The Splat Pack." Today he discusses the rules of the "Masters of Horror" dinners.

I met the great horror directors at one of the 'Masters of Horror' dinners that director Mick Garris throws. About five years ago he invited me to one, and I got to sit at the table with Don Coscarelli ("Phantasm"), Stuart Gordon ("Re-Animator"), Tobe Hooper ("Texas Chainsaw Massacre"), John Carpenter ("Halloween"), Wes Craven ("A Nightmare on Elm Street"), John Landis ("An American Werewolf in London"), Joe Dante ("The Howling"), Bill Malone ("House on Haunted Hill"), Joseph Zito ("The Prowler"), Armand Mastroianni ("He Knows You're Alone"), Tom McGloughlin ("Friday the 13th Part VI"), Guillermo del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth"), Mick Garris ("The Stand"), David Cronenberg ("Scanners"), Rob Zombie (who needs no introduction), and a bunch of other horror directors (it rotates from dinner to dinner.) Read More...

Eli Roth has been documenting the making of "Hostel: Part II" with a series of diary entries for MTV. Yesterday Roth talked about hearing the final sound mix for the film for the first time. Today he discusses how he and his peers came to be known as "The Splat Pack."

About a year ago, I read an article by the British film journalist Alan Jones, who referred to the current wave of new horror directors as "The Splat Pack." This group was myself, James Wan ("Saw"), Neil Marshall ("The Descent"), Alex Aja ("The Hills Have Eyes"), Darren Boussman ("Saw II"), Leigh Whannell (who wrote the first three "Saw" films) Greg McLean ("Wolf Creek"), and Rob Zombie.

Having met most of these guys, we all immediately learned that we had one thing in common: we love R-rated horror movies, and we felt that horror had gone soft, and we wanted to bring back the "hard" R. Everyone, in their own way, wanted to make the kinds of films they grew up on that they felt was missing in mainstream cinema today. Rob Zombie had been making "House of 1000 Corpses" while I was making "Cabin Fever," without any knowledge of each other's films. When I first met Rob, we talked about the horror films we grew up on and how we missed the visceral, grizzly, realistic horror films. We couldn't figure out why sex and nudity had evaporated from scary movies, and we talked about how horror fans want their horror movies horrific, not safe and PG-13. Not that there's anything wrong with PG-13, but that rating tends to best suit more supernatural movies like "The Grudge" and "The Sixth Sense," whereas the films we were making were more realistic, and more brutal. Read More...

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Eli Roth has been documenting the making of "Hostel: Part II" with a series of diary entries for MTV. Yesterday he discussed his battles and unlikely friendship with the MPAA. Today Roth talks about hearing the final sound mix for the film for the first time.

Once the film's cut, we mix the sound, which is what I've been doing at the Alfred Hitchcock Stage at Universal Studios for the past two weeks. Our mixers, Chris Jenkins and Frankie Montano, are awesome, and just did "300," amongst other films. They're amazing. My sound guys -- Brian Best, Kami Asgar and Sean McCormack -- are doing all the sound design, continuing the work they did from the first "Hostel." I worked again with my composer Nathan Barr, who I have worked with since "Cabin Fever," and he did another brilliant, terrifying score.

I obsess over every sound detail, and have to hear every single branch crack, footstep, and knife stab in every scene before we mix it. If something doesn't sound right in my mind's ear it will drive me crazy, and Brian will go and search for the sound until he has it exactly. The simplest sound can make a scene scary, even when you never intended to have it there in the first place. We can add a door creak or a metal scrape to an empty room, and suddenly it feels more creepy. You can't really explain it, you just have to feel it. We just played back the film and listened to all the reels all mixed. It was horrifying. Some of the scenes sound so beautiful you could just lie there and listen to the music for hours, and other scenes are so horrific and painful you're certain the screams will give you nightmares. But seeing the film today I felt a great sense of inner peace. It was the first time I'd seen the film all together, with music and sound effects. Read More...

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Eli Roth has been documenting the making of "Hostel: Part II" with a series of diary entries for MTV. Yesterday he discussed the music of his forthcoming film. Today Roth writes about his battles and unlikely friendship with the MPAA.

Contractually, for theatrical release I have to get an R-rating. This is not always easy, especially as the climate of the culture changes and parents groups get more and more upset about violence in films and on television. "Hostel Part II" is a more violent and scary film than the first "Hostel," and a lot of that has to do with the fact that this time it's happening to girls. It's just more horrific.

I was careful about how I used the violence, and really wanted to create an overall more terrifying film experience, and not just make a gore-fest. You can always make a film more gory by adding more tools and more bodies, but what I really wanted to do was create classic horror movie moments and make the entire film scary from start to finish. The problem is if your film's too intense, the MPAA will rate your film NC-17, which means that the studio won't release your film in theaters, except maybe a few art house cinemas. I cut the film for what would ultimately be an unrated DVD, but I was hoping to get as much of that violence as possible through the ratings board. Read More...

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Eli Roth has been documenting the making of "Hostel: Part II" with a series of diary entries for MTV. Yesterday we delved into editing room lessons he learned from David Lynch. Today Roth writes about the process of scoring a movie.

Our day begins at 9:45 or 10. We talk about coffee, and then start cutting at 10:30. We break for lunch around 1:30 and come back at about 2:30. [My editor] George like to nap for 15 minutes after lunch, and I'll make some phone calls, and then we'll get back into it at about 2:45 or 3:00. We cut until about 7:00 or 7:30, and if we're really in a groove, we'll even go until 8:00 or 8:30. George goes home, and I stay in the editing room and start playing with music cues. I eat dinner from 8:30-8:45, and then music editing until about midnight, or 1:00 in the morning.

This goes on every day for months. I work weekends, just music editing. Music editing is where you try out different pieces of score in different scenes, just to give your composer an idea of what you want. Sometimes the songs in the film are the final songs, but most of the time my composer will write new score for those scenes. But one thing I learned very early on is that when you show other people scenes, even though it's rough, and even though you're in the editing room, those scenes had better be scary. And if you don't have the right music, a scene won't work. Imagine "Jaws" without that orchestral string music, or "Psycho" without those shrieking violins. They just wouldn't be the same. I used a lot of music from the first "Hostel," so the film would have the same feel, and supplemented it with tracks from "The Grudge" and "The Shining" if I couldn't find something from the "Hostel" score that worked. Read More...

Eli Roth has been documenting the making of "Hostel: Part II" with a series of diary entries for MTV. Yesterday Roth wrote about favorites perks of the backlot. Today he talks about the greatest editing room lessons he learned from none other than David Lynch.

Kubrick said that when he finished shooting and stepped in the editing room, from the moment he stepped in, he was no longer a director -- he was an editor. Nothing was precious -- it if didn't work, he left it on the cutting room floor. I have always tried to apply the same philosophy, and if something doesn't work, I have no problem losing it. Once you're done shooting, you start going through all your footage. I like to go through every take of every scene. [My editor] George will build a version of the scene, and we'll watch it, because it's good to see someone you trust's point of view of how the scene could work.

But editing a scene can make you insane -- there are literally millions of ways you can go. And there's only one that's right, and that's the one that feels right. And there are many times when you cut a scene so it works perfectly on its own, and when you put it between two other scenes, it feels wrong. Editing is like sculpting -- you just keep working the footage over and over, tweaking, cutting, changing, trying things, until it feels right. Read More...

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