The Anthology Series is a new recurring roundtable column here at 4:3 where we look at the oft-overlooked genre of anthology films. Also known as portmanteaus, the anthology film is composed of a series of short films grouped together by theme or some awkward overarching premise. Some of the more popular portmanteaus in recent memory include Paris, je t’aime and horror anthology series V/H/S. There are also anthology films done by the same director, think Love Actually, Argentian Oscar-nominee Wild Tales and Robert Altman’s Short Cuts. For the purposes of this column, we will be focusing on anthology films with more than two directors.
In our second piece in this series, editor Felix Hubble and staff writers Dominic Barlow and Saro Lusty-Cavallari wade through the 26-director strong horror anthology The ABCs of Death.
Felix Hubble: I remember being really excited in the lead up to this film’s initial release. It seems like such a good idea, bringing together all of these up and coming horror directors, many of whom had already crafted out a niche scene within the genre,1 to make a short film in their own style on the topic of their choice, with the only proviso that it has to involve death in some way (and seriously, how many Horror films can you name that don’t?). On paper this should be great – however, as you can see here, in execution most of the shorts leave a lot to be desired. Why do you think this is?
Dominic Barlow: I think the answer lies in the flip-side of the creative freedom the directors have here, which is freedom in production. No-one’s in doubt that the directors have each carried out a unique vision, especially in the case of the Japanese shorts, but they seem to also have a unique set of circumstances regarding how much time and resources are used. Their respective scarcities and surfeits show very clearly in the anthology format, and often to a detriment.2 For me, there’s two extremes: high-concept affairs like Kaare Andrews’ V is for Vagitus and Thomas Malling’s H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion, and cheap-looking vignettes like Angela Battis’ E is for Exterminate and Ti West’s M is for Miscarriage. The inertia in veering between those poles generally drags the shorts down, with the former being insufferably earnest and the latter annoyingly cheap, though there are thankfully a few exceptions.
Felix: I agree to an extent, although the few exceptions here and the vast improvement between this iteration and The ABCs of Death 2 lead me to believe that failure to adapt to small budgets successfully can’t be the only thing stifling these shorts. You can quite easily mount an argument that a lot more of the shorts work in the sequel because they have a reference point for what does and doesn’t work in the format, but there are still really well executed, professional, expensive looking shorts like Timo Tjahjanto’s L is for Libido in here so it’s clear there was potential to move past these shortcomings – there’s only so much you can put down to budgetary restraints when you get shorts that look as polished as Jason Eisener’s Y is for Youngbuck, because directorial talent alone isn’t going to make your short look professional. I would counter your argument that Ti West’s M is for Miscarriage is hurt by production constraints, and say that it’s hurt only by laziness.3 Ti West has clearly demonstrated he is a talented and proficient director in the past and he should have been able to pull off something much more impressive here. The reason that The ABCs of Death 2 works so well (comparatively) is that the directors mostly enter with the approach that for their short to work their best bet is to come up with a simple, concise gag and execute it proficiently, rather than construct a fully fledged story (P is for Pressure) or pseudo-political statement (R is for Restricted).
Saro Lusty-Cavallari: While there are definitely some factors that need to be taken into consideration when critiquing these shorts I feel like you need to call a spade a spade eventually and just say what they really are: bad. The vast majority of shorts offered here are badly conceived, badly performed, badly written, badly directed, badly shot, badly lit, badly colour graded and badly edited. It sort of amazes me how disappointing the majority of stuff on here is because I was so on board to be grossed out/scared/surprised 26 different times that I was still receptive and forgiving about halfway through, having been perpetually let down the entire time. The concept obviously explains why the film is so tonally uneven but it doesn’t explain how the individual components feel so uninspired. The first half of the film is so devoid of anything particularly noteworthy that the unfortunate filmmakers placed in the second half really have to bring out their A game to turn around the viewer’s hostility towards the whole project at this point.
Dominic: Yikes. Well, let’s chart out the progression of the film between those shorts and see how we line up. After a neat little intro with children’s blocks swept up in a puddle of blood, we have the first three, which I find pretty unremarkable but which also establish the international reach of the project, being made by directors from Spain and Chile. Of them, Nacho Vigalondo is first off the ranks with A is for Apocalypse, and that’s a fairly reputable choice given his work on the cult film Timecrimes. Sadly, I think it sets a precedent for a bunch of the shorts to follow by being half-baked, noticeably cheap and a bit awkward in the reveal of the premise. In this case, it means trying to psyche us out with a fake death halfway in, and then using a weak sound mix and lighting cue to infer the apocalypse taking place outside. I would still be in doubt about that if not for the title card afterwards, which is a feeling that occurs again with B is for Bigfoot and C is for Cycle, which are also shot too cheaply to make their high concepts effective. But then along comes D is for Dogfight, which I thought was the first film to actually look interesting and tell an alright story. How did you guys feel at this point, though?
Saro: This is precisely where I started to get worried. A for Apocalypse does indeed screw up its execution but it at least has something vaguely resembling a twist, a concept and some violence; the bare necessities that can be repurposed into passing off for what a horror film is supposed to be. From there it amazes me how many of these films just don’t bother with these elements; with no cool idea to work from and sloppy filmmaking to boot it starts becoming increasingly obvious that a night reading creepypasta may be more entertaining and/or scary. B is for Bigfoot is a pretty prime example of just plainly not giving a shit; a babysitting couple who just wanna fuck tell a story about a sort of boogeyman and exactly what you expect to happen happens. If you know you only have $5000 to make a mark why saddle yourself with such a hackneyed and clichéd premise to have to revive? On the flipside you have C is for Cycle which is going for something weird and ponderous but just falls flat on its arse and becomes incomprehensible, like drawing a crayon diagram to explain Primer.
Which brings me to D for Dogfight, the first actually competent short of the bunch and weirdly enough its the short that actually made me actively worried about what was to come. Is this really an interesting story? Is the twist clever? Is the poignancy earned? Is the “stylish” filmmaking anything more than just stock standard glossy music-video editing? And then the sad realisation comes that the preceding two lackluster efforts have so warped your perspective on cinema that suddenly D is for Dogfight seems like a goddamn masterpiece.Would we be giving this piece a second glance in any other context?
Dominic: Hell yeah, I would! I won’t lie, it does come as a relief to get something without hammy dialogue, but it’s a fine short regardless of any resemblance to modern music videos, as you say. Doing a story in five minutes means you can take certain shorthands rather than try to “earn” poignancy, and using a dog for instant empathy works as well for me as the visual clue-ins and reveals. That’s especially true with production design this grimy, which we see in such glorious and squirmy detail with the slow-mo. Simple and effective.
Saro: From there we oscillate back to the frustratingly cheap E is for Exterminate which prompted the first time anyone in the history of the universe ever said “Urban Legend 3 did it better.” Angela Bettis seemed to get her letter and basically go “spiders scare people, fuck it lets use spiders” and this is sadly one of the sturdiest conceptual bedrocks you’ll see going forward. Because it sure as shit is more sturdy than Noboru Iguchi’s F is for Fart, a film that dares it audience to be snobbish and pretend to be above fart humour before proving that we are indeed above this kind of fart humour. Of course the fart humour eventually gives way to softcore lesbian fart fetish porn so there’s that. Yay? Which doesn’t set us up particularly well for G is for Gravity, a somber semi-experimental short which I have to admit I respect a hell of a lot more than I actually enjoyed. Underwater go pro shots suddenly make yellow fart clouds seem a lot more palatable. Was anyone actually affected in any way by this short?
Felix: I can say I definitely wasn’t – it’s a real shame that this is the only contribution from Australia and Andrew Traucki just uses it as a proof of concept on the use of GoPros in cinema, there’s not even a real tangible plot or any characterization. This would surely be the weakest addition to another film, but this is The ABCs of Death so a nothing short will always be beaten out by a stack of actively terrible ones. Following G is for Gravity is one of my least favourite shorts in the film, H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion, a high concept short that sees a humanoid dog soldier seduced and tortured by a Nazi humanoid fox – it’s so ‘edgy’ and unfunny in its blatant attempts to cause offense that it caused me to tune out.4 This is the second short to extensively use cheap CGI for budgetary reasons rather than than aesthetic effect (F is for Fart clearly revels in its use of dodgy FX playing them for comedic value,5 whereas E is for Exterminate resorts to the use of bad animation because it was what was affordable), it’s not the brightest idea because (as we see later in V is for Vagitus) a decent concept is not really enough to elevate something above bad effects work, especially when the preceding shorts build so little good will – although V is for Vagitus does admittedly have other things working against it.
After this is I is for Ingrown, which I’ll applaud for making me wince, in which we hear a woman’s internal monologue as she is being murdered in a bathtub via lethal injection. This short is visceral and upsetting, pulling the sort of reaction you expect from a horror short in spite of its barely-functional and convoluted script, which is a lot more than can be said for the majority of these films.6
From there we move to J is for Jidai-Geki, or ‘J is for Samurai Movie’. I actually really like this one, it’s a good example of what you’ll find in the second installment of the series, a concise, single concept gag executed with technical proficiency. The short cuts between shots of a samurai and his assistant’s faces as the samurai pulls increasingly ridiculous faces while committing Seppuku. It’s stupid, but (for me at least) it works really well, and is a cheap and easy way for Yūdai Yamaguchi to flaunt some of his effects work and his unique brand of humour. Unfortunately this is immediately followed by K is for Klutz, another one of my least favourites in the anthology – it’s quite dumb (not in a fun, puerile way) and very lazy animated toilet humour, a shame, because T is for Toilet nails similar ideas in an animated format later in the film.
Dominic: I agree, T is for Toilet really puts that to shame with its genteel UK humour and visual dexterity. It puts a lot of the shorts to shame, really, which is remarkable given that it was the result of an open-call competition. And I’m glad you’ve thrown some praise the way of I is for Ingrown, but I’ll wait until we reach the end before I expand on that myself.
To stay on track, next is L is for Libido, which Felix already mentioned as a fairly polished short, which is remarkable given such a nakedly provocative and trashy premise. Two men are strapped to chairs and must make themselves ejaculate before the other, through progressively more difficult rounds, going from naked women to sickly cancer patients and so on. It’s just as gross and trashy as you’d expect, and you can practically see the director’s devilish grin through it all, so I didn’t mind it so much.
And then there’s M is for Miscarriage. It occupies all of our bottom tens, and for good reason. Ti West, reportedly a proficient director of many horror features, makes something that he clearly knocked over in an afternoon, wherein a non-professional actress wanders around an apartment and bathroom attempting to flush a malformed foetus down the toilet. It looks and sounds like digital-video garbage, it’s not at all funny or shocking and the only reason I don’t rank it as low as the both of you is that it reminds me of many of the threadbare shorts made for open-screen challenges like Kino Sydney, where it’s not so much the quality of the shorts as it is the gratification in just having made something coherent. Super personal and over-forgiving, I know, but ranking twenty-six short films will bring out such biases at the best of times, and I find West’s lack of shits to give more charming than the overt pretension of some of the remaining shorts. That goes in particular for N is for Nuptials, which is a one-gag affair that looks ordinary and comes across like comedy as written by people not normally involved in comedy. Technically it’s got a joke in it, but it’s too sterile and over-wrought for me to really enjoy.
But then comes my favourite of the lot: O is for Orgasm. What a breath of fresh air this is! Technical proficiency. A surreal, evocative aesthetic, with whirling cameras and bizarre sound effects. Death as an abstraction rather than an explosion of fake blood and gore. If there’s any set of directors I want to check out as a result of this short, it’s whatever Bruno Forzani and Hélène Cattet have done together. They and Simon Rumley, who comes next with P is for Pressure, rise above the horror gimmicks cleaved to by most of their contemporaries to deliver something more indebted to human sensations than genre tropes. Rumley achieves this in a more guerilla mode, shooting with less effects than Forzani and Cattet, but in a foreign country (Suriname) with a distinctive look, and with an even more distinctive story involving crush fetish films.
As for Q is for Quack… ech. I’ll give the floor to you guys on this one, since I know you like it a hell of a lot, and I’ll just say prior that I like Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett when they’re doing a fun, authentic horror film like You’re Next rather than getting tangled up in meta self-aggrandisement. What did you see in it, though?
Felix: I’m a really big Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett fan (I don’t think that’s any secret), and I really dug how they mocked themselves, their contemporaries,7 and the self-congratulatory, horror fan-boy culture that comprise a significant chunk of the audience for a film with a title like The ABCs of Death – people who do enjoy films that substitute substance for lazy gorefests featuring well-endowed, topless women poorly feigning distress. I thought the ending was a slice of entertaining misdirection and the overall concept to be strangely (and probably unintentionally) prescient in the context of the greater film. On top of this, it was a nice change of tone after the slog of the first hour or so.
Saro: Don’t overestimate my praise. Saying something is the fourth best short in The ABCs of Death is the very definition of faint praise but I just feel Q is for Quack lands so perfectly in the tail end of this increasingly moronic endurance test. By this stage I was so pissed off and bored that it was extremely gratifying to see a short that acknowledged “this premise may be a lot weaker than it sounds”. The dumb porn/horror film they’re making at the start would be stupidly reductive and broad in any other context but here it feels sadly on point. There’s also something extremely cathartic about seeing two directors shoot each other because after over a dozen of these shorts the thought of dead directors is strangely appealing.
Next up we get a welcomed visit from A Serbian Film director Srđan Spasojević, who I was genuinely surprised hadn’t directed the much more provocative L is for Libido. His R is for Removed starts with a nice little gory concept of a man whose sole purpose seems to be donating layer upon layer of flesh to be turned into 35mm film. It’s a reasonably creepy concept executed with a refreshing amount of efficiency but halfway through Spasojevic seems to think he doesn’t have enough content for an under five-minute short (he really has overestimated his peers here) and starts throwing every kind of ludicrous twist he can find at the wall to see what sticks before ending with a literal rain of blood that would make a 90s video game designer cringe.
Felix: I’m not sure I agree with you here, I found R is for Removed really, really tedious – the Existenz rip-off with the flesh/celluloid as bullets was heavy-handed, dumb and, well, better done in Existenz, the very hollow ‘giving flesh for art’/’human suffering for entertainment’ visual metaphor is a tired cliché at this point, also it is by far the ‘edgiest’ short in the film to take itself seriously.8 I maintain that Spasojević is a self-indulgent hack with very little to say and a cult following based on edginess rather than talent – I know that one could argue that getting pissed off about this proves the film’s point, but I am no stranger to content that is offensive for the sake of being offensive and upsetting to its audience (Astron-6’s Father’s Day is a favourite of mine), it’s just that this particular example is vapid, retreading ground that may have been truly subversive 20 or 30 years ago but is nothing we haven’t seen in a number of other underground horror films over the past few decades – this is only exaggerated by Spasojević’s arrogant self-congratulation since the film’s release. I may be alone here, but I think the fact that A Serbian Film can be financed, released, turn a profit, and see (some) critical acclaim without a heap of trouble proves that the whole thing is a bit of an unnecessary exercise.
Saro: Like so many of these shorts S is for Speed doesn’t have a twist that is nearly as clever as the filmmakers would like to think nor the proficiency to pull it off. However it is a testament to the state of mind I was in at this point that I wasn’t sure if the over the top grindhouse homage/dream sequence was parody or an earnest attempt at proper filmmaking. We get a brief respite in the aforementioned T is for Toilet, which I think everyone can agree is a cut above in just about every department. Even though its crudely animated claymation and largely just a toilet joke, it amazingly manages to have more character depth, pathos and actual scares than anything else. Which brings us to U is for Unearthed, another admirable attempt at POV filmmaking that, like G is for Gravity, is perhaps not as affecting as it wants to be. Did anyone here have much of a reaction to it? I feel like in other circumstances it may have taken me back a little but honestly I was pretty numb to the parade of inanity occupying my browser.9
Dominic: I really like U is for Unearthed. I’m not “affected” by it emotionally or anything but it’s a nifty and kinetic piece of work, with a bonus appearance by Michael Smiley, who is good in everything. Ben Wheatley is a cool dude, so it was a neat surprise for his name to show up. I hear you on S is for Speed, though, which is essentially my worst faux-feminist imaginings of Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch (which I dread the idea of seeing) fed through a teenage edgelord’s sketchbook.
Similar to S is for Speed in its pomposity is the next short in our little baton relay, V is for Vagitus. As Felix has said earlier, you have to give Kaare Andrews credit for dreaming big (that CG robot could not have been easy to put together) but his big sci-fi effort is exactly as postured and clunky as the worst of the genre. Think Neill Blomkamp’s Blade Runner with hints of Ultraviolet and you’re pretty much there. At least he’s trying to be affecting, though. Nothing gives me the shits more than geeks trying to be weird on purpose, which is why W is for WTF! nabs the bottom spot in my ranking. It’s bad enough to echo Wingard and Barrett’s meta chuckles, but Jon Schnepp’s obnoxious Teefury-level mindfucks – zombie clowns, guys! Also Satan! How random! – limp in the shadow of something like Yoshihiro Nishimura’s syndromic Z is for Zetsumetsu, and the VHS-revival freakout of Y is for Youngbuck.
But maybe I’m finding too much favour and disfavour in comparisons, as Saro has already suggested – Felix, care to provide a different view on the last batch of shorts? You brought us into this mess, after all, and I know you want to sing Z is for Zetsumetsu’s praises!
Felix: I am very sorry for doing this to you two, although what sort of site would we be if we only discussed successes? Maybe we can discuss the far better ABCs of Death 2 in the future, although obviously I would understand if you turned down my invitation.
I’m actually in agreeance with you on most of what you’ve said here, although I have to disagree with the rankings you and Saro have given to V is for Vagitus. I mean, sure, my ranking isn’t much better but as you said, at least Kaare Andrews tries – and he delivers visuals far, far beyond what should be imaginable on his $5000 budget, which is far more than can be said of Ti West, and I don’t think it’s as much of a failure of ‘high concept’ as S is for Speed. W is for WTF! is also much better than you give it credit for; there are a couple of genuine laughs to be had, even if it is a terrible idea and a stupid mess of a short. It is the same basic idea of Q is for Quack though, and you didn’t like that either so I’ll put it down to personal taste.
As a closer I want to ask you both if you think Horror anthologies are a necessary exercise in the age of Vimeo and YouTube? There was clearly a time and place for the likes of Creepshow, The Twilight Zone: The Movie and even Tales from the Hood but do you think something like The ABCs of Death is a worthwhile venture when you can shoot something on the cheap, shop it around to film festivals and then throw it up on your website to trot out through your social media channels every now and then?
Dominic: It’s true that the age of Vimeo and YouTube you refer to fragments our appreciation of film into self-tailored avenues, and the premise of ABCs of Death is a great way of combatting that. Drawing upon a conceptual sequence all the directors know about as part of a filmmaking challenge makes them react in interesting ways.10 Meanwhile it hooks audiences in, whether obsessive film watchers or just those with a piqued curiosity, and then kindles their obligation to see unfamiliar work in the process of getting from A to Z. All parties then waken themselves to the range of possibilities being realised within a particular genre, and so break out of their own furnished sphere of taste just that little bit more. That said, it’s not a novelty that can be easily replicated, and I doubt that appeal could be parlayed into a horror anthology without a token premise. I like to think that the budgets at play here could be funnelled into an anthology with fewer but better-developed shorts, but my cynical self doubts that it could be made and sold well enough in the current climate to properly continue pushing at those boundaries. I would love to be wrong, though.
Saro: I don’t think there’s anything really at fault with premise of The ABCs of Death, if the sequel is indeed better I’d be prepared to go a second round. It really just comes down to the talent and effort of the individual filmmakers. X is for XXL is my favourite short by quite a wide margin. It’s poignant, horrifying, gory and memorable. It evokes a familiar and widespread issue through an extremely visceral and pertinent visual metaphor. Is it too much to ask for 26 shorts like that? I don’t know why it is. $5000 doesn’t excuse laziness, in fact I can’t even work out how Ti West used his budget let alone kept under it, and if you have 26 eager filmmakers who truly want to leave a mark and actually have the imagination to do so then you could easily have a film worth recommending. I suppose there should be a lesson to be gleaned from the structural faults of The ABCs of Death but staring at the face of twenty-odd forms of inanity I can’t help but think that the most pertinent piece of criticism I can muster is something akin to Homer Simpsons smacking his TV repeatedly and demanding it to “be more funny!”
As part of this series, we ask all participants in the roundtables to rank the shorts within, not as a means of finding consensus but rather the opposite, an effort to show how varied segments within an anthology film can be, and the highly subjective nature in approaching them.
|1. O is for Orgasm, Bruno Forzani and Héléne Cattet
2. Q is for Quack, Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett
3. L is for Libido, Timo Tjahjanto
4. T is for Toilet, Lee Hardcastle
5. J is for Jidai-Geki (Samurai Movie), Yûdai Yamaguchi
6. N is for Nuptials, Banjong Pisanthanakun
7. X is for XXL, Xavier Gens
8. I is for Ingrown, Jorge Michel Grau
9. U is for Unearthed, Ben Wheatley
10. A is for Apocalypse, Nacho Vigalondo
11. D is for Dogfight, Marcel Sarmiento
12. Z is for Zetsumetsu (Extinction), Yoshihiro Nishimura
13. W is for WTF!, Jon Schnepp
14. F is for Fart, Noboru Iguchi
15. Y is for Youngbuck, Jason Eisener
16. G is for Gravity, Andrew Traucki
17. P is for Pressure, Simon Rumley
18. V is for Vagitus (The Cry of a Newborn Baby), Kaare Andrews
19. C is for Cycle, Ernesto Diaz Espinoza
20. B is for Bigfoot, Adrian Garcia Bogliano
21. S is for Speed, Jake West
22. E is for Exterminate, Angela Bettis
23. K is for Klutz, Anders Morgenthaler
24. H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion, Thomas Malling
25. R is for Removed, Srdjan Spasojevic
26. M is for Miscarriage, Ti West
|1. X is for XXL, Xavier Gens
2. T is for Toilet, Lee Hardcastle
3. O is for Orgasm, Bruno Forzani and Héléne Cattet
4. Q is for Quack, Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett
5. U is for Unearthed, Ben Wheatley
6. H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion, Thomas Malling
7. D is for Dogfight, Marcel Sarmiento
8. W is for WTF!, Jon Schnepp
9. L is for Libido, Timo Tjahjanto
10. R is for Removed, Srdjan Spasojevic
11. A is for Apocalypse, Nacho Vigalondo
12. Y is for Youngbuck, Jason Eisener
13. I is for Ingrown, Jorge Michel Grau
14. Z is for Zetsumetsu (Extinction), Yoshihiro Nishimura
15. J is for Jidai-Geki (Samurai Movie), Yûdai Yamaguchi
16. S is for Speed, Jake West
17. G is for Gravity, Andrew Traucki
18. E is for Exterminate, Angela Bettis
19. P is for Pressure, Simon Rumley
20. N is for Nuptials, Banjong Pisanthanakun
21. B is for Bigfoot, Adrian Garcia Bogliano
22. F is for Fart, Noboru Iguchi
23. V is for Vagitus (The Cry of a Newborn Baby), Kaare Andrews
24. C is for Cycle, Ernesto Diaz Espinoza
25. K is for Klutz, Anders Morgenthaler
26. M is for Miscarriage, Ti West
|1. O is for Orgasm, Bruno Forzani and Héléne Cattet
2. T is for Toilet, Lee Hardcastle
3. I is for Ingrown, Jorge Michel Grau
4. Y is for Youngbuck, Jason Eisener
5. U is for Unearthed, Ben Wheatley
6. R is for Removed, Srdjan Spasojevic
7. P is for Pressure, Simon Rumley
8. D is for Dogfight, Marcel Sarmiento
9. L is for Libido, Timo Tjahjanto
10. F is for Fart, Noboru Iguchi
11. X is for XXL, Xavier Gens
12. J is for Jidai-Geki (Samurai Movie), Yûdai Yamaguchi
13. Z is for Zetsumetsu (Extinction), Yoshihiro Nishimura
14. K is for Klutz, Anders Morgenthaler
15. N is for Nuptials, Banjong Pisanthanakun
16. A is for Apocalypse, Nacho Vigalondo
17. B is for Bigfoot, Adrian Garcia Bogliano
18. C is for Cycle, Ernesto Diaz Espinoza
19. G is for Gravity, Andrew Traucki
20. E is for Exterminate, Angela Bettis
21. M is for Miscarriage, Ti West
22. H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion, Thomas Malling
23. Q is for Quack, Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett
24. S is for Speed, Jake West
25. V is for Vagitus (The Cry of a Newborn Baby), Kaare Andrews
26. W is for WTF!, Jon Schnepp