Richmond Is Horror-Able, Chapter Four: Coldon Martin — The Coolest Cat On The Squad

by | Aug 22, 2022 | FILM / TV

What is Robot ApocalypseRobot Apocalypse is a zany zombie parody series that’s got everything you want and need in your entertainment. There are heroes and hot doggers, zombies and robots, romance and sports. Alliances will be formed, secrets will be revealed. It’s got something for everyone, from twinkies to cigarettes… AND it’s action packed to the extreme!!!!!  

It’s also a love letter to poorly dubbed movies. Dubbing happens after a movie is made. Dialogue is added (often translated into other languages), and sometimes the voices just don’t match up. It’s pretty funny. 

ALL EPISODES OF ROBOT APOCALYPSE ARE AVAILABLE NOW AT RVA MAG TV!

PART 1
PART 2
PART 3

And now, Chapter Four. Perfect. Numero four-o. Did you know that four is considered a “perfect” number? Three may be magic but four is perfect. Perfect.

Coldon Martin doesn’t just play the Cool Guy in Robot Apocalypse, he is the Cool Guy. How do I know this? Because he told me so. He really did. 

When I asked Coldon to send pics for this article his response was:

Per your request, attached are a few pics of my favorite person in the world: ME. I used to have a really badass picture of me as the Cool Guy, but I lost it. Someone probably stole it to keep for their private collection. I’m sure y’all got that one covered.

Okay now — check in with yourself. You may be thinking, “Are you kidding me? Is he joking? Does he really talk like that?” Does this turn you off? Does this intrigue you? Are you confused by this air of arrogance — nay, confidence? Is this self-love in place of self-loathing something perhaps to be admired? Coldon would tell me it is.  

Or maybe… Coldon made a wish on a Zoltar machine that one day someone would publish an article about him entitled, “Coldon Martin — The Coolest Cat on the Squad.” There’s  a good possibility of that too (he loves cats). How ambiguous. 

Either way…

Coldon as The Cool Guy in Robot Apocalypse. Photo by Robert Alan Moose.

Where did I meet Coldon? I was a first-year Theatre teacher at the school he was attending (The Steward School).  He was my Stage Manager for the musical All American (I know, you’ve never heard of it). All American is not my favorite, but this number really slaps

It was written by Mel Brooks as a career reviver for aging song-and-dance man Ray Bolger (he played the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz). Legend has it that Mel’s experience working on this play inspired The Producers

I have been creating art and collaborating with Coldon for close to two decades now. Highlights Include: 

Lights Camera Dead: Our first feature film. Coldon played Ted, a bad boy Production Assistant with a slick smile and attitude for days. Here’s a clip featuring Coldon and legendary metal drummer RIchard Christy:

Last Call: Our second feature film, created collaboratively by 200 Richmond artists. Coldon not only stars in Last Call, but he scored it (and he did the website). Release date still to be determined, y’all.  

Robot Apocalypse: Coldon Martin plays “The Cool Guy” in Robot Apocalypse, AND he wrote original music. I know that’s cool. (Check out 1:49 of PART 2: COLDON SHREDS!!!!!)

Is Coldon Martin cool? You be the judge. Is Coldon’s committed and deadly serious passion for what he cares about cool? You bet your ass it is.  

MM: Hello Coldon.

CM: Hello.

MM: So, you play “the Cool Guy.”

CM: Naturally.

MM: Why did you agree to this role?

CM: I mean, if somebody hands you a script and says, “Hey, we want you to play ‘the Cool Guy,’” call me old fashioned, but you say “Yes.” 

Travis Fleshood (The Smart Guy) and Coldon Martin (The Cool Guy) in Robot Apocalypse. Photo by Robert Alan Moose.

MM: I’m glad you did. You wrote the original music as well [The score consists of a mixture of public domain library music and Coldon’s original music]. What did that process look like? Working with [director] Davis [Bradley] isn’t always…

CM: [prompting] It isn’t always…

MM: Well… aren’t we all very protective of our artistic creations?

CM: Right.

MM: You enjoy these genres. That’s an important piece to parody. What was your approach? 

CM: Robot Apocalypse is an homage to the building blocks of the genre and the movies and media that I love. This was to be a tribute, not a cover song.

The process was really collaborative. I really was thinking about all the aspects to give it the mood. Robot Apocalypse’s vibe is inspired by these little pockets in the horror genre from the 70’s and 80’s… I love that balance, between it being sincere and genuinely creating an atmosphere of fear and tension, but also being kind of cheesy and nostalgic. What I really wanted to do was give Davis the tools where he could shape it. Instead of there being screen-specific things, I said, “I’ll make music inspired by the moods and scenes and you just play with it. I’ll give you the clay.”

MM: That was a great way to approach it. Davis’ vision for this project is so specific. He knows this world, genre, and the movies that inspired it on a Master’s Degree level!

CM: It was cool because normally, when I’m scoring something, the music has to go in very specific places. 

MM: And this wasn’t like that.

CM: No. There were cues I imagined for one scene that Davis used for another, and it worked. It’s that type of collaboration that I love — where you challenge each other.

MM: That’s trust.

CM: We were very direct with each other about what we liked, what’s not working, what he was looking for… It makes me want to work harder. I love that, and I think there are some songs in this that couldn’t have happened if we hadn’t met in the middle.

MM: You love music and movies. You love music in movies. What’s the origin story?

CM: I started to appreciate the role of music in movies when I was young. I grew up with Amblin Entertainment, the Spielberg movies: Jaws, E.T., Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, and of course, Star Wars.

When Coldon says “Star Wars,” he gives me a sly little smile, because he knows that I know that, if given the chance, he will talk about Star Wars at great length, whether you want him to or not. So I respond with a non-verbal plea, thinking, “I know you said Star Wars, but please don’t…” 

His smile grows.

CM: These films were defined as much by the soundtrack as they were by all of the other genius on display. The music was inherent to how it made you feel. As I grew older and became a musician myself,  I’d study the movie and the music in really nerdy ways. 

Coldon with members of Municipal Waste and others during the filming of Last Call. Photo by Glenn Burckart.

MM: First instrument?

CM: I started playing the guitar when I was thirteen. 

MM: What inspired you to play guitar?

CM: The summer before 6th grade, there was this older kid that had a sick CD collection and was willing to impart some of his rock knowledge. Thanks to him, I heard Nirvana’s album Nevermind. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “In Bloom” kicked open the doors for everything — everything! I’ll never forget the moment I heard those songs — at the YMCA parking lot on Patterson Ave. And that guy probably doesn’t even know that moment defined everything for me.

MM: That’s huge.

CM: Huge. Nirvana, Weezer and Green Day. All I wanted to do was play their songs. I bought the music books at the guitar store that had inaccurate chords and I would listen to the songs and play along. I’ve never taken guitar lessons. 

MM: Me neither. That’s how I learned to play the guitar too. Except I played along with Elvis Costello and the Indigo Girls. Before the internet was invented, I guess if one didn’t take lessons, playing along with your favorite bands was how one learned.

CM: I would read these interviews with Kurt Cobain and he would reference these other bands, like The Pixies and the Meat Puppets, and I’d go to get their CDs. I’m fascinated by the building blocks that have brought us to where we are now in movies, TV, and music. Those influences create a map of the journey of where things have brought us, and that is why I think I’ve always liked older things. I enjoyed finding out how the canon was made. People give me a hard time for it today because most of the stuff I watch is old.

Coldon (center) in Last Call, with Lee Reynolds and JC Lira. Photo by Carlton Brightly.

MM: Favorite Horror Score?

CM: I love John Carpenter and how he did it [in Halloween]. I love the minimalism. I love the tension. And Tangerine Dream. I fell in love with this idea that a person with a synthesizer could create soundscapes.  

MM: First movie synth score that hit you?

CM: Blade Runner hit me first.

MM: When did you see Blade Runner

CM: Early high school. The music had this artificiality to it, but also a beautifully organic texture, and it feels futuristic but also timeless. It’s this crystalline atmosphere and I love it. 

MM: What was the first horror movie you remember seeing?

CM: That is a great question because it relates to my favorite movie of all time, The Fly by David Cronenberg. Hands down. I don’t even have to think about it. It is my favorite movie.

MM: Hands down. 

CM: When I was five or six years old, I didn’t have access to the scary movies I would see when I walked down the aisle of the video store. Everything looked so adult and mysterious. I found out that the horror I was allowed to watch was all the classic stuff from Universal Monsters and 20th Century Fox Horror. I came across the original version of The Fly, made in 1958. The whole idea just fascinated me. It was this melancholic mystery that really hooked me.

How cool is Coldon? As a five or six year old he mused,  “I am hooked by this melancholic mystery.”

CM: The teleportation aspect was really cool to me as well. And of course there’s this crazy monster. I loved that you didn’t see the fly until the very end. Everything built to that moment.  

MM: When did you see Cronenberg’s remake? 

CM: I was eight or nine, and my mom said…

Note: When Coldon quotes people, they always speak in his voice.

CM: …my mom said, “Yo — you know that they remade this? So there’s, like, a new version of The Fly.” I’m like, “Mom, get out.” And she’s like, “Oh yeah. The guy from Jurassic Park [Jeff Goldblum] is in it.” I’m like,  “Mom, seriously, don’t toy with me. I’m just a child.” And in a very strange moment that I will be forever grateful for, she said, “Let’s go get it from the video store.” And we did, and she slapped it in the VCR and let young Coldon check it out.  

MM: Magical.

CM: I’ll never forget watching that for the first time. Having loved the original and then seeing THAT. Seeing how far it was taken. I could tell even then how emotionally driven and intimate it was.

Again, I ask you: how cool is Coldon? As an eight- or nine-year-old he recognized how emotionally driven and intimate it was.

CM: I would watch it, years on, and connect with it in different ways. I mean, watching it at 10, 12, 14… it’s just been with me my whole life. It’s my favorite. It’s what got me into horror: The Fly.

MM: I love the Fly also. I love Return of the Fly.  I love The Fly II. I love Eric Stoltz.

CM: Look, we all love Eric Stoltz. 

Coldon the director, with Doug Bischoff. Photo by Mark Remes.

MM: We do. What was young Coldon watching on TV?

CM: Young Coldon was separated from his peers because of his love of 70’s and 80’s network television staples.

MM: And your peers didn’t take kindly to that?

CM: No. Everyone’s like, “Let’s watch Fear Factor,” and I’m like, “No, let’s watch Quantum Leap.”

MM: I loved Quantum Leap. Scott Bakula was hot.

CM: Everyone’s like, “Let’s watch Friends,” and I’m, “Yeah, but Welcome Back Kotter is on the other channel.”

Sometimes I wonder if Coldon’s swagger was inspired by John Travolta’s portrayal of Vinnie Barbarino in Welcome Back Kotter. You tell me.

MM: So, those are both very heightened story concepts. You chose Sci-Fi rather over Reality TV. The situational comedy that you were looking to consume came from a completely different time and place, yet the characters were familiar to you.

What scared you when you were little?

CM: Like, in real life?

MM: I don’t know, depends on how you want to answer it. Example: when I was little, in real life I saw the house up the street from me burn down, so I was always afraid that my house was going to burn down too. That was like my real-life kid fear. I already made that joke in another interview, I probably shouldn’t make it again… or maybe I will.  

CM: You should. 

Young Coldon with E.T. Photo courtesy Coldon Martin.

MM: A thing that I saw in a movie that scared me was in Poltergeist when the chairs are suddenly stacked on the kitchen table. That stuck with me. 

CM: E.T. scared me when I was little. That said, It’s a masterpiece! It’s as close to a perfect film as you can get. But when I was a kid, E.T. in that cornfield… and when Elliott goes out looking for him and E.T. freaks out and is screaming.

MM: That scared me too. The panic, fear, and heightened emotions. 

CM: It scared me so badly that sometimes I couldn’t make it past that part. I remember building a fort around me with pillows so that I could watch the scene and hide, and then be able to enjoy the rest of the movie. 

MM: So why do you think you kept going back?

CM: I loved the feeling of getting to that edge, that barrier, to where you can’t control how you feel and something else takes over. It’s not something we experience in our everyday life. I’m someone that admittedly likes control. Maybe it’s an Aries thing…

MM: No, Aries aren’t typically… No. Shut up.

CM: I loved how it made me feel like I was going off the rails. I think I was emotionally afraid of lots of things. 

MM: That has been a theme with a lot of the artists I’ve spoken with. Monsters didn’t necessarily scare them; it was emotion expressed through rage and fear. So I feel like that lines up with where brains are artistically, as creators.

Horror recommendations. If people want to get a taste of what inspires Coldon. 

CM: Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark. It has a really melancholic and atmospheric tone to it. It’s a vampire movie in the desert. Tangerine Dream does this beautiful, ethereal score; it sets the tone, and it has this nocturnal vibe that suits the movie perfectly. In horror, that is my current favorite right now.

Note: Coldon’s current favorite is a movie from 1987.

MM: What was the last movie that made you go, “Yes. That!”

CM: Honestly, I’ve been obsessed with the Beatles documentary, Get Back, on Disney Plus. I’ve casually been a Beatles fan, but watching this documentary, fly on the wall-style, of one of their last big collaborative pushes, is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen in terms of filmmaking. 

What blew me away is that we’re watching, unquestionably, some of the greatest songwriters that have ever lived, in a room working together, with this unprecedented access to the most minute conversations. We’re watching them have the same exact conversations, arguments and asides that we have in every band rehearsal, on every film set, or any creative project we do. You can hear them saying, verbatim, the same things that we have said to each other. I have never compared myself to The Beatles, but in this one way, we all can. And as a documentary filmmaker, too… everyone just needs to watch it. 

MM: Are you left-handed or right-handed?

CM: Right-handed. 

MM: What’s your sign?

CM: Aries. Which, from my understanding, is a fire sign. And I only know that because you told me.

MM: It’s because I’m a fire sign too.

CM: What does that mean?

MM: Zodiac signs are identified by the elements — water, fire, earth, air. We are fire. We shine bright and run hot.

CM: And that’s a good thing. 

MM: It is. Fire protects but also destroys. 

CM: It does.  

MM: Either way, I think you are fire. You love art.

CM: It’s all I think about. It’s all I want to do. I’m very lucky to be able to work it into my career, and I’m very lucky I have a very patient partner.

Rough Age. Photo courtesy Coldon Martin.

MM: List your things. Name names.

CM: I’m the Creative Director of a sixty-year-old Marketing Agency here in the Fan called SIR. I’m a filmmaker, marketing consultant, photographer, actor, and a musician. I don’t even know the order anymore. Most recently playing with Rough Age. It’s my original music; we are sort of taking over this town right now. It’s the happiest I’ve been with my original music ever. It’s a sound I’ve been trying to express for a while.

And my other band is a little controversial: Are Ya Madferit: The Greatest Oasis Tribute Band in the World (2021-Present). We do an hour and a half of Oasis, and…

Coldon laughs, ready to elucidate and elaborate on Oasis.

MM: Please, no, you don’t need to explain…

CM: I’ve also spent the past year and a half producing material based on the works of author Bret Easton Ellis, writer of American Psycho, among many other books. My friend in Iceland, York Underwood, and I have produced an international web series that goes through each one of his novels. We’ve had some amazing guests, including Chuck Palahniuk, Anthony Jeselnik, Walter Kirn, and James Van Der Beek. Part of the show was creating some visuals to accompany readings from each book. I’ve had an amazing time putting these together and meeting a very important collaborator and friend along the way.

Oh, I also have directed and edited eight different commercial TV spots in the past year that went to air. I don’t talk about this work too much, because it’s my 9 to 5, but I’m very proud of them. 

MM: What do you think an audience in 2022 is looking to consume in their art?

CM: I think we’re at a crossroads. Our gradual social awakening is one of the best things we could possibly be doing. For the human race to be able to articulate, understand and explore the differences that we have with each other. There’s a greater expectation now that the media we consume is part of some type of cultural conversation. That is very beautiful, because art is a way that we can really understand some of these ideas, really start to talk about them and see them on display. We can take them out of our heads. 

What is kind of worrisome to me is that art, aesthetics, the nature of art itself is defined by ambiguity and multiple interpretations being at play. It’s defined by sort of surrendering yourself to the art to take you places you may not want to go — or places maybe you do! Ultimately you’re surrendering to the artist. They are in control and have no responsibility to make a definitive point or statement. I worry sometimes that modern audiences are surrendering to a very concrete idea of what something is trying to say, rather than exploring the mystery and trying to ask, “Why does it make me feel uncomfortable?” Audiences are looking for something more driven by ideology than by the ambiguity of art.

MM: That’s beautiful, Coldon. 

CM: Thank you.

MM: You’re welcome.

Bottom Line: art doesn’t stop. And we didn’t even talk about Star Wars…


Check Out Coldon’s Projects:

1: Katy Perry’s Plastic Bag Presents: Clown Concept. Directed by Case Graham. Shot and Edited by Coldon Martin. Music by Case Graham, Erica Lashley, Heather Kennedy.

Three clowns have a band called Katy Perry’s Plastic Bag. They were playing at Mike Shea’s Drunk Clown showcase at New York Deli. In a fit of inebriated frustration, the band “broke up” live on stage and stormed off into the night! This is what happened next…

2: Bret Easton Ellis Book Club. The Informers, Glamorama.

Music:

Lightfields (2009-2016)
Positive No (2018-2020)
Rough Age (2019-Present)
Are Ya Madferit: The Greatest Oasis Tribute Band in the World (2021-Present)

Commercial TV:

Sentara Healthcare – Thank You
Sentara Healthcare – Emergency Departments
Sentara Healthcare- We’re There When Something is Missing

Top Photo by Brandy Martin

Monica Moehring

Monica Moehring

Hi. I’m Monica Moehring and I love music. I love movies. I love scary things. I love making movies and art and theatre about scary things and funny things and sad things. I work with other Richmond artists and filmmakers that share the mission of creating art that delivers less bore, more gore--gore being a metaphor for substance and sometimes not being a metaphor because we do like to get gorey. After graduating from the Shenandoah Conservatory, I spent time in Chicago as both actor and playwright. As one does, I found my way back to Richmond and took up with a group of independent filmmakers, Aisthesis Productions. I am a left-handed Sagittarius.




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